Wish you and your family a very Happy Diwali and Prosperous New Year.

Below is the small gift – my notes from the book Sapiens. I believe it’s one of the most amazing books that I have read in recent past.  (Buy Sapiens – Link here). As heading goes, book tells us about our journey as human being from simple living creature to alpha species in food chain till date. Some of the topics are relatable to market and investing.


Sapiens – a brief history of Humankind

2.5 million years ago evolution of genus homo in Africa, Till 400,000 years ago we use to eat leftovers of hunters/predators hunt/kill. 200,000 year ago Homo sapiens evolved, when we started hunting in groups and rose up the food chain. Meaning most of our lives we were in middle of food chain before moving to top. Most of top predators who were on top evolved very gradually. While we made move very fast, this makes us afraid of fears anxieties. Hence we are doubly cruel and dangerous.  (Remember Greed & Fear – so this is probably from where we get Fear)

There were different species of human living in EU, Africa, Asia, island of java etc tallying almost 6 only 1 survived (recently one more was discovered).

There have been three major revolutions in human history:

  1. Cognitive revolution – working in group, development of language, co-operations – accident / luck only seem to have happened with surviving species.
  2. Agricultural revolution – from forager to settler, and
  3. Scientific revolution – last 500years – industrial revolution and still going on.

Domestication of Fire not only helped us protect from predators and extend our day, it helped us cook raw food which was easy to digest and our brain require 25% of total body energy. Good food helped develop our mind – the cognitive revolution. Human brains account for 2-3 percent of body size, but use 25 percent of energy.

How come we humans have such a good language or how come we have huge vocabulary – Every animal has language – green monkeys have different call for careful a lion and careful an eagle. Humans are social animal and we love gossips and hence language improved. – As far as we know, only Homo sapiens can talk about things we have never seen, touched, or smelled. Think religions, myths, legends, and fantasies. The telling of myths and stories allow Homo sapiens to collaborate in large numbers in extremely flexible ways. This separates us from all other animals.  Chimps can’t form groups of more than 50 or so. For humans, the group size is usually 150 or so. Beyond that, you can’t rely on gossip and personal communication. You need something more to get large numbers of people working together. Large numbers of people can collaborate by sharing common myths and beliefs. (hence success of joint stock holding company)

Why do most of us are attracted to sweet  food? – our ancestors had only one sweet food ripe fruit, and if they saw it first instinct would be to have it before group of baboons or apes discover it and finish it off. Now we have full refrigerator of food but our DNA still have our ancestors memory so we grab. (That’s probably the reason why every successive generations is partly smart in childhood, parents pass on some of their learning in genes)

Modern humans suffer from too many health issues and most arising from improper diet. Our ancestors were Foragers, so everyday food was different, plus they kept on moving hence good intake kept changing too. Our food these days is pretty constant.

History’s biggest fraud agriculture revolution – agriculture revolution let to population explosion and bad diet. Earlier due to continuous movement Foragers got variety of food and had more skills compared to farmer. Human body was not made for farming so it ended up asking for various diseases. Wheat bought more insecurity to farmer, more production more theft. Farming lead to permanent settlement which also helped women bore more children, more hands were needed as population increased and foraging stopped.

New children were feed more of porridge and less of breast milk which weekend their immune system and hotbed for diseases.

Extra food fueled politics, wars, art and philosophy. Extra food fed tiny minority Elites think of king, govt, soldiers, artist, thinkers etc.

No king or businessmen bothered to fund science – Roman army used same weapon as other Kingdom during that time, only edge they had was huge army reserve. Their weapons remained same for long time.

China invented gun powder, they used it for crackers. After 600 yrs of its invention Cannon became decisive factor in Afro-Asian battle. Why so? Because it appeared at a time when neither kings, scholars, nor merchants thought that new military technology could save them or make them rich. Napoleon despite being artilleryman had little interest in new weapons, even thought scientists present with idea of flying machine, submarine and rockets. WW 1 & 2 further paved the way for it (this is probably the reason why getting rid of war is difficult task, a powerful nation can only showcase its power in war)

Rail roads are European invention China destroyed it’s rail lines. Why did this idea happen in EU? And not in China or Ottoman Empire? Because they lacked values, myths, judicial system and socio-political structure that took centuries to form and mature in West, which can’t be copied. (China had its first rail line in 1876- 25km long built by Europeans, however Chinese government destroyed it following year).

Many of us claim to be vegetarian, however if one understand real story behind milk production cycle one may be forced to rethink concept of being vegetarian, hence we have few people who are vegan.

Most people don’t realize just how peaceful of the times are we live in – In recent years, more people die from suicide each year than from war and violent crime. The same can be said for car accidents.

Sapiens make for one amazing read.

Buy Sapiens – Link here

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