Despite What The Emotional Gurus Claim, You’re Allowed To Dislike The Midwit Dross That Is Sapiens
It’s impossible to dislike the book Sapiens. Those who claim to dislike it or call it bad are pretending. Even if you, reader, dislike Sapiens or find it bad, you’re pretending.
That argument is not an attempt at humor. It’s a real argument made by male Kegel activist turned guru on living well, seeking wisdom, building wealth, and struggling to answer the unanswerable, Nat Eliason.1 2
And Nat recently sought to answer why people criticize the popular book Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari. Nat psychoanalyzes the critics, and, with anxious diligence, works to guard the popularity of Sapiens against the critic’s “sneering condescension.” And one group Nat psychoanalyzes, he concludes that they’re not human, instead, he concludes that they’re monkeys. According to Nat’s definitions, arguments, and philosophy, I’m a monkey. I call Sapiens midwit, bad, and express dislike for it. This I’m doing, according to Nat, as a deceptive tactic for personal gain. Nat’s anxious diligence to defend and protect the popularity of Sapiens, and the chastity of its perceived value, betrays the underpinnings of a common yet distinct reaction imbued in Success: how to emotionally and logically approach opinions and beliefs differing from what Success deems acceptable.3 Simply put, criticism is unacceptable. And those who raise questions or dislike or criticize must be doing so either from projections of insecurity, misguidance by “toxic” beliefs or “haters,” or out of a plot for personal gain.
Success likes what is popular; Sapiens is popular. Published in 2015, Sapiens has since become a global phenomenon, selling over twelve million copies. The vision asserted in its pages, alongside the book’s success, exalted author Yuval Noah Harari to the heights of global power and influence. Harari is the personal advisor to World Economic Founder, Klaus Schwab; Harari is hailed among global elites like Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, and Barack Obama; walk into most bookstores, and you’ll see Sapiens and the Sapiens brand — children’s books and picture books — decorating the store;4 and the vision asserted in Sapiens, made Harari a darling of left-wing institutions like The New Yorker, The New York Times, CNN, and so on and so forth.
Sapiens is hailed as a “quake” book of sorts in Success — a book changing how one fundamentally views or understands the world.5 Sapiens packs the red meat Success loves to devour: grand unified theory, TED Talk/self-help styled prose, life-hacker tasting theories explaining human nature and human behavior, and a vision for the future based on technophile fare. One does not need to travel far on Twitter to find threads titled “The 9 Books Every Entrepreneur Must Read” or “The 17 Books To Read To Live A Better Life” and see Sapiens listed. The same goes for those self-help styled blog posts extolling the books changing the blogger’s life and a promise it will change yours too.6 7 When a book gets exalted to this kind of status in Success, it’s here we find the anxious diligence to guard its perceived value and message against any sort of criticism. And the arguments guarding comprise, but are not limited to, a particular framework. An emotional framework full of fallacies, navel-gazing, convoluted thought processes, pop-psychoanalysis, refusals to tolerate the simple fact that people will not always like or admire what you like, and constant work to paint the detractor as inferior, wrong, emotionally compromised, mentally ill, jealous, scheming, or, in Nat’s view, a monkey.
Nat betrays the underpinnings of the reaction with the first sentence of his blog post:
When did so many people start pretending Sapiens was bad?
He leaps out of the gate with argument from incredulity. But my spidey-senses tell me he’s trying a “hook” with the first sentence8. So for now, we’ll ignore the glaring fallacy, and chalk it up as Nat trying an engaging first sentence to arrest readers.
Nat hails the popularity of the book. He says, “for many it was among the first history books they enjoyed reading.” He mentions that some historians and academics had issues with its inaccuracies, but on the whole, in the “social media reading crowd” it was “cool to talk about” and “almost no one was saying, ‘actually it’s bad.’” Nat, like many who hail Sapiens, glazes over the glaring inaccuracies of the book, as I’ll detail below, and instead reveres its “coolness” and “vision” and “popularity” as a reason for it being good. And many “generally enjoy it” but:
At some point in the last couple of years, though, this changed. Sapiens has continued to sell well, but there’s a sort of sneering condescension about it, at least in some circles on Twitter. It has become cool to pretend that Sapiens is bad or lowbrow.
But the book hasn’t changed since 2015. There haven’t been tons of new criticisms or new proofs of its inaccuracy. There hasn’t been a new pop-history book to unseat it. Nothing about the book or its context has changed, yet the very-online techy community seems to now think it’s bad.
The self-proclaimed seeker of wisdom didn’t seek far regarding criticisms. The book, since its publication, garnered its fair share of criticism and still does. A quick journey down Amazon’s three stars or fewer reviews and you’ll see criticisms from 2015 and up to the present. If you go on social media, even as Nat ascertains in his post, you’ll find new criticisms. If you turn to more intellectual reviews, you’ll find new criticisms and new proofs of its inaccuracy. For instance, in the summer of 2022, neuroscientist Darshana Narayan exposed overlooked inaccuracies inside Sapiens.9 She’s also exposed, in recent interviews, Sapiens’ lack of scientific weight.10 In 2019, famed philosopher Roger Scruton excoriated Sapiens’ historical issues and exposed Harari’s post-humanism agenda.11
But here’s the hilarious and revealing bit: Nat claims “there haven’t been tons of new criticisms” yet his post deals with new criticisms. Which prompts the question, does Nat reject the growing “condescension” as criticisms?
Nat sees an underhandedness at play: people are “pretending” to dislike Sapiens and doing so out of a desire to “look cool.”
Nat’s conspiratorial and emotional argument exhibits two common fallacies baked into how Success acolytes counter criticisms of themselves or what they hail as good: argumentum ad populum and Bulverism. Remove the fancy Latin of the former and it translates into Appeal to Popularity. A person uses or sees popularity as a premise or as evidence for something being good, or a person asserts something is true or is good because it is popular.12 The latter, and perhaps the most common fallacy made by Success acolytes, Bulverism. Nat asserts people say Sapiens is bad because they want to “look cool.” Bulverism defined: a person claims an argument is shoddy due to the arguer owning an ulterior motive, or is attempting to gain status, or is desiring to display a desirable quality.13 An example: “People pretend to dislike Sapiens because they want to look cool.” Nat builds his argument on the backs of both fallacies.
He lays out four categories for why someone would say Sapiens is bad.
Category One: The first one, which I think we can quickly dispose of, is that everyone has read tons of other history books since then and decided it was too basic. If Sapiens truly sent you down a reading frenzy of history, biology, and evolutionary theory, and fifty books later, you can say, “it turns out there are more accurate, easier to read, intro-level books, and here’s the list.”
According to Nat’s argument, to dislike a book or call it bad requires everyone to read tons of books and for everyone to decide and agree, the book in question is “basic.” Nat does offer a possible numeric target of “tons” — “it’s like… dude… like…fifty books that aren’t like, basic.” But why is it on anyone, excuse me, everyone, to provide Nat with fifty books that are “more accurate, easier to read, intro-level”? And why do we need fifty books? Why not one hundred, or one thousand, or one?
Nat’s unknowingly exemplifying ad ignoratiam: Sapiens is good because you can’t prove it’s bad unless you insert Nat’s emotional fifty-book parameters here. And baked into his ad ignoratiam is appeal to popularity. In other words, you can’t say it’s bad because it’s popular, and if you do, you must provide a list of books meeting Nat’s emotional parameters.
Category Two: But if someone isn’t confused about the difference between badness and dislike, and they don’t have a reading list of more accurate, equally easy-to-read intro books, then why else would they say it’s bad?
Now we find Bulverism, argument from personal astonishment,14 and ad ignoratim all baked together. Nat, again, finds it impossible for someone to say a book is bad unless they can come up with a reading list meeting Nat’s parameters. As Nat asks, if someone can’t meet his emotional terms, why else would they say it’s bad? Nat refuses to accept the possibility that someone may dislike or call bad the book he loves. Instead, he emotes how this person is a bad faith actor.
There is a way that the mixup between “bad” and “dislike” happens with art that is worth drilling down on.
And I think this reason for calling Sapiens bad probably applies to a certain subset of people.
Let’s use a different book as a thought experiment: 50 Shades of Grey. Is it a good book? It’s in the roughly 100 best-selling books of all time, so it’s hard to immediately say “it’s bad.” (argumentum ad populum) If it were bad, then why would it sell so many copies? (argumentum ad populem & argument from personal astonishment) 50 Shades of Grey isn’t literary fiction, though, nor is it trying to be. It’s good at what it is: an erotic comfort read that spoke to some previously unsatiated literary desire. If we judge it on what it is, it’s a great book. I suspect some people are doing the same thing with Sapiens. They are judging it as a serious academic work of history instead of as a more casual, pop intro to evolutionary history book. And yeah, if you judge it as something it’s not, then, of course, it will be bad.
I’ll address the analogy in a minute.
Category Three: ?
Nat took a Kegeling break I guess.
Category Four: But there’s a fourth reason some people are saying it’s bad that’s a bit sadder. They don’t recognize that they’re in this camp, of course, and they’ll tell themselves they’re in one of the other ones, but many people dunking on it fall into this group.
People are constantly vying for status
An easy way to seem high status is to criticize things that many people like, even if you liked it as well.
Nat bolsters his argument with a tweet displaying galactic levels of navel-gazing and self-satisfaction by its author.15 The tweet tries to explain why someone could ever dislike something popular. It’s impossible for the answer to be simple dislike from personal taste. This simple reality remains elusive to Success fans. Instead, criticism or dislike is a bizarre mystery requiring soothing TED Talk-like explanations. And the tweet Nat uses to help shed light on the bizarre mystery of someone disliking what’s popular claims “people are constantly vying for status.” In other words, if you like AC/DC, and your friend says they dislike AC/DC and says they’re bad, clearly, your friend is vying for status. This line of thought, I can’t imagine a more insecure, immature, self-aggrandizing, and paranoid way to go through the world. Instead of recognizing a simple reality that many people will dislike or criticize things you enjoy, instead, you must understand it’s someone pulling a stunt to gain status over you.
But Nat details further, without any sneering condescension, of course:
So a few people start criticizing something popular, and then it spreads because everyone else is afraid of being seen as a midwit who likes popular things. “If these people on Twitter are snickering at people who like Sapiens, then it must be mid, and I don’t wanna seem mid… mom said I’m special… I better pretend Sapiens is bad too.”
When a new cultural meme is rising, it’s high-status to talk about it because you’re ahead of the curve. You are a tastemaker who found it and liked it on its own merits. Not because of the hype.
Again, we see this “status” thing again. I never knew life boiled down to the teenage popularity contests we experienced in high school.
But once a book, artist, movie, or whatever reaches a certain zenith of popularity, the status algebra flips. It’s now too popular for you to be seen recommending it. You’ll be seen as one of the masses. Not special. No gold star. So you must flip to saying, “Actually, it’s bad, IDIOT.”
Ah, so when something gains popularity, we must now say it’s bad to look cool. This “status algebra” must be why so many people say Nickelback is bad.16
And, look, sometimes mediocre work becomes popular for unknown reasons, like White Lotus. It’s a plodding show full of plot holes, and anyone who thinks the acting or soundtrack are good just hasn’t watched much quality television.
See how that felt? That was complete bullshit, White Lotus is fantastic, but if you thought White Lotus was good going into that sentence, now you’re worried you might be dumb. And now you need to go signal on Twitter how — artistic and cultured — you are by dunking on it.
Let’s put aside Nat’s four categories, each category no different from the other, except the missing third category, where he went on a Kegel break.
Instead, let’s take Nat’s logic and the framework of his argument and apply it to a similar scenario. And we’re going to look at a book sharing many similarities with Sapiens. Like Sapiens, this book sold twelve-million copies in its heyday. It didn’t fly off the shelves at first. It had a slower start, much like The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene. But once it was made aware, the book enjoyed wild success. And like Sapiens, the vision asserted in this book, and the book’s popularity, exalted the author to the heights of power. The author went from a struggling nobody to becoming famous and admired globally. The book was so revered that it was given to newlyweds on their wedding day. Men took this book with them to the front lines of war, to give them comfort, strength, and repose as they faced death. Unlike Sapiens, the book was revered by many academics and scholars; like Sapiens, critics voiced the inaccuracies of the book. The writing in the book was passionate, but, like 50 Shades of Grey, critics knocked the prose. The two big knocks, the prose was prolix and repetitive. Regardless, at a time when a professor made $4,800, it netted the author $1.2 million. The book changed the way people fundamentally see the world and themselves. Like Harari, its author pushed a vision for the world. He showed a history of where we came from, and he revealed the burdensome superstitions and myths people tell themselves, and by doing so, hold themselves and society down. Like Harari, the author asserted his vision and his book took the world by storm.
Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler.
Let’s apply Nat’s argument. We’ll apply his categories.
Consider category one to criticize Mein Kampf.
According to Nat, we need fifty other books to show how Mein Kampf is “basic.” And in that list, I guess we need better books on Pan-Germanism, Darwinism, Nietzschean philosophy, racial eugenics, Aryan theory, Aryan breeding theory, and anti-semitism that are all easy-to-read, more accurate and intro-level. Or does Nat imply we need better books on anti-Pan-Germanism, anti-Darwinism, anti-Nietzschean philosophy, anti-racial eugenics, anti-Aryan theory, anti-Aryan breeding theory, and anti-anti-semitism that are all easy-to-read, more accurate, and intro-level?
Winston Churchill, an early critic of Mein Kampf,17 never met Nat’s emotional decrees. So do we say Churchill was nitpicking the book? Or that Churchill said it’s bad because he was a monkey wanting status? Applying Nat’s emotional reasons, if Churchill says it’s bad, yet he’s not confused about the difference between dislike and bad, and can’t come up with a list of more accurate and easy-to-read books, then why would else would he say it’s bad? The book is wildly popular. Nothing — in its time — replaces it, so how could Churchill say it’s bad?
Mein Kampf received criticisms concerning its prose and its inaccuracies. Regarding the latter, inaccuracies happen in non-fiction books. Esteemed historian Paul Johnson in his classic History of the American People famously called a congressman a senator. But, on the whole, Johnson marshaled the overarching principles with empirical rigor. He didn’t make blind assertions or attempt revisionism. Sapiens contains egregious inaccuracies, not tiny ones. And Harari pushes a vision of the past through a modern transhumanist lens. And as Harari pushes, he ignores basic facts, and even twists things, like his blatant mischaracterizations of Adam Smith.18 Yet Nat, like many who hail the book, like to go on how the book “made them think!” or “introduced them to the topic in a fun way!” as if we should infantilize ourselves and focus on how a book makes us feel good. So using Nat’s train of argument, we’re supposed to glaze over a passage like this:
With satanic joy in his face, the black-haired Jewish youth lurks in wait for the unsuspecting girl whom he defiles with his blood, thus stealing her from her people. With every means he tries to destroy the racial foundations of the people he has set out to subjugate. Just as he himself systematically ruins women and girls, he does not shrink from pulling down the blood barriers for others, even on a larger scale.
Let’s consider Nat’s 50 Shades of Grey argument regarding prose. Sapiens deploys self-help, TED Talk-styled prose. As far as accessibility to general readers, it’s well done. Mein Kampf often features laborious — and often poorly written — sentence structures, prolix passages, and repetitive arguments and points. And, as Nat acquiesces, 50 Shades of Grey is poorly written. Yet, according to Nat, we ought to ignore that and recognize how it fills an “unsatiated” desire in the market.
Applying Nat’s emotional argument to Mein Kampf — we must realize that despite its prolix, laborious prose, repetitive arguments, and puerile passages, we must, instead, view it for what it is. And what it is, it’s filling an “unsatiated desire” and did so quite well. Therefore, again, we must recognize Mein Kampf as a great book. Heck, Hitler was also so wildly popular around the world that Churchill’s criticisms against Hitler must have been “status algebra” and Churchill wanting status. (Maybe you can now see why I call Sapiens midwit fare).
Nat, with his “four” categories, and his arguments swarming with fallacies and convoluted navel-gazing, remains destitute of the simple fact that people will dislike things, dislike what’s popular, and have their opinions and criticisms. It’s not that hard to see why people dislike Sapiens; it’s not that hard to see why people call it bad. A simple reason, anything popular will have its share of people disliking it or calling it bad. As something grows in popularity, growing alongside that popularity, as always, people who dislike it or criticize it. A conspiracy isn’t going on. Sure, some people will say something is bad to sound cool. But those few who do try this trying stunt come across as coxcombical knobs and are soon ignored and forgotten. With a book like Sapiens, a book asserting a cosmic vision of what was and what can be, a large population of people will naturally dislike it, and will naturally criticize it. And in that population exists people who never read Sapiens. They are not “wrong” or “scheming” or doing whatever else makes Nat excitable. While we could argue that the non-readers have no ground to stand on, or call them “biased” or irrational, yet in reality, they’re doing what humans always do, intuiting cues from people or thinkers aligning with their worldview. It’s not a perfect measurement. But it’s also not required of anyone, excuse me, everyone, to endure Sapiens and then read fifty books to meet the emotional needs of a male Kegel activist.
Sapiens is a divisive book. It asserts a vision. Its vision is deeply transhuman, postmodern, post-human, Marxian, secular, anti-religious, technocratic, anti-human, and anti-capitalist. It doesn’t require laborious mentation or hard thinking to understand why someone would dislike the book. Whether that someone can articulate with rigorous and engaging philosophy as to why they dislike it, or that person knee-jerk responds along groupthink party lines — either has their reasons, shallow or deep, as to why they dislike or think it’s bad.
Let’s consider “vision” for a moment. I’m going to steal Thomas Sowell’s19 framework laid out in Conflict of Visions.
Sowell lays out the two camps people tend to inherently fall into as to how they view or understand the world: Unconstrained Vision or Constrained Vision. No one is ever 100% one vision or the other. Nor does Sowell imply a grand-unified theory of all. That he eschews. But it’s two differing worldviews people knowingly or unknowingly find themselves in, in some form, and these two worldviews provide us a decent rule of thumb.
- The Unconstrained Vision believes man is perfectible or solvable. This vision believes an expert or a group of experts can solve or fix man’s problems and society’s issues. They believe they can change or alter outcomes to be more equitable. They believe science, technology, or a philosophical vision, can deliver a utopia. They believe society and man work like a chessboard. An expert can move the pieces correctly, without consequences, and make a vision work.
- The Constrained Vision believes man is flawed. They don’t think an expert or group of experts can fix man’s or society’s issues. They believe we should adhere to the wisdom gained from preceding generations. They see disparities as a part of human nature and largely out of society’s control. In other words, they believe, on the playing field, make the rules consistent, equal to everyone, and understand some will win and some will lose. And if man tries to impose equitable outcomes to reduce disparities on the field, it creates negative consequences. They do not believe society is like a chessboard, where people are pieces, and an expert can move the pieces without consequences.
Sapiens falls squarely into the Unconstrained vision. The vision asserted in the book outright rejects and castigates Constrained beliefs or leanings. The Constrained population, worldwide, is not a tiny group. In America, the Constrained would be most, if not all, registered Republican voters.
Consider Sowell and his fans. Sowell identifies his worldview as Constrained. It’s not hard to surmise that Sowell fans would dislike Sapiens and would see its vision as deeply flawed. In fact, most Sowell fans would instantly categorize Sapiens as the kind of fare Sowell excoriates in his Vision of the Self-Anointed. And while Sowell’s fanbase is a subset, it’s sizable. And let’s move outside principled Constrained thinkers, and into the less principled or those wholly unaware of their Constrained worldview. This group, as Sowell details, will innately lean towards Constrained beliefs. And this group of people, many of them will viscerally dislike Sapiens. One of those likely visceral reasons, the vision asserted in Sapiens’ pages outright rejects their beliefs and likes, calling them backward.
It’s also not to say that all Unconstrained people would love Sapiens. They may take issue with its TED Talk-styled prose (which can often read as condescending), they may take issue with its theology, they may take issue with its historical inaccuracies, they may take issue with the technophile, post-human vision, and who knows what else. Whereas, it’s possible someone in the Constrained camp enjoys Sapiens. People have their reasons — substantial or superficial; concrete or flimsy — as to why they dislike or like anything.
And speaking of reasons, I’d be remiss if I didn’t share my reasons as to why I call Sapiens bad, midwit fare, and express my dislike. Nat will claim I’m telling myself this, and that I truly love the book, and my nitpicking is pure pageantry because I don’t list fifty books meeting his emotional parameters, and I’m the one with sneering condescension — but Nat can take a Kegel timeout as he struggles to answer the unanswerable from a monkey like me.
I first read Sapiens in 2018.
My major in college was history. And I’ve always been a history geek. I’m not a scholar, but I still enjoy reading a lot of history. And as I read Sapiens the lack of historical rigor struck me. Harari didn’t assert, rather, he gleefully ignored facts in order to reverse engineer the past to mold it into his modern vision. In my view, Harari is a historical fabulist.
Harari ignored any essence of theological rigor. He explicitly paints any faith or religion or even agnosticism as a silly superstition. Whether you believe or not in a higher power, to cast religion throughout time as a brittle superstition people clung to out of stupidity is to ignore history, is to ignore human nature, is to ignore political science, is to ignore culture, is to ignore truth. Harari’s theology is akin to a smug teenager who just read Richard Dawkins for the first time and now believes he holds all the answers to life’s big questions.
What I noticed underneath Harari’s TED Talk prose, is that he rides postmodern hobbyhorses. Postmodernism fomented the idea of “systemic systems.” In other words, society is set up to favor the winners: a group battled to gain power, gained power, and then constructed a system to keep themselves in power. A common postmodern hobbyhorse spouted today: society favors white males because white males gained power and then set up the system to keep themselves in power — aka “systemic oppression/systemic racism.” Harari’s most famous postmodern assertion (and a risible one): those who created agriculture, gained power, and then to preserve power, connived a system of rules, laws, moral codes, education, and so on and so forth to preserve their power while simultaneously subordinating certain groups of people (marginal populations, as the purple-haired gender studies kids call it these days). Harari tastelessly ejaculates postmodern theory onto each page.
The writer in me is what kept me reading.
One, I found the writing manipulative. Most self-help, TED Talk-styled prose is vulgarized language. It’s a style — word choice and sentence structure — pandering to its readers while concomitantly moralizing. It’s written in a way akin to those airline safety videos attempting to grab your attention with fun, quirky examples of how to save yourself if the plane loses a wing over the Rocky Mountains.
Two, Harari uses this upbeat TED Talk tone masterfully and artlessly. That fascinated me. Most postmodern or transhumanist literature proves difficult to read. Some of it is well written but reads too nihilistic or woo-woo. And much of it sinks far into the verbosity weeds. Harari, however, makes it accessible. I found that masterful; I found artless the incessant use of the template to assert his vision. Harari used, what I called in my copywriting days, a cognitive dissonance template:
I don’t mean to claim that there is no exception to this rule. A good historian can find precedent for everything. But an even better historian knows when these precedents are but curiosities that cloud the big picture. Generally speaking, most premodern rulers and business people did not finance research about the nature of the universe in order to develop new technologies, and most thinkers did not try to translate their findings into technological gadgets. Rulers financed educational institutions whose mandate was to spread traditional knowledge for the purpose of buttressing the existing order.21
Before I dissect the template, you can see the postmodern hobbyhorse in the final sentence.
The template works by starting with what you know or looking for an easy agreement. Then it injects doubt into the known or the agreement. It then alludes to how a better something exists. Then, you paint a problem with the known and then introduce either a solution or the new and “better” way. The copywriter in me respected how well Harari knew this template; the reader in me, and even the copywriter, rolled my eyes at how Harari deployed it ceaselessly. In other words, Harari discovered one note and played it on every page. It got exhausting. He’d introduce a paragraph or passage like the one above, then deploy the template. Then, almost immediately, he’d do it again, then again and again, then again and again. I felt browbeaten.
Some say they are shocked the book sold well. I’m not. Self-help sells. More and more we’re sold and taught to hail self-help-styled books. And Sapiens fits the bill. It has the prose and the digestible nuggets self-help fans love. Harari writes the lessons in a way where someone can take the lessons, remember them, and “akshually” their religious grandmother during a Sunday dinner.
Those are my reasons why I disliked the book, find it midwit fare, and argue that it’s utter postmodernism, anti-human, manipulative dross.
Kegel activist Nat will claim I’m telling myself all the above or spent the time to pretend here in order to gain status. Success gurus and acolytes will accuse me of projecting my insecurities. Despite what Nat and the Success acolytes say — anyone can dislike a book or say it’s bad. It’s not a grand conspiracy. It’s not for “status.” It’s a part of life. Thinking or believing otherwise is insecure, parochial, immature, and paranoid. Nat calls me and others who dislike Sapiens “monkeys.” I like being a monkey. I like that Nat finds me and my fellow monkeys unruly. The midwits will try to explain our monkey-like behavior; perhaps, to the midwits, we act this way due to the “Overton Window”; or perhaps, to the midwits, we dislike a book out of our attempt at status; or perhaps, to the midwits, as we hurl our feces, we’re trying a “status-algebra.” Let the midwits theorize why someone could ever dare disagree with them. As they pontificate, they’ll continue failing to keep us monkeys contained in their zoo. I like it that way. After seeing Nat’s argument, where he claims there haven’t been new criticisms and then declaims the new criticisms; how I’m pretending to dislike it and if I’m not, I need to meet Nat’s emotional parameters; and where I’m trying to say it’s bad in an attempt to gain popularity and status — confirms my opinion: Sapiens is midwit fare and is appealing to its appropriate crowd.
- https://www.nateliason.com/blog/reverse-kegels ↩
- https://blog.nateliason.com/about ↩
- Here’s the definition of the word Success for this article: Success entails, comprises, and includes professional and personal development. From better marketing to a Tim Ferris morning routine, this is included in Success. On the whole, it’s anything promising some sense of betterment, whether it’s a professional skill or boost in income, or to our personal lives, it could be trying to download better “mental models” to “optimize” our thinking. And this world, though it’s not limited to it, often fuels an individual with a vibe and/or belief that they somehow found a method or hack to “level up.” This vibe is often guised under a forced try at humility — “I pretend to know nothing, but what I learn, I hope to change the lives of millions” — in order to look humble. Professional and personal development, the course, lessons, books, gurus, and more walk hand in hand with each other. ↩
- This is from my experience in, Denver, CO; Boulder, CO; Durango, CO; Los Angeles, CA; San Francisco, CA; New York City, NY; Tampa Bay, FL; Saint Petersburg, FL; Miami, FL; Charleston, SC; Cleveland, OH; Austin, TX; Las Vegas, NV; and Omaha, NE. ↩
- The appellation “quake” or “shake” books in Success is the idea that certain books or ideas radically alter how you think or see or understand the world. These books tend to have a TedTalk vibe and a grand unified theory of all, two elements that hit the sweet spot of Success likes. This is true for those wishing to create better marketing or those Lifehacker wisdom seeker corners found in Success. ↩
- I remember at online marketing events and masterminds of all various sorts and sizes in 2015 and 2016, Sapiens was the book to talk about. At a Craig Ballantyne mastermind, I recall a marketer from Agora hailing the book as a way to hijack your customer’s mind. I remember at MicroConf people saying how the book changed their life, saying “once you know religion is a myth, you realize how hackable we are” or some other sanctimonious sayings. And even at Dan Kennedy and Traffic and Conversion events, it was the book that would “rock” your world. ↩
- And these lists, always feature the same books like Atomic Habits, The Four Agreements, Almanack, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, Can’t Hurt Me, The Psychology of Money, The Alchemist, and of course the token classic, like Meditations. ↩
- The concept of a hook is found in copywriting, marketing, and SEO-friendly blog writing. It’s simple: try to say something arresting or catchy to capture attention right away and keep people reading. ↩
- https://www.currentaffairs.org/2022/07/the-dangerous-populist-science-of-yuval-noah-harari ↩
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I0FIWTt9qI ↩
- https://www.city-journal.org/yuval-noah-harari ↩
- You can find a great definition and examples — I should submit Nat’s essay as an example — here: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Appeal-to-Popularity ↩
- https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Bulverism ↩
- This a form of argument from incredulity. Person 1 person makes a claim: Sapiens is midwit. Person 2 can’t believe that claim and concludes out for their own astonishment, that person 1 is wrong. For more: https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Argument-from-Incredulity ↩
- https://twitter.com/self_beware/status/1609699841181114368?s=20&t=_zAxSSSdnYTSLG7McDjgKw ↩
- I don’t mind Nickelback. I like a bunch of their songs and have seen them live about four or five times. I’m one of the few who finds them a lot of fun, and they are incredibly talented musicians. ↩
- https://richardlangworth.com/mein-kampf ↩
- Harari, Yuval Noah, Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind(Harper Perennial, 2015) pg. 311-312 ↩
- Thomas Sowell is a famous intellectual, economist, and social critic. My longtime readers will know Sowell is my intellectual hero. ↩
- Sowell’s theory is getting more empirical evidence. More and more studies are showing that our worldview, our political leanings, we may be born with. We may arrive at those beliefs later in life, but it may be an inherent disposition. ↩
- Harari, Yuval Noah. Sapiens: A Brief History of Mankind, page 260 ↩
- To the copywriters in my audience, Sapiens is worth a look to extract this template. If you don’t want to endure Sapiens, another person who does it with less moralizing, yet does it well, is Derren Brown. ↩