21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari 1

21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a book that explores what it means to be human in an age of bewilderment. The book addresses urgent questions on today’s global agenda, such as how to protect ourselves from nuclear war, ecological cataclysms, and technological disruptions. It also delves into topics like the epidemic of fake news and the threat of terrorism.

The central theme of the book is that the stories we have told to make sense of the world are failing to account for the massive changes that have occurred in the last few decades.

Harari argues that human society has largely been driven by our species’ capacity to believe in fictions, whether they be gods or nations. Our belief in these fictions allows us to cooperate on a societal level.

Useful takeaways from the book include:

  • Clarity is power in a world deluged by irrelevant information.
  • Censorship works not by blocking the flow of information, but rather by flooding people with disinformation and distractions.
  • Humans think in stories rather than in facts, numbers, or equations.
  • Elections and referendums are not about what we think, but rather about what we feel.
  • It’s imperative to make your stories simple.
  • Don’t rely too much on adults to understand the world.
  • To run fast, don’t take much luggage with you and leave all your illusions behind.

Overall, 21 Lessons for the 21st Century is a must-read for anyone interested in the changes our world has been going through in recent decades.

What I Liked

The book was a deeply thought-provoking read. A reminder that we are all living through multiple massive revolutions bigger than the Industrial or Agricultural Revolutions…at the same time.

What I Did Not Like

Each section is weighty and well-argued, but overall, this book is much lighter-weight than his other books. It feels a bit cliche in parts.

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