For much of its existence, members the homo genus were small bands of hunter-gatherers scattered across the globe. Four separate species of homo, soloensis, sapiens, Neanderthal, and Denisovans lived simultaneously fifty millennia ago. Soloensis and Denisovans died off, and Sapiens drove Neanderthals to extinction. The likely causes for Sapien dominance were superior social skills and better technology. These advantages came from the “Tree of Knowledge” mutation, enabling homo sapiens to think and communicate in new and better ways. This sudden explosion of intelligence was known as the Cognitive Revolution. Sapiens were the first to create a complex verbal language, enabling detailed discussions and planning. Sapiens continued the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, until the first farmers began domesticating wheat in the Agricultural Revolution. Sapiens no longer foraged a large area to feed a small group, but worked a small area to more or less feed a large group.
The benefits from the Cognitive Revolution are easily identifiable. Harari states that while a single Neanderthal might beat a single Sapien in combat, this new communication enabled Sapiens to gather in larger numbers, and drive Neanderthals out of today’s Middle East and eventually Europe. I found these arguments the most persuasive, as they had a logical base. I find the argument that the Agricultural Revolution was a fraud the most difficult to accept. A hunter gatherer, seeing a plant, either wheat, corn, or potatoes, eating it, liking it, and wondering if he can grow it. The plant eventually grows far more food than foraging, attracting more people until the farm barely supports them. Harari probably considered agriculture a fraud because, compared to foraging and hunting, it requires an incredible amount of work, and damages the human body.