Essay on Why Humans Run the World

Published: 2021/11/24
Number of words: 1036

“Why Humans Run the World” by Yuval Noah Harari recounts the history of human dominance over the world and the creation of complex contemporary cultures. In contrast to what it was before, it is true that humans are living in a frightening error, full of fiction and lies. To explain this fact, Harari uses various examples such as money, religion, and many more to show an account of human history within a framework while contrasting with the stone age period and other animals. By using terms such as “fictional reality” and “cooperation,” they are of importance to Harari’s explanation of why humans run the world and the superiority they have over other animals.

First, the term “fictional reality,” according to Harari means, “a reality made of fictional entities, like nations, like gods, like money, like corporations.” Religion, political and economic institutions, states and nations, companies, businesses, and money are among the fictional realities on which humanity created everything. On the other hand, the term “cooperation” is used throughout the narrative as a form of social interaction of animals as well as humans but rather as a behavior and not nothing social in nature. All of them have plausible backstories. Chimpanzees, for example, might readily thrive on an island, whereas humanity would not. Humans, on the contrary, govern the world because they cooperate, and this is due to their ability to think beyond the box.

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Humans utilize language to make new fictitious realities; if others believe in those fictional realities, such as “look, there is a god above the clouds! And if you don’t do what I tell you to do, when you die, God will punish you and send you to hell” then they will comply, follow the rules, and cooperate. Animals do not behave in this manner; no one can persuade a monkey to offer them a banana in exchange for paradise or heaven. Nations, religion, politics, companies, corporate work, and money are all stories or rather fictions created by humans. Money is an objective reality with value -you cannot drink or eat it-, yet we all follow our own set of rules when exchanging it for real things. Monkeys trade too; “yes, you give me a coconut, I’ll give you a banana.” It works for the chimpanzees, but they will never trade it for a piece of paper since they cannot accept that paper can be used to exchange food. Humans must create, follow, and fiction.

Furthermore, humanity has always lived in a lie-filled era. Homo sapiens can be termed as a post-truth species whose dominance is based on the ability to create and believe lies. Self-reinforcing myths have been used to connect human collectives since the stone era. Indeed, it was because of the exceptional human ability to invent and propagate fiction that Homo sapiens conquered this globe. Humans are the only creatures capable of cooperating with a large number of strangers because we are the only mammals capable of inventing fictional stories, spreading them, and persuading millions of others to believe in them. The core of Harari’s fascinating primary theme is that humans are defined by their collective fictions. He identifies religion as being one of the critical fictions, as one might expect. However, the mentioned fictions are equally vital. All of these inventions enable humans to do something that no other animal can: successfully and flexibly cooperate in significant numbers. He says, “the bees, the ants — that can cooperate in large numbers, but they don’t do so flexibly. Their cooperation is very rigid.”

The success of humans is inextricably connected to their size. “Humans control the planet because they are the only animals that can cooperate both flexibly and in very large numbers.” When Sapiens discovered the power to create a collective myth, it became clear that there was essentially no restriction as per the number of cooperatives, believing individuals who may belong to a belief group. As a result, they observe vastly different outcomes in human society than in dolphin or bonobo civilization, for instance. In other words, it is a lollapalooza as a result of a conjunction of essential factors. Humans want to believe that they have always been a privileged species, that they have always been able to rule the environment, and the lower creatures with which they cohabitated, thanks to a divine spark. But, at least at first, this was not the case. They were just another intelligent, sociable ape attempting to make a living in the wild.

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The importance of the phrases is that they emphasize humans as myth-makers. The central concept of Sapiens distinguishes them from other species; they are myth-makers, using intuition and language to construct and express new worlds, choices, and prospects to vast groups of people. Shared myths are essential because they allow Homo Sapiens to cooperate, organize at scale, and rule the planet. There is no glue to hold Sapiens together without mythology. Humans may be memory-makers on an individual level, but they are myth-makers as a species. Some seventy thousand years ago, a genetic mutation allowed the cognitive abilities of speech and imagination to arise.

In conclusion, humans can believe in and build alternative worlds for themselves because they can weave stories to construct “fictional realities” and because they can “cooperate” and work together as a community contrary to other animals. Harari employs a clever tactic to make his story more digestible and sensible: he refers to humans as Sapiens. Using this smidge of depersonalization, Harari could easily proceed to highlight some consequential claims regarding the history of humankind. Humans are just another species: Homo Sapiens, with an account that can be described in the same way as any other. The Sapiens are made up of their successes, failures, defects, and accomplishments. As a result, humans’ ability to develop and sustain vast, collaborative mythologies is one reason they rule the planet. Humans obey the same laws as long as they believe in the same fictions and can thus collaborate efficiently.


Harari, N. Y. (2015, July 24). Why humans run the world [Video]. TED.

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