Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.
Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up (edition 2019)
by Tom Phillips (Author)
Humans: A Brief History of How We F*cked It All Up by Tom Phillips
No current Talk conversations about this book.
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
Funny (but in a sad way at times...) historical anecdotes that show how easily we can screw up things without even meaning too sometimes. Not really a history book, since there's not really any in-depth analysis here, mostly just entertaining stories that do make you think at times.
Entertaining and packed full of fun facts. Basically it's 280 pages making the point that when straight old white men with too much money trust straight young white men with too much confidence and not enough skill, terrible things happen to the world. And also, that we've shown no capacity from learning from thousands of years of similar mistakes.
(Not all of the men in the book are white, so neo-nazis can chill the fuck out; but it is largely a book about men fucking up because, as the author says, for most of history they're the only ones who have been given a chance to fail.)
This is the one book I truly think everyone should read. While the topics discussed can be a little depressing, Phillips' achieves an amazing feat with this book. He truly understands what he's talking about and conveys tons of information and history into a relatively short book with a sharp sense of humor. I highly recommend.
Okay, the title grabbed me and Smith’s writing kept me.
He says, "There are lots of books about humanity’s finest achievements— the great leaders, the genius inventors, the indomitable human spirit. There are also lots of books about mistakes we’ve made: both individual screw-ups and society-wide errors. But there aren’t quite so many about how we manage to get things profoundly, catastrophically wrong over and over again." Yep.
First chapter nails it with the root of all the upf*cking...our brains. From availability heuristics to pareidolia to confirmations biases, Smith condenses a host of our problems into an informative and sardonic yet still funny package.
He’ll probably be dismissed by many for his cavalier relation of the topics, but the source material is there under, around and over his wonderful sense of humor. On pareidolia, he says he used to think confirmation bias was the real culprit, and everything he'd read, uh ... confirmed that. (See where he's going with that?)
Which is exactly the problem: our brains hate finding out that they’re wrong. Confirmation bias is our annoying habit of zeroing in like a laser-guided missile on any scrap of evidence that supports what we already believe, and blithely ignoring the possibly much, much larger piles of evidence that suggest we might have been completely misguided.The "choice supportive bias" tells us
There’s even some evidence that, in certain circumstances, the very act of telling people they’re wrong— even if you patiently show them the evidence that clearly demonstrates why this is the case— can actually make them believe the wrong thing more.The T-msters are masters of that, but not alone. And of course, there's the Dunning-Kruger effect (detailed in their paper, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments”). Fits someone to T.
In his chapter on people in power, he had these things to say about someone. Omitting identifying words, see if you can guess who...
“Things that might have proved career-ending for other politicians [...] didn’t seem to be much of a barrier to his success.”
Who? Trick question... The first two were about Abdalá Bucaram, Ecuador’s President in 1996. The rest were about Hitler. Phillips doesn’t say anything about T in that chapter, but it's pretty obvious he was alluding. (So the last page has a picture of he-who-shall-not-be-named...more than allusion.) And from the chapter on leaders...
...if you want a helpful guide on why it’s best not to put someone with the temperament of a spoiled child in charge of a country, then the Zhengde Emperor (born Zhu Houzhao) is probably a pretty good place to start. His distaste for actually doing any of the work of ruling, when he’d much rather be off hunting tigers or sleeping with absurd numbers of women, was one thing. Not ideal, but, eh, you work with what you’ve got.and
Germany’s Wilhelm II believed himself to be a master negotiator with a diplomatic golden touch. In fact, his only gift was insulting just about every other country he came into contact with, which may help explain how World War I happened.How far off is WW3, with T? On technology and the scientific method:
The way it’s supposed to work is this: you have an idea about how the world might work, and in order to see if there’s a chance it might be right, you try very hard to prove yourself wrong. If you fail to prove yourself wrong, you try to prove yourself wrong again, or prove yourself wrong another way. After a while you decide to tell the world that you’ve failed to prove yourself wrong, at which point everybody else tries to prove you wrong, as well. If they all fail to prove you wrong, then slowly people begin to accept that you might possibly be right, or at least less wrong than the alternatives. Of course, that’s not how it actually works. Scientists are no less susceptible than any other humans to the perils of just assuming that their view of the world is right, and ignoring anything to the contrary.Spot on.
So there is a lot more. And Phillips is funny. My confirmation bias likes him.
Modern humans have come a long way in the seventy thousand years they've walked the earth. Art, science, culture, trade -- on the evolutionary food chain, we're true winners. But it hasn't always been smooth sailing, and sometimes -- just occasionally -- we've managed to truly f*ck things up. Weaving together history, science, politics and pop culture, Phillips offers a panoramic exploration of humankind in all its glory, or lack thereof. From Lucy, our first ancestor, who fell out of a tree and died, to General Zhou Shou of China, who stored gunpowder in his palace before a lantern festival, to the Austrian army attacking itself one drunken night, to the most spectacular fails of the present day, this book reveals how even the most mundane mistakes can shift the course of civilization as we know it.
No library descriptions found.
Amazon Kindle (0 editions)
Audible (0 editions)
CD Audiobook (0 editions)
Project Gutenberg (0 editions)
Google Books — Loading...
Melvil Decimal System (DDC)904.7History and Geography History Collected accounts of events Battles
Is this you?
Become a LibraryThing Author.