Homo deus by Harari: a second handed book

Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari is garbage.

Homo Deus is a second handed book. Ayn Rand pointed out that many people live their lives without having any positions or preferences of their own – they are second handers. They just repeat ideas and express preferences they took from others without thinking critically about whether those ideas and preferences make sense. There is a style of non-fiction writing that is distinctive to second handed writers. It involves writing some factual stuff, then very vaguely repeating some stuff about somebody else’s position and maybe saying that you think that position is plausible or something like that. The writer doesn’t discuss the substance of the ideas because then he would have to think for himself. This sort of writing is boring to read because the writer isn’t addressing any problems.

The second handed style also has another problem. The author doesn’t realise that his worldview is actually a susbstantive set of ideas that might be wrong. So he states his ideas as if they were just facts. And since he hasn’t bothered to criticise those ideas, they are often bad ideas. Here’s a specific example of this problem:

In the middle of the nineteenth century Karl Marx reached brilliant economic insights.

Harari, Yuval Noah. Homo Deus (p. 65). Random House. Kindle Edition.

Harari drops this sentence into the book and never bothers to discuss its substance as though nobody could possibly object to it. Anyone with any knowledge of history should be sceptical about this claim. The only governments that have claimed to follow Marx’s ideas have murdered tens of millions of people. In reality, Marx’s ideas were inconsistent and so badly mistaken, as pointed by Bohm Bawerk more than a century ago, see also George Reisman’s refutation of Marxism, see also comments by me and Elliot Temple on Time will run back by Hazlitt. Marx had a labour theory of value according to which the value of a commodity depended on how much labour was expended in making it. In reality, a person will buy a good if he prefers that good to the goods he has to give up to get it. The seller offers his goods for sale on the market and if people want to buy them at the offered price he may stay in business. So value is determined by preferences not by labour – the subjective theory of value. Marxists have made many attempts to evade these problems, but they suck. If Harari has somehow managed to refute all the criticisms of Marx, then why does he not present that refutation, or even link to such a refutation? The answer is that Harari has no refutation of the criticisms of Marx. Harari is a dishonest hack and his work is trash.

About conjecturesandrefutations
My name is Alan Forrester. I am interested in science and philosophy: especially David Deutsch, Ayn Rand, Karl Popper and William Godwin.

8 Responses to Homo deus by Harari: a second handed book

  1. > Homo deus by Yuval Noah Harari is garbage. I’m not going to bother linking to the Amazon page cuz I don’t want anybody to waste their money on it.

    I think you should link it so people can skim reviews or otherwise get more info about it, if they want to. And I think it’s bad to talk about stuff and not link it, in general. Links are convenient and nice and useful and they don’t make ppl buy stuff. And linking stuff also helps avoid potential confusion about what you’re referring to, it reduces ambiguity where someone google searches and finds the wrong thing. That can be an issue even if you don’t expect it, like maybe in the future that guy will make a second book with the same name plus a subtitle, or he’ll change his name (mb cuz gender change), shit happens, links give more info about what thing you’re referring to than not linking does.

  2. > In reality, a person will buy a good if he prefers that good more to the goods he has to give up to get it.

    Grammar.

  3. So I googled it cuz I recently had an argument about capitalization and you wrote “Homo deus” instead of “Homo Deus” for the title, twice. So I was curious about that. But the title is capitalized, that was just a minor error. No big deal. But I did find the amazon page:

    > NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

    That was interesting to me. It adds context. I didn’t know you were criticizing that kind of book. I thought it might be obscure non-fiction by some minor professor, you know what I mean? But it’s not. So that matters. Linking the book helps with stuff like that, though you could also have told us.

    There’s so much info in the amazon blurb. it gives me more of an idea of what you’re talking about and what you think of the book, cuz u really didn’t explain that much in the post – the post seems like it relies on the reader knowing what the book is to understand some of the stuff since you don’t give many examples.

    > Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods.

    ok *that* kinda book.

    > Over the past century humankind has managed to do the impossible and rein in famine, plague, and war. This may seem hard to accept, but, as Harari explains in his trademark style—thorough, yet riveting—famine, plague and war have been transformed from incomprehensible and uncontrollable forces of nature into manageable challenges. For the first time ever, more people die from eating too much than from eating too little; more people die from old age than from infectious diseases; and more people commit suicide than are killed by soldiers, terrorists and criminals put together. The average American is a thousand times more likely to die from binging at McDonalds than from being blown up by Al Qaeda.

    so much here! like they think that being thorough is boring, so it requires a special genius author to somehow juggle the contradictions and make something thorough YET riveting too, unlike all regular books like Popper or Mises wrote

    And then there is some crap implying that I’m Islamophobic b/c i’m more opposed to Al Qaeda than McDonalds. So it’s a trendy lefty politicized book, and it’s aggressive about that, it’s not trying to be neutral, instead it’s just partisan and pretends that is neutral – it’s trying to push the political spectrum so partisan leftist stuff is taken for granted as the neutral default. which, hey, fits with that quote about marx you gave.

    and it’s saying that you should be more scared of suicide than war, terrorism and crime put together. you should be more scared of yourself than of, say, letting unlimited MS-13 members through the border. or maybe since suicide is so fucking scary, you should be trying to control your potentially-suicidal friend/spouse/kid even more than you’re trying to control MS-13?

    so yeah the amazon page is interesting and worth visiting even though i had zero intention of buying the book.

    > What then will replace famine, plague, and war at the top of the human agenda? As the self-made gods of planet earth, what destinies will we set ourselves, and which quests will we undertake?

    oh yeah he even fucking says it next. stop caring about war, we’re so over that, care about something else, get a new quest, world peace is so 1900s. is that why he won’t read or listen to Mises, b/c Mises is an advocate of peace and he thinks a more peaceful world is a bad goal to be interested in? jfc.

  4. holy shit that url i put in my comment above turned into a GIANT thing. and it’s not just an image preview that is linked to the url i gave. it’s actually got multiple urls with some crap added, none of them are the url i actually put in. for reference here is the URL i gave with some spaces added to ruin the auto detection:

    https:// http://www.amazon.com /dp/ B01BBQ33VE/

  5. holy shit seriously it re-added the protocol in front of the www, not just in the link target but even in the visible text. and rip httpS. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

    meanwhile no support for blockquotes, italics, etc. so it’s meddling with this but not giving basic useful stuff.

    not impressed with this wordpress stuff.

  6. i saw “tag=kpembed-20” in the urls in the giant preview thing. that is an amazon affiliate code to get referral money. it doesn’t look like alan’s code though. so i think there is some wordpress plugin adding this so they will get the money, NOT alan. maybe, hopefully, it’s a default alan didn’t configure. but anyway, meh.

    my tag is “tag=curi04-20” (my user id is in it, that’s why i think kpembed isn’t alan). i’m gonna put a link with my tag now and see if they override it with a tag that is not mine nor alan’s… cuz i think that’s really lame since it’s alan’s blog and my comment.

    IMO replacing ppl’s tags is bad in general, but i doubt it’s even intended by alan.

  7. oh hey it did NOT replace the tag, it left my tag in when modifying the urls. i didn’t expect that. at least that means probably not malware that hacked the blog, just a crappy plugin.

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