It took me some time to write this review. I wanted to give it a couple of weeks before reflecting on this book.
When I finished it, it made me feel similar to when I finished Sapiens. The book does not paint the best version for humans and what we have done in the past. It's a bittersweet taste, with some hard evidence to back up chapters.
Mark Mason's style is fresh and down-to-the-fact. I have been following his newsletter for some time now, so when I saw this book in Mexico, I didn't think twice to buy.
Topics in this book are broad and they focus on human failures regarding our emotions, our inherent narcissism, how the religion formula works so well in humans, and how we can make out the best assuming we're deeply flaws.
Some big points I liked!
- Our ethical and values hierarchy depends a lot on our experiences. I liked the example of the before-after having a kid situation. Before having a kid, partying hard seems like a natural thing to do and we don't judge ourselves for spending a lot of time drinking and hanging out. After having a kid, we might judge people that party hard, as it might seem a waste of time.
- Our minds need to believe in something to provide meaning. The book refers to this concept of uncomfortable truth, which means that humans are just pieces of dust in the universe. If we don't find meaning, we sank in a big deep hole and our lives don't make sense anymore.
- Based on point 2, religions play a big part in giving the human something to believe in. Whether religions are based on true facts or not, it all comes down to: Have faith in something, a light of hope and have a community that supports the same principles.
- The book has a 6-step guide to create a religion 😅.
- We are all big narcissists. We are all driven by some ego which affects our interactions. The same ego makes us focus more in differences with other peers, rather than similitudes.
- I like the part where the book defines adulthood. It's basically when your ethical values and principles become the end-goal rather than a mean to an end. The clearest example is teenagers. Teenagers are different from a kid because they learn values or behaviours to get something else (e.g behave well or respect adults to party more or get extra money). In contrast, an adult would understand behaving well is the end goal in their life (among many other principles).
- Politics is also f*ucked 😞. The book states that democracy requires citizens and people with strong characters. Besides, politicians satisfy most of the time needs related to the emotional part of the brain.
Some great quotes to end up with hope
"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.” - Immanuel Kant
"Don't wait and expect a better life - be a better life"
"There is no reason to not love ourselves and one another. There is no reason to not treat ourselves and our planet with respect. There is no reason to not live every moment of our lives as though it were to be lived in eternal recurrence.”
(So I guess not everything is f*ucked)