I saw the above image when Samuel Tenenbaum shared it on Facebook, and it reminded me of the book I am finally almost, almost, almost done reading, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind.
It reminded me of something I keep thinking of while reading the book. I keep thinking, Yeah, maybe we’re the homo that is the most sapient, so the name of the species works. But are we really smart enough to keep going?
I suppose you noticed a day or so ago that, thanks to Omicron, the United States just set yet another record for new COVID cases in a day.
This, despite all the free vaccines and boosters. This, despite the fact that it’s perfectly obvious how to avoid passing on infections, which create new, more contagious (and more likely to overcome vaccines) variants as they reproduce through the population.
We know what to do. We — as a total population — just don’t do it in sufficient numbers to snuff this thing out.
A virus is about as stupid a life form as you can imagine, if you even want to call it a life form. It doesn’t even form cells, much less anything remotely resembling a brain, in contrast to the huge hunk of gray matter than homo sapiens has been blessed with.
But over and over again, it keeps outsmarting us.
So maybe, in Darwinian terms, it’s the one that deserves to win out.
I don’t believe that. I really don’t believe it at all. I’ve got a lot invested in this big-headed species to which I belong. I know we can do better. In fact, I keep getting kind of ticked at Yuval Noah Harari as I read his book, because again and again, he declines to give our species the kind of respect I think it deserves. Or that I at least want to think it deserves.
But time and time again, we just don’t do what we know how to do. It’s like we’re trying to shove ourselves toward extinction. Which ticks me off. And really, really disappoints me…