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The Human Swarm PDF Summary

The Human Swarm PDF Summary

How Our Societies Arise, Thrive, and Fall

Wonder what ants and sperm whales can teach you about the future of the United States?

Tropical biologist and ant expert Mark W. Moffett is your guy for questions such as this.

The title of his book says pretty much everything:

The Human Swarm.

Who Should Read “The Human Swarm”? And Why?

As Michael Shermer, the author of The Moral Arc and the publisher of the Skeptic magazine has noted, The Human Swarm is yet another addition to the Canon of Big History studies, joining classics such as Jared Diamond’s Guns, Germs, and Steel, Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, and Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature.

If you’ve read and liked any of these five books, then you’re sure to like The Human Swarm as well. “This fine work,” says a starred review in The Publishers Weekly, “should have broad appeal to anyone curious about human societies, which is basically everyone.”

And really, there aren’t many books better—or more wide-ranging—than Mark W. Moffett’s magnum opus if you want to find out more about how human societies work and what makes them work.

About Mark W. Moffett

Mark W. Moffett

Mark W. Moffett is an American tropical biologist, specialized in the ecology of tropical forest canopies and the social behavior of ants.

Called “daring eco-adventurer” by none other than Margaret Atwood, Moffett is a research associate at the Smithsonian and a visiting scholar in the Department of Human Evolutionary Biology at Harvard University.

He has received many awards for his work, including the Lowell Thomas Medal for exploration.

In addition to The Human Swarm, Moffett has also written three more books: Adventures Among Ants: A Global Safari with a Cast of Trillions, Face to Face with Frogs, and The High Frontier: Exploring the Tropical Rainforest Canopy.

“The Human Swarm PDF Summary”

A 500-pages-long journey, meandering “through multiple and varied disembarkation points,” The Human Swarm is divided into nine sections, each of which is in turn divided into several chapters.

We tried replicating the structure in our summary, which, unfortunately, does little justice to the magisterial effort that is Mark Moffett’s exceptional book.

Hopefully, however, our summary will inspire you to buy The Human Swarm and read it yourself.

Section I: Affiliation and Recognition

In the first section, The Human Swarm, Mark W. Moffett talks about “the wide range of vertebrate societies.”

Chapter 1: What a Society Isn’t (and What It Is)

Whether by biologists or anthropologists, societies are often defined either in terms of identity or in terms of cooperation.

As far as humans are concerned, the latter definition seems better: after all, we humans have evolved such that cooperation is central to our survival.

However, following Benedict Anderson’s idea of the “imagined community,” Mark W. Moffett uses the introductory chapter to reconsider the role of cooperation in societies, and show that it is “less essential than the matter of identity.”

In other words, not just in humans, “societies consist of a distinct set of members in a rich tapestry of relationships, not all of which are harmonious. “

Chapter 2: What Vertebrates Get out of Being in a Society

If you remember the ideas of any of the Enlightenment philosophers—say, Hobbes or Rousseau—you already know that the basic idea behind the creation of society means giving away some of your own freedoms so that you get safety in return.

In this chapter, Moffett shows that the same mechanism works in vertebrates—and especially in the world of mammals.

Namely, despite the imperfections in the system of partnership, animal societies exist because they provide their members with better protection from outsiders and, thus, are a guarantee for the satisfaction of their basic needs.

Chapter 3: On the Move

You’ve probably heard the words “fission” and “fusion” before, right? However, we doubt that you’ve heard them in the context of animal and human societies.

Well, Moffett borrows them from the world of nuclear physics and reuses them here to describe a special type of animal societies: fission-fusion types.

“Fission-fusion sounds esoteric,” writes Moffett, “but there’s an abundance of reasons to look at this lifestyle. The fission-fusion species include virtually all the brainy mammals that anthropologists studying the social brain hypothesis salivate over—most significantly, us, Homo sapiens.

What does a fission-fusion society entail?

Precisely what the two words imply: constant dispersion and recreation of the society.

In other words, in fission-fusion societies, “society members temporarily cluster here and there in social groups that form, dissolve, and reform elsewhere.”

As we’ve already uncovered above, we’re not talking merely about spotted hyenas, lions, bottlenose dolphins, bonobos, and chimpanzees; we’re talking about hunter-gatherers as well.

But we’ll get there.

Chapter 4: Individual Recognition

Now, the most fascinating aspect of human societies—and the one Benedict Anderson was especially interested in—is that humans do not need to know each other for their societies to stay together.

Hence, “imagined communities.”

Put simply, in most animals, all members of a society are obliged to know each other as individuals, whether they like it or not.

If you’ve your Aristotle, you already know that there’s a limit to the number of people you can actually know, i.e., the number of people you can call friends.

British anthropologist Robin Dunbar gave us an actual number (now, of course, called Dunbar’s number): humans can maintain about 150 stable relationships.

However, most human societies number far, far more than 150 members. For example, there are 300 million people living in the United States!

Apparently, you don’t need to know them all—or even a significant number of them—to consider that they belong in the same society as you!

So, how did humans break free from the constraint of being obliged to know each member of a society and, thus, create the most powerful societies in history?

Read ahead to find out!

Section II: Anonymous Societies

We said above that there’s a population limit “in most animals;” the second section of The Human Swarm is about the animals where such a limit doesn’t seem to exist: social insects.

Chapter 5: Ants and Humans, Apples and Oranges

No matter how strange it may seem to you, when it comes to building a society, we are more akin to ants than we are to bonobos.

And Mark W. Moffett uses the fifth chapter to show why.

Almost expectedly, the size of a society increases its complexity—with almost no exception—which results in some ant societies being more similar to human societies than ape societies.

After all, unlike bonobos, ants are capable of doing all kinds of “human” things like building roads, creating traffic rules, having public hygiene workers, and even working on assembly lines!

Chapter 6: The Ultimate Nationalists

How do ants know that they belong in the same community as other ants?

Well, because of chemistry, i.e., a scent; for comparison, another mighty society—that of the sperm whales—is founded upon another sense, i.e., shared sounds.

Neither scent nor sounds are memory-dependent; nor are they (with a few exceptions, but let’s not go into them) hackable.

In other words, the societies of ants and sperm whales can reach immense size because they can be sure in the allegiance of their members.

And they don’t allow in anyone who doesn’t have the same scent or can produce the same sound.

That’s why they are the ultimate nationalists.

Chapter 7: Anonymous Humans

Analogously, humans have broken the membership glass ceiling through comparable markers.

You know that you are an American—or whatever else—even though you haven’t met even a millionth part of the members of your society, because of several markers you share with your fellow beings: language, religion, history, philosophy of life, etc.

And it goes even further and deeper than that, including behaviors so subtle they may only be noticed subliminally.

For example, in Iran and Bulgaria they nod for “no;” if you nod for “yes,” then you are an outsider.

Section III: Hunter-Gatherers Until Recent Times

The three chapters included in Section III ask what the societies of our species were like before the advent of agriculture.

Chapter 8: Band Societies

Moffett refers to as “band societies” the people who lived nomadically in small, spread-out groups called bands.

This is the fusion-fission life we talked about before:

“People mostly clumped here and there in bands,” writes Moffett. “Each band consisted of on average 25 to 35 individuals comprising several, usually unrelated, nuclear families, often spanning three generations.”

Normally, a person could visit other bands, yet tended to keep a long-term connection with one.

“Shifts between bands usually came about with little effort but not often,” concludes Moffett, “a far cry from the eternally fluid movements of chimpanzees and other fission-fusion species characterized by ever-changing parties.”

Chapter 9: The Nomadic Life

“To get some idea of how a band society functioned in the day-to-day,” Moffett goes on in the next chapter, “think of each band, with its two- or three-dozen residents, not merely as a neighborhood in the social sense… [but also as] a local manufacturing center.”

More precisely:

Picture not a steel works, but a minimal organized unit of production, something no city quarter can claim. The factory wasn’t elaborate. The people had no need for complex or permanent infrastructure. As with animals in a small society, notably the simplest ant colonies, they put together simple dwellings, and anything else they wanted, from materials, gathered on the spot… Few tasks in a band factory demanded multiple players… Division of labor by sex and age was the backbone of the factory. In a human band almost invariably the men hunted large game or fished, while the women, often weighed down by breastfeeding children (which made hunting impractical), gathered the bulk of the band’s calorie intake in the form of fruits, vegetables, and small prey like lizards and insects, and cooked dinner… The rhythm of expeditions orchestrated by sex added a layer of complexity beyond that of the movements of almost all other animals.

But you already know this for two reasons: first and foremost, because the nomadic hunter-gatherer societies are treated as “the gold standard for our ancestral condition,” and secondly, because we’ve already introduced you to them via James Suzman’s exceptional Affluence Without Abundance.

Chapter 10: Settling Down

However, the band societies weren’t the only type of hunter-gatherer societies that existed: there were also the settled hunter-gatherers as well.

And there’s a big difference between how a nomadic hunter-gatherer society functions, and what it turns into after settling.

If you remember from our summary of James Suzman’s book, nomadic hunter-gatherers are “equality-minded jacks-of-all-trades, who solved issues by discussion,” but the societies of settled hunter-gatherers have leaders, divide labor, and result in immense disparities in wealth.

Nowadays, most of us behave like settled hunter-gatherers. However, the very existence of nomadic hunter-gatherer societies is evidence in favor of “a psychological versatility we still possess.”

In other words, there’s another—arguably better—way for organization. Why did the other one win? That’s covered in Section IV.

Section IV: The Deep History of Human Anonymous Societies

Section IV consists of only one chapter: “Pant-Hoots and Passwords;” it tries to explain not how nomadic life evolved into settled, but why settled hunter-gatherer societies were the only ones capable of becoming anonymous, which, as we explained above is the hallmark of a developed society.

Chapter 11: Pant-Hoots and Passwords

In other words, at some point in the distant past, “our ancestors must have taken the crucial but heretofore overlooked evolutionary step of making use of badges of membership that would, in time, permit our societies to grow large.”

To understand how this happened, Moffett scrutinizes the behavior of our nearest relatives: the chimpanzees and the bonobos.

And he puts forward a striking hypothesis.

Namely, that “a simple shift in how the apes use one of their vocalizations, the pant-hoot, could make that sound essential for identifying each other as society members.”

“Such a transformation,” Moffett explains, “could have easily occurred in our distant ancestors. Ever more markers would have been added to this initial ‘password,’ many of them connected to our bodies, transforming them into flesh-and-blood bulletin boards for displaying human identity.”

In other words, if your parents don’t approve of you getting a tattoo, tell them that tattoos are the reason why modern societies exist.

Section V: Functioning (or Not) in Societies

Section V moves on to exploring the psychology underlying these markers and society membership. It consists of five chapters.

Chapter 12: Sensing Others

In the first chapter of the fifth section of The Human Swarm, Mark Moffett analyzes how these initial markers evolved to function the same way smells and sounds function in social ants and sperm whales.

In other words, in time, these artificial markers started possessing some underlying essence which made the members of one society (and ethnicity and race) feel so fundamental and ancient that, in comparison to other groups, they see themselves as nothing short of separate biological species.

Chapter 13: Stereotypes and Stories

Of course, as we’ve already learned from Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens, these markers are most powerful when they are (essentially fake) narratives which are passed over from generation to generation.

In order for this to happen, these fake narratives are also sacred and unquestionable: members who question them are questioned themselves, i.e. if you doubt the validity of a story shared by your community, people would start wondering if you are a member of that community or an outsider.

Yup, we’re talking about stereotypes.

Chapter 14: The Great Chain

In time, because of mechanisms such as the one described above, stereotypes get attached to prejudices, and prejudices are, as we’ve already learned from our many summaries on biases, expressed automatically.

Because of this, members of a society often perceive an outsider not as a unique individual—which he/she, by definition, is—but as a member of another society.

Chapter 15: Grand Unions

This, in turn, deepens the differences between societies and results in using the outsider societies as a cohesive element for any given society.

It seems that we have an innate “penchant for ranking outsiders as ‘below’ our own people or in some cases as subhuman altogether.”

In other words, because of the deepened differences between societies, a person can believe that, even though he/she is a unique individual functioning within a society relatively freely, a member of another society acts solely as a clog in a larger machine which has goals and objectives of its own.

“We are disposed to discount the differences between individuals,” writes Moffett, “and to perceive the members of other societies—and to a lesser extent those of our own—as both similar and forming a unified whole.”

Chapter 16: Putting Kin in Their Place

The final chapter of the fifth sections considers “the ways in which the psychology of families relates to perceptions of our society, granting the influence of both in human affairs.”

In other words, are societies something like extended families?

The interesting conclusion is that, even though, by definition, they are not—families share genes, and communities nothing but imagined stories—they are still as foundational and as important about the healthy development of the human psyche as families.

Section VI: Peace and Conflict

Titled “Peace and Conflict,” Section VI takes on “the issue of the relationships among societies.”

Chapter 17: Is Conflict Necessary?

The good news: the answer to the question above is “no.”

The bad news: “while animal societies need not be in conflict, peace between them is relatively rare, present in just a few species and supported by situations of minimal competition.”

Chapter 18: Playing Well with Others

As you know full well, in addition to your highly developed neocortex, your brain also includes the amygdala, still wired the way it is in all animals, i.e., firing its “age-old cautionary reflexes of fight or flight” around the clock!

That is why “even for groups on excellent terms, sublimated biases ensure the playing field is never perfectly level, as each side jockeys for a better deal.”

After all, even hunter-gatherer societies—relatively peaceful between each other when there were enough resources—didn’t act peacefully when resources and opportunities would dry up.

So, how do we keep the peace when competition is raging?

Well, as you already know from Steven Pinker, there’s some good news:

In recent centuries, even with mass atrocities factored in, the probability of dying from an act of aggression between societies has declined globally. Arguably peace is fostered by the increased contact between countries. Nations also draw ever more on talents and resources from beyond their borders. Ideally, this interconnectedness and interdependence should see nations through periods of shortfall, at times when what tranquility exists between the societies of other animals tends to collapse. Avoiding violence when the potential social and material gains from war are high takes more than good intentions, however: it requires cultivating, and recognizing, the greater payoff, over the long term, of peace over conflict—even among hated adversaries. Whenever that minimum can’t be met, every nation must be committed to act against those who refuse to abide by the rules that safeguard the international order. This is a lofty goal. Hopefully, it’s an achievable objective in light of the perils of modern warfare. In no other species do societies coordinate to preserve the peace.

Section VII: The Life and Death of Societies

Section VII, “The Life and Death of Societies,” examines “how societies come together and fall apart.”

Chapter 19: The Lifecycle of Societies

Even though “the dynamics of society genesis and transformation play out in a manner unique to each species,” depending on “the rules by which the members of the species interact and identify each other, and the resources available at a certain time,” a theme emerges:

Life requires the constant fulfilling of needs—food, sanctuary, mates. When those needs aren’t met, escalating physical and social stressors spur the decay of societies. More often than not, the troubles will be most severe when a society has overgrown what its environment can support. Even though a large society can overrun smaller neighbors, its swelling population aggravates competition among its own members, with the added burden on every individual to keep track of who is who—should the societies of a species have opportunities to grow to a size where that is a problem. The members’ proficiency at managing relationships and coordinating activities declines. This provokes a shift in allegiance to a subset of the society membership—splinter groups in which everyone fares better.

And this theme—analyzes Moffett throughout this whole section—is observable in both animal and human societies.

As an excellent example of how an animal society crumbles, Moffett uses the case of the Gombe chimpanzees documented by Jane Goodall in the early 1970s.

When Goodall first came to Gombe about a decade before 1971, there was no evidence of factions. But in that year, it was clearly visible that the original group had split into factions, later named Kasakela (on the north) and Kahama (on the south).

At first, the two factions were somewhat amicable between each other, but after some time the Kasakela apes obliterated the Kahama community and took back much of its territory in the following few years.

Chapter 20: The Dynamic “Us”

“The two-step process at Gombe—the emergence of internal factions followed by division—seems to be omnipresent among primates that live in societies, having now been documented for the troops of at least a couple dozen monkey species,” writes Moffett?

Is the same true about human societies as well?

Unfortunately—yes.

And the reason is simple: as Charles Darwin wrote in the final sentence of On the Origin of Species: “Endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

And this evolution occurs at different rates, and over time, creates insurmountable obstacles.

To understand this better, think of languages splitting over time: it is difficult to note a point in time when this happens, but it is evident that it happens.

Well, the same occurs with human societies as well.

Chapter 21: Inventing Foreigners and the Death of Societies

Simply put, the markers which keep a society together can’t be shared for all times.

And when they are no longer recognized by all members of a single community, that community breaks into factions, the members of which no longer see each other as being similar.

“In fact,” writes Moffett, “the metamorphosis of societies as they splinter off from each other has been labeled ‘pseudo-speciation,’ in effect turning what had been one species of human into two.”

Hunter-gatherer societies fell apart because of poor communication across hunter-gatherer bands; modern human societies fall apart because the original uniting markers keeping a society together are no longer shared.

It is not only that imagined things unite us—it is also that imagined things (or even stranger: their reinterpretations) separate us as well.

Section VIII: Tribes to Nations

The penultimate section of The Human Swarm, titled “Tribes to Nations,” explores the social changes which made the expansion of societies into states (nations) possible.

Chapter 22: Turning a Village into a Conquering Society

So, how did settled hunter-gatherer societies evolve to become something bigger, and, eventually, nations?

Precisely as you would expect them to: by conquering other societies.

Mark Moffett says that across the animal kingdom there’s little to no evidence of societies freely merging.

So, it’s only natural to suppose that early human tribes didn’t merge either.

After some time, due to growth or need for it (roadways, ships, etc.), leaders of certain villages decided to expand their dominion over the territories of their neighbors.

This resulted in something exceptional: the original fold started including outsiders.

Most animal societies don’t want that: when the society of the Gombe chimpanzees split, one faction wanted to destroy the other.

However, humans—like some social ants—developed something far better than this: believe it or not, slavery!

Due to slavery and the subjugation of entire groups of people, the exchange of membership between tribes was taken to a whole new level.

Outsiders were now members of the original fold, but they didn’t share the same status. Even though unwillingly, however, they worked for the benefit of this new tribe.

Chapter 23: Building and Breaking a Nation

Precisely because of the fact that these new and larger tribes didn’t consider the outsiders as equals, they were built to be destroyed from the start.

“What’s typical of societies put together by conquest,” writes Moffett, “isn’t division between factions… nor utter collapse, though it can happen, but rather a fracturing that almost always occurs roughly along the ancient territorial lines of the peoples that have come to make up the society.”

Because of this, “large societies may be no more durable than small ones, fragmenting on average once every few centuries,” as archeologist Joyce Marcus has demonstrated.

Section IX: From Captive to Neighbor… To Global Citizen?

The final section explores the “circuitous route that led to the rise of ethnicities and races and the, at times, muddy waters of current national identities.”

Chapter 24: The Rise of Ethnicities

“To become an interlocking whole,” writes Moffett, “a conquering society had to make the shift from controlling what had been independent groups to accepting them as members.”

This, of course, “requires an adjustment in people’s identities, in which ethnic minority groups adjust to the majority people—the dominant group that most often founded the society and controls not only its identity but also most of the resources and power.”

However, as we implied above, this assimilation can only be accomplished to a degree.

You don’t need to look further back than the 20th century to understand what we mean: both Yugoslavia and the USSR broke apart because “no society can persist unless being a part of it is important to its people.”

That’s why, in the 1970s, no Yugoslav or Soviet would have believed that their countries would eventually balkanize into smaller states. But only twenty years later—this seemed all but inevitable.

Suddenly, Yugoslavia and USSR meant less to people than, say, Serbia and Croatia, or Georgia and Armenia—as it had been before their creation.

In all these matters, geography truly is destiny. For a secession to succeed, the clashing group typically has to populate a specific portion of the country’s territory, which they often claim as an ancient homeland. This means the break ends up falling between stretches of terrain heavily populated by ethnicities that once had societies of their own there. Nevertheless, drifts in identity from place to place still have an impact, much as they once did across hunter-gatherer bands. These changes help generate regional cultures found in every nation and influence all manner of things from cuisine to politics.

Chapter 25: Divided We Stand

Now, there’s another way to incorporate other humans within a society: immigration.

As you know full well, it is almost always the case that immigrants are assigned lower power and status when compared to the natives.

In addition, “the identity immigrants had once treasured in their ethnic homeland is often recast into broader racial groups. The shift in perception may initially be pushed on the newcomers, but they can accept the changes because of the advantages of having a more extensive base of social support in the adopted society.”

Of course, the more immigrants come, the fiercer the opposition against them is because, as is often the case, they want to save their identity by ghettoizing. And that’s how and why nationalism and patriotism develop.

And the circle won’t be broken.

Chapter 26: The Inevitability of Societies

In an address to the United Nations, Ronald Reagan once made the following observation: “I occasionally think how quickly our differences worldwide would vanish if we were facing an alien threat from outside this world.”

If you’ve read/seen The War of the Worlds, you know what Reagan was thinking: when the definition of an outsider changes, the definition of the member of a society changes as well.

An outsider can be a person who speaks another language—but only until someone who, say, walks on four feet and doesn’t understand the difference between languages attack us. Then, the outsider from yesterday becomes your ally; and, thus, you learn to see the similarities between you and start ignoring the differences.

So, will a global human society form if humankind is forced to face a common enemy?

Mark Moffett doesn’t believe that—even though no single society is essential, societies (as a phenomenon) are more than necessary for growth and interhuman understanding, and our societies will survive even the threat of Martians.

“Space aliens wouldn’t make nations irrelevant any more than Europeans arriving in Australia caused Aborigines to dispense with their tribes,” writes Moffett. “That would be so regardless of how much the aliens shattered the beliefs people held about their own societies, whose beloved differences would now look trivial by comparison.”

“Moreover,” he goes on, “when societies of our species turn to one another, whether for commercial advantage or to defend against aliens, that reliance doesn’t diminish the weight they place on their differences. The notion of cosmopolitanism, the idea that the people of the world will come to feel a primary connection to the human race, is a pipe dream.”

“Divided we will be,” Moffett concludes somewhat bittersweetly, “and divided we must stand.”

Key Lessons from “The Human Swarm”

1.      Anonymous Societies Are Complex Societies
2.      Stereotypes Are Built into the Very Fabric of Human Societies
3.      Societies Have Always Been and Always Will Be Inevitable

Anonymous Societies Are Complex Societies

The questions “why haven’t chimpanzees formed more complex societies?” and “why did the equality-minded nomads who solved issues by discussion lose the organizational war to the settled agricultural communities?” have pretty much the same answer: because only anonymous societies are complex and prosper.

Ants have anonymous societies, and so do sperm whales; chimpanzees, unlike developed humans, don’t.

In an anonymous society, it isn’t necessary that you know all members of your community because there are ways you can differentiate them from the rest.

Ants, for example, use unchangeable scents, and sperm whales—sounds.

Humans use very complex networks of symbols—called markers—which can include everything from language and religion to clothing and subliminal gestures.

Stereotypes Are Built into the Very Fabric of Human Societies

We think of stereotypes as something one can be done with.

Unfortunately, stereotypes are built into the fabric of human societies: it is impossible for a society to exist in the first place if it doesn’t devise stories in which it is both different and superior to outsiders.

The very idea of an outsider stems from the existence of a stereotype, a story which defines a society.

And thousands of years ago, it made absolute sense for a member of any society to trust his inner stereotypes.

For comparison, if a chimpanzee ventures into the territory of a different group, it will almost certainly be killed.

Societies Have Always Been and Always Will Be Inevitable

Even though it may seem like a nice thought experiment a war-of-the-worlds or Armageddon-scenario in which all humans unite in one super-society because of an external threat once and for all—this, says Mark Moffett, is very unlikely.

Simply put, even before they are created, all societies have an inherent expiration date, for the simple reason that both their members and their unifying markers evolve unpredictably.

In time, some of these markers—say, language or religion—start meaning/looking differently for different people, and that’s how factions are formed.

So, even if we manage to create one single human society in some very distant future, it is inevitable that this society too should fall apart in no more than five hundred years.

Like this summary? We’d like to invite you to download our free 12 min app for more amazing summaries and audiobooks.

“The Human Swarm Quotes”

Chimpanzees need to know everybody. Ants need to know nobody. Humans only need to know somebody. And that has made all the difference. Click To Tweet The societies of ants show the same trend of increased complexity with population size that human societies do. Click To Tweet The evolution of anonymous societies has been part of an enormous rewiring project extending from the cerebral cortex to the lower brainstem. Click To Tweet The volatility of relationships between societies finds its parallel within a society, where bonds among people are never static. Click To Tweet Our misfortune has been, and will be always, that societies don’t eliminate discontent; they simply redirect it toward outsiders—which paradoxically can include the ethnic groups within them. Click To Tweet
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Our Critical Review

Described as “a tour-de-force” by Donald Johanson (the discoverer of the famous missing-link fossil “Lucy” and founder of the Institute of Human Origins), The Human Swarm brings so much food for thought on the table that sometimes it feels as if it is several books packed into one.

“This highly readable book,” says Robert Sapolsky, “is ambitious in its interdisciplinary breadth, rigorous in its science, and deeply thought-provoking in its implications.”

“Read this manifesto if you like to have your mind changed,” adds Kevin Kelly, author of The Inevitable and founder of Wired Magazine.

And we can’t think of a better recommendation than Kelly’s!

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