View Poll Results: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

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  • Hunting and gathering

    19 48.72%
  • Agriculture

    20 51.28%
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Thread: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

  1. #11
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    I'd say Jersey Shore...

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    I think this sort of primativist yearning exposes an unbelievably narrow view of 'utility' and 'good'. One of the most glaring things is that he dances around the issue of life expectancy by focusing on the physical 'degeneration' of early civilized man in terms of height and early average age. What he fails to mention is that the average life expectancy of a bushman in the Kalahari is something on the order of 35-50 years of age, what accounts for our vastly increased span on this earth? Our scientific and medical technology. From whence did it come? From the establishment of civilized society and the partitioning of skillsets and professions as a result of... agriculture. Diamond ignores all the technological marvels from flight, to computers, to penicillin, and beyond. He pays token attention to art but childishly points out that his primitive man "great paintings and sculptures were already being produced by hunter-gatherers 15,000 years ago" as a comparison to artistic innovation and development from the time of organized society onward. Pretty much every art historian would call bull**** on that right quick.

    One could go on and on, but the point being Diamond dramatically undervalues, and that doesn't express it nearly well enough, the benefits of organized civilization. If they best he can muster is that we had better bone density, were taller (for a little bit), and had less risk of incidence for various diseases (again wildly controversial and ignores... modern medicine) then he's making a pretty crap argument.

  3. #13
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    One particular group of hunter-gatherers made a spectacular error by feeding and educating some incompetent starving agriculturalists. They even tried to persuade them to move to a more appropriate place for their colony at Jamestown. That didn't end well for them.
    Don't work out, work in.

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  4. #14
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellie_r View Post
    in a nutshell Diamond is arguing that agriculture spurned a series of shifts in human society that negatively affected our health, happiness, and harmony.
    Happiness and harmony could be argued maybe, but it's downright ridiculous to say that agriculture has negatively affected our health. The average live expectancy in prehistoric times was roughly 25. The average life expectancy worldwide today is 68. Heck, the country with the lowest life expectancy is still almost 40. Pretty hard to say agriculture has negatively affected our health, when the average person today lives almost 3 times longer than early hunter-gatherers did.
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  5. #15
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellie_r View Post
    I recently read an article that i found quite fascinating as well as debatable. The article is titled The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race and is written by Jared Diamond. You can read the full article here The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race but in a nutshell Diamond is arguing that agriculture spurned a series of shifts in human society that negatively affected our health, happiness, and harmony.

    I'm torn by anti-agriculturalism. On the one hand, the evidence is pretty clear that the products of agriculture-- refined grains, vegetable oils, and processed foods-- are the main causes of heart disease, diabetes, and the other "diseases of civilization." In addition, the surpluses of food created by agriculture enabled the creation of social hierarchy, empire, slavery, and the other products of economic power.

    On the other hand, without those agricultural surpluses, we would have no significant trade, no means to exploit comparative advantage, no real opportunity for economic development. Earth would be populated by tiny groups of hunter-gatherers, without tall cities, laboratories, libraries, airplanes or space shuttles. Our consciousness would be of families and local communities, without a sense of being part of a greater race or planet.

    In conclusion i ask you, which world would be better? Hunting and gathering or the agricultural route, and why do you pick one over the other?
    We could not sustain the population density we have now without farming. If we did not discover this technique, we would likely be a much smaller population with the extinction of the majority or maybe all of the larger animals that we can get meat from by now.

    It would be far worse both ecologically and for humanity, imho.

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by Manc Skipper View Post
    One particular group of hunter-gatherers made a spectacular error by feeding and educating some incompetent starving agriculturalists. They even tried to persuade them to move to a more appropriate place for their colony at Jamestown. That didn't end well for them.
    Whatever happens, we have got
    the Maxim gun, and they have not.


    I'd say Darwin pretty much answered Diamond here. Agriculture wins.

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    I'm not familiar with any hunting society that wasn't a barbaric wrecking train.

    See: Mongols, Huns, Goths, Vikings.

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by cpwill View Post
    Whatever happens, we have got
    the Maxim gun, and they have not.


    I'd say Darwin pretty much answered Diamond here. Agriculture wins.
    a fact that the Zulus found out the hard way

    Maxim's great grand daughter went to college with me. NOt particularly enamored with what made her family famous

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    On a certain level hunter gatherer society's had it made. They worked a couple of hours a day to feed themselves and had lots of free time for art, religion and whatever recreational-religion drug they could find. Their needs were food and shelter, nothing more and life was simple. Imagine no alarm clocks, no boss, no economic concerns no bills etc. On the other hand an abscessed tooth was a long miserable death sentence as was a compound fracture. With all it's foibles I'll take modern life but I admit the romanticized version of being a hunter gatherer does sometimes seem appealing.

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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by Daktoria View Post
    I'm not familiar with any hunting society that wasn't a barbaric wrecking train.

    See: Mongols, Huns, Goths, Vikings.
    The Viking expansions were entirely due to the pressure of lack of farmland for junior sons.
    Don't work out, work in.

    Never eat anything that's served in a bucket.

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