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?

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    The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    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?
    Last edited by Ellie_r; 07-07-12 at 12:23 AM.

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

    listening to pinhead luddite idiots like that guy who came up with that theory is a far worse mistake

    if everyone was a hunter gatherer no one would have the ability or the time to read the oozing BS that clown Diamond spewed.

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

    This is some pretty theoretical history and I'm not sure I'm completely swayed by Jared's argument. He literally compares different contexts of history ignoring certain key issues. The first would rise out of this particular text:

    While farmers concentrate on high-carbohydrate crops like rice and potatoes, the mix of wild plants and animals in the diets of surviving hunter-gatherers provides more protein and a bettter balance of other nutrients. In one study, the Bushmen's average daily food intake (during a month when food was plentiful) was 2,140 calories and 93 grams of protein, considerably greater than the recommended daily allowance for people of their size. It's almost inconceivable that Bushmen, who eat 75 or so wild plants, could die of starvation the way hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families did during the potato famine of the 1840s.
    While seemingly "solid" in its historical background, the underlined part ignores that even though starvation is certainly a problem for populations dependent on agriculture, these same populations also have near infinite populations growths and are less susceptible to extinction. It's also feels redundant to point out that agricultural populations are more technologically advanced than hunter gatherers.

    I think Jared Diamond is a brilliant historiographer, however he's not really convincing in his theories. They definitely help explain why some populations have managed to conquer others (for those who read Guns, Germs and Steel) but they're not really convincing as far making an argument against progressive views of technology. If anything I find A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright to be far more convincing (if not ominous) for why we should be weary of technology.
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ellie_r View Post

    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?
    The worst mistake I made all day was reading this utterly ridiculous article. It may actually be the most inane thing I've read all year. I can only hope and pray that Mr. Diamond finds a vocation outside of medicine and journalism.
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    Re: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?

    I really can't believe Jarad Diamond wrote this, I own two of his books and he's an excellent historical and social analyst, and I admired his work for his lack of bias towards any particular side in favor of pure analysis.

    This short essay is just bizarre, totally outside of the style im familiar with.

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

    My theory is that writers will often write outrageous and controversial things in order to get attention and sell more copies of their books. An author whining about the trappings of civilization upon which the entire existence of his profession rests is either and idiot or a muckraker. Diamond's earlier works suggest the later.

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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?

    Not interested in humanity as a scattered race of Stone-age hunter-gatherer bands. Agriculture was the precursor to all scientific and technological development... like the ability to write and publish a book on how much it sucks that we're not all illiterate savages.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by rathi View Post
    My theory is that writers will often write outrageous and controversial things in order to get attention and sell more copies of their books. An author whining about the trappings of civilization upon which the entire existence of his profession rests is either and idiot or a muckraker. Diamond's earlier works suggest the later.
    It appears that Mr. Diamond has run out of things to write about. Either that or he thinks he's Dr. Seuss.
    It's like you're dreaming of Gorgonzola when it's clearly Brie time, baby. Step into my office.

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

    Neither. Religion.
    There is nothing demonstrably true that religion can provide the world that cannot be achieved more rationally through entirely secular means.

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

    Quote Originally Posted by Cephus View Post
    Neither. Religion.
    Moderator's Warning:
    The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race?There are other threads concerning Religion. Find them.
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