Friday, August 26, 2016

The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race

I will not lie! First time I get introduced to Jared Diamond when I picked a book at bookstore titled: "Why Is Sex Fun?", thinking of it as an erotica. It was the time of my life (somewhere from 1993 to 2001) where I roamed and spent hours and hours in bookstores as new age, parapsychology, metaphysics, hypnosis, palmistry, out of body experiences, death yoga, reincarnation and related subjects were my obsession. I previously blogged randomly like here, here, here etc

'Why Is Sex Fun?' turned out to be one remarkable book and an eye opener on human sexuality, psychology, and bonding. Afterward, I read some of his work with immense interest and believe that he is one of the most genius anthropologist of modern history. He is one of that distinct human being who not only questions conventional wisdom, but bring strong arguments in favor of his views - but still at the end leaves a lot for his reader to ponder and decide.

Few days ago while listening NPR, there was a discussion and statement was made that those societies which domesticated animals became more civilized. It prompted me to go back and dig years old article (thanks to Google) written by Jared Diamond: "The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race", where he argued that actually, human downfall started after they learned the art of farming (and domestication of animals). Before that human survived and did better in every aspect of life, living as hunters. Ecosystem stayed preserved, humans worked hard and stay focused and content. Sounds stupid but read the article. Before I put the link to article, allow me to paste three paragraphs here (as I am afraid if link goes down):

" One straightforward example of what Paleopathologists have learned from skeletons concerns historical changes in height. Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunter-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5'9" for men, 5'5" for women With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B.C. had reached a low of only 5'3" for men, 5' for women By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors".

"Besides malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases, farming helped bring another curse upon humanity: deep class divisions. HunterGatherers have little or no stored food, and no concentrated food sources, like an orchard or a herd of cows: they live off the wild plants and animals they obtain each day Therefore, there can be no kings, no class of social parasites who grow fat on food seized from others. Only in farming populations could a healthy, nonproducing elite set itself above the disease-ridden masses..."

"As for the claim that agriculture encouraged the flowering of art by providing us with leisure time, modern hunter-gatherers have at least as much free time as do farmers. The whole emphasis on leisure time as a critical factor s€ems to me misguided. Gorillas have had ample free time to build their own Parthenon, had they wanted to. While post-agricultural technological advances did make new art forms possible and preservation of art easier, great paintings and sculptures were already being produced by hunter-gatherers 15,000 years ago, and were still being produced as recently as the last century by such hunter-gatherers as some Eskimos and the Indians of the Pacific Northwest."

Link to full article here

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