The Worse Mistake in Human History

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Most people would argue that the transition from hunting and gathering of food to agricultural food production was the best innovation in human history. We are taught to believe that this innovation gave rise to civilization, allowed for more leisure time in which people could then focus on arts and allowed for a higher yielding, more consistent and reliable food source. Despite some of the innovations that sprang from agriculture, upon a closer look, we can see that with the advent of agriculture came class division, gender inequality, less leisure time, overpopulation, diseases, deficient diets and starvation. The transition from hunting and gathering to agricultural food production may have been the worst mistake in human history.
Hunter-gatherer is a term applied to those people that exist by gathering wild plants, fishing, hunting, and foraging for other types of food stuff. According to Kent Flannery, the hunter-gatherer culture has been characterized as having close family ties or kinship’s, a remarkably sophisticated knowledge of indigenous plants and animals, egalitarian societies and relatively small groups or bands consisting of between twenty-five to thirty-five people (Flannery, 2002). Hunter-gatherer bands did not have hereditary titles of authority, rank or leadership. The basis for leadership depended on a persons skill, age, experience, personal charm and popular opinion. The division of labor was largely established by a persons age, gender and ability to do certain tasks. Men tended to hunt while women did the gathering although they could do either or if they wanted to. The transition to an agrarian society changed the complete structure of how the hunter-gatherer lived and interacted.
Agriculture provided ...

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...the benefit of an elite class. For all these reasons I have to agree with Jarred Diamond that the transition to agriculture was the worst mistake in human history.

Works Cited

Diamond, J. (1987, May). The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. Discover Magazine.
Diamond, J. (1992, October). The Arrow of Disease. Discover Magazine.
Diamond, J. (1997). Guns, Germs, and Steel: The Fates of Human Societies. New York:W. W. Norton.
Flannery, K. (2002). Prehistoric Social Evolution. [PDF document]. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from
O'Neil, D. (2006). Foraging. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from Schultz, E. & Lavenda, R. (n.d.). The Consequences of Domestication and Sedentism. Retrieved March 16, 2014, from

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