The having to wait for the children to learn

The article “The Worst Mistake in the History
of the Human Race,” by Jared Diamond compares the hunter and gatherer life
style to agricultural farming that transpired in the Neolithic Revolution.
During the article he poses three questions and expresses why settling down affected
each aspect.                 

The first question discussed is the difference
between progressivists and revisionists interpretation of agriculture. Progressivists
view the transition to farming from hunting and gathering was better because a
stable source of food could be used but have little proof to their view. Revisionist
have more researched information that shows hunter and gatherers enjoyed life
more and had more free time than their farming counter parts. Diamond’s
article offers compelling reason to side with the revisionist point of view
because it has documented research to support the claim. Leisure time seems to
be a major argument point between the differing interpretations. Progressives
believe foragers enjoyed less leisure time than settlers. However, modern
foragers have more leisure time than farmers. It would take less time to gather
food from the wilderness that has already matured than the time spent farming
land to plant crops and tend to them each day.

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development of communities, social and gender roles were assigned to continue progression.
The pregnancy rate increased as more children were needed to tend to the farms
and burdens on the past were longer inexistence. On average children were born
within a span of two years whereas hunter and gatherers had a span of four
years. Rate increase was due to mothers not having to wait for the children to
learn how to walk and keep up with the group. Mothers were tasked with caring
for the children and home while men were free to gain education, run politics,
and carryout other task unfit for women. Diamond recounts an experience while in
New Guinea where a woman carried a sack twice her weight up a mountain although
it began being carried by men. This experience is an example of equality the
men that traded the heavy sack for the lighter item saw the woman as equal and
not as settlers saw women as dainty and fragile.

article further illustrates another form of separation. Social class began to
form. These separations between wealthy and poor led to a decline in health of
commoners. According to Diamond (1987), “studies of skeletons suggest that
royals enjoyed a better diet than commoners, since the royal skeletons were two
or three inches taller and had better teeth (on the average, one instead of six
cavities or missing teeth)” (p.97). The population was better off before settlement,
because everyone was equal regardless of gender. Social and gender inequality
was expressed, as hunters and gatherers start to settle down inequality in the
community began to prevail. Gender roles were assigned and differentiation in
social settings formed as roles were established in the community.

Diamond also explores the relationship
between agriculture and health issues. Common health issues during
the Neolithic Revolution are Tuberculosis, Measles and Bubonic Plague along
with the spread of other infectious disease and parasites. These problems were
caused by the crowding of populations that settled around the farming areas. Recent
research shows a correlation between farming and health.  A decline can be seen in the study from the article
that states “early farmers paid a price for their new-found livelihood Compared
to the hunter-gatherers who preceded them, the farmers had a nearly 50 Percent
increase in enamel defects indicative of malnutrition, a fourfold increase in
iron deficiency anemia (evidenced by a bone condition called porotic
hyperostosis), a threefold rise in bone lesions reflecting infectious disease
in general, and an increase in degenerative conditions of the spine, probably
reflecting a lot of hard physical labor” (Diamond,1987,p.97). As people began
to rely on plants loaded with carbohydrates their nutritional quality decreased
and led to many of the health problems we experience today.  

Jared Diamond believes
settling down for agriculture over being a hunter and gatherer was a tremendous
mistake. Overall Jared Diamond perspective on settlers versus hunters and
gathers are valid. However, a few aspects of agriculture were valid. If we were
to combine the equality and diverse nutrition aspect of foragers with small
farms only used for necessity, then we would achieve a great balance between
the past and present. YOU