Modern World History: The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race
- despotism means tyranny and absolutism
- revisionist means trying to change history after-the-fact
- progressivist means a steady change or a progressive change
- emulated means doing something similar as somebody else or adopting their ways
- paleopathology means the study of ancient diseases
1 What is Jared Diamond’s central argument? When humans changed from being hunters and gatherers to farmers they were actually less healthy as farmers. He believes that hunters and gatherers had the most successful and longest lasting lifestyle in human history.
2 It is commonly proclaimed that agricultural production led to people having more leisure time then in turn eventually led to great works of art and academia. Diamond refutes this notion. Do you agree with his argument and why? I have never given this much thought. It seems like you would have more leisure time if you didnt spend hours a day wandering around looking for food but according to his numbers the opposite is true. I am pretty equally on both sides here but if I had to choose I would say I disagreed with him. I believe that people have more free time now even though our food quality may be lower because he is assuming that after wandering around for a few hours I actually find good food. What if the weather is bad or if I’ve wondered off too far from where good food is than I would have nothing to eat so his argument wouldn’t make sense then.
3 What are two concrete examples Diamond uses to show that people are not physically better off today than they were long ago? Bushmen eat 75 or so while plants and it would be almost impossible for them to starve to death but hundreds of thousands of Irish farmers and their families died during the potato famine in the 1840s. The second example is that people at the end of the Ice Age in Greece and Turkey were taller than people in the same areas after the adoption of agriculture and reached very slowly on the rise in modern day but they are still not as tall now as the height of their distant ancestors.
4 There are two other curses upon humanity mentioned in the text what are they? Farming helped bring along another curse upon humanity, deep class divisions. He also believes that malnutrition starvation and epidemic diseases are another curse upon humanity caused by agriculture. Malnutrition because the food doesn’t have enough nutrition and it and epidemic diseases because people are clumped together and make each other sick.
5 What do you think of his argument overall? Relate it to factors that brought about the French Revolution. In the French Revolution the division between the rich and the poor was very great. Deep class divisions came about because of farming. There is no class system, only equals and a hunter and gatherer society. Diamond believed that the disease ridden masses of commoners showed that they ate much less quality food than the Royals. One of the main causes of the French Revolution was that 90% of the population lived an incredibly poor life wall nobles and King’s lived in opulence and wealth. Overall his argument seems possible but is difficult for me to understand this kind of poverty I’ve never gone a day without eating. If I was starving to death I would probably go to war with people I felt that had more than I did.