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Keywords
1 revisionist means trying to change history after-the-fact
2 progressivist means a steady change or a progressive change
3 Kalahari bushmen are the earliest inhabitants of southern Africa
4 famine means extreme scarcity of food
5 paleopathology means the study of ancient diseases

1 What is Jared Diamond’s central argument?

Jared diamond central argument is that the world was better off when people were hunters and gatherers then they are now with the advances in agriculture and farming.

2 Is it commonly proclaimed that agricultural production led to people having more leisure time then in turn eventually led to great works of art and academics. Diamond refutes this notion. Do you agree with his argument and why?

I do not agree with his argument. Maybe back in the 1800s when there were more natural resources in the world. I would think that a long time ago it would be easier to be a farmer because the soil had not been depleted and there was plenty of trees and nuts and bushes to be found and many fish in the sea. But today the soil has had many of its nutrients extracted from it and the building of houses and the influx of people have meant that there are less natural resources. I believe people would have to spend more time looking for their hunter and gatherer lifestyle so they would have less time for art and academics.


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3 What are two concrete examples Diamond uses to show that people are not physically better off today than they were long ago? Bushmen who are Hunter and gatherers eat so many nutritious different things that they almost never starve to death but 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 today. People in these areas are still much shorter than they were thousands of years ago.

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, malnutrition, starvation, and epidemic diseases. He believed diseases are because of people being clumped together and spreading diseases to each other.

5 What do you think of his argument overall? Relate it to factors that brought about the French Revolution.

Overall I think his argument is very interesting although I do not agree with it. The French Revolution was brought about because of deep divisions in the class system. 98% of the people lived in horrible poverty with malnutrition and disease while 2% of the population lived higher and were fed very well. Deep class divisions were a major cause of the French Revolution and Diamond believes that deep class divisions are caused because of agricultural processes and the movement away from a hunter and gatherer lifestyle. The French Revolution started when people learned how 2% of the population lived once the country people moved into the cities and when away from their hunter/gatherer lifestyle in farming to more industrial lifestyles they received new information from pamphlets and speeches that showed them what was going on with the nobles and kings in France. If they had kept their hunter/gatherer lifestyle they would never known how the Kings lived.