The Worst Mistake In The Human Race Analysis

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Jared Diamond’s article “The Worst Mistake in the Human Race” provides critical insight to what archaeologists and anthropologists alike have contested to be the pinnacle of human advancement. Agriculture to many people among academic settings has been mutually agreed as one of the turning points from primal to civilized (Diamond, 1999); and has been known to benefit humanity for it’s greater good.
Jared Diamond challenges this point in his article. He begins by introducing a progressivist view, which is the held notion that agriculture was adopted simply because it is a means of getting more food for less work (Diamond, 1999). Diamond thoroughly explains that there are advantages to agriculture, being that of convenience and mass production
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Agriculture provides this outlet to fulfill this biological need along with prospects of growing societies. With a larger population, there are more opportunities to network and fill a social calendar, and most importantly cooperate. Although Diamond also points out, this manifests the opportune for morbidity to occur. Society now needs to serve a different function: “Who will cure those affected by the disease?” and thus agriculture can give birth to a new occupation – healer. Further reinforcing Diamond’s previous point of division of labour. The more labour you have to divide, the more inequalities occur in society. This coexists with the theory of organic solidarity. Meaning the more divided a society becomes, the more occupations and functions it needs to serve. It is also the trait that distinguishes a “primal” society, from a “civilized” society. In this article, the function of society at the transition from hunter-gatherer to agriculture was to feed empty stomachs. However, as society continues to change and culture begins to develop, new functions come into …show more content…
A particular quote which would be unfair not to mention: “A hundred malnourished farmers can out fight one healthy hunter” (Diamond, 1999) should not be overlooked as a mere analogy. For it serves as much as an explanation and as a tool to put into perspective why many hunter-gatherers ceased their lifestyle after the ice age concluded. His analysis of the disadvantages of agriculture is not only validated by present day examples such as the Bushmen of the Kalahari, or Hadza in Tanzania, but also by the critical findings from archaeologists in their scientific plight to determine the traits found on bones they discovered. The theory of functionalism too, particularly Malinowski’s functionalism can also serve as a tool to further understanding. Because agriculture is a function of society rather than a “choice”, it can explain why human beings at that time abandoned a lifestyle that was proven to be much better for them. To summarize, Diamond critically reflects on how agriculture was not merely a mistake we willingly made, but one we were forced to uphold due to circumstances we were unprepared to face the consequence

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