A philosophy webcomic about the inevitable anguish of living a brief life in an absurd world. Also Jokes

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The Invention of Agriculture

Was civilization a mistake? No all that horrible suffering to get through the industrialization process was worth it, because eventually we got to argue with each other on the internet.

What is most interesting about the introduction of agriculture is that it very well might be true that no one wanted to do it. From looking at the archaeological record, we can see that hunter gathers lived far healthier, longer lives than their farmer contemporaries. Hunter gatherers ate better diets, so much so that they were significantly taller. Early farmers basically ate only gruel and rarely would have eaten meat or fruit at all, which left most of them basically malnourished even if they got enough calories. Hunter gathers probably also lived much more exciting, fulfilling lives, following the herds and traveling. On top of that farmers had to work far more hours per day, and disease became much more prevalent. Life expectancy dropped. War and conflict increased dramatically as possessing prized land was more crucial to survival. Even starvation was more common among farmers because crops can fail sporadically due to weather, and because farmers depended solely on their crops it could spell disaster at any time. Hunter gatherers moved around and relied on a varied diet, if one thing failed they could seek food elsewhere. In virtually every way, the farmer’s life was worse.

So why did farming sweep over the world? Why did everyone choose to be farmers rather than continue surviving off the land naturally as hunter gatherers? The amazing answer is that most likely no one ever made that choice. It’s possible no one ever wanted to do any such thing, but it happened anyway. Someone, somewhere, had the very clever idea to plant some seeds in a place they knew so if the hunting got lean they could return to it when needed. From that moment our fate was sealed: we would toil in hard labor endlessly in the earth to scratch out a meager life. The reason is simple, the process farming is irreversible. What was done could not be undo, because despite all the disadvantages to the farmers lives, farming has one major advantage over the hunter-gatherer societies: it can support a much larger population per acre of land.

As soon as the seeds were planted, population increased, which only necessitated more seeds, and more planting, and more people. Now they were trapped, the population was too large to ever go back. The untamed land could never feed so many, so farmers they must remain. And of course the larger populations of farming societies could easily muscle out land from hunter gatherers, and so farming spread across the globe like a virus, robbing humanity of health, happiness, leisure time, and peace. Even if not a single human on earth would have rather farmed than hunted, it didn’t matter. In our arrogance in thinking we could control the land itself we unleashed a force beyond our control, and became slaves to it.

It’s not all doom and gloom though because eventually we invented machines to do most of the farming , and quality of life eventually recovered past the hunter gatherers. Although it probably took all the way up until 1983 when they invented the Nintendo Entertainment System.

What is most interesting about the introduction of agriculture is that it very well might be true that no one wanted to do it. From looking at the archaeological record, we can see that hunter gathers lived far healthier, longer lives than their farmer contemporaries. Hunter gatherers ate better diets, so much so that they were significantly taller. Early farmers basically ate only gruel and rarely would have eaten meat or fruit at all, which left most of them basically malnourished even if they got enough calories. Hunter gathers probably also lived much more exciting, fulfilling lives, following the herds and traveling. On top of that farmers had to work far more hours per day, and disease became much more prevalent. Life expectancy dropped. War and conflict increased dramatically as possessing prized land was more crucial to survival. Even starvation was more common among farmers because crops can fail sporadically due to weather, and because farmers depended solely on their crops it could spell disaster at any time. Hunter gatherers moved around and relied on a varied diet, if one thing failed they could seek food elsewhere. In virtually every way, the farmer’s life was worse.

So why did farming sweep over the world? Why did everyone choose to be farmers rather than continue surviving off the land naturally as hunter gatherers? The amazing answer is that most likely no one ever made that choice. It’s possible no one ever wanted to do any such thing, but it happened anyway. Someone, somewhere, had the very clever idea to plant some seeds in a place they knew so if the hunting got lean they could return to it when needed. From that moment our fate was sealed: we would toil in hard labor endlessly in the earth to scratch out a meager life. The reason is simple, the process farming is irreversible. What was done could not be undo, because despite all the disadvantages to the farmers lives, farming has one major advantage over the hunter-gatherer societies: it can support a much larger population per acre of land.

As soon as the seeds were planted, population increased, which only necessitated more seeds, and more planting, and more people. Now they were trapped, the population was too large to ever go back. The untamed land could never feed so many, so farmers they must remain. And of course the larger populations of farming societies could easily muscle out land from hunter gatherers, and so farming spread across the globe like a virus, robbing humanity of health, happiness, leisure time, and peace. Even if not a single human on earth would have rather farmed than hunted, it didn’t matter. In our arrogance in thinking we could control the land itself we unleashed a force beyond our control, and became slaves to it.

It’s not all doom and gloom though because eventually we invented machines to do most of the farming , and quality of life eventually recovered past the hunter gatherers. Although it probably took all the way up until 1983 when they invented the Nintendo Entertainment System.

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