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No. 15: Spring 1981

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Invention Of Agriculture May Have Been A Step Backward

Anthropological texts have always ballyhooed the development of agriculture as one of man's greatest achievements. Not so, says Mark Cohen, of SUNY Plattsburgh. The switch from hunting and gathering to sedentary agriculture, it seems, occurred rather suddenly and was attended by a sharp drop in life expectancy. Ancient human bones reveal much more disease, fewer older people, and more violent deaths for centuries following the adoption of agriculture. Why did humanity give up the surprising degrees of security, freedom, and leisure intrinsic in hunting and gathering? Cohen claims that population pressure was the cause. Unable to stem the human population explosion, ancient humans were forced to adopt a life of toil, disease, and stress.

(Lewin, Roger; "Disease Clue to Dawn of Agriculture," Science, 211:41, 1981.)

Comment. Is there an echo of the Garden of Eden story here?

From Science Frontiers #15, Spring 1981. 1981-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

Quotes

  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987