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Old 3rd September 2017, 08:26 PM   #81
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
They did not. But they actions they chose did not lead to that person inventing writing. I can hold them accountable for that.
How many levels down the chain does a choice to do one thing equal a choice to do something else? If I chose to major in some field that led me to choose to work for a company that chose to locate in Houston, did I choose to be flooded last week?
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Old 3rd September 2017, 08:28 PM   #82
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Seems like the people who did agriculture got pretty good at kicking the butts of Hunter gatherers. What good did not farming do them?
Stop playing Noah's poetry, you lying son of a bitch bastard.
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Old 4th September 2017, 01:57 AM   #83
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Originally Posted by Sherkeu View Post
... As for agriculture, I recently read that the first farmers in Turkey domesticated the wheat there (10,000ya?) by finding the mutated stalks whose seeds didn't fall to the ground when mature. This allowed for efficient harvesting and replanting only the selected seeds.

Most of the natural cereals are evolved for their own survival, not ours, so we had to figure out how to make them easy to collect and manipulate.
These collectors of seeds didn't need intentionally to seek out such mutations in the seed heads. The ones they planted were the wild ones they brought home from gathering expeditions. The ones they brought home most successfully were those that didn't fall to the ground, but remained in the collectors' hands when the ears were plucked. Collecting itself, and then planting what has been collected, unwittingly selects for this property, which is a hallmark of domestication of plant species.
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Old 4th September 2017, 02:37 AM   #84
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
How many levels down the chain does a choice to do one thing equal a choice to do something else? If I chose to major in some field that led me to choose to work for a company that chose to locate in Houston, did I choose to be flooded last week?
Yes, because you didn't choose to escape from Houston in an interstellar spacecraft.

But say you ... interstellar spacecraft don't exist, at least not yet.

Says Bob the Coward. No matter. Not escaping by spacecraft is still your choice, so the storm kicked your butt, and it's your own fault.
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Old 4th September 2017, 03:17 AM   #85
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Today's SMBC is relevant:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/hunting-and-gathering
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Old 4th September 2017, 03:22 AM   #86
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Originally Posted by Fudbucker View Post
Perhaps they ate small portions of potatoes and noticed some types were easier on the stomach than others (or didn't make you as sick). But you would then have to realize that if you bred those two types together...

It would take some induction, but a pre-agricultural version of Einstein probably would have tried it. And weren't they domesticating dogs long before farming? So they must have known about strains and breeding.
This happens now, with cassava.
The indigenous people developed a method of extracting poisonous Prussic acid from the bitter cassava to make the bread. It involves peeling, washing, grating, and pressing using a matapie (hanging sack). The pressing removes the poisonous liquid. Once separated from the juice, the pulp is dried in the sun and then made into bread or wrapped in banana leaves for storage. The process was laborious and whole villages would take part in the preparations.
It is the staple food of millions.
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Old 4th September 2017, 04:45 AM   #87
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Originally Posted by GnaGnaMan View Post

This touches on a thought I have had from time to time.

One of the great crucibles of innovation for what we euphemistically call civilization in human history has always been warfare. Metallurgy, chemistry, medicine, etc., etc., have all been advanced by some culture's need to beat up on the next guy over.

Agriculture is almost a necessary prerequisite to any sort of organized, large-scale warfare. The ability to raise and store large amounts of food, well beyond any simple buffer against hunger, was the fundamental requirement to amassing and putting armies (who weren't producing food) into the field.

We may have developed agriculture as a useful adjunct to our desire to kill those bastards on the other side of the hill and take all their wimmen.
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Old 4th September 2017, 04:48 AM   #88
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Originally Posted by bruto View Post
How many levels down the chain does a choice to do one thing equal a choice to do something else? If I chose to major in some field that led me to choose to work for a company that chose to locate in Houston, did I choose to be flooded last week?
Poor analogy, because it is known that that region is prone to hurricanes and flooding.

Likewise Bangladesh.
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Old 4th September 2017, 04:51 AM   #89
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
These collectors of seeds didn't need intentionally to seek out such mutations in the seed heads. The ones they planted were the wild ones they brought home from gathering expeditions. The ones they brought home most successfully were those that didn't fall to the ground, but remained in the collectors' hands when the ears were plucked. Collecting itself, and then planting what has been collected, unwittingly selects for this property, which is a hallmark of domestication of plant species.
Nature is crafty. It is said by botanists that strawberries developed its seed on the outside and only turned red and deliciously sweet when they were ready to spore. The theory is, animals would be attracted to this sweetest of berry (apart from the blueberry, which is sweeter still) and the seed deposited in faeces.
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Old 4th September 2017, 04:53 AM   #90
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Originally Posted by GnaGnaMan View Post
<ROFL>
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Old 4th September 2017, 04:56 AM   #91
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
This happens now, with cassava.
The indigenous people developed a method of extracting poisonous Prussic acid from the bitter cassava to make the bread. It involves peeling, washing, grating, and pressing using a matapie (hanging sack). The pressing removes the poisonous liquid. Once separated from the juice, the pulp is dried in the sun and then made into bread or wrapped in banana leaves for storage. The process was laborious and whole villages would take part in the preparations.
It is the staple food of millions.
Likewise the careful processing of the nutmeg and the ackee fruit.
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Old 4th September 2017, 05:53 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by quadraginta View Post
Agriculture is almost a necessary prerequisite to any sort of organized, large-scale warfare. The ability to raise and store large amounts of food, well beyond any simple buffer against hunger, was the fundamental requirement to amassing and putting armies (who weren't producing food) into the field.

We may have developed agriculture as a useful adjunct to our desire to kill those bastards on the other side of the hill and take all their wimmen.
Likewise hunting & gathering, following migrating herds and moving to where the seasonal food sources are isn't compatible with living in a defensible place like a hill fort. Agriculture lets you stay in the same place and build defences for yourselves and your food stores.
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Old 4th September 2017, 05:34 PM   #93
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I know hardly anything about the subject, but Iíll babble on with my guesses as if I do. Iíll talk about religion, too. Correct me where I am wrong. Itís a bit long, but Iíve been thinking about this for a few days.

I would guess that agriculture took so long to develop primarily because there was no need. The jump from migratory hunting and gathering to agriculture involves a lot of preparation, planning, and risk. Also, it requires a number of sociological changes.

Seasonal changes affect when certain plants grow or bear fruit. That attracts insects. That attracts animals that eat the plants and fruit and insects. That attracts other animals. That attracts humans that eat the plants and animals.

Iíve read books and seen shows on primitive hunter/gatherer societies. It seems most of them engaged in some form of basic agriculture. They find a place where a bunch of tasty plants are growing. They harvest them and have a feast. But they also clear the land and plant the seeds or bulbs so that when they come back that way there will be another crop there to harvest.

The hunter/gatherer groups mostly follow traditional migrant paths. They know where certain plants or fruits are likely to be at certain times. They know where the animals that they eat will be. They know places are good for fishing only during certain times of the year (maybe during spawning season). They know that if there are no more monkeys at one place, that means they must have gone off to another place where a certain fruit is ripening. They know that one direction certainly has food but if there isnít it is a long way from another source, but going another direction is less likely to have food but has other possible sources nearby, so they can adjust based on their needs.

The hunter/gatherer groups are very communal. Elders are revered for their knowledge and experience. Some preferred members may get to eat first or best, but mostly they share things equally. They get what they get when they get it. Itís difficult to take too much for too long. They are all in it together. If one member becomes sick or injured, that can hold up the whole group from moving on to a better place or evening getting behind on the migratory path. So they want to make sure everybody is well-cared for. If someone isnít pulling their weight, there is strong social pressure from the group to contribute more.

To jump from that to agricultures take a lot of preparation. If you are staying on one place, you have to find plants that will grow in the place where you are staying. You will have to find plants and fruits that can be harvested at different times of the year. You will also have to raise animals because otherwise the animals might all migrate away. You will also have to find ways to store food. Pottery tends to develop rapidly in the times and places where agriculture develops.

You also have to plan everything. You have to know when to plant and when to harvest. You have to know how much food you will need to know how much to plant. You will have to know how many animals you will need. You will have to plan when to feast and when to ration and when to store and when to use those stores. You also need everybody to stick to that plan. If they donít, everybody dies off or returns to hunting and gathering.

That means social changes. And not everybody might want those changes. You need people to decide on plan and people to enforce that plan. People canít just have a feast whenever they want, because they then may not have anything to eat later. With the storage of food, some people might want more than other people. There have to be rules and the rules have to be followed. If one person gets sick or injured, it doesnít affect everybody else in the group. So people have less motivation to care for the group and more motivation to care for themselves. That means more rules to keep the peace ensure justice. Suddenly, politics is born.

But the development of politics is messy and often entrenched in religion. The hunters and gatherers respect the elders and shaman. This lake is taboo. This spirits causes this plant to grow. The myth of this land explains why we go this way rather than that way. In an agricultural society, the gods make the crops grow and ensure animals are born. The gods make sure everybody has enough to eat. The people may not recognize that they are setting up plans and rules, but they know that when certain things are not done things are bad--the gods are angered. So people have to do certain things and not do certain things to not anger the gods. Religion takes on a new form.

To jump from that to agricultures take a lot of risk. If the animals die off or the crops donít come in, you may be a very long way from any plentiful food supply. Or they can find a nearby group of people with food and good land and steal from them. Now the gods determine the victors in war. Or even justify them (if we defeated them and took their stuff, the gods must have wanted that to happen).

This jump did happen. It could have happened at any time, maybe. But what we see is that relative to human existence, it occurred in many places around the world at relatively the same time. That was near the end of the ice age. It would seem to indicate that the rise of agriculture was linked to climate change. It also occurred mostly in the same regions relative to the equator. It did not happen much in places where there are cold winters. It also did not happen much in tropical areas, and the end of the ice age had less effect on tropical areas.

The end of the ice age probably had a number of effects that made agriculture more viable than before and even more viable that hunting and gathering. Large animals (megafauna) died off. I donít know, but I would hazard a guess that in regions where agriculture developed, temperatures became more moderate allowing for more diversity of plant life and longer growing seasons. Ecological systems drastically changed, and continued changing during this period. The hunters and gatherers would have to change their migratory routes. The knowledge of the elders that had been passed down through generations was no longer as reliable. Hunting and gathering became more difficult. Simultaneously, agriculture became easier.

So, my hypothesis is that agriculture did not develop until there was climate change that both necessitated the change and made the change easier. What is curious is that in at least two areas where agriculture was independent developed, there was also a rise in the use of stone tools in thousands of years preceding. If that happened everywhere, it would indicate that humans were already on a path toward agriculture. The theory that agriculture developed because of limited food sources seems to be largely dismissed by modern academics. But there may be something there. There were significant climate changes before the end of the ice age. Those may have disrupted traditional hunting and gathering methods. That could result in an increase between human groups for integration, knowledge sharing, trade, and war. That could explain the increase in stone tools, and would all contribute to a path toward agriculture. Knowledge assists the preparation. Larger groups with people dedicated to specific skills. Planning to get to places before completing tribes and engaging in war. Rules for trading and interaction and leadership. Those are all requirements to make agriculture work. So, it may have been smaller climate changes that led to increased human interaction that prepared people for the following significant climate changes that led to sedentary agricultural societies.

And beer.
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Old 4th September 2017, 07:20 PM   #94
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A timely SMBC!
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Old 4th September 2017, 09:57 PM   #95
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Simple really. Agriculture doesn't kick in until the carrying capacity of the environment is exceeded. So once the megafauna are killed off if there is still left a reasonably large population that smaller game can't support, then agriculture is invented to solve the localized overpopulation.
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Old 4th September 2017, 11:38 PM   #96
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Simple really. Agriculture doesn't kick in until the carrying capacity of the environment is exceeded. So once the megafauna are killed off if there is still left a reasonably large population that smaller game can't support, then agriculture is invented to solve the localized overpopulation.
As I said above, it appears scholars have quite substantially rejected that previously held hypothesis. They have presented significant arguments that, while that scenario seems very logical, the evidence suggests that is not what happened. It seems to be a hypothesis that was once largely accepted, but then later rejected in light of evidence.

As I said in my post, I think that there is enough to suggest that such a scenario is not wholly without merit. But it happened earlier. Climatic changes in the late ice age could have caused disruption to hunter/gatherer practices that would correlate to the increase of the development of stone tools. This would include loss of traditional food sources and methods, as well as increased interactions between human groups.

This created human groups with some capabilities of making the jump to a sedentary agricultural society, but not enough for the jump alone. It was the end of the ice age that presented a number of factors (outlined in my previous post) that made the hunter/gatherer method difficult and the shift to agriculture beneficial and at a point where humans had already established practices (as a result of the scarcity of food during the late ice age) that would have prepared them to make that jump. HAD those things not all occurred at the same time, people may have made only small, failed attempts at an agricultural society and returned, again and again (with little or no archaeological evidence of their attempts) back to hunting and gathering.

The idea that human populations grew and then became desperate when megafauna died off seems very attractive. It makes a lot of sense. But it appears the evidence does not support that. The development and reasons for the development appear to be quite a bit more complex, and uncertain.
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Old 5th September 2017, 12:33 AM   #97
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Originally Posted by DevilsAdvocate View Post
As I said above, it appears scholars have quite substantially rejected that previously held hypothesis. They have presented significant arguments that, while that scenario seems very logical, the evidence suggests that is not what happened. It seems to be a hypothesis that was once largely accepted, but then later rejected in light of evidence.

As I said in my post, I think that there is enough to suggest that such a scenario is not wholly without merit. But it happened earlier. Climatic changes in the late ice age could have caused disruption to hunter/gatherer practices that would correlate to the increase of the development of stone tools. This would include loss of traditional food sources and methods, as well as increased interactions between human groups.

This created human groups with some capabilities of making the jump to a sedentary agricultural society, but not enough for the jump alone. It was the end of the ice age that presented a number of factors (outlined in my previous post) that made the hunter/gatherer method difficult and the shift to agriculture beneficial and at a point where humans had already established practices (as a result of the scarcity of food during the late ice age) that would have prepared them to make that jump. HAD those things not all occurred at the same time, people may have made only small, failed attempts at an agricultural society and returned, again and again (with little or no archaeological evidence of their attempts) back to hunting and gathering.

The idea that human populations grew and then became desperate when megafauna died off seems very attractive. It makes a lot of sense. But it appears the evidence does not support that. The development and reasons for the development appear to be quite a bit more complex, and uncertain.
Ah yes, but just rejecting reality and substituting your own is not necessarily enough, especially on a skeptic forum.

Your so called "new understanding" has many holes in it and can not properly explain the timing of the neolithic revolution in disparate regions independently. Population exceeding carrying capacity of the land can indeed explain this disparity.

So before I am willing to go "all in" with this so called new understanding, I sure want much better evidence than was supplied so far on this thread!
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Old 5th September 2017, 12:53 AM   #98
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Every three years, there needs to be crop rotation or the soil becomes barren.
This may be the most important sentence in the entire thread. For all of human history, if somebody came up with a successful idea, very quickly it was nearly universally adopted.

But suppose a group of people decided to become farmers. A couple years later, they look like geniuses. But then that fourth year hits and suddenly they are starving as the crops fail and things get even worse the following year. The gods have made it known that they are displeased with this idea of farming.

Of course, some places do not go barren; deltas of major rivers like the Nile are annually refreshed by new soil from upstream. So we would expect agriculture to spread out gradually from those areas. But even there you have a problem--the annual flooding means that you have to vacate the land for a period in the spring and when you return there are squabbles over who owns what plot of land.
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Old 5th September 2017, 02:04 AM   #99
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
This may be the most important sentence in the entire thread. For all of human history, if somebody came up with a successful idea, very quickly it was nearly universally adopted.

But suppose a group of people decided to become farmers. A couple years later, they look like geniuses. But then that fourth year hits and suddenly they are starving as the crops fail and things get even worse the following year. The gods have made it known that they are displeased with this idea of farming.

Of course, some places do not go barren; deltas of major rivers like the Nile are annually refreshed by new soil from upstream. So we would expect agriculture to spread out gradually from those areas. But even there you have a problem--the annual flooding means that you have to vacate the land for a period in the spring and when you return there are squabbles over who owns what plot of land.
Egypt and the Levant both also featured periods where there was only one owner in the final sense. You worked the land you were, in his lorship's magnanimity, so graciously given to be steward over for the bargain basement price of being able to stand in line at the granary with everyone else.

For better or worse, hard-nosed and oppressive regimes willing to entertain flights of fancy by scholars who petition them for endorsement of their ideas may have been a necessary feature in order for humanity to make some organizational leaps.

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Old 5th September 2017, 03:42 AM   #100
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Originally Posted by Brainster View Post
But suppose a group of people decided to become farmers. A couple years later, they look like geniuses. But then that fourth year hits and suddenly they are starving as the crops fail and things get even worse the following year. The gods have made it known that they are displeased with this idea of farming.
I disagree that's how it happened. I don't think "people decided to become farmers". As I pointed out before, many of the features of farming were arrived at unwittingly in the process of gathering. In addition, three year crop rotationWP is a rather recent invention.
Under a two-field rotation, half the land was planted in a year, while the other half lay fallow. Then, in the next year, the two fields were reversed. From the times of Charlemagne (died 814), farmers in Europe transitioned from a two-field crop rotation to a three-field crop rotation.
At first they left land unused when yields fell, until the land recovered.

We may also definitely believe that in its earliest days farming was a subsidiary occupation, and that hunting and gathering continued, with farming accounting for a growing proportion of available food. It was, in the beginning, simply a reinforced method of collecting seasonal seeds. Other occupations no doubt continued in other seasons.

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Old 5th September 2017, 03:52 AM   #101
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Originally Posted by Red Baron Farms View Post
Simple really. Agriculture doesn't kick in until the carrying capacity of the environment is exceeded. So once the megafauna are killed off if there is still left a reasonably large population that smaller game can't support, then agriculture is invented to solve the localized overpopulation.
According to Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum Head of Evolution dept)* in his book Homo Britannicus people moved back into Europe after the last glacial maximus in hot pursuit of game, such as red deer, hippopotami and other strange exotic animals.

So, people go where the easy food is.

So much easier to kill a rabbit or snare a bird than breaking your back in agriculture for a lousy loaf of bread.

*[do go visit the Red Zone - wonderful life size models of human types, including Homo Neanderthalsis.]
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Old 5th September 2017, 04:13 AM   #102
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
So much easier to kill a rabbit or snare a bird than breaking your back in agriculture for a lousy loaf of bread.
In some areas at least, bread preceded agriculture.
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Old 5th September 2017, 04:26 AM   #103
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Because I like skepticism.
You're doing it wrong.
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Old 5th September 2017, 04:27 AM   #104
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
Oh the history of taking some very impractical wild plants and turning them into modern domesticated crops is... just weird at times.

Wild potatoes are poisonous, having 15 to 20 times the safe amount of glycoalkaloids. Modern crop potatoes have had that breed out of them. But that raises more questions than it does answers. Since it's impossible to breed noticeable amounts of the poison down in only a few plants generations, no way to track the exact amounts of glycoalkaloids in a pre-industrial time, and no idea before the fact that even if you removed the toxins you'd wind up with a decent food crop... why'd you do it?
Because we can.
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Old 5th September 2017, 06:21 AM   #105
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
According to Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum Head of Evolution dept)* in his book Homo Britannicus people moved back into Europe after the last glacial maximus in hot pursuit of game, such as red deer, hippopotami and other strange exotic animals.

So, people go where the easy food is.

So much easier to kill a rabbit or snare a bird than breaking your back in agriculture for a lousy loaf of bread.

*[do go visit the Red Zone - wonderful life size models of human types, including Homo Neanderthalsis.]
yep That's pretty much how I see it.
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Old 5th September 2017, 06:26 AM   #106
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Originally Posted by Argumemnon View Post
You're doing it wrong.
I didn't claim I was don't anything in the post you quoted.
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Old 5th September 2017, 08:11 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
I didn't claim I was don't anything in the post you quoted.
Saying "I like skepticism" if stated honestly is making a claim. Of course it's possible that that claim does not involve doing anything, because it is possible that liking skepticism does not involve any action at all, like liking paintings of Elvis on velvet but never actually getting around to getting one, but it at least implies that you act in some way consonant with your stated beliefs. Of course, in this case, all bets are off.
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Old 5th September 2017, 09:15 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
Acorns and anything to do with the oak tree (Quercus quercus) is highly poisonous, as an alkaloid, as British POWs found out when fed acorns by their German captors.
Acorns were a staple food source for American Indians in many parts of California. They had learned how to leach out the toxins.

I wonder if early South American indigenous people developed a similar method for wild potatoes, a way to leach out or neutralize the toxins.
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Old 6th September 2017, 01:03 AM   #109
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
They did not. But they actions they chose did not lead to that person inventing writing. I can hold them accountable for that.
Why haven't you cured cancer yet? I hold you accountable for the deaths of everyone who has died from cancer in your lifetime.
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Old 6th September 2017, 01:32 AM   #110
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Originally Posted by crescent View Post
Acorns were a staple food source for American Indians in many parts of California. They had learned how to leach out the toxins.

I wonder if early South American indigenous people developed a similar method for wild potatoes, a way to leach out or neutralize the toxins.
As I have pointed out, they do it with cassava, a root crop similar to potatoes. In Peru, a product called chuŮo is made by elaborate drying and freezing of potatoes at high altitude. Similar procedures might have removed toxins from early strains.
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Old 6th September 2017, 02:18 AM   #111
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
As I have pointed out, they do it with cassava, a root crop similar to potatoes. In Peru, a product called chuŮo is made by elaborate drying and freezing of potatoes at high altitude. Similar procedures might have removed toxins from early strains.
I've been puzzling over that. Modern potatoes are quite harmless but raw cassava is still toxic. I can see the unintended benefit that came from gathering ears of barley or wheat which don't drop their seeds so easily, because that would lead to selection of plants with that characteristic, but I can't see how learning to process tubers to remove toxins might lead to less toxic varieties being selected.

I suppose it might be something as simple as the varieties with less of the natural toxins being less bitter, as that would likely lead to their being preferred for future planting.
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Old 6th September 2017, 02:41 AM   #112
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Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I've been puzzling over that. Modern potatoes are quite harmless but raw cassava is still toxic. I can see the unintended benefit that came from gathering ears of barley or wheat which don't drop their seeds so easily, because that would lead to selection of plants with that characteristic, but I can't see how learning to process tubers to remove toxins might lead to less toxic varieties being selected.

I suppose it might be something as simple as the varieties with less of the natural toxins being less bitter, as that would likely lead to their being preferred for future planting.
It may be argued that the development of procedures for removing the poisons has led to more, rather than less, toxicity being tolerated by the cassava farmers, as they know they can remove it. But non-toxic strains are also available, so both strategies seem to have been adopted. The plant may have been collected at first as a source of poison, by hunters, or for fishing in ponds. Then a sweet-tasting non-poisonous mutant appeared. (Are non-poisonous edible almonds not a rare mutation?) Also some cassava strains are poisonous when raw, but are innocuous once they are cooked.
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Old 6th September 2017, 07:22 AM   #113
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Originally Posted by Vixen View Post
According to Chris Stringer (Natural History Museum Head of Evolution dept)* in his book Homo Britannicus people moved back into Europe after the last glacial maximus in hot pursuit of game, such as red deer, hippopotami and other strange exotic animals.
Please don't.
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Old 6th September 2017, 09:30 AM   #114
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hippopotamus_antiquus
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:45 PM   #115
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Here is an article in Science Daily that places the first evidence of agriculture 23,000 years ago. It could very well predate that.

It reminds of a time when I sat in a lecture from an anthropologist from Harvard who discussed evidence and his theory that homo sapiens have been cooking much earlier than believed. (See Richard Wrangham). He looked at biological evidence and argues that we evolved as a species to eat cooked food. The implication is also that humanity has been using fire much longer than the archaeological evidence shows.

Similar, I would suspect that an understanding that someone can plant a seed and understand that the plant grows may have been much earlier. It is unlikely that someone just decided one day to use slash and burn techniques to plant a field of wheat. More likely, someone figured out that something like strawberries can grow if planted and cared for. Which was later used and extrapolated to grow things like wheat and rice. My guess is the generations that developed corn and potatoes, already had an understanding of agriculture when that was begun.
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:52 PM   #116
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Originally Posted by seayakin View Post
Here is an article in Science Daily that places the first evidence of agriculture 23,000 years ago. It could very well predate that.

It reminds of a time when I sat in a lecture from an anthropologist from Harvard who discussed evidence and his theory that homo sapiens have been cooking much earlier than believed. (See Stephen Mitchell). He looked at biological evidence and argues that we evolved as a species to eat cooked food. The implication is also that humanity has been using fire much longer than the archaeological evidence shows.

Similar, I would suspect that an understanding that someone can plant a seed and understand that the plant grows may have been much earlier. It is unlikely that someone just decided one day to use slash and burn techniques to plant a field of wheat. More likely, someone figured out that something like strawberries can grow if planted and cared for. Which was later used and extrapolated to grow things like wheat and rice. My guess is the generations that developed corn and potatoes, already had an understanding of agriculture when that was begun.
This would be my guess too. If it's enough to weed and nurture wild plants, then even if you understand a good bit of how plants work, the motivation to domesticate would seem pretty small. But it would be pretty hard to find evidence of early gardening, since undomesticated plants are genetically the same whether cultivated or not.
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Old 6th September 2017, 12:58 PM   #117
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The article doesn't make sense to me. What is there here indicating anything other than collection of wild plants with sickles, followed by grinding.
The researchers found a grinding slab -- a stone tool with which cereal starch granules were extracted -- as well as a distribution of seeds around this tool, reflecting that the cereal grains were processed for consumption. The large number of cereals showing specific kinds of scars on their seeds indicate the likelihood of those cereals growing in fields, and the presence of sickle blades indicates that these humans deliberately planned the harvest of cereal.
Wild cereals were harvested and ground. Obviously, humans planned the harvest. Did they sow the seeds? They grew in fields. Were they planted in prepared fields? The article doesn't even claim this.

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Old 9th September 2017, 02:04 AM   #118
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Originally Posted by BobTheCoward View Post
Seems like the people who did agriculture got pretty good at kicking the butts of Hunter gatherers. What good did not farming do them?
Originally Posted by angrysoba View Post
Yes, it is true, but not relevant to what I said. After the industrial revolution kicked in some cities in Britain had extremely squalid conditions with children having to do dangerous and unhealthy work. Their lives were probably more miserable than those of children in hunter-gatherer societies even if the British army and navy could kick the butts of hunter-gatherer societies with ease.

Two things can be true at the same time without both of those things being relevant to each other.
Indeed - according to Jared Diamond the average height of prehistoric adult male skeletons in prehistoric Greece was 5'10"

It has only recently approached that again.

Farming allowed far more undernourished people to be supported in a single area, so farmers as a group would outcompete hunter gatherers - especially as farming could produce a surplus allowing specialised jobs like smiths so could have better tools and weapons.

The hunter gatherers, had far smaller populations, but the average was more healthy.
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Old 9th September 2017, 04:14 AM   #119
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Originally Posted by Craig B View Post
I'm not saying that such diseases exist. But when farming peoples appear beside hunter gatherers they bring diseases to which the latter are vulnerable, precisely because they have none of their own, and so have no immunity. Infectious diseases are rare among small isolated populations.
An obvious one is smallpox, which probably derived from cattle (ditto TB). If you live in close proximity to livestock, you incubate lots of diseases that hunter gatherers won't have come across.

Human diseases are also more likely to spread (ETA: AND EVOLVE) if you live in close proximity to large numbers of people
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Old 9th September 2017, 03:55 PM   #120
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Originally Posted by JoeBentley View Post
I think the mistake is equating agriculture with farming.

We started off as hunter/gathers and we didn't just turn into settled down city-state farmers overnight with no transitional phase.

Proto-farming, moving from area to area as new plant life grows, learning when this berry ripened in the season or when that root plant could be dug out, creating a migration pattern based on that so you're hunter/gatherer route too you to this valley where this type of plant grows at this type of year and so forth and once that pattern was established we start, probably almost by accident at first, doing the simplest and tiniest things to help that little batch of berries or whatever grow just a little bit better next season. Clearing out competing plants, helping the seeds get buried.

We were probably at that stage for looong time. Probably until we learned to brew beer. All civilization is based on beer. I'm only joking a little.
I've always wondered. Was the first batch of beer the result of mixing bread dough with too much water, or was the first batch of bread dough the result of mixing beer with not enough water?
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