The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

RE: Agriculture was mankind's biggest mistake.

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Post Voting Period
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after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 9/18/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,022 times Debate No: 18382
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Pro will have to prove that the invention and use of agriculture was dis-beneficial and made life worse than before the agricultural revolution (before 10,000 BCE). Pro will also have to show how humanity would still be-able to survive without the invention and use of agriculture.

Con will have to prove that the invention and use of agriculture was beneficial and made life (the quality of life) better after the agricultural revolution (10,000 BCE to today) and acceptance and use of agriculture either as whole regions or individual areas. Con will also have to prove that humanity would not have been able to survive entirely or as the dominate species without the invention and use of agriculture.

Agriculture: The domestication of plant or species for use and convenes of humans (farming, herding, genetic altering, etc.)
Humanity: all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.

Not a religious debate in anyway

First round is for acceptance only.

I plan to use my original two points form last round, only changing the rebuttals


I accept this debate and I thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate with you.
I look forward to a fun, interesting debate.
I will now leave Pro to make the first argument as he has requested.
Debate Round No. 1


My first two points will be mostly the same as my last debate, but I will change rebuttal my for the next rounds.

In the agricultural lifestyle more people have poorer quality of life than people who lived in the pre-agricultural lifestyle, the hunters' and gathers' era. There are a lot of misconceptions about both ways of life and to open my argument I will address the misconceptions of pre-agricultural lifestyle. When most people think of hunters and gathers, they think of caveman, barbaric savages with a small brain and little knowledge. This is obviously untrue, both genetically and historically. Cavemen where modern-men, homo sapiens-sapiens, who had the same genetic makeup as twenty-first century man. Despite what most people think, hunters and gathers where smart. In order to hunt successfully, which they did because they all didn't die out, you need to be able to coordinate a plan to take down a larger animal and have the knowledge to find it by tracking which way it went. It also takes a considerable amount of knowledge to know how to gather. You can't just pick anything and think it was safe to eat, you needed to know what you could and could not eat, and where to find these different foods. If you put a modern man in the wild they might survive a few months, if even the first week, but these hunter and gathers where able to survive well over a few thousand years.

Most people often believe that all these nomadic people did was, go around getting enough food for day to day meals and had no free time to invent and innovate. This is also false. Early man is much like other apes and mammals, the first and main priority is to feed themselves so that they would not starve and die, but they also had lots of free time. If mammals spent all of their time either getting food or sleeping, they would have died out in the first generation. After food is obtained, obviously they have to take the time to eat it, and they also use their free time to reproduce, which is how new generations come along. Shelter is also a basic need, which takes time to obtain, weather it is a tepee or natural protection from the elements. When not either hunting or gathering, tools and weapons where made so that they could continue to hunt or gather.

Now knowing that pre-agriculture life is more complex and advanced than most people would have originally thought, it shows that in both ways of life basic needs are taken care of, the only difference is how food was obtained, which leads me to my next three points.

The development of agriculture lead to issues and problems that did not exist in the world of hunters and gathers, post nomadic lifestyle problems consisted of; ownership of possessions , which lead to conflicts and wars, inequality between genders, races, and cultures, health related issues such as diseases, and dramatic impact on the world.
For my first point, I will discuss how agriculture led to ownership of possessions, which had a negative impact on the human race. In the world of hunter and gathers, the only thing anyone ever owned was his or her own personal tools that they used, and the food the they obtained, which was shortly eaten, because they never kept more food that they could eat or carry, they did not get surplus amounts of food and store it, they got what they needed day to day. When people started to farm they yielded a harvest and obtained a surplus that they ate when their farm did not yield anything. The surplus that they didn't need became wealth and they could focus on other things such as crafts and trades, thus specialization of labor occurred and eventually turned in to complex societies, you know how the rest goes. We can agree that today there are people, who work hard to make enough money to feed themselves and their family, and there are people who don't work because they have enough money that they could buy anything that they could possibly want, these two distinctions are called classes. Obviously they are not the same, with the distinction of classes the focus did not revolve around the group, but rather on the individual and their own family. Because some people have more and some people have less, the people with less want the same as everyone else, which leads to conflict and war over possessions, territory, etc. So in conclusion, having possessions was beneficial to some, but for most, as is evident through history, the majority is lower class. The lower class eventually revolt and fought, causing conflict, war, and death; whereas, before no one owned a substantial amount of possessions, killing of another human over material items was never done, not to say that it didn't happen, but there where never full blown wars and battles in pre-agriculture times.


Thank you for a timely response and thank you for the opportunity to debate with you.

Noun: The science or practice of farming, including cultivation of the soil for the growing of crops and the rearing of animals to provide food, wool, and other products.

1. Come together; assemble or accumulate: "a crowd gathered".
2. Bring together and take in from scattered places or sources: "gather information"

Noun: An act of hunting wild animals or game.
Verb: Pursue and kill (a wild animal) for sport or food: "in the autumn they hunted deer"; "they hunted and fished"

biggest superlative of big (Adjective)
1. Of considerable or relatively great size, extent, or capacity.
2. Of greater size than the ordinary, esp. with reference to a size of clothing or to the size of a packaged commodity.

=====MY CASE=====
What we must all realize is that war and all of these problems are inevitable. My opponent himself even stated that the gatherers and hunters could still make inventions in their free time. Well, who is to say that war won't start over these technologies or land that the tribes own? There are also many inevitable problems with people who only hunt or gather such as simple disasters (See OVERVIEW OF OPPONENTS CASE). We all must realize that agriculture only improved our society over the years and it only protected us from potential disasters that we could face any day of our lives. Now I suspect my opponent will bring up the topic of overpopulation so I will refute that right now. Even though overpopulation is a problem in our modern society, how many of you viewers would like to die right now for the greater benefit of the world for a problem that will eventually reoccur later, only to ask for more sacrifices of death? If my opponent believes this, than that only shows how immoral he is. So, if the majority of the worlds population today pays for insurance every month to protect themselves against disaster, why would the past generation not use the intelligent method of agriculture to better their society and protect their lives?

My opponent spends the first 3/4 of his case evaluating the pros of gatherers and hunters and explaining exactly what is so great about them but he does not at all reveal to you the cons of them. For example, he himself stated, "they got what they needed day to day," and this shows a major flaw. What happens if disaster strikes? If their food source is killed of in the area or it runs away, the hunters starve. If there is a drought and the fruits and vegetables they gather stop growing, the gatherers starve. So what I want to know is, what was better about life back then? When a simple problem can turn into a life or death situation, I don't believe that is the kind of world I would like to live in.

My opponent overlooks the obvious and states first of all that no agriculture equals no war. Now think about this logically. Sorry mikeee but that does not make any sense whatsoever. I believe that the people of the world should have the right to choose between fishing, agriculture, gathering, hunting, or anything else they want. Agriculture was a major advance in today's society and it has benefited society in ways that you obviously don't understand. I'm positive you have eaten a fruit or vegetable at one time or another in your life and it came from agriculture. You will probably respond to this by saying that you can also gather fruits and vegetables but there are no gatherers in today's society and if there is, they don't sell their food as you said yourself. You stated that they gather everyday at their need for that particular day. Also, possibly the BIGGEST flaw of all was the wording of the resolution. Does my opponent really believe that agriculture is the BIGGEST mistake mankind has ever made? Certainly there are more serious mistakes that we have made in the past such as war, genocide, murder, and many other terrible mistakes.

My opponent didn't attack my case properly so this section shouldn't be as large as the others. My opponent stated that agriculture caused "ownership of possessions , which lead to conflicts and wars, inequality between genders, races, and cultures, health related issues such as diseases, and dramatic impact on the world." Well as I have stated before, wars are inevitable and people will own things one way or another. Killing a wild animal has a greater risk of spreading disease than agriculture does by far. I honestly don't understand the " inequality between genders, races, and cultures," part and if you could expand on "dramatic impact on the world," that would be great.
I have refuted my opponents feeble attacks and I have created strong attacks of my own on my opponents case and logic. I have presented my case and I have provided definitions to clarify the debate.
I am sorry if my words have offended you in any way and I look forward to reading your response.

For all the reasons I have stated, I strongly urge a CON vote,
Thank you again,
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent claims that war is inevitable no matter what; he also says that no one would want to die for the greater good and to solve the issue of overpopulation. I find it completely logical that there is a possibility for no war without agriculture, which also relates overpopulation. You said no one would want to die because of over population, but the fact of the matter is that no one would have to, population explosion only occurred after agriculture started to provide enough food to have surplus. It is a basic biological fact that population is limited by the environment that supports it, which explains why there where less people around during the times of hunting and gathering. Because of the population explosion there were more people and fewer resources, making people more completive and eventually causing conflict and war. Another point you bring up is; what if there is not enough food or it all runs away or dies out in one area? This is a simple solution that is still used today; when there is not enough in one environment, migrate to a new one. If you can't get a job in one place, you have to work to make money, so you move to where there is a job to be had. The last point I will refute is disasters. Disasters are disasters, they cannot be controlled or prevented, we still can't stop hurricanes, droughts, and floods. Even with agriculture, disaster still struck, such as the potato famine in Ireland, or the deviating hurricanes that hit the coastlines. When people became "civilized", they started to underestimate and became ignorant of the force of nature.

You probably didn't understand what I meant by "inequality between genders, races, and cultures, health related issues such as diseases, and dramatic impact on the world", because these are my next points that I have not gone into detail about.

My next point: Inequality between genders, races, and cultures

After agriculture had been accepted as the new means of obtaining food, people began to accumulate surplus food, which lead to wealth ,which lead to specialization of labor, which lead to the start of "complex society" (I assume you know how complex societies developed). The first form of inequality, between genders, started when a house hold was no longer farmers, When the head of the house, which was always a male because complex societies became strictly patriarchal, and became let's say a craftsman, only the man would do the craft while the women were left to do domestic work around the house. Only male hairs would learn the trade from their father, while females took over the job of their mother. At the surface it doesn't appear to be unequal, but as things progress it got worse. In Zhou dynasty and in the early 1900s, the role of women became mostly obsolete. In Ancient India, because wives where ultimately dependent a pound their husband, when the husband die, they would throw themselves on his funeral fire. No until the Women's Right movement, did women have equal rights as men by law in the United States. There are still places in the modern world that women are not treated the same as men. I have argued that in post hunting gathering times women's rights where not equal but I have not mentioned how it was in pre agriculture time. During the pre-agriculture era, women and men did not have the same jobs, but they had equal rights. Men hunted because they were bigger and naturally more fit to do the job, while women gathered and bore children, because men cannot have children. The roles of men and women where different, but equal.

Inequality between race and cultures also occurred after the development of agriculture. When Indo-Europeans merged with the native people of India, they considered themselves the "noble" ones and better than the natives. We see this occur throughout history when cultures meet, another example is when the Spaniards can to South America and considered themselves better than the natives. A huge example of inequality is slavery that happened in almost every complex agriculture society. Until the idea of ownership (pre-agriculture times) people never considered themselves higher or lower than anyone else. Slavery is the idea that someone owns another person. You never see that in pre-agricultural times. Being the property of someone else is far worse than having to hunt or gather for food.

Inequality of any kind is only seen after the development of agriculture. If you have evidence to disprove this, by all means bring it up.


Thank you for a timely response and thank you for the opportunity to debate with you.

There are many flaws in your case that I shall attack now. My opponent stated "no one would have to [die], population explosion only occurred after agriculture started to provide enough food to have surplus." So basically you are agreeing with me by saying that if we didn't have agriculture, people would die. So yes, people would have to die to solve overpopulation regardless. Also my opponent said "migrate to a new one," if your old home was out of food. Well sire, it's not that simple. If there was a shortage of jobs in your area, it wouldn't be so easy to just get up and go to somewhere else. Leaving your home isn't a simple task and if they took too long, they would die of starvation because they haven't a surplus of food for emergencies. My opponent also stated "you have to work to make money," which is a contradiction of himself. He himself said that there would be no war because you don't own anything and here he is trying to talk about money. Money is one of the main causes of war so once again war is inevitable. My opponent also said "[disasters] cannot be controlled or prevented," but the truth is, you can always prepare for the inevitable and a surplus of food would definitely help you survive. My opponent expanded on his race argument and I thank him for that. He basically said that agriculture causes racism and sexism which is VERY untrue. He mentioned that in India, "when the husband die, they would throw themselves on his funeral fire." This is a matter of culture and diversity and devotion to your spouse. It has nothing to do with agriculture. Everything my opponent mentioned in his second argument was false. This is all a matter of culture. As you all can see, now we still have agriculture, women's rights are available, but as you know, in many countries, there are no women's rights which proves my point that this is all about culture.
I have argued my case successfully and I stand ready for next round. Forgive the quality of my post this round but I have been very busy.

Thank you,
Debate Round No. 3



I think you may not understand the concept of overpopulation. If someone has three kids, and they all have three kids, that's twelve people, but if someone only can support one child then they only have one child then that's only two people. The other ten people would have never existed; therefore they could not have died. You also say that it's not very easy to just get up and leave when you need to migrate to a new location, which is true in today's standards, but not in 10,000 BCE. In the time of hunting and gathering did people live in big fancy houses, or live in makeshift houses that did the job in protecting them from the elements. When you look at any type of history, everyone at one point has been guilty of this; we have the tendency to judge people in the past by our modern and cultural decisions, even though even in the last 100, things where very different. When looking at history, especially of cultures we do not yet fully understand, we have to be very open-minded. With this being said, you claim everything I have said about racism is cultural, which is true, but what determines culture. Cultures are different all around the world; most have "laws" and "guidelines". Laws are what we can and cannot do, but guidelines are what really determine culture. What contributes to culture? We all have free will do what we want. During the witch hunt, we had freedom to do what we want, but people didn't go around doing anything that would make anyone else in their village suspect them of being a witch. Philosophy is individual ideas, like yours and mine, but culture is when people come together and form a complex society, therefore, the creation culture, negative or positive, has a direct link to agriculture.

My final point; overall health and well being

Today we have all sorts of doctors and people that help fix problems with our bodies, weather it is physical or internal damage. In the pre-agriculture lifestyle most of these occupations would not be needed and they only one that may have any value is first responders to help with physical damage done to someone's body. It is likely that people did something like fall off a cliff and break their leg or lose their arm to the animal they were hunting, but the fact of the matter is that they were stronger (bones) and could take the abuse the elements did to their bodies. If they had not already, it is likely that they did figure out how to help broken bones, such as using a splint to make it strong again and physical rehabilitation. This is just a minor part of general health.

Other health issues that did not exist where diseases that are directly related to the development of domestic food and animals. One example of diseases not existing is when most of the Native Americans died due to exposure of small poxes, which the colonist where immune to. Big outbreaks of diseases did not happen because there are diseases and viruses that developed only because of domesticated foods. After the development of agriculture, specialization of labor happened, and people eventually started to live together in clumps of cities where there was a higher possibility of epidemic outbreaks and the spread of germs and diesis. Agriculture allowed for the explosion of human population which also coincides with people starting to live in cities and confined areas, which lead to radical health changes It is a basic biological fact that population is limited by the ability of the habitat to maintain it. Because there are now more people in the world then the habitat in which we live in can handle, there is mass starvation and conflicts.

My last point about health in pre-agriculture times is diet. Our natural habitat was able to maintain human inhabitance until the population explosion. It is fact that hunter and gathers and a more varied and nutritious diet than farmers did.

"Skeletons from Greece and Turkey show that the average height of hunger-gatherers toward the end of the ice ages was a generous 5′ 9″ for men, 5′ 5″ for women. With the adoption of agriculture, height crashed, and by 3000 B.C. had reached a low of only 5′ 3″ for men, 5′ for women. By classical times heights were very slowly on the rise again, but modern Greeks and Turks have still not regained the average height of their distant ancestors."
This quote clearly demonstrates that the overall health of hunter and gathers was better than that of the farmers and the complex societies.

This these points being made; would a world that we were healthier and had less conflict be better than life today with all of its complex issues?



Thanks for a timely response.

I'm sorry but I believe you are the one who doesn't understand overpopulation. Having children is not something that you get according to your amount of money. It is caused by sexual intercourse which is sometimes not in peoples control because they have urges and hormones coursing through their body (I will not go into depth about this, sorry). So they all might exist, but the difference is, those ten people you claimed would not exist, will suffer through their whole life until they eventually die of starvation. This would all happen unless they had a surplus of food which came from agriculture.
My opponent stated, "It is likely that people did something like fall off a cliff and break their leg or lose their arm to the animal they were hunting, but the fact of the matter is that they were stronger." Now notice that my opponent didn't say why they were stronger in their bones and how they could take the impact. This is not at all true. They would have less bone density because they didn't get necessary vegetables from agriculture.
My opponent also said agriculture led to disease but I'm sure my opponent didn't think this statement through. Hunting and gathering caused many more diseases because if meat isn't cooked properly, than it will cause disease and if the gatherers get something poisonous, this will obviously be bad for their system.
My opponent stated himself that variety of foods was key to a healthy lifestyle. This proves that agriculture was a good thing because if you ate some meat and some vegetables and some seeds from gathering, your diet would be more diverse which my opponent stated was a good thing.
Now I believe I have covered all of my opponents arguments. I shall now proceed to my conclusion.

I believe I have covered all of my opponents valid points, so I shall now move on to my conclusion.
I believe this was a good debate, but I do believe that I made some better arguments than my opponent. I certainly did enjoy this debate and I feel like I have learned alot in this debate and I certainly enjoyed reading my opponents point of view which was very interesting and unique. I also hope that I can debate again with my opponent.
For all the reasons I have stated, I strongly urge a Con vote.

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to debate with you Mikeee.
Thank you for taking the time you have taken to read, comment and vote on this debate to all of the viewers.
Thank you for everything,
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by waylon.fairbanks 6 years ago
It would have been fun to argue that industrialization was a bigger mistake.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: The most convincing arguments were made towards the beginning of the debate. Pro had a mountain to climb trying to show that pre-agriculture society was better and held his ground well. However, Con ultimately refuted it by pointing out that there was no saving for the rainy day, no saving for disasters etc. Pro also never showed that quality of life was better, just that pre-agricultural people were smarter than we give them credit for. Con had a relatively easy job in order to win this debate.