In 1987, Jared Diamond published a paper in Discover magazine lamenting our species-wide career move about 10,000 years ago from hunting and gathering to farming. He called it, The Worst Mistake in the History of the Human Race. That’s a little over the top, there are so many biggies to choose from. But he makes a good case. The argument is sound. The conclusions are not. He claims the change stuck because of the power structure it enabled. True, but that couldn’t initiate the change; it was a consequence. We shifted toward a settled life because we are social animals and because we loathe uncertainty, the one real catch of a nomadic lifestyle. We will trade anything – our health, our independence – for companionship and knowledge of our fate, even if knowing dooms us. The price wasn’t just poor health and subjugation either. We were cut up sure as Ymir was. Compartmentalization allows the rest, and it is the one thing we’ve been trying to take back ever since we made the bargain and ate that domesticated apple.
We made a mistake