The Spine

What Made Saddam Tick?


Well, here is a true and honorable reason to have been against the hanging
of Saddam Hussein. Not just the "undignified" hanging but the hanging
itself. The argument comes from Richard Dawkins (about whom Thomas Nagel, James Wood and Simon Blackburn have written more or less
recently for TNR). Actually, I didn't read Dawkins' compelling article in
its place of origin, The Los Angeles Times, but in a new
feature, "Journal Exchange: The Informed Reader" in the freshly redesigned
Wall Street Journal.

It is titled in the WSJ as "Hussein's Hanging Prevented Analysis of What
Made Him Tick." This may be pushing the boundaries of experimental
evolutionary biology. But surely there are tests that could have been
taken of Hussein about what makes for evil. A certain level of
testosterone combined with certain genes. It's a promising field, these
inquiries into the biological origins of cruelty. On the other hand,
imagine the fuss that would be made about the scientists so charged and
their invasion of Saddam's civil liberties and right to privacy.

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