What Made Saddam Tick?

by TNR Staff | January 7, 2007

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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