Editorial Note

This book review arrived here at the beginning of this year with a very apologetic note from the author, Bill Hamilton, about the long delay in producing the review and its ‘rambling essay format’. Sadly, Hamilton died just a few weeks later from complications following malarial infection. Several tributes have been published, such as Science (2000), 287, 2438, and we continue the tributes with a final unedited manuscript from the hand of this unique, colourful and idiosyncratic evolutionary theorist.

Dysgenics: Genetic Deterioration in Modern Populations. Human Evolution, Behaviour, and Intelligence Series. By R. Lynn (Series Editor: S. Itzkoff). Westport, Connecticut and London: Praeger. 1996. Pp. 237. £47.50 (hardback).

In a sense a dominance hierarchy has only one satisfied individual – she or he at the top. If the hierarchy is bottom-numerous rather than linear, as is the case with most human hierarchies, it is all the more true that the vast majority of people are dissatisfied, wishing they were higher up, a thought which provides a basic reason why democracies (and especially, within democracies, such institutions as their state school systems) have to be unstable. We see a wobbly pyramid, and particularly within that pyramid we see certain side stairs all human examples have by which demagogues skip up a level or two so as to shout down to the restless base that the whole structure is somehow ‘wrong’. Under a different system, the demagogue shouts, ‘You could be higher too’.