cover image Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil

Dark Nature: A Natural History of Evil

Lyall Watson, Author HarperCollins Publishers $25 (0p) ISBN 978-0-06-017688-4

Watson (Supernature), who labels himself ""an old-fashioned naturalist,"" ranges through philosophy, psychology, anthropology, history, ecology and especially biology. He begins with the unlikely pair of Aristotle and Goldilocks, the former who urged humans to strive for ""the golden mean"" and the latter who was satisfied only when things were ""just right."" We living creatures are pawns of our genes, no matter what species we belong to, and the genes operate on three rules, according to Watson: be nasty to outsiders, be nice to insiders and cheat where possible. It is because of these rules that our bodies repel parasites, that Serbs kill Croats and that human babies often pretend to be younger or hungrier than they are. Watson believes that aggression is in our genes and examines such phenomena as war, rape and murder as manifestations of that aggression. But while he firmly believes that humans are made up of both good and evil and that natural selection is completely amoral, he is sanguine about humans as the world's first ethical animals with the capability of making moral decisions. $30,000 ad/promo; author tour. (Feb.)