Nature’s Oracle: The Life and Work of WD Hamilton by Ullica Segerstrale – review

The most important evolutionary theorist since Darwin had an eye for patterns but a blindness for peopleHow to be a hero? Self-sacrifice, taken to the ultimate, is a pretty good bet. Laying down your life for your friends gets a top biblical commendation. There is no greater love. The modern biologists’ bible, however, has a harder time with self-sacrifice. Darwin’s On the Origin of Species prescribes survival. You are more likely to out-reproduce the competition if you first outlive them. If self-sacrifice is extended to the sacrifice of descendants, it’s clear that this road to glory is an evolutionary dead end.As a young man, WD Hamilton (born 1936) was fascinated by heroic death. Where did it come from, this courage to sacrifice all? And as a budding naturalist, he pondered s…