Journal: Men Are More Idiotic Than Women

Guess which gender wins the most Darwin Awards?

darwin awards

This is the time of year for love and joy and peace on earth and, especially, goodwill to men, a gender I sometimes make fun of. But I’m not going to do that anymore, because I’m worried about men. That’s because I just read a very serious scientific study called “The Darwin Awards: Sex Differences in Idiotic Behaviour.” (It’s “behaviour” not “behavior” because the article appears in a British online publication, BMJ. When our forefathers departed England, they left their extra vowels behind so as not to have to pay steerage fees.)

The Darwin Awards, as I’m sure you know, honor humans who have thoughtfully and selflessly removed themselves from the gene pool so as not to pollute it with their terminal lack of discernment. Or, as the judgment criteria put it, “Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.” (While mere self-sterilization also qualifies one for the award, taking out innocent bystanders in the course of one’s self-annihilation is a big no-no. Winners must be of legal majority and not suffering from mental defects, because that wouldn’t be funny.) Also? Trying to win a Darwin isn’t allowed, because that would be just wrong.

What the researchers involved in the study studied was the gender distribution of the awards in the 20 years spanning 1995 to 2014. What they discovered was astounding, and highly concerning. Of the 332 “independently verified and confirmed” award winners in those two decades, 14 were shared male/female pairs (who, the journal notes with a wink, were usually “overly adventurous couples in compromising positions,” and you know who initiates that). Of the remaining 318 awardees, 282 were male and 36 were female. In other words, 88.7 percent of the winners were guys.

Why should this be? Well, the journal’s authors note, “there can be little doubt that Darwin Award winners seem to make little or no real assessment of the risk or attempt at risk management. They just do it anyway.” Men also tend to consume more alcohol, the authors note, which can result in incidents like the trio of winners who, in a nifty form of Russian roulette, took turns downing shots and stomping on an unexploded land mine (which, in the end, exploded and killed all three). The authors even have a handy acronym to explain this tendency: MIT, for “male idiot theory.”

The 2014 nominees for the awards include two Kenyan men who were trampled to death by the wild elephant with whom they were taking selfies, a pair of drunk Dutch soccer fans who lay down on a train track to prove the train wouldn’t hit them, and seven Poles who died, one after another after another after another, trying to rescue each other from a septic tank. Selfless to the bitter end!

I remember, years ago, reading a JAMA article about people who got crushed while expressing their frustration with malfunctioning soda vending machines. All 15 of the subjects of the article were male. In the years since it was published, vending machines have undergone safety redesigns to make them less likely to topple over onto those who are shaking them. That would seem to thwart the evolutionary progress of the human race, which one hates to see. Unless, of course, one has a husband, or a father, or a brother, or a son, or some other male loved one/s, in which case one can only say, along with Sergeant Esterhaus, “Hey! Hey, you idiots! Let’s be careful out there!”