Most people, no matter what gender, will expect the answer to be men. Even more so if they've heard of the Darwin Awards or read the associated book. To be eligible for a Darwin Award a person must sacrifice their own life in an extraordinarily idiotic manner to ensure that one less idiot will survive and thereby protecting the human gene pool.
So how do males and females fare in terms of fatal stupidity? That's what researchers of the Institute of Cellular Medicine looked at in a new study described in the paper: The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour.
They evaluated 318 fatal cases nominated for the Darwin Award from 1995 to 2014 and found that a whopping 88.7% of the victims were male. More precisely 282 men and 36 women eliminated themselves from the gene pool. See how these numbers compare in the figure below.
The researchers found this sex difference to be highly statistically significant, but also state the some sort of selection or reporting bias could play a role.
Men may be more likely to be nominated not only because they engage more in idiotic risk taking behavior, but the Darwin Awards Website may attract more men and they in turn may be more likely to nominate fellow men or idiotic male candidates may be more newsworthy. Not that I doubt the overall result at any moment though.
A look at sex differences of Darwin Award winners is not completely without providing some examples. The paper briefly describes a few cases and below you find some additional ones.
Polish farmer Krystof Azninski, 30, had been drinking with friends when it was suggested they strip naked and play some "men's games". Initially they hit each other over the head with frozen turnips, but then one man upped the ante by seizing a chainsaw and cutting off the end of his foot. Not to be outdone, Azninski grabbed the saw and, shouting "Watch this then," he swung at his own head and chopped it off.
Wayne Roth, 38, of Pittston, was bitten by a cobra belonging to his friend, Roger Croteau, after playfully reaching into the tank and picking up the snake. Wayne subsequently refused to go to a hospital, telling Roger, "I'm a man, I can handle it." He died within a few hours, in Jenkins Township, Pennsylvania.
During a heated marital dispute, a 25-year-old man picked up his 20-year-old wife and threw her off their eighth-floor apartment balcony. To his dismay, she became tangled in the power lines below. He immediately leapt from the balcony and fell towards his wife... He missed the power lines completely, and plunged to his death. The woman managed to swing over to a nearby balcony and was saved.
A Houston man earned a succinct lesson in gun safety when he played Russian roulette with a .45-caliber semiautomatic pistol. Rashaad, nineteen, was visiting friends when he announced his intention to play the deadly game. He apparently did not realize that a semiautomatic pistol, unlike a revolver, automatically inserts a cartridge into the firing chamber when the gun is cocked. His chance of winning a round of Russian roulette was zero, as he quickly discovered.
It's also no secret that teasing an animal makes it mad... Prawat, a 50-year-old rubber-tapper, offered sugar cane to one of the ever-hungry elephants... then pulled it away. Then he did it again. And again. And again. The game was great fun for Prawat, but the elephant quickly tired of it. The last time Prawat withdrew the treat, the elephant swung his massive tusks and gored him through the stomach. Prawat died on the way to the hospital. The elephant got his treat.
Annoyed at how slowly her boyfriend was driving, Tamera B, 22, encouraged him to pick up the pace so she could get to work on time. Joking that it would be faster to walk to work, she opened the door of the pickup truck and stuck her foot out before falling to her death.
Gary Allen Banning was at a friend's apartment when he spotted a salsa jar containing a mystery fluid. Thinking that it was an alcoholic beverage, he helped himself to a sizeable swig of gasoline! Naturally enough, he immediately spit out the offending liquid onto his clothes. Then, to recover from the shock, Gary lit a cigarette. Whoosh! Gas+Flame=Combustion.
While the cases nominated for a Darwin Award are unlikely to be a representative sample of the overall population, the remarkable difference between men and women suggests that men are more willing to engage in risky and life-threatening behavior, often driven by the wish to impress fellow humans and the use of alcohol and other drugs, that make them feel more manly or even bulletproof or just turn their brains off.
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