Anyone can qualify for nomination for a Darwin Award by protecting the human gene pool from the stupidity gene. All you have to do is to eliminate yourself in an “extraordinarily idiotic manner”.
There are five specific criteria:
- You must end up out of the gene pool: dead or sterile
- Your actions must show an astounding misapplication of judgment
- You must be the cause of your own demise (and you must not take anyone else with you)
- You must be mature and capable of sound judgment, and
- The event must be true
The Darwin Awards are selected by Wendy Northcutt from reader submissions. She created the awards around five stories circulating on the internet in 1993, and since then her website and her “Darwin Awards” books have become extremely popular.
Although the site is sometimes criticized for making light of other people’s misfortune, it does highlight many safety issues.
The 2008 Darwin Awards recognized these people:
- Adelir Antonio tried to set a world record for clustered baloon flight. He packed a satellite phone and a GPS. He phoned for rescue, but did not know how to use the GPS. His body was found in the ocean.
- Gerhard found himself in his Porsche on a railroad crossing when the safety bars came down. He ran towards the oncoming train, waving to get the driver to stop. It didn’t work.
- Two privates felled a tree, pulling on a rope to guide the tree away from a house. The rope was tied around their waists and threaded around another tree so that when the tree fell they were catapulted into the air and dashed to the ground.
- A snowmobile rider was chasing a jackrabbit and didn’t want to give up. He maxed the accelerator and raced towards the road the rabbit was about to cross. The snowmobile exploded into flame as he smashed into a culvert the rabbit had darted into.
- A 50-year-old man was trying to persuade his dog to give up a bone by holding his shotgun by the muzzle and hitting the dog with it, wielding the shotgun like a club. It discharged and shot him in the abdomen.
- A Czech man was stealing the valuable alloy cable from a lift in a mineshaft. Using a hacksaw, he cut through the cable, but he was standing on the counterweight which immediately plummeted with him to the bottom of the shaft.
- Two ranch hands on their way to a bar thought it would be a great joke to move some warning signs away from an open trench on the highway. On their way back from the bar they hit the trench, smashing up their pickup and themselves.
- At a Romanian factory two men were messing about with the high-pressure air hose. One thought he would be able to fart loudly if he squirted some high-pressure air up his anus. He died from ruptured intestines.
- Lydia, a Bulgarian biology teacher, disposed of some dangerous flammable chemicals down a sewer. This caused an explosion which launched the manhole cover into the air and decapitated her.
- David, 46, removed the padding from the safety barrier at the bottom of a ski run one night. He climbed up the run to slide down the slope on the padding, before killing himself by hitting the unpadded safety barrier at high speed.
- A man hired an industrial tree shredder, and left it running under his tree so that he could drop branches into it. He slipped and fell into the shredder, dying after it shredded one leg to the hip.
- A 23-year-old Pennsylvania man thought it might be a laugh to wire up an electrical safety tester to his chest piercings. Despite the protestations of his coworkers, he connected the alligator clips to his nipple rings and electrocuted himself.
- A 37-year-old motorcycle rider tried to “shoot the gap” of an opening bridge in Florida. The safety gate closed, sweeping him off to die in the water, while his motorbike made it across to the other side.
- Darren, a junkie, thought he could save money by injecting a home-made poppy seed paste into his vein. He survived the life-threating septicaemia and multiple organ failure, to die of a drug overdose.
- A Johannesburg demolition worker was attacking a concrete slab by chipping away at its supporting pillar with a mini-excavator. It worked, in that the support pillar collapsed, and according to the laws of physics the concrete slab then collapsed and crushed the demolition worker.
- A Swedish burglar escaping from a janitor chose to take the quickest route – down a 15-meter wet and slippery granite escarpment in the dark. His route down ended up being much quicker than he had bargained for.
There are more, but you get the picture. You don’t want to be nominated for a Darwin Award.
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