Tongues planted firmly in cheeks, researchers in Britain examined the differences in morbidity (emergency department admissions) and mortality (admissions to the morgue) between the sexes resulting from injuries. Citing cultural and socioeconomic factors such as the male preference for contact and high risk sports, as well as engaging in more high-risk occupations than females, the researchers point to a third factor that puts males at a higher risk of injury and death:
[T]here is a class of risk—the “idiotic” risk—that is qualitatively different from those associated with, say, contact sports or adventure pursuits such as parachuting. Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final.
Apparently, there is a theory of stupid that largely applies to men:
According to “male idiot theory” (MIT) many of the differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency department admissions, and mortality may be explained by the observation that men are idiots and idiots do stupid things. There are anecdotal data supporting MIT, but to date there has been no systematic analysis of sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. In this paper we present evidence in support of this hypothesis using data on idiotic behaviours demonstrated by winners of the Darwin Award.
Nominees for the Darwin Award needed to satisfy five strict criteria:
– The candidate must be eliminated from the gene pool
– The candidate must show an astounding misapplication of common sense
– The event must be verified
– The candidate must be capable of sound judgment
– The candidate must be the cause of his or her own demise.
Winners of the Darwin Award must die in such an idiotic manner that “their action ensures the long-term survival of the species, by selectively allowing one less idiot to survive.”
Clearly, further studies on “male idiot theory” are needed:
[W]e do think this phenomenon probably deserves an evolutionary explanation. Presumably, idiotic behaviour confers some, as yet unidentified, selective advantage on those who do not become its casualties. Until MIT gives us a full and satisfactory explanation of idiotic male behaviour, hospital emergency departments will continue to pick up the pieces, often literally.
Read this study that will make you say, “Wait… what?” from the respected British Medical Journal here. (But maybe you suspected this all along!)
Read last year’s BMJ spoof on the “Survival Time of Chocolate” here.