It’s Official: Men Engage In Significantly More Risky Behavior Than Women

I think we all kinda knew this

(Washington Post) Here it is, scientific proof that a Y chromosome makes you dumb. (No, not really).

Every year, the British Medical Journal puts out an especially, shall we say, whimsical edition in honor of the holiday season. All of the studies therein are subject to the same standards as usual, but they tend to be a bit goofier than the prestigious journal’s usual fare. Previous BMJ holiday papers have included an investigation of how much James Bond actually drank (the conclusion: too much to be the sharp-shooting Don Juan we know him to be), a look at the genetic characteristics of magic in the “Harry Potter” series, and a study recording different responses to the sight of a man on a unicycle.

This year does not disappoint: On Thursday, BMJ published “The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour,” a systematic (but tongue-in-cheek) evaluation of the balance in male and female recipients of the “Darwin Award.” For the uninitiated, this misanthropic award is given posthumously to those who have supposedly improved the gene pool by removing themselves from it.

Led by a group of (male) researchers, the study investigated “male idiot theory” (MIT) using the Darwin Awards as a subject pool. Sure enough, there were more male winners — significantly more.

Of 318 confirmed Darwin Awards, 282 were awarded to males. That’s 88.7 percent of the award populations. What a bias!

Here’s the abstract of this paper

Sex differences in risk seeking behaviour, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour. This paper reviews the data on winners of the Darwin Award over a 20 year period (1995-2014). Winners of the Darwin Award must eliminate themselves from the gene pool in such an idiotic manner that their action ensures one less idiot will survive. This paper reports a marked sex difference in Darwin Award winners: males are significantly more likely to receive the award than females (P<0.0001). We discuss some of the reasons for this difference.

There are some limitations to the study

However, this study has limitations. One of the weaknesses is the retrospective nature of the data collection. One alternative explanation for the marked sex difference in Darwin Award winners is that there is some kind of selection bias. Women may be more likely to nominate men for a Darwin Award, or there may be some selection bias within the Darwin Awards Committee. In addition, there may be some kind of reporting bias. Idiotic male candidates may be more newsworthy than idiotic female Darwin Award candidates.

And alcohol may be involved

In addition, alcohol may play an important part in many of the events leading to a Darwin Award. It is conceivable that the sex difference is attributable to sociobehavioural differences in alcohol use. Anecdotal data support the hypothesis that alcohol makes men feel “bulletproof” after a few drinks, and it would be naïve to rule this out. For example, the three men who played a variation on Russian roulette alternately taking shots of alcohol and then stamping on an unexploded Cambodian land mine. (Spoiler alert: the mine eventually exploded, demolishing the bar and killing all three men.) Unfortunately the data on alcohol consumption are incomplete and do not permit testing for sex differences after adjustment for differences in alcohol consumption between the sexes.

You can see a good list of Darwin Award winners here. Not mentioned is one of my favorites, where a suicide bomber fell down the stairs after strapping his vest on, setting it off and killing himself and housemates, prematurely taking himself out of the gene pool.

Crossed at Pirate’s Cove. Follow me on Twitter @WilliamTeach.

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