The science is in: Men are significantly more likely than women to act like idiots
A study published in the prestigious British Medical Journal outlines what authors call the “Male Idiot Theory,” or MIT, which is as follows: “Men are idiots and idiots do stupid things.”
According to the Washington Post, study authors examined the recorded facts about 300 people who have been given the Darwin Award over the last 20 years.
A Darwin Award is a posthumous honor bestowed annually upon people who have died through egregious instances of their own stupidity. The creator, Wendy Northcutt, named the awards after Dr. Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species and the godfather of evolutionary theory.
Darwin Award winners are commended for their success in removing their genes from the gene pool, leaving more resources and reproductive opportunities for less stupid individuals.
The researchers found that more than 88 percent of Darwin Award winners were male. Their study, “The Darwin Awards: Sex differences in idiotic behavior,” was conceived by co-author Ben Alexander Daniel Lendrem, 15, a schoolboy from Newcastle, England, who is now the youngest author ever to be published in the journal.
Ben Lendrem and his father and co-author Daniel Lendrem were having an animated discussion about the Darwin Awards when the younger Lendrem pointed out that the bulk of the winners were men.
The father and son team recruited two other authors and ran the results through statistical analysis.
“Sex differences in risk seeking behavior, emergency hospital admissions, and mortality are well documented. However, little is known about sex differences in idiotic risk taking behavior,” says the study abstract.
It continued, “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." The Post noted that it is well-documented that men “get into more car crashes than women. They’re admitted to Emergency Rooms for accidents and injuries more often. They’re more physically and verbally aggressive. They’re more likely to drive fast, to commit crime, to climb mountains, skydive, use drugs, take risks and act impulsively.”
However, Daniel Lendrem told the Post, they didn’t expect that nearly 90 percent of Darwin Award winners would be men.
Precisely why men act this way remains a mystery, though.
“Presumably, idiotic behavior confers some, as yet unidentified, selective advantage on those who do not become its casualties,” said the study.
Anne Campbell of Durham University told the Post via email that risk-taking behavior, when successful, can help male animals win mates.
“Males (of many species) engage in far more risk-taking behaviour as a result of their greater fitness variance (bigger difference between male winners and losers in terms of reproduction compared to females) and the fact that their investment in offspring is not obligate,” Campbell said, meaning that the male imperative is more aimed at creating offspring than keeping them alive.
For females, she explained, the prerogative is geared more toward keeping oneself alive to ensure the survival of their offspring.
“Female mammals need to stay alive to ensure their infants survival (and thus their own reproductive success),” she wrote.
A large portion of what underlies such behavior, however, is left up to speculation.
“Until MIT gives us a full and satisfactory explanation of idiotic male behavior,” said the study led by the Lendrems, “hospital emergency departments will continue to pick up the pieces, often literally.”