Charles Darwin
Darwin Award winners are mostly men, study finds.creative commons

Almost all of the Darwin Awards winners are male, supporting the theory that "men are idiots", researchers have said.

The Darwin Awards recognises individuals that manage to get themselves killed in the stupidest of ways, thereby eliminating themselves from the human gene pool and aiding mankind's evolution.

Darwin Award winners

One terrorist died after posting a letter bomb without sufficient postage. When it was returned to him he opened his own letter, killing himself in the process.

Another was a man who tied a shopping trolley to the back of a train to hitch a ride home.

In New York, an office worker was crushed to death when he tried to steal the company's 600lb safe – which turned out to be empty.

Two men in Rotterdam died after trying to prove that you can sit or lie on train tracks and the train will pass over you. It didn't.

Two bank robbers in Dinant died after trying to blow up an ATM. They severely overestimated the amount of dynamite needed and ended up blowing up the building the cash machine was housed in and themselves.

Researchers have now found that 88.7% of the Darwin Award winners are men, giving weight to the idea that "men are idiots and idiots do stupid things".

Published in the BMJ, researchers proposed the "male idiot theory" (MIT), looking at the sex differences in idiotic risk taking behaviour.

They reviewed data of Darwin Award winners over 20 years looking at what sex the winner was.

The authors said: "Examples include the man who slipped when using a belt sander as an auto-erotic device and lost a testicle. Repairing his scrotum with a staple gun, he was able to salvage his remaining testicle thus failing to eliminate himself completely from the gene pool."

Of the 332 winners, 14 were shared by both men and women. Of the remaining entrants, 318, 282 were men and just 36 were women – suggesting sex is highly significant in idiotic risk taking.

Researchers note that their study has limitations – women could be more likely to nominate men, for example.

"Despite this, it is puzzling that males are willing to take such unnecessary risks - simply as a rite of passage, in pursuit of male social esteem, or solely in exchange for 'bragging rights'," the authors said.