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Research Christmas 2014: Going to Extremes

The Darwin Awards: sex differences in idiotic behaviour

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: (Published 11 December 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g7094
  1. Ben Alexander Daniel Lendrem, student1,
  2. Dennis William Lendrem, project manager, Institute of Cellular Medicine2,
  3. Andy Gray, consultant orthopaedic trauma surgeon3,
  4. John Dudley Isaacs, director, Institute of Cellular Medicine2
  1. 1The King Edward VI School, Morpeth NE61 1DN, UK
  2. 2Newcastle University, Newcastle NE2 4HH, UK
  3. 3Major Trauma Centre, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle NE1 4LP
  1. Correspondence to: B A D Lendrem ben.lendrem{at}
  • Accepted 7 November 2014


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.


  • We thank Wendy Northcutt and the Darwin Awards Committee for permission to use their data. BL thanks The King Edward VI School, Morpeth, for its support and declares that the study did not get in the way of homework.

  • Contributors: BADL conceived the study, designed the data collection tools, and cleaned and analysed the data. All authors were involved in interpreting the results and drafting and revising the paper.

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