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The Darwin Awards: Background information when reading Darwin's Ghosts

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Darwin's Ghosts by Rebecca Stott

Darwin's Ghosts

The Secret History of Evolution

by Rebecca Stott
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  • First Published:
  • Jun 12, 2012
  • Paperback:
  • Mar 2013
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About This Book

The Darwin Awards

This article relates to Darwin's Ghosts

Print Review

Wendy Northcutt, who has a degree in molecular biology from the University of California at Berkeley, is the creator of the "Darwin Awards," pop culture's nod to Darwin's theory of the survival of the fittest, awarded annually to one person voted to have "improved our gene pool by removing themselves from it." In other words, someone who - through his or her sheer stupidity - was either killed or made sterile during a totally preventable act.

The Five Rules for this most auspicious award:

  1. Inability to reproduce - Nominee must be dead or rendered sterile
  2. Excellence - Astoundingly stupid judgment
  3. Self-selection - Cause of one's own demise
  4. Maturity - Capable of mature judgment
  5. Veracity - Event must be verified

Darwin AwardsHonorable Mentions are also awarded to those who somehow manage to survive their own stupidity, whether by luck or saving themselves. They may or may not still be able to reproduce.

Actual video footage of the Darwin Award Nominees and/or Winners can be a bit disturbing, especially as, in many cases, the people you're watching were killed. If you'd care to see some of the videos you can find quite a number of them on YouTube.

For the easily nauseated, you may have better luck reading some of Northcutt's books in the Darwin Award series.

You can also visit the Darwin Award website for written descriptions of some of these acts of stupidity and more information about the award and its history.

Filed under Cultural Curiosities

Article by Lisa Guidarini

This "beyond the book article" relates to Darwin's Ghosts. It originally ran in June 2012 and has been updated for the March 2013 paperback edition. Go to magazine.

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