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Rule 2. UnCommon Excellence

In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the Darwin Awards commemorate individuals who protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species' chances of long-term survival. Next
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Excellence.

The candidate must suffer an astounding lapse of judgment.

It takes a phenomenal failure of common sense to earn a Darwin Award. Common idiocies like Russian Roulette, not wearing a lifejacket, sleeping with a smoldering cigarette: such are not sufficient to win this dubious distinction. OTOH playing Russian Roulette with land mines(ref) jumping on a whale carcass in a shark feeding frenzy(ref) or sneaking a cigarette while hanging off the back of a speeding bus(ref)...just might win you a Darwin Award.

UNCOMMON Excellence.

Many unlikely deaths were originally deemed meritorious for a Darwin Award, but over time these circumstances became too common. Who knew that dozens of people kill themselves by...

  • Whizzing on an electric rail. In Chicago alone.
  • Falling from a precipice while posing. Say cheese.
  • Warming aerosol cans, gasoline, etc., in the oven
  • Whizzing on an electric fence.
    Not a Darwin, but not safe either:
  • Being, by design, in the path of a train. Momentum always wins.
  • Smoking inside an oxygen tent.
  • Most autoerotic deaths These circumstances are all too common!

    [It has been argued]* that more emphasis be placed on the stupidity aspect, and less on the 'extreme' aspect. After all, humans are supposedly able to learn from their own mistakes, yet time and time again we fall down stairs and drop radios into baths. REPLY: There is merit to this criticism. Natural selection is, without a doubt, eliminating the common idiot more rapidly than the rare specimen. "Cell phone driver" genes are going out of fashion more frequently than "grenade juggling" genes (if such a link exists.) Yet it is not amusing to read yesterday's news with today's date. Therefore I reserve the Darwin Award only for those who flagrantly show their disregard for the Laws of nature.

    * footnote on the passive exonerative tense: 'mistakes were made'.

    Those who participate in extreme sports are not automatically eligible, as they knowingly assume an increased risk of death. They are, in a sense, correctly applying their judgment that the entertainment is worth the risk. However bizarre the sport, an additional misapplication of judgment must be present in order for the deceased to qualify for a Darwin Award.

    We are not talking about common stupidities such as falling asleep with a lit cigarette, or taking a bath with a radio. The fatal act must be of such idiotic magnitude that we shake our heads and thank our lucky stars that our descendants won't have to deal with, or heaven forbid, breed with descendants of the fool that set that hare-brained scheme in motion.

    The Darwin Awards contender is seldom a copycat. The death under consideration must reflect a unique manifestation of the grave lack of sense and misapplication of judgment indicative of a genuine cleansing of the gene pool. Using bullets as fuses, chewing blasting caps, re-enacting the William Tell stunt, or bungee jumping with rubber bands are all worthy Darwin Award activities.

    Oscar Wilde said, "To lose one parent may be regarded as a misfortune… to lose both seems like carelessness." If you fry yourself along your parents while rewiring their outdoor hot tub during a rain storm, you may be eligible for a Darwin Award.

    Not a Darwin:
    College kids who drink themselves to death. It takes a phenomenal failure of common sense to earn a Darwin Award. Common idiocies such as playing Russian roulette, falling off a boat, or sleeping next to a smoldering cigarette are not sufficient to win the dubious distinction of a Darwin. On the other hand, playing Russian roulette with land mines, jumping off a boat into shark-infested waters knowing you cannot swim, or sleeping with a smoldering cigarette under an oxygen tent . . . just might win you a Darwin Award! It has been argued that more emphasis should be placed on the stupidity aspect, and less on the extreme nature of the stupidity. After all, humans are supposedly able to learn from their mistakes, and yet time and time again we manage to fall down stairs and drop radios into bathtubs. There is merit to this criticism, as natural selection is undoubtedly eliminating "bad driver" genes more rapidly than it's eliminating "grenade juggling" genes. However, it is not amusing to read dozens of stories about poor driving! Therefore, the Darwin Awards are given only to those who show their flagrant disregard for the laws of nature in a novel way. Those who participate in extreme sports are not automatically eligible, as they knowingly assume an increased risk of death. They are, in a sense, correctly applying their judgment that the entertainment is worth the risk. However bizarre the sport, an additional misapplication of judgment must be present in order for the deceased to qualify for a Darwin Award. Not a Darwin, but not safe either: Falling off a precipice while posing or pissing Warming aerosol cans or gasoline in the oven Whizzing on an electric rail or fence Being hit by a train or an automobile Smoking inside an oxygen tent Carbon monoxide poisoning Most autoerotic deaths These circumstances are all too common!

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