Darwin Awards

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The Darwin Awards are a series of hoaxes and urban legends mixed in with a few actual stories which are then claimed to be spun into an annual collection of people who kill or sterilize themselves in really stupid ways. There are also at-risk survivors who receive an honorable mention. The awards have an overall pro-social darwinism and borderline eugenicist tone, promoting the deaths of "stupid" people as something that improves the human race.

The awards allegedly began in 1993 as a Stanford student's newsletter to friends with stories culled from newspapers. Since then the purported awards have grown to become an international institution. There is little attempt to distinguish between "urban legend," "rumor" and "confirmed" occurrences as many of the stories have been met with incredulity.

There are only two categories of listings: "Nominees" and "At-Risk Survivors," the latter of whom are people who survived (or otherwise were not injured beyond procreative capability) but may still not have learned their lesson and may yet repeat their actions. There are no Darwin Award "winners," because... well, really, if any of them were real life winners, they wouldn't be on the site. A "Double Darwin" nominee is a story of two people who off/handicap each other due to mutual stupidity.


A large number of the "awards" are in respect of hoaxes and urban legends. Mythbusting site Snopes maintains that there is no group of people assiduously assessing candidates and that they are just lists created by anonymous people on the Internet.

For instance, the award entry for officers from the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) who have been claimed to have unwittingly offed themselves by smoking inside a warehouse chock-full of explosives cites articles from CNN and the Philippine Star, both of which make no mention of cigarettes as the cause of the blast, thereby undermining the award's veracity.[1][2]

In popular culture[edit]

The Spike TV show 1000 Ways to Die seems to be heavily inspired by the Darwin Awards, save that it sorts out interesting deaths rather than stupid ones, although there's naturally quite a bit of overlap. It has essentially the same concept, but adds that many of the alleged deaths occurred to people who deserved it as an act of karma.

A film called The Darwin AwardsWikipedia was released in 2006. Watch at your own risk.

External links[edit]