Men have an edge over women in a number of ways. Men dominate the political arena. They also tend to earn more. Ironically, men also reign when it comes to which sex makes more stupid decisions.
Findings of a new study published in BMJ on Dec. 11 offer scientific evidence of the Male Idiot Theory (MIT), which postulates that men in their idiocy take ridiculous risks despite the high probability of encountering serious and potentially deadly harm.
For this new research, a team of male researchers investigated the difference between men and women in taking a class of risks dubbed as "idiotic risk," which is different from those linked with contact sports and adventure seeking.
"Idiotic risks are defined as senseless risks, where the apparent payoff is negligible or non-existent, and the outcome is often extremely negative and often final," explained Dennis Lendrem from the Newcastle University in the United Kingdom and colleagues.
Lendrem's team reviewed data from the Darwin Awards spanning 20 years from 1995 to 2014. The winners of this award are said to have given human evolution a great service by self-selecting themselves out of the human gene pool by dying or sterilizing themselves after making a stupid and predictably dangerous activity.
"Nominees significantly improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race in an obviously stupid way," the Darwin Awards website reads. "They are self-selected examples of the dangers inherent in a lack of common sense."
Of the 318 nominations verified and confirmed by the Darwin Awards Committee, which excluded couple nominees, the researchers found that there is a significant gender difference when it comes to the likelihood of undertaking idiotic risks. Of the 318 cases, 282 were awarded to males and only 36 were awarded to the females. The group of Darwin Award winners is thus composed of 88.7 percent males.
As to why men tend to do stupid things, the researchers suspect the role of alcohol.
"Anecdotal data support the hypothesis that alcohol makes men feel 'bulletproof' after a few drinks, and it would be naïve to rule this out," Lendrem and colleagues wrote.
The researchers also noted that there is the possibility that women are more likely to nominate men for the Darwin Awards or there is a selection bias. Idiotic behavior may also offer some yet unidentified selective advantage.