Cover image for The Darwin awards II : unnatural selection
The Darwin awards II : unnatural selection
Northcutt, Wendy.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Dutton, [2001]

Physical Description:
xiv, 240 pages ; 20 cm
General Note:
Includes index.
Introduction: What are they? -- Penance: Seven deadly sins -- Women: Femme fatalities -- Water: All washed up -- Technology: Engines of destruction -- Men: Male-functions -- Animals: Pall of the wild -- Explosions: Out with a bang -- Outlaws: Crime and punishment -- Disqualified: Losing is its own reward -- Classic dozen: Better read than dead.
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
BF431 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BF431 .N67 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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{{Welcome to the next evolution in humor.}}In the spirit of Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection brings together a fresh collection of magnificent misadventures, honoring those who continue to improve our gene pool by removing themselves from it in a sublimely idiotic fashion.Salute the owner of an equipment training school who demonstrates the dangers of driving a forklift by failing to survive the filming of his own safety video. Heed the story of the honest bricklayer who loses a battle of wits with 300 pounds of tools. Witness the man who becomes a victim of his own "strange and unusual passion for jumping into rivers." And watch Darwin Award winners selflessly join the ongoing fight against the seven deadly sins as lust, vanity, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy and wrath all exact their evolutionary toll on the overindulgent.Featuring science and safety discussions designed to aid those vigilant enough to avoid the scythe of natural selection, and including the most inspiring dozen Darwin Awards from the last century, this new compendium of serious humor and cautionary tales -verified by the author and endorsed by website readers -shows us anew how uncommon common sense can be.Visit the official Darwin Awards website! A Main Selection of the Quality Paperback Book Club. An Alternate Selection of The Literary Guildreg;, the Military Guild, and Doubleday Select.

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Library Journal Review

Darwin humor? It seemed to work in the first volume, which spent five months on the New York Times best sellers list. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Chapter One Penance: Seven Deadly Sins The tree of life is self-pruning. Religions have long waged war against the seven deadly sins. Here's proof that evolution is fighting the same battle. Lust, vanity, gluttony, greed, sloth, envy, and wrath: all are fatal when carried to excess. From sensual skunk play to the vanity of amateur liposuction, indulgence in the deadly vices leads to trouble. Discussion: Kismet, Karma, Destiny Are you superstitious?     We enjoy believing in abstract balancing principles. There ought to be a force that gives each what he's earned, call it kismet, karma, or destiny. And yet we also believe in the opposite--lucky slot machines and winning streaks. Don't you sometimes walk around a ladder, or kiss your exam paper for good luck? Superstitious beliefs are imbedded in our personalities.     The Darwin Awards celebrate another sort of religion--that of final justice according to the divine laws of nature. Darwin winners suffer a practical form of karma. They prove our theory that if you don't use your head to enhance your survival, you'll be fingered by the impartial hand of fate.     There is a solid basis for the "religion" of the Darwin Awards: Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection. In a single lifetime one finds ample proof that natural selection leads to evolution. We've seen evolution happen before our very eyes. Broccoli, dog breeds, nectarines, and modern corn all resulted from random mutations combined with natural (or artificial) selection.     Weeds provide an example of evolution happening in your own front lawn.     Dandelions are ubiquitous and very difficult to eliminate.     A handful of wild dandelion seeds will grow into adults of assorted heights, which scatter their seeds far and wide to begin the process again. But weekly lawn mowing schedules are a new selective pressure! We created a new environmental hazard for dandelions. And they rose, or rather shrunk, to meet the challenge.     Regular cutting of lawns selects for very short dandelions, ones that hug the ground too closely to be slashed by mower blades, and send up flowers that seed within days to avoid the reaper's scythe. A new short dandelion variant is branching off the general dandelion population. Over time the lawn dandelions may well diverge from the wild dandelions, increasingly specialized for the modern lawn environment, and a new species--the lawnlion?--will dawn.     Because examples of natural selection are easy to come by, the "religion" of the Darwin Awards stands on firm scientific footing. The interesting and powerful mechanism of natural selection is a blindly omniscient tool to increase the long-term survival of the human race--and provide a measure of immortality to comfort our transient personal existence.     The stories that follow show the Darwinian repercussions to those who ignore religious strictures, and indulge in the seven deadly sins. Darwin Award: Vanity Liposuction Tragedy Unconfirmed by Darwin September 1999, New York David, a forty-four-year-old Mineola man, was more desperate to be rid of his flab than most. Why not save money and allow his friend to perform amateur liposuction on him in his garage? As you might guess, using a vacuum for liposuction is not the safest of weight loss programs. David died in the makeshift medical clinic, the victim of a lidocaine overdose. Anyone foolish enough to lie back and take the medical ministrations of a unlicensed liposuctionist in his garage workshop deserves to win a Darwin for heedless vanity.     The fake physician apologized to the man's family. Reference: Associated Press * More vacuum peril: Fantastic Plastic Lover, page 88 "I don't think, therefore I am not." Darwin Award: Vanity Perilous Pose Unconfirmed by Darwin September 2000, Germany The picturesque medieval city of Rothenburg was recently the scene of a dramatic artistic effort. A fifty-three-year-old man from Baden-Würtemberg was posing nude in front of his camera, balanced atop a stone wall, when he lost his balance and fell sixteen feet to the ground below. Unlike its erstwhile owner, the camera remained safely settled on the tripod on the wall, and police plan to develop the film for clues to the man's death. Darwin anticipates that this story will stand as a testament to the self-pruning nature of the tree of life. Reference: * Another poorly framed photograph: Enraged Elephant, page 30 Darwin Award: Wrath Throwing Stones Confirmed by Darwin 11 October 2000, Samaria The violent unrest in the Middle East has created a new Darwin Award winner. Three friends went to the Eli junction to enjoy a favorite activity: throwing stones at passing cars. They scored on a truck, then one walked into the street, stones in hand, to attack a passing car. The driver tried to swerve away from the man, lost control of his vehicle, and overturned, killing the stone thrower and severely injuring himself. Judea and Samaria district police jointly determined that the accidental crash was caused by the stone-throwing young men.     Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Reference: Ha'aretz, Itim * Throwing snowballs: Snowball's Chance in Hell, page 73 Darwin Award: Greed Crystal Daze 2000, Mexico Confirmed by Darwin Chihuahua, Mexico, is home to two hot caverns containing the largest natural crystals known to man. "Walking into either of these caves is like stepping into a sweltering, gigantic geode," described one awed observer. Some of the clear crystals of selenite are over twenty feet long.     The newly discovered caverns buried twelve hundred feet below the surface of the earth carry a curse for those who seek to plunder their riches. A man recently tried to steal one of the magnificent crystals from the roof, and might have succeeded if he hadn't stood directly beneath it while chopping it free. He was crushed by the sparkling stalactite as it heeded the call of gravity. Reference: Discovery Channel News * Another thief thwarted by a natural force: Ferguson 2, Thieves 0, page 162 "To be or not to be ..." Darwin Award: Sloth Sleepfalling Confirmed by Darwin 19 June 1999, Amsterdam On a warm summer night in the Netherlands, an Italian resident who had picked up the habit of sleeping in the open air during sweltering Mediterranean summer nights decided to bed down on the roof. He climbed to the top of his apartment and arranged a comfortable bed, but paid little heed to the slope of the roof. Perhaps the night would have ended more happily if he had tucked himself in securely. Instead he fell asleep on top of his blanket, rolled down the incline, and plunged to his death. Reference: Mobile Alabama Press Register * Another fateful snooze: Sheep Sleep, page 116 A high IQ doesn't make up for a lack of common sense. Darwin Award: Envy Flames of Passion Confirmed by Darwin 17 November 1999, Germany Germany's image as a peaceful utopia has been tarnished by an acrimonious divorce. After bitter legal proceedings, Uwe of Brandenburg found that he had lost everything but his lederhosen knickerbockers. Among other possessions, the settlement demanded that Uwe turn over ownership of his house to his newly estranged wife.     Enraged by his wife's unmitigated legal victory, the forty-year-old man decided to follow the sage advice of an obscure German proverb: "If life gives you lemons, burn them."     Descending into the basement with his trusty drill, Uwe proceeded to bore several holes into a rather large oil tank. He then set fire to the fuel as it poured in erratic streams onto the floor. To his delight, the entire basement was engulfed in flames within seconds.     His joy turned to ashes, however, when he realized that he was now in the middle of a Hindenburg-sized house fire. Despite a valiant effort to save himself, Uwe died in the flames of his own vengeance. His wife got the last laugh. Reference: Düsseldorf Express * More revenge gone wrong: Aircraft Airhead, page 35 Darwin Award: Envy Moscow Marauder Confirmed by Darwin 8 September 2000, Russia A man who threatened to "deal with" his wife and her lover, instead dealt with himself in a revenge attempt gone wrong. He blew himself up with a homemade bomb in the far eastern Russian city of Khabarovsk. The device exploded when the man tried to attach it to the door of the lovers' not-so-secret apartment boudoir. Reference: Reuters, Tass * More men playing with bombs: Shell Shot, page 133 Darwin Award: Gluttony Ethanol Schmethanol Unconfirmed by Darwin May 2001, England We'll soon find out if I'm a scientist or not! I'll drop a pellet of the compound I created into this test tube ... -- Stan Lee's Spiderman, November 1963 With those murmured words, a Russian professor quaffed an aliquot of clear fluid from a beaker ... and slowly succumbed to alcohol poisoning. The Oxford University professor had been in the habit of drinking laboratory ethanol, until he unwittingly poured his last drink from a bottle of methanol.     According to Usenet scientists, methanol is a common lab solvent that looks and smells like ethanol but is "five times as toxic and five times less intoxicating." Those who drink it invariably drink too much.     The forty-four-year-old professor of ecology was said to have had poor vision, and probably misread the label. Reference:, London Telegraph * A gopher's experience with mind-altering substances: Revenge of the Gopher, page 203 The line between genius and stupidity is very fine. Honorable Mention: Gluttony Men Eating Chili Unconfirmed by Darwin May 1999, Philippines Three men attempting to land in the Guinness Book of World Records were hospitalized in Legaspi after eating excessive amounts of chili peppers. They were treated for acute gastritis and high blood pressure, and released with a warning to moderate their intake. Reference: UPI, The Star * Another try for the Guinness Book of World Records: Rubbish, page 31 * Another serious case of indigestion: The Last Supper, page 199 (Continues...) Excerpted from The Darwin Awards II by Wendy Northcutt. Copyright © 2001 by Wendy Northcutt. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

Introduction: What Are They?p. 1
What Are They?p. 2
Rules and Eligibilityp. 3
Darwin's Theory of Evolutionp. 6
Surviving Stupidityp. 8
Where Do Darwins Come From?p. 9
Chapter 1 Penance: Seven Deadly Sinsp. 11
Discussion: Kismet, Karma, Destinyp. 12
Darwin Award: Vanity: Liposuction Tragedyp. 14
Darwin Award: Vanity: Perilous Posep. 15
Darwin Award: Wrath: Throwing Stonesp. 16
Darwin Award: Greed: Crystal Dazep. 17
Darwin Award: Sloth: Sleepfallingp. 18
Darwin Award: Envy: Flames of Passionp. 19
Darwin Award: Envy: Moscow Marauderp. 20
Darwin Award: Gluttony: Ethanol Schmethanolp. 21
Honorable Mention: Gluttony: Men Eating Chilip. 22
Personal Account: Lust: Emergency Room Excitementp. 23
Chapter 2 Women: Femme Fatalitiesp. 25
Discussion: Civilization Memesp. 26
Darwin Award: Fast Food Fatalityp. 29
Darwin Award: Enraged Elephantp. 30
Darwin Award: Rubbish!p. 31
Darwin Award: Christmas Treep. 32
Darwin Award: Testing Faithp. 33
Darwin Award: That Sinking Feelingp. 34
Honorable Mention: Aircraft Airheadp. 35
Darwin Award: Fatal Footwear Fashionp. 36
Honorable Mention: Explosive Mix of Girlsp. 37
Honorable Mention: Snow Bunniesp. 38
Honorable Mention: Dumb Drunkp. 39
Personal Account: Eat the Youngp. 40
Personal Account: Brush with Stupidityp. 41
Chapter 3 Water: All Washed Upp. 43
Discussion: Weed Seeds and Biodiversityp. 44
Darwin Award: Fishing with No Compassp. 46
Darwin Award: Duct Tapep. 47
Darwin Award: Dodging Drink Duesp. 48
Darwin Award: Walking on Waterp. 49
Darwin Award: Dive to Deathp. 50
Darwin Award: Passionate Plungep. 51
Darwin Award: Show-Offp. 52
Honorable Mention: All Aboardp. 53
Honorable Mention: Sewer Showerp. 54
Urban Legend: Brewery Mishapp. 55
Chapter 4 Technology: Engines of Destructionp. 57
Discussion: Car Safetyp. 58
Darwin Award: Do It Yourself, Do Yourself Inp. 61
Darwin Award: Two Avalanche Alaskanp. 63
Darwin Award: Forklift Safety Videop. 65
Darwin Award: Electrifying Stuntp. 66
Darwin Award: Intersecting Darwinsp. 67
Darwin Award: Power Punch Proves Fatalp. 68
Darwin Award: Scooter Snuffp. 69
Darwin Award: Circular Reasoningp. 70
Darwin Award: Sweet Releasep. 71
Darwin Award: Snowball's Chance in Hellp. 73
Darwin Award: Sand Surfingp. 74
Honorable Mention: House Hunting Gone Awryp. 75
Honorable Mention: Coors Light and the UltraLightp. 76
Urban Legend: Mad Trombonistp. 77
Personal Account: Robot Reaperp. 79
Personal Account: Prop Arc Safetyp. 80
Personal Account: Miracle Milep. 81
Chapter 5 Men: Male-functionsp. 83
Discussion: Online Safetyp. 84
Darwin Award: Rappin' on Heaven's Doorp. 87
Darwin Award: Fantastic Plastic Loverp. 88
Darwin Award: Bulletproof?p. 89
Darwin Award: New Dating Techniquep. 90
Darwin Award: God Saves?p. 91
Darwin Award: Settle the Scorep. 92
Darwin Award: Hardheadsp. 93
Darwin Award: Ur-inate-iotp. 94
Darwin Award: A Fell Deathp. 95
Honorable Mention: Cheez Whizp. 96
Honorable Mention: Trash Compactorp. 98
Honorable Mention: Archery Practicep. 99
Honorable Mention: Tied to His Workp. 100
Honorable Mention: Chicken with a Trainp. 101
Honorable Mention: Toilet Trapp. 102
Urban Legend: The Bricklayerp. 103
Personal Account: Tourist Trapp. 105
Personal Account: Tube Snakep. 107
Chapter 6 Animals: Pall of the Wildp. 109
Discussion: Dogs and Darwinismp. 110
Darwin Award: Hornet Challengep. 114
Darwin Award: Fish Gagp. 115
Darwin Award: Sheep Sleepp. 116
Honorable Mention: Doggone Footp. 117
Urban Legend: Cactus Talesp. 118
Personal Account: Polar Bear Lessonp. 121
Personal Account: Feeding the Dolphinsp. 122
Personal Account: Horsing Aroundp. 123
Urban Legend: Lobster Vasectomyp. 124
Chapter 7 Explosions: Out with a Bang!p. 125
Discussion: Intelligent Design Theoryp. 126
Darwin Award: Out with a Bang!p. 129
Darwin Award: Grenade Jugglerp. 131
Darwin Award: Fireworks Fiascop. 132
Darwin Award: Shell Shotp. 133
Darwin Award: Guitars 'n' Gunsp. 134
Honorable Mention: Kaboom!p. 135
Honorable Mention: Plane Stupidp. 136
Urban Legend: Fifteen Minutes of Flamep. 137
Personal Account: A Medieval Talep. 139
Personal Account: Workin' on the Railroadp. 141
Personal Account: Man and Cactusp. 142
Personal Account: Man with Gas Canp. 143
Personal Account: Instant Sunrisep. 145
Chapter 8 Outlaws: Crime and Punishmentp. 149
Discussion: City Livingp. 150
Darwin Award: Human Popsiclep. 152
Darwin Award: Ski Theft Backfiresp. 154
Darwin Award: Escaping Convictionp. 155
Darwin Award: Killing Timep. 156
Darwin Award: Just Say No!p. 158
Darwin Award: Stab in the Darkp. 159
Darwin Award: You Said a Mouthfulp. 160
Honorable Mention: The Stingp. 161
Honorable Mention: Ferguson 2, Thieves 0p. 162
Honorable Mention: Morsel of Evidencep. 163
Honorable Mention: Call Girlp. 164
Honorable Mention: Bodacious Budp. 165
Honorable Mention: Siphon!p. 166
Honorable Mention: Planning Aheadp. 167
Honorable Mention: Sobriety Testp. 168
Personal Account: Medical Misadventuresp. 169
Chapter 9 Disqualified: Losing Is Its Own Rewardp. 173
Not a Darwin: Do Bikes Float?p. 174
Not a Darwin: Underwire Bras Deadlyp. 175
Not a Darwin: Texas AandM Bonfirep. 176
Not a Darwin: Body Canyoningp. 178
Not a Darwin: Our Brightest Cheerleadersp. 180
Not a Darwin: Fatal Case of Hiccupsp. 181
Not a Darwin: Ice Floe Frolicp. 182
Not a Darwin: Shotgun Pepsip. 184
Not a Darwin: Mania Strikes Backp. 186
Chapter 10 Classic Dozen: Better Read than Deadp. 189
Discussion: Speciationp. 190
Darwin Award: JATOp. 193
Darwin Award: Junk Food Junkiep. 195
Darwin Award: Midnight Specialp. 196
Darwin Award: Wrong Time, Wrong Placep. 197
Darwin Award: Count Your Chickensp. 198
Darwin Award: The Last Supperp. 199
Honorable Mention: Lawnchair Larryp. 200
Honorable Mention: Revenge of the Gopherp. 203
Urban Legend: Frog Giggin' Accidentp. 204
Urban Legend: Metallica Concert Misadventurep. 205
Urban Legend: Scuba Divers and Forest Firesp. 208
Urban Legend: Dog and Jeepp. 210
Appendicesp. 213
1. Website Biographyp. 213
2. Author Biographyp. 215
3. Forum Decorump. 216
4. Godwin's Lawp. 221
Story Indexp. 222