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The Darwin Awards are mock awards or unofficial accolades given to people whose demise has been caused accidentally by a foolish or idiotic action. There are certain criteria that must be met before an incident, group, or individual is awarded the Darwin Award, but the premise of the Darwin Awards is “honoring those who improve the species by accidentally removing themselves from it”. The Darwin Awards were named for evolution theorist Charles Darwin and are tagged as “a chronicle of enterprising demises” and bear the motto Chlorinating the Gene Pool.
The Darwin Awards have appeared annually since 1991 and records of the Darwin Awards and nominees are recorded at the website www.darwinawards.com, ran by Wendy Northcutt, author of Darwin Awards books. The criteria that Northcutt implements consist of requirements that an incident must meet before a person is eligible for the award. The primary requirement is the candidate must have rendered themselves unable to reproduce by either dying or becoming sterile. Secondary requirements include being of age, otherwise sound mind, and the incident must be self-caused and verifiable.
Examples of previous Darwin Awards nominees include a man, covered in flammable paraffin cream, who ignited himself while stubbing out a cigarette butt that he snuck off to smoke on a hospital fire escape. Despite warnings from his doctor to avoid smoking, he died while being treated for first degree burns in intensive care. Another nominee was a Brazilian man who tried to disassemble a rocket propelled grenade by beating it with a sledge hammer, which in turn, caused its explosion.
The popularity of the Darwin Awards led to a film of the same name, which premiered in 2006 at the Sundance Film Festival. The film featured mostly incidents of urban legend, some of which were grandfathered in to the Darwin Awards chronicles before the established guideline of veracity came into play, as well as a few actual Darwin Award winners.
It’s really all crazy in my opinion. To me, it almost seems to encourage stupid behavior. You can kill a friend with a hand grenade and that wouldn’t be eligible. However, you can kill yourself while making a homemade chimney cleaning device from a hand grenade and win an award.
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