Well, no, not quite

This doesn’t show that men are more stupid. Rather, it shows that there are more stupid men. Something different and not all that much of a surprise when we consider that there is greater male variance than female:

It’s enough to start a new battle of the sexes, but when it comes to needless and untimely deaths, men win hands down.

A 20 year study of the Darwin Awards, an annual review of the most foolish way people have died, found almost 90 per cent were ‘won’ by males.

Named after Charles Darwin, who postulated the suvival of the fittest, it recognises those who have inadvertently improved the gene pool by elimiating themselves from the human race by astonishingly stupid methods.

Worthy candidates have included a man stealing a ride home by hitching a shopping trolley to the back of a train, only to be dragged two miles to his death before it was able to stop, and the terrorist who unthinkingly opened his own letter bomb on its return after he posted it with insufficient stamps.

Other examples include the man who shot himself in the head with a ‘spy pen’ weapon to show his friend it was real, and the thief attempting to purloin a steel hawser from a lift shaft – and unbolted it while standing in the lift which then plummeted to the ground, killing him.

That letter bomb is a classic of the genre there, isn’t it?

51 thoughts on “Well, no, not quite”

  1. So Much for Subtlety

    This doesn’t show that men are more stupid. Rather, it shows that there are more stupid men.

    No it doesn’t. It shows that men are risk takers. They do stupid and dangerous things. Mainly, I would guess, because it impresses women – and don’t knock the sex appeal of your run of the mill terrorist. Call yourself Juan or Achmed and shout “Death to Capitalism and Zionism” and you will be drowning in blonde attention.

    Women on the other hand are far more likely to be safe, comformist and boring. This is why they do better at assessed school work rather than exams. They are rewarded for being the teachers’ pets. They are not smarter, just less likely to do risky things.

    It is also why Silicon Valley is pretty much entirely men. Not only are men more common at the top end of the IQ distribution, but men remain risk takers. Women go for the safe boring corporate jobs. Men become wild-catters.

    It is also likely to be genetic.

  2. I liked the plummeting lift myself. When I was in hospital a while ago, having stupidly fallen from a ladder, it didn’t go unnoticed the surrounding beds were full of guys who’d done something similarly dumb.

  3. So Much for Subtlety

    I take it all back. I have just been reading about Russell Brand on the Beeb’s Question Time. Men are clearly the stupider sex.

    Although aged Trots with dyed hair give them a good run for their money.

  4. No it doesn’t. It shows that men are risk takers.

    Yup, SMFS beat me to it. For whatever reason, aside from impressing women, certain men seem to like living on the edge. The mapping of much of Central Asia was done by headcase British army officers who, for no particular reason other than a sense of adventure, took themselves off into the incredibly dangerous places during leave periods disguised as a native.

    and the thief attempting to purloin a steel hawser from a lift shaft – and unbolted it while standing in the lift which then plummeted to the ground, killing him.

    Yup, a complete idiot. He should have just stepped off when he was a few feet from the ground.

  5. Point being that men tend to be in riskier situations, such that dumb errors get them killed rather than “Oh noes, I just deleted every accounts spreadsheet since 2005”.

  6. Men went to the moon, discovered the new world, conquered Everest went to the poles, just trying to get away from the nagging femanistas really,

  7. The Darwin Award “events” are largely if not entirely fictional anyway and prove nothing beyond the collective wit of humanity and the gullibility of DT Science editors.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “For whatever reason, aside from impressing women, certain men seem to like living on the edge.”

    It has come up with women serving in the Army. Every war America has fought since Panama (including that conflict) women have refused orders to go into mildly dangerous situations. They have cried usually. Oddly so have the men posted in the units with them. In at least one occasion in Afghanistan a female helicopter pilot refused to land to take off some soldiers because she might have been shot at. Another helicopter had to do it instead.

    Not one of these women has been court martialed for cowardice yet.

    But perhaps we ought to get Dave back. I am sure there is something to that “Broculture”. But does it make men rape? Risky behaviour after all.

    (As for Darwin Awards, I recommend everyone read Auberon Waugh’s account of how he ended up being shot in Cyprus)

  9. SMFS,

    “It is also why Silicon Valley is pretty much entirely men. Not only are men more common at the top end of the IQ distribution, but men remain risk takers. Women go for the safe boring corporate jobs. Men become wild-catters.”

    This is true. It’s very hard to get women to join startups.

    It’s also why I don’t have much time for the complaint that there’s no female executives in a lot of these companies. If you’re the person in charge of customer service when you’re employee #6 and you do a good job, you’ll be in charge of customer service when there’s 10,000 employees. Marissa Mayer is a big shot running Yahoo because she was employee #20 at Google and went on to be a head of user experience in a massive company.

  10. Every war America has fought since Panama (including that conflict) women have refused orders to go into mildly dangerous situations.

    I recall a TV series a couple of years back on the Royal Marines in Afghanistan. One of them featured a female Army infantry soldier who was guarding a bridge, and during the interview she made reference to a situation which got a bit hairy and she said “at that point, a couple of the boys stepped in to take care of it”. In other words, they stepped in to do her job.

    Not that I object to her contributing or women being on the front line, but it was a pretty frank admission that when things got a bit rough “the boys” were expected to take over. It would be nice if this was acknowledged more widely.

  11. Could be something to do with men having to go out finding, chasing and killing for food. Women just had to remember where the berry trees were and which one were OK to eat.It was safer to stick with the ones you knew and were tested. If they found something new they could feed it to a couple of men first.

    Which reminds me of when I first met my wife. She was teaching in an Army school in Celle and when I got invited to her flat for the first time she fed me a meal and she and her flat mate stood around while I started eating. I found out later they had been using up their out of date food and wanted to see my reaction before tucking in themselves.

    Despite that we had our 30th wedding anniversary this year!

  12. bloke (not) in spain

    I’ve a sneaking suspicion, when women do something mindblowingly stupid it’s some poor bloke gets deleted from the gene pool. I know the bint who failed to realise it was a gas cooker, not electric, nearly did for me.

  13. I don’t think intelligence and self-preservation are that closely linked. The rewards to the gene pool are to male risktakers and cautious females.

  14. Tim N,

    “during the interview she made reference to a situation which got a bit hairy and she said “at that point, a couple of the boys stepped in to take care of it”. In other words, they stepped in to do her job.”

    We probably need to know a bit more about the circumstances. Its not always the job of the officer to lead from the front and put themselves in harms way. Sometimes they have to send the boys in whether they are male of female.

  15. Evolution? A tribe that loses half its women is in trouble (next generation halved), one that loses half its men – feh.

    Men have evolved the stronger tendency to be risk takers because riskd have to be taken and men are mostly expendable.

  16. “Charles Darwin, who postulated the suvival of the fittest”

    No, he didn’t. He postulated that the species most likely to survive were the ones most adaptable to change.

  17. Agreeing with most of the above. I’m positive there are as many women as men who’d be stupid enough to open that letter bomb. There just aren’t many who’d post it in the first place.

  18. ‘Not that I object to her contributing or women being on the front line,’

    I do. Lives will be lost because of it, no doubt about it.

    Yes, yes, in wars of national survival, we all know that women fought in the Red Army etc, but in modern day warfare it’s just not on.

    In Afghanistan, the blokes are (were) carrying a rifle and magazines of about 12kg, a daysack of 10kg (or heavier), body armour and helmet of about 35kg, and they are expected to run around for eight hours at a time in 50 degree heat like that, and be effective.

    There isn’t one woman in ten thousand who can do that, and it is not worth the time and effort and wasted money to find that outlier lesbian just to keep the feminists and leftists happy.

    They can fly helicopters and jets if they want (I know people whose lives were saved by attack helos flown by women) and they can do loggie stuff etc, but actual closing with the enemy and killing him, if necessary with fists and teeth and whatever is to hand, no way. It’s not going to happen.

  19. ‘Its not always the job of the officer to lead from the front and put themselves in harms way.’

    Apart from some specialist roles eg forward air controller (where you might well have a capt in the field), beyond platoon commander (lieutenant) it’s never the job of an officer to do that, really.

  20. We probably need to know a bit more about the circumstances. Its not always the job of the officer to lead from the front and put themselves in harms way.

    She was a private.

  21. I do. Lives will be lost because of it, no doubt about it.

    Undoubtedly, as things are now. But in principle, I have no problem with women contributing on the front line, if they are indeed contributing. At present perhaps they are not, and in practice maybe they shouldn’t be, but in principle I have no problem with them being there.

  22. bloke (not) in spain

    It depends what you think the purpose of a modern military is. If you think it’s to get some more battle honours on the regimental flag, perhaps there’s no place for women in the front line.
    But if you see the military as a strong arm of political will, it looks somewhat different. It’s the end product’s important, not the way it’s achieved. You have to ask whether taking that hill, expediting that advance are necessary to the overall objective. Whether when it gets hairy on the bridge the bridge is worth the hair.
    And sorry. Men do not have a particularly good record on judgement in these situations. Orders will be obeyed because anything else will be cowardice. What’s wrong with cowardice? It’s a damned good survival trait. There’s far too many hills been taken, advances advanced only to return to go in short order
    It’s not that female casualties on the front line are unacceptable. It’s any casualties on the front line are unacceptable. How many lives was Afghanistan worth? Zero seems a nice round number.

  23. “We probably need to know a bit more about the circumstances. Its not always the job of the officer to lead from the front and put themselves in harms way.

    She was a private.”

    That’s different. Nearest person steps in.

  24. As for the deaths–it should also be asked how many of those men were pissed at the time. Not all of course but I think it is prob a number were. Indeed there are whole nations–Russia springs to mind–were being pissed is a very likely condition of life.

  25. One of them featured a female Army infantry soldier who was guarding a bridge, and during the interview she made reference to a situation which got a bit hairy and she said “at that point, a couple of the boys stepped in to take care of it”.

    She was a private

    There are no female privates in the British infantry (although the rules seem to be about to change.) There are plenty of females doing support jobs in British infantry regiments and, if they are part of an Army Reserve regiment, they can often be found wearing the infantry rather than the relevant Corps cap-badge. It doesn’t make them infanteers.

    If she was Corps on stag then moving back when it got crunchy is sensible. AGC(SPS) Phase 3 isn’t the same as Junior Brecon, even if both can be expected to stag on and to fire a rifle.

    Anecdote: There was recently, however, albeit very briefly, a female (albeit for a modern definition of the term) infantry Lt Col.

  26. My comment above is about the stupid deaths bit not the military.
    Altho’ in times gone by many of the military were also pissed.

    As to women in combat–no. The top 8% of women in physical tests are only equal to the bottom 8% of men. That doesn’t matter too much if everyone is driving around in APCs. But if the APC is done and a 50 mile march thro’ the desert is needed–the women will drop behind. And the men would then have to leave them to be killed or captured/raped/tortured (and why not torturefans–they might have essential information) or stay behind and put the whole mission in danger.

  27. @BNIS

    ‘It depends what you think the purpose of a modern military is. If you think it’s to get some more battle honours on the regimental flag, perhaps there’s no place for women in the front line.’

    The primary purpose of the modern military, or any military, is to close with the enemy and kill him, or engender in him such a fear of being killed that he doesn’t attack you.

    Everything else just supports the men who do that, which is not to say that it is not vitally important. In any 3,000 soldiers only approx 500 will be shooting at the enemy and without the other 2,500 (though lots of people think it’s got bottom heavy) they can’t do their jobs.

    No-one – or no-one half sensible – thinks there is no role at all in the military for women. If you are going to go to places where the local men keep their women in bags and behind doors, and regard it as the commencement of a two-hundred-year blood feud if you so much as talk to one of them, and you need to talk to them, then let’s take some women along for that.

    Equally, no-one really says that women should not see combat. Many of the combat medical technicians in Afghanistan and Iraq (for instance) were women. Several received gallantry awards (at least two MCs, probably more). On many occasions, when things got tight, they were required to engage the enemy with the personal weapons that they are trained to use and instructed to carry.

    Similarly, if your FOB is getting overrun, it’s all hand to the pump.

    But the role being discussed here (I think) is the infantry role, of closing with and killing of the enemy, and there really is no place for women, or seriously weak and unfit men, in that kind of job.

    It’s all political postruing and power-grabbing, and the proof of that is in the fact that they are currently laying squaddies off. There’s no shortage of men who want to serve.

    @Tim N

    In principle. The problem is principles get stretched. First you get a women in the infantry and she’s on the cover of Soldier magazine and all over the BBC. Next you get a target – ten per cent of front line troops should be women. next you get a lowering of the standards, because you’ll never get ten per cent of women passing.

    All of it promulgated by stupid airheads who live under Nathan Jessup’s umbrella and have never had to wonder whether the person next to them is up to the job, in the knowledge that if the answer is no it actually might mean death.

    One day, Nathan Jessup’s umbrella might disappear, and that will sort the men out from the boys!

    @Mr Ecks

    ‘(and why not torturefans–they might have essential information)’

    One day I’m going to start collating your barminess. It does make me chuckle. Why not? Because we don’t want our women (or men) tortured, because they’re our women and men. You might as well ask why we don’t want them shot dead when we don’t mind shooting dead the enemy.

  28. bloke (not) in spain

    “The primary purpose of the modern military, or any military, is to close with the enemy and kill him, or engender in him such a fear of being killed that he doesn’t attack you.”

    If you believe that’s the role of the military in the current world & you’re anything to do with the military, God help us.

  29. There are no female privates in the British infantry (although the rules seem to be about to change.)

    Fair enough. It was in the series Royal Marines: Mission Afghanistan*, I’ll see if I can dig out the YouTube video tonight. Whatever her regiment, she was stagging on in a sentry box on a bridge and she made reference to “the boys” taking care of something which (appeared to me) something she would have gotten involved with herself had she been a man. IIRC, the incident in question wasn’t a full-on attack, just something that needed taking care of.

    *I’m friends with the officer in one episode who commanded the unit that found what it thought was an anti-tank mine in a hut, but it turned out to be a tank wheel used as a millstone for grinding flour.

  30. In principle. The problem is principles get stretched. First you get a women in the infantry and she’s on the cover of Soldier magazine and all over the BBC. Next you get a target – ten per cent of front line troops should be women. next you get a lowering of the standards, because you’ll never get ten per cent of women passing.

    I quite agree.

  31. Here’s a transcript of the video:

    FEMALE MARINE: “I think it’s been 4 or 5 times I’ve come under fire. It’s not very nice. I kinda just like hit the deck and hide and let the boys deal with it. That’s kinda…my way of dealing with it.”
    NARRATOR: What’s been the hardest part?
    FEMALE MARINE: “..Gettin’ respect from the boys. Obviously with the marines, they’re used to only working with boys. So it’s a bit hard for them when a girl comes into the situation”.

    Not sure if the description of “female marine” is correct, but the transcript seems accurate from memory.

  32. Chertiozhnik

    A tribe that loses half its women is in trouble (next generation halved), one that loses half its men – feh.

    Yep. It all drives from that.

  33. @BNIS

    ‘If you believe that’s the role of the military in the current world & you’re anything to do with the military, God help us.’

    I said it was the primary purpose.

    Assuming you actually disagree with that, and you’re not just being obscure, what on earth you you think is the primary purpose of the military?

  34. I suspect she’s a medic, the RM had lots of female medics with them, though the description of her as being on stag doesn’t fit in with that.

    TBF, I can’t actually work out what she might have been doing, standing on a bridge, not that I doubt you.

    RMP? Some sort of female engagement role/educational/medical thing where she’s required to hang around with the main patrol which is coming under sporadic fire?

    AAMOI, what was the prog? Do you have a link?

  35. I suppose traditionally the tribe that lost half of its women went out and relieved another tribe of some of theirs.

  36. bloke (not) in spain

    @Interested
    As the UK hasn’t had an enemy since 1945* & hardly a serviceman left alive has ever faced one, it can hardly be the military’s primary purpose.
    It has, however, created quite a few.
    So if a military is the strong arm of political intent, it needs to remember that.

    * The French are excluded. Of course.

  37. Interested: So torture is ok if we do it–cos we are the good guys. Which is what everybody always says including the Gestapo/KGB etc. Ethical pragmatism–ever the moral doctrine of self-interest. Everything will be ok so long as we win of course.

    The other possible response is : no– torture and/or shooting people is not ok but we should do them cause the other side may/will/does. Morality is of no importance at all.

    So either there is no morality at all which means do whatever is expedient. Or have a moral sense but switch it off when it becomes inconvenient.

    Either way-nothing personal–but I prefer my barminess to your sanity.

    The first book I ever owned was “The Knights of the Round Table” that my Granny got me one Christmas when I was six. I sometimes wonder that if she had given me a copy of “The Talented Mr Ripley” I might fit in better with the modern world.

  38. So Much for Subtlety

    Interested – “Apart from some specialist roles eg forward air controller (where you might well have a capt in the field), beyond platoon commander (lieutenant) it’s never the job of an officer to do that, really.”

    On the contrary, it is always the job of the officer to do that. Up to and including generals. The Confederate Army did so much better than the Union Army in the Civil War – and also lost of lot of senior commanders. The German Army did better than anyone in WW2 – and lost a lot of senior commanders. When German Generals personally took command of river crossings in France while French generals took lunch in big chateaus, it is easy to see who is going to lose. When the most senior American officer was killed by American bombers, you know the American Army was crap. When Patton (was it?) said that senior officers should be *seen* driving up to the front but should fly back, he was indirectly exposing the weakness of the US Army.

    The job of officers is to lead their men. If that means they die in larger numbers, good. They should. If they do not believe in the war and think it is worth dying for, why should their soldiers?

    The Israeli Army has had grossly disproportionate officer losses. I am willing to bet the Syrians and Egyptians have not.

  39. So Much for Subtlety

    Interested – “No-one – or no-one half sensible – thinks there is no role at all in the military for women.”

    I don’t know. The question is really whether I fit in to the half sensible category. But there is no role at all for women in the military. None.

    “If you are going to go to places where the local men keep their women in bags …. then let’s take some women along for that.”

    Then we need some female police officers.

    “Equally, no-one really says that women should not see combat.”

    Women should not see combat. I am not the only person who thinks so. The very sensible Martin van Creveld thinks so too.

    “Many of the combat medical technicians in Afghanistan and Iraq (for instance) were women. Several received gallantry awards (at least two MCs, probably more).”

    I would guess most medals for the girls are political.

    “In principle. The problem is principles get stretched. First you get a women in the infantry and she’s on the cover of Soldier magazine and all over the BBC.”

    Which is why you need to draw the line somewhere and zero is the sensible place to draw it. You allow one single woman to wear a uniform and pretend she is a soldier, you will have quotas in the Parachute regiment in no time.

    Interested – “I can’t actually work out what she might have been doing, standing on a bridge, not that I doubt you.”

    She is not standing on a bridge. She is hanging out with some rough and dangerous men. Who will protect her if danger arises. That is, she is engaging in basic human reproductive strategies – looking for a shag from a squaddie. Good for her. I may have to take back what I said about there being no role for women in the Army.

  40. @ b(n)is
    “As the UK hasn’t had an enemy since 1945* & hardly a serviceman left alive has ever faced one, ”
    Rubbish!
    You’re not normally that stupid. I have several friends who fought against the Irgun in Palestine in 1948, the Russian-backed “insurgents” in Malaya, in the Korean War and in Egypt in 1956 (the oldest sent me a Christmas Card last year); I don’t know anyone who fought in the Falklands but there are pictures of Andrew in the papers suggesting that at least one guy who fought the Argentinians is still alive.
    OK, the purpose of the military is to stop foreigners walking all over us: killing people is, when required, only a means to an end, but scaring the enemy forces is a significant part of that.

  41. John77: “scaring the enemy forces is a significant part”
    In preparing to fight Isis (it will come) we should be training female snipers. Part of the effectiveness of the Kurdish Forces is that being killed by one of their women soldiers, for the evil fanatics of Isis, negates the whole purpose of jihad: you don’t get to heaven. Demoralising.

  42. Do you mean the Australian Lt. Col. Cate McGregor?

    Nope, British.

    I note SMFS has picked up his Field Marshal’s baton again and is lecturing us from the basis of his extensive military experience. Luckily, he is a cretin with no military experience and his post @ 11:35pm is drivel where it isn’t abusive.

  43. So Much for Subtlety

    Surreptitious Evil – “his post @ 11:35pm is drivel where it isn’t abusive.”

    And yet it is not wrong.

  44. It is wrong.

    I’m not sure why you’re tapdancing on a pinhead to have female police officers in a war zone rather than female soldiers, but there are all sorts of issues of command and control, reporting lines, tactical awareness etc which mean you would much rather have lady soldiers than lady cops alongside you in the compound. Apart from anything else, they may be called upon to engage the enemy, and for all their issues I’d rather have a reasonably trained female Int Corps bird do that than a wpc, for reasons that are too obvious to require stating. Sure you can probably train the wpc, if you can get her to unlearn everything she previously learned, but why take the time to do that, and what, in the end, have you arrived at but a female soldied by another name?

    You would guess that most medals for the girls are political, would you? The operative word here is “guess”.

    Other than that I CBA to get further involved.

  45. @SMFS

    just seen your earlier post

    “On the contrary, it is always the job of the officer to do that. Up to and including generals. The Confederate Army did so much better than the Union Army in the Civil War – and also lost of lot of senior commanders. The German Army did better than anyone in WW2 – and lost a lot of senior commanders. When German Generals personally took command of river crossings in France while French generals took lunch in big chateaus, it is easy to see who is going to lose. When the most senior American officer was killed by American bombers, you know the American Army was crap. When Patton (was it?) said that senior officers should be *seen* driving up to the front but should fly back, he was indirectly exposing the weakness of the US Army.

    The job of officers is to lead their men. If that means they die in larger numbers, good. They should. If they do not believe in the war and think it is worth dying for, why should their soldiers?”

    It is bonkers, and not just because you are suggesting the modern British Army should fight on lines prevalent in the American Civil War.

    Meanwhile, thank God, in non-SMFS world, doctrine moves on. So does technology. In WW1, the only real method of engaging the enemy was shelling and charging. Not very complicated. In this situations it perhaps is not a bad idea if you can throw the officers into the charge. though as I said earlier, it was mostly 2nd Lts and Lts, just as it is today. There must be a reason for this, I wonder if we can work it out?

    Modern warfare largely consists in mobilising various assets and coordinating lots of different units, and it is mad to throw the people doing this work into harms’ way.

    Soldiers have different roles. They don’t all fix bayonets and run at the enemy, and if they did the war would be over very quickly, and not necessarily to your advantage.

    “The German Army did better than anyone in WW2”

    Er, you might want to re-check your history books there.

    The Germans won the initial stages of WW2 not because their generals were at the front but because they had vastly superior men, materiel and tactics at their disposal.

    American generals got killed by their own side? Welcome to war. Shit happens. The American army was most definitely not ‘crap’. Where do you get this stuff? The Beano?

    As for if officers don’t believe in the war, how will the blokes: you are so ignorant it’s funny. Officers and men in a professional army are not required to “believe” in a war. They are required to bond together in an esprit de corps that allows them to do extraordinary things for the love of each other. The cause can get fucked. That’s for others to worry about.

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