Darwin Awards

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The Darwin Awards: A Chronicle of Enterprising Demises is a tongue-in-cheek honor named after evolutionary theorist Charles Darwin. Awards have been given for people who "do a service to Humanity by removing themselves from the gene pool" (i.e., lose the ability to reproduce either by death or sterilization in an idiotic fashion). According to Wendy Northcutt, author of the Darwin Award books: "The Awards honor people who ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion." The Darwin Award books state that an attempt is made to disallow known urban legends from the awards, but some older "winners" have been 'grandfathered' to keep their awards. The Darwin Awards site[1] does try to verify all submitted stories, but many similar sites, and the vast number of circulating "Darwin awards" emails, are largely fictional.[2]



The Awards have circulated since 1985 as emails and Usenet group discussions; the Google Usenet archive records two early mentions of Darwin Awards, 7 August 1985 Vending Machine Tipover[3] and 7 December 1990 JATO Rocket Car[4] urban legend. The JATO legend was widely distributed via emails from 1995–97. Several anonymously authored email lists titled (for example) 1999 Darwin Awards have appeared annually since 1991.[3] There are several websites that record "Darwin Awards"[2]

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