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The Charles Darwin Award is an annual honor presented posthumously to the person or persons who do the world genetic gene pool the greatest service by exterminating themselves in the most extraordinarily stupid way -- before reproducing in kind.  These are the stories of people so stupid that you wish someone would put chlorine in the gene pool.

Unfortunately in recent years, due to medical miracles and plain dumb luck, many Darwin wannabes have somehow managed to survive. 

Item: Man Loses Eye

[UPI, Portland, OR] Doctors at Portland’s University Hospital said Wednesday an Oregon man shot through the skull by a hunting arrow is lucky to be alive, and will be released soon from the hospital.

Tony Roberts, 25, lost his right eye during an initiation into a men’s rafting club, Mountain Men Anonymous, in Grants Pass, OR.  A friend tried to shoot a beer can off his head, but the arrow entered Roberts’ right eye. 

Doctors said had the arrow gone 1 millimeter to the left, a major blood vessel would have cut and Roberts would have died instantly. Neurosurgeon Dr. Johnny Delashaw at the University Hospital in Portland.

Roberts admitted afterwards he and his friends had been drinking that afternoon. Said Roberts, “I feel so dumb about this.”

(Editor wonders if "dumb" is strong enough to adequately describe the situation. Furthermore there appear to be serious overtones of "group" stupidity as opposed to "lone wolf" stupidity. This story plus the one below should offer a powerful message regarding the virtues of sobriety. See pictures of similar incident)

Item: Bridge Jumper Injured

This story was noticed in the May 7th Houston Chronicle. A man barely survived a leap off a high bridge over the Intercoastal waterway near Surfside. He was knocked unconscious, but was fished from the water by a passing boat. The man ended up with his back looking as if “a cheese grater” had scraped it raw. 

Apparently the Chronicle decided to spare this man the humiliation of adding his name to the story. The 43-year-old man, who lives with friends in Freeport, landed on his back after making the estimated 100-foot leap from a Texas 332 bridge about 4:15 pm Saturday, May 6, 2000, said Surfside police Cpl Becky Huffman. 

Officer Huffman was quoted as saying, “I don’t know how he lived. The bridge is about eight stories high!” 

Huffman said the man told her he had started on his second 12-pack of beer when he decided to find out what it was like to jump. Officer Huffman added that as the man was placed in the ambulance, he mumbled to her that in retrospect this was a pretty dumb idea.  

“The guy was in tremendous pain. He looked like somebody took a cheese grater and rubbed his back,” Huffman said. 

The jumper was listed in stable but guarded condition at the local hospital. 

If ever there was a candidate for Darwin Award Consideration, this guy is it. 

Eliminate Stupidity – Reinstate Darwinian Principles Immediately!!

Written by Leonard Pitts, Jr 
Columnist for Knight-Ridder Newspapers,
This article appeared in the Houston Chronicle on 05-26-00

So here’s the question: How stupid are you?

Let’s say on a scale of one to 10, how stupid do you figure?

Yes, I know I’m being awfully rude. It’s just that lately I find myself deeply annoyed at the way your feeblemindedness – and more importantly, mine – are considered a foregone conclusion by the people who make and market the stuff we buy.

I refer you to the fine print of an automotive ad I saw the other day on television. Doesn’t matter which one, because they’re all the same. The computer-enhanced image shows the car performing some can’t-be-done feat – driving up a wall, let’s say – and the text at the bottom invariably admonishes: ”Professional driver on closed course. Please do not attempt.”

Whew. Glad they told me. Otherwise, I might have tried to drive my minivan to the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

I wrote a column about cautions like this a couple of years ago. “Idiot warnings”, I called them, as in, those warnings that would insult Homer Simpson’s intelligence, much less the intelligence of couple of smart cookies like you and me. It wasn’t a car ad that set me off that time, but a flimsy toy hard hat whose makers found it necessary to tell buyers that it provided no protection against head injury.

My rant resonated with readers, many of whom sent it idiot warnings of their own. Like a bread-pudding container that says, “Product will be hot after heating.” Or the iron that cautions, “Do not iron clothes on body.” Or a chain saw that admonished, “Do not attempt to stop chain with your hands.”

Wait, there’s more.

bulletHow a windshield sunshade that says, “Don’t operate vehicle with shade in place?”
bulletThe Christmas lights that say, “For indoor or outdoor use only.”
bulletThe sleep aid that says, “Warning: may cause drowsiness.”
bulletOr my personal favorite, the Superman costume that wants you to know, “This costume will not enable wearer to fly.

One imagines some guy perched on the roof, wearing his costume with the big “S” on his chest , fists thrust out before him and getting ready to fly.  Just before he jumps, a move that would clearly improve the gene pool, he reads the warning and frowns.  Shocked to discover his suit will not grant him flying abilities, he says “Darn”, then walks away from the edge.

Don’t get me wrong. I understand why people who make stuff find it necessary to insult the intelligence of those who buy it. In these litigious days, it’s not inconceivable that a corporation might wind up paying a multimillion-dollar judgment to, say, some doofus who didn’t realize that a sleep aid might make you sleepy or a Halloween costume purchaser who hurts himself trying to fly.

(Editor’s note – Do any of you agree the problem of Idiot Warnings can be traced the famous McDonalds incident several years back where a customer discovered that hot coffee is actually hot? After buying some coffee to go, the customer spilled the coffee, scalded her hand, and then had the nerve to sue McDonalds. The real tragedy is some half-brained jury actually sided with the plaintiff!!

This misguided group sent the spine-chilling message to corporate America that henceforth all their customers should be considered to have the IQ of a moron. The stupidity of the McDonalds jury should be considered for the “Hall of Shame” along the lines of the OJ Simpson crew. Is it possible that Darwinian principles are involved in jury selection – the smart get out of jury duty and only the stupid survive to be picked? Perhaps some legal observers could offer their opinion on this conjecture.)

So corporate America covers its hindquarters by making the world safe for stupidity. But it occurs to me that in the process, corporate America also does profound damage to the human species.

Follow me on this.  Remember what you learned in biology about Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection?  It says, in essence, that the strong survive.  Not only that, but they pass their strength down the genetic line.

The problem is that now, thanks to idiot warnings, now the weak survive too.  This in turn allows them to pass their weakness down as well. I mean, did anyone stop to think that maybe the guy who put on the Superman suit and went up to the roof was actually meant to leap off?  Then he reads that warning and, instead of liquefying himself against the pavement, he survives. To procreate.

Stupidity, it seems obvious to me, is spreading like kudzu.

In the face of this national emergency, I offer two proposals: First, that we do away, now and forever, with idiot warnings. Second, that the federal government supply every man, woman, and child in this country… a Superman suit.

I know it sounds harsh, but it’s the only way.

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