The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection

The Darwin Awards II: Unnatural Selection

by Wendy Northcutt


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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780452284012
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 03/25/2003
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 256
Sales rank: 562,040
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.20(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

A graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in molecular biology, Wendy Northcutt began collecting the stories that make up the Darwin Awards in 1993. Her award-winning Web site is one of the most popular humor pages on the Web. The Darwin Awardshave been profiled in USA TodayThe Wall Street JournalEntertainment Weekly, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. Wendy is the author of the international bestsellers The Darwin Awards: Evolution in ActionThe Darwin Awards 2: Unnatural SelectionThe Darwin Awards 3: Survival of the Fittest, The Darwin Awards 4: Intelligent Design, The Darwin Awards: Next Evolution, and The Darwin Awards: Countdown to Extinction.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

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.

Are you superstitious?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    own front lawn.


    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.

    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.

    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.

    to those who ignore religious strictures, and indulge in the seven deadly sins.

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 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.

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.


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.

    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.

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.

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.

    man decided to follow the sage advice of an obscure German proverb: "If life gives you lemons, burn them."

    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.

    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.

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.

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.

    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.

    had poor vision, and probably misread the label.

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.

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?1
What Are They?2
Rules and Eligibility3
Darwin's Theory of Evolution6
Surviving Stupidity8
Where Do Darwins Come From?9
Chapter 1Penance: Seven Deadly Sins11
Discussion: Kismet, Karma, Destiny12
Darwin Award: Vanity: Liposuction Tragedy14
Darwin Award: Vanity: Perilous Pose15
Darwin Award: Wrath: Throwing Stones16
Darwin Award: Greed: Crystal Daze17
Darwin Award: Sloth: Sleepfalling18
Darwin Award: Envy: Flames of Passion19
Darwin Award: Envy: Moscow Marauder20
Darwin Award: Gluttony: Ethanol Schmethanol21
Honorable Mention: Gluttony: Men Eating Chili22
Personal Account: Lust: Emergency Room Excitement23
Chapter 2Women: Femme Fatalities25
Discussion: Civilization Memes26
Darwin Award: Fast Food Fatality29
Darwin Award: Enraged Elephant30
Darwin Award: Rubbish!31
Darwin Award: Christmas Tree32
Darwin Award: Testing Faith33
Darwin Award: That Sinking Feeling34
Honorable Mention: Aircraft Airhead35
Darwin Award: Fatal Footwear Fashion36
Honorable Mention: Explosive Mix of Girls37
Honorable Mention: Snow Bunnies38
Honorable Mention: Dumb Drunk39
Personal Account: Eat the Young40
Personal Account: Brush with Stupidity41
Chapter 3Water: All Washed Up43
Discussion: Weed Seeds and Biodiversity44
Darwin Award: Fishing with No Compass46
Darwin Award: Duct Tape47
Darwin Award: Dodging Drink Dues48
Darwin Award: Walking on Water49
Darwin Award: Dive to Death50
Darwin Award: Passionate Plunge51
Darwin Award: Show-Off52
Honorable Mention: All Aboard53
Honorable Mention: Sewer Shower54
Urban Legend: Brewery Mishap55
Chapter 4Technology: Engines of Destruction57
Discussion: Car Safety58
Darwin Award: Do It Yourself, Do Yourself In61
Darwin Award: Two Avalanche Alaskan63
Darwin Award: Forklift Safety Video65
Darwin Award: Electrifying Stunt66
Darwin Award: Intersecting Darwins67
Darwin Award: Power Punch Proves Fatal68
Darwin Award: Scooter Snuff69
Darwin Award: Circular Reasoning70
Darwin Award: Sweet Release71
Darwin Award: Snowball's Chance in Hell73
Darwin Award: Sand Surfing74
Honorable Mention: House Hunting Gone Awry75
Honorable Mention: Coors Light and the UltraLight76
Urban Legend: Mad Trombonist77
Personal Account: Robot Reaper79
Personal Account: Prop Arc Safety80
Personal Account: Miracle Mile81
Chapter 5Men: Male-functions83
Discussion: Online Safety84
Darwin Award: Rappin' on Heaven's Door87
Darwin Award: Fantastic Plastic Lover88
Darwin Award: Bulletproof?89
Darwin Award: New Dating Technique90
Darwin Award: God Saves?91
Darwin Award: Settle the Score92
Darwin Award: Hardheads93
Darwin Award: Ur-inate-iot94
Darwin Award: A Fell Death95
Honorable Mention: Cheez Whiz96
Honorable Mention: Trash Compactor98
Honorable Mention: Archery Practice99
Honorable Mention: Tied to His Work100
Honorable Mention: Chicken with a Train101
Honorable Mention: Toilet Trap102
Urban Legend: The Bricklayer103
Personal Account: Tourist Trap105
Personal Account: Tube Snake107
Chapter 6Animals: Pall of the Wild109
Discussion: Dogs and Darwinism110
Darwin Award: Hornet Challenge114
Darwin Award: Fish Gag115
Darwin Award: Sheep Sleep116
Honorable Mention: Doggone Foot117
Urban Legend: Cactus Tales118
Personal Account: Polar Bear Lesson121
Personal Account: Feeding the Dolphins122
Personal Account: Horsing Around123
Urban Legend: Lobster Vasectomy124
Chapter 7Explosions: Out with a Bang!125
Discussion: Intelligent Design Theory126
Darwin Award: Out with a Bang!129
Darwin Award: Grenade Juggler131
Darwin Award: Fireworks Fiasco132
Darwin Award: Shell Shot133
Darwin Award: Guitars 'n' Guns134
Honorable Mention: Kaboom!135
Honorable Mention: Plane Stupid136
Urban Legend: Fifteen Minutes of Flame137
Personal Account: A Medieval Tale139
Personal Account: Workin' on the Railroad141
Personal Account: Man and Cactus142
Personal Account: Man with Gas Can143
Personal Account: Instant Sunrise145
Chapter 8Outlaws: Crime and Punishment149
Discussion: City Living150
Darwin Award: Human Popsicle152
Darwin Award: Ski Theft Backfires154
Darwin Award: Escaping Conviction155
Darwin Award: Killing Time156
Darwin Award: Just Say No!158
Darwin Award: Stab in the Dark159
Darwin Award: You Said a Mouthful160
Honorable Mention: The Sting161
Honorable Mention: Ferguson 2, Thieves 0162
Honorable Mention: Morsel of Evidence163
Honorable Mention: Call Girl164
Honorable Mention: Bodacious Bud165
Honorable Mention: Siphon!166
Honorable Mention: Planning Ahead167
Honorable Mention: Sobriety Test168
Personal Account: Medical Misadventures169
Chapter 9Disqualified: Losing Is Its Own Reward173
Not a Darwin: Do Bikes Float?174
Not a Darwin: Underwire Bras Deadly175
Not a Darwin: Texas A&M Bonfire176
Not a Darwin: Body Canyoning178
Not a Darwin: Our Brightest Cheerleaders180
Not a Darwin: Fatal Case of Hiccups181
Not a Darwin: Ice Floe Frolic182
Not a Darwin: Shotgun Pepsi184
Not a Darwin: Mania Strikes Back186
Chapter 10Classic Dozen: Better Read than Dead189
Discussion: Speciation190
Darwin Award: JATO193
Darwin Award: Junk Food Junkie195
Darwin Award: Midnight Special196
Darwin Award: Wrong Time, Wrong Place197
Darwin Award: Count Your Chickens198
Darwin Award: The Last Supper199
Honorable Mention: Lawnchair Larry200
Honorable Mention: Revenge of the Gopher203
Urban Legend: Frog Giggin' Accident204
Urban Legend: Metallica Concert Misadventure205
Urban Legend: Scuba Divers and Forest Fires208
Urban Legend: Dog and Jeep210
1.Website Biography213
2.Author Biography215
3.Forum Decorum216
4.Godwin's Law221
Story Index222

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Delightfully funny, The Darwin Awards, taken together, constitute a delicious sermon in support of common sense." —The Baltimore Sun

"The Darwin Awards is a riot to read.  Deeply entertaining." —San Francisco Weekly

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Darwin Awards II - Unnatural Selection 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
vegaheim on LibraryThing 30 days ago
the things people do! unbelievable! very funny, very disturbing, very odd, the things people do or even think about doing.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
The Darwin Awards is a creative concept, but I'm not sure this book is written all that well or in that funny of a manner. I haven't read the other books in this series, so I can't compare it with them, but I didn't get that many laughs out of this one. And heck, maybe there's something wrong with you if you are getting laughs out of other people dying, whether they're dangling from a hanglider with a chainsaw in hand or what have you. I will say that some of the anecdotes are pretty funny, but the humor seemed a bit hit or miss.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is filled with funny,stupid, or just plain ironic stories that are sure to make you laugh! This is a great gift I got it for my birthday and been reading it alot. Very funny and a great gift.
Guest More than 1 year ago
If you liked The Darwin Awards, you will find this book to be another winner. Like The Darwin Awards, let me note that if you do not find witless death and mutilation humorous, avoid this book. Three of the mutilation examples have a sexual context and are pretty gross. If you find fatal and grisly mishaps funny, you will enjoy the book greatly. In fact, this has to be the best articulated book ever written about stupid ways to die and lose fertility. Anyone will feel smarter and better about themselves after reading these stories! This book is about people 'removing themselves from the gene pool in sublimely idiotic fashion' in ¿true accidental blunders.¿ The incidents involve ways that people ¿unthinkingly engineer their own downfalls, oblivious to warning signs that the rest of us automatically heed.¿ The book's premise is very well framed to put you in a humorous mood. The idea is that when people do stupid things that get them killed or keep them from having children, they thus perform a service by improving the gene pool for the remaining humans. Ms. Northcutt uses many witty essays and quotes to emphasize this point, and establishes the mood well. She has rules for these awards. To win the Darwin Award, you must (1) die or be unable to procreate after the incident, (2) show ¿an astounding misapplication of common sense,¿ (3) cause your own downfall, (4) have the ability to use sound judgment (are not too young or permanently mentally impaired) and (5) have the incident verified by someone else. If you don't meet all these tests, you can still get an honorable mention, or be described as an urban legend or a personal account. I thought these distinctions made good sense, because the story's focus and credibility weighs heavily on the interest it creates for the reader drawn to this subject. In an improvement over The Darwin Awards, Ms. Northcutt has shared feedback from her readers challenging the veracity of various urban legends, personal accounts, and honorable mentions. As a result, this book is tighter than The Darwin Awards. In another improvement, the stories much more carefully document the victim¿s involvement with illegal drugs and alcohol than in The Darwin Awards. In this way, the cautionary lesson about using these substances is brought home more correctly The stories are grouped around themes: violating the seven deadly sins, women as the genetically removed party, water misadventures, problems with technology, men acting macho, misadventures with animals, explosions, and criminal capers. There is also a chapter on stories that do not qualify, and a dozen of the all-time favorites of on-line readers. Here are a few of my favorite stories: The woman who pretended to have been robbed in her fast food restaurant, and died of hypothermia in the cooler pretending to be immobilized . . . even though she could have walked out at any time before she lost consciousness. The man who jumped off every bridge crossing a river, including a drop of 70 feet into 3 feet of water . . . without checking the depth in advance. The man who wanted to lift off in his lawn chair a few feet into the air with helium-filled weather balloons, and ended up at 16,000 feet along the air lanes into Los Angeles International airport. The heavy man who decided to save money on liposuction by having his neighbor who was not a doctor do the operation in his house. He died of an overdose of lidocaine. The construction workers who cut a hole in heavy concrete 100 feet up around the spot they were standing on. The man who killed himself operating a forklift unsafely while taping a safety video. The woman who drove her car into a canal and called 911 on her cell phone. Told that she should lower the windows or open the door and get out, she refused . . . hoping the water would stay out. She forgot that a back window was open, and drowned. The man who looked down the rocket la