Insane, Unsound, And Just Plain Stupid: The 2018 Darwin Awards

Published December 25, 2018
Updated July 3, 2019

These stars of stupidity were either killed or narrowly escaped death at the hands of their own bad decisions. Now we honor them for — nearly — selecting themselves out of the gene pool.

Darwin Award Winners For 2018

BMJ Case ReportsDarwin award winner for the removal of a 23-inch dildo from an unidentified 31-year-old man’s rectum — that had been stuck for over 24 hours.

It has been a year of fantastic invention and discovery, and yet, it’s also been a year of absolute stupidity. These individuals have been graced with a Darwin award, a prize reserved only for those who have contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool by dying — or almost dying — at the hands of their own ignorance.

Sure, some of these Darwin award winners are the product of an accident most, however, are the product of their own stupidity. We do have to thank these victors though for ensuring the persistence of only the very best of humanity.

259 People Worldwide Have Died While Taking Selfies

Darwin Award Via Train Tracks

YouTubeA selfie captured moments before the man in the photo died.

The quest for the ultimate social media photo has driven people to do some crazy things, and thus the Darwin awards begin with every one of the 259 people who got themselves killed while trying to take a selfie.

A team of researchers from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences looked at news reports of selfie deaths between October 2011 and November 2017 and discovered that 259 people worldwide died while taking a selfie.

The report defines selfie deaths, or “selficides,” as “any accidental death that occurs while doing self-photography or clicking selfies.”

For instance just this past year in 2018, a man who had stopped along the side of the road for a bathroom break was mauled to death after he came across a bear and decided to try to take a picture with it.

The study’s findings reveal a startling growth pattern as social media sites like Instagram and Snapchat grew in popularity, so did the selfie deaths. The highest number of selfie-related deaths in the six-year period occurred in India. The country accounted for nearly 50% of all of the deaths. Russia, the United States, and Pakistan rounded out the top four and the study says that most of the deaths happened to people who were under the age of 30.

Men made up 72.5 percent of the selfie deaths. While women take more selfies, the study posits that men are more likely to put themselves at risk while attempting to take the photos.

Dangerous Selfie

Getty ImagesA woman climbs on top of another person’s shoulders while on the edge of a chimney so she can capture a selfie.

The top cause of selfie-related death was drowning, which accounted for 70 of the 259 deaths. The number two cause of death was “transport” incidents, such as running in front of a train or stopping on train tracks, which killed 51 people. Deaths by fire and falling tied for third with 48 deaths each.

Other causes of death in the study were electrocution, animals, and firearms. The United States ranked number one for firearm-related selfie deaths. These occurred mostly from the photographer accidentally shooting themselves while posing with their gun.

Unfortunately, the researchers feel that these figures could be underreported and that there have possibly been even more selfie-related deaths than those listed in the study.

Perhaps our morbid curiosity for these selfie-related accidental deaths can serve as a warning against taking the perfect, albeit risky, social media picture esepcially at the risk of becoming a Darwin award nominee.

Couple Biking The World To Prove “Humans Are Kind” Killed By ISIS Militants

Lauren Geoghegan And Jay Austin

Simplycycling.orgLauren Geoghegan and her boyfriend Jay Austin quit their jobs and embarked on the trip of a lifetime in July 2017.

And the Darwin award for “I Told You So” goes to this tragic couple.

Millennial love birds, Lauren Geoghegan and her boyfriend Jay Austin, both 29 years old, embarked on an international biking adventure after quitting their day jobs in 2017. The two wrote a joint blog post about their planned travels, where they revealed that they would discover that “humans are kind” and that evil “is a make-believe concept.”

Sadly, after just over a year of traveling, they were killed by ISIS militants in Tajikistan on the 369th day of their journey alongside two other cyclists — one from the Netherlands, and another from Switzerland.

As the group of four were riding through Tajikistan, a car suddenly rammed into them and five men got out and began attacking them with knives, eventually killing all four.

Authorities in Tajikistan initially blamed a domestic Islamic separatist group for the murders, but ISIS later released a video of the five men that attacked the group where they pledged their allegiance to ISIS in front of the terrorist group’s flag. According to The New York Times the men vowed to kill the “disbelievers.”

The murder of Geoghegan and Austin was obviously the antithesis of the purpose of their extensive bike trip. In a blog post before the couple was killed, Austin expressed that they had adopted a new positive worldview during their travels.

“You read the papers and you’re led to believe that the world is a big, scary place,” Austin wrote. “People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil … I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept we’ve invented … By and large, humans are kind. Self-interested sometimes, myopic sometimes, but kind. Generous and wonderful and kind.”

Paul Stronski, a senior fellow in the Russia and Eurasia program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace explains that Tajikistan specifically is a country that’s in a “dysfunctional state,” and as such corruption is prevalent that can trickle down to border control.

There is also a large terrorist stronghold in the northern region of Afghanistan, which lies on the border of Tajikistan. So while generally central Asia might be safe, Tajikistan’s geographical positioning and political climate make it a particularly risky country to travel to.

As difficult a time as this must be for of the both victims’ families, Geoghegan’s parents say they choose to remember their daughter as the positive force that she was.

“The yearlong bicycle adventure Lauren and her partner, Jay Austin, were enjoying was typical of her enthusiastic embrace of life’s opportunities, her openness to new people and places, and her quest for a better understanding of the world.”

A better understanding that evaded her at the highest, most horrific price.

Leah Silverman
A former associate editor for All That's Interesting, Leah Silverman holds a Master's in Fine Arts from Columbia University's Creative Writing Program and her work has appeared in Catapult, Town & Country, Women's Health, and Publishers Weekly.
John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the editorial director of All That's Interesting. He graduated from New York University with a degree in history, earning a place in the Phi Alpha Theta honor society for history students. An editor at All That's Interesting since 2015, his areas of interest include modern history and true crime.
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Silverman, Leah. "Insane, Unsound, And Just Plain Stupid: The 2018 Darwin Awards.", December 25, 2018, Accessed June 15, 2024.