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Are Men From Stupid?

While the number of men and women in the world are roughly equal - about 3.4 billion each - men run most of the world. 

Men run companies and countries. They are college presidents and police commissioners.

You might think that’s fine. But what if you combined that with information from a paper published in December’s British Medical Journal that says men are, in fact, bigger risk takers? Or, maybe accurately, bigger idiots, than women?

The “idiot” study from last month’s British Medical Journal used data from the tongue-in-cheek Darwin Awards, which recognizes nominees who, “improve the gene pool by eliminating themselves from the human race in an obviously stupid way.”

So far, 87 percent of the award winners have been male.

UNLV psychology professor Stephen Benning has researched risky behavior. He says part of the reason men are more likely to engage in risky behavior is men's tendency to perceive a variety of activities as less risky.

He says if men fundamentally don't perceive activities that pose threats to life and limb as dangerous, they won't have their fear systems activated as strongly, so they'll be more likely to do them.

University of Wisconsin-Madison professor emeritus Charles Saunders is a primatologist, who has spent decades studying monkey behavior. He says males become risk averse when they develop a close relationship with their mate. 

Both professors pointed to studies which tie testosterone levels to risk taking and how testosterone can be lowered when a man becomes a father. 

Author Steve Alten says men are simple creatures who can be trained just like dogs through a reward system. He says women are more complex and more independent, like cats. 


Stephen Benning, professor, UNLV Department of Psychology

Charles Snowdon, professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Steve Alten, author, “Dog Training The American Male.”
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