Almost everyone killed by lightning in the United States is a man. Since 2006, 80% of lightning victims were men. All seven people killed by lightning so far this year were men. This brings us to the only possible conclusion: men are stupid.
Of course, women have been trying to tell us that men are stupid for years. I mean, haven't you watched Roseanne? But the data finally backs up the assertion. Out of the 261 lightning deaths in the United States between 2006 and 2013, 211 were men!
Of all 261 deaths, 30 were the result of people gone fishing, 16 campers, 14 boaters, and 13 unfortunate beachgoers, according to a report (caution: PDF) written by National Weather Service Lightning Safety Specialist John Jensenius.
The seven men who died from lightning this year were fishing, closing car windows, riding a motorcycle, picking blueberries, roofing a car dealership, and two were near a tall tree when they were struck and killed.
Why are men the likely target for lightning? As demonstrated by this year's data, men are more likely to spend time outdoors by virtue of activities typically enjoyed by men, such as fishing, boating, or playing sports. Men are also more likely to work outside doing jobs such as construction, road maintenance, and utility work. Or picking blueberries.
It could also be because men are stupid. The number of lightning deaths dropped precipitously during the middle of the 1900s due to better storm detection methods and an increased focus on lightning safety. The United States saw a whopping 432 people die as a result of lightning in 1943, dropping down to a relatively low count of 23 in 2013.
As the Capital Weather Gang points out in Jensenius' report, men are more likely to die at the mercy of lightning as men are "unaware of all the dangers associated with lightning, are more likely to be in vulnerable situations, are unwilling to be inconvenienced by the threat of lightning, are in situations that make it difficult to get to a safe place in a timely manner, don't react quickly to the lightning threat, or any combination of these explanations."
In other words, lightning mostly kills men because men think they're invincible and don't pay attention to common sense. I am a testament to this. Last September, I stood outside of my dorm room admiring one of Mobile, Alabama's notorious summertime thunderstorms and came within a few feet of turning into a lightning statistic. It hit so close that the flash made me see spots and I lost hearing in my right ear for a full day. For years I've told people to stay inside when lightning strikes, and yet there I was, ten feet from becoming a pork chop.
Much to the delight of the media, another man got struck by lightning a few weeks back while taking video of a major thunderstorm on the Plains. The video showed up on just about every news station and website imaginable, including here on gawker dot com.
The statistics mentioned in the report are just lightning deaths — they don't capture the almost countless number of people who are struck by lightning and live to tell about it. The results of lightning injuries aren't always trippy-looking scars. The medical effects of surviving a lightning strike are usually cardiac arrest, and if one survives that, he or she will go on to potentially see a lifetime of major cognitive impairments, seizures, chronic headaches, nerve injuries, vision and hearing problems, and balance problems.
The National Weather Service's lightning safety motto is "when thunder roars, go indoors." As tempting as it is to stay outside and watch one of the atmosphere's most amazing spectacles — and trust me, I know — it's a safe bet to stay indoors.
[Top image via AP, graph by the author | major h/t to the Capital Weather Gang]