March 1, 2011 -- In his new book "Man Down," Dan Abrams gives "Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt That Women Are Better Cops, Drivers, Gamblers, Spies, World Leaders, Beer Tasters, Hedge Fund Managers, and Just About Everything Else." A television host, legal commentator and web entrepreneur, Abrams publishes five websites and is the CEO of the digital media strategy firm Abrams Research. Abrams is joining ABC News as a legal analyst for "Good Morning America" and will contribute on pieces for the news division.
Read a chapter from the book below.
Women Are Less Likely to Be Struck by Lightning
"The reason lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place is that the same place isn't there the second time." - American ventriloquist Willie Tyler
When it comes to long shots, unlikely mishaps, or chances of contracting rare diseases, it seems there is always one barometer: the chance of being struck by lightning. It's not about the actual odds; it's about comparing these events to that bolt from Zeus. Whether it's the odds of winning the lottery, getting bitten by a shark, or developing Capgras syndrome, it seems the matter always comes back to whether you are more likely to be struck by lightning and, often, the answer is yes. But despite all the talk about the chances of being hit by lightning, it seems all these prognostications miss one very relevant factor: whether you are a man or a woman.
It's hard to believe, but PopSci.com reports that from 1995 to 2008, a whopping 82 percent of those struck by lightning in the US were men. So what is it about men that makes them such attractive targets for the effects of an electrical storm? Their height? The experts don't seem to view that as significant. I'm sure many guys would tell you that they have a "magnetic" pull that could explain it. Whatever. That's obviously not it either—although that sort of hubris and bravado may be part of the explanation.
According to John Jensenius, a lightning expert from the National Weather Service, it's far simpler than that. "Men take more risks in lightning storms," he told PopSci.com. Men, Jensenius argues, just don't bother to seek shelter in a storm as often as women. Picture the bishop in Caddyshack playing golf with Bill Murray during a massive electrical storm. He defends his refusal to quit, saying: "The good Lord would never disrupt the best game of my life." Of course he is then struck by lightning as he misses the final shot.
In fact, almost half of all lightning-related deaths are connected to recreational or sports activities. A behavioral psychologist also quoted by PopSci.com attributes it to something about men being wired to attract females with bold behavior and the desire to attract mates by showing little fear. Maybe, but I'm guessing a man's "wiring" and "magnetism" are less the issue than sometimes guys just being dim bulbs.
Oh, and in case you were wondering about Capgras syndrome mentioned above, it's a rare disorder where the victim comes to mistakenly believe his/her significant other is an imposter. In severe cases, the victim attacks a relative or boyfriend/girlfriend in question. No studies yet on whether this is more of a male or female disease, but I think it's safe to say that the chances of being struck by lightning are better than that of contracting this "disease" - at least for men.
Women Are Better Gamblers
"Someone once asked me why women don't gamble as much as men do, and I gave the common-sensical reply that we don't have as much money. That was a true but incomplete answer. In fact, women's total instinct for gambling is satisfied by marriage." - Gloria Steinem
"In the poker game of life, women are the rake." We owe this fetching analogy to Worm (a.k.a. Edward Norton), No Limit Hold 'Em expert of the 1998 film Rounders. (Scuzzy and scheming, Worm is also its premier sleazebag.) Intended to console and inspire his friend, who, having just been dumped, is feeling defeated (which men do more than women after a breakup - see Chapter 1). Worm's words of wisdom, of course, suggest that women don't gamble and don't risk their money. They wait on the sidelines while men, dauntless and debonair, dare the odds in quest of a fortune. When that fortune gets doled out and the losers are sifted from the winners—that's when women make their grasping, predictable play.
Alas, in the poker game of life, Worm, it would seem, is the guy who bets his roll on a bad hunch—then gets tossed for bad behavior. (He's also the guy, needless to say, without a girlfriend.) In a comprehensive 2007 study of 40,499 online gamblers conducted by the Cambridge Health Alliance, an organization affiliated with Harvard Medical School, women exhibited "more effective sports gambling behavior than men," according to Richard LaBrie, the study's author.
The study, which culled its results from giant databases, shows that women are more aggressive in their bets, more rapid-fire in placing them, and more likely to turn a profit at the tables. While men wagered an average of eleven euros per bet, women wagered an average of fifteen. Women also placed wagers over 15 percent more frequently than men - earning them nicely proportional 15 percent greater winnings.
Women were therefore both the exemplars and the beneficiaries of a broader truth brought home by the study: that the bigger, bolder bettors are 50 percent less prone to lose money than the smaller, more tentative bettors. So not only do women gamble. Not only do women do well gambling at tables, rather than, as in the stereotype, staying primly to the side at the slots. They are braver gamblers - and they profit by it.
That does not mean that you will see more women at the tables, but it does mean that the house may want to train the internal cameras on them. The old truth survives that you have to have guts to gamble, but maybe the shorthand.