Florida Man #0 – The Mysterious Origin Issue – Take a Journey of Discovery to Attempt to Find Out Why Florida Man Possesses his Strange Powers

Florida Man #0 – The Mysterious Origin Issue – Take a Journey of Discovery to Attempt to Find Out Why Florida Man Possesses his Strange Powers

If you’re reading internet news like this article, you’re bound to already know about the Florida Man phenomenon.  For years, Florida man has kept bystanders entranced with his super-human ability to do the weirdest things you can imagine—and even better than that, get caught doing it.

But there has been little explanation offered for why Florida has so much strange stuff going on.

Yes, there was the Salon post from 2 years ago and posts that impersonated it. But none of them dig deep into the strange ooze of humanity that is the small demographic of Florida represented by the demigod-like umbrella title that is Florida Man.

Could there be a scientific reason that Florida has weirder news stories than any of the other 49 states? Let’s explore a couple of theories.

#1 Drugs:

Thanks to Florida Man’s unstoppable force as a negative PR agent for the Sunshine State, there is certainly a perception among many Americans that Florida must be the state with the worst drug problem in the nation. But the reality is, Florida is not exceptional in its abuse (or even use) of illegal substances.

According to 2010-2011 surveys from the Substance Abuse and Mental Heath Services Administration, Florida ranks at less than 9% of citizens 12 and older reporting illicit drug use. That is compared with over 10.72 percent in 9 other states (and Washington DC) as well as between 9% and 10.71% in 10 additional states.  (For an even more in depth look at drug use around the country, see this Business Insider article from 2013).

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2010 (Revised March 2012) and 2011

Source: SAMHSA, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, NSDUH, 2010 (Revised March 2012) and 2011. (Note how this figure puts Florida right in the middle of the illicit drug use bell curve).

The majority of drugs used in Florida are not any more dangerous than the average state either. In fact, according to Laura Dimon of Mic.com in a 2014 article, the most popular drug in Florida remains marijuana, with a growing addiction to heroin developing in the northeast. So, in theory, if drugs were the answer, we should be reading about Vermont Couple or New York Woman.

From Mic.com.

From Mic.com.

#2 Population/Tourism:

Let’s face it, if we are just going by numbers alone, Florida is among the most populous and most traveled to state in the country. Could numbers alone account for all the weird stories?

According the US Census (2014 estimates) Florida has nearly 20 million citizens as its population has increased 5.8% (nearly twice the national average of 3.3%) between 2010 and 2014.

Quick Aside — According to the same year’s census, despite the expectations that the audacious escapades of Florida Man might have given you, Florida is right on par with the national average of 86% of persons aged 25+ having obtained high school diplomas.

But Florida is not the most populated or even the most visited state in country. In population, Florida ranks behind California and Texas (having recently overtaken New York for the 3rd spot) according to the 2014 census.

And, as stated by Valaer Murray’s 2010 Forbes article, though Orlando was the most traveled to city in 2009 (with 48 million visitors) travel spending in California still outranks Florida’s $96.2 billion to $68.9 billion in the same year.

Downtown Orlando. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Downtown Orlando. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

So, if the answer lay in numbers we should be reading about California Person. And, even if Florida was the most populated state, it might explain why it had more weird stories than other states, but it doesn’t account for how the stories are SO weird, or that the number of stories from that state alone seem to outnumber those from all the rest of the country combined.


#3 Something in the water:

Eddie, member of the local water authority, adding a little something to the drinking water supply.

Eddie, member of the local water authority, and honorary Florida Man, adding a little something to the drinking water supply.

If you’ve read any alternative health news in the past 20 years, you’ve likely heard debate about the dangers of fluoride in our water. Is it possible than an increased level of fluoride is giving Florida Man the ability to dance on cars to fend off vampires? Is it coincidence or conspiracy that Florida and Fluoride share so many letters? (HINT: It’s probably not conspiracy).

Data from the fluoridation census (as delivered by flouridealert.org), has shown an increase from 58.3% in 1992 to 67.4% in 2004 for Floridians receiving their water from public water systems that add fluoride to the water.

Percentage of State Population served by Public Water Systems that Receive Fluoridated Water (see all states)
State 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1992
Florida 67.4 66.0 62.6 62.6 62.6 58.3

California, by contrast, saw only 27.6% of its population receive water from public water systems in 2004.

Percentage of State Population served by Public Water Systems that Receive Fluoridated Water (see all states)
State 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1992
California 27.6 29.0 28.7 28.7 28.7 15.7

However, even after the 9.1 increase in percentage between 1992 and 2004, Florida’s citizens are still not the most likely to receive their water from fluoridating sources.  Again, according to the fluoridealert.org census, 100% of Washington D.C.’s population lives in areas serviced by public fluoridated water centers. Additionally, states including Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia had their 2004 percentages in the same category top 90%.

But maybe the additive in the water is not due to some government conspiracy, but rather a problem running rampant in our nation’s water supply: improper prescription drug disposal. Certainly this is a problem across the country, but in a state where over 19% of the population is 65 or older, is it possible that prescription medication is more prevalent and consequently more concentrated in local water supplies?

According the aforementioned Business Insider article, Florida is not the greatest abuser of prescription drugs (or least of pain relievers). Oregon has that distinction.

So if Florida Man’s powers of salvation don’t stem from the water he drinks, could it come directly from the land itself?

#4 Location, Location, Location:

Quick geography lesson: Florida is down south. So far so, that often people refer to it unflatteringly in the anatomy of America (I’ll leave the nicknames to your imagination). But more importantly to our investigation, Florida is the only state in our nation that is adjacent to the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.

Florida is the only State in the US touches the Bermuda Triangle. Image from NOAA.gov.

Florida is the only State (non-state territories not included) in the US touches the Bermuda Triangle. Image from NOAA.gov.

NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) states that “For decades, the Atlantic Ocean’s fabled Bermuda Triangle has captured the human imagination with unexplained disappearances of ships, planes, and people.”

One of the three apexes of the Bermuda Triangle just happens to be Miami Florida. Coincidence? (Hint: Again, probably).  Though Miami makes up a point of the triangle, the triangle actually covers very little of the state itself. Additionally, most of the stories surrounding the legend of the Bermuda triangle usually involve the disappearances of vessels, not foot sniffing fetishists.

Lastly, according to NOAA “There is no evidence that mysterious disappearances occur with any greater frequency in the Bermuda Triangle than in any other large, well-traveled area of the ocean.”


It seems the more I investigate the issue of Florida Man’s origin story, the more I find that there is seemingly no reason for it. Maybe it is just that Florida’s mix of humidity and giant costumed anthropomorphic animals make people more likely to get attacked by tens of thousands of bees. Or perhaps it’s just a matter of trends in local media outlets in Florida are being more likely than those in the other 49 states to report on news of its citizens who are arrested while wearing T-shirts that claim they have drugs.

But whatever his mysterious backstory, we know one thing for sure. Florida man will not abandon us in our time of need. Especially if that need is to fill space on a slow news day.

What do you think gives Florida Man his powers of weirdness? Do want to see more or less of the intrepid Florida Man in the future? Let us know! Comment below, Share on Facebook, and find us on Twitter, hashtag #DMTalk!



Staff Writer

Leo Ashcraft

A retired broadcast engineer, talk show host, news reporter - I have done everything there is to do in the radio broadcast business. I worked a year in television. I left that as my true passion has always been radio - plus I got tired of hearing - you have a face for radio.. I hope you enjoy my articles! Be sure to share them excessively on facebook - like our page and bug your friends with invites!

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