Featured

Free podcast player

Limited Time Offer

 

Loading…

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford podcast

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford

We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable lessons, but these Cautionary Tales are for the education of the grown ups – and they are all true. Tim Harford (Financial Times, BBC, author of “The Data Detective”) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, and hilarious fiascos. They'll delight you, scare you, but also make you wiser. New episodes every other Friday. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries.

We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable lessons, but these Cautionary Tales are for the education of the grown ups – and they are all true. Tim Harford (Financial Times, BBC, author of “The Data Detective”) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, and hilarious fiascos. They'll delight you, scare you, but also make you wiser. New episodes every other Friday. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries.

 

#45

Monkey for Mayor from This Day in Esoteric Political History

What happens when a monkey gets elected mayor? Well, not really a monkey, but a monkey mascot for a town’s football games. Tim Harford joins This Day in Esoteric Political History to discuss a weird moment from UK history in 2002, when the northeastern English town of Hartlepool was gearing up for a mayoral election and ended up voting in…the local football club’s monkey mascot to run their government. They discuss how H’Angus the Monkey got elected, and how the man inside the suit, Stuart Drummond, went on to be a very effective administrator. See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

13 May 2022

28 MINS

28:46

13 May 2022


#44

When the Autopilot Switched Off

An airline captain thought he was giving his children a harmless thrill by letting them "fly" his packed airplane - the young cockpit visitors weren't really in control... the autopilot was doing the real flying. Until it wasn't. Do safety features actually lull us into a false sense of security - tempting us to take greater risks than we otherwise would? For a full list of sources go to [timharford.com] (https://timharford.com/) If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our email list at [Pushkin.fm] (https://pushkin.us20.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ec28005461416f0b42178894f&id=1694c40f69) . See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

06 May 2022

33 MINS

33:06

06 May 2022


#43

Cautionary Tales Presents: World's Greatest Con

We'll be back with another story of human error next week, but today we're sharing another podcast you might like. On World's Greatest Con, Brian Brushwood talks about the most audacious con jobs, swindles, and heists in history. In this episode of World's Greatest Con, Brian tells the story of how a game show producer was tempted into upping the ante on his own program by feeding answers to the contestants. Those contestants become rich, famous, and admired...until the scheme is discovered and all they are left with is shame. You can hear more episodes by searching for World's Greatest Con wherever you get podcasts. See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

29 Apr 2022

1 HR 12 MINS

1:12:30

29 Apr 2022


#42

Photographing Fairies

Sherlock Holmes is known for approaching all mysteries with cool logic - and yet when his creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle saw photographs taken by two young girls purporting to show real life fairies at play... he unwisely declared them genuine. How did Elsie and Frances fool so many people with their photography... and why did they keep the hoax going for decades? For a full list of sources go to [timharford.com] (https://timharford.com/) If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our email list at [Pushkin.fm] (https://pushkin.us20.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ec28005461416f0b42178894f&id=1694c40f69) . See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

22 Apr 2022

37 MINS

37:07

22 Apr 2022


#41

Tim Joins ‘No Such Thing As A Fish'

‘No Such Thing as a Fish’ is one of Tim Harford’s favorite podcasts and he was recently invited on as a guest. So here’s a chance to listen to the host of Cautionary Tales chat vital vitamins, stinging schemes, and the practice of pyrography. Listen to more episodes from No Such Thing as a Fish wherever you get podcasts. Cautionary Tales will return with the story the greatest photographic hoax in history next Friday. Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

15 Apr 2022

57 MINS

57:18

15 Apr 2022


#40

The False Dawn of the Electric Car

Sir Clive Sinclair was a computer whizz and business mogul to rival Steve Jobs or Bill Gates. He was a visionary who could do no wrong... until he tried to launch an electric vehicle. The C5 “electrically assisted pedal cycle" doesn't seem so outlandish to us now... but 1985 just wasn't ready for the "aerodynamic bathtub" on wheels. Sir Clive was ridiculed and his business ruined. How did it all go so wrong? For a full list of sources go to [timharford.com] (https://timharford.com/) If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our email list at [Pushkin.fm] (https://pushkin.us20.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ec28005461416f0b42178894f&id=1694c40f69) . Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

08 Apr 2022

37 MINS

37:07

08 Apr 2022


#39

The Balloons That Ate Cleveland (A Cautionary Tales Short)

When Disneyland released one million helium balloons to set a new world record, Cleveland, Ohio looked on in envy. Could it top the Magic Kingdom? What did citizens hope to gain from getting into the record books... and at what cost? This is a special Cautionary Tales Short - a bitesize warning for history. To hear FOUR more Cautionary Tales Shorts (plus other exclusive and ad-free Pushkin content) join Pushkin+ in Apple Podcasts or at [https://www.pushkin.fm/plus/ ] (https://www.pushkin.fm/plus/%20) . For a full list of sources go to [timharford.com] (https://timharford.com/) If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our email list at [Pushkin.fm] (https://pushkin.us20.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ec28005461416f0b42178894f&id=1694c40f69) . Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

25 Mar 2022

18 MINS

18:55

25 Mar 2022


#38

Death on the Dance Floor

With its splendid modern architecture, the Hyatt Regency was the place to be seen in Kansas City in 1981. Beneath space-age walkways, guests drank, laughed and danced... not realizing that the 60 tons of of glass, concrete and steel hanging above their heads was about to come crashing down. One hundred and fourteen people died. But why? Was it cheap materials? Shoddy construction? Or a tiny error that seemed so insignificant that no one paid it any attention? For a full list of sources go to [timharford.com] (https://timharford.com/) If you’d like to keep up with the most recent news from this and other Pushkin podcasts be sure to sign up for our email list at [Pushkin.fm] (https://pushkin.us20.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ec28005461416f0b42178894f&id=1694c40f69) . Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

25 Mar 2022

36 MINS

36:44

25 Mar 2022


#37

The Future of Drones from What’s Your Problem

While we're getting ready to premiere our new season next week, check out Pushkin's newest show, What's Your Problem? In this preview, Tim talks to former Planet Money host Jacob Goldstein about the entrepreneurs interviewed on the show, the future they’re trying to build—and the problems they have to solve to get there. Since Tim is obsessed with problems, he delights in hearing about the ones really smart people are trying to solve right now. Jacob shares a story of the founder of a drone company called Zipline. The company makes hundreds of drone deliveries a day in Rwanda and Ghana. Now they're trying to solve a surprisingly hard problem: How do they make drone delivery work in the United States? You can hear more episodes of What’s Your Problem at  [https://link.chtbl.com/ctwhatsyourproblem] (https://link.chtbl.com/ctwhatsyourproblem) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

17 Mar 2022

28 MINS

28:59

17 Mar 2022


#36

Cautionary Tales Returns Every Other Friday from March 25th

The greatest mistakes, disasters and fiascos of the past aren't just gripping stories... they're also warnings from which we all can learn. Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford returns EVERY OTHER FRIDAY FROM MARCH 25th to chronicle the defeats of mighty armies, the destruction of business empires and the deadly eruptions of fearsome volcanoes. And from amongst the wrecked lives and wrecked egos, Tim finds the simple lessons we can apply in our daily lives. Tim's also created some special Cautionary Tales Shorts, available exclusively to Pushkin+ subscribers. To hear them, sign up for Pushkin+ on the show page in Apple Podcasts or at [pushkin.fm/plus. ] (pushkin.fm/plus.%C2%A0) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

11 Mar 2022

03 MINS

03:04

11 Mar 2022


#35

The Mummy’s Curse

Disturbing the remains of the Egyptian pharaohs is known to incur a deadly curse, so why did a team of archeologists still risk inciting the wrath of King Tutankhamun by entering his burial chamber? And how many of them met a premature end for their impudence? Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

29 Oct 2021

36 MINS

36:51

29 Oct 2021


#34

The Truth About Hansel and Gretel

Was the fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel - the story of a woodcutter’s children abandoned in the woods and left at the mercy of a witch - in fact, early true crime? A hit book - The Truth About Hansel and Gretel - said that historical records pointed to the story being based on fact. Are we too quick to dismiss the truth behind tall stories? Or are we always falling for tales that are too good to be true? The first of two special Halloween editions of Cautionary Tales. Next up... The Mummy's Curse. Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

22 Oct 2021

36 MINS

36:48

22 Oct 2021


#33

Do NOT Pass GO!

Lizzie J. Magie (played by Helena Bonham Carter) should be celebrated as the inventor of what would become Monopoly - but her role in creating the smash hit board game was cynically ignored, even though she had a patent. Discrimination has marred the careers of many inventors and shut others out from the innovation economy entirely. Could crediting forgotten figures such as Lizzie Magie help address continuing disparities in the patenting of new inventions? Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

28 May 2021

35 MINS

35:00

28 May 2021


#32

Wrong Tools Cost Lives

The British Government promised to create a "world-beating" system to track deadly Covid 19 infections - but it included an outdated version of the off-the-shelf spreadsheet software Microsoft Excel. The result was disastrous. When under pressure or lacking in expertise we can all be tempted to use a tool unsuitable for the job in hand. But whether fitting shelves or trying to halt a pandemic, we need to accept that cutting corners comes at a cost. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

21 May 2021

33 MINS

33:49

21 May 2021


#31

Fritterin’ Away Genius

Claude Shannon was brilliant. He was the Einstein of computer science... only he loved "fritterin' away" his time building machines to play chess, solve Rubik's cubes and beat the house at roulette. If Shannon had worked more diligently - instead of juggling, riding a unicycle and abandoning project after project - would he have made an even greater contribution to human knowledge? Maybe... and maybe not. Are restlessness and "fritterin'" important parts of a rich and creative life? Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

14 May 2021

36 MINS

36:41

14 May 2021


#30

The Fan Who Infected a Movie Star

German measles is a minor illness for most people - but for unborn children it can be devastating. In 1943 - when the link was only just becoming clear - a young US marine decided to break rubella quarantine to meet the movie star Gene Tierney (played by Mircea Monroe). The marine was sick... and Gene was pregnant. The appalling consequences of that meeting tell us much about how our thoughtlessness can harm those around us - but the kind of tragedy that befell Tierney and her daughter can be averted if we appeal to the better parts of human nature. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

07 May 2021

31 MINS

31:44

07 May 2021


#29

Whistleblower on the 28th Floor

Financial expert Ray Dirks (played by Jeffrey Wright) exposed one of the biggest corporate crimes of all time - and yet he was the one who ended up in front of the Supreme Court. Whistleblowers often face intimidation from those they bring to justice, but also face hostility from their co-workers, new employers, the authorities and even the public. Why are we suspicious of "tattletales" and what can we do to make vital whistleblowing easier? Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

30 Apr 2021

31 MINS

31:46

30 Apr 2021


#28

Masterly Inactivity Versus Micromanaging

Lady Sale (played by Helena Bonham Carter) was part of a bloody and ignominious British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842. The arrogant colonial invaders had thought intervening in Afghan affairs and dominating the country would be easy - they were wrong. Lady Sale was among the lucky few to escape with her life. Wiser heads later recommended "masterly inactivity" as a better course of action. In politics, parenting and even medicine - avoiding the temptation to act is a sadly neglected art form. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

23 Apr 2021

32 MINS

32:08

23 Apr 2021


#27

Demonizing Dungeons & Dragons

When James Dallas Egbert III was reported missing from his college dorm - one of America's most flamboyant private detectives was summoned to solve the case. "Dallas" had many of the same problems that most teenagers face - but P.I. William Dear stoked fears that he might have fallen under the evil spell of a mysterious and sinister game.... Dungeons & Dragons. The global panic about the dangers the role-playing game posed to impressionable young minds may seem quaint 40 years on - but again and again we show how fearful we are of creative endeavours we don't quite understand. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

16 Apr 2021

36 MINS

36:59

16 Apr 2021


#26

Number Fever: How Pepsi Nearly Went Pop

Pepsi twice ended up in court after promotions went disastrously wrong. Other big companies have fallen into the same trap - promising customers rewards so generous that to fulfil the promise might mean corporate bankruptcy. Businesses and customers alike are sometimes blinded by the big numbers in such PR stunts - but it's usually the customers, not the businesses, who end up losing out. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

09 Apr 2021

35 MINS

35:02

09 Apr 2021


#25

The Curse of Knowledge Meets The Valley of Death

Why were soldiers on horseback told to ride straight into a valley full of enemy cannon? The disastrous "Charge of the Light Brigade" is usually blamed on blundering generals. But the confusing orders issued on that awful day in 1854 reveal a common human trait - we often wrongly assume that everyone knows what we know and can easily comprehend our meaning. Starring Helena Bonham Carter as Florence Nightingale. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

02 Apr 2021

33 MINS

33:36

02 Apr 2021


#24

The Dunning Kruger Hijack (and Other Criminally Stupid Acts)

The hijackers of flight 961 wanted its pilot to fly them to Australia - and wouldn't listen to his pleas that there simply wasn't enough fuel for the mammoth trip. What would cause them to totally disregard the advice of an expert when the stakes were so very high? The Dunning Kruger effect. But being too stupid to recognise the limits of your knowledge isn't confined to such prize idiots - it's something we are all guilty of at times and has huge implications for society. Starring Jeffrey Wright (Hunger Games, Westworld, and the Bond films) as Ethiopian Airlines captain Leul Abate. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

26 Mar 2021

33 MINS

33:12

26 Mar 2021


#23

Catching a KiIler Doctor

Family doctor Harold Shipman got away with murdering his patients for decades. He was one of the most prolific serial killers in history - but his hundreds of crimes largely went unnoticed despite a vast paper trail of death certificates he himself had signed. Why do we sometimes fail to see awful things happening right under our noses? And how can the systems that maintain quality control in cookie factories be employed to prevent another doctor like Shipman killing with impunity? Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

19 Mar 2021

33 MINS

33:40

19 Mar 2021


#22

The Art Forger, the Nazi, and "The Pope"

"The Pope" was a revered Dutch art expert - and yet he fell for a not very convincing forgery of a "lost" Vermeer masterpiece. The forger had duped other art connoisseurs too - including the high ranking Nazi Hermann Göring. But perhaps Han van Meegeren's biggest con was to convince the Dutch public that he was a cheeky resistance hero. We assume knowledge and intelligence can protect us from being duped - but often they are not enough to save us from the fraudster's greatest ally - our own wishful thinking. Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

12 Mar 2021

35 MINS

35:16

12 Mar 2021


#21

Florence Nightingale and Her Geeks Declare War on Death

Victorian nurse Florence Nightingale (played by her distant cousin Helena Bonham Carter) is a hero of modern medicine - but her greatest contribution to combating disease and death resulted from the vivid graphs she made to back her public health campaigns. Her charts convinced the great and the good that deaths due to filth and poor sanitation could be averted - saving countless lives. But did Nightingale open Pandora's Box, showing that graphs persuade, whether or not they depict reality? Read more about Tim's work at [http://timharford.com/] (http://timharford.com/) Learn more about your ad-choices at [https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com] (https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com) See [omnystudio.com/listener] (https://omnystudio.com/listener) for privacy information. ... Read more

05 Mar 2021

36 MINS

36:00

05 Mar 2021