58 episodes

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. 

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford Pushkin

    • History
    • 4.8 • 139 Ratings

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

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. 

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    "How would you dine with Scott or Amundsen?" Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Harford in Discussion.

    "How would you dine with Scott or Amundsen?" Malcolm Gladwell and Tim Harford in Discussion.

    Malcolm Gladwell joins Tim Harford to discuss our recent three-part tale about the race to reach the South Pole. There's talk of imperial decline; the power of the underdog; why getting everything you want is actually a handicap; and limes... lots and lots of limes.   
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 25 min
    South Pole Race: When the Limeys Get Scurvy

    South Pole Race: When the Limeys Get Scurvy

    Polar exploration is dangerous... but trudging hundreds of miles in subzero temperatures isn't made any easier if you're suffering from scurvy. The deadly vitamin deficiency destroys the body and will of even the strongest and most determined adventurer - and it seems that scurvy stuck down the ill-fated expedition of Captain Scott. 

    But scurvy... in 1912? Hadn't the Royal Navy to which Scott belonged famously cracked the problem of scurvy a century before, with a daily dose of lime juice? How did the 'Limeys' seemingly unlearn that lesson? 

    For a full list of sources go to timharford.com
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    The Bowery Boys and the Black Tom Explosion

    The Bowery Boys and the Black Tom Explosion

    Cautionary Tales returns next week, but in the meantime a story of disaster from The Bowery Boys Podcast. 

    It's July 30th 1916, just after 2am, and a massive explosion rips apart the munitions depot on Black Tom, an island off Jersey City. Tons of debris and jagged shrapnel pepper neighboring Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. Thousands of windows across New York are shattered, and millions of residents are awoken wondering what had just happened. Was it an accident or German sabotage? 

    The Bowery Boys is show about the people and events that have shaped the history of New York City, and really, shaped America.

    Listen to more episodes of The Bowery Boys at https://www.boweryboyshistory.com/bowery-boys-first/bowery-boys-podcast or wherever you get your podcasts.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 45 min
    South Pole Race: “Mummy, is Amundsen a good man?”

    South Pole Race: “Mummy, is Amundsen a good man?”

    Roald Amundsen beat Captain Scott to the South Pole. The Norwegian - using dog sleds and skis - made it look easy... fun, even. He was heading home to safety, while the British party - hauling sleds by hand - were struggling to survive out on the ice.

    In this case, to the victor went a spoiled reputation. The British grumbled that Amundsen had somehow cheated, or had at least behaved in an underhand manner. These stinging accusations would haunt the adventurer until the day he died in the polar wastes.

    For a full list of sources go to timharford.com
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 35 min
    South Pole Race: David and Goliath on Ice

    South Pole Race: David and Goliath on Ice

    1910: Two men are racing to be the first to reach the South Pole. Captain Robert Falcon Scott heads a well-financed, technologically-advanced expedition - aiming to reach the pole in the "proper" and heroic way... on foot. Roald Amundsen's effort is more modest, relying on cheap sled dogs to carry him to victory. 

    Scott - for all his money, for all his fancy equipment, for all his backing from the mighty Royal Navy - is doomed to failure in the icy wastes of Antarctica. Why?

    For a full list of sources go to timharford.com
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    Gladwell on Doctors' Prescriptions, Carbon Copies and the Opioid Crisis.

    Gladwell on Doctors' Prescriptions, Carbon Copies and the Opioid Crisis.

    What if a little bit of extra paperwork could saves lives and perhaps end an epidemic? Enjoy a cautionary tale from our friend and fellow Pushkin host, Malcolm Gladwell. The new season of Revisionist History begins with a half-baked idea of an obscure bureaucrat in the 1930’s and ends with one of the worst public health disasters in American history - the opioid crisis. 

    Stick around to hear Tim and Malcolm discuss the episode and the importance of admitting you're wrong.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 48 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
139 Ratings

139 Ratings

Nattyg113 ,

Maybe best I’ve listened to

Very interesting

mmmikey00 ,

A collection of other peoples podcasts ☹️

I loved Cautionary Tales and keep hoping to hear more original episodes. However the latest session are mostly other peoples podcasts that have been falsely labeled as Cautionary Tales. I’m sure lot of care and effort must have gone into producing the original episodes (these are 5 star in my view). By contrast the relabelling of other peoples podcasts is just lazy and disappointing. Please stop misleading listeners. Non-original episodes should be labeled as such. Hopefully we can hear some original episodes soon 🤞

M1keybz ,

Pushkin - way way way too many ads and promotions

I’ve been trying to ignore it for a while now, but it’s really not possible any longer. There’s a point where a listener stop and ask themselves if it’s really worth it.
This comment is not to you personally Tim Harford, it’s for the whole Pushkin that seems to lost the balance between profits and content. It’s just looks greedy, leveraging on past success.

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