28 episodes

We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable life 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” and “The Undercover Economist”) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos. They'll delight you, scare you, but also make you wiser. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries. 

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford Pushkin Industries

    • History
    • 4.9 • 87 Ratings

We tell our children unsettling fairy tales to teach them valuable life 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” and “The Undercover Economist”) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos. They'll delight you, scare you, but also make you wiser. iHeartMedia is the exclusive podcast partner of Pushkin Industries. 

    Demonizing Dungeons & Dragons

    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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    Number Fever: How Pepsi Nearly Went Pop

    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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    The Curse of Knowledge Meets The Valley of Death

    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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    The Dunning Kruger Hijack (and Other Criminally Stupid Acts)

    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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    Catching a Killer Doctor

    Catching a Killer 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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

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

    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/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
87 Ratings

87 Ratings

handicapped_golfer ,

Classic Tim Harford

This is textbook Tim Harford: absorbing, thought-provoking, and brilliantly compiled true stories. Harford and Gladwell (Pushkin) are a dream combo!

Heber-aye ,

So good!

Have listened to every episode to date and can honestly say there’s not a bad one. So interesting and thought provoking, without being too technical as to put you off. Definitely 5stars!

$@m777 ,

Fantastic

I too just listened to all of series one I’ve a weekend - and v excited to hear that a mini series on its way in June.
Funnily - my work colleague recommended cautionary tales to me and I recommended more or less - behind the stats to him - only to find Tim presented both of them!
Thanks team !

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