36 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

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 presents: I Spy

    Cautionary Tales presents: I Spy

    Here's a great podcast you might like. It’s called I Spy and it’s made by our friends over at Foreign Policy. On each episode they get a former spy to tell the story of one operation.
    The show we're bringing you is called The Cassandra. Frank Snepp, a CIA analyst based in Saigon, explains how he discovered that Communist forces were preparing to attack the city. His superiors refused to heed his warnings - resulting in a frenzied, bloody and humiliating evacuation as his predictions came true.
    If you like it, you can hear part two over at I Spy (https://foreignpolicy.com/podcasts/ispy/)
    Enjoy the show.
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    • 29 min
    Do NOT Pass GO!

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

    • 40 min
    Wrong Tools Cost Lives

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

    • 39 min
    The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

    The Bomber Mafia by Malcolm Gladwell

    Malcolm Gladwell devoted four episodes of his podcast Revisionist History to the rise of air power during the Second World War. Listeners met Air Force general Curtis LeMay and heard about the birth of napalm and the firebombing of Tokyo. Malcolm couldn't get that story out of his mind, and so he built an entirely new audiobook around it, The Bomber Mafia.
    The Bomber Mafia features more archival footage, new writing, and enhanced scoring. It's a totally new experience. Purchase the audiobook at www.bombermafia.com, and you'll receive a free Listener's Guide featuring new commentary from Malcolm. Print and ebook editions available wherever books are sold.
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    • 11 min
    Fritterin’ Away Genius

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

    • 42 min
    The Fan Who Infected a Movie Star

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

    • 37 min

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