53 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
    • 4.7 • 3.4K 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

    Bless the Coal-black Hearts of the Broadway Critics

    Bless the Coal-black Hearts of the Broadway Critics

    When Billy Joel agreed to let dance legend Twyla Tharp turn his songs into a Broadway musical it seemed like a surefire hit. But in previews, Movin’ Out was panned by the critics. It was soon headed for Broadway and was set to be an expensive and embarrassing failure.So how could Twyla turn things around and avert disaster before opening night?

    For a full list of sources go to 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.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min
    Respect the Polygon from Against the Rules

    Respect the Polygon from Against the Rules

    This week, we're sharing an episode of Against the Rules, hosted by perhaps the greatest non-fiction writer on the planet, Michael Lewis. On the show, Michael explores what’s happened to fairness in modern life. He’s looked at referees and at coaches. Now, he’s looking at experts—the kind who transform people’s lives for the better, and get absolutely no credit whatsoever. Tim shares his favorite episode so far, about the ways better data has revolutionized our understanding of life-and-death issues. Armed with data, experts are now way more accurate—and way more likely to save your life. 

    You can listen to more Against the Rules episodes at https://link.chtbl.com/cautionaryrules.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 34 min
    Monkey for Mayor from This Day in Esoteric Political History

    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 for privacy information.

    • 28 min
    Pushkin+ Exclusive: A Screw Loose at 17,000 feet (A Cautionary Tales Short)

    Pushkin+ Exclusive: A Screw Loose at 17,000 feet (A Cautionary Tales Short)

    Can you tell the difference between an A211-7D bolt and an A211-8C? Well, nor could the tired and stressed engineer fitting a cockpit windshield to Flight 5390. The difference is tiny, but the result of muddling them up - played out at 17,000 ft - was dramatic.

    Such design flaws are common - and result in far more loose aircraft windows than you could ever imagine.

    For a full list of sources go to 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.

    Monkey for Mayor from This Day in Esoteric Political History

    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.

    When the Autopilot Switched Off

    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

    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.

    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 33 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
3.4K Ratings

3.4K Ratings

Ericawalters ,

Good podcast.

I like the thoroughness and perspective. Only thing is improving is the mic. U can hear the wind blow 😂

Notsodumbmum ,

Just gets better and better

I love BBC’s More or Less which gives great insight into statistical puff, but here Tim Harford really excels in his storytelling. He brings these “cautionary tales” to life in such an interesting way, and they are obviously very well-researched. Absolute genius. Thank you!

Pkmkell ,

This is a great podcast!

Tim Harford has a unique gift as a storyteller, and weaves stories together in a way that never fails to hold my attention.

I’ve been a fan of Keith Jarrett’s Koln Concert recording for over 45 years, but never knew the story behind it until hearing it on another podcast. When I heard the same background story again, told by Tim Harford, I was so much more impressed.

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