120 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.

Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford Pushkin

    • History
    • 4.7 • 4.3K 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.

Listen on Apple Podcasts
Requires subscription and macOS 11.4 or higher

    Into the Black Lair: V2 Rocket (Part 2)

    Into the Black Lair: V2 Rocket (Part 2)

    In the 1920s, Germany’s Society for Spaceship Travel boasted some of the sharpest scientific minds – like the incandescently brilliant young Wernher von Braun. But it had very little money, and progress was slow.

    Then, in 1932, the army made a proposal: it would fund more serious research if the enthusiasts at the Society would develop a rocket weapon.

    Despite a string of failures to launch, von Braun was able to convince key powerbrokers in Nazi Germany that they couldn’t afford to ignore rocket technology. How did he do it? And what happened when the murderous Heinrich Himmler made a play for the rocket program?

    For a full list of sources for this episode, visit timharford.com.


    Do you have a question for Tim? Send it to tales@pushkin.fm and we'll do our best to answer it in a Q&A episode.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 38 min
    Supersonic Nazi Vengeance: V2 Rocket (Part 1)

    Supersonic Nazi Vengeance: V2 Rocket (Part 1)

    At the height of World War Two, British intelligence began receiving reports that the enemy was developing a rocket weapon. The idea seemed fantastical — resources in Nazi Germany were scarce and a rocket-building program defied economic logic.

    But one intelligence chief took the reports of a rocket weapon seriously and he managed to convince Winston Churchill to heed the threat too. The British Prime Minister gave the order to bomb Germany’s rocket factory to rubble, and 600 bomber planes embarked on a full-scale attempt to obliterate it.

    From the air, the damage appeared devastating. The British thought they had succeeded in crushing the rocket-building program. But they were wrong.

    For a full list of sources, see the show notes at timharford.com.


    Do you have a question for Tim? Send it to tales@pushkin.fm and we'll do our best to answer it in an upcoming Q&A episode.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 36 min
    Tenerife: The Most Deadly Air Disaster

    Tenerife: The Most Deadly Air Disaster

    Teaser: In 1977, two planes collided on the runway at Tenerife Airport. Why did the crash happen? And, given that it took place on the ground, why didn't more people escape?

    In this new two-parter, Tim Harford explores the most deadly aviation accident in history. Both episodes are available now, ad-free, exclusively for subscribers to Pushkin+.

    If you're not already a subscriber, you can sign up for Pushkin+ on our Apple podcasts show page, or at pushkin.fm/plus.


    Do you have a question for Tim? Send it to tales@pushkin.fm and we'll do our best to answer it in an upcoming Q&A episode.
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 4 min
    Pushkin+ Exclusive: Cleared for Take-Off? - Tenerife Air Disaster

    Pushkin+ Exclusive: Cleared for Take-Off? - Tenerife Air Disaster

    To listen to this series and receive access to other benefits like ad-free episodes, exclusive content and early access, sign up for Pushkin+ on our Apple show page or at pushkin.fm.

    “Evacuate the airport, we’ve planted bombs,” a terrorist tells the telephone operator at the airport on Gran Canaria in 1977. By the end of that day, 583 people will have lost their lives – but not to a bomb explosion.

    The airplanes are diverted to the neighboring island of Tenerife. Loaded with passengers, they’re forced to sit on the hot tarmac for hours. Meanwhile, the flight crews rely on air traffic control to keep them updated and let them know when they can leave.

    Two Boeing 747s are anxiously waiting for thick fog to lift so that they can begin the journey home; all they need is clearance to take off. One of them has just taken on a hefty 15,000 gallons of fuel.

    What unfolds next is the most deadly aviation accident in history.

    Pushkin+ Exclusive: Frozen in a Burning 747 - Tenerife Air Disaster 2

    Pushkin+ Exclusive: Frozen in a Burning 747 - Tenerife Air Disaster 2

    To listen to this series and receive access to other benefits like ad-free episodes, exclusive content and early access, sign up for Pushkin+ on our Apple show page or at pushkin.fm.

    Two airplanes have just collided on the runway at Tenerife Airport. While no one on the Amsterdam-bound KLM plane survives the resulting fireball, 71 Pan-Am passengers and crew make it off their plane. But could it have been more? Why did so many Pan-Am passengers die, even though they weren’t injured by the initial collision and their plane was still on the ground?

    Martin Luther King, the Jewelry Genius, and the Art of Public Speaking (Classic)

    Martin Luther King, the Jewelry Genius, and the Art of Public Speaking (Classic)

    One speechmaker inspired millions with his words, the other utterly destroyed his own multi-million-dollar business with just a few phrases.

    Civil rights icon Martin Luther King Jr (played by Jeffrey Wright of American Fiction, Westworld and The Hunger Games) and jewelry store owner Gerald Ratner offer a stark contrast on when you should stick to the script - and when you should take a risk.

    We're taking a short rest on Cautionary Tales this January. We'll be back again in February, with a treasure chest of gripping, hair-raising tales for your ears. While you wait, we wanted to share some classic episodes from the Cautionary Vault - this is one of our favorites. 
    See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
4.3K Ratings

4.3K Ratings

sgreen1403 ,

Thoughtful and Surprising

Tim Harford is brilliant and a wonderful storyteller. The combination of these two skills comes together in every episode, and the twist at the end of most shows always leaves me in awe of the tapestry Tim has woven together. To see this on full display, check out the MLK Jr. episode. I’ve listened to it four times since its original airing and have shared it with several friends who regularly engage in public speaking. I appreciate the hard work and creativity that goes into each episode. Keep up the great work!

123//--:: ,

Used to be good

Show now resorts to just running previous episodes without telling the listener that they’re just running previous episodes. Complete meh….

Ekylie ,

Used to be a great show

Used to be a great show but has now resorted to tricking people to listen to what they think is a new episodes, with ads beforehand, only to find out it’s only a preview for a show you HAVE to pay for.
I know that is done frequently on podcasts that are paid subscriber only- but that is usually more clear in the title and does not include ads at the beginning.

Top Podcasts In History

Team Coco
Wondery
Goalhanger Podcasts
Wondery
Wondery
Sarah Marshall

You Might Also Like

Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries
Roman Mars
Pushkin Industries
WNYC Studios
Roman Mars

More by Pushkin Industries

Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries
Pushkin Industries