31 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

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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. 

    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

    Whistleblower on the 28th Floor

    Whistleblower on the 28th Floor

    Financial expert Ray Dirks (played by Jeffrey Wright) exposed one of the biggest corporate crimes of all time - and yet he was the one who ended up in front of the Supreme Court.
    Whistleblowers often face intimidation from those they bring to justice, but also face hostility from their co-workers, new employers, the authorities and even the public. Why are we suspicious of "tattletales" and what can we do to make vital whistleblowing easier?
    Read more about Tim's work at http://timharford.com/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    Masterly Inactivity Versus Micromanaging

    Masterly Inactivity Versus Micromanaging

    Lady Sale (played by Helena Bonham Carter) was part of a bloody and ignominious British retreat from Afghanistan in 1842. The arrogant colonial invaders had thought intervening in Afghan affairs and dominating the country would be easy - they were wrong. Lady Sale was among the lucky few to escape with her life.
    Wiser heads later recommended "masterly inactivity" as a better course of action. In politics, parenting and even medicine - avoiding the temptation to act is a sadly neglected art form.
    Read more about Tim's work at http://timharford.com/
    Learn more about your ad-choices at https://www.iheartpodcastnetwork.com

    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

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