Adulting is hard, but fairy tales can actually be harder – ‘Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford’ tells the truth about those childhood stories (now that we’re older)

History April 16, 2022
Cautionary Tales podcast art
Listen to ‘Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford’

We read fairy tales when we were kids, some containing valuable lessons and palatable introductions to life’s truths. “Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford” shares educational stories we can learn from and apply to our daily, adult lives.

Presented by Pushkin Industries, episodes are chock-full of human mistakes, hilarious fiascos, and worst-case scenarios from history that could happen to anyone. Hear historical examples of human behavior’s extremes, meant to scare, delight, and enlighten all at once.

Tune in every other Friday for new episodes to be streamed in any order you’d like. Episodes run less than 45 minutes on average. Since 2019, the series has released over 30 episodes and featured guests like historians, fellow podcasters, and more.

In new episodes, we’ll hear why making minor changes to a hotel’s blueprints went unnoticed and how this oversight resulted in concrete, steel, and glass crashing down on guests. An airline pilot let his kid play with the controls of a packed passenger jet. Did autopilot take over and save everyone?

An award-winning choreographer and rock musician were close to opening the worst Broadway show ever – what stopped the show from going on? Also this season, a heatwave enveloped Chicago, killing some residents while sparing others in the neighborhood. Two men competed to reach the South Pole, but how did it become the worst-ever journey?

In previous episodes, we learned that Britain invented Blitzkrieg then ignored it. Lizzie J. Magie invented and held the board game patent for Monopoly. She faced discrimination, and this episode wonders if drawing attention to forgotten figures can preempt future injustices. In this episode, Lizzie is voiced by Helena Bonham Carter. Carter was a recurring guest on the podcast, voicing a variety of historical figures like Lady Sale and Florence Nightingale.

Hansel and Gretel is geared toward adults in an episode about the truths lurking behind tall tales. Hear about the Einstein of computer science, archaeologists entering King Tutankhamun’s burial chamber, and what we can learn from the Oracle of Delphi.

In episodes, we’ll also hear from folks like historian Hallie Rubenhold who hosts the podcast “Bad Women: The Ripper Retold.” In an episode, she discussed her research and dispelled myths regarding the murders.

Tune into “Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford” to learn more from what history has to offer us.

Listen to ‘Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford’

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