Cautionary Tales with Tim Harford

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. 

Society & Culture
Demonizing Dungeons & Dragons
How the hunt for a missing teen saw a role-playing game denounced as a demonic and deadly pursuit.
36 min
Number Fever: How Pepsi Nearly Went Pop
Why some botched competitions ruin businesses, while others short-change consumers.
34 min
The Curse of Knowledge Meets The Valley of Death
How assuming others understand exactly what we are thinking gets people killed.
33 min
The Dunning Kruger Hijack (and Other Criminally...
The height of stupidity is being too stupid to know you are stupid... and it's more common than you think.
33 min
Catching a Killer Doctor
A doctor who killed hundreds of patients left us clues... but why couldn't we see them?
33 min
The Art Forger, the Nazi, and "The Pope"
Being clever doesn't protect us from scams... sometimes knowledge makes us fall for intricate deceptions..
35 min
Florence Nightingale and Her Geeks Declare War ...
How the famed nurse battled to save lives... using statistics, graphs and colored pens.
35 min
Martin Luther King Jr, the Jewelry Genius, and ...
Why some speeches make us dream of a better world... while others become the stuff of nightmares.
35 min
Cautionary Tales returns February 26th
Tim Harford presents more salutary lessons from history's greatest crimes, mishaps and disasters.
2 min
Bonus: Why We Believe What Isn't True (with Axi...
We're no stranger to stories about misinformation or deliberate disinformation.
13 min
The Data Detective
Hear Tim Harford's "golden rule" for understanding statistics in this extract from his new book.
33 min
BONUS: Storks, Smoking and the Power of Doubt
We are often encouraged to doubt statistics. Shame. They can save our lives.
10 min
How To End A Pandemic
Even with a vaccine it took nearly 200 years to eradicate smallpox - so what can this long battle teach us today?
24 min
That Turn To Pascagoula
When a deadly storm turns away at the last minute... should we sign with relief or prepare like crazy for the next one?
24 min
The Village of Heroes
In 1665, the people of Eyam went into lockdown to halt the spread of the plague. Have we failed to follow their example?
21 min
The Spreadsheet of Life and Death
How much would the government pay to save your life? Well... it depends.
23 min
A Tsunami of Misery
Saving people from an urgent threat can cause their lives to be blighted in profound, yet hidden ways.
20 min
Fire at The Beverly Hills Supper Club
Why did audience members fail to flee a deadly fire... despite being told to escape?
20 min
Cautionary Tales Presents: TED Talk Daily
In this special episode of Cautionary Tales, we feature Tim Harford's TED Talk Daily from 2018.
18 min
You Have Reached Your Destination
If you rely on fortune tellers, GPS or clever forecasting algorithms to guide you through live... you may end up in a bad place.
32 min
Bowie, Jazz and the Unplayable Piano
Sometimes we do our best work not when things are going well, but when a wrench has been thrown in the works.
30 min
How Britain Invented, Then Ignored, Blitzkrieg
Why big and successful organisations can't always see a brilliant idea that's staring them in the face.
36 min
Buried by the Wall Street Crash
A tale of two men who faced ruin because they thought they could predict the financial future... and how one bounced back.
35 min
The Deadly Airship Race
Competition can makes things better, but when two airships were pitted against one another the result was disaster.
37 min
La La Land: Galileo's Warning
Giving an Oscar to the wrong film proved that some safety systems make mistakes even more likely.
30 min
The Rogue Dressed as a Captain
Humans aren't as blindly obedient as we are made out to be... but we still fall too easily for convincing fraudsters.
33 min
DANGER: Rocks Ahead!
Why did an oil tanker captain steer his beloved ship towards a reef? It's a mistake many of us make.
35 min
Introducing: Cautionary Tales
Coming November 15 from Tim Harford and Pushkin Industries, Cautionary Tales relates a true story of a time when something did not go according to plan.
2 min