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”) 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. 

Society & Culture
Cautionary Tales Presents: The Worlds Greatest Con
Introducing you to the The World's Greatest Con Podcast with Cautionary Tales host Tim Hartford
72 min
Photographing Fairies
How did two young girls convinced the venerated creator of Sherlock Holmes that they'd encountered real life fairies and gnomes.
36 min
Tim Joins ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’
Hear Tim’s recent guest appearance on the hit show ‘No Such Thing As A Fish’.
57 min
The False Dawn of the Electric Car
It was a revolutionary design by a visionary technologist... but 1985 just wasn't ready for the Sinclair C5.
36 min
The Balloons That Ate Cleveland (A Cautionary T...
The proud people of Cleveland wanted to set a world record... but why and at what cost?
18 min
Death on the Dance Floor
How one tiny error brought 60 tons of glass, concrete and steel crashing down on a packed hotel lobby.
36 min
The Future of Drones from What’s Your Problem
As we're getting ready for our new season, coming next week, we're sharing an episode from Pushkin's newest show, What's Your Problem?
28 min
Cautionary Tales Returns Every Other Friday fro...
Cautionary Tales Brings You New Episodes Every Other Friday from March 25th
2 min
Cautionary Tales Presents: The New Bazaar
Introducing you to the New Bazaar Podcast with Cautionary Tales host Tim Hartford
55 min
The Mummy’s Curse
Did poison, radiation or a deadly fungus kill those who entered the pharaoh's tomb? Or was it a curse?
36 min
The Truth About Hansel and Gretel
Is the famous fairy tale actually a true crime story?
36 min
The Ripper Retold: A Cautionary Tale
Tim discusses new research on the Jack the Ripper murders with historian Hallie Rubenhold.
55 min
Do NOT Pass GO!
The woman who was key to the creation of Monopoly was denied of her share of the credit and the profits.
34 min
Wrong Tools Cost Lives
Microsoft Excel is great for business accounts... but maybe don't use it to track a deadly disease.
33 min
Fritterin’ Away Genius
Was a brilliant computer scientist foolish to spend his time and talents on juggling and playing roulette?
36 min
The Fan Who Infected a Movie Star
A moment of selfishness by a sick fan wrecked the lives of a Hollywood star and her family.
31 min
Whistleblower on the 28th Floor
Blowing the whistle on wrongdoing risks your job, your friends and even your life. So why do it?
31 min
Masterly Inactivity Versus Micromanaging
Why parents, politicians and doctors would be wiser to sometimes do nothing.
31 min
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
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