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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 Messy and The Undercover Economist) brings you stories of awful human error, tragic catastrophes, daring heists and hilarious fiascos. They’ll delight you and scare you, but also make you wiser.

Most Recent Episode

When the Robots Take Over… – Cautionary Questions

Tim Harford is joined by Jacob Goldstein to answer your questions. Does winning the lottery make you unhappy? Is Bitcoin bad for the economy? When does correlation imply causation? And what will Tim…

WW2: How Britain Ignored the Mother of All Secrets

Cautionary Tales will be LIVE on stage in London this May. Tickets are on sale now: https://www.tegeurope.com/events/cautionary-tales/ Neatly dressed in his suit, Hans Ferdinand Mayer was every inch the unassuming corporate…

The Fraudster’s Guide to Magic Money

Cautionary Tales will be LIVE on stage in London this May. Tickets are on sale now: https://www.tegeurope.com/events/cautionary-tales/ Sam Israel had a problem. The investors in his hedge fund, Bayou Capital, were expecting…

Blood and Gold (with Dan Snow)

Bonus: When Spanish conquistadors arrived in Peru in 1526, it was the beginning of the end for the Inca. Their bloody pursuit of gold, fame and fortune was rife with…

The Rise and Fall of a Megalomaniac

Nicolae Ceaușescu was not beloved. His regime was vicious and he treated Romania as his personal wallet: while Ceaușescu emptied the coffers to construct a vast, ornate palace, his people starved.…

Inside the Bizarre World of Dictators

Why are so many autocrats germaphobes? Why was the truth so dangerous for Soviet engineers? And what can salami reveal to us about the mind of Vladimir Putin? This is…

Do Nothing, Then Do Less

Chuck Yeager's plane pitched and rolled as it plummeted from the sky. He grappled with the controls inside the cockpit, but to no avail: he couldn't steady the aircraft. The…

Buried Evil: V2 Rocket (Part 3)

As US troops approached a Nazi prison camp, they could hear agonized wailing. The stench of rotting flesh filled their nostrils. Moments later they discovered a pile of smoldering corpses,…

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…

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…

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