Cautionary Tales

My podcast, telling true stories about mistakes and what we should learn from them.

The Mummy’s Curse

Disturbing the remains of the Egyptian Pharaohs is known to incur a deadly curse, so why did a team of archeologists still risk inciting the wrath of King Tutankhamun by entering his burial chamber? And how many of them met a premature end for their impudence?...

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The Truth About Hansel and Gretel

Cautionary Tales is written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilley and Marilyn Rust. The sound design and original music is the work of Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts. Thanks to the team at Pushkin Industries, including Mia...

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Cautionary Tales – Do NOT pass GO!

(Self promotion: the paperback of How To Make the World Add Up is now out worldwide (except North America). Please consider an early order, which is disproportionately helpful in winning interest and support for the book. Thank you!) The woman who was key to...

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Cautionary Tales – Wrong Tools Cost Lives

Microsoft Excel is great for business accounts... but maybe don't use it to track a deadly disease. The British Government promised to create a "world-beating" system to track deadly Covid 19 infections - but it included an outdated version of the off-the-shelf...

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Cautionary Tales – Fritterin’ Away Genius

Claude Shannon was brilliant. He was the Einstein of computer science... only he loved "fritterin' away" his time building machines to play chess, solve Rubik's cubes and beat the house at roulette. If Shannon had worked more diligently - instead of juggling, riding a...

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