Ridiculous History

Ridiculous History

History is beautiful, brutal and, often, ridiculous. Join Ben Bowlin and Noel Brown as they dive into some of the weirdest stories from across the span of human civilization in Ridiculous History, a podcast by iHeartRadio.... Show More

Episodes

September 24, 2020 39 min

Wade Boggs is a legendary, larger-than-life figure in the world of sports -- but one of his strangest achievements has nothing to do with baseball. Join the guys and special guest, Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they delve into the legend of Wade's 107 beer airplane flight... and walk through some very boozy math to discover whether the legend is true.

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September 22, 2020 54 min

Wade Boggs has always been regarded as a legend, both on and off the ballfield. However, some of his strangest experiences have very little to do with baseball. Join Ben, Noel, and special guest Matthew Waxman, the creator of Trickeration, as they explore the bizarre story of the Wade Boggs sex scandal.

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September 17, 2020 42 min

Before the rise of household automation, British elites struggled to find the perfect method for cooking meat. They preferred it roasted, slowly, turning continually on a spit to evenly distribute heat. Yet this backbreaking labor proved too difficult for even the most spry peasant child, and so they turned to an innovative (if cruel) alternative: Breeding dogs specifically to turn meat spits. These 'Turnspit Dogs' occupied...

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When adapting to life as factory employees, members of the British and Irish public confronted a new, unexpected obstacle -- how do you make sure you wake up in time for your shift? While predecessors of the alarm clock existed, they were unreliable (and incredibly expensive). And so enterprising people across the land started their own wake-up service, becoming the human alarm clocks affectionately known as 'Knocker-Uppers....

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Don't let reality television and wrestling fool you -- celebrity rivalries are a tale as old as entertainment itself. In 1849, the rivalry between two Shakespearean actors culminated in a massive riot that would leave more than 20 people dead in the street. Listen in to learn more about the infamous Shakespeare riot... as well as the sociocultural tensions that actually drove the fray.

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Nowadays, incubators are a common sight in hospitals across the US -- but, once upon a time, this life-saving technology was treated like a sideshow attraction. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to 'Infantoriums' to marvel at how incubators were able to keep babies born prematurely both healthy and safe. And, the publicity generated by these side shows may be, in part, the reason this technology is in hospitals today.

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September 3, 2020 48 min

In the years leading to the US Civil War, Uncle Sam searched for some way to safely traverse the desert. Horses, mules and humans alike often died of thirst in the unforgiving climate. Jefferson Davis, the the Secretary of War, proposed the military consider an ancient solution: Camels. Tune in to learn more about the rise (and fall) of the US Camel Corps.

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In the days before London found itself riddled with Rolodexes and Lamborghinis, the Crown controlled a now-obscure status symbol: the swan. Every single unmarked swan was the property of the Crown -- and woe betide those who touched a swan without express permission.

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As the tide of war turns toward the inevitable defeat of the Nazis, the staff of the secret horse farm fear the oncoming, starving Russian forces will consume their prized Lippizaner horses. In desperation, the farm turns to an unlikely source for help -- the US Army. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program.

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Adolf Hitler was inarguably a terrible person. He was also weirdly focused on resurrecting Germany's horse industry. Tune in as Ben and Noel explore the strange story of the Nazi super horse program.

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Nowadays the world is divided into a series of 'time zones.' Yet before the 1880s, towns across the United States ran on a sort of local time -- when you left one town, you often traveled slowly enough to adjust, without much hassle, to the new time in the next community. So, where did this concept of standardized time come from? Spoiler alert: Desperate railroad companies.

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We've all heard about the practice of smashing a champagne bottle against the hull of a ship before launching it -- but where does this practice come from? Join the guys as they delve into the surprisingly ancient practice of commemorating ship launches, from ancient Babylon to the modern day.

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During the age of European expansion, members of the Jewish diaspora traveled to Caribbean and the continents of North and South America, often escaping the intense persecution of the Inquisition. Some became merchants, others explorers -- and some became pirates. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the little-known stories of specific Jewish pirates and privateers that changed the course of history as we know it in the second part o...

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During the age of European expansion, members of the Jewish diaspora traveled to Caribbean and the continents of North and South America, often escaping the intense persecution of the Inquisition. Some became merchants, others explorers -- and some became pirates. Join Ben and Noel as they explore the little-known stories of these pirates and privateers, and why Jamaica became known as a haven for those fleeing European persecution...

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Have you ever used a home remedy when under the weather? Some, like honey and lemon (and whiskey) for a sore throat, remain common today. In 2020, other treatments people once swore by seem -- I hesitate to say it -- ridiculous. In the early 20th century, people were desperate to find a cure or treatment for the flu. They tried any number of things that may seem bizarre today, and part of that panic led to the lemon becoming a hous...

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We've all heard about Freemasons -- but what about the Order of the Pug? Join the guys as they explore the strange series of events that led German Masons to create their own secret society, embodied by a porcelain sculpture of a pug.

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Unconvinced by claims of this horse's mathematical acumen, psychologist Oskar Pfungst conducted a series of experiments to determine whether Clever Hans was actually solving problems. Pfungst discovered there were serious issues with Hans's 'performance' ... but he also, in a roundabout way, ended up proving Hans was, in some ways, more clever than the average person. Ben also pitches a stunning conclusion to a (fak...

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Back in the early 20th century, retired teacher Wilhelm von Osten had a dream -- to exhibit the gifts of his brilliant horse, Clever Hans, to the world. Wilhelm believed Hans was capable of solving pretty advanced math problems, working out the sums in his head and communicating them to humans through a system of hooftaps. And Clever Hans took the German public by storm -- what could this mean? If animals like Hans were this intell...

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While history often only remembers Henry VIII as a real pill, he was also a profound hypochondriac -- and, rightly terrified of contracting the English Sweats, Henry hightailed it to a series of safehouses as he sought to isolate himself from any possible infection. Join the guys as they continue exploring the long-term consequences of the mysterious English Sweats.

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Beginning in 1485, a mysterious disease swept in waves across England. No one was sure how it spread, no treatment existed, and the disease took the name of its most memorable symptom. The English sweating sickness seemed to have a taste for the wealthy, and the bulk of fatalities were English. The last widespread outbreak of sweating sickness was reported in 1551 -- after that, the disease vanished. Along the way, it made a king o...

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