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.

Episodes

September 16, 2021 34 min

In the second part of this series, the guys continue the story of Robert Smalls, from his daring Confederate steamer heist to his later, life-long activism and Congressional career. Listen in to learn more.

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Born into slavery, Robert Smalls dreamed of freedom for not just himself and his family, but all oppressed people. As the US became consumed in the Civil War, he hatched a daredevil plan to make this dream a reality -- by stealing a Confederate ship and sailing straight past the southern authorities all the way to the Union. In part one of this episode, the guys explore the origin of Robert Smalls, the genesis of his plan, and the ...

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Life was tough for lumberjacks in the 1800s. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, often in brutal living conditions, the men of Minnesota's logging camps often had little relief from the dangerous, daily grind of logging season. Frank Higgins spent decades traveling to these isolated camps, bringing sermons, hymns and inspiration. In today's episode, the guys dive into the story of the world's first sky pilot.

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The Protestant Reformation remains one of the most significant cultural events in the Western world. Martin Luther's 95 Theses addressed numerous concerns with the Catholic church, including corruption and the practice of granting dispensations -- allowing people to, essentially, pay their way out of sin. So what was it about butter that spurred Martin Luther into action? The story might surprise you.

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September 2, 2021 68 min

Recently, Ben and Noel traveled to Podcast Movement to explore a fascinating, at-times difficult subject: How do you explore a heavy story in an approachable way, while still being honest, accurate and human? They're joined once again with Eli and Diana Banks, the hosts of Ridiculous Romance, as well as their favorite moderator and longtime friend, Lauren Vogelbaum.

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During the flu pandemic of 1918, Julia Lyons saw opportunity amid chaos. Posing a visiting nurse in Chicago, she successfully swindled numerous desperate people through a variety of cons, always seeming to escape the long arm of the law. In today's episode, the guys explore the ins and outs of Julia's criminal career -- including how it compares to the current pandemic.

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August 27, 2021 73 min

In the second part of this series, the guys are joined once again by Pod Yourself A Gun's Vince Mancini and Matt Lieb to explore the startling story behind the infamous 1976 Chowchilla kidnapping, where a trio of young men planned to get rich by kidnapping a school bus full of children (spoiler: it didn't work out). Tune in to learn more.

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August 24, 2021 73 min

Mobsters are often romanticized in film and fiction -- but that doesn't mean they're always geniuses. In the first part of this series, Ben and Noel are joined by Matt Lieb and Vince Mancini, the hosts of Pod Yourself A Gun, to explore some of history's dumbest mobsters.

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Today, libraries across the US and the rest of the world are seen as centers of free learning, presenting enormous opportunities for children and adults alike. However, not too long ago, people in the US and the UK were absolutely terrified by the idea that libraries were dens of disease. In today's episode, the guys explore how fears of tuberculosis, scarlet fever and more led to public hysteria over sharing books -- and how t...

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What if you could put troublesome citizens into time out for a decade? That's what ancient Athenians did through the practice of ostracism. This vote, which wasn't the same thing as a trial, resulted in a surprisingly progressive ten-year exile for the ostracized. In today's episode, the guys take a closer look at the system, and wonder whether something like it could work in the modern day.

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When 17-year old British seaman George Hickenbottom saw an undernourished, ailing stray wandering the dockyards of Hong Kong, his heart melted. He smuggled the cat about the HMS Amethyst and named him Simon. Simon soon won over the captain and crew, partially due to his winning personality, but mainly due to his astonishing prowess as a rat-catcher. And when disaster struck the Amethyst, the gravely-wounded Simon soldiered on, prot...

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When you think of military animals, you might imagine horses, dogs and elephants — but what about cats? As it turns out, humanity’s feline friends have walked side by side with soldiers since the days of ancient empires. In part one of this special two-part episode, the guys explore some of history’s most memorable military cats.

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These days hot air balloons are often thought of as anachronistic novelties -- but in the early days of aeronautics, they were considered fascinating, dangerous and deadly. In today's episode, the guys explore a strange story about a genuine riot during the dawn of ballooning, when an angry crowd protested the balloon they came to see... by literally tearing the balloon apart.

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Enterprise, Alabama is home to a fascinating statue honoring the boll weevil, a tiny creature that once wreaked havoc across cotton country. So what inspired the good people of Enterprise to erect a statue honoring the insect that almost destroyed their town? Learn more in today's episode.

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When the Earl of Rundel learned his acquaintance Prince Rupert was languishing in an Austrian prison during the Thirty Years' War, he gifted the prince a rare white hunting poodle as a companion. Rupert named his new pooch "Boy" and the two became inseparable. Boy accompanied Rupert into multiple conflicts and became a mascot of sorts -- and, in an odd twist, people across England started to believe Boy was no ordinary ...

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Today, the humble potato can be found in restaurants and dinner tables across the world -- but this wasn't always the case. In today's episode, Ben and Noel dive into the story of one spud-loving, potato-proselytizing man named Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, and his ambitious life's mission to get an entire continent onboard with the idea of an obscure, Peruvian tuber that would go on to fundamentally change the world.

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July 22, 2021 63 min

What exactly is Bhutanese "Night Hunting," and how does it work? How do some rural Cambodian communities navigate the tricky world of dating while living in communal homes? It's often said the course of true love never did run smooth -- and it sure takes some odd turns on the path from courtship to marriage. In the second part of this special two-part series, Ben and Noel welcome special guests Eli and Diana banks, the ...

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July 20, 2021 68 min

Would you whisper sweet nothings to your sweeheart through a six-foot tube with your Puritan grandmother in the room? Would you force feed your children to make them more attractive for a potential groom? It's often said the course of true love never did run smooth -- and it sure takes some odd turns on the path from courtship to marriage. In part one of this special two-part series, Ben and Noel welcome special guests Eli and ...

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July 15, 2021 70 min

Underwear! Whether we're talking boxers, briefs, loincloths, brassieres or even lingerie, undergarments have a storied history in cultures across the planet. It's a tale touching on everything from shifting attitudes about morality to scientific innovations, fashion and more. In today's episode, Ben and Noel take a closer look at the ancient origins of underwear, tracing its evolution to the modern day.

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Since before the dawn of recorded history, human beings have been obsessed with talking to each other. This primal impulse inspired French occultist Jacques-Toussaint Benoît to propose a new, global communication system in the mid-1800s, a system he was certain would replace the telegraph: collections of snails. Benoît was certain snails, after mating, remained in constant, non-physical contact, meaning pushing one would affect the...

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Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Noel Brown

Noel Brown

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