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

May 12, 2022 39 min

While the Confederacy often portrayed itself as a champion of certain individual rights-- not applied to enslaved people, of course-- it didn't always practice what it preached. In today's episode, the guys explore how factions of the Confederate government used the chaos of war to confiscate all sorts of property and then, through a web of corruption, made themselves wealthy in the process.

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No one knew the real name of the woman living alone on San Nicolas Island, but when she returned to civilization after decades in solitude, she was a hit with the locals at the nearby mission. Known for her exuberance and friendliness, the religious authorities and townsfolk alike loved the woman they christened Juana Maria, but they knew next to nothing about her life -- because she spoke a language no one, from the missionaries t...

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The time has come! In this special episode, the one and only Super Producer Max Williams takes point on the research into one of his long-standing fascinations: the curious sport of curling. As Max schools the guys on everything from the basic rules to the surprisingly long history of this unique sport, they -- and you -- walk away with a deeper understanding of "The Spirit of Curling."

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War is a brutal business, and it often leaves scars that last for generations. Two decades after he bombed Brookings, Oregon during World War II, former Imperial Japanese Navy pilot Nobuo Fujita returned to Brookings to give an official apology -- and the town essentially adopted him. Fujita would go on to visit Brookings multiple times, sponsoring student trips to Japan, and gifting the city his samurai sword, which had been in hi...

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When's the last time you had a vacation, just for fun? Regardless of where you went, you probably want to tip your hat to Thomas Cook. As a traveling Baptist preacher, Thomas Cook walked thousands of miles on foot warning people about the danger of alcohol -- it was a rough, demanding life, and people often ignored his message. But he was nothing if not a forward thinker. In today's episode, the guys explore how one man'...

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As an African-American actor in the 1800s, Ira Aldridge had the odds stacked against him. Yet despite systemic racism, as well as negative attitudes about Americans in general, Aldridge went on to become the darling of the London stage. In today's episode, the guys explore how Ira Aldridge used his tremendous fame as a way to advocate for equality, abolition and more -- and broke numerous records along the way.

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When people think of rebellion, they often think of guerilla warfare, rousing speeches and protests. But what about books? When the Russian Empire sought to "Russify" much of what is now Lithuania, the Tsar's forces waged a war against culture, forcing children to learn a Cyrillic alphabet -- and even banning the pre-existing Lithuanian alphabet from printing presses. Native Lithuanians from all walks of life responded ...

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Many countries have their own, distinct Christmas traditions, but Iceland's Yule Lads are especially disturbing. Born of a monsterous giantess, these thirteen creatures each specialize in certain types of harassment or theft, leaving gifts for good children, and rotten potatoes for the rest. In today's episode, the guys explore the origin of this strange story -- and how, once upon a time, it was actually outlawed.

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In April of 1897, something crashed from the sky, destroying a local windmill. As rumors and speculation grew, strange reports emerged -- could there have been a pilot? What was this craft, exactly, and why were some observers convinced it was from beyond this world? Tune in to learn more.

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London of the 1500s was a bustling center of commerce, finance and industry -- and it attracted a fair number of foreign-born professionals, who sought their fortune in the metropolis. However, as epidemics and economic downturns made life worse and worse for the average person, the native-born working class began to blame foreigners, whom they called 'strangers,' for their woes. In today's episode, the guys follow the ...

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Dr. Jon Snow -- no relation to the guy from A Song of Ice and Fire -- was in a pickle. Cholera was ravaging London, particularly in the Soho area, and no one knew how to stop it from spreading like poisonous wildfire. As the crisis raged on, Snow was able to use his medical knowledge and amateur detective skills to figure out where the contagion was coming from. His big breakthrough? Folks at the local brewery, who were known for d...

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We often assume wealth can solve everything, but unfortunately that's not the case -- and there are few better examples of this than the life of Maria Eleonora of Brandenburg, German princess and Queen of Sweden. In today's episode, the gang explores the Queen's turbulent struggles in the realms of geopolitics, parenting, the patriarchy and romance. 

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People these days are, for better or worse, increasingly accustomed to living in an area of constant communication. But how did people communicate over long distances before the rise of things like telegraphs, telephones and the internet? In the second part of this week's special two-part episode, guests Bill Whorley and Mark Kendall, the creators of the hit new podcast Ridiculous News, join the guys to talk about some of the w...

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People these days are, for better or worse, increasingly accustomed to living in an area of constant communication. But how did people communicate over long distances before the rise of things like telegraphs, telephones and the internet? In this week's special two-part episode, guests Mark Kendall and Bill Whorley, the creators of the hit new podcast Ridiculous News, join the guys to talk about some of the weirdest ways people...

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In his heyday, the story goes, Arrhichion of Phigalia was a renowned pankration champion, a brutal sport of the ancient Olympics. But he was getting on in years, and his days at the top seem numbered. In today's episode, the guys explore the strange series of circumstances that led to Arrhichion's final, fatal match -- and how, after death, he was declared victorious one last time.

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If you, like the majority of humans alive today, live in a city, you're more than familiar with noise -- sirens, construction, traffic and more. In today's episode, the guys explore how one woman's mission to silence the tugboats near her opulent Manhattan mansion led to a nation-wide, classist campaign against noise. Co-starring Ben's nemesis, the local leafblower (who somehow always knows when we're recording)...

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While it's a taboo subject in the modern day, it turns out people have been improvising ways to pleasure themselves since, well, the dawn of history. In the second part of this week's two-part takeover episode, Ben and Noel join Eli and Diana Banks, real-life spouses and creators of the hit podcast Ridiculous Romance, to discuss the strange, ridiculous (and at-times disturbing) history of sex toys across the planet. Heads-u...

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While it's a taboo subject in the modern day, it turns out people have been improvising ways to pleasure themselves since, well, the dawn of history. In this week's two-part takeover episode, Ben and Noel join Eli and Diana Banks, real-life spouses and creators of the hit podcast Ridiculous Romance, to discuss the strange, ridiculous (and at-times disturbing) history of sex toys across the planet. Heads-up, this one gets a ...

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The Cobra Effect - a particularly extreme form of unintended consequences - isn't limited to India and Vietnam. In China, the technically successful Four Pests eradication campaign led to tremendous ecological disaster, as the mass murder of sparrows led to a plague of ravenous locusts. In part two of this week's two part episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore what went wrong, how it affected later generations, and what the Cob...

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Back in the days of the British Raj, colonial leaders had a problem: Delhi was overrun with snakes. And not just any snakes -- cobras. These dangerous death noodles slithered through every nook and cranny in town. The solution? Put a bounty on cobras, and allow any citizen to receive payment for every cobra skin they bring in. While this seemed like a good idea at first, it quickly led to even more snakes pouring into town. So what...

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Ben Bowlin

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Noel Brown

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