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

October 15, 2021 47 min

After marrying and having three children, Ada dove back into the world of poetical science, continuing her correspondence with Charles Babbage as he tried to garner support for his ambitious, expensive analytical engine. In the second part of this two-part series, the guys explore how Ada's work -- and prescience -- created a profound legacy that remains with us in the modern day.

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Today Ada Lovelace is hailed as one of the most important figures in the early history of computing -- but, during her childhood, her mother was worried she might take after her father, the famous poet (and infamous philanderer) Lord Byron. Learn more about Ada's childhood in part one of this two-part series.

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Scottish King James IV was, by all accounts, a learned man. As a polyglot, he was especially interested in the origin of language -- so much so, in fact, that he allegedly conducted an experiment that would scandalize modern scientists: James had two children spirited off to the remote island of Inchkeith, where they were raised without language by a mute caretaker. While historians still debate whether this actually occurred, Jame...

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October 5, 2021 50 min

On June 2nd, 1855, the good people of Portland Maine had reached a breaking point. The Mayor, an infamous hardline teetotaler, had just been caught approving the purchase of alcohol after making it illegal throughout town. In today's episode, the guys explore what led to the riot, what happened after, and how this strange episode in Portland influence the later Prohibition movement.

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You might not associate cacti with candy -- on the surface, they seem to have very little in common, mainly because candy is sold in stores around the world, and cacti have a well-deserved, literally prickly reputation. Yet not too long ago the US was in the midst of a genuine cactus candy craze, one that almost drove the poor barrel cactus to extinction.

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September 28, 2021 39 min

In the second part of this two-part series, the guys return to the astonishing story of the Catalpa, exploring how the men prepared for and committed the actual jailbreak -- and how they got away. Listen in to learn more.

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September 23, 2021 40 min

It sounds like something straight out of a heist film: a motley crew bands together in an international conspiracy to rescue six Irishmen from a jail in western Australia -- via whaling ship. Tune in to learn more about the most infamous prison break in Australian history.

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September 21, 2021 68 min

Imagine you live in 1870, traipsing the wild frontier of North America with little more than an opera glass, a few friends and an arguably ill-informed sense of adventure. What happens when you get lost? This is the story of Truman Everts, a hapless tax assessor who found himself at the mercy of the wilderness, hopelessly lost for a full 37 days before, miraculously, returning to civilization. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and ...

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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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Hosts And Creators

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Noel Brown

Noel Brown

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