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

June 23, 2022 46 min

You might not have heard of William Miller, but in his time he was a pretty big deal. In the first part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the origin of William Miller and Millerism, his spiritual movement predicated on the idea that, with some tricky math, you could indeed predict the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Share
Mark as Played

Benjamin Franklin was many things: an inventor, a Founding Father, a publisher... and, it turns out, a massive troll. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into a strange story of absolute pettiness and out-the-box PR stunts. You see, when Ben Franklin wanted to up the sales of his almanac, he decided to predict the death of his longtime publishing rival, Titan Leeds. One problem: when the prediction didn't come to pas...

Share
Mark as Played

While the credibility of phrenology inevitably deteriorated over time, it was neither a completely original concept, nor, in some respects, a completely useless one. In the second part of this two-part series, Ben, Noel and Max explore the ancient precedents of judging inner qualities based on outer appearance, as well as what modern scientists have to say about how phrenology, as imperfect as it was, helped establish some concepts...

Share
Mark as Played

Once upon a time, a young man named Franz Joseph Gall thought "That's weird... all my school chums with big eyes are good at memorizing things." Years later, he took this idea and ran with it, assuring people that bumps on their skulls held profound insights about both their flaws and their talents. Nowadays everyone agrees phrenology is bunk -- but in its heyday, folks across the US and Europe were convinced this quack...

Share
Mark as Played

Although Nancy Wake began her career as a journalist, her first-hand experience with Nazis compelled her to a new calling: the French Resistance. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the larger-than-life triumphs of the freedom fighter the Gestapo would come to call "the White Mouse," from her early days to her heroic (though, at times, murderous) work to save innocent lives during World War II.

See omnystudio.c...

Share
Mark as Played

In a response to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US, along with more than 60 other countries, boycotted the Olympics. Yet three Puerto Rican boxers refused to allow politics to stand in their way of their athletic ambitions. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max welcome Bijan Stephen and Layne Gerbig, the creators of the Eclipsed podcast, to learn what led them to create this show -- and what the 1980 Olympics can teach...

Share
Mark as Played

Cast your memory back to 1979. Tensions across the US are high, on multiple levels. Disco dominates the music scene, and, oh boy, rock fans are mad about it. Things come to a head at Comiskey Park, where White Sox owner Bill Veeck and a young anti-disco DJ named Steve Dahl decide to promote a doubleheader baseball event with a particular theme -- bring a disco record, and you get to watch it get blown up between games. Spoiler aler...

Share
Mark as Played

Most people associate think of bird poop as an annoyance -- it can gunk up sidewalks and windshields, and, occasionally, even splat on an unlucky person walking by. But in the late 1800s, guano was a hugely important resource. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max take a closer look at the 'white gold' of guano... and how it led to one of 19th-century South America's deadliest wars.

See omnystudio.com/listener for pr...

Share
Mark as Played

As one of history's most well-known, highly-regarded writers, it's no secret that Shakespeare's life and work is full of strange stories -- but did you know one of his most famous plays is considered cursed? In today's episode, the guys are joined by special guest, award-winning playwright Will McFadden, as he breaks down to supposed origin of the curse, along with multiple disasters attributed to it. 

See omnystudio...

Share
Mark as Played

As World War II raged on in 1943, both Allied and Axis forces knew they were riddled with spies. In a dizzying cavalcade of undercover, double, and even triple agents, both sides of the war sought to deceive their opponents -- and ethical concerns increasingly took a back seat in these pursuits. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max dive into the story of Operation Mincemeat, a macabre (and, ultimately, successful) plan to plan...

Share
Mark as Played
May 19, 2022 41 min

When it's time to study the American Revolution in grade school, US kids tend to learn the same few names -- Betsy Ross, George Washington, Benjamin Banneker, Jefferson, Revere and so on. But, were it not for a single gunshot, physician and revolutionary Joseph Warren just may have become one of the first presidents. Tune in to learn more.

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Share
Mark as Played

Most people nowadays associate chocolate syrup with ice cream -- but back in the day, it was considered a legitimate medicine. In today's episode, Ben, Noel and Max explore the origins of chocolate from ancient Mesoamerica to the modern day. Ben and Max also try to save their pal Noel from the unpleasant experience of 'Beverly.'

See omnystudio.com/listener for privacy information.

Share
Mark as Played

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.

See omnystudio.com/listener for p...

Share
Mark as Played

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...

Share
Mark as Played

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."

See omnystudio.com/listener for privac...

Share
Mark as Played

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...

Share
Mark as Played

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'...

Share
Mark as Played

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.

See omnystudio.co...

Share
Mark as Played

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 ...

Share
Mark as Played

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.

See omnys...

Share
Mark as Played

The Latest News

Popular Podcasts

    If you've ever wanted to know about champagne, satanism, the Stonewall Uprising, chaos theory, LSD, El Nino, true crime and Rosa Parks then look no further. Josh and Chuck have you covered.

    Dateline NBC

    Current and classic episodes, featuring compelling true-crime mysteries, powerful documentaries and in-depth investigations.

    Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

    It’s a lighthearted nightmare in here, weirdos! Morbid is a true crime, creepy history and all things spooky podcast hosted by an autopsy technician and a hairstylist. Join us for a heavy dose of research with a dash of comedy thrown in for flavor.

    The Daily

    This is what the news should sound like. The biggest stories of our time, told by the best journalists in the world. Hosted by Michael Barbaro. Twenty minutes a day, five days a week, ready by 6 a.m.

    Crime Junkie

    If you can never get enough true crime... Congratulations, you’ve found your people.

Advertise With Us

Follow Us On

Hosts And Creators

Ben Bowlin

Ben Bowlin

Noel Brown

Noel Brown

Show Links

AboutStoreRSS

For You

    Music, radio and podcasts, all free. Listen online or download the iHeart App.

    Connect

    © 2022 iHeartMedia, Inc.