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The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong

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Diabolical Devices of The Demon of Darkness

8/7/2018
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It was a dark and stormy night. A dark and stormy year, really. And it gave birth to a monster, a New Prometheus which descended upon the panicked world, leaving death and destruction in its wake. For this, our season finale, we give you the most frightening and dangerous invention of the 19th century. The bicycle.

Duration:01:15:26

Make It Rain

7/31/2018
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In the late 19th century, Americans moved into the western states because of one simple phrase. But despite what you learned in junior high, it wasn't "manifest destiny." Today we're talking about the real maxim responsible for westward expansion, a maxim that centered a bizarre bit of pseudo-science that shaped America and then nearly destroyed it.

Duration:01:27:48

The Ox and The Shark

7/24/2018
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This week we're back at The Paper Machete for more political comedy, talking about Trump and Russia. Which is probably the last thing you need to hear more about, because the world is a confusing, terrifying morass of impossible contradictions that's only deepened in its horror by the wash cycle of unthinkable news stories. But maybe there's a way to ride that wash cycle! And maybe it comes from looking back at two animals that challenge how we think we know what we know. Or! Maybe it's...

Duration:00:29:35

Turks, Turks!

7/17/2018
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Without accidents, mistakes and foolishness, there would be no military history. Nearly every war ever fought was determined, to some large degree, by someone getting something wrong. Napoleon, Hitler, Robert E. Lee, Hannibal... you name it. So to tell a war story on The Constant, that story would have to be an act of military stupidity orders of magnitude greater than the norm. Luckily for you, this week we have just such a story. And for some reason, we're giving it to you in the style...

Duration:00:27:31

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

7/10/2018
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In 1926, the quiet, small-town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania was descended upon by a mob of salesmen and hucksters selling solutions to a peculiar problem: a mysterious and inexplicable epidemic of baldness. This week, we look at the weird and wacky history of baldness cures, and the even stranger story of a town in need of them.

Duration:00:17:55

Boom Town

7/3/2018
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In 1896 two trains, going full-speed, slammed into one another in the middle of the 2nd largest city in Texas. Just like they were supposed to.

Duration:00:13:21

Here Be Dragons

6/26/2018
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Through nearly all time, humankind believed in leviathans and krakens and mermaids. People didn't give up believing in sea monsters until the turn of the 20th century. Then, in 1925, one washed up on the shores of Santa Cruz.

Duration:00:32:42

The Reflex

6/19/2018
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In the 1840's, a mysterious disease was running roughshod through a Viennese hospital, killing new mothers in terrifying numbers. On this, our season 3 premiere, we're looking at one of the greatest medical mysteries of all time, the tragic story of the genius who solved it, and why no one listened to him.

Duration:00:28:20

Catchup

6/6/2018
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Season 3 begins June 19th. In the meantime, we'll be dropping a couple of these meta-ads. Hope you enjoy. Share, like, subscribe, rate, review and... catchup.

Duration:00:01:49

Lord Morton's Mare

5/3/2018
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A fly bites, a sickness spreads, a horse is born, an idea returns. This week we attempt to correct an oversight.

Duration:00:22:10

Let's Talk About Sex, Babies

4/17/2018
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Did you ever wonder where babies come from? So did all these guys! But only one of them managed to figure it out. This week, for our season finale, the remarkable story of how we came to know the most fundamental and critical of human questions, and all the bumps along the way.

Duration:01:06:11

People This Isle

4/10/2018
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Look, out in the sea: it's an earthquake, it's a boat fire, it's a sea monster! It's a tiny, newborn volcanic island! In 1831, a small scrap of land suddenly formed in The Mediterranean. Lifeless, inhospitable, fiery and useless. So, naturally, the world went to war over it. Settle in and listen to the short and ludicrous history of (deep breath) Correo-Hotham-Graham-Ferdinandea-Nerita-Sciacca-Julia.

Duration:00:29:19

Everyone Loves a Mystery

4/3/2018
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Today the story of a mysterious grave in the foothills of Appalachia, and the two wannabe detectives that set about deciphering it. This episode is a little different than most. It's a personal story. And we want more of them going forward. To that end, we've setup a hotline you can call to leave YOUR story of getting things wrong. We really want to hear from you. 708-761-0493 Warning: This episode also contains stories of harm to children. If you're not up for that or have sensitive...

Duration:00:27:51

Do Good Carefully

3/27/2018
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Here's something you don't see everyday: parachuting cats. It did happen, though. In the 1950s, The Royal Air Force airdropped parakitties onto the Island of Borneo. Why would they do such a thing? Stick around and find out.

Duration:00:21:47

Everything Aristotle Said is Wrong

3/20/2018
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We give Aristotle a pretty hard time here at The Constant. But we can't hold an Aristotle-hating candle to the guy in this episode. A man whose distaste and distrust for Aristotle is responsible for the birth of the enlightenment, and--maybe--his own demise. It's time you got to know Petrus Ramus.

Duration:00:16:06

Ice and Fire and Fury

3/13/2018
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It started off as an innocent enough idea: what if the moon was made of ice? But from there it grew. Into an alternative-science, into a grand conspiracy theory and, finally, into one of the greatest evils in history.

Duration:00:27:07

Bitcoin, Bitcoin, BITCOIN!

3/6/2018
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Would you like a serious deep-dive into the technical history of cryptocurrency? Too bad. That does sound like something we'd do, but instead we're giving you a political comedy piece by host Mark Chrisler, performed for The Paper Machete, a weekly live magazine out of our hometown, Chicago Illinois. We'll be back next week with more sober examinations of historical ephemera. For this week, give yourself a little break. You've possibly earned it.

Duration:00:19:46

Shipwreckless

2/27/2018
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In 1867, The Eliza set out to sea with a fresh crew, a full hold and fair weather. Yet no one expected her to ever make land again. This episode we look at why, and why, throughout the 19th century, hundreds of ships sank every year in entirely preventable circumstances. It's a story of high seas adventure, murder for profit and... a London coffee shop? It also happens to bear a more than passing resemblance to the gun debate happening in America today.

Duration:00:25:19

Tidbits and Trimmings

2/13/2018
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While we work away on season 2, here's a few extra stories related to the content from season 1 that didn't make their way into the episodes. More art hoaxes! More diligent prime number seekers! More birds on The Moon!

Duration:00:09:22

Way to Go, Einstein!

1/30/2018
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We could've called this show "Whoopsie!" or "Oops!" or "People Believe The Strangest Things." But instead, we called it "The Constant." On this, the season finale, we finally explain why. That means it's time to fawn about Einstein, and the thing he called "the biggest blunder of his life." It also means it's time for Mark to get a tattoo. Which... Look: let's not talk about it, okay?

Duration:00:33:22