Pessimists Archive Podcast

By PessimistsArc

Listen to a podcast, please open Podcast Republic app. Available on Google Play Store.

Description

The best antidote to fear of the new is looking back at fear of the old. That's what we do each episode: We travel back in time, exploring why people freaked out over a new technology. Then we try to understand why that unfounded fear continues to repeat itself today, only in slightly different forms. Pessimists Archive is hosted by Jason Feifer (@heyfeifer), and was created by Louis Anslow. Follow us on Twitter at @pessimistsarc. Our email is pessimistsarchive@gmail.com.

Episode Date
Margarine
00:41:22
Whatever you think you know of margarine, put that aside. When the spread was first invented in the mid-1800s, it was made very differently -- and solved very real problems for the nutrient-starved people of the time. That sent the dairy industry into a full-blown panic, leading to margarine’s demonization (and then taxation and strange discoloration). In this episode, we explore how the dairy industry got politicians all riled up, what it says about industries’ ability to halt innovation, and why it took more than a century for butter and margarine to finally square off in the most fair fight of them all: a true food fight.
Jun 18, 2018
Electricity
00:43:26
As electricity began to light our world, resistance came from curious corners. “God had decreed that darkness should follow light, and mortals had no right to turn night into day,” wrote one German newspaper. “A lamp for a nightmare,” declared a Scottish poet. And Thomas Edison, the inventor who gave us the first commercial light bulb, tried his hardest to make people fear a competitor’s form of electricity. But here’s the strangest thing of all: Edison and his ilk failed quickly; their fearmongering just never stuck, and electricity, unlike every other innovation we’ve explored on this show, easily expanded into our world. Why? To understand that, we have go way back -- to the very first spark.
Apr 09, 2018
Pinball
00:32:03
Pinball was banned from the 1940s to 1970s in many cities across America. New York City’s mayor made a show of bashing pinball machines with a hammer. Church ladies in suburban Chicago went on vigilante raids, ripping games out of stores. In this episode, we go through history to understand how a simple game became demonized. The answer, like pinball itself, requires us to bounce from one object to another, but ultimately falls into one big question: Is pinball a game of skill, or a game of chance? Get in touch! Twitter: @pessimistsarc Web: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Jan 27, 2018
Coffee
00:30:16
For 500 years, a succession of kings, sultans, and businessmen have tried to ban or destroy the world’s favorite caffeinated morning pick-me-up. Among their claims: Coffee makes you impotent! It destroys brain tissue! It attacks the nervous system! And most critically of all, it makes you want to take up arms against your government. In this episode, we answer some big questions: Is any of this true? And how did coffee survive centuries of bans, to become today’s best part of waking up? Twitter: @pessimistsarc Online: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Nov 20, 2017
Vaccinations
00:26:56
“One might suppose that the popular prejudice against vaccination had died out by this time,” one writer complains. It sounds like a lament from today, but in fact, it’s from 1875. Anti-vaxxers may seem like a product of our fake-news, health-hysteria modern times, but the fear that propels these skeptics is as old as the vaccine itself. How has modern medicine not shaken generations’ worth of suspicion and fear? We go back to look at two pivotal moments -- the birth of the vaccine and a 1905 Supreme Court case -- to understand what still motivates the anti-vaxxers of today. Contact us: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Twitter: @pessimistsarc Site: http://pessimists.co
Sep 10, 2017
Chess
00:24:10
For as long as chess has been around -- and we’re talking 1,500-plus years -- someone has tried to ban it. But why? The answer is complicated, but it begins here: For ages, global and moralistic leaders have viewed games as a threat worth quashing. Contact us: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Twitter: @pessimistsarc Website: http://pessimists.co
Jul 20, 2017
Bicycle
00:33:42
When the bicycle debuted in the 1800s, it was blamed for all sorts of problems--from turning people insane to devastating local economies to destroying women's morals. We explore why the bicycle scared so many people, and what happens when the opposite of our fears turn out to be true. Contact us: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Twitter: @pessimistsarc Website: http://pessimists.co
Jun 08, 2017
Umbrella
00:22:00
In the 1750s, a London man took to the streets holding an umbrella—and braved jeers, rock-throwing haters, and even a cab that tried to run him over. We explore why rainy England was once so anti-umbrella, and whether that fight was really ever settled. Contact us: Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com Twitter: @pessimistsarc Website: http://pessimists.co
Apr 11, 2017
Horseless Carriage
00:28:08
When the car began replacing the horse, pessimists didn't treat it like a great new tool. They called it "the devil wagon," and said its mission was to destroy the world. We explore why the horseless carriage was so scary—and what it took to finally put horse-lovers behind a wheel.
Mar 02, 2017
Recorded Music
00:34:42
In the early 1900s, recorded music was accused of muddling our minds, destroying art, and even harming babies. What was everyone so afraid of? In this episode, we dig into the early days of music and see what the hysterics properly predicted—and what they never saw coming. Twitter: @pessimistsarc Website: pessimists.co Email: pessimistsarchive@gmail.com
Jan 09, 2017
The Good Old Days
00:34:18
When exactly were the good ol’ days? In this new episode of the Pessimists Archive podcast, we go back in time to find out -- exploring every moment that people claimed was a golden age, and trying to understand why, as Trump’s victory has shown, nostalgia is such a powerful force. Attribution: Edison Blue Amberol: 1870 by Eugene C. Rose and George Rubel
Nov 13, 2016
The Walkman
00:23:48
Travel back to the 80s with us, where the portable cassette player was accused of turning people into “wind-up non-humans,” laws were passed to keep them on the streets, and one New Jersey man risked jail time for his right to walk with headphones.
Sep 12, 2016