The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong

The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong
The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong hosted by Mark Chrisler

Real Facts, and Beer
Jul 28 • 27 min
Here is a story about the city I love, Chicago.Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus by going to:‚Äč ( 10% off your first month of online counseling by…
Reductio Ad Absurdum
Jul 14 • 83 min
The Earth is Flat! That is the conclusion that many ancient societies once drew. Then, in the 19th century, belief in the flat earth started to return, and in the last decade this easily disprovable fallacy has celebrated a remarkable resurgence. And…
Fish Story
Jun 16 • 29 min
Sharks have been known to eat a lot of weird stuff. Fur coats, license plates, cannonballs, chicken coups, even a suit of armor. But the strangest thing ever found within the belly of a shark was… a bundle of papers. Trust me: it’s more unbelievable than…
The Cold, Hard Truth, Pt 2
Jun 2 • 63 min
Two men, two islands, two claims for The North Pole. In part two of The Cold, Hard, Truth we’re looking at the expedition formed in the wake of Peary and Cook’s battle for The Pole. An expedition formed with the goal of finding Crocker Land, a lost arctic…
The Cold, Hard Truth, Pt 1
May 19 • 54 min
On September 7th, 1909, The New York Times announced that Robert Peary was the first person to ever reach The North Pole. But a week earlier, The New York Herald had said the same thing about Frederick Cook. Only one of them could be right, but which one?…
The Airship
May 5 • 39 min
In December of 1909, the vice president of a Worcester Massachusetts steamfitting company decided he wanted to fly. This is his story. Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting:…
Use The Accident
Apr 21 • 47 min
Here’s a change of pace: what about stuff we got wrong for the better? On this episode we’ve got 13 short stories of mistakes that went right. From jazz to physics to chemistry to frozen dessert, we’ve got it all. Get 10% off your first month of online…
True Crime
Apr 7 • 40 min
Hey! I think we invented a new kind of podcast this week! It’s a crime story, but it’s also true. We’re calling it “True Crime”. I think there might be a market for this!Get a free trial of The Great Courses Plus and three months of unlimited access for…
Light and Shadow of American Life
Mar 24 • 58 min
In almost seventy episodes chronicling bad ideas and loopy frauds through the ages one name has come up again and again. From phrenology to mesmerism to a strange ghostly bowl of molasses, he’s the Forrest Gump of 19th century pseudo-science. Get a free…
The Foolkiller Pt 5: The White Whale
Mar 10 • 107 min
Here we are. We’ve examined arctic explorers, secret armies, zany daredevils, Wisconsin whiz kids and so many more only to come up empty. This is the end of the rope. Can we solve the mystery of The Foolkiller, the submarine discovered in the Chicago…
The Foolkiller Pt 4: The Unusual Suspects
Feb 25 • 61 min
We’re onto the long shots now: An Irish-American secret society bent on war with Canada, a kid genius out of Oshkosh and an Indiana shoe factory owner. With so few options left, one of them—surely—must be the creator of The Foolkiller. Right? Get a free…
The Foolkiller Pt 3: The Man from The East
Feb 11 • 50 min
Amid all the confusing and contradictory reporting that accompanied the discovery of The Foolkiller submarine in 1915 Chicago, there are a handful of mentions of an “Eastern man”. On this episode, we look through the annals of submarine history in search…
The Foolkiller Pt 2: Infinite Distress
Jan 28 • 59 min
A proper story has three acts, but the story of The Foolkiller submarine is missing two of them. Today, we’re looking at act 2: the brief window of time during which we know where this giant steel craft was. We’re also examining the three initial theories…
The Foolkiller Pt 1: Tears Falling from The Sky
Jan 14 • 42 min
In November of 1915, a submarine was found at the bottom of The Chicago River. It had been there for at least ten years, was 40 feet long, and contained the remains of a man and his dog. To this day, no one knows who built it, where it came from, or who…
It’s Wonderful Redux
Dec 30, 2019 • 27 min
For our last episode of 2019 and season 6, we’re revisiting last year’s Christmas episode. Stick around through the end to hear a tease for next season’s big multi-part opening story, and check out these other podcasts from the top of the show:…
The Christmas Bullet
Dec 17, 2019 • 15 min
Throw on another yule log and gather round the fire For a new Constant episode is about to transpire It’s a holiday one, though it contains little joy About a con named Christmas and his terrible ploy Visit our Patreon here…
Perpetuum Mobile
Dec 3, 2019 • 50 min
Happy Second Birthday to The Constant! To celebrate, we’re tackling the story that everyone advised Mark not to tell, that Mark himself failed over and over again to write: The Brownian Ratchet. And along the way, we’re dropping into a select few of the…
Suck and Blow
Nov 19, 2019 • 33 min
Everything you’ve ever learned about physics, chemistry, astronomy, and even biology, is wrong. That was the conclusion reached by Alfred Lawson, major league pitcher, avionics pioneer, populist political leader and the founder of the stupidest university…
Nov 5, 2019 • 50 min
In the first century BC, The Greek philosopher Carneades asked a question: is it moral to kill an innocent person to preserve your own life? Two thousand years later, a court in England settled the matter, once and for all. This is a story about sailors,…
The Curse
Oct 22, 2019 • 37 min
Did someone say “more mummies”? No? You didn’t hear that? It sounded like “more mummies” but it was kind of muffled and droning? OH GOD WHAT’S THAT!? It’s still October, and we’re still being spooky. This week, it’s the story of King Tutankhamen’s Curse,…
Chewing The Fat
Oct 8, 2019 • 42 min
In 2009, Peruvian police offered a disturbing solution to the murders of 46 people in the city of Trujillo. It was sensational, shocking and unbelievable. Yet, it was tied to a long, rich—and now largely forgotten—part of western history: using and eating…
A Pain in The Glass
Sep 24, 2019 • 44 min
In April of 1954, Seattle was home to one of the weirdest events in American history: residents were gripped with fear as a mysterious force roamed the city, leaving hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage in its wake. Despite the efforts of mayors and…
A Dreamcast Deferred
Sep 10, 2019 • 92 min
On 9/9/99 The Sega Dreamcast had the most successful product launch of literally any commercial product in history. It quickly came to dominate the market, outperforming all its competition. Less than a year and a half later, it was dead, and Sega was cut…
The Forty Six Dollar Man
Aug 27, 2019 • 43 min
While shooting an episode in a Carnival Funhouse, the production team of The Six Million Dollar Man made a gruesome discovery: a mummified human corpse, painted neon red and mistakenly hung from a noose as a cheap scare. And the story of who he was, and…
Aug 13, 2019 • 41 min
This is the story of an island, and the worst thing to never happen there. Find our Patreon here ( Get 10% off your first month of online counseling by visiting…
The Golden Episode
Jul 30, 2019 • 39 min
It’s our fiftieth episode! Our golden anniversary! You know what we got you? The Lost City of Gold: El Dorado. We know, we shouldn’t have. Seriously, we really shouldn’t have. Find our Patreon here ( 10% off your first…
The Right Stuff, The Wrong Way
Jul 16, 2019 • 35 min
We’ve got a lot to celebrate this week! Not only have we joined Hub & Spoke Audio Collective (, but it’s also a Constant Holiday. The Saint Day of Douglas Corrigan, who in 1938 became the 11th person to fly nonstop across…
For That Healthy Glow
Jul 2, 2019 • 46 min
In the early 1900s, people finally figured out what made water so healthy: radiation! This week we’re looking at some of the hundreds of terrifying products meant to give you that healthy glow, and the story of one of the most terrible mistakes in medical…
Seeing is Believing
Jun 18, 2019 • 34 min
1903 was a year of boundless possibilities: the airplane, open heart surgery, Ford Motor Company, and—most importantly—n-rays. This new form of radiation could be gathered from The Sun and stored in ordinary salt water. It could diagnose illness and grant…
Jun 4, 2019 • 80 min
This is the story of the greatest jailbreak ever attempted. Well, maybe not “greatest”, but certainly “weirdest.” It’s also, somehow, the story of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And one of science’s great rivalries. And of a number of murderers, mobsters…
May 21, 2019 • 21 min
Martha died alone, becoming the first named member of an exclusive and terrible club: The Endlings. This episode we’re tracking the history of the passenger pigeon, a bird that once darkened American skies by the billions. The story of the passenger…
The Gentle Hammer
May 7, 2019 • 31 min
Believing he was Jesus Christ, Laszlo Toth entered St. Peter’s Basilica on May 21st, 1972 and took a hammer to Michelangelo’s Pieta. What happened next would make the world wonder what separates a work of art from a forgery. Check out this Spiro Agnew…
Snap, Crackle, Boom!
Apr 23, 2019 • 36 min
The Apocalypse fails to appear. A doctor goes to disturbing lengths to end masturbation. A millionaire spends his fortune dynamiting the sky. Breakfast is changed forever. The Constant is back. Check out our new Patreon,…
Is There Life on Mars?
Mar 5, 2019 • 58 min
Take a look at those star men, gazing at the night sky. Oh man, wonder if they’ll ever know? on October 30th, 1938, Orson Welles and The Mercury Theatre on The Air unleashed the most infamous media prank of all time. But The War of The Worlds wasn’t the…
Broadcasting The Barricades
Feb 26, 2019 • 30 min
This is the story of the first radio hoax. No, not that one. On January 16th, 1926, a Catholic priest took the mic at BBC Radio and threw all of England into panic with… a joke. Unfortunately, the original recording was lost long ago. Fortunately, this…
What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace Ship and Understanding?
Feb 19, 2019 • 59 min
War! Good God, y’all. What is it good for? According to Henry Ford: Absolutely nothing. So in 1915 he launched a ship, bound for Europe, with a simple if outlandish mission: to end World War I. On this episode we look at the ill-fated voyage of The Oscar…
Let’s Kill Mike
Feb 12, 2019 • 25 min
How do you survive in 1932, when The Great Depression is at its peak and prohibition is in full force? How about a little insurance fraud? It’s easy: all you need is an undertaker willing to fake a cause of death, a couple of life insurance policies and a…
Feb 5, 2019 • 14 min
In January of 1749, a London advertisement promised an impossible show at The Haymarket Theatre: a full-grown man would jump into a wine bottle and, from within it, sing. You won’t be surprised to find out that the show didn’t happen. But you will be…
The Idea that Broke America
Jan 29, 2019 • 60 min
Mesmerism didn’t stop with Mesmer. This week, we pick up where we left off, tracing the idea of animal magnetism to America, where it went through some… changes. Get ready for a whirlwind tour of American enterprise, religion and entertainment that leads…
Jan 22, 2019 • 57 min
What is this? Are you some kind of hypnotist? We’re doing a deep dive into one of the single most fascinating mistaken ideas and the fascinating man who thought it up. This story has got it all: demonic possession, mysterious seductions, beheadings,…
A Sticky Situation
Jan 15, 2019 • 19 min
Happy 100th birthday to one of the strangest disasters in American history: Boston’s Great Molasses Flood. For our season 5 premiere, we’re looking at the weird and deadly 35 foot tall wall of syrup that destroyed Boston’s North End a century ago, and…
Join Us
Jan 8, 2019 • 1 min
New season begins Tuesday, January 15th. Join us.
It’s Wonderful
Dec 24, 2018 • 21 min
On today’s holiday special we’re looking at a Christmas classic: It’s a Wonderful Life. A movie that was almost never made, that was almost forever forgotten, and that almost missed its chance to change a woman’s life.
Introducing ‘Safe for Work’
Dec 20, 2018 • 4 min
Just a couple of days before our Christmas special, here’s a little gift for you: Safe for Work. Safe For Work is an advice show that reminds you that while your office may be crazy, you don’t have to be. Office MVPs and corporate veterans Liz Dolan…
No Ragrets
Dec 18, 2018 • 9 min
Alright, there are two ways this can go down. Scenario 1: Mark finds the story of the worst tattoo ever and feels heartened by it, going through with finally getting his own. Scenario 2: Mark finds the story of the worst tattoo ever given and feels…
Way to Go Again, Einstein!
Dec 11, 2018 • 26 min
Because you wonderful, amazing jerks helped reach our stretch goal, Mark’s got a promise to fulfill. To explain that promise—and the title of this very show—we’re rebroadcasting our season 1 finale. Einstein was a genius, but that didn’t save him from…
Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Oct 30, 2018 • 32 min
It’s Halloween and that means it’s time for a spooky one. This week, for the last episode of our Kickstarter ( season, we’ve got a real-life story of ghosts,…
What The Fork?
Oct 23, 2018 • 14 min
Forks! A handier, less-controversial item would be difficult to imagine. Yet, for hundreds of years Europeans recoiled from the fork with a hilarious zeal: condemning anyone who used one to jokes, shame and even death. For the third episode of our…
Typis and Errirs
Oct 16, 2018 • 26 min
To honor all the flubs of our first year, we’re going down the rabbit hole of the worst typos and mistakes in history. From sacrilegious Bibles to doomed space missions to a certain cartoon Sailor Man and his super-powered vegetable. This is the second…
Oct 9, 2018 • 32 min
In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue. And then… well, that’s the question. What exactly did this dude do? And where did the myth of Columbus come from? For the first episode of our new Kickstarter…
It’s a Gamble
Oct 2, 2018 • 1 min
Four weeks, four new episodes. Starting Tuesday, October 9th.
Diabolical Devices of The Demon of Darkness
Aug 7, 2018 • 36 min
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…
Make It Rain
Jul 31, 2018 • 33 min
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…
The Ox and The Shark
Jul 24, 2018 • 14 min
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…
Turks, Turks!
Jul 17, 2018 • 26 min
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…
Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
Jul 10, 2018 • 17 min
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…
Boom Town
Jul 3, 2018 • 14 min
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.
Here Be Dragons
Jun 26, 2018 • 23 min
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.
The Reflex
Jun 19, 2018 • 28 min
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…
Jun 6, 2018 • 1 min
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.
Lord Morton’s Mare
May 3, 2018 • 16 min
A fly bites, a sickness spreads, a horse is born, an idea returns. This week we attempt to correct an oversight.
Let’s Talk About Sex, Babies
Apr 17, 2018 • 50 min
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…
People This Isle
Apr 10, 2018 • 21 min
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…
Everyone Loves a Mystery
Apr 3, 2018 • 17 min
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,…
Do Good Carefully
Mar 27, 2018 • 23 min
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.
Everything Aristotle Said is Wrong
Mar 20, 2018 • 16 min
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…
Ice and Fire and Fury
Mar 13, 2018 • 20 min
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.
Bitcoin, Bitcoin, BITCOIN!
Mar 6, 2018 • 12 min
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…
Feb 27, 2018 • 27 min
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…
Tidbits and Trimmings
Feb 13, 2018 • 10 min
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!
Way to Go, Einstein!
Jan 30, 2018 • 25 min
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…
Fire-Proof Lizards, Vegetable Sheep and Ball-Biting Beavers
Jan 23, 2018 • 22 min
Throughout time people have twisted the most humdrum of creatures until they were fantastical, bizarre, unbelievable monsters. From a logistically unfeasible hybrid to a self-castrating quarry, we’re bringing you a suite of four stupefying animal myths,…
Take None of These and Call Me In The Morning
Jan 16, 2018 • 18 min
This week: a whirlwind history of bad medical practices, worse medical practices and medical practices that—while still pretty awful—looked fantastic by comparison. Western medical history began with a madman who threw himself into a volcano to prove he…
We’re Still Here
Jan 9, 2018 • 15 min
“Threatening the world with Famine, Plague and War: To Princes, Death! To Kingdoms, many Crosses; To all Estates, inevitable Losses! To Herdsmen, Rot; to Plowmen, hapless Seasons; To Sailors, Storms, To Cities, Civil Treasons!” -John Gadsbury, 1665. This…
Art is Dead
Jan 2, 2018 • 18 min
You don’t know this story. You don’t know the killer. You don’t know the victims. You don’t know the artist and you don’t know the artworks. But in 1998 Yugoslavia, a series of mutilated corpses shocked the public, rocked the art world and, maybe, changed…
Three Years of Sundays
Dec 26, 2017
It’s difficult to honor the spirit of the season when you’re making a show about mistakes, foibles and failures, but we’ve done our best. This week, the most uplifting story about prime numbers you’ll hear all season. Promise.
1% Inspiration
Dec 19, 2017 • 10 min
In the 1960’s, scientists discovered a new form of water, kicking off millions of dollars of research, Nobel Prize consideration and a new Cold War arms race between the USA and USSR. This episode we investigate the history of the miraculous discovery…
Why Do Birds Suddenly (Dis)Appear?
Dec 12, 2017 • 17 min
Have you ever wondered where birds go in the winter? Of course not. But throughout history, many people have. On this, the season premiere of The Constant, we dive into some of the incredible explanations people concocted for this seemingly obvious…
You Gotta Fry a Few Eggs
Dec 5, 2017 • 9 min
A preview of things to come: this is our “stress test” mini episode to try to work out all the kinks. Music byLee Rosevere and Animeistrash