Pessimists Archive Podcast

20 EpisodesProduced by PessimistsArcWebsite

Why do people keep resisting new things? That’s the question Pessimists Archive tries to answer. In each episode, we travel back in time to the moment that a new technology or innovation was introduced—something that today we think of as totally commonplace!—and we explore why everyone was freaking … read more

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Comic Books

July 25th, 2019

48:02

In the 1950s, America declared war on the comic book. People feared that they’d turn children into hardened criminals, and so opponents burned them in large piles, states banned them, and the U.S. Senate investigated …

Elevator

June 20th, 2019

41:54

The elevator has had a lot of ups and downs. (Sorry, sorry.) As the innovation gained popularity in the late 1800s, it had a profound effect on the …

Kids These Days

May 15th, 2019

45:21

Kids! They’re lazy, narcissistic, and disrespectful -- or so says the older generation. But when you look back through history, you’ll discover that …

The Waltz

April 22nd, 2019

39:16

Why are new dances always so scandalous? Grinding, freak dancing, swing dancing, rock-n-roll -- each had their opponents. But at the beginning of it …

Telegraph

March 7th, 2019

45:22

“We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas,” wrote Henry David Thoreau, “but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.” And he was hardly a lone voice that …

Chain Stores

February 8th, 2019

39:08

When a frothy American congressman wanted to make his case against chain stores, he reached for the greatest comparison of evil he could think of: …

The Novel

October 15th, 2018

39:19

Novels are to entertainment what orange juice is to Coca Cola -- a wholesome alternative to modern vices. Or at least, that's how we think of them …

The Subway

August 6th, 2018

26:22

“A big humbug” -- that’s how one critic described America’s first subway system. Other opponents were more extreme. It would release dangerous …

Margarine

June 18th, 2018

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 …

Electricity

April 9th, 2018

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 …

Pinball

January 27th, 2018

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 …

Coffee

November 20th, 2017

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. …

Vaccinations

September 10th, 2017

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 …

Chess

July 20th, 2017

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 …

Bicycle

June 8th, 2017

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, …

Umbrella

April 11th, 2017

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. …

Horseless Carriage

March 2nd, 2017

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 …

Recorded Music

January 9th, 2017

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 …

The Good Old Days

November 13th, 2016

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 …

The Walkman

September 12th, 2016

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 …

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