Cover art for podcast The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong

The Constant: A History of Getting Things Wrong

109 EpisodesProduced by Mark ChrislerWebsite

Did you know that Europeans used to believe that sheep grew from Mongolian trees? Have you heard about the misbegotten discovery of a new form of water in the 1960s that set off a cold war arms race? Ever seen the gleaming Las Vegas hotel that accidentally shoots heat rays at poolside guests? The Co… read more

109 Episodes | 2017 - 2021


September 7th, 2021


Today we've got a potpourri of smaller stories: invasive bird spies! Cunning robberies! Booby traps! MULES! Listen in!
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Introducing: Suspect

September 1st, 2021


A big Halloween party at an apartment complex in Redmond, Washington. Themed rooms and costumed partygoers. But by the end of the party, one of the …

Are Whales Fish?

August 24th, 2021


In 1818, New York City was gripped by the trial of the century. At stake was $75, the regulation of a multimillion dollar industry, and the answer to …

Walking on Sunshine

August 10th, 2021


There is an episode of this show entitled "In The Air Tonight", but make no mistake: this episode is the "In The Air Tonight" of Constant episodes. Confused? You won't be, after this episode of... The Constant. 

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Holy Toledo Jefferson Correction

August 2nd, 2021


I made a big enough oopsie in the last episode, Holy Toledo, that I think it deserves a formal correction here. I hope you'll listen.

Holy Toledo

July 27th, 2021


Ohio versus Michigan! It's a familiar rivalry. But this week, it's not a football game: it's a war, fought over the city of Toledo.

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Map & Territory

July 13th, 2021


A perfect map is a useless map, but imperfect maps are how myths get made.

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Start Here (100th Episode!)

June 29th, 2021


For our 100th episode, we're going back and remastering some of very first stories. If you're looking for a place to start listening, this is it.

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The Lead Age

June 15th, 2021


Clair Cameron Patterson discovered the true age of the Earth, and in the process, the greatest environmental catastrophe in human history.

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It's a Date

June 1st, 2021


How old is the world? There're only fifteen or twenty ways to find out!

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Death Rays (Part Two (Electric Boogaloo))

May 18th, 2021


Here it is! The Big Bad Boys of Death Ray History: Axis vs. Allies, Marconi vs. Tesla, and barely anything about the mysterious Japanese WWII monkey shortage that is picking the inside of my brain bloody. 

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Death Rays

May 4th, 2021


This one does what it says on the tin: instantly kills you with a beam of indeterminate provenance! What other podcast can promise that? Aside from Roman Mars, obviously.
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Don't Know Much About History

April 20th, 2021


Nobody paid much attention to Jean Hardouin in 1729 when he said that all of history was faked. But since then, his message has found a lot more …

It's All a Lie

April 6th, 2021


What if I told you everything you knew was a lie? Okay, well what if a 17th century French librarian told you everything you knew was a lie?

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Zoo Story

March 23rd, 2021


On March 8th, 1874, the animals escaped from The Central Park Zoo. 

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March 9th, 2021


Some things are ordered and some are chaotic. This story is neither.

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On The Rocks

February 23rd, 2021


What do the modern flat earth movement, the history of animal experimentation, the invention of civil engineering, ballet, pantomime, and the first British robot all have in common?
The Eddystone Lighthouse.

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How to Solve a Murder (Pt 3)

February 9th, 2021


We no longer make people walk hot coals, or swim witches, or touch dead bodies. But everything we know about solving crime is still wrong.

The …

How to Solve a Murder (Pt 2)

January 26th, 2021


On part two of this three part series on forensics, we're bridging the gap, between the ancient and modern means of solving crimes. How did forensic …

How to Solve a Murder (Pt 1)

January 12th, 2021


Fingerprints, DNA, blood spatter, ballistics. Before any of those forensic sciences, investigators and courts had a very different suite of tools for …

Lick The Earth

December 15th, 2020


For the last episode of 2020, we're returning to our fair city, Chicago, for the unlikely story of a hard-scrapple hobo who formed his own independent, autonomous district on the non-existent east side of town, which he …

It's a Secret to Everybody

December 1st, 2020


For The Constant's third birthday, here are three stories out of the secret feed. Medicinal gold, the story of theater's greatest Hamlet, and a …


November 17th, 2020


In September of 1822, a ship carrying 70 immigrants left London bound for St. Joseph, a bustling city on The Mosquito Coast in the small Central …

Presidents in Bathtubs

November 3rd, 2020


How do you thread the needle between political and apolitical, frivolous and serious, fun and relevant, on this extremely stressful election day? I …


October 20th, 2020


It's almost Halloween, so how's about a spooky bonfire tale. The spookiest story from the spookiest place we can think of. The story of Gef, The Talking Mongoose.

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October 6th, 2020


This is the story of the worst American presidential election (so far).

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The Rest of The Story

September 22nd, 2020


In 1899 a plan was hatched. To start a war? To sell newspapers? Or to tear down The Great Wall of China?

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In The Air Tonight (I Can Feel It)

September 8th, 2020


You know what you haven't heard enough about recently? How disease spreads. On this episode we finally circle back to the oft mentioned miasma theory, AKA Bad Air Make You Sick. 

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Run for Your Life

August 25th, 2020


There was no Olympics this year, but it's almost the anniversary of the single worst event in the history of the games: The 1904 Olympic Marathon.

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Apocalypse Now and Then

August 11th, 2020


Some days it feels like we're living at the end of the world. And by "some days" I mean "literally every day ever". Take a ride with us through some of the best apocalypses to never happen!

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Real Facts, and Beer

July 28th, 2020


Here is a story about the city I love, Chicago.

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Reductio Ad Absurdum

July 14th, 2020


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 …

Fish Story

June 16th, 2020


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. …

The Cold, Hard Truth, Pt 2

June 2nd, 2020


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 …

The Cold, Hard Truth, Pt 1

May 19th, 2020


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 …

The Airship

May 5th, 2020


In December of 1909, the vice president of a Worcester Massachusetts steamfitting company decided he wanted to fly. This is his story.

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Use The Accident

April 21st, 2020


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.

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True Crime

April 7th, 2020


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!

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Light and Shadow of American Life

March 24th, 2020


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 …

The Foolkiller Pt 5: The White Whale

March 10th, 2020


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 …

The Foolkiller Pt 4: The Unusual Suspects

February 25th, 2020


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 …

The Foolkiller Pt 3: The Man from The East

February 11th, 2020


Amid all the confusing and contradictory reporting that accompanied the discovery of The Foolkiller submarine in 1915 Chicago, there are a handful of …

The Foolkiller Pt 2: Infinite Distress

January 28th, 2020


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 …

The Foolkiller Pt 1: Tears Falling from The Sky

January 14th, 2020


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 …

It's Wonderful Redux

December 30th, 2019


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 …

The Christmas Bullet

December 17th, 2019


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

Perpetuum Mobile

December 3rd, 2019


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 …

Suck and Blow

November 19th, 2019


Everything you've ever learned about physics, chemistry, astronomy, and even biology, is wrong. That was the conclusion reached by Alfred Lawson, …


November 5th, 2019


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 …

The Curse

October 22nd, 2019


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 …

Chewing The Fat

October 8th, 2019


In 2009, Peruvian police offered a disturbing solution to the murders of 46 people in the city of Trujillo. It was sensational, shocking and …

A Pain in The Glass

September 24th, 2019


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 …

A Dreamcast Deferred

September 10th, 2019


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 …

The Forty Six Dollar Man

August 27th, 2019

While shooting an episode in a Carnival Funhouse, the production team of The Six Million Dollar Man made a gruesome discovery: a mummified human …


August 13th, 2019


This is the story of an island, and the worst thing to never happen there.

Find our Patreon here.

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The Golden Episode

July 30th, 2019


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, …

The Right Stuff, The Wrong Way

July 16th, 2019


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 …

For That Healthy Glow

July 2nd, 2019


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 …

Seeing is Believing

June 18th, 2019


1903 was a year of boundless possibilities: the airplane, open heart surgery, Ford Motor Company, and--most importantly--n-rays. This new form of …


June 4th, 2019


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 …


May 21st, 2019


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 …

The Gentle Hammer

May 7th, 2019


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 …

Snap, Crackle, Boom!

April 23rd, 2019


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?

March 5th, 2019


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. …

Broadcasting The Barricades

February 26th, 2019


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 …

What's So Funny 'Bout Peace Ship and Understanding?

February 19th, 2019


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 …

Let's Kill Mike

February 12th, 2019


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: …


February 5th, 2019


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, …

The Idea that Broke America

January 29th, 2019


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, …


January 22nd, 2019


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, …

A Sticky Situation

January 15th, 2019


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 …

Join Us

January 8th, 2019


New season begins Tuesday, January 15th. Join us.

It's Wonderful

December 24th, 2018


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 …

Introducing 'Safe for Work'

December 20th, 2018


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 …

No Ragrets

December 18th, 2018


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 …

Way to Go Again, Einstein!

December 11th, 2018


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 …

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

October 30th, 2018


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, possession and a weird nexus where superstition meets science. …

What The Fork?

October 23rd, 2018


Forks! A handier, less-controversial item would be difficult to imagine. Yet, for hundreds of years Europeans recoiled from the fork with a hilarious …

Typis and Errirs

October 16th, 2018


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 …


October 9th, 2018


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 …

It's a Gamble

October 2nd, 2018


Four weeks, four new episodes. Starting Tuesday, October 9th.

Diabolical Devices of The Demon of Darkness

August 7th, 2018


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 …

Make It Rain

July 31st, 2018


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 …

The Ox and The Shark

July 24th, 2018


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 …

Turks, Turks!

July 17th, 2018


Without accidents, mistakes and foolishness, there would be no military history. Nearly every war ever fought was determined, to some large degree, …

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

July 10th, 2018


In 1926, the quiet, small-town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania was descended upon by a mob of salesmen and hucksters selling solutions to a peculiar …

Boom Town

July 3rd, 2018


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

June 26th, 2018


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 …

The Reflex

June 19th, 2018


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 …


June 7th, 2018


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 3rd, 2018


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

April 17th, 2018


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 …

People This Isle

April 10th, 2018


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 …

Everyone Loves a Mystery

April 3rd, 2018


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 …

Do Good Carefully

March 27th, 2018


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 …

Everything Aristotle Said is Wrong

March 20th, 2018


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 …

Ice and Fire and Fury

March 13th, 2018


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!

March 6th, 2018


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 …


February 27th, 2018


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 …

Tidbits and Trimmings

February 14th, 2018


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!

January 30th, 2018


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 …

Fire-Proof Lizards, Vegetable Sheep and Ball-Biting Beavers

January 23rd, 2018


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 …

Take None of These and Call Me In The Morning

January 16th, 2018


This week: a whirlwind history of bad medical practices, worse medical practices and medical practices that--while still pretty awful--looked …

We're Still Here

January 9th, 2018


"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 …

Art is Dead

January 2nd, 2018


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, …

Three Years of Sundays

December 26th, 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, …

1% Inspiration

December 19th, 2017


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 …

Why Do Birds Suddenly (Dis)Appear?

December 12th, 2017


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 …

You Gotta Fry a Few Eggs

December 6th, 2017


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

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