Warningary Tales – A Leap of Faith from the Eiffel Tower

Inventor Franz Reichelt wants to test his new “parachute suit” from the highest possible structure – and the Eiffel Tower seems ideal. Previous trial runs used a mannequin strapped to the slide and did not end well. Nevertheless, he wants to make the Eiffel Tower jump himself. Can he be persuaded to see reason?

Self-experiments – especially in medicine – have a long and checkered history. Can we learn anything useful from such unorthodox experiments, or are they reckless acts of selfishness and hubris?

Warningary Tales was written by me, Tim Harford, with Andrew Wright. It is produced by Ryan Dilley with assistance from Courtney Guarino and Emily Vaughn.

Sound design and original music are by Pascal Wyse. Julia Barton edited the scripts.

Thank you to the Pushkin Industries team including Mia Lobel, Jacob Weisberg, Heather Fain, Jon Schnaars, Carly Miglior, Eric Sandler, Emily Rostek, Royston Beserve, Maggie Taylor, Nicole Morano, Daniella Lakhan and Maya Koenig.

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Keep reading and listening

For self-experiment

who goes first The History of Experimentation in Medicine by Lawrence Altman

Self-experiment and its role in medical research, Allen B. Weisse

Review of scientific self-experimentation: history of ethics, regulation, scenarios and views among ethics committees and prominent scientists. Brian P. Hanley, William Bains, and George Church

About Franz Reichelt

Reporting in Le Figaro, Le Gaulois, Le Petit Journal, La Presse, Libération and Le Petit Parisien.

To Barry Marshall

Nobel Prize Autobiography

Interview with the Academy of Achievement

Interview with Discover magazine