More Or Less

Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which reports on the ways we use numbers, statistics, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the news, in politics and in life.

Episodes

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2017110420171105Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Two claims from Nigeria are scrutinised this week. First we look at news reports stating that: “a Nigerian senator earns 1.7 million US dollars year, far higher than the salary of the US President.” We also hear of a popular belief going back decades which has appeared again on social media - that yam consumption has led to Nigeria’s Yoruba people having the world’s highest twin birth rate. But is there any evidence for this? We talk to the fact-checkers at Africa Check.

(Photo: Seven-year-old twin sisters Seye and Sayo on their way to a party. Credit: Pius Utomi Ekpei/Getty Images)

Two claims from Nigeria are scrutinised this week. First we look at news reports stating that: “a Nigerian senator earns 1.7 million US dollars year, far higher than the salary of the US President. ? We also hear of a popular belief going back decades which has appeared again on social media - that yam consumption has led to Nigeria’s Yoruba people having the world’s highest twin birth rate. But is there any evidence for this? We talk to the fact-checkers at Africa Check.

01/10/201020101003We examine official statistics on sexual identity and the micromort measure of risk.
09/09/201120110911
10/12/201020101212Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

13/01/201220120115
17/12/201020101219Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

21/01/201120110123Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

23/12/20112011122599 v 1%:

Tim Harford asks what we do and don't know about income inequality in the UK, the US, and other countries around the world. He speaks to Professor Sir Tony Atkinson of Oxford University; Stewart Lansley, author of 'The Cost of Inequality'; and Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University in Virginia.

Laughing in the face of risk:

David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University explains what led him to take on what could be his riskiest venture to date - appearing as a contestant on BBC One's Winter Wipeout. Really.

The magic of maths:

As a special Christmas treat, we're honoured to have a guest appearance from a top professor of maths and statistics - described by magician (and loyal listener) Paul Daniels as a 'legend'. Persi Diaconis, of Stanford University in California and co-author of "Magical Mathematics", has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy, and then, as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick - see the performance below.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford discusses income inequality and meets the professor appearing on TV's Wipeout.

24/09/2010
24/12/201020101226Tim Harford narrates 'A More or Less Christmas Carol'.

26/08/201120110828In More or Less this week:

Scottish independence

Listeners have already been in touch with us asking for clarification on the various claims made about the economic viability of an independent Scotland with the prospect of a referendum in the next five years. Is Scotland subsidised by the rest of the UK or does it more than pay its way through North Sea oil revenues? And what would have happened if an independent Scotland had to bail out RBS and HBOS?

Mobile phones and cancer

There have been some scary headlines about mobile phones and links to brain cancer recently after the WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans. But did all the press coverage get this right? Professor Kevin McConway from the Open University explains what this development really means.

Is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman alive?

It's a question that often prompts heated discussion but can maths help us arrive at a more definitive answer? Writer Rob Eastaway makes the case for Indian cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar.

Producer: Phil Kemp.

Scottish independence, mobile phones and cancer; and is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman?

30/12/201120120101A guide to interesting, informative or just plain idiosyncratic numbers of the year.
31/12/201020110102Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers.

A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime Numbers2018012820180126 (R4)First sexual experience - checking the facts
A short film for the Draw A Line campaign has made the claim that one in three girls first sexual experience is rape. This seems shockingly high, but what is the evidence? Is it just for the UK or a global figure? We go back to the reports that were used to source the claim, and find the research has been misinterpreted.

How long can a shark go for without eating?
A recent episode of Blue Planet II stated that after a large meal a Sixgill shark might not have to eat for 'up to an entire year'. Tim Harford speaks to Dr David Ebert, a shark expert who has studied the stomach contents of Sixgills over the years. And to Professor Alex Roger, a zoologist who advised the Blue Planet team, to try and find out how accurate the claim is and why the deep sea is still a mystery.

The wonder of Prime Numbers
Oxford mathematician Vicky Neale talks about her new book - Closing The Gap - and how mathematicians have striven to understand the patterns behind prime numbers.

Multiple grannies
A Swiss mummy has recently been identified as a distant ancestor of Boris Johnson. But some people have been getting tangled up over just how many great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers the Foreign Secretary might have. We tackle an email from one listener - none other than the broadcaster Stephen Fry.

Challenging the claim that one in three girls' first sexual experience is rape.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A No-frills Life, Automated Fact-checking, Lord Of The Rings Maths2018082620180824 (R4)What would have been the most efficient way to get to Mordor? To answer this Tim Harford turns to information in the Lord of the Rings books and original documents at the Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. He crunches the numbers with the help of Professor Graham Taylor of Oxford University, an expert in mathematical biology.

Could computers do a better job than humans of exposing fake news and holding politicians to account? Tim Harford interviews Mevan Babakar of the fact-checking organisation Fullfact about the software tools she and her team are building to try to automatically verify statistical claims.

The Child Poverty Action Group claims low-earning parents working full-time are unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle. Tim Harford examines the numbers with the author of the group's report, Professor Donald Hirsch of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Presenter: Tim Harford.

Tim Harford on no-frills living, automated fact-checking and Lord of the Rings maths.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Abortion, Modern Slavery, Math Versus Maths2018051320180511 (R4)The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate

In two weeks' time the Republic of Ireland is holding a referendum into whether to make changes to its strict abortion laws. We have been inundated with emails and Tweets from listeners asking us to look at some of the statistics that keep coming up during the course of the campaigns for and against changing the law. The one that has caught the most attention is a statistic which has appeared on posters saying: "In Britain, "Limited" abortion kills 1 in 5 babies." We take a look at the numbers.

Superforecasting

How good are political and economic forecasts? Philip Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania collects forecasts from a wide range of experts to see if they come true or not. One nickname he has for some the best forecasters is the "foxes" - not to be confused with the woeful "hedgehogs".

Modern Slavery

Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross asked us to look into the numbers of 'modern slaves' reported in the UK. We explore the definition of modern slavery and how the authorities create estimates of the size of what is largely a hidden phenomenon.

Math versus Maths

North Americans like to use the word 'math' while the Brits like to say 'maths' - but who is correct? We hear the case for both words and try work out which one is right, with the help of the Queen of Countdown's Dictionary Corner, Susie Dent.

The British abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

African Trade Tariffs, Alcohol Safe Limits, President Trump's Popularity2018090220180831 (R4)The Prime Minister's trip to Africa has spurred much debate on EU tariffs to the country and how this could change after Brexit. Twitter was set alight by an interview on the Today programme in which the presenter quoted some pretty high tariffs on African countries. The critics claimed that these tariffs were largely non-existent. So what's the truth? Tim Harford speaks to Soumaya Keynes, a trade specialist at The Economist.

It was also claimed that six fast-growing African countries could provide significant trade openings for the UK as it seeks to expand its trade relationships outside the EU. But how big are these African economies?

"No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms" ran a recent BBC headline about a paper published in the Lancet journal. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter tells Tim Harford why moderate drinkers should not be alarmed.

President Trump tweeted this eye-catching claim recently: "Over 90% approval rating for your all-time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall." That does sound impressively high. Tim Harford asks the BBC's senior North America reporter, Anthony Zurcher whether the figures are true.

What proportion of the UK's population are immigrants? What proportion of teenage girls give birth each year? Research suggests most people get the answer to these questions, and many others about everyday facts, very wrong. Tim Harford interviews Bobby Duffy, Global Director of Ipsos Social Research Institute and author of the book, "Perils of Perception: Why We're Wong About Nearly Everything", about our most common mistakenly-held beliefs and what they reveal about us.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford fact-checks EU trade deals with Africa, and whether one drink is one too many.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A-levels, Drowning, Dress Sizes2017082720170825 (R4)Are boys getting more top A-Level grades than girls?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Are Natural Disasters On The Rise?2017091720170915 (R4)Has the number of natural disasters really quadrupled in the last forty years?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Are You Related To Edward Iii...and Danny Dyer?2016120420161202 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Billionaires V The World2016012420160122 (R4)Does it matter that 62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world's population?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Brexit Numbers20160424
Cancer Screening, The Windrush Generation, Audiograms2018050620180504 (R4)Breast screening - the Numbers

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said this week that over the past decade, 450,000 women have accidentally not been invited for breast cancer screening because of a computer error - and that up to 270 women may have had their lives shortened as a result. But where does that number come from? We'll be checking the Health Secretary's maths.

Counting the Windrush Generation

Do we know how many who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries before 1971 are now at risk of being deported? We speak to the Migration Obvservatory at Oxford University to find out where the Windrush Generation are actually from, plus how many are missing vital documentation.

Has Nigel Farage been on Question Time too often?

The former UKIP leader has appeared on Question Time 32 times. Is that too many? Labour's Lord Adonis thinks so. We go back through the archives to look at the different times he was invited on and compare it to some other frequent panelists.

Painting a picture with an audiogram

Data journalist Mona Chalabi talks to Tim Harford about her unusual approach to analysing numbers. She has spent years making interesting visual depictions of data. Now she has turned her attention to some audio projects. We discover the correlation between men's voices and their testicles.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon.

Calculating the benefits and risks of breast screening. Plus, patchy citizenship data.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Celebrity Deaths2016041720160415 (R4)Have more famous people died this year than usual?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Child Poverty, Progress 8, How Green Is Grass?2018052020180518 (R4)Working families in poverty
Last week, the TUC made headlines with a new report it had published, claiming more 1 million more children from working families are living in poverty than they were in 2010. But is this because a lot more people are working today than ten years ago? Tim Harford speaks to Jonathan Cribb from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about how we define poverty, and whether things are getting worse or better

Progress 8
School league tables in England used to rank schools by the proportion of pupils who managed to achieve five A* to C grades in their GCSE's. There was an obvious problem with that: schools with lots of middle class kids might do well on the league tables, even if the actual teaching wasn't so great. And brilliant schools in deprived areas might be undervalued. So in 2016 the system was changed - instead league tables are now arranged by a measure called Progress 8. It's meant to be a fairer way to assess things. But one listener got in touch to ask - how does it work? Is it better?

How green is grass?
A listener wants to know whether a garden product can really make you grass 6 times greener so we'll be exploring the greenness of grass. Can you put a numeric value on how green a colour is? Is it possible to tell when something is six times greener than baseline with the human eye, and is there a maximum green to which all lawns should aspire?

Royal Wedding economics
In the run up to the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, media outlets and newspapers have been musing over how much money the wedding will bring to the UK economy. We speak to Federica Cocco of the Financial Times who doesn't think there will be much impact at all.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon

(Photo credit: Getty Images).

Are more working families in poverty? Plus exploring the new school league tables.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Christmas Quiz2016122520161223 (R4)Tim Harford poses a tough statistical challenge.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Coronavirus Special20200325We’ve dedicated this special episode to the numbers surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. Statistical national treasure Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter put the risks of Covid-19 into perspective. We ask whether young people are safe from serious illness, or if statistics from hospitalisations in the US show a high proportion of patients are under 50. We try to understand what the ever-tightening restrictions on businesses and movement mean for the UK’s economy, and we take a look at the mystery of coronavirus numbers in Iran.

The risks of Covid-19 for different age groups and what restrictions mean for the economy

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Counting Terror Deaths2016082120160819 (R4)Is 2016 an unusually deadly year for terrorism?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

E-cigarettes: Can They Help People Quit?2016020720160205 (R4)Tim Harford investigates whether e-cigarettes harm people's chances of quitting.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Economics Of Overbooking2017041620170414 (R4)Why airlines take a bet that you won't show for your flight.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Election Special 12019120350,000 nurses? 40 new hospitals? Big corporate tax rises? Childcare promises? Election pledges might sound good, but do they stand up to scrutiny? In the run up to the General Election on 12th December, Tim Harford takes his scalpel of truth to the inflamed appendix of misinformation.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Neal Razzell

50,000 nurses? 40 hospitals? Corporate tax rises? Tim Harford looks at Election pledges.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Election Special 220191210Tim Harford explores some of the issues being discussed in the current election campaign.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Labour spending plans, Conservative claims on homelessness, the SNP's education record.

Election Special: Tax, Borders And Climate2017060420170602 (R4)Who pays income tax, cutting migration and where in the UK is cold?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Electric Cars, School-ready And Feedback2017091020170908 (R4)Will we need more power stations? Plus, are children in Manchester ready for school?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Eu Migration2016050120160429 (R4)What will happen to migration if the UK leaves the EU?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Fact-checking Boris Johnson2017043020170428 (R4)Giant bombs, a war hero and the foreign secretary's stats.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Fathers And Babies2016041020160408 (R4)Have only 1 per cent of men taken the option of shared parental leave?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Flood Defence Spending2016011020160108 (R4)Is there a north-south divide in the amount of money spent on flood defences in England?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Forecasting Rain, Teabags, Voter Id Trials2018052720180525 (R4)What does the rain percentage mean?

With weather being the national obsession, More or Less has received a number of weather-related emails - specifically about the BBC's weather app. This was updated earlier this year, and it now includes an hour by hour breakdown telling users what chance there is of it raining wherever they are - but what does this percentage actually mean? Tim Harford speaks to meteorologist Nikki Berry from Metrogroup, which provides the BBC's weather forecast analysis.

University of Oxford admissions statistics

How diverse are the most recent undergraduates to start at one of the country's top universities? We take a look.

Waiting for the facts on Voter ID trials

In the recent local elections in England there were five authorities taking part in a trial, requiring voters to show ID for the first time when they turned up at the polling station. In the initial days after the vote it was reported that up to 4,000 people were turned away and couldn't vote because they didn't have identification. But now, Newsnight's David Grossman has collected the data from the trial areas to discover the original estimate was out by a factor of 10.

Counting teabags

How much tea do we drink? A figure that is often quoted suggests that Brits drink 165 million cups of tea a day which works out as around 60 billion a year. We take a look at what evidence is available and whether it is possible to calculate such a statistic.

Are pensioners richer than workers?

A More or Less listener heard a claim that the average income for pensioners is higher than the average income for people of working age - is that true? Jonathan Cribb from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has an answer.

How to read the weather forecast, plus measuring the amount of tea we drink.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Gender Pay Gap2016082820160826 (R4)Making sense of the difference between men's and women's pay.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Gender Pay Gaps And How To Learn A Language2018012120180119 (R4)Gender Pay Gap
This week the Office for National Statistics has published analysis trying to find out why it is that on average women are paid less than men in specific industries and occupations. We examine their findings, as well as taking a look at the current discussion about equal pay at the BBC.

Alcohol reaction times
We take a look at a study that suggests that people's reaction speeds are affected over time by regular drinking. It recommends that official guidelines for the amount of alcohol consumed a week should be lowered. But what does the evidence show?

Bus announcements - when is too many?
Transport for London has introduced a new announcement on its buses to warn travellers that the bus is about to move. We discuss the benefit of such messages.

How many words do you need to speak a language?
Ein bier bitte? Loyal listener David made a new year's resolution to learn German. Three years later, that's about as far as he's got. Keen to have something to aim for, he asked More or Less how many words you really need to know in order to speak a language. We find out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and put Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is.

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.
(Photo: Man and woman working on a car production plant. Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

How much more are men paid than women? And how many words do you need to speak a language?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Grammar Schools2016081420160812 (R4)Do selective schools improve grades and improve social mobility?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Grenfell Tower's Death Toll2017090320170901 (R4)The difficulties of finding the true number of people who died in the fire.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Have More Famous People Died This Year?2016121820161216 (R4)Notable deaths, Rule Britannia and creating your own Christmas speech

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Heart Age Calculator; Danish Sperm Imports; The Size Of The Services Sector; The 'safest Car On The Road'; Counting Goats.2018090920180907 (R4)Public Health England says people over 30 should take an online test to find out their heart age, which indicates if they are at increased risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. But how useful is the online calculator really? Loyal listeners have been querying the results. Tim Harford speaks to Margaret McCartney, GP and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Inside Health.

Does Britain rely on imports of Danish sperm?

A listener contacted the programme to say they'd heard on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that 80% of the UK economy is services. Could that really be right, they asked. We speak to Jonathan Athow from the Office for National Statistics to find out whether the claim is correct (Clue: it is).

And are there really more statues of goats than women in the UK?

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford questions the usefulness of a popular heart age calculator.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How Harmful Is Alcohol?2016013120160129 (R4)Are there problems with the way we judge the harms from alcohol? Tim Harford finds out.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How Many Schoolchildren Are Carers? Counting Shareholder Income, Museum Visitors Vs Football Fans2018092320180921 (R4)A BBC questionnaire has found 1 in 5 children surveyed were caring for a family member with an illness or disability. The suggestion is that this could mean that 800,000 secondary-school age children are carrying out some level of care. Loyal listeners have doubted there can be so many young carers. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look into the numbers.

On the 20 September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, where residents are United States citizens. George Washington University has published a report – commissioned by the Puerto Rican government – claiming that the hurricane accounted for nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico. President Trump disputed these official figures, tweeting that the Democrats were inflating the death toll to "make me look as bad as possible". So, who is right, and how do you determine who died as a result of a natural disaster? Tim Harford speaks to the lead investigator of the George Washington University report, Dr Carlos Santos-Burgoa.

The shadow chancellor John McDonnell recently claimed 'for the first time shareholders now take a greater share of national income than workers'. But is it true? Tim Harford speaks to The Financial Times’ economics editor Chris Giles.

Loyal listener David from Sheffield has been in touch to query a claim he heard on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week that more people visit museums than attend football matches. Ruth Alexander finds out if we really do favour culture over the nation’s game.

Plus, what is the most dangerous sport? Tim Harford thinks he has the definitive answer.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on child carers, shareholder income, football, museums and dangerous sports.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How To Reduce Exam Revision With Maths, Infant Mortality, London's Murder Rate2018061020180608 (R4)It was recently reported that the infant mortality rate in England and Wales has risen - bucking decades of constant decline. Some of the causes cited in the news include social issues such as rising obesity in mothers, deprivation and struggling NHS staff. We hear from a paediatric intensive care specialist and a health data researcher who say the rise is more likely because we're counting the deaths of very premature babies differently to in the past.

HOW TO REDUCE EXAM REVISION WITH MATHS

A self-confessed lazy student has asked for help with his exams - what's the minimum amount of revision he needs to do in order to pass? Rob Eastaway from Maths Inspiration does the sums.

A BILLION DEAD BIRDS?

It's claimed that a billion birds in America die each year by flying into buildings. Where does this number come from and how was it calculated - and is it remotely correct?

LONDON v NEW YORK CITY

It was reported earlier this year that London's murder rate was higher than New York City's for the first time - but how do the two cities compare a few months down the line, and is there any value in making these snapshot comparisons?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith
Editor: Richard Vadon.

Tim Harford explains how maths can help lazy students reduce their revision workload.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How Wrong Were The Brexit Forecasts?2016121120161209 (R4)The economic doom that never was; childhood cancer figures and Ed Balls

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Irish Passports2016090420160902 (R4)Do one in four Brits claim Irish ancestry?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Is Crime Rising?2017050720170505 (R4)It looks like homicides are on the rise - but better check the footnotes.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Is Dementia The Number One Killer?2016112020161118 (R4)Is dementia on the rise? Plus immigration, incomplete contacts and chocolate muffins

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Living Standards And Kate Bush Maths2017042320170421 (R4)Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate Bush.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Novelists In Numbers20171030Counting the favourite words of well-known authors

Stephen King once said that wannabe authors should avoid using adverbs which end with ‘ly’ but does he follow his own advice? Data journalist Ben Blatt decided to find out. He also analysed texts written by some of the best known authors to discover the words they use obsessively, and why. Elmore Leonard whose book inspired the film Jackie Brown loved exclamation marks, while Vladimir Nabokov who wrote Lolita was keen on the colour ‘mauve.’

Presenter: Tim Harford

(Photo: American novelist Ernest Hemingway in 1954 on safari in Africa. Credit: Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Numbers Of The Year 20152016010320160101 (R4)Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers behind the news in 2015.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Nurses' Pay, Scottish Seats, Penalty Shootouts2017051420170512 (R4)Are nurses paid more than the national average? We take a look.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Pensioners Aren't Poor Anymore2016112720161125 (R4)High-rolling pensioners, predicting norovirus, finding friends, and air pollution.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Plastic Bags2016080720160805 (R4)Has a 5p charge caused a drop in the use of carrier bags?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Post-election Special20170618The results of the general election are in - but what do they mean?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Selfies, Sugar Daddies And Dodgy Surveys2016021420160212 (R4)Women take selfies for five-and-a-half hours a day. Really? Tim Harford on junk surveys.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Spies, Care Homes, And Ending Sneak Peeks2017052820170526 (R4)Monitoring threats, chances of needing care plus who sees official stats first.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Spreadsheet snafu, \u2018Long Covid\u2019 quantified, and the birth of probability2020100720201009 (R4)

After nearly 16,000 cases disappeared off coronaviruses spreadsheets, we ask what went wrong. How common are lasting symptoms from Covid-19? If you survey people about the death toll from Covid, they’ll make mistakes. What do those mistakes teach us? Pedants versus poets on the subject of exponential growth. And we dive deep into the unholy marriage of mathematicians, gamblers, and actuaries at the dawn of modern finance.

Missing coronavirus case data, long-term symptoms, and a big mathematical moment.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Statistics Abuse, Tuition Fees, Beer In 18872017092420170922 (R4)Foreign secretary Boris Johnson is accused of misusing official statistics.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Straws, Women On Boards, Animals Born Each Day20180429
Surviving The Battle Of Britain, The World Cup And Domestic Violence, Buckfast And Arrests In Scotland2018093020180928 (R4)From the 10th July to the 31st of October 1940 the skies above Britain were a battle zone. The German Luftwaffe launched large scale attacks aiming to reach London, they were held back and ultimately defeated by the Royal Air Force which included many nationalities. The bravery of the pilots – known as ‘The Few’ - cannot be disputed but is it really true that the average life expectancy of a spitfire pilot during the Battle of Britain was just four weeks, as is often claimed. Tim Harford and Lizzy McNeill look into the statistics and consider which of the armed forces had the highest death rate.

Does domestic violence increase by 30% when England loses a World Cup match? It’s a claim that’s often made and has most recently heard on the Freakonomics podcast. But is it true?

Is the tonic wine Buckfast really linked to 40 per cent of arrests in Scotland, as the website LADbible claims? Jordan Dunbar discovers the numbers are much exaggerated.

A listener noticed something rather strange while tucking into a bowl of his favourite cereal: “Sainsbury's Blueberry Wheaties purport to contain 72% wheat and 35% blueberry filling. This makes 107%. When I put this to Sainsbury's, I am met with incomprehension. ‘What's wrong?’ they say," he emails. We investigate, and find out the supermarket is not making a mathematical mistake.

And, has there been a rapid resurgence in the number of babies being named Ian?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on Spitfire pilots, and whether football triggers violence in the home.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tax, Speed Dating And Sea Ice2017052120170519 (R4)Exploring the Labour manifesto's tax plans for high earners.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun Part Ii2018021120180209 (R4)Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't

The BBC - and many others - announced that on Monday the Dow stock index saw it's biggest ever fall. Tim Harford skewers this alarmist nonsense: what matters is the percentage fall, which was sizable but has been seen many times before. We also explain why real stock-watchers look at the S&P, not the Dow.

The cost of tampons

Amid the debates on period poverty and the 'tampon tax' it has been suggested that women spend £13 a month on sanitary products on average. But is that fair? The number comes from a survey asking women what they think they spend, but we take a trip to the shops to compare prices and we're not so sure that is a reasonable amount.

Park Run Part II

Has our running about eagerly correspondent Jordan Dunbar survived Britain's hardest parkrun?

Are 25% of citizens in the UK criminals?

How many of us in the UK are convicted criminals? According to barrister Matthew Scott it's as high as 25%. That seems like an awful lot, so we speak to crime statistics expert Professor Susan McVie to see if his numbers stand up under closer examination.

What proportion of women got the vote in 2018?

Not all women got the vote in 2018. We look at the numbers behind women's suffrage. Do they reveal an important reason why the establishment fought so hard to stop all women getting the vote?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't, and how much do women spend on tampons?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Great Eu Cabbage Myth2016040320160401 (R4)Does the European Union dedicate 26,911 words to cabbage regulation?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The High Street, Home Births, Harry Potter Wizardry2018060320180601 (R4)How do we know how WH Smiths fares on the high street?

Over the Bank Holiday weekend a news story from the consumer advice website Which caught a lot of attention. It was claimed that WH Smiths is the least liked shop on the high street. But exactly how did researchers work that out? We take a look at the survey they conducted.

Counting the homeless

We often hear numbers in the news about how many people are sleeping rough on the streets of the UK
According to the latest official figures around 4700 people were sleeping in the streets in the autumn of 2017.
And that got us thinking. These statistics aren't just downloaded from some big database in the sky. They need - like any statistic - to be collected and calculated. So we ask a simple question: how do you count the number of people sleeping rough?

How safe are home births?

Is giving birth at home as safe as giving birth in hospital? How many women have the choice to do so, and does it make a difference if you've already had a child? We try to cut through the noise and find out what the statistics say.

Harry Potter: how many wizards?

Fans of Harry Potter have been asking - just how many wizards live among us? We follow a trail of clues in J K Rowling's best-selling books to provide the definitive estimate of the wizarding population.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Andy Smith.

Is WH Smith really the worst on the high street? Plus how safe is giving birth at home?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Most Profitable Product In History2016050820160506 (R4)The most profitable product in history. Can the iPhone claim this accolade?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Referendum By Numbers - Omnibus: Part 120160618Tim Harford fact-checks the vital statistics from the EU referendum debate.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Referendum By Numbers - Omnibus: Part 220160618
The Supermarket Effect2016073120160729 (R4)Tim Harford returns with Brexit, Trumpton, the Antiques Roadshow and some good news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Uber, Eu Passports, Counting Domestic Violence2017100120170929 (R4)Is Uber safe? The post Brexit dual nationality surge; measuring partner abuse.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Us Election, Stray Cats And Puzzles2016111320161111 (R4)Who voted in the US elections? Plus are there nine million stray cats in the UK?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

010120011113Featuring the man who can walk only by counting and the art of being statistically slippery.
010220011120
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010420011204
010520011211
0106 LAST20011218
020110/09/2010
0201Revealing Numbers In The Nhs20021112This edition asks what NHS performance statistics really tell us - and more importantly, what they fail to tell us.
0202The Complexity Of Call Charges20021119Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which looks at numbers.

This edition includes an interview with Mervyn King, tipped to be the next Governor of the Bank of England.

0203Quantifying Economic Success2002112620100829
0204Making Sense Of Millions20021203
0205Numbers In The Dock20021210
0206 LASTSchool League Tables20021217
0301Measuring Behaviour20030218As anti-war protestors marched in London, More or Less asked who's counting, and how?
0302The Perception Of Risk20030225More or Less asks how well does news of danger measure up to the facts.

Also in the programme, the test which attempts to screen children for "number blindness".

Also in the programme, the test which attempts to screen children for ""number blindness"".

0303Testing Toxicity20030304More or Less finds out how we measure the toxicity of substances.

Also in the programme, is there any logic behind the way buses are numbered?

0304Good Business20030311More or Less asks what makes a good company.

How do you measure how nice a business is? And did the language of maths hijack science?

0305Singular Statistics20030318More or Less asks where are all the men? What is the statistical evidence for the Bridget Jones syndrome - single career women finding it hard to meet a man.
0306 LASTPensioner Poverty20030325More or Less asks is pensioner poverty the measure of a pension crisis.

And we find out how a pack of cards can make sense of the laws of probability.

0401Measuring Illness20030612More or Less examines what the thermometer doesn't tell you.

Why does the threat of illness, including Sars, have at its heart arguments about measurement?

0402Many More Fish In The Sea?20030619There has been a collapse of fish stocks in the north sea.

But who's counting? And how? Plus, do we routinely misuse cancer statistics?

0403Taxing Issues20030626The debate about income tax rises misses the critical numbers.

When it comes to earnings, where is the middle? And see how your pay compares.

Plus, we looked at gambling and round numbers.

0404Is God A Mathematician?20030703More or Less looks for the numbers in nature.

There are some who argue maths can explain complexity in nature better than evolution.

Plus, how reliable is DNA testing?

040520030710
0406 LAST20030717
050120040108Among the questions for this week's programme: why might a surfeit of overdue babies be all in the counting?
050220040115Among the questions for this week's programme: what have the government's attempts to improve performance in the public sector got to do with the collapse of the Soviet economy.
0503School League Tables2004012220040129
0504Speed Cameras2004012920040205Andrew Dilnot looks at the numbers behind the news, and figures out which stories do and don't add up.
0505The Divided Kingdom?2004020520040212Andrew Dilnot looks at the numbers behind the news and figures out which stories do and do not add up.

Andrew Dilnot asks whether the gap between Britain's richest and poorest neighbourhoods is any narrower under New Labour than it was under Margaret Thatcher

060120040617
060220040624Andrew Dilnot presents the series that explores numbers and their place in the world around us.
060320040701
060420040708Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; measurement and quantification of every kind in our personal lives and elsewhere.
060520040715Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; quantification of every kind in the news, in our personal lives and elsewhere.
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0706 LAST20050217Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; measurement and quantification of every kind in the news, our personal lives and elsewhere.
080120050623Andrew Dilnot reports on all the ways we use numbers, STATISTICS, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the NEWS, in politics, in life.

Includes reports on how we get the reams of data so often quoted when "a survey has shown...".

Includes reports on how we get the reams of data so often quoted when ""a survey has shown..."".

Andrew Dilnot reports on all the ways we use numbers, statistics, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the news, in politics, in life. Includes reports on how we get the reams of data so often quoted when ""a survey has shown..."".

Andrew Dilnot reports on all the ways we use numbers, statistics, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the news, in politics, in life. Includes reports on how we get the reams of data so often quoted when "a survey has shown...".

080220050630Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; measurement and quantification of every kind in the NEWS, in politics and in life.

Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; measurement and quantification of every kind in the news, in politics and in life.

080320050707Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it: measurement and quantification of every kind in the news, in politics and in life.
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090520060119Andrew Dilnot is the man with all the most vital statistics as the numbers magazine investigates subjects that range from medicine to the climate, or from speed cameras to plane crashes.
090620060126
0907 LAST20060202
100120060622The programme that makes sense of numerical nonsense, guiding us through the numbers and statistics in the news and in life, showing where numbers have the power to explain as well as to deceive.
100220060629
100320060706Andrew Dilnot is the man with all the most vital statistics as the numbers magazine investigates subjects that could range from medicine to the climate, or speed cameras to plane crashes.
100420060713
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110520061120Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which reports on the ways we use numbers, statistics, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the news, in politics and in life
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120120070423Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which looks at numbers.
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130120071029Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

1/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

130220071105Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

2/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

1303200711123/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.
1304200711194/8.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

4/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

1305200711265/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.
1306 LAST200712036/8.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

6/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

1307 LAST200712107/8.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

7/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

1308 LAST200712178/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.
140120080407Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.
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15012008120520081207Tim Harford explores the pseudoscience behind best-selling business success books.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere and explores the pseudoscience behind some of the world's best-selling business success books.

15022008121220081214
15032008121920081221Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

15042008122620081228Tim Harford is joined by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

He is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman

Tim Harford is joined by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

He is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman

Tim Harford is joined by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford is joined by former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life. He is joined by two guests who share his love of numbers, former Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq and comedian Dave Gorman.

15052009010220090104
1506 LAST2009010920090111
1507 LAST2009011620090118Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1508 LAST2009012320090125
16012009041720090419Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

He investigates the link between cancer and drinking, tests Charles Clarke's maths and finds out why drowning cats can help explain the credit crunch.

Tim Harford investigates the link between cancer and drinking.

We investigate the numbers behind the drug legalisation debate, test a former Home Secretary's maths and find out why drowning cats can help explain the credit crunch.

Synopsis

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

He investigates the link between cancer and drinking, tests Charles Clarke's maths and finds out why drowning cats can help explain the credit crunch.

Tim Harford investigates the link between cancer and drinking.

16022009042420090426Tim Harford examines how the arithmetic behind sustainable energy adds up, asks whether putting in 100 per cent effort is enough and declares a dictatorship in an attempt to explain the national debt.

Tim Harford examines how the arithmetic behind sustainable energy adds up.

16032009050120090503Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

16042009050820090510
16052009051520090517Tim Harford takes apart a rogue statistic on domestic violence which has been circulating since the 1990s, questions news reports which suggest that the recession is hitting white collar workers hardest and reveals a new mathematical riddle - the Kate Bush conjecture.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford challenges a much-quoted statistic on domestic violence.

1606 LAST2009052220090524Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

17012009080720090809Tim Harford investigates statistics which some claim reveal the 'Islamification' of Europe and checks whether the Home Office has been doing its sums properly. Do its claims about the DNA Database really add up?

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford investigates statistics which some claim reveal the 'Islamification' of Europe

Tim Harford investigates statistics which some claim reveal the 'Islamification' of Europe and checks whether the Home Office has been doing its sums properly.

17022009081420090816Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

17032009082120090823Tim Harford and the team test the reliability of swine flu data and speak to one of the creators of the 'financial weapons of mass destruction' which, two years ago, led to the credit crisis.

An Open University co-production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford and the team test the reliability of swine flu data.

Tim Harford and the team test the reliability of swine flu data and speak to one of the creators of the 'financial weapons of mass destruction' which, two years ago, led to the credit crisis.

Tim Harford and the team test the reliability of swine flu data.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

17042009082820090830Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine more numbers in the news, including whether Britain's record on prosecuting rape is as bad as headlines suggest.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Is Britain's record on prosecuting rape is as bad as headlines suggest?

Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine more numbers in the news, including whether Britain's record on prosecuting rape is as bad as headlines suggest.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

17052009090420090906Tim Harford and the More or Less team investigate widely-reported estimates of the number of people who illegally share files on the internet, and examine the abuse of maths by the public relations industry.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Investigating estimates of the number of people who illegally share files on the internet.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team investigate widely-reported estimates of the number of people who illegally share files on the internet, and examine the abuse of maths by the public relations industry.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1706 LAST2009091120090913Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine reports that the world will cool over the next two decades, before global warming resumes. They also examine a claim that beautiful people have more daughters, and use maths to decode a Beatles musical mystery.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford examines reports that the world will cool over the next two decades.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine reports that the world will cool over the next two decades, before global warming resumes.

Tim Harford examines reports that the world will cool over the next two decades.

18012009121120091213Tim Harford and the More or Less team ask if claims made about energy efficient lightbulbs are true and if economies can grow forever. And they meet one of their greatest heroes: Sesame Street's Count von Count.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford and the team ask if claims made about energy efficient lightbulbs are true.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team ask if claims made about energy efficient lightbulbs are true and if economies can grow forever.

Tim Harford and the team ask if claims made about energy efficient lightbulbs are true.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

18022009121820091220Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

18032010010120100103 Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

18042010010820100110Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

18052010011520100117Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford and the team ask if the electoral system is biased in favour of Labour.

Tim Harford and the team ask if the electoral system is biased in favour of Labour, as some Conservatives claim, and why Wales is so frequently used as a unit of measurement.

Tim Harford and the team ask if the electoral system is biased in favour of Labour.

Tim Harford and the team ask if the electoral system is biased in favour of Labour, as some Conservatives claim, and why Wales is so frequently used as a unit of measurement.

1806 LAST2010012220100124

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

19012010052120100523Tim Harford and the team return with the first in a new series of More or Less, looking at the maths of voting and whether the outcome of the fairest democratic model of them all - the Eurovision Song Contest - can be forecasted.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford and the team return with the first in a new series of More or Less, looking at the maths of voting and whether the outcome of the fairest democratic model of them all - the Eurovision Song Contest - can be forecasted.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford and the team return with the first in a new series of More or Less, explaining numbers in the news, looking out for misused statistics and using maths to explore the world around us.

Tim Harford and the team return with the first in a new series of More or Less, explaining numbers in the news, looking out for misused statistics and using maths to explore the world around us.

19022010052820100530Which would win in a fight - a shark or a toaster? Tim Harford finds out in this week's More or Less.

The team also investigate whether Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (or HSMRs) - expected deaths to observed deaths - can be unhelpful, ask who stands to lose from the scrapping of Child Trust Funds and remember the great mathematician, Martin Gardner.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Which would win in a fight - a shark or a toaster? Tim Harford finds out in this week's More or Less.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team explain the numbers in the news, look out for misused statistics and use maths to explore the world around us.

19032010060420100606Which would win in a fight - a shark or a toaster? Tim Harford finds out in this week's More or Less.

The team also investigate whether Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (or HSMRs) - expected deaths to observed deaths - can be unhelpful, ask who stands to lose from the scrapping of Child Trust Funds and remember the great mathematician, Martin Gardner.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Which would win in a fight - a shark or a toaster? Tim Harford finds out in this week's More or Less. The team also investigate whether Hospital Standardised Mortality Ratios (or HSMRs) - expected deaths to observed deaths - can be unhelpful, ask who stands to lose from the scrapping of Child Trust Funds and remember the great mathematician, Martin Gardner.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

19042010061120100613Tim Harford and the More or Less team explain numbers in the news, look out for misused statistics and use maths to explore the world around us.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

19052010061820100620Tim Harford and the More or Less team explain numbers in the news, look out for misused statistics and use maths to explore the world around us.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

1906 LAST2010062520100627Tim Harford and the More or Less team tackle the budget, drink-driving statistics, the maths of public toilet equality and they reveal the surprising results of their 'what are you doing right now' data-gathering exercise.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team explain the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team explain numbers in the news, look out for misused statistics and use maths to explore the world around us.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

20012010082720100829Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which explains the numbers behind the news.

20022010090320100905
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200420100917
20052010092420100926In this week's programme:

The Chancellor recently said that while he would continue to protect deserving benefit claimants, people who claimed benefits "as a lifestyle choice" would have to stop because the money would no longer be there. What does the evidence tell us about how many people fall into that category - and how incentives work in the welfare system?

After spotting a new unit of measurement - the Prime Minister's salary (£142,500) - we create our Prime Minister Index, allowing us to calculate any individual's place on the index (or, as we like to say, work out their PMI).

The median salary in Britain is £25,800, so that's a PMI of 0.2, for example. If you jump to a PMI of 10,000, you get to the hedge fund manager John Paulson on £1.4 billion.

Last week the British Trust for Ornithology published the results of its 40th annual garden bird-feeding survey - revealing huge falls in the numbers of some species. Blue tits down 42% over 40 years. House sparrows down 70%. Song thrushes down 75%. Are cats to blame?

Last week we were examined how to adjust for age and sex to create a level playing field for two runners - a 28-year-old woman, and a 52-year-old man. Our very own 28-year-old woman and 52-year-old man entered the Great North Run half marathon to test our calculations. This week, we bring you the results.

This week: welfare numbers, pay revisited and how many birds do cats kill?

Magazine show investigating the ways we use numbers, statistics and measurements.

2006 LAST2010100120101003Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine the micromort measure of risk and official statistics on sexual identity.

We examine official statistics on sexual identity and the micromort measure of risk.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine the micromort measure of risk and official statistics on sexual identity.

21012010121020101212Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

21022010121720101219Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

21032010122420101226Tim Harford narrates "A More or Less Christmas Carol" in which Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of banking past, present and future.

Featuring interviews with: Andrew Haldane from the Bank of England; Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF; Gillian Tett, the author of Fool's Gold; the economist John Kay; the philosopher and consultant Jamie Whyte; and Angela Knight from the British Bankers' Association.

Starring the cast of the Giant Olive Theatre Company (and Robert Peston).

Tim Harford narrates 'A More or Less Christmas Carol'.

Tim Harford narrates "A More or Less Christmas Carol" in which Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of banking past, present and future.

Featuring interviews with: Andrew Haldane from the Bank of England; Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF; Gillian Tett, the author of Fool's Gold; the economist John Kay; the philosopher and consultant Jamie Whyte; and Angela Knight from the British Bankers' Association.

Starring the cast of the Giant Olive Theatre Company (and Robert Peston).

Tim Harford narrates 'A More or Less Christmas Carol'.

Featuring interviews with: Andrew Haldane from the Bank of England; Simon Johnson, the former chief economist of the IMF; Gillian Tett, the author of Fool's Gold; the economist John Kay; the philosopher and consultant Jamie Whyte; and Angela Knight from the British Bankers' Association. Starring the cast of the Giant Olive Theatre Company (and Robert Peston).

21042010123120110102Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers.

Contributors include Ben Goldcare, Robert Peston, the National Statistician and the Swedish statistical guru Hans Rosling.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers.

Contributors include Ben Goldcare, Robert Peston, the National Statistician and the Swedish statistical guru Hans Rosling.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers. Contributors include Ben Goldcare, Robert Peston, the National Statistician and the Swedish statistical guru Hans Rosling.

210520110107Tim Harford and the More or Less team look at tax, train fares and the truth about psychic animals.

Tim Harford looks at tax, train fares and the truth about psychic animals.

Tim Harford and the More or Less team look at tax, train fares and the truth about psychic animals.

Tim Harford looks at tax, train fares and the truth about psychic animals.

2106 LAST2011011420110116
2107 LAST2011012120110123

Tim Harford and the team look behind the numbers in the news.

22012011040120110403

Tim Harford is back with a new series of More or Less, and the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford returns with a new series, explaining the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford is back with a new series of More or Less, and the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford returns with a new series, explaining the numbers behind the news.

22022011040820110410

Investigating the numbers in the news.

22032011041520110417In the last series we looked at what changes to the tuition fee system will cost students.

In this programme we examine the other side of the equation: how much will the changes cost the taxpayer? Could the Government be on the hook for more than it thinks?

The US Supreme Court recently issued a judgement on what might seem an unlikely subject: the uses and abuses of statistical significance testing.

We explain why it matters.

It seems not a week goes by without a politician claiming to be progressive - or claiming that the other guy to be regressive.

Everyone seems to assume that progressivity in the tax system is self-evidently a good thing.

But is that always true?

This week we were told that inflation has fallen by all measures but with the biggest drop shown in the Consumer Prices Index.

What exactly is the difference between CPI and RPI? It's not - as most journalists report - all about housing costs.

Producer: Richard Knight.

22042011042220110424Investigating the numbers in the news.
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2207 LAST15/04/201120110417In the last series we looked at what changes to the tuition fee system will cost students. In this programme we examine the other side of the equation: how much will the changes cost the taxpayer? Could the Government be on the hook for more than it thinks?

The US Supreme Court recently issued a judgement on what might seem an unlikely subject: the uses and abuses of statistical significance testing. We explain why it matters.

It seems not a week goes by without a politician claiming to be progressive - or claiming that the other guy to be regressive. Everyone seems to assume that progressivity in the tax system is self-evidently a good thing. But is that always true?

This week we were told that inflation has fallen by all measures but with the biggest drop shown in the Consumer Prices Index. What exactly is the difference between CPI and RPI? It's not - as most journalists report - all about housing costs.

Producer: Richard Knight.

Tim Harford and the team on tuition fees and drugs testing.

220808/04/201120110410Investigating the numbers in the news.

220901/04/201120110403Tim Harford is back with a new series of More or Less, and the numbers behind the news.

Tim Harford returns with a new series, explaining the numbers behind the news.

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23032011081920110821In More or Less this week: Salt, 'zero tolerance' policing and how to predict the adult height of growing children.

Salt, 'zero tolerance' policing, and how to predict the adult height of growing children.

23042011082620110828In More or Less this week:

Scottish independence

Listeners have already been in touch with us asking for clarification on the various claims made about the economic viability of an independent Scotland with the prospect of a referendum in the next five years.

Is Scotland subsidised by the rest of the UK or does it more than pay its way through North Sea oil revenues? And what would have happened if an independent Scotland had to bail out RBS and HBOS?

Mobile phones and cancer

There have been some scary headlines about mobile phones and links to brain cancer recently after the WHO classified radiofrequency electromagnetic fields as possibly carcinogenic to humans.

But did all the press coverage get this right? Professor Kevin McConway from the Open University explains what this development really means.

Is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman alive?

It's a question that often prompts heated discussion but can maths help us arrive at a more definitive answer? Writer Rob Eastaway makes the case for Indian cricketer, Sachin Tendulkar.

Producer: Phil Kemp.

Scottish independence, mobile phones and cancer; and is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman?

Investigating the numbers in the news.

23052011090220110904In More or Less this week:

Debt: A European Odyssey

On More or Less we're always looking for the perfect analogy to help clarify complicated things.

And the European debt crisis is pretty complicated.

The good news is that we think we've come up with exactly the right way to describe the whole sorry business - as Homer's Odyssey.

Alternative medicine and the placebo effect

Earlier in the summer a study was published which seemed to suggest that acupuncture might help some patients with unexplained symptoms.

Interesting.

We asked Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP and a blogger on medical evidence, to investigate.

But Dr McCartney thinks the study tells us about more than just acupuncture - it tells us something about the whole way in which treatments are administered on the NHS.

Asking the right questions

This summer, the Office for National Statistics celebrates seventy years of its social surveys.

We've been looking back at their work, some of which is a little surprising.

In November 1941 the Wartime Social Survey Unit undertook a major study of women's undergarments.

The reason? Steel.

Britain needed to know how much metal was being used to support the country's women, rather than the war effort.

Producer: Richard Knight.

Euro debt odyssey, the placebo effect and 70 years of social surveys.

On More or Less we're always looking for the perfect analogy to help clarify complicated things. And the European debt crisis is pretty complicated. The good news is that we think we've come up with exactly the right way to describe the whole sorry business - as Homer's Odyssey.

Earlier in the summer a study was published which seemed to suggest that acupuncture might help some patients with unexplained symptoms. Interesting. We asked Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP and a blogger on medical evidence, to investigate. But Dr McCartney thinks the study tells us about more than just acupuncture - it tells us something about the whole way in which treatments are administered on the NHS.

This summer, the Office for National Statistics celebrates seventy years of its social surveys. We've been looking back at their work, some of which is a little surprising. In November 1941 the Wartime Social Survey Unit undertook a major study of women's undergarments. The reason? Steel. Britain needed to know how much metal was being used to support the country's women, rather than the war effort.

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24012011120220111204
2402Children's Books2011120920111211Children's Books:

The National Literacy Trust said this week that one in three children does not own a book. The national media lamented, but we take a closer inspection of the report and the data collected, and find some better news.

Supermarket price wars:

Tim Harford and Anthony Reuben work out how all supermarkets can claim to be cheaper than each other, without being slapped down for false advertising.

Eurostats II:

We continue to scrutinise the enormous numbers emerging from the Eurozone crisis. Do Italian tax payers really pay 2 billion euros a year for their politicians to be chauffered around? Wesley Stephenson checks out the figures.

Amazing?

What are the odds of breaking four double-yolk eggs into your baking bowl, one after another? That's what happened to our colleague Jennifer Clarke and her friend Lynsey as they prepared profiteroles at the weekend. Tim Harford works out the probabilities for the amazed bakers...before Jennifer then breaks the remaining two eggs in the box...will they too be double yolkers?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Editor: Richard Vadon.

The maths of supermarket price wars and odds of cracking six double-yoke eggs in a row.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford and Anthony Reuben work out how all supermarkets can claim to be cheaper than each other, without being slapped down for false advertising.

Tim Harford works out the probabilities for the amazed bakers...before Jennifer then breaks the remaining two eggs in the box...will they too be double yolkers?

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

24032011121620111218Higgs Boson:

In the week that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that the most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, Tim Harford hears how everyone is getting confused about how to report statistical significance.

Robert Matthew of Aston University says the meaning of 2, 3 and 5-sigma evidence is being misinterpreted by science journalists and some of the physicists themselves.

Medieval mathematics:

Tim Harford talks to author Keith Devlin about how Fibonacci revolutionised trade by introducing medieval businessmen to simple arithmetic.

How (not) to corner a market:

Performance artist Jamie Moakes is trying to corner the market in a 1980s plastic doll from cartoon series He- Man.

Tim Harford explores the difficulties of Jamie's quest to push up the price of something that for many years no one has much wanted.

He hears from Professor Eric Smith of the University of Essex who says that there is no saying why certain items gain value, although in this instance Jamie may struggle to achieve his goal.

He also hears lessons from history from John Gapper of the Financial Times.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

More or Less is made in association with the Open University.

Higgs boson statistics; how to corner a market; and Fibonacci's medieval mathematics.

In the week that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that the most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, Tim Harford hears how everyone is getting confused about how to report statistical significance.

Tim Harford talks to author Keith Devlin about how Fibonacci revolutionised trade by introducing medieval businessmen to simple arithmetic.

Tim Harford explores the difficulties of Jamie's quest to push up the price of something that for many years no one has much wanted.

240499 V 1%:2011122320111225Tim Harford asks what we do and don't know about income inequality in the UK, the US, and other countries around the world. He speaks to Professor Sir Tony Atkinson of Oxford University; Stewart Lansley, author of 'The Cost of Inequality'; and Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University in Virginia.

Laughing in the face of risk:

David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University explains what led him to take on what could be his riskiest venture to date - appearing as a contestant on BBC One's Winter Wipeout. Really.

The magic of maths:

As a special Christmas treat, we're honoured to have a guest appearance from a top professor of maths and statistics - described by magician (and loyal listener) Paul Daniels as a 'legend'. Persi Diaconis, of Stanford University in California and co-author of "Magical Mathematics", has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy, and then, as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick - see the performance below.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford discusses income inequality and meets the professor appearing on TV's Wipeout.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University explains what led him to take on what could be his riskiest venture to date - appearing as a contestant on BBC One's Winter Wipeout. Really.

As a special Christmas treat, we're honoured to have a guest appearance from a top professor of maths and statistics - described by magician (and loyal listener) Paul Daniels as a 'legend'. Persi Diaconis, of Stanford University in California and co-author of "Magical Mathematics", has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy, and then, as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick - see the performance below.

24052011123020120101A guide to interesting, informative or just plain idiosyncratic numbers of the year. Plus, does probability really exist?

Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Owen Spottiswoode, Fullfact.org; Tracey Brown from Sense about Science; Jil Matheson, UK Statistics Authority; George Monbiot; Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust; Money Box presenter Paul Lewis; Sports Statistician, Robert Mastrodomenico; Dr Linda Yeuh Economics Correspondent at Bloomberg; Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker.

Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Owen Spottiswoode, Fullfact.org; Tracey Brown from Sense about Science; Jil Matheson, UK Statistics Authority; George Monbiot; Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust; Money Box presenter Paul Lewis; Sports Statistician, Robert Mastrodomenico; Dr Linda Yeuh Economics Correspondent at Bloomberg; Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker.

Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Owen Spottiswoode, Fullfact.org; Tracey Brown from Sense about Science; Jil Matheson, UK Statistics Authority; George Monbiot; Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust; Money Box presenter Paul Lewis; Sports Statistician, Robert Mastrodomenico; Dr Linda Yeuh Economics Correspondent at Bloomberg; Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker.

2406 LASTUsing Statistics In Court2012010620120108
2407 LASTHigh Speed 2 And Executive Pay2012011320120115
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25022012042720120429With Tim Harford. Rain and drought in numbers, the formula that changed Wall Street and then the world, and why Conservative MPs used to be taller than their Labour counterparts.
250304/05/20122012050420120506With Tim Harford. Austerity, border queues and bank holidays.

A grand economic experiment?

Are we witnessing a Grand Economic Experiment being played out between Britain, trying to cut its way out of trouble, and the United States, trying to spend its way to redemption?

Border brouhaha

Just how long have travellers been waiting to get through immigration at Heathrow Airport? We wade into a statistical slanging match between an airline operator and a Home Office minister.

Bank holidays

What are you planning to do with the bank holiday? Paint the bathroom? Listen to old podcasts of More or Less? Or DESTROY THE ECONOMY? Could it possibly be true that cancelling all eight regular bank holidays in England and Wales would boost GDP by 1.3%?

Choral coincidence

Lister Julia Atkins wrote: "I belong to a wonderful choir, Rock Chorus, in Milton Keynes. I discovered one evening that 3 new ladies had come along from Olney, 10 miles away. They all sat next to each other. They had never met before. But most extraordinary was that they all lived in the same road!! That's quite a combination of coincidences, I think you'll agree." Well, we'll see.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Lister Julia Atkins wrote: "I belong to a wonderful choir, Rock Chorus, in Milton Keynes. I discovered one evening that 3 new ladies had come along from Olney, 10 miles away. They all sat next to each other. They had never met before. But most extraordinary was that they all lived in the same road!! That's quite a combination of coincidences, I think you'll agree." Well, we'll see.

Lister Julia Atkins wrote: ""I belong to a wonderful choir, Rock Chorus, in Milton Keynes. I discovered one evening that 3 new ladies had come along from Olney, 10 miles away. They all sat next to each other. They had never met before. But most extraordinary was that they all lived in the same road!! That's quite a combination of coincidences, I think you'll agree."" Well, we'll see.

With Tim Harford. Austerity, border queues and bank holidays.

Presenter: Tim Harford

2504A Grand Economic Experiment?2012050520120506European austerity versus US stimulus.

Are we witnessing a grand economic experiment being played out between Europe, trying to cut its way out of trouble, and the United States, trying to spend its way to redemption?

2504Are Ceos Worth It2012051120120513
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250512/05/20122012051220120513Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2505120,000 Families Responsible For A Disproportionate Share Of Society's Ills2012051820120520
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2506 LAST27/04/201220120429
2506 LASTWould Firing Staff 'at Will' Boost The Economy?2012052520120527In this week's programme:

Fire "at will"?

The Beecroft Report has been stirring up controversy all week. But is there any evidence that the economy would be boosted if employers could fire their staff "at will", as Adrian Beecroft recommends? Professor John Van Reenan - director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics - can't find much.

Hard-working Greeks

One version of the Euro crisis story has it that hard-working Germans are bailing out lazy Greeks. But in fact Greek workers put in far longer hours than their German counterparts.

The maths of infidelity

It's a very commonly-held belief that men are less faithful than women. But it takes two to tango. So can this be mathematically possible?

Publication bias

If we on More or Less were only to report statistical errors, and never statistical triumphs, you could be forgiven for concluding that the world is full of numerical lies. That's "publication bias" - and it's a big problem in science, as Ben Goldacre explains.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Fire ""at will""?

The Beecroft Report has been stirring up controversy all week. But is there any evidence that the economy would be boosted if employers could fire their staff ""at will"", as Adrian Beecroft recommends? Professor John Van Reenan - director of the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics - can't find much.

If we on More or Less were only to report statistical errors, and never statistical triumphs, you could be forgiven for concluding that the world is full of numerical lies. That's ""publication bias"" - and it's a big problem in science, as Ben Goldacre explains.

Presenter: Tim Harford

One version of the Euro crisis story has it that hard-working Germans are bailing out lazy Greeks. But in fact Greek workers put in far longer hours than their German counterparts.

2507 LAST20/04/201220120422
2601Who Are The Libor Losers?2012071320120715How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system? Plus, investigating the claim made by a leading charity that a million British children are 'starving'.

In this week's programme:

Libor losers

How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system? After all, most financial trades are two way bets - and for every winner, there is a loser. Did the banks really pick our pockets as they manipulated Libor? Or were they just picking each others'?

A million starving children?

We investigate the claim made by a leading charity that a million British children are "starving".

Challenge Yan

Yan Wong from "Bang Goes the Theory" offers to answer any question More or Less listeners can throw at him.

Crunching the census

Late last March, you may remember filling in a form for the 2011 census. Whatever happened to that? Well, the first results for England, Wales and Northern Ireland are coming out next week. We find out what we'll be finding out.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

We investigate the claim made by a leading charity that a million British children are ""starving"".

Yan Wong from ""Bang Goes the Theory"" offers to answer any question More or Less listeners can throw at him.

Investigating the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

Presenter: Tim Harford

2602The Tour De France And The Statistics Of Cheating2012072020120722Can maths prove whether the Tour de France has successfully clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs? Also retirement and death, obesity stats and a deficit update.

Has the Tour cleaned up?

The Tour de France reaches its climax this week. Cycling, we are told, has finally cleaned up its act and clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But if it has, should we expect today's drug-free riders to be slower than their drug-fuelled forebears? Can statistics tell us whether the Tour de France really is cleaner than it was?

Will 90% of us be too fat by 2050?

Should companies such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola sponsor the Olympics? Well, who knows? But amid the arguments about the rights and wrongs of promoting burgers and fizzy drinks through sport, some suspicious obesity statistics have been belched into the debate.

Deficit update

Over the last few weeks government ministers have been repeatedly telling us that they have cut the deficit by a quarter. The government would like us to feel cheerful about this. But how impressed should we be?

Does when you retire influence when you die?

Every now and again on More or Less we investigate a statistical claim which is repeated again and again by people who can't quite remember where they heard it, but believe it to be true. Here's one: the earlier you retire, the longer you live. Is it true?

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Can maths prove whether the Tour de France has successfully clamped down on drugs?

Presenter: Tim Harford

2603Levelling The Playing Field2012072720120729Which countries punch above and below their weight at the Olympics? With Tim Harford.

Levelling the statistical playing field

If you adjust for the fact that some countries are richer than others, and some have more people in them, can we work out what the Olympic medal tally should look like, based only on those factors?

Gun control

Last week's mass-shooting at a cinema in Colorado has - not surprisingly - intensified America's bitter and long-running argument with itself about gun control. The argument is political and highly partisan. But it is also practical: would tighter gun laws actually lead to fewer gun deaths? You might think it's obvious that they would. But it seems the evidence isn't quite that clear.

Tax

The treasury minister David Gauke came in for some stick this week for arguing that people who pay plumbers and cleaners cash-in-hand, while not breaking the law, are immoral. Several commentators have argued that the problem is small beer compared to the huge amounts sheltered from the taxman by large companies and rich individuals. Are they right?

Leaders' mums

Listener Mike Shearing wrote to us after noticing that the mums of post-war US presidents seem to have died very late, while British prime ministerial mothers seem to die young. Had he - he asked - found something of significance? He certainly had.

How has Britain changed since 1908?

A new book by researchers at the House of Commons Library charts in numbers how Britain has changed since it hosted the 1908 Olympics. Their findings may surprise you.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Which countries punch above and below their weight at the Olympics? With Tim Harford.

Presenter: Tim Harford

2604How Extraordinary Is Ye Shiwen?2012080320120805Ye Shiwen's statistics, what's happening to homelessness, and TV's murder capital.

In this week's programme:

How extraordinary is Ye Shiwen?

There was controversy this week after Ye Shiwen, a young Chinese swimmer, won the 400 metre individual medley in fine style. A US swimming coach called the performance "disturbing", implying that she may have cheated. More or Less investigates the numbers and finds there's no statistical smoking gun.

Homelessness

Does the news that homelessness has risen by 25% mean that homelessness has risen by 25%? The simple answer is yes. But that word "homeless"; in the words of the great Inigo Montoya, I do not think it means what you think it means.

How many songs could ever be written?

TV's Yan Wong answers this listener's question: "I'm always amazed by the number of songs one can recognise on hearing the first second or two of music. Is it possible to calculate the total number of potential opening bars? Surely it must be finite?

The crime capital of television

We look for the most dangerous place in TV crime drama. Why? Because we can.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

There was controversy this week after Ye Shiwen, a young Chinese swimmer, won the 400 metre individual medley in fine style. A US swimming coach called the performance ""disturbing"", implying that she may have cheated. More or Less investigates the numbers and finds there's no statistical smoking gun.

Does the news that homelessness has risen by 25% mean that homelessness has risen by 25%? The simple answer is yes. But that word ""homeless""; in the words of the great Inigo Montoya, I do not think it means what you think it means.

TV's Yan Wong answers this listener's question: ""I'm always amazed by the number of songs one can recognise on hearing the first second or two of music. Is it possible to calculate the total number of potential opening bars? Surely it must be finite?"

Presenter: Tim Harford

2605How To Lose Money, Fast2012081020120812High-frequency trading, Trumptonomics and more medalling with the Olympics.

In this week's programme:

High frequency trading

Last week Knight Capital lost a lot of money very quickly. It was the latest chapter in the story of something called 'high frequency trading'. Investors have always valued being the first with the news. But high frequency trading is different: algorithms execute automatic trades, conducted by computers, at astonishing speeds. We ask: is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress, or - as some think - a threat to the stability of the entire financial system?

Medalling with the Olympics

While the Olympic medal table puts all UK successes together, some people have been tempted to peer under the surface. Scotland has been pronounced superior to England per head of population, while Yorkshire has been hailed as the number one county, beating Australia in the medals table. We check the sums.

A year after Trumptonshire's Treasurer (Con. T Harford) embarked on a round of public spending cuts which included sacking Fireman Dibble, we return to Trumpton to find out what happened next to the county's economy - and to poor old Dibble.

The geeks are coming

Mark Henderson discusses his new book, The Geek Manifesto, which argues for more scientific thinking in public life.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Presenter: Tim Harford

While the Olympic medal table puts all UK successes together, some people have been tempted to peer under the surface. Scotland has been pronounced superior to England per head of population, while Yorkshire has been hailed as the number one county, beating Australia in the medals table. We check the sums.

2606 LASTThe Great Playing Field Sell Off?2012081720120819How many school playing fields have really been sold off? Presented by Tim Harford.

Playing the fields

The Olympics were supposed to inspire a generation to take up sport. No wonder, then, that people are depressed about the government's record of selling off playing fields. But what do the numbers really tell us?

RIP RPI?

We explain why a weird flaw in the way the retail price index (a key inflation measure) is calculated is dry and technical - but far more important than you might think.

David's line

Our final listener question for TV's Yan Wong: If Solomon - son of King David - had about a thousand wives and concubines, as the Bible says, wouldn't it be the case that by the time of Jesus - many generations later - pretty much everyone in Israel could claim to be a descendant of King David?

20mph roads

It was reported recently that the number of people killed or injured on 20mph roads has risen by nearly a quarter. Does that mean 20mph roads are less safe than we thought? Or is there another explanation?

Thinking in Numbers

On More or Less we think numbers help us to understand the world. But for Daniel Tammet, they're a lot more important than that. For him, numbers don't just help him to understand the real world. They're his ticket to being a part of it. We've been talking to Daniel - a mathematical savant - about his new book, "Thinking in Numbers".

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

On More or Less we think numbers help us to understand the world. But for Daniel Tammet, they're a lot more important than that. For him, numbers don't just help him to understand the real world. They're his ticket to being a part of it. We've been talking to Daniel - a mathematical savant - about his new book, ""Thinking in Numbers"".

How many school playing fields have really been sold off? Presented by Tim Harford.

On More or Less we think numbers help us to understand the world. But for Daniel Tammet, they're a lot more important than that. For him, numbers don't just help him to understand the real world. They're his ticket to being a part of it. We've been talking to Daniel - a mathematical savant - about his new book, ""Thinking in Numbers"".

Presenter: Tim Harford

2701Ash Dieback And Fergie-time2012112320121125Ash Dieback. Did the disease really kill 90 percent of ash trees in Denmark? Is this really a good comparator for the UK and have 100,000 trees really been 'felled' in the UK?

Fiscal Multipliers. The International Monetary Fund has admitted that it got its fiscal multipliers wrong when forecasting growth. This could have huge consequences in assessing whether or not austerity at a time of deep recession is the right way forward. But what does this mean for the Treasurer of Trumpton Tim Harford after he sacked Dibble the fireman last year as part of his cutbacks.

Cod - we show how wrong the headline 'There are only 100 cod left in the North Sea' actually is.

Fergie-time. Does Fergie-time exist? Do Manchester United get more injury time than other top teams when they're drawing or behind?

Tim Harford returns with a new series looking at the numbers in the news.

Ash Dieback. Did the disease really kill 90 percent of ash trees in Denmark? Is this really a good comparator for the UK and have 100,000 trees really been 'felled' in the UK?

Fiscal Multipliers. The International Monetary Fund has admitted that it got its fiscal multipliers wrong when forecasting growth. This could have huge consequences in assessing whether or not austerity at a time of deep recession is the right way forward. But what does this mean for the Treasurer of Trumpton Tim Harford after he sacked Dibble the fireman last year as part of his cutbacks.

Cod - we show how wrong the headline 'There are only 100 cod left in the North Sea' actually is.

2702The Art Of Polling, Kevin Pietersen, Stacking Lego20121130Tim Harford looks at opinion polling, the consistency of Kevin Pietersen's batting, and how high you can stack Lego bricks.

On More or Less this week Tim Harford looks at three polls carried out to gauge the public's opinion on press regulation gave vastly different answers despite being carried out by the same polling company. Tim talks to the Peter Kellner, President of online polling company YouGov.

Would you send Kevin Pietersen out to bat if your life depended on him scoring a century?

Have two thirds of millionaires really left the country as claimed by the Daily Telegraph this week?

What percentage of drinks might be affected by the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol.

And how high could you build a Lego tower before the bottom brick collapses? Ruth Alexander dons her safety goggles to find out?

On More or Less this week Tim Harford looks at three polls carried out to gauge the public's opinion on press regulation gave vastly different answers despite being carried out by the same polling company. Tim talks to the Peter Kellner, President of online polling company YouGov.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

27032012120720121209Tim Harford asks what severe morning sickness tells us about the chances of having twins, and looks at the Chancellor's Autumn Statement to find the bigger picture of the economy.

Tim Harford asks what severe morning sickness tells us about the chances of having twins, and looks at the Chancellor's Autumn Statement to find the bigger picture of the economy.

2704The Census And What Is - Rare2012121420121216Tim Harford looks at why the estimate for Eastern Europeans coming to the UK was so wrong and asks, what does 'rare' mean?

Tim Harford looks at why the estimate for Eastern Europeans coming to the UK was so wrong and asks, what does 'rare' mean?

2705Fact-checking Us Gun Crime Statistics2012122120121223Tim Harford investigates gun crime statistics in the US. Plus, questioning the average age of first-time buyers, whether chocolate makes you clever and the maths of juggling.

Tim Harford investigates gun crime statistics in the US. Plus, questioning the average age of first-time buyers, whether chocolate makes you clever and the maths of juggling.

2706 LASTNumbers Of 20122012122820121230Tim Harford and guests look back at the most surprising statistics of 2012.

A guide to 2012 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees.

Contributors: Robert Peston, BBC's Business Editor; Dr Pippa Wells, physicist at CERN; Bill Edgar, author of Back of the Net One Hundred Golden Goals; Gabriella Lebrecht, sports analyst at Decision Technology; Helen Joyce, Brazil correspondent for The Economist; Jack Straw, Member of Parliament for Blackburn; Jil Matheson, the UK's National Statistician; Dr James Grime, from the Millennium Mathematics Project at the University of Cambridge; Gillian Tett, columnist and assistant editor of the Financial Times; David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University

Presenter: Tim Harford.

Producer: Charlotte Pritchard.

Tim Harford and guests look back at the most surprising statistics of 2012.

Contributors: Robert Peston, BBC's Business Editor; Dr Pippa Wells, physicist at CERN; Bill Edgar, author of Back of the Net One Hundred Golden Goals; Gabriella Lebrecht, sports analyst at Decision Technology; Helen Joyce, Brazil correspondent for The Economist; Jack Straw, Member of Parliament for Blackburn; Jil Matheson, the UK's National Statistician; Dr James Grime, from the Millennium Mathematics Project at the University of Cambridge; Gillian Tett, columnist and assistant editor of the Financial Times; David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University

Presenter: Tim Harford.

2707 LASTThe Parable Of The Ox2013010420130106Tim Harford explains what a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition can tell us about a bloated and dysfunctional financial system.

2801Austerity, Thatcher, Mozart And Dead Birds2013050320130505Tim Harford talks to a student whose work raises questions about austerity policies.

Austerity: a spreadsheet error?

Tim Harford tells the story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts. In 2010, two Harvard economists published an academic study, which showed that when government debt rises above 90% of annual economic output, growth falls significantly. As politicians tried to find answers to the global economic crisis, ""Growth in a Time of Debt"" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff was cited by some of the key figures making the case for tough debt-cutting measures in the US and Europe. But, in the course of a class project, student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

Interviewees: Thomas Herndon, University of Massachusetts student; Professor Michael Ash, University of Massachusetts; Professor Daniel Hamermesh, Royal Holloway, University of London; Megan McArdle, special correspondent for Newsweek and The Daily Beast.

Margaret Thatcher in Numbers:

Baroness Thatcher was Britain's first female prime minister and one of the most influential political figures of the 20th Century. She was a pioneer of free market economics, helping to spread the ideas around the world. But the Iron lady was a divisive figure with passionate supporters and critics. Both hold to strong beliefs about what she did. But what does the data tell us about the many claims made about Mrs Thatcher?

With special thanks for the journalism of Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot.

Interviewees: Professor Andrew Oswald, Warwick University; Professor Alissa Goodman, Institute of Education; Professor Nick Crafts, Warwick University.

A mathematical reading of the Magic Flute:

Hear Professor Marcus du Sautoy's mathematical reading of the Magic Flute, presented at London's Royal Opera House. Mozart's final opera, The Magic Flute, premiered just 10 weeks before the composer's death and was the biggest popular hit of his life. With its panto-style storyline and catchy tunes, it's said to be one of the most accessible operas for the uninitiated. But there's an awful lot going on beneath the jokes and the musical notes.

Birds + Windows =?

In America each day, more than 2 million birds die crashing into window panes."" A fact from a recent episode of BBC Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth. But More or Less refused to believe - and started investigating.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford talks to a student whose work raises questions about austerity policies.

Tim Harford tells the story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts. In 2010, two Harvard economists published an academic study, which showed that when government debt rises above 90% of annual economic output, growth falls significantly. As politicians tried to find answers to the global economic crisis, "Growth in a Time of Debt" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff was cited by some of the key figures making the case for tough debt-cutting measures in the US and Europe. But, in the course of a class project, student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

Margaret Thatcher in Numbers:

With special thanks for the journalism of Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot.

In America each day, more than 2 million birds die crashing into window panes." A fact from a recent episode of BBC Radio 4's The Unbelievable Truth. But More or Less refused to believe - and started investigating.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Tim Harford tells the story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts. In 2010, two Harvard economists published an academic study, which showed that when government debt rises above 90% of annual economic output, growth falls significantly. As politicians tried to find answers to the global economic crisis, ""Growth in a Time of Debt"" by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff was cited by some of the key figures making the case for tough debt-cutting measures in the US and Europe. But, in the course of a class project, student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

2802The True Age Of Your Dog, And How Much Does The Eu Cost2013051020130512
28032013051720130519As Angelina Jolie announces an 87% cancer risk prompted her to have a double mastectomy, Tim Harford assesses the numbers. Plus, has the UK been hit by a Romanian crime wave?

As Angelina Jolie announces an 87% cancer risk prompted her to have a double mastectomy, Tim Harford assesses the numbers. Plus, has the UK been hit by a Romanian crime wave?

2804Economics Of Scottish Independence - Ryanair Punctuality2013052420130526Tim Harford on the economics of an independent Scotland, Ryanair's boast about flight punctuality, Eurovision voting, why millions of science papers may be wrong, and cat years.

Tim Harford on the economics of an independent Scotland, Ryanair's boast about flight punctuality, Eurovision voting, why millions of science papers may be wrong, and cat years.

28052013053120130602Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.
2806 LASTA&e, And The Chances Of Having Twins2013060720130609Tim Harford explores the world of official statistics, and what are the chances of having multiple sets of twins?

Tim Harford explores the world of official statistics, and what are the chances of having multiple sets of twins?

2901What Price The Life Of A Badger?2013083020130901Have blundering doctors and nurses have really killed 13,000 people? This was widely reported alongside the publication of the Keogh Report into standards of care at 14 NHS hospital trusts in England. Tim Harford finds out how so-called 'excess' deaths are calculated, and whether they're the best measure of hospital standards.

And, apparently, it's a fact that if there's one thing that's worse for you than drinking, scoffing bacon sandwiches and smoking 80 unfiltered cigarettes a day, it's being left-handed. Left-handers die on average several years earlier than right-handers. Or do they? Tim gets to the bottom of a sinister statistic.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Has the government taken into account the worth of a badger's life in any cost-benefit analysis of the controversial badger cull, which is taking place to tackle the spread of tuberculosis among cattle? Tim Harford considers the problem. And the government aims to kill 70% of badgers in the two cull zones, but Tim discovers that such precision might be tricky. It's terribly difficult to count badgers, you see.

Plus, have blundering doctors and nurses really killed 13,000 people? This was widely reported alongside the publication of the Keogh Report into standards of care at 14 NHS hospital trusts in England. Tim Harford finds out how so-called 'excess' deaths are calculated, and whether they're the best measure of hospital standards.

The shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has warned that climate change is going to create 200 million more migrants. But More or Less discovers that migration experts disagree.

And, always down with the cool kids, Tim discovers more about this buzz phrase, ""big data"". Companies and governments are releasing large datasets about us, with our identities obscured, for the purposes of marketing - or even, occasionally, for the purposes of public understanding. But might those apparently anonymous datasets be telling the world our darkest secrets?

Have blundering doctors and nurses have really killed 13,000 people? This was widely reported alongside the publication of the Keogh Report into standards of care at 14 NHS hospital trusts in England. Tim Harford finds out how so-called 'excess' deaths are calculated, and whether they're the best measure of hospital standards.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Has the government taken into account the worth of a badger's life in any cost-benefit analysis of the controversial badger cull, which is taking place to tackle the spread of tuberculosis among cattle? Tim Harford considers the problem. And the government aims to kill 70% of badgers in the two cull zones, but Tim discovers that such precision might be tricky. It's terribly difficult to count badgers, you see.

Plus, have blundering doctors and nurses really killed 13,000 people? This was widely reported alongside the publication of the Keogh Report into standards of care at 14 NHS hospital trusts in England. Tim Harford finds out how so-called 'excess' deaths are calculated, and whether they're the best measure of hospital standards.

The shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has warned that climate change is going to create 200 million more migrants. But More or Less discovers that migration experts disagree.

And, always down with the cool kids, Tim discovers more about this buzz phrase, "big data". Companies and governments are releasing large datasets about us, with our identities obscured, for the purposes of marketing - or even, occasionally, for the purposes of public understanding. But might those apparently anonymous datasets be telling the world our darkest secrets?

2902The Death Toll In Syria2013090620130908Investigating the numbers in the news.

As global leaders remain divided on whether to carry out a military strike against Syria in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons against its people, Tim Harford looks at the different claims made about how many people have been killed. The United States, the UK and France are sharing intelligence, but all quote different estimates of how many people they think died in the attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Tim speaks to Kelly Greenhill, a professor of political science at Tufts University in the US, and co-author of Sex, Drugs and Body Counts about why the numbers vary so widely. And he speaks to Megan Price from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who has been trying to keep a tally of the deaths in Syria since the conflict began.

The cost of care has forced a million families to sell their homes in the past five years, according to the Daily Telegraph. It's quoting research commissioned by NFU Mutual and carried out by ICM. But Tim Harford spots some tell-tale signs that the survey respondents may not all have been telling the truth.

What can statistics tell us about the safety of Super Puma helicopters, used by the offshore oil and gas industry? Tim Harford looks at the numbers, following a fatal accident off Shetland in August - the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Apparently, it's a fact that if there's one thing that's worse for you than drinking, scoffing bacon sandwiches and smoking 80 unfiltered cigarettes a day, it's being left-handed. Left-handers die on average several years earlier than right-handers. Or do they? Tim gets to the bottom of a sinister statistic with Professor Chris McManus, author of Right Hand, Left Hand.

More than 300,000 attempts were made to access pornographic websites at the Houses of Parliament in the past year, official records suggest. But with 15 attempts made in one month and almost 115,000 in another, the figures themselves raised an eyebrow at More or Less HQ - they just don't make sense. Tim speaks to Fergus Reid from Parliament's ICT team.

And finally, was Labour MP Fiona Mactaggart right to calculate that Britons have spent 76 centuries hanging on the phone to get through to government departments in just one year? She checks her sums.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

As global leaders remain divided on whether to carry out a military strike against Syria in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons against its people, Tim Harford looks at the different claims made about how many people have been killed. The United States, the UK and France are sharing intelligence, but all quote different estimates of how many people they think died in the attack by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces. Tim speaks to Kelly Greenhill, a professor of political science at Tufts University in the US, and co-author of Sex, Drugs and Body Counts about why the numbers vary so widely. And he speaks to Megan Price from the Human Rights Data Analysis Group who has been trying to keep a tally of the deaths in Syria since the conflict began.

The cost of care has forced a million families to sell their homes in the past five years, according to the Daily Telegraph. It's quoting research commissioned by NFU Mutual and carried out by ICM. But Tim Harford spots some tell-tale signs that the survey respondents may not all have been telling the truth.

What can statistics tell us about the safety of Super Puma helicopters, used by the offshore oil and gas industry? Tim Harford looks at the numbers, following a fatal accident off Shetland in August - the fifth incident involving Super Pumas in the North Sea since 2009.

Presenter: Tim Harford

2903How Long Can You Wait To Have A Baby?2013091320130915Tim Harford discusses fertility statistics, the GDP and Africa's 'drinking problem'.

How long can you wait until you try to have a baby? Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late thirties shouldn't be as anxious about their prospects as is commonly assumed. She's been amazed to discover that key fertility statistics come from studies based on people who lived several hundred years ago - before electricity was even invented. Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes find fertility experts agree that the modern woman's prospects are better than is often thought.

The economy's turning a corner, the Chancellor George Osborne says. Is that the case? Tim Harford takes a closer look at the numbers.

Almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape, it's been reported. The headlines have been sparked by a UN report, which looks at violence against women in parts of Asia. Are the numbers of rapists really this high? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look into the detail of the study.

Russia is rumoured to have dismissed Britain as a 'small island' who no one listens to. But, Tim Harford discovers, we're actually rather large, as islands go.

Africa has a drinking problem"". So says Time Magazine. More or Less discovers a more mixed picture. As fact-checking website Africa Check has noted, a closer look at the figures shows wide variations between countries and that a large proportion of African people are teetotal. However, Tim Harford finds that the figures also suggest that those who do drink are drinking a lot.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford discusses fertility statistics, the GDP and Africa's 'drinking problem'.

How long can you wait until you try to have a baby? Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late thirties shouldn't be as anxious about their prospects as is commonly assumed. She's been amazed to discover that key fertility statistics come from studies based on people who lived several hundred years ago - before electricity was even invented. Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes find fertility experts agree that the modern woman's prospects are better than is often thought.

The economy's turning a corner, the Chancellor George Osborne says. Is that the case? Tim Harford takes a closer look at the numbers.

Almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape, it's been reported. The headlines have been sparked by a UN report, which looks at violence against women in parts of Asia. Are the numbers of rapists really this high? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look into the detail of the study.

Russia is rumoured to have dismissed Britain as a 'small island' who no one listens to. But, Tim Harford discovers, we're actually rather large, as islands go.

Africa has a drinking problem"". So says Time Magazine. More or Less discovers a more mixed picture. As fact-checking website Africa Check has noted, a closer look at the figures shows wide variations between countries and that a large proportion of African people are teetotal. However, Tim Harford finds that the figures also suggest that those who do drink are drinking a lot.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Africa has a drinking problem". So says Time Magazine. More or Less discovers a more mixed picture. As fact-checking website Africa Check has noted, a closer look at the figures shows wide variations between countries and that a large proportion of African people are teetotal. However, Tim Harford finds that the figures also suggest that those who do drink are drinking a lot.

2904Do Free School Meals Work?2013092020130922Tim Harford on free school meals, the Formula 1 film Rush, plastic bags and cycling risk.

All pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced. It follows a pilot study, which seemed to show that giving free food to primary school children was good for their academic performance. But Tim Harford discovers that a closer look at the evidence reveals the results were not that clear-cut.

'I accept every time I get in my car, there's a 20% chance I could die'. It's a line from the Formula 1 hit film, Rush. Spoken by the racing driver Niki Lauda's character. Formula 1 was certainly a dangerous sport during the 1970s, but was it really that dangerous? More or Less looks at the data.

Is it true that it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade? It's a popular claim, but More or Less finds the environmental facts about plastic bags are much less certain than that statistic suggests.

Do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of injury? The Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University, David Spiegelhalter, goes through the numbers.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of injury? The Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University, David Spiegelhalter, goes through the numbers.

Tim Harford on free school meals, the Formula 1 film Rush, plastic bags and cycling risk.

All pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September, the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has announced. It follows a pilot study, which seemed to show that giving free food to primary school children was good for their academic performance. But Tim Harford discovers that a closer look at the evidence reveals the results were not that clear-cut.

Presenter: Tim Harford

29052013092720130929
2906 LASTAn Army Of Drunk Children?2013100420131006Investigating the numbers in the news.

Are hundreds of young children visiting A&E because of alcohol? Tim Harford investigates.

Are hundreds of young children visiting A and E because of alcohol? Plus, an update on the Trumptonshire economy. And has the mosquito killed half the people who have ever lived?

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Are hundreds of young children visiting A&E because of alcohol? Tim Harford investigates.

Presenter: Tim Harford

30012013122020131222

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

episode-b03lsdgj.jpg

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3002Numbers Of The Year2013122720131229

The most informative, revealing and idiosyncratic statistics of 2013, with Tim Harford

A guide to 2013 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees.

Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC chief business correspondent; Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets; Dr Pippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Paul Lewis; presenter of BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme; Dr Hannah Fry, Centre of the Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London; Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, comedian.

Producer: Ben Carter

The most informative, revealing and idiosyncratic statistics of 2013, with Tim Harford.

Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC chief business correspondent; Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets; Dr Pippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Paul Lewis; presenter of BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme; Dr Hannah Fry, Centre of the Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London; Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, comedian.

Producer: Ben Carter.

3003The Power Of Pension Fees2014010320140105

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3004The Week That Kills2014011020140112

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3005Fact-checking Obesity Crisis Claims2014011720140119

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3006Counting The Contribution Of Immigrants2014012420140126

Now the initial furore about Romanian and Bulgarian people being allowed to work in the UK has subsided, what does a more detailed look at immigration statistics tell us about the benefits, or otherwise, of welcoming overseas citizens? The picture is mixed, More or Less discovers.

Today, by the age of 60, more than twice as many women as men are single,"" according to a recent article in The Guardian. ""Older men are often living with younger women, which is why twice as many young men as young women live alone,"" author Lynne Segal wrote. Can this be right? Charlottle McDonald investigates.

Do two large glasses of wine triple your risk of mouth cancer, as claimed on an NHS leaflet spotted by a sceptical listener? Tim Harford examines the difficulties of extracting smoking from the equation.

Surprising as this may seem, one of the world's best tennis players of all time, Roger Federer, is also the worst ranked player on one scale. The scoring system makes it possible to lose a match despite winning more points, and Federer has lost the highest percentage of these types of games. Tim speaks to sports number-cruncher Ryan Rodenberg about why this might be the case.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford presents a detailed looked at the impact immigration has on the public purse.

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents a detailed looked at the impact immigration has on the public purse.

Do two large glasses of wine triple your risk of mouth cancer, as claimed on an NHS leaflet spotted by a sceptical listener? Tim Harford examines the difficulties of extracting smoking from the equation.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Today, by the age of 60, more than twice as many women as men are single," according to a recent article in The Guardian. "Older men are often living with younger women, which is why twice as many young men as young women live alone," author Lynne Segal wrote. Can this be right? Charlottle McDonald investigates.

3007 LASTThe 50p Tax Rate2014013120140202

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford presents the series that investigates the numbers in the news.

31012014050220140504

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3102Food Bank Britain2014050920140511

Recent newspaper headlines tell us a million people are using food banks in Britain. Labour say it's a disgrace and getting worse, and the Prime Minister says the figure rose tenfold under Labour.

Are any of these numbers right? What do we really know about how many people are using food banks, and does this tell us anything about whether food poverty is increasing?

Tim Harford remembers Gary Becker, the Nobel prize winning economist who did more than anyone else to extend the tools of economic analysis to the problems of everyday life.

Alex Bellos tells the story of The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales. The book's author became a superstar in Brazil, but he also had a surprising story of his own.

And was Roger Bannister really the first person to run a four minute mile, or did 18th century fruit and vegetable seller James Parrott beat him to it? We hear the case in Parrott's favour from a former Olympic sprinter with a passion for 18th Century running statistics.

Recent newspaper headlines tell us a million people are using food banks in Britain. Labour say it's a disgrace and getting worse, and the Prime Minister says the figure rose tenfold under Labour.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

Tim Harford remembers Gary Becker, the Nobel prize winning economist who did more than anyone else to extend the tools of economic analysis to the problems of everyday life.

Alex Bellos tells the story of The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales. The book's author became a superstar in Brazil, but he also had a surprising story of his own.

31032014051620140518

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3104Romanian Crime2014052320140525

Are Romanians responsible for more crime than other nationalities?

UKIP have put concerns about Romanian crime back in the news. Tim Harford investigates whether the statistics they're quoting are accurate. And what about the broader point - is it true that Romanians are responsible for more crime than other nationalities?

We discuss a famous probability puzzle involving goats and game shows with German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Is he right to suggest in his new book 'Risk Savvy' that we really don't understand risk and uncertainty.

Is it true, as our listeners heard on the Today programme, that globally 24,000 people die every year from lightning strikes?

More or Less listeners also test their analytical abilities on another problem - how old will you be before you're guaranteed to celebrate a major, round-number birthday (like 40 or 50) on a weekend?

And is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption? It sounds ridiculous, but you might be tempted to believe it if you saw the graphs side by side. It's one of many pairs of statistics featured on the 'Spurious Correlations' website started recently by Tyler Vigen. We talk to him about some of the funniest correlations he's found and the serious point he's trying to make.

UKIP have put concerns about Romanian crime back in the news. Tim Harford investigates whether the statistics they're quoting are accurate. And what about the broader point - is it true that Romanians are responsible for more crime than other nationalities?

3105The Piketty Affair2014053020140601

Did 'rock-star' French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong? His theories about rising inequality and the increasing importance of capital have been the talk of the economic and political worlds this year. And part of their appeal has been the massive amount of data Piketty has brought together to back them.

But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty's data on wealth, and says this undermines his claims about rising inequality. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty's response.

Is there any truth to the catchy 'statistic' doing the rounds that there's as much land given over to golf courses as housing in England. More or Less gets out the tape measure and sizes up the country's fairways and putting greens, its rooftops and gardens to find out.

And we examine two stories in the news this week - is racism on the rise in Britain, and should we be concerned that several young men who have died recently were players of the video game Call of Duty?

(Image: Best Selling Economist Author Thomas Piketty Speaks At UC Berkeley. Credit: Getty Images)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty's data on wealth, and says this undermines his claims about rising inequality. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty's response.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3106 LASTWhat Is Scottish Independence Worth?2014060620140608

Scottish independence - yes or no? Which will line your pocket more? The Scottish government says a Yes vote will leave Scots £1000 each better off; the UK treasury says a No vote means a £1400 bonus for Scots. More or Less looks at exactly what these claims mean, the key assumptions underlying them, and asks whether either number is likely to be accurate.

We return to a 'zombie' statistic that's risen again after being struck down on the programme earlier this year. The claim that each year 100,000 Christians are martyred around the world wasn't true when we looked at it in January, but that didn't stop The Times featuring it in a recent editorial.

Freakonomics guru Stephen Levitt joins us to talk about an unusual experiment - getting people to agree to make major life decisions based on the toss of a coin. Is this really good social science? And what do the results tell us about decision making and happiness?

And it's World Cup Office Sweepstake time, so Tim Harford peels the probability onion to help a listener decide the ideal sweepstake strategy, and lifts the lid on our own office sweepstake design.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

And it's World Cup Office Sweepstake time, so Tim Harford peels the probability onion to help a listener decide the ideal sweepstake strategy, and lifts the lid on our own office sweepstake design.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3107 LAST2014061320140615

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

32012014081520140817

Investigating the numbers in the news.

32022014082220140824

Investigating the numbers in the news.

3203How Deadly Is Ebola?2014082920140831

Tim Harford scrutinises claims made about the outbreak. Plus guide dogs, prisons and ATOS.

Media reports are suggesting that as many as 12,000 people may have Ebola in West Africa, but experts tell More or Less that's not the case. It's also said that Ebola kills up to 90% of victims, but while that's true of one outbreak, the death rate in other Ebola outbreaks has varied widely. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look at what we know about how dangerous Ebola is, how bad the latest outbreak is, what factors might influence whether people survive once they're infected, and how likely it is that there might be an outbreak of the virus in the UK.

Have 25% of guide dogs in London been hit by a cyclist? Tim Harford fact-checks the numbers behind a questionable headline.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said an 'unexpected' rise in the prison population is in part driven by 700 more sex offenders being sentenced this year than last. But is this really what's driving the numbers? Tim Harford speaks to Carol Hedderman, visiting scholar in criminology at University Of Cambridge.

Internet rumours abound that 10,600 people have died within six weeks of being pronounced fit to work. But the numbers are not quite all they seem. Tim Harford takes a close look at them with Tom Chivers of The Daily Telegraph.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Media reports are suggesting that as many as 12,000 people may have Ebola in West Africa, but experts tell More or Less that's not the case. It's also said that Ebola kills up to 90% of victims, but while that's true of one outbreak, the death rate in other Ebola outbreaks has varied widely. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look at what we know about how dangerous Ebola is, how bad the latest outbreak is, what factors might influence whether people survive once they're infected, and how likely it is that there might be an outbreak of the virus in the UK.

Have 25% of guide dogs in London been hit by a cyclist? Tim Harford fact-checks the numbers behind a questionable headline.

The Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has said an 'unexpected' rise in the prison population is in part driven by 700 more sex offenders being sentenced this year than last. But is this really what's driving the numbers? Tim Harford speaks to Carol Hedderman, visiting scholar in criminology at University Of Cambridge.

Internet rumours abound that 10,600 people have died within six weeks of being pronounced fit to work. But the numbers are not quite all they seem. Tim Harford takes a close look at them with Tom Chivers of The Daily Telegraph.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Tim Harford scrutinises claims made about the outbreak. Plus guide dogs, prisons and ATOS.

32042014090520140907

Investigating the numbers in the news.

32052014091220140914Investigating the numbers in the news with Tim Harford

Investigating the numbers in the news with Tim Harford.

32062014091920140921
3207 LASTThe Barnett Formula2014092620140928This week Tim Harford explains the Barnett Formula with a bit of help from Money Box's Paul Lewis and Alan Trench from University College London.

He looks at Ed Balls sleight of hand in his speech to the Labour Party Conference with Carl Emmerson from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

Is Ed Miliband's promise on NHS funding really worse than the funding increases delivered by Margaret Thatcher? Tim asks John Appleby Chief Economist at The think-tank The Kings Fund.

And how do we know how far away is the sun really is? Astrophysicist, Andrew Pontzen from University College London explains all.

Tim Harford explains the Barnett Formula and asks why it is so maligned.

Tim Harford explains the Barnett Formula and asks why it is so maligned.

This week Tim Harford explains the Barnett Formula with a bit of help from Money Box's Paul Lewis and Alan Trench from University College London.

Is Ed Miliband's promise on NHS funding really worse than the funding increases delivered by Margaret Thatcher? Tim asks John Appleby Chief Economist at The think-tank The Kings Fund.

3301Numbers Of The Year 20142015010220150104 (R4)Tim Harford and guests look back at some of the weird and wonderful numbers of 2014.

Tim Harford and guests look back at some of the weird and wonderful numbers of 2014. Featuring contributions from Evan Davis, Sir David Spiegelhalter, Helen Joyce, Nick Robinson, Helen Arney, Pippa Malmgren, Paul Lewis and Carlos Vilalta.

33022015010920150111 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

33032015011620150118 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3304Is Anti-semitism Widespread In The Uk?2015012320150125 (R4)

Are 95% of hate crimes in the UK directed against Jewish people? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander fact-check an unlikely statistic. Meanwhile the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) says surveys show that almost half of adults believe at least one anti-Semitic statement shown them to be true and that half of British Jews believe Jews may have no long-term future in the UK. But how robust are these findings? More or Less speaks to Gideon Falter, chairman of the CAA and Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Who is in the global 1% of wealthiest people, and where do they live?

More than 200 of the MPS voting on the 2012 NHS reform have recent or current financial connections to private healthcare, a recent editorial in the British Medical Journal claimed. Richard Vadon and Keith Moore explain why it's not true.

Sixty bodies in 6 years - is a serial killer stalking the canals of Great Manchester? Hannah Moore investigates a theory first raised by the Star on Sunday's crime editor Scott Hesketh.

Plus the programme hears from Professor Carlos Vilalta from the University of California San Diego and Steven Dudley from Insight Crime about claims that ""98% of homicides in Mexico are unsolved."" A shocking statistic, but is it true?

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

Tim Harford asks if the majority of hate crime in the UK is directed against Jewish people

Are 95% of hate crimes in the UK directed against Jewish people? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander fact-check an unlikely statistic. Meanwhile the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism (CAA) says surveys show that almost half of adults believe at least one anti-Semitic statement shown them to be true and that half of British Jews believe Jews may have no long-term future in the UK. But how robust are these findings? More or Less speaks to Gideon Falter, chairman of the CAA and Jonathan Boyd, executive director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research.

Plus the programme hears from Professor Carlos Vilalta from the University of California San Diego and Steven Dudley from Insight Crime about claims that "98% of homicides in Mexico are unsolved." A shocking statistic, but is it true?

Presenter: Tim Harford

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3305Cameron's 1000 Jobs2015013020150201 (R4)

David Cameron says that the Conservatives have created 1000 jobs for every day they've been in office. Is this true?

Do dairy farmers make a loss on each litre of milk that they produce, as is often claimed? Charlotte Smith from Farming Today talks us through the numbers.

England cricketer Stuart Broad has prompted anger after tweeting: ""I've heard if you earn minimum wage in England you're in the top 10% earners in the world. #stay #humble."" More or Less considers whether this is true or not.

The UK's unhappiest workers are retail staff and teachers, reported the Guardian this week. Really?

How to use maths to find your life partner, with Matt Parker, author of ""Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension"".

And, what are the chances that two friends, given the same due date for their babies' birth, actually do give birth on the same day? Tim discusses the reliability - or otherwise- of pregnancy due dates with Professor Jason Gardosi of the Perinatal Institute.

About one-third of American girls become pregnant as teenagers"" a New York Times article claimed. More or Less asks if this is true and looks at the long-term pregnancy trends in developed countries.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

David Cameron says that the Conservatives have created 1000 jobs for every day they've been in office. Is this true?

Do dairy farmers make a loss on each litre of milk that they produce, as is often claimed? Charlotte Smith from Farming Today talks us through the numbers.

England cricketer Stuart Broad has prompted anger after tweeting: "I've heard if you earn minimum wage in England you're in the top 10% earners in the world. #stay #humble." More or Less considers whether this is true or not.

The UK's unhappiest workers are retail staff and teachers, reported the Guardian this week. Really?

How to use maths to find your life partner, with Matt Parker, author of "Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension".

And, what are the chances that two friends, given the same due date for their babies' birth, actually do give birth on the same day? Tim discusses the reliability - or otherwise- of pregnancy due dates with Professor Jason Gardosi of the Perinatal Institute.

About one-third of American girls become pregnant as teenagers" a New York Times article claimed. More or Less asks if this is true and looks at the long-term pregnancy trends in developed countries.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3306 LASTIs Strenuous Jogging Bad For You?2015020620150208
20150208 (R4)
Tim Harford asks whether claims that keen runners might be damaging their health are really true? Joggers will find comfort from an NHS Behind the Headlines analysis of the numbers by Alissia White of consulting firm Bazian.

Has the new tuition fees regime saved money? Newsnight's Chris Cook talks Tim through the numbers.

Is infidelity among cruise ship passengers rife?

How many political seats are genuinely safe? David Cowling, editor of BBC Political Research, looks at the numbers.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news and in life.

3401The Election In Numbers2015050120150503 (R4)How have the political parties used statistics in their election campaigns?

On the eve of the UK's general election, Tim Harford examines some of the biggest statistics discussed by politicians in their campaigns. From zero hours contracts to the benefits of scrapping non-dom tax status, we attempt to demystify and unpick some of the figures behind a number of policies announced. Plus, how will people vote on the night? We give our thoughts on trends to watch for on the night.

How much sex do we have? David Spiegelhalter explains the bedroom habits of the British - what are we doing, how often, and has it changed?

Have 40% of newly qualified teachers quit after their first year of work? This is a statistic that was widely reported earlier this year that gives the impression that teaching profession is suffering a crisis. But do the figures really suggest this dramatic exodus of new teachers?

On the eve of the UK's general election, Tim Harford examines some of the biggest statistics discussed by politicians in their campaigns. From zero hours contracts to the benefits of scrapping non-dom tax status, we attempt to demystify and unpick some of the figures behind a number of policies announced. Plus, how will people vote on the night? We give our thoughts on trends to watch for on the night.

How much sex do we have? David Spiegelhalter explains the bedroom habits of the British - what are we doing, how often, and has it changed?

34022015050820150510 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

34032015051520150517 (R4)

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

34042015052220150524 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

3405Seven-day Nhs2015052920150531 (R4)Tim Harford asks if people admitted to hospital at weekends are more likely to die.

Seven Day NHS.

As a commitment appears in the Queen's Speech to introduce a 'truly seven day-a-week NHS' we look at David Cameron's assertion that mortality rates are 16% higher for people admitted on a Sunday over those admitted on a Wednesday. And is seven day working really about saving lives.

Productivity?

We're told we have a productivity problem in the UK. What is it, how is it measured and why is it so low in the UK compared to other economies. We get an economist to explain the answers to a listener.

Animal Slaughter

How many animals are killed each day for food? One claim suggested it was half a billion worldwide, which sounds like a lot to us. Are we really pigging out to such an extent? Are we all so hungry we could all eat a horse? Or is this just a load of bull?

John Nash

The mathematician and scientist, Nobel Laureate and subject of the film a beautiful mind was killed in car accident earlier this month. We look at why he was so important to game theory with the economist Peyton Young.

3406World Cup Migrant Deaths2015060520150607 (R4)

Qatar migrant worker deaths.

Is the World Cup really responsible for the deaths of 1200 migrant workers in Qatar? We talk to the International Trade Unions Confederation who first published the figure.

The Independent on Sunday had a front page splash this week making a link betwen the HPV vaccine and one girls serious illness. They article also says that the number of cases of serious side-effects from the HPV vaccine being reported to the MHRA are much higher compared to other vaccines. The Independent have defended their journalism but we have spoken to a doctor who says the article cherry picks data and should be withdrawn.

We tell the story behind the chocolate experiment designed to deliberately fool the press.

And we solve the fiendish GCSE question that perplexed students so much it became a trend on Twitter.

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

3407 LAST2015061220150614 (R4)

Series that investigates the numbers in the news. Presented by Tim Harford.

34SPECIALGreece Special20150712

Is it true that Greece failed to collect 89 per cent of taxes in 2010? Tim Harford and the More or Less team look at the numbers behind the tax system and other statistics to tell the story of the Greek crisis. Which ones are home truths and which ones are myths?

Producer:Joe Kent.

Editor: Richard Vadon.

Is it true that Greece failed to collect 89 per cent of taxes in 2010? Tim Harford and the More or Less team look at the numbers behind the tax system and other statistics to tell the story of the Greek crisis. Which ones are home truths and which ones are myths?

3501Migrant Crisis2015081420150816 (R4)A 'swarm' of migrants heading for Europe? Are the numbers really up?

There is a ""swarm"" of migrants coming into Europe according to the Prime Minister. Where are they coming from and how many are coming to Calais to try to get into Britain? Are 70 percent of migrants in Calais making it to the UK, as claimed in the Daily Mail? We scrutinise the numbers.

Worm wars

A debate has been raging over the last month about the benefits of mass deworming projects. Hugely popular with the UN and charities, the evidence behind the practice has come under attack. Are the criticisms justified? We hear from the different sides - both economists and epidemiologists.

Football

How useful are football predictions and should we always trust the so called experts? The More or Less team look into the idea that predicting where sides will finish in the Premier League is best based on how they performed in previous seasons. Also, why is Leicester City the most watched Premier League team in the Outer Hebrides?

Generations

Loyal Listener Neil asks: So much is currently reported as the best, worst, least certain 'in a generation' - but just how long is that?

We find out..

(Image: Migrants arrive on the beach of a Greek island. Credit: AFP/Getty)

Migrant Crisis

There is a "swarm" of migrants coming into Europe according to the Prime Minister. Where are they coming from and how many are coming to Calais to try to get into Britain? Are 70 percent of migrants in Calais making it to the UK, as claimed in the Daily Mail? We scrutinise the numbers.

3502Soaring Diabetes - Is There Some Good News?2015082120150823 (R4)

Diabetes

We heard earlier this week that there had been a 60% rise in the number of cases of diabetes in the last ten years. But is there actually some good news in these figures?

Odd (attempted) burglaries

Police in Leicestershire have been sending forensic teams only to attempted burglaries at houses with even numbers. The papers reported it as a scandal driven by money-saving. But was it in fact a sensible attempt to work out how best to deploy tight resources?

Men who pay for sex

Do one in 10 men regularly pay for sex, as a Channel 4 Documentary claimed recently?

Loop

The ancient Greeks saw magic in the geometry of an ellipse and now mathematical writer Alex Bellos has but this to use in a new variant of pool.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

35032015082820150830 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

35042015090420150906 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3505Is It Worth Targeting Non-voters?2015091120150913 (R4)Can you rely on non-voters

During the election for the leadership of the Labour Party in the UK Jeremy Corbyn has whipped up unprecedented support among grass roots activists pushing him into a surprising lead. Bernie Sanders the left-wing Democratic candidate has done the same energised grass roots support in the United States in a similar way. Their supporters believe in both cases they can shake up the political mainstream and convince non-voters to turn out at the ballot box. But is this a wise strategy?

The latest on deaths for people admitted at a weekend?

Reports suggested 11,000 are dying in hospital after being admitted at the weekend but what does the report actually say?

Too dense

Is the UK already more densely populated than other places in Europe and is this a good argument against taking more refugees.

How many houses do we need?

We're told that we need to build 200,000+ houses a year to meet housing need in this country. We talk to Kate Barker the woman who first came up with this number about where it comes from and what it means.

How many bananas will kill you?

There's a belief among some people that too many bananas will kill you. Eat too many and you will overdose on potassium and die. But how many bananas would you need to eat?

Can the left rely on non-voters to get them into power? Tim Harford looks at the numbers.

35062015091820150920 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3507 LAST2015092520150927 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3601Numbers Of The Year 20152016010120160103 (R4)Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers behind the news in 2015.

Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers behind the news in 2015, from the migrant crisis to social media messages.

Contributors include: Professor Jane Green, Helen Arney, Paul Lewis, Andrew Samson, Leonard Doyle , Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Farai Chideya, Claire Melamed and Professor John Allen Paulos.

36022016010820160110 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3603Weekend Stroke Deaths2016011520160117
20160117 (R4)
Jeremy Hunt says if you have a stroke at the weekend, you are 20% more likely to die.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that if you have a stroke at the weekends, you're 20% more likely to die. But is that true? We look at the evidence.

Are you more likely to win prizes with newer Premium Bonds? We ask Radio 4's Money Box presenter Paul Lewis if there is any truth in this.

A few weeks ago many newspapers were reporting that alcohol was the cause of 70% of Accident and Emergency attendances over the weekends. Did the newspapers misunderstand the research?

Why was the polling in the run up to the General Election last year so wrong? We speak to Professor John Curtice, lead author on a report using the 2015 British Social Attitudes Survey to see if they could come up with better data.

There is great excitement over rumours that one of the predictions Einstein made in his theory of General Relativity has finally been observed. We ask UCL physicist Dr Andrew Pontzen why this is big news.

Plus, is the air in Beijing is so bad that it's like smoking 40 cigarettes a day? We investigate.

Why was the polling in the run up to the General Election last year so wrong? We speak to Professor John Curtice, lead author on a report using the 2015 British Social Attitudes Survey to see if they could come up with better data.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

36042016012220160124 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3605How Harmful Is Alcohol?2016012920160131 (R4)New alcohol guidelines were issued recently which lowered the number of units recommended for safe drinking. But are the benefits and harms of alcohol being judged correctly? We speak to Professor David Speigelhalter and

Sepsis - do 44,000 people die of it a year? Is it the country's second biggest killer? We speak to Dr Marissa Mason about the difficulties of knowing the numbers.

Dan Bouk tells the story of a statistician who crept around graveyards in South Carolina at the turn of the century recording how long people lived - all to help out an insurance firm.

It's from his book 'How our days became numbered' - looking at how data from insurance company has shaped knowledge about our lives.

Have refugees caused a gender imbalance in Sweden or is there something funny going on? It has been reported that there are 123 boys for every 100 girls aged between 16 and 17 in Sweden. In China, the ratio is 117 boys to 100 girls. We explore if the numbers add up and why this might be.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Are there problems with the way we judge the harms from alcohol? Tim Harford finds out.

3606E-cigarettes: Can They Help People Quit?2016020520160207 (R4)Do e-cigarettes make quitting smoking more difficult?

Research last month claimed to show that e-cigarettes harm your chances of quitting smoking. The paper got coverage world-wide but it also came in for unusually fierce criticism from academics who spend their lives trying to help people quit. It's been described as 'grossly misleading' and 'not scientific'. We look at what is wrong with the paper and ask if it should have been published in the first place.

A campaign of dodgy statistics

Are American presidential hopefuls getting away with statistical murder? We speak to Angie Drobnic, Editor of the US fact-checking website Politifact, about the numbers politicians are using - which are not just misleading, but wrong.

Will missing a week of school affect your GCSE results?

Recently education minister Nick Gibb said that missing a week of school could affect a pupil's GCSE grades by a quarter. We examine the evidence and explore one of the first rules of More or Less - 'correlation is not causation'. We interview Stephen Gorard, Professor of Education at Durham University.

What are the chances that a father and two of his children share the same birthday?

A loyal listener got in touch to find out how rare an occurrence this is. Professor David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge explains the probabilities involved.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3607 LAST2016021220160214 (R4)Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3701The Great Eu Cabbage Myth2016040120160403 (R4)Does the European Union dedicate 26,911 words to cabbage regulation?

Could there really be 26,911 words of European Union regulation dedicated to the sale of cabbage? This figure is often used by those arguing there is too much bureaucracy in the EU. But we trace its origins back to 1940s America. It wasn't true then, and it isn't true today. So how did this cabbage myth grow and spread? And what is the real number of words relating to the sale of cabbages in the EU?

After the recent announcement that all schools would be converted to academies, a number of listeners have asked us to look into the evidence of how they perform. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wrote a guest post on Mumsnet and More or Less were called upon to check her numbers.

The popular TV show The Only Way is Essex claimed in its 200th episode that it had contributed more than a billion pounds to the UK economy. We investigate if this is true.

Plus, can we trust food surveys? Stories about which foods are good and bad for you, which foods are linked to cancer and which have beneficial qualities are always popular. But how do experts know what people are eating? Tim Harford speaks to Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight's lead writer for science, about the pitfalls of food surveys. She kept a food diary and answered nutrition surveys and found many of the questions were really hard to answer.

3702Fathers And Babies2016040820160410 (R4)Paternity Leave

This week it was claimed that only 1 percent of men are taking up the option of shared parental leave - a new provision that came into force a year ago. A number of media outlets covered the story, interviewing experts about why there was such a low take-up. But in reality the figures used are deeply flawed and cannot be used to prove such a statement.

Exponential Love

I love you twice as much today as yesterday, but half as much as tomorrow." - This is the inscription on a card that teacher Kyle Evans once saw in a card from his father to his mother. But if that was true, what would it have meant over the course of their relationship? Kyle takes us through a musical exploration of what exponential love would look like. The item is based on a performance he gave for a regional heat of Cheltenham Festivals Famelab - a competition trying to explain science in an engaging way.

The cost of the EU

One of our listeners spotted a comparison made this week between the UK's contribution to the EU and a sandwich. One blogger says it's like buying a £3 sandwich with a £5 note, and getting over a £1,000 in change. We look at the figures on how much the UK pays to the EU, and what it gets back.

The story of 'average'

In the 1600s astronomers were coming up with measurements to help sailors read their maps with a compass. But with all the observations of the skies they were making, how did they choose the best number? We tell the story of how astronomers started to find the average from a group of numbers. By the 1800s, one Belgian astronomer began to apply it to all sorts of social and national statistics - and the 'Average Man' was born.

And we set a little maths problem to solve...

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Have only 1 per cent of men taken the option of shared parental leave?

I love you twice as much today as yesterday, but half as much as tomorrow."" - This is the inscription on a card that teacher Kyle Evans once saw in a card from his father to his mother. But if that was true, what would it have meant over the course of their relationship? Kyle takes us through a musical exploration of what exponential love would look like. The item is based on a performance he gave for a regional heat of Cheltenham Festivals Famelab - a competition trying to explain science in an engaging way.

3703Celebrity Deaths2016041520160417 (R4)Celebrity deaths

A number of people have asked the team if more famous people have died this year compared to other years. It's a hard one to measure - but we have had a go at some back of the envelope calculations with data from Who's Who and BBC obituaries. Is the intuitive feeling that more people have died this year misplaced?

'What British Muslims really think' poll

This week many news outlets covered polling research carried out for a documentary on Channel 4. Some of the points that came out included that half of all British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal and that 23% want Sharia Law. But how representative are these views? We speak to Anthony Wells from the blog UK Polling Report who explains the difficulties of carrying out polling.

The number of Brits abroad

Figures released this week suggested that there was an increase in the number of people coming to the UK from other parts of Europe. But many listeners have been asking - how many Brits are living in other parts of Europe? We try to find the best figures available.

European Girls Maths Olympiad

In 2012 a new international maths competition was started at the University of Cambridge. It was a chance for female students to get a chance of meeting girls from other countries and try to solve hard maths problems, as they are under represented at most other international competitions. We hear about how the competition got started in celebration of this year's competition in Romania.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Short clip of Alan Rickman from Sense and Sensibility, Columbia Pictures.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

3704Brexit Numbers2016042220160424 (R4)EU Treasury report

This week there was much debate over the Treasury report which modelled how leaving the EU would affect the economy. Tim Harford speaks to the Spectator's Fraser Nelson about how the document was presented to the public, and how it was reported. Chris Giles of the Financial Times explains that there are useful points to take from the Treasury's analysis.

Hinckley Point nuclear power station

What is the most expensive "object" ever built? The environmental charity Greenpeace has claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramids? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet.

Chances of serving on a jury

A listener in Scotland is curious to know what the chances are of being selected for jury service. Several of his family members have received summons, but he has not. We look at who is eligible to serve, and what your odds are of receiving a summons.

European Girls Maths Olympiad

Last week we told the story of how the European Girls Maths Olympiad (EGMO) came into being. We followed the UK team on their recent journey to Romania to compete against 38 other teams from Europe and around the world.

Life expectancy of a Pope

In 2014 Pope Francis alluded to the fact he didn't expect to live more than another two or three years. A group of statisticians have taken a look at the life expectancy of popes over the centuries and decided that he may have been rather pessimistic.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Do the Treasury's Brexit numbers add up?

What is the most expensive ""object"" ever built? The environmental charity Greenpeace has claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramids? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

37052016042920160501 (R4)Investigating the numbers in the news.

3706 LAST2016050620160508 (R4)Investigating the numbers in the news.

3801The Supermarket Effect2016072920160731 (R4)Tim Harford returns with Brexit, Trumpton, the Antiques Roadshow and some good news.

The Waitrose Effect

Many news outlets have reported this week that a Waitrose supermarket pushes up house prices in the surrounding area. It's based on research that also suggests that other supermarkets have a similar but smaller effect. We take a highly sceptical look at the correlation.

Statistics and the EU referendum campaign

We look at how the two campaigns, the media, and the much-discussed "experts" used statistics during the EU referendum campaign. Tim Harford interviews Will Moy, director of Fullfact, and Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

BBC One's Antiques Roadshow is a hugely popular television programme, where experts examine and value antiques and collectables. We ask whether the items featured really jump in value, or are we just seeing the price tag rise over the centuries in line with inflation? More Or Less reporter Charlotte McDonald heads down to the show to find out.

Computer Science and Socks

Tim Harford speaks to Brian Christian, co-author of 'Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions'. How can the techniques of computer science help us in every-day situations? And, most importantly, which algorithm will help our reporter Jordan Dunbar sort out his socks?

We look at how the two campaigns, the media, and the much-discussed ""experts"" used statistics during the EU referendum campaign. Tim Harford interviews Will Moy, director of Fullfact, and Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

3802Plastic Bags2016080520160807 (R4)Has a 5p charge caused a drop in the use of carrier bags?

Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

38032016081220160814 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

38042016081920160821 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

38052016082620160828 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3806 LAST2016090220160904 (R4)Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3901Trump Tells The Truth2016110420161106
20161106 (R4)
The fact-checkers have been working overtime looking into the numbers used by Donald Trump during his campaign to become President of the USA. In the wake of the election next week, we take a look at some of Trump’s more outrageous statistical claims.

Is wildlife in decline?

Wildlife populations have plummeted by 58% since 1970, it has been reported. And if we continue this way the decline will be 67% 2020. But do these numbers stand up to scrutiny – can you really put a figure on wildlife decline and call it robust? Last time we looked at this topic we found problems. Have they been fixed?

Parliamentary seat boundaries

There have been many criticisms about the way the Boundary Commission has redrawn UK parliamentary seat boundaries. We look at what the critics have to say and see how the political parties may be affected.

Desk of Good News – women in parliament

The number of women in parliaments around the world is on the rise!

Escobar’s Cocaine Deaths

Pablo Escobar was one of the world’s most infamous drug traffickers. His story has been brought to life in the Netflix TV drama series ‘Narcos’. We find out the deadly truth behind the numbers in the Netflix series and the realities of Colombia’s drug trade in the early nineties.

Photo: Donald Trump at a Campaign Rally. Credit Darren McCollester/Getty

How the presidential hopeful has used statistics

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

3902Us Election Explored2016111120161113 (R4)We go behind the numbers to explore the election map.

On Tuesday Americans went to the polls for a number of House races and to choose the next President of the United States. We go behind the numbers to explore the election map. Who voted, and for which candidate? And what does it tell us?

Stray Cats

Are there nine million stray cats in the UK? If so, this would significantly out-number the 7.4m pet cats in the country. We were highly sceptical of this number and by using statistics we explain why it can’t be true.

Oliver Hart interview

The Nobel memorial prize in economics was recently awarded to Oliver Hart. He talks to Tim Harford about his work on incomplete contracts. He explains how people drawing up a contract to work together can never foresee every eventuality – and what can be done about it.

Puzzles

Alex Bellos explains the history behind the fashion in broadcasting for setting brain teasers for the public. Plus – we set our own brainMornings [radio Scotland]

Alex Bellos explains the history behind the fashion in broadcasting for setting brain teasers for the public. Plus – we set our own brain teaser for to work out.

Image: Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton on the campaign trail. Photo credit: Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3903Is Dementia The Number One Killer?2016111820161120 (R4)The official statistics for England and Wales appear to show a rise in the number of people dying from dementia. But what does that mean? Do more people have dementia? We explore what’s going on behind the numbers.

Oliver Hart interview

The Nobel memorial prize in economics was recently awarded to Oliver Hart. He talks to Tim Harford about his work on incomplete contracts. He explains how people drawing up a contract to work together can never foresee every eventuality – and what can be done about it.

The chocolate muffin puzzle

Last week we set a puzzle for listeners. Two members of the team ate a chocolate muffin… but which of them has crumbs on their face? Mathematician Alex Bellos gives us the solution.

Immigration and Brexit

Some people have argued that the EU Referendum was really a vote on immigration. But was it? We look at polling data to see if we can gauge what the public thinks about immigration. We find it to be a complicated answer.

Image: A woman suffering from Alzheimer's (Photo Credit: Sebastien Bozon/Getty)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

The official statistics for England and Wales appear to show a rise in the number of people dying from dementia. But what does that mean? Do more people have dementia? We explore what’s going on behind the numbers.

3904Pensioners Aren't Poor Anymore2016112520161127 (R4)High-rolling pensioners?

In Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement he said that: “We will meet our pledge to our country’s pensioners through the triple lock. ? This should ensure that the state pension continues to rise. However, are pensioners the ones struggling with stagnant incomes? We speak to the Institute for Fiscal Studies about who has a higher income – the retired or those working.

Predicting Norovirus outbreaks

The Food Standards Agency has been using Twitter to predict outbreaks of the ‘winter vomiting bug’. They want to warn the public as cases of Norovirus start to rise, rather than after they have seen a peak in lab reports. Dr Sian Thomas explains how social media can help.

Finding friends at a club

Have you ever been in a nightclub or festival and lost your friends? One PhD student has been modelling your options on finding them. Nathan Cunningham explains whether you should actively search for them, or stay put. We send out one of the team to try it out.

Air pollution deaths

Are 40,000 people dying a year in the UK from air pollution? Is breathing the air in London the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day? These are a couple of claims that have been in the news and shared online recently. We speak to Professor Anthony Frew from the Royal Sussex County Hospital about understanding the risks of air pollution.

Image: Pensioner playing the slot machines in a casino. Credit: John Moore/Getty

High-rolling pensioners, predicting norovirus, finding friends, and air pollution.

3905Are You Related To Edward Iii…and Danny Dyer?2016120220161204 (R4)The BBC series ‘Who do you think you are?’ has traced the ancestors of the actor Danny Dyer, famous for parts in Eastenders and many films. The programme revealed that he is in fact related to Edward III. But how unusual is that? We look at the odds of someone with English heritage being descended from this medieval king who died in 1377.

How many cows for a fiver?

The news that products from cows have been used to make the new five pound notes has caused consternation. Vice News have tried to work out statistically how many animals must have died in order to make these new notes in circulation. It is a very low number.

Five year olds not so bad after all

‘Shocking’ stats were revealed this week by the Department of Education. School assessments showed that just under a third of five year olds were below the expected standards for children of their age. But not only are these results not that shocking there is another reason why the statistics are not all they seem.

How to wrap a football

Christmas is approaching and Tim Harford has a puzzling present-related question – what’s the best way to wrap a spherical object? Fortunately mathematician Hannah Fry has been thinking about this and gives her best thoughts on how to tackle this festive problem.

Cleaning up water

In the Desk of Good News, we look at how improving sanitation has transformed lives. We speak to Johan Norberg, author of ‘Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future’ about the Great Stink of 1858.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Danny Dyer on 'Who do you think you are?'. BBC Copyright

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Cleaning up water

In the Desk of Good News, we look at how improving sanitation has transformed lives. We speak to Johan Norberg, author of ‘Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future’ about the Great Stink of 1858.

3906How Wrong Were The Brexit Forecasts?2016120920161211 (R4)The economic doom that never was; childhood cancer figures and Ed Balls

Before the EU referendum a number of serious and weighty organisations published research on what they thought would be the economic consequences of a vote to Leave. Since then, they have come under criticism for being unduly pessimistic. We take a look at what was said before the referendum, and how the economy is looking now. In the run up to the vote Tim Harford spoke to Chris Giles of the Financial Times and Andrew Lilico of the consultancy, Europe Economics. We invited them back to discuss

Did the former MP get more votes at a general election or performing on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing? We wanted badly to answer our listener’s question but we struggled to get to the truth.

Is modern life really killing our children?

Earlier in the year there were many headlines about cancer in children and young people having risen 40%. The Telegraph headlined their piece ‘Modern Life is Killing Our Children’ stating that air pollution, powerlines, pesticides and poor diets were possible causes of the rise. The piece was based on work by a charity Children with Cancer UK. But as we’ve discovered the numbers are deceptive and they’ve been dismissed as scaremongering. Is modern life killing our children? – no, more like it’s saving them.

The economics of dining couples

Imagine you’re out to dinner with a date. You’re looking at the menu thinking about what you will have. Now you may not immediately think that economics could play a part in explaining what happens next, but Megan McArdle has been thinking about just that. She’s the author of The Upside of Down and a columnist at Bloomberg View. She says that couples – and indeed she and her husband – go through four stages of how they choose their food.

How risky is the contraceptive pill?

Many of the potential side effects of the pill, such as blood clots, have been well documented since its release in the 1960s. And now, a study has claimed to have established a link between depression and the pill. But perhaps the main risk women face is poorly interpreted statistics.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Tourists in Parliament Square, Westminster/Credit Getty

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Imagine you’re out to dinner with a date. You’re looking at the menu thinking about what you will have. Now you may not immediately think that economics could play a part in explaining what happens next, but Megan McArdle has been thinking about just that. She’s the author of The Upside of Down and a columnist at Bloomberg View. She says that couples – and indeed she and her husband – go through four stages of how they choose their food.

3907 LASTHave More Famous People Died This Year?2016121620161218 (R4)Back in April More or Less tried to work out if more famous people were dying this year compared to previous years. When we looked at the number of BBC obituaries from the first three months of the year, the answer appeared to be yes. There was a jump from only five between January and late March 2012 to a staggering 24 in the same period this year - an almost five-fold increase. But now 2016 is drawing to an end we take a look to see if it really has been such an unusual year.

Homophobic hate crime

The Home Office recently published reported crime figures showing that in England and Wales there was a big post-referendum rise in the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences. And – according to The Observer and others – there was an even higher rise in homophobic hate crime over the summer in the UK. But we’ve been talking to the LGBT anti-violence charity behind the story and they say the stats may not actually show what the headlines suggest.

The value of a royal yacht

The royal yacht was decommissioned in 1997 but, with Brexit on the horizon, there have been calls for Britannia to rule the waves again. The argument goes that the yacht would be the perfect venue to make trade deals – as happened in the Britannia’s time. But there’s been a flotilla of – sometimes contradictory - figures about how much the deals signed on the Britannia actually benefited the UK economy. With the help of a commodore, we investigate the claims.

The Queen’s Christmas Message

Mathematician Hannah Fry has analysed every Christmas broadcast that the Queen has given since her reign began. Taking each year’s message, Hannah and a colleague have compared the number of words she has used to the number of unique words used by rappers and singers in their music. Hannah also explains that she has found a way of generating her own Queen’s Christmas Speech, using a simple algorithm to suggest passages that the Queen might say judged on her previous messages.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

Back in April More or Less tried to work out if more famous people were dying this year compared to previous years. When we looked at the number of BBC obituaries from the first three months of the year, the answer appeared to be yes. There was a jump from only five between January and late March 2012 to a staggering 24 in the same period this year - an almost five-fold increase. But now 2016 is drawing to an end we take a look to see if it really has been such an unusual year.

3908Christmas Quiz2016122320161225 (R4)For the last programme of the year we are mixing up the format and holding a Christmas Quiz. Tim Harford poses some difficult numerical questions to our contestants: Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor; Paul Lewis, presenter of Radio 4's Money Box; comedian Nathan Caton and science writer Helen Pilcher.

How will they fare with questions based on a range of topical subjects including the Olympics, the EU Referendum and reindeer? Plus, friend of the programme, Rob Eastaway poses a mathematical puzzle.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Scorekeeper: Simon Maybin

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

For the last programme of the year we are mixing up the format and holding a Christmas Quiz. Tim Harford poses some difficult numerical questions to our contestants: Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor; Paul Lewis, presenter of Radio 4's Money Box; comedian Nathan Caton and science writer Helen Pilcher.

How will they fare with questions based on a range of topical subjects including the Olympics, the EU Referendum and reindeer? Plus, friend of the programme, Rob Eastaway poses a mathematical puzzle.

4001Economics Of Overbooking2017041420170416 (R4)This week, passengers on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Kentucky witnessed an extraordinary sight. Security officers seized hold of a seated passenger and dragged him down the aisle by his arms. And the cause of all of this chaos? The airline found that it did not have enough seats left to accommodate everyone it wanted to get onto the plane. But could maths - and some cheerful bribery - prevent incidents like this from occurring again?

The pitfalls of fact-checking

It seems to be a burgeoning age for fact-checkers. There are websites and journalists keen to examine the truth behind what politicians and governments say. More or Less has been part of that tradition for many years. But do people always find these fact-checks persuasive? And when does fact-checking and myth-busting backfire? We take a look at some of the problems.

Humans or goldfish

Everyone knows our attention spans are getting shorter. It's just obvious. In the always-connected world of social media, smartphones and hyperlinks in the middle of everything you read, it's become that much harder to stay focused. And there are statistics too. They say that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That's less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.

But the statistics are not all that they seem - and neither is the received wisdom about goldfish.

Plus, we also ask why, when children's teeth are getting healthier, so many newspapers have been reporting that tooth extractions are on the rise. And are house prices increased by a good school - we're not so sure.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4002Living Standards And Kate Bush Maths2017042120170423 (R4)Jeremy Corbyn said this week that living standards are falling. This was one of the points he made in response to Theresa May's announcement of a snap General Election. It isn't the first time he has made this claim and so we decided to check it out. Tim Harford finds out from Senior Economist Jonathan Cribb at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, that there have been some interesting twists and turns to living standards.

A recent Guardian front page suggested that sexual harassment at British universities is at 'epidemic levels'. We looked at the data cited and we are not so sure the evidence backs that up.

Maths teacher and performer Kyle Evans takes us on a mathematical journey of some of his favourite songs. He checks the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Kate Bush for the accuracy of their lyrics.

Do the Conservatives really have a 20 point lead over Labour in the opinion polls? We have been sceptical in the past of the accuracy of polling. We speak to Matt Singh about whether we need to be worried again now.

Recent headlines suggested that returning to blue passports once we leave the EU may cost half a billion pounds. We discover this is not at all what it seems.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate Bush.

Jeremy Corbyn said this week that living standards are falling. This was one of the points he made in response to Theresa May's announcement of a snap General Election. It isn't the first time he has made this claim and so we decided to check it out. Tim Harford finds out from Senior Economist Jonathan Cribb at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, that there have been some interesting twists and turns to living standards.

Recent headlines suggested that returning to blue passports once we leave the EU may cost half a billion pounds. We discover this is not at all what it seems.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4003Fact-checking Boris Johnson20170428Giant bombs, a war hero and the foreign secretary's stats.

The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, appeared on Today this week, where he fired off a salvo of highly questionable statistics. We examine them. Also in the programme: are three million school kids at risk of going hungry this summer? We put this bold claim to the test. William Sitwell, Lord Woolton's biographer, explains how this working-class boy from Salford became a war hero (and President of the Royal Statistical Society). As the General Election campaign gets underway, we look into claims that education spending is at "record" levels. And just how big is the "mother of all bombs"?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

400420170505Investigating the numbers in the news.

Is crime rising?

Last week saw the release of the latest batch of crime statistics for England and Wales. The figures showed a shocking 21% rise in homicides and a 19% rise in violent crime. Crime Policy expert Tom Gash explains why you should always read the footnotes on statistical releases and why violence might not mean what you think it means.

Help for number-phobes

The term 'maths anxiety' has become more popular in recent times, people who are scared of or hate numbers. We found an organisation that is determined to help. Citizen Maths is a free online course designed to help adults become more confident with maths in both work and everyday life. To test this out we found a digit dodging colleague willing to give the course a try. Noel-Ann Bradshaw from Citizen Maths spoke to us about the state of maths in Britain today.

When is a cut not a cut?

This week Jeremy Corbyn sent out a Tweet stating that if elected, Labour would stop Conservative cuts of £22 billion to the NHS. The NHS is certainly facing funding difficulties over the coming years with a rising and ageing population. But we explain how it's not correct to suggest that funding is being cut.

The mathematics of mazes

Children love a maze. Adults love a maze. And it seems mathematicians love them too. We send Jordan Dunbar to Crystal Palace with maze expert Dr Ruth Dalton, to put some classic mathematical methods to the test.
But can a wooden die, some office post-it notes and a thorough understanding of mathematical probability really save Jordan when he gets lost amidst the hedges?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4005Nurses' Pay, Scottish Seats, Penalty Shootouts20170512Are nurses paid more than the national average? We take a look.

What is happening to nurses pay?

Amid reports of nurses using food banks, Jeremy Hunt said he doesn't recognise claims their wages are worth less now than in 2010. He says nurses are actually paid £31,000 - more than the average person. If he's right, why do so many nurses say they're earning much less than that?

The Great Scottish Election Conspiracy

The reporting of the Scottish council elections has caused a bit of a stir. Did the SNP lose seven seats or gain six. The media including the BBC reported that they had lost seats, the many SNP supporters are sure that this isn't a fair representation of their performance. This all hinges on how you look at the results last time around and how you account for the major boundary review that took place between elections. Tim tries to get to the bottom of what has happened with Professor David Denver from Lancaster University.

Penalty shootout maths

What do coffee, stew and nerve-biting football finales have in common? Maths whizz and football aficionado Rob Eastaway explains all.
UEFA, European football's governing body, is currently trialling a new system for penalty shootouts. But what is the maths behind the new system - and could a century-old Scandinavian mathematical sequence offer a better approach?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

400620170519Investigating the numbers in the news.

Labour launched their manifesto this week, introducing new rates of tax for high earners. But did the BBC do a good job of explaining it? A screen grab taken from a TV item was spread on social media which gave a misleading impression of the amount of tax you would pay if you earned £80,000 or £123,000. We take a look at what the tax rate would mean for people earning these amounts or more.

When we lie and tell the truth online

Researchers are very excited about the amount of data that is being generated by people using social media and internet tools. But what can we really glean from that information. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has written a book called Everybody Lies where he explores the image we portray on social media versus the truths we tell about ourselves by what we search online. We also find out some speed dating tips.

We still have sea ice

Recently BBC 4 aired a documentary from 2007 which made the claim that by 2013 all the sea ice in the world would have disappeared during summer due to global warming. It is 2017 and that has not happened. We find out why that prediction was wrong and what is really happening to sea ice.

Maths and cake

Dr Eugenia Cheng takes us through a tour of real life items that she likes to use as the basis to explain more complicated mathematical ideas. We find out how she uses hotels, cakes and yoghurt to illustrate her ideas.

4007 LAST20170526
400820170602Investigating the numbers in the news.

On this final programme of the series we try to give some context to some of the issues that are being discussed during the current election campaign.

Who pays tax?

What proportion of adults are paying income tax? How much are they paying? Where does the highest burden lay? We take a look. Also, we look at the different political parties' tax policies. This includes corporation tax, but what about National Insurance?

How do you cut migration?

The Conservative manifesto again includes the aim to lower net migration to tens of thousands. How has this aim fared in the last six years? And what could the Conservatives do in future years to achieve their goal? We also take a look at what impact that might have on the economy.

Taking the nations' temperature

Summer has arrived - but we cast our minds to the chilly months ahead and think about the Winter Fuel Payment. The Conservatives are proposing to change this to a means-tested system - everywhere except Scotland. Is this because Scotland is colder than the rest of the UK? BBC Weather Man Phil Avery has the answer.

Free School Meals

It's been a popular topic in party manifestos - free school meals. Jamie Oliver thinks school dinners are essential for fighting obesity - but is there really a case to be made for the health benefits of a school lunch? Emily Tanner from the National Centre for Social Research puts the case for and against Universal Free School Meals - while munching a pie and a packed lunch.

410120170825Investigating the numbers in the news.

Are boys getting more top A Level grades than girls?

Last week it was reported that more boys were getting top grades than girls in A Levels. This bucked a trend which previously showed that girls got better grades. But is it as simple as boys getting better? We find out that it really depends on what subjects you take.

Is a lack of school swimming lessons leading to more deaths by drowning?

Are more young people really drowning due to children in primary schools receiving fewer swimming lessons? That was the question posed to us by one loyal listener after she read newspaper headlines suggesting that was the case. So what do the numbers say? Tim Harford talks to Mike Dunn from The Royal Life Saving Society.

Why are dress sizes so weird?

"What clothes size are you?" - the question every woman hates to be asked. Not only because it's a bit rude, but because quite frankly it's hard to know the answer. Today most shops hire a 'fit' model - a real life woman who they consider to have the dimensions of their perfect customer. They then create clothes to fit her dimensions - waste, hips and bust. More Or Less takes one size 8 fit model shopping to show how sizes differ between shops.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

410220170901Investigating the numbers in the news.

Grenfell Tower's death toll

In the early hours of June 14th a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in West London. A large number of people died and in the aftermath residents, the wider public, politicians and celebrities all expressed frustration that a tragedy like this one was able to happen in 21st Century Britain.
Some people were also sceptical at the numbers of fatalities being reported by the police - and then the media. Were the police being too conservative in their estimates?
A local resident emailed the programme asking us to look into the numbers. Tim Harford talks to Commander Stuart Cundy, who oversaw the Met police operation following the fire; to ask him why it is has been so hard to establish the death toll.

Houston - we have a problem

Hurricane Harvey has caused devastation in Texas and neighbouring states. Commentators have speculated that this will be one of the costliest storms in history. We explore why this might be - could the US Government's flood insurance programme be inadvertently contributing to the problem by supporting the buildings in flood plains?

How many sexual partners do we have?

Recently on the Today programme John Humphreys said: "Thirty years ago a man would have had eight sexual partners and women three, now those averages are 12 for men and eight for women" This sparked a discussion on Twitter among our listeners. How can the number of average partners of men and women be so different? We speak to Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

In the early hours of June 14th a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in West London. A large number of people died and in the aftermath residents, the wider public, politicians and celebrities all expressed frustration that a tragedy like this one was able to happen in 21st Century Britain.
Some people were also sceptical at the numbers of fatalities being reported by the police - and then the media. Were the police being too conservative in their estimates?
A local resident emailed the programme asking us to look into the numbers. Tim Harford talks to Commander Stuart Cundy, who oversaw the Met police operation following the fire; to ask him why it is has been so hard to establish the death toll.

Recently on the Today programme John Humphreys said: "Thirty years ago a man would have had eight sexual partners and women three, now those averages are 12 for men and eight for women" This sparked a discussion on Twitter among our listeners. How can the number of average partners of men and women be so different? We speak to Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4103Electric Cars, School-ready, Feedback20170908Investigating the numbers in the news.

Are children in Manchester ready for school?

"Thousands of children in Greater Manchester are starting school unable to speak in full sentences or use the toilet" ran a headline in the Manchester Evening News earlier this week. The new mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham also made the claim. Can that really be true asked a loyal listener? More or Less investigates.

Will we need 10 new power plants by 2040 for the electric car revolution?

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 in the UK. So it's expected there will be a huge increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads. But what will happen when we all try and charge them? Newspaper headlines have quoted us as needing ten new nuclear power plants to cover it and some have even suggested we won't have enough power to charge these vehicles. So we set out to look at the numbers driving the electric car revolution.

Maths underpinning science

Professor Alison Etheridge from the University of Oxford tells the programme why maths can sometimes be overlooked. She talks about her interest in genetics and why mathematicians need to be more vocal about their work.

And we deal with a number of complaints about last week's programme.

4104Are Natural Disasters On The Rise20170915Investigating the numbers in the news.

Disasters
Are natural disasters on the rise? Following the devastating hurricanes to have battered the Caribbean and the United States, the floods in Asia and the mudslides in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary General told a press conference that the number of disasters in the world has quadrupled since the 1980s - is he right?

Police Pay
Theresa May said at Prime Ministers Question's that pay for certain police officers who started in 2010 had risen by 32%. This statement outraged the Police Federation - Tim Harford puts this claim into context and discovers that that the Prime Minister picked this particular group of officers for a reason.

Zillions
We like a specific number on More or Less but the English language isn't always so exact. It turns out that people love words that give a sense of size, but are vague about an actual number, terms like zillion and umpteenth. Helen Zaltzman is the presenter of the podcast 'The Allusionist' that looks at the way we use language. Tim has been talking to her about what are called indefinite hyperbolic numbers.

A present for a Statistically significant other.
Last series, Dave called us for help. 'What should he buy his statistics-mad partner who also loved cross-stich?' Zillions of More or Less listeners got in touch to suggest ideas - so did he take their advice?

Police Pay
Theresa May said at Prime Ministers Question's that pay for certain police officers who started in 2010 had risen by 32%. This statement outraged the Police Federation - Tim Harford puts this claim into context and discovers that that the Prime Minister picked this particular group of officers for a reason.

Zillions
We like a specific number on More or Less but the English language isn't always so exact. It turns out that people love words that give a sense of size, but are vague about an actual number, terms like zillion and umpteenth. Helen Zaltzman is the presenter of the podcast 'The Allusionist' that looks at the way we use language. Tim has been talking to her about what are called indefinite hyperbolic numbers.

41052017092220170924Investigating the numbers in the news.

£350 million claim again

Boris Johnson has made the claim again that when the UK leaves the EU it will gain control of £350 million a week. The UK Statistics Authority has written to the Foreign Secretary to tell him it is a mis-use of official statistics to make this assertion. We take a look at why they have taken this action.

Disadvantaged students going to university

We look at two claims - is Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn correct to say that there are fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university now. Plus - is it true that disadvantaged students from England are twice as likely to go to university than those from Scotland.

Spanish vets

Is it true that British vets train for seven years while in Spain it only takes a year to qualify?

The value of Half a Crown from 1887

A loyal listener and a friend were recently discussing a Half Crown coin that they found at a sale. They wanted to know how much it would be worth in today's money. The answer is not as straight forward as you might think.

4106Uber, Eu Passports, Counting Domestic Violence2017092920171001Investigating the numbers in the news.

Is Uber safe?

Recently Transport for London took the decision not to renew Uber's London license. One criticism of the company is that its drivers commit too many sexual offences. Billboards around the capital last year said that 32 of the 154 allegations of assault made against London taxi drivers between February 2015 and February 2016 involved Uber drivers. But is that a big number and how do the total number of allegations made compare to the years before Uber was even operating?

The Brits seeking European passports elsewhere

In partnership with Reality Check, More or Less has spoken to each of the other 27 countries in the EU to find out whether an increasing number of Brits living abroad have applied for citizenship. This has certainly been the trend in many countries. We'll reveal the most popular countries and tell the tale of how easy it may or may not have been to get the numbers!

How do we know if there is more domestic violence around?

If you want to look at whether the amount of domestic violence in the UK is going up or down, how would you measure it? Over the last three decades, this is something that Sylvia Walby, Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, has been trying to figure this out. We speak to her about ways to improve the current statistics available.

Big polluters: container ships versus cars

A number of websites have claimed that '15 of the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world.' That is a very catchy statement which gives an indication of the pollution produced by shipping containers around the world. But is it true. We look at the different types of emissions produced by container ships and cars.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald."

4201Missed Appointments, Graduate Pay, Cocaine On Banknotes2018011220180114Do missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion? And do you always earn more with a degree?

Did missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year?
New figures published recently suggest that the financial cost to the NHS for missed appointments was £1 billion last year. But our listeners are curious. How has this figure been worked out? And don't missed appointments actually ease the pressure on an overcrowded system?

Graduate pay - is it always higher than non-graduates' pay?
It is often claimed that if you go to university and get a degree, you will earn more than those who do not. But is that always true? We take a look to see if there are occasions when having a degree makes little difference or whether the benefit of a degree has changed over time.

How much cocaine is on a bank note?
Tim Harford speaks to Richard Sleeman who works for a firm, Mass Spec Analytical, that specialises in working out how much cocaine can be found on bank notes across the country. Do some parts of the country have more cocaine on their notes than others? Is it true that 99% of bank notes in London have cocaine on them?

Is it true that one in five can't name an author of literature?
Last year the Royal Society of Literature made this claim - but what was it based on? It turns out a polling company found that 20 percent questioned failed to name a single author. Should we be surprised? We took a look at the data.

Diet Coke Habit
The New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks 'a dozen' Diet Cokes a day. With each can of 330ml containing 42mg of caffeine - what impact, if any, could this have on the President's health?

Do missed appointments cost the NHS \u00a31 billion? And do you always earn more with a degree?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4202Gender Pay Gaps And How To Learn A Language20180119How much more are men paid than women? And how many words do you need to speak a language?

Gender Pay Gap
This week the Office for National Statistics has published analysis trying to find out why it is that on average women are paid less than men in specific industries and occupations. We examine their findings, as well as taking a look at the current discussion about equal pay at the BBC.

Alcohol reaction times
We take a look at a study that suggests that people's reaction speeds are affected over time by regular drinking. It recommends that official guidelines for the amount of alcohol consumed a week should be lowered. But what does the evidence show?

Bus announcements - when is too many?
Transport for London has introduced a new announcement on its buses to warn travellers that the bus is about to move. We discuss the benefit of such messages.

How many words do you need to speak a language?
Ein bier bitte? Loyal listener David made a new year's resolution to learn German. Three years later, that's about as far as he's got. Keen to have something to aim for, he asked More or Less how many words you really need to know in order to speak a language. We find out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and put Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is.

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.
(Photo: Man and woman working on a car production plant. Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4203A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime Numbers20180126Challenging the claim that one in three girls' first sexual experience is rape.

First sexual experience - checking the facts
A short film for the Draw A Line campaign has made the claim that one in three girls first sexual experience is rape. This seems shockingly high, but what is the evidence? Is it just for the UK or a global figure? We go back to the reports that were used to source the claim, and find the research has been misinterpreted.

How long can a shark go for without eating?
A recent episode of Blue Planet II stated that after a large meal a Sixgill shark might not have to eat for 'up to an entire year'. Tim Harford speaks to Dr David Ebert, a shark expert who has studied the stomach contents of Sixgills over the years. And to Professor Alex Roger, a zoologist who advised the Blue Planet team, to try and find out how accurate the claim is and why the deep sea is still a mystery.

The wonder of Prime Numbers
Oxford mathematician Vicky Neale talks about her new book - Closing The Gap - and how mathematicians have striven to understand the patterns behind prime numbers.

Multiple grannies
A Swiss mummy has recently been identified as a distant ancestor of Boris Johnson. But some people have been getting tangled up over just how many great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers the Foreign Secretary might have. We tackle an email from one listener - none other than the broadcaster Stephen Fry.

4204Transgender Numbers, Parkrun And Snooker2018020220180204How many transgender people are there in the UK? Plus a statistical take on parkruns.

The UK produces official statistics about all sorts of things - from economic indicators to demographic data. But it turns out there are no official figures for the number of transgender people in the UK. We explore what we do know, and what is harder to measure.

Do 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol?

According to recent headlines, just 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol sold in England. But can so few people really account for so much of the countries bar tab? We find out where the statistic came from.

Bank of England's Mark Carney says no to RPI

At a hearing of the House of Lords' economic affairs committee, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said it would be useful to have a single measure of inflation for consumers - and that CPI was a much better measure than RPI, which he said had "no merit". We find out why with the FT's Chris Giles.

A statistical take on parkrun

Every weekend over 1.5 million people run 5,000m on Saturday mornings for parkrun which is a free event that takes place all over the UK and indeed across the globe. Each runner is given a bar code, which is scanned at the end of the run and fed into a database showing them what place they came in their race- we take a look at which courses are the fastest, slowest, hardest and easiest.

Testing for a cough correlation between snooker and smoking

A listener emailed us this week to ask whether you can connect the number of coughs during snooker matches to the decline in smoking. We got counting to see if the theory was a trick shot - with help from John Virgo.

Photo: Jimmy White
Credit: Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4205The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun Part Ii20180209Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't, and how much do women spend on tampons?

The BBC - and many others - announced that on Monday the Dow stock index saw it's biggest ever fall. Tim Harford skewers this alarmist nonsense: what matters is the percentage fall, which was sizable but has been seen many times before. We also explain why real stock-watchers look at the S&P, not the Dow.

The cost of tampons

Amid the debates on period poverty and the 'tampon tax' it has been suggested that women spend £13 a month on sanitary products on average. But is that fair? The number comes from a survey asking women what they think they spend, but we take a trip to the shops to compare prices and we're not so sure that is a reasonable amount.

Park Run Part II

Has our running about eagerly correspondent Jordan Dunbar survived Britain's hardest parkrun?

Are 25% of citizens in the UK criminals?

How many of us in the UK are convicted criminals? According to barrister Matthew Scott it's as high as 25%. That seems like an awful lot, so we speak to crime statistics expert Professor Susan McVie to see if his numbers stand up under closer examination.

What proportion of women got the vote in 2018?

Not all women got the vote in 2018. We look at the numbers behind women's suffrage. Do they reveal an important reason why the establishment fought so hard to stop all women getting the vote?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4206 LASTUn Rape Claims, Stalin, Mr Darcy2018021620180218Back of the envelope calculations on rape, and how many died under Stalin?

How many people have UN staff raped?

It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade. We unpick the back of an envelope calculation that has resulted in this extraordinary figure.

Gender in literature

How are women depicted in books? Author Ben Blatt has carried out an analysis of the types of words used to describe them, and also their absence in some of the classics.

How many people did Stalin kill?

How do you extract facts from a regime that was so profoundly secretive? We speak to Professor James Harris and Professor Barbara Anderson about why there are so many different figures and how historians and demographers calculate death tolls by regimes.

The wealth of Mr Darcy

The male love interest of 'Pride and Prejudice' is supposed to be fabulously wealthy. It says in the early 19th century English novel that Mr Darcy has an income £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it's not clear how remarkable it really is. We speak to Professor Stephen Broadberry of the University of Oxford.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4301Straws, Women On Boards, Animals Born Each Day2018042720180429Measuring plastic pollution, female FTSE directors and counting animal offspring.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Straws

How much difference will a ban on straws really make to the amount of plastic in our seas? Some say it could be just a drop in the ocean.

Women on boards

Why do people quote the number of women on FTSE 100 boards? Is it telling us something useful about the glass ceiling? We explore whether the proportion of female executives has changed over time, and what it tells us about women in business.

Using personal data for the public good

Recent headlines surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have kick started a debate about who should access our data. Hetan Shah, the Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, shares a plan he's had to make sure social media details are used for the public good.

The number of animals born each day

A ten year old listener got in touch to ask 'how many animals are born every day?' We set off on a hunt to the coast of Chile (well a simulated version at Penguin beach in London Zoo) to find the answer.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4302Cancer Screening, The Windrush Generation, Audiograms2018050420180506
20180506 (R4)
Calculating the benefits and risks of breast screening. Plus, patchy citizenship data.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Breast screening - the Numbers

The Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said this week that over the past decade, 450,000 women have accidentally not been invited for breast cancer screening because of a computer error - and that up to 270 women may have had their lives shortened as a result. But where does that number come from? We'll be checking the Health Secretary's maths.

Counting the Windrush Generation

Do we know how many who came to the UK from Commonwealth countries before 1971 are now at risk of being deported? We speak to the Migration Obvservatory at Oxford University to find out where the Windrush Generation are actually from, plus how many are missing vital documentation.

Has Nigel Farage been on Question Time too often?

The former UKIP leader has appeared on Question Time 32 times. Is that too many? Labour's Lord Adonis thinks so. We go back through the archives to look at the different times he was invited on and compare it to some other frequent panelists.

Painting a picture with an audiogram

Data journalist Mona Chalabi talks to Tim Harford about her unusual approach to analysing numbers. She has spent years making interesting visual depictions of data. Now she has turned her attention to some audio projects. We discover the correlation between men's voices and their testicles.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4303Abortion, Modern Slavery, Math Versus Maths2018051120180513The British abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate

In two weeks' time the Republic of Ireland is holding a referendum into whether to make changes to its strict abortion laws. We have been inundated with emails and Tweets from listeners asking us to look at some of the statistics that keep coming up during the course of the campaigns for and against changing the law. The one that has caught the most attention is a statistic which has appeared on posters saying: "In Britain, "Limited" abortion kills 1 in 5 babies." We take a look at the numbers.

Superforecasting

How good are political and economic forecasts? Philip Tetlock, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania collects forecasts from a wide range of experts to see if they come true or not. One nickname he has for some the best forecasters is the "foxes" - not to be confused with the woeful "hedgehogs".

Modern Slavery

Former Crimewatch presenter Nick Ross asked us to look into the numbers of 'modern slaves' reported in the UK. We explore the definition of modern slavery and how the authorities create estimates of the size of what is largely a hidden phenomenon.

Math versus Maths

North Americans like to use the word 'math' while the Brits like to say 'maths' - but who is correct? We hear the case for both words and try work out which one is right, with the help of the Queen of Countdown's Dictionary Corner, Susie Dent.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4304Child Poverty, Progress 8, How Green Is Grass?2018051820180520Are more working families in poverty? Plus exploring the new school league tables.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Working families in poverty
Last week, the TUC made headlines with a new report it had published, claiming more 1 million more children from working families are living in poverty than they were in 2010. But is this because a lot more people are working today than ten years ago? Tim Harford speaks to Jonathan Cribb from the Institute for Fiscal Studies about how we define poverty, and whether things are getting worse or better

Progress 8
School league tables in England used to rank schools by the proportion of pupils who managed to achieve five A* to C grades in their GCSE's. There was an obvious problem with that: schools with lots of middle class kids might do well on the league tables, even if the actual teaching wasn't so great. And brilliant schools in deprived areas might be undervalued. So in 2016 the system was changed - instead league tables are now arranged by a measure called Progress 8. It's meant to be a fairer way to assess things. But one listener got in touch to ask - how does it work? Is it better?

How green is grass?
A listener wants to know whether a garden product can really make you grass 6 times greener so we'll be exploring the greenness of grass. Can you put a numeric value on how green a colour is? Is it possible to tell when something is six times greener than baseline with the human eye, and is there a maximum green to which all lawns should aspire?

Royal Wedding economics
In the run up to the marriage of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, media outlets and newspapers have been musing over how much money the wedding will bring to the UK economy. We speak to Federica Cocco of the Financial Times who doesn't think there will be much impact at all.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon

(Photo credit: Getty Images).

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4305Forecasting Rain, Teabags, Voter Id Trials2018052520180527Investigating the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How to read the weather forecast, plus measuring the amount of tea we drink.

What does the rain percentage mean?

With weather being the national obsession, More or Less has received a number of weather-related emails - specifically about the BBC's weather app. This was updated earlier this year, and it now includes an hour by hour breakdown telling users what chance there is of it raining wherever they are - but what does this percentage actually mean? Tim Harford speaks to meteorologist Nikki Berry from Metrogroup, which provides the BBC's weather forecast analysis.

University of Oxford admissions statistics

How diverse are the most recent undergraduates to start at one of the country's top universities? We take a look.

Waiting for the facts on Voter ID trials

In the recent local elections in England there were five authorities taking part in a trial, requiring voters to show ID for the first time when they turned up at the polling station. In the initial days after the vote it was reported that up to 4,000 people were turned away and couldn't vote because they didn't have identification. But now, Newsnight's David Grossman has collected the data from the trial areas to discover the original estimate was out by a factor of 10.

Counting teabags

How much tea do we drink? A figure that is often quoted suggests that Brits drink 165 million cups of tea a day which works out as around 60 billion a year. We take a look at what evidence is available and whether it is possible to calculate such a statistic.

Are pensioners richer than workers?

A More or Less listener heard a claim that the average income for pensioners is higher than the average income for people of working age - is that true? Jonathan Cribb from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has an answer.

4306The High Street, Home Births, Harry Potter Wizardry2018060120180603Is WH Smith really the worst on the high street? Plus how safe is giving birth at home?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How do we know how WH Smiths fares on the high street?

Over the Bank Holiday weekend a news story from the consumer advice website Which caught a lot of attention. It was claimed that WH Smiths is the least liked shop on the high street. But exactly how did researchers work that out? We take a look at the survey they conducted.

Counting the homeless

We often hear numbers in the news about how many people are sleeping rough on the streets of the UK
According to the latest official figures around 4700 people were sleeping in the streets in the autumn of 2017.
And that got us thinking. These statistics aren't just downloaded from some big database in the sky. They need - like any statistic - to be collected and calculated. So we ask a simple question: how do you count the number of people sleeping rough?

How safe are home births?

Is giving birth at home as safe as giving birth in hospital? How many women have the choice to do so, and does it make a difference if you've already had a child? We try to cut through the noise and find out what the statistics say.

Harry Potter: how many wizards?

Fans of Harry Potter have been asking - just how many wizards live among us? We follow a trail of clues in J K Rowling's best-selling books to provide the definitive estimate of the wizarding population.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Andy Smith.

4307 LASTHow To Reduce Exam Revision With Maths, Infant Mortality, London's Murder Rate2018060820180610Investigating the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains how maths can help lazy students reduce their revision workload.

It was recently reported that the infant mortality rate in England and Wales has risen - bucking decades of constant decline. Some of the causes cited in the news include social issues such as rising obesity in mothers, deprivation and struggling NHS staff. We hear from a paediatric intensive care specialist and a health data researcher who say the rise is more likely because we're counting the deaths of very premature babies differently to in the past.

HOW TO REDUCE EXAM REVISION WITH MATHS

A self-confessed lazy student has asked for help with his exams - what's the minimum amount of revision he needs to do in order to pass? Rob Eastaway from Maths Inspiration does the sums.

A BILLION DEAD BIRDS?

It's claimed that a billion birds in America die each year by flying into buildings. Where does this number come from and how was it calculated - and is it remotely correct?

LONDON v NEW YORK CITY

It was reported earlier this year that London's murder rate was higher than New York City's for the first time - but how do the two cities compare a few months down the line, and is there any value in making these snapshot comparisons?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith
Editor: Richard Vadon.

4401A No-frills Life, Automated Fact-checking, Lord Of The Rings Maths2018082420180826Tim Harford on no-frills living, automated fact-checking and Lord of the Rings maths.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

What would have been the most efficient way to get to Mordor? To answer this Tim Harford turns to information in the Lord of the Rings books and original documents at the Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. He crunches the numbers with the help of Professor Graham Taylor of Oxford University, an expert in mathematical biology.

Could computers do a better job than humans of exposing fake news and holding politicians to account? Tim Harford interviews Mevan Babakar of the fact-checking organisation Fullfact about the software tools she and her team are building to try to automatically verify statistical claims.

The Child Poverty Action Group claims low-earning parents working full-time are unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle. Tim Harford examines the numbers with the author of the group's report, Professor Donald Hirsch of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Presenter: Tim Harford.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4402African Trade Tariffs, Alcohol Safe Limits, President Trump's Popularity2018083120180902Tim Harford fact-checks EU trade deals with Africa, and whether one drink is one too many.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The Prime Minister's trip to Africa has spurred much debate on EU tariffs to the country and how this could change after Brexit. Twitter was set alight by an interview on the Today programme in which the presenter quoted some pretty high tariffs on African countries. The critics claimed that these tariffs were largely non-existent. So what's the truth? Tim Harford speaks to Soumaya Keynes, a trade specialist at The Economist.

It was also claimed that six fast-growing African countries could provide significant trade openings for the UK as it seeks to expand its trade relationships outside the EU. But how big are these African economies?

"No alcohol safe to drink, global study confirms" ran a recent BBC headline about a paper published in the Lancet journal. Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter tells Tim Harford why moderate drinkers should not be alarmed.

President Trump tweeted this eye-catching claim recently: "Over 90% approval rating for your all-time favorite (I hope) President within the Republican Party and 52% overall." That does sound impressively high. Tim Harford asks the BBC's senior North America reporter, Anthony Zurcher whether the figures are true.

What proportion of the UK's population are immigrants? What proportion of teenage girls give birth each year? Research suggests most people get the answer to these questions, and many others about everyday facts, very wrong. Tim Harford interviews Bobby Duffy, Global Director of Ipsos Social Research Institute and author of the book, "Perils of Perception: Why We're Wong About Nearly Everything", about our most common mistakenly-held beliefs and what they reveal about us.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4403Heart Age Calculator; Danish Sperm Imports; The Size Of The Services Sector; The 'safest Car On The Road'; Counting Goats.2018090720180909Tim Harford questions the usefulness of a popular heart age calculator.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Public Health England says people over 30 should take an online test to find out their heart age, which indicates if they are at increased risk of suffering a heart attack or a stroke. But how useful is the online calculator really? Loyal listeners have been querying the results. Tim Harford speaks to Margaret McCartney, GP and regular contributor to BBC Radio 4's Inside Health.

Does Britain rely on imports of Danish sperm?

A listener contacted the programme to say they'd heard on BBC Radio 4's Today programme that 80% of the UK economy is services. Could that really be right, they asked. We speak to Jonathan Athow from the Office for National Statistics to find out whether the claim is correct (Clue: it is).

And are there really more statues of goats than women in the UK?

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4404Male Suicide, School Ratings, Are Female Tennis Players Treated Unfairly By Umpires?2018091420180916
20180914 (R4)
Tim Harford on what statistics tell us about suicide, good schools and sexism in tennis.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A recent BBC Horizon programme claimed suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. Tim Harford examines this sobering statistic and considers how the UK's suicide compare to the rest of the world.

Back to school, and there's good news: apparently more and more children are in schools rated "good" or "outstanding". But our loyal listeners wonder if the improvement is real and we think they're right to ask the question. While there is evidence of genuine progress, that's not the only thing going on. Tim Harford discusses the statistics with education journalist Laura McInerney.

Are female tennis players treated unfairly by umpires? After Serena Williams' outburst at the US Open and her claim that she was judged more harshly by the umpire because she was a woman, we look at what the statistics can tell us about whether men are treated more favourably than women when they break the rules.

Are you more chimp or Neanderthal? We're talking about DNA, not spirit animals. We often hear scientists talking about how we are related but what's the difference between 96% similarity and sharing 20% of our DNA, and do some of us literally have pieces of Neanderthal within us? Tim speaks to Professor Peter Donnelly to help answer this genetic generation game.

And the results of the great goat statue count are in.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

A recent BBC Horizon programme claimed suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50. Tim Harford examines this sobering statistic and considers how the UK's suicide compare to the rest of the world.

Back to school, and there's good news: apparently more and more children are in schools rated "good" or "outstanding". But our loyal listeners wonder if the improvement is real and we think they're right to ask the question. While there is evidence of genuine progress, that's not the only thing going on. Tim Harford discusses the statistics with education journalist Laura McInerney.

Are female tennis players treated unfairly by umpires? After Serena Williams' outburst at the US Open and her claim that she was judged more harshly by the umpire because she was a woman, we look at what the statistics can tell us about whether men are treated more favourably than women when they break the rules.

Are you more chimp or Neanderthal? We're talking about DNA, not spirit animals. We often hear scientists talking about how we are related but what's the difference between 96% similarity and sharing 20% of our DNA, and do some of us literally have pieces of Neanderthal within us? Tim speaks to Professor Peter Donnelly to help answer this genetic generation game.

And the results of the great goat statue count are in.

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Tim Harford on what statistics tell us about suicide, good schools and sexism in tennis.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4405How Many Schoolchildren Are Carers? Counting Shareholder Income, Museum Visitors Vs Football Fans2018092120180923Tim Harford on child carers, shareholder income, football, museums and dangerous sports.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A BBC questionnaire has found 1 in 5 children surveyed were caring for a family member with an illness or disability. The suggestion is that this could mean that 800,000 secondary-school age children are carrying out some level of care. Loyal listeners have doubted there can be so many young carers. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look into the numbers.

On the 20 September 2017, Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, where residents are United States citizens. George Washington University has published a report – commissioned by the Puerto Rican government – claiming that the hurricane accounted for nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico. President Trump disputed these official figures, tweeting that the Democrats were inflating the death toll to "make me look as bad as possible". So, who is right, and how do you determine who died as a result of a natural disaster? Tim Harford speaks to the lead investigator of the George Washington University report, Dr Carlos Santos-Burgoa.

The shadow chancellor John McDonnell recently claimed 'for the first time shareholders now take a greater share of national income than workers'. But is it true? Tim Harford speaks to The Financial Times’ economics editor Chris Giles.

Loyal listener David from Sheffield has been in touch to query a claim he heard on BBC Radio 4’s Start the Week that more people visit museums than attend football matches. Ruth Alexander finds out if we really do favour culture over the nation’s game.

Plus, what is the most dangerous sport? Tim Harford thinks he has the definitive answer.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

4406 LASTSurviving The Battle Of Britain, The World Cup And Domestic Violence, Buckfast And Arrests In Scotland2018092820180930Tim Harford on Spitfire pilots, and whether football triggers violence in the home.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

4407 LASTLoneliness, School Funding, Same-sex Divorce2018100520181007 (R4)Tim Harford on a BBC loneliness survey, school funding, same-sex divorce, loyal listeners.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

This week BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind programme announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment. It was a large survey conducted by the programme in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. The largest survey into the issue of loneliness to date, said All in the Mind, while the accompanying BBC press release reported that “The survey results indicate that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.” In the editors' notes, the press release cautions that “This was a self-selecting sample, so people experiencing loneliness might have been more attracted to take part, inflating reported levels of loneliness.” But much of the reporting by other BBC outlets and the wider media was not so restrained. Tim Harford speaks to Deirdre Toher from the University of the West of England about why the survey's results need careful interpretation.

Listeners have been asking us to explain the schools funding row. When headteachers marched in protest at school spending last week, the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, went on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to say "We are spending record amounts on our school funding. We are the third highest spender on education in the OECD”. BBC Education correspondent Sean Coughlan explains how he discovered that the OECD figure includes university tuition fees paid by students.

Is it true that "Polish Pilots Shot down 60% of German Aircraft on Battle of Britain Day"? Lizzie McNeill fact-checks this claim found on the side of a van.

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are higher among women than among men. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Adshade, economist at the Vancouver School of Economics and author of “Dirty Money”, a book about the economics of sex and love.

Plus, what makes a listener loyal? A nine-year debate rages on.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Image: A single fan sits in the stands before a college football game
Credit: Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

4501Sugar, Outdoors Play And Planets2019011120190113 (R4)It was reported in the New Year that the government might have to bring in a sugar tax to control how much sugar we’re eating. But how much sugar are we eating, and how does it really affect our health? Tim Harford talks to Chris Snowdon of the Institute of Economic Affairs and Louis Levy, head of nutrition science at Public Health England.

If you noticed that your train ticket got more expensive this January and wondered where all that money goes, wonder no more. We find out if 98p of every £1 spent on fares is actually ‘invested back into the railway’ as the BBC reported. And head of the Royal Statistical Society, Professor Deborah Ashby reveals whether all this money means the train service is getting any better. Spoiler alert: it’s definitely not.

Was your childhood filled with games of cops and robbers, stuck in the mud and 40:40 In? Do you remember long summer days filled with playing Pooh Sticks, building sandcastles or hunting invisible monsters? If so, then according to research commissioned by Persil, you should count yourself lucky; they claim that the majority of children in the UK now spend less time out of doors than prisoners. A shocking statistic if true, but is it?

Which planet is closest to Earth? A Sky at Night programme said it was Mars. But a listener isn't so sure. Tim Harford talks to David A. Rothery, professor of planetary geosciences at the Open University.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on sugar, train fares, children's outdoors play and Earth's closest neighbour.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

4502Intersex Numbers, Fact-checking Facebook, Jack Bogle2019011820190120 (R4)The BBC reports that as many as 1.7% of the world have intersex traits. Tim Harford speaks to an expert in the field, endocrinologist Dr Bernard Khoo about why that number is too high.

Have scores of MPs really been accused or arrested for violent and financial crimes? We fact check the claim, which is circulating on social media, and find it wholly inaccurate. The question remains how disinformation like this can be successfully countered. The fact-checking charity Fullfact has announced a new partnership with Facebook, which aims to make it easier for social media users to distinguish fact from fiction. Tim Harford talks to Fullfact director Will Moy about the scale of the challenge before them.

Tim Harford considers the legacy of Jack Bogle, the founder of the first index mutual fund, who has died, aged 89.

How much does the average Brit really drink over the Christmas period? Some articles claim it’s as high as ‘67 units of alcohol a week’, almost 5 times our recommended weekly limit. Tim Harford and Bethan Head look at the true numbers behind our festive boozing habits.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford asks whether 1.7% of people are intersex, and examines false claims about MPs.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How much does the average Brit really drink over the Christmas period? Some articles claim it’s as high as ‘67 units of alcohol a week’, almost 5 times our recommended weekly limit. Tim Harford and Bethan Head look at the true numbers behind our festive boozing habits.

4503Domestic Violence, Jobs, Easter Snowfall2019012520190127 (R4)A Home Office analysis has calculated that domestic violence cost more than £66bn in England and Wales in the year ending 31 March 2017. But how has this been worked out, and does it all add up? And is this a useful way to capture the harms of violence in the home? Tim Harford and the BBC’s head of statistics, Robert Cuffe, examine the numbers.

An impressive 41 pupils from a state school in East London have secured offers to study at Oxford or Cambridge, it was reported this week. Tim Harford considers what this achievement tells us about the education system as a whole (This item appears only in the longer edition, broadcast on Sunday).

It was reported this week that the number of people in work in the UK has reached a record high of 32.54 million. But is it true that the numbers include people who just work one hour a week and, if so, are they making the jobs situation look better than it really is? Tim Harford talks to Jonathan Athow, the deputy national statistician and director general of economic statistics at the Office of National Statistics.

A listener writes to ask whether January is the riskiest month for suicides. Tim Harford discusses what the data can tell us with Nav Kapur, professor of psychiatry and population health at the University of Manchester. Samaritans is available 24 hours a day for anyone struggling to cope and provide a safe place to talk. Phone: 116 123 or visit the Samaritans website: samaritans.org

And which is likeliest – a white Christmas or a white Easter? More or Less addresses a question first raised on BBC Radio 4’s The Unbelievable Truth.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(image: a young woman suffering from domestic violence stands alone in the bay window of her home. Credit: In Pictures Ltd./Corbis/Getty Images)

Tim Harford on domestic violence, employment numbers, and the chance of a white Easter.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A Home Office analysis has calculated that domestic violence cost more than £66bn in England and Wales in the year ending 31 March 2017. But how has this been worked out, and does it all add up? And is this a useful way to capture the harms of violence in the home? Tim Harford and the BBC’s head of statistics, Robert Cuffe, examine the numbers.

And which is likeliest – a white Christmas or a white Easter? More or Less addresses a question first raised on BBC Radio 4’s The Unbelievable Truth.

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4504Holocaust Deniers, Venezuelan Hyperinflation, Tinder Likes2019020120190203 (R4)Is it true that one in 20 adults in Britain don’t believe the Holocaust took place? Those are the findings of a survey commissioned by The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust. But Professor Peter Lynn of Essex University explains why the survey is unlikely to be accurate.

The inflation rate in Venezuela will reach 10 million per cent in 2019, according to the International Monetary Fund. But is that correct, and how does the situation compare to other episodes of hyperinflation in history? Tim Harford speaks to Professor Steve Hanke, professor of applied economics at Johns Hopkins University in the US, and Mariana Zuniga, a journalist based in the Venezuelan capital, Caracas.

Thousands of people fancy you! Listener Helen was bemused to discover she had 15,000 likes on the dating app Tinder. She doubted the numbers, describing herself as ‘average-looking on a good day’ and asked More or Less to investigate. Phoebe Keane takes on the case and uncovers a few surprises. Tim Harford talks to Dr Marina Adshade of the University of British Columbia in Canada about the stats behind swiping.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on Holocaust deniers, food prices in Venezuela and dating app statistics.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4505Teen Suicide, Brexit Business Moves, Wood-burner Pollution2019020820190210 (R4)Series devoted to the world of numbers.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

“‘Suicidal generation’: tragic toll of teens doubles in 8 years.” This was a headline in the Sunday Times a few days ago. Is it true? Not really. Tim Harford fact checks the claim with journalist Tom Chivers.

This week, the BBC and other media outlets ran headlines saying that a third of firms are considering a move abroad because of Brexit. The stories were based on a survey from the Institute of Directors. Tim Harford is not convinced.

Is it true, as heard on the Today programme, that on average women's clothes stay in their wardrobes for only five weeks? Tim Harford examines this flimsy little statistic.

Last month, the government announced its clean air strategy for 2019. Listeners were surprised to find their cosy wood-burning stoves were branded high polluters. By popular request, Tim Harford scrutinises the numbers.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on teen suicide, Brexit business moves and wood-burner pollution

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

“‘Suicidal generation’: tragic toll of teens doubles in 8 years. ? This was a headline in the Sunday Times a few days ago. Is it true? Not really. Tim Harford fact checks the claim with journalist Tom Chivers.

4506 LASTClimate Change, Victorian Diseases, Alcohol2019021520190217 (R4)On Tuesday, Today programme listeners woke up to the news that the think tank, the Institute for Public Policy Research, had new statistics that showed the scale of the damage we humans are doing to the planet. It said that since 2005, the number of floods across the world has increased by 15 times, extreme temperature events by 20 times, and wildfires seven-fold. However, the IPPR soon corrected that date to 1950, blaming a ‘typo’, but climate change researcher and author of Six Degrees Mark Lynas tells Tim Harford why he thinks the IPPR’s numbers are still wrong.

The Labour Party says Victorian diseases are returning, but is austerity really to blame? Lizzie McNeill and Tim Harford find the case is not proven.

Stand-up comedian Matt Parker talks to Tim Harford about his new book, Humble Pi – a collection of mathematical errors and their consequences.

Will moderate alcohol consumption really damage your mental health to the tune of £2,400 a year, as The Sunday Times claims? Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter doesn’t think so.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Tim Harford on climate change, Victorian diseases, maths mistakes and alcohol consumption.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Series devoted to the world of numbers.

4601Hottest Easter, Insects, Scottish Villages2019042620190428 (R4)Was it a surprise that Easter Monday was so hot?

A heatwave struck the UK over Easter – and in fact Easter Monday was declared the hottest on record in the UK. But listeners asked - is it that surprising that it was the warmest when the date fell so late in April? We crunch the numbers supplied by the Met Office.

Insectageddon

Insects live all around us and if a recent scientific review is anything to go by, then they are on the path to extinction. The analysis found that more than 40% of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5% a year suggests they could disappear in 100 years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble?

Collecting income tax from the 1%

Recently Lord Sugar said in a Tweet “The fact is if you taxed everyone earning over £150k at a rate of 70% it would not raise enough to pay for 5% of the NHS.” Is that true? Helen Miller, Deputy Director and head of tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at how much such a policy might raise from the 1% of tax payers who earn over £150,000.

Where is Scotland’s highest village?

A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all.

Should we be surprised Easter Monday was the hottest recorded?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all.

4602Nurses, Flatmates And Cats2019050320190505 (R4)Nurse suicide rates

There were some worrying figures in the news this week about the number of nurses in England and Wales who died by suicide over the last seven years. We try to work out what the numbers are really telling us.

Are 27 million birds killed a year by cats?

Newspapers reported this week that 27 million birds are killed by cats each year. We find out how this number - which might not really be "news" - was calculated.

How rare are house shares?

A listener got in touch to say she was surprised to read that only 3% of people aged 18 to 34 live in a house share with other people. She feels it must be too low – but is she living in a London house-sharing bubble? We find out.

Proving that x% of y = y% of x

Why is it that 4% of 75 is the same as 75% of 4? Professor Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford joins Tim in the studio to explore a mind-blowing maths ‘trick’.

We look into sobering statistics about nurses and some curious claims about house-sharing.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4603Sex, Coal, Missing People And Mice2019051020190512 (R4)Sex Recession
This week it was reported that British people are having less sex than they used to. Similar statistics are cropping up elsewhere in the world too. But one US stat seemed particularly stark: the number of young men having no sex at all in the past year has tripled in a decade. But is it true?

No coal power for a week
There were many reports in the newspapers this week saying the UK has set a new record for the number of consecutive days generating energy without burning any coal. So where is our electricity coming from?

Missing people
Some listeners got in touch to say they were surprised to hear that a person is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds. Dr Karen Shalev Greene of the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons joins us to explore the numbers.

In Mice
One scientist is correcting headlines on Twitter by adding one key two-word caveat – the fact that the research cited has only been carried out "in mice". We ask him why he’s doing it.

Are we having less sex? And what happened to coal? (These items are unrelated.)

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4604Heart Deaths, Organised Crime And Gender Data Gaps2019051720190519 (R4)Are deaths from heart disease on the rise?

This week the British Heart Foundation had us all stopping mid-biscuit with the news that the number of under 75s dying from cardiovascular disease is going up for the first time in half a century. It sounds like bad news – but is it?

Does Huawei contribute £1.7billion to the UK economy?

People were sceptical that the Chinese telecom company could contribute such a large amount to the UK economy. We take a deeper look at the number and discuss whether it is reasonable to include such a broad range of activities connected to the company to reach that figure.

Deaths from organised crime

The National Crime Agency (NCA) said this week that organised crime kills more people in the UK than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined. But what does the evidence say? The NCA also said that there are 181,000 offenders in the UK fueling serious and organised crime. That’s more than twice the strength of the British Army. We try to find out where those figures came from.

The absence of women’s lives in data

Do government and economic statistics capture the lives of women fairly? If not, does it matter? How could things be changed? Tim Harford speaks to Caroline Criado-Perez about her new book ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.’

Image: Human heart attack, illustration
Credit: Science Photo Library

Are more people dying from coronary disease? Plus how we need more economic data on women.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4605Eurovision And Fact-checking Naomi Wolf2019052420190526 (R4)The formula for a successful Eurovision song

Last weekend the UK entry to Eurovision came last. Pop writer Chris Lochery has been looking at the statistics to see what characteristics winning songs have. The data show him, he claims, exactly what the UK is doing wrong.

Criminalising Victorian gay men – a case of misinterpretation?

Radio 3’s Free Thinking ran an interview this week with academic Dr Naomi Wolf about her new book on 19th century attitudes to homosexuality. The presenter Dr Matthew Sweet challenged her on her statistics about prosecutions especially the idea that there had been dozens of executions in the mid-19th Century. He found that the figures she had cited were not quite what they seemed.

What’s the point of statins?

A loyal listener asks what difference taking statins makes in reducing his chances of suffering from a stroke or heart attack in the next 10 years. We ask GP and broadcaster Dr Margaret McCartney to explain.

The stats behind making a successful song, plus misunderstanding Victorian court records.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4606Hay Festival Special2019053120190602 (R4)This week More or Less goes to meet an army of loyal listeners – and a rebellious clique of disloyal ones – at the Hay Festival.

Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander ask which country is the richest. Plus, we pose a multiple choice question about multiple choice questions.

And we’re joined by Professor David Spiegelhalter, who uses statistics to understand the behaviour of one of the world's most dangerous serial killers.

What does it mean to say that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4607 LASTAre Married Women Flipping Miserable?2019060720190609 (R4)Are married women flipping miserable?

Professor Paul Dolan told an audience at the Hay Festival that when married women are asked if they are happy – if their husbands were out of the room – they admitted to being miserable. Unfortunately, this was due to a misunderstanding of the American Time Use Survey which had a category called ‘Spouse Absent’. It turns out this does not mean that a husband has left the room while a wife is being surveyed, it means that the husband is living away from home at the moment – perhaps serving abroad with the military. So what can we say about the happiness of people who are married, single, with or without children?

Arguing over university access in Scotland

Jo Swinson, the Liberal Democrat MP, was accused of using inaccurate statistics in a recent edition of BBC Question Time. She compared the numbers of people going to university in an area in Glasgow with an area in her own constituency, to raise a point about inequalities in Scottish education. Many people were cross about this especially those in the SNP, such as First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon and Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Education researcher Lucy Hunter Blackburn joins us to look at what she described as the strangest political argument she's seen over the years.

Do One in Two people get cancer?

Channel 4’s The Great British Bake Off recently ran a celebrity series raising money for charity. It ran with the statistics that one in two people will get cancer in their lifetime. Many listeners were surprised by this high number. We find out why this is.

The Hidden Half

Broadcaster Michael Blastland has written a book called ‘The Hidden Half’ about the things we fail to see when measuring things. Tim Harford sits down with him to talk about counting sheep and economic productivity.

Measuring happiness, university access in Scotland, plus will one in two get cancer?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Broadcaster Michael Blastland has written a book called ‘The Hidden Half’ about the things we fail to see when measuring things. Tim Harford sits down with him to talk about counting sheep and economic productivity.

4701Exam Grades, Chernobyl, Ethiopian Trees20190823

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Was your A-level grade correct?

Teenagers around the country have been getting their exam results in recent weeks but do they know whether the grades they receive are really accurate? The Times doesn’t think so. They ran a headline earlier this month that said that 48% of A Level results were wrong. Where did they get that number from and is it true? Ben Carter talks to Dennis Sherwood who’s been looking at the data.

The chances of giving birth

Charlotte, the producer of the show, is due to have a baby in mid-October. What are the chances she will give birth before the end of the series on October 4? Emily Oster, author of Cribsheet and Expecting Better crunches the numbers to find out how worried Tim Harford and the editor should be.

Chernobyl disaster deaths

The recent TV miniseries ‘Chernobyl’ has stirred up debate online about the accuracy of its portrayal of the explosion at a nuclear power plant in the former Soviet state of Ukraine. We fact-check the programme and try and explain why it so hard to say how many people will die because of the Chernobyl disaster.

Ethiopian trees – a world record?

In Ethiopia, the government says 350 million tree seedlings were planted in one day recently, claiming it broke the world record. It’s part of a wider plan to plant four billion this year. There’s been a lot of praise for the country’s efforts, but many have raised concerns about the numbers.

Was your A-level grade correct? Plus were 350m trees planted in one day in Ethiopia?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4702Amazon Fires, State Pension, American Burgers2019083020190901 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Amazon forest fires

This year’s fires in Brazil have been the worst in 10 years, but are they really 85 percent worse than last year? Many media reports also mention that the Amazon is the lungs of the planet – producing 20 percent of the Earth’s oxygen. Tim Harford speaks to Daniel Nepstad, President of Earth Innovation Institute, to analyse what we know about the fires.

The state pension and pensioner poverty

Earlier this month The Guardian website ran an article that claimed that British basic pensions are 16% of average earnings. Our initial thoughts were that the number seemed low so we explored its origins and discovered that things weren’t quite as they seemed.

Are Americans really eating more than two burgers a day?

Listeners spotted a report that Americans are eating around 800 burgers a year. It seemed a fantastically high number – surely it couldn’t be true. We looked into it, and it isn’t. We work out what a better figure would be.

Prehistoric pets
The team fact checks Jurassic Park, a well-known film franchise to see whether we are close to having prehistoric animals among us.

What data should the government collect?
Tim Harford talks to Anna Powell-Smith, a data scientist who keeps a blog of her efforts at scouring through government databases to see what the government does and doesn’t record and why that matters.

Are forest fires in Brazil the worst in recent times? What is the state pension worth?

What data should the government collect?
Tim Harford talks to Anna Powell-Smith, a data scientist who keeps a blog of her efforts at scouring through government databases to see what the government does and doesn’t record and why that matters.

4703Climate Deaths, Austerity, Pet Food2019090620190908 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Challenging the idea of six billion deaths due to climate change

Does ‘the science’ predict 6 billion deaths by the end of this century due to climate change? That’s what Roger Hallam, co-founder of environmental campaigners Extinction Rebellion said on an edition of the BBC’s HARDtalk programme last month. We take a look at the origins of that number and we talk to Andy Haines, Professor of Environmental Change and Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, whose estimates on the number of deaths are…..well……..lower.

How ‘back of the envelope’ calculations can help you

Do you struggle to multiply big numbers together? Do you get fazed by questions involving sizes and quantities? Rob Eastaway gives some tips on how to manage big or complicated numbers when you are stuck without the need of the internet or a calculator to help you.

Why we’ve had ‘austerity’ despite high government borrowing

A loyal listener emailed to ask, “How has it been that we’ve suffered years of ‘austerity’ when the actual amounts of borrowing were greater, not smaller, than in the previous years?” Tim Harford talks to Dr Gemma Tetlow, Chief Economist at the Institute for Government about the national debt, the deficit and fiscal headroom.

Do pets consume up to 20 percent of all meat globally?

More or Less listeners were surprised by a claim they read on the BBC website recently: “Pets are estimated to be consuming up to 20 percent of all meat globally.” So we – of course – investigated and will explain all.

Challenging the idea of six billion deaths due to climate change; plus what pets eat.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4704Maternal Deaths, Taxi Driver Earnings And Statistical Pop Music2019091320190915 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Are black women five times more likely to die in childbirth?

Statistics published earlier this year led to headlines claiming that black women are five times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. But we find out that a lot of context has been lost in that statement. We look at the number of women who die, the reasons, and also discover that these death figures relate to a period spanning through pregnancy and the weeks afterwards – not just while women are in labour.

Are Taxi driver’s salaries faring well?

Price comparison website Compare the Market recently published a ranking of which professions have seen the largest salary increase since 2008. Our listeners were surprised to see that taxi drivers topped that list with an increase of 72% in ten years. The More or Less team never tire of fact checking so we’ve looked into the data to see whether this claim is wheely accurate.

Where are our boys? The Polish village that’s gone a decade without.

A one-road village in south west Poland made headlines across the world after they sent an all-female team of junior firefighters to a regional contest. The girls responded to questions by explaining that their village ‘has no boys’. Whilst not strictly true, they haven’t had a boy born in the village for a decade. The village is now on its twelfth girl in a row, but is it really that rare or significant?

A statistically good pop song

Kyle D Evans has taken a look at the 100 most popular recent pop songs in the UK to work out statistically the best ingredients to make his own. He looks at the most popular key and words used to pen and perform his own song.

Are black women five times more likely to die in childbirth? Plus making pop music.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Kyle D Evans has taken a look at the 100 most popular recent pop songs in the UK to work out statistically the best ingredients to make his own. He looks at the most popular key and words used to pen and perform his own song.

4705Dementia, Inflation And Shark Deaths2019092020190922 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

‘Candidates who want to raise concerns about Biden's (or Sanders's) age should... actually talk about their age, and not try to bring it up coyly though euphemism or inference’ wrote Nate Silver, the king of American stats, last week. So we are actually going to talk about the age of some of the frontrunners in the Democrat nomination race, Donald Trump himself and the health risks they face.

Sharks kill 12 humans a year but humans kill 11,417 sharks an hour. That’s the statistic used in a Facebook meme that’s doing the rounds. Is it true? Boris Worm, Professor of Marine Conservation and Biology at Dalhousie University reveals all.

Loyal listener Del emailed us to say that he’d read a blog published by Tradesman Saver that claimed that ‘New research reveals tradesmen earn thousands more than university graduates’. An interesting claim. Things aren’t quite as simple as they seem though….

The sale of computer games has become an increasingly important part of the UK’s economy – to such an extent that they were cited as a reason the CPI inflation rate fell in August. But as we discover, their sales are quite tricky to measure. We speak to Anna Isaacs of the Wall Street Journal.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Health risks for presidential hopefuls, falling inflation, shark deaths and salary claims

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

4706Austerity Deaths, C-sections And Being Struck By Lightning.2019092720190929 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

During Question Time on the 19th journalist Ash Sarkar claimed that 120,000 people have been killed by austerity measures, but is this true? We speak to Mike Murphy, professor of demography at the London School of Economics to find out more.

Loyal listener Viv emailed us after hearing a surprising statistic: ‘producing a leg of lamb releases the same amount of Co2 as a transatlantic flight’ – does this spell the end of the Easter Sunday roast or are the figures a bit woolly?

Yet more loyal listeners Charles and Lucy emailed us wondering if we could look into how many women in China give birth in hospitals, and whether it was true that 50% of births there are delivered by caesarean section. Oh, and we also mention guts and bacteria…

Does God hate men? Seems quite a controversial statement but when the statistics show that men are four times more likely to be struck by lightning than women you can’t help but wonder… Tim talks to Timandra Harkness to find out more.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill
Editor: Richard Vadon

Has Austerity caused 120 thousand deaths in the UK and does God hate men?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill
Editor: Richard Vadon

4707New Hospitals Promised, Aid To Ukraine, Bacon Sandwiches2019100420191006 (R4)Dissecting the government’s hospitals announcement, President Trump’s Ukraine claims, and mixed messages about eating processed meat.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has announced a plan to build 40 new hospitals in England – echoed by Boris Johnson in his conference speech this week. But media reports have been confused. How much will it all cost and when will these hospitals be built?

Amidst the impeachment controversy in the US, President Trump and the EU have been trading claims about who gives most to Ukraine, the country at the centre of the scandal. We weigh in.

And bacon sandwich-lovers have been left befuddled by a new report that suggests it’s okay to eat them after all. We explore the conflicting advice and find a philosophical answer.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Simon Maybin
Editor: Richard Vadon

Dissecting the government's hospitals announcement and President Trump's Ukraine claims.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4707 LASTNew Hospitals, Promised Aid To Ukraine, Bacon Sandwiches2019100420191006 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Dissecting the government’s hospitals announcement, President Trump’s Ukraine claims, and mixed messages about eating processed meat.

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has announced a plan to build 40 new hospitals in England – echoed by Boris Johnson in his conference speech this week. But media reports have been confused. How much will it all cost and when will these hospitals be built?

Amidst the impeachment controversy in the US, President Trump and the EU have been trading claims about who gives most to Ukraine, the country at the centre of the scandal. We weigh in.

And bacon sandwich-lovers have been left befuddled by a new report that suggests it’s okay to eat them after all. We explore the conflicting advice and find a philosophical answer.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Simon Maybin
Editor: Richard Vadon

Dissecting the government's hospitals announcement and President Trump's Ukraine claims.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

4801Australian Animal Deaths, Carbon Emissions, Election Mystery2020011020200112 (R4)Animal suffering has been a painful part of the story of Australia's bush fires. Headlines have claimed that more than a billion animals have perished. But some experts aren’t convinced. Tim Harford speaks to Professor Kate Parr of Liverpool University to see how these figures were calculated, how accurate they are and whether some animals are more likely suffer fatalities than others.

The UK’s CO2 emissions peaked in the year 1973 and have declined by around 38% since 1990 - faster than any other major developed country. Zeke Hausfather from the Carbon Brief explains how we have achieved this, and whether there's a catch.

There's been much talk of Labour voters switching to the Conservatives in the December election. But the vote share of the Conservatives increased by just over one percentage point. The BBC's election guru, Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, explains what's going on.

The Resolution Foundation, a think tank, has released a report that said more than 8% of people aged 16-64 – some 3.4m people in total - have never had a paid job. That is a large increase since 1998 when, about 5.5% of the working age population, or 2 million people, had never worked. Tim Harford asks the report’s author, Laura Gardiner, to tell us who these nearly 3.5 million people are who’ve never worked.

And...have we really entered a new decade?

Producer: Ruth Alexander
Editor: Richard Vadon

How many animals have died in Australia and how many Labour voters went Conservative?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Animal suffering has been a painful part of the story of Australia's bush fires. Headlines have claimed that more than a billion animals have perished. But some experts aren’t convinced. Tim Harford speaks to Professor Kate Parr of Liverpool University to see how these figures were calculated, how accurate they are and whether some animals are more likely suffer fatalities than others.

The Resolution Foundation, a think tank, has released a report that said more than 8% of people aged 16-64 – some 3.4m people in total - have never had a paid job. That is a large increase since 1998 when, about 5.5% of the working age population, or 2 million people, had never worked. Tim Harford asks the report’s author, Laura Gardiner, to tell us who these nearly 3.5 million people are who’ve never worked.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

480217/01/20202020011720200119 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

The fugitive former Nissan boss, Carlos Ghosn, has raised questions about justice in Japan. The government in Tokyo has defended its system, where 99% of prosecutions lead to conviction. Prof Colin Jones, from Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, explains what's behind this seemingly shocking statistic. Also, is it possible to calculate the cost of Brexit? Gemma Tetlow from the Institute for Government helps us weigh the arguments. How much does luck play into Liverpool FC's amazing season? And, crucially, how fast is an alligator?

Quantifying justice in Japan, the cost of Brexit, alligator speed and Liverpool FC's luck

The fugitive former Nissan boss, Carlos Ghosn, has raised questions about justice in Japan. The government in Tokyo has defended its system, where 99% of prosecutions lead to conviction. Prof Colin Jones, from Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, explains what's behind this seemingly shocking statistic. Also, is it possible to calculate the cost of Brexit? Gemma Tetlow from the Institute for Government helps us weigh the arguments. How much does luck play into Liverpool FC's amazing season? And, crucially, how fast is an alligator?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4803Netflix And Chill2020012420200126 (R4)The list of ways campaigners say we need to change our behaviour in response to climate change seems to grow every week. Now, streaming video is in the frame. We test the claim that watching 30 minutes of Netflix has the same carbon footprint as driving four miles. We hear scepticism about a report that sepsis is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide. Author Bill Bryson stops by with a question about guns – and gets quizzed about a number in his new book. And, how much sleep do we really need? Find out if we need more or less.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Neal Razzell

The carbon consequence of streaming, stats on sepsis and stretching Bill Bryson to Pluto

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

The list of ways campaigners say we need to change our behaviour in response to climate change seems to grow every week. Now, streaming video is in the frame. We test the claim that watching 30 minutes of Netflix has the same carbon footprint as driving four miles. We hear scepticism about a report that sepsis is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide. Author Bill Bryson stops by with a question about guns – and gets quizzed about a number in his new book. And, how much sleep do we really need? Find out if we need more or less.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Neal Razzell

The carbon consequence of streaming, stats on sepsis and stretching Bill Bryson to Pluto

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4804Coronavirus, Emotions And Guns2020013120200202 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Health officials are urgently trying to contain the spread of a new coronavirus in China and beyond. We fact-check a particularly hyperbolic claim about its spread that’s been doing the rounds on social media. Elsewhere, a loyal listener has told us about a smelly statistic emanating from Radio 4. We nose around the relationship between our olfactory organs and emotions. And Bill Bryson reacts to our work answering his question about an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal about gun ownership and homicide rates.

Producer: Neal Razzell
Presenter: Tim Harford

Numbers that matter in measuring outbreaks, smelly stats around scent and more.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Producer: Neal Razzell
Presenter: Tim Harford

4805Tracking Terror Suspects2020020720200209 (R4)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life.

Costing counter-terrorism, interrogating tomatoes, the UK's reading age, and the politics of GDP. It's a busy week on More or Less. We start in Streatham, where counter-terrorism officers shot dead a man they'd been following after he began stabbing people. Officials have been tight-lipped about the costs of tracking suspects. But we reached into the archive to find an interview with the former head of MI5, who gives a sense of the scale of the challenge and the expense facing the security services. We fact-check a claim from the Prime Minister about the level of economic growth under 'this government'. And there are broader questions: are today's tomatoes less healthy than those grown in the 1950s? Is there such a thing as a nation's 'reading age'? And are nurses disproportionately led by men?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Neal Razzell

Costing counter-terrorism, interrogating tomatoes, the UK's reading age, politics and GDP

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4806Coronavirus, Jam, Ai And Tomatoes2020021420200216 (R4)Loyal More or Less listeners have questions about the Coronavirus Covid-19, and so do we – particularly given this week's news that the numbers have all changed: deaths are 20 per cent higher than we thought, and the number of cases has increased by a third. Tim Harford talks to Dr Nathalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer at King’s College London about what we now know.

How much jam is there in the world? A listener asks and author Rob Eastaway tries his best to answer.

Artificial Intelligence – or AI for short – is often depicted in films in the shape of helpful droids, all-knowing computers or even malevolent ‘death bots’. In real life, we’re making leaps and bounds in this technology’s capabilities with sat-navs, and voice assistants like Alexa and Siri making frequent appearances in our daily lives. So, should we look forward to a future of AI best friends or fear the technology becoming too intelligent? Tim Harford talks to Janelle Shane, author of the book ‘You Look Like a Thing and I Love you’ about her experiments with AI and why the technology is really more akin to an earthworm than a high-functioning ‘death bot’.

Is the drop in the copper content of tomatoes down to a change in pesticide use? And just how nutritious are today's vegetables? Ethnobotanist and regular Gardeners’ Question Time panellist James Wong answers our listeners’ questions.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Covid-19 stats, spreading jam far and wide, cooking with AI, plus James Wong on vegetables

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4901Coronavirus Deaths, Face Masks And A Potential Baby Boom2020040820200409 (R4)A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Is the coronavirus related death count misleading because of delays in reporting? Do face masks help prevent the spread of the virus? Was a London park experiencing Glastonbury levels of overcrowding this week? And after reports of condom shortages, we ask whether there’s any evidence that we’re nine months away from a lockdown-induced baby boom.

Plus in a break from Covid-19 reporting we ask a Nobel-prize winner how many Earth-like planets there are in existence.

Is the coronavirus death count misleading because of delays in reporting?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4902Supermarket Stockpiling, A-level Results And Covid-19 Gender Disparity2020041520200331 (R4)This week, we examine criticisms of Imperial College’s epidemiologists. We ask how A-Level and GCSE grades will be allocated, given that the exams have vanished in a puff of social distancing. Adam Kucharski, author of The Rules of Contagion, tells us about the history of epidemiology. We look at the supermarkets: how are their supply chains holding up and how much stockpiling is really going on. And is coronavirus having a different impact on men than on women?

(A woman looks at the empty shelves while shopping at a Sainsbury's supermarket in Walthamstow, East London. Credit:Tolga Akmen/Getty Images)

Is the coronavirus pandemic having a different impact on men and women?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4903Comparing Countries, The Risk To Nhs Staff, And Birdsong2020042220200423 (R4)We compare Covid-19 rates around the world. When is the UK going to be past the worst?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The lockdown is difficult, but we hope it’s reducing the number of people catching the virus. So, when are we going to be past the worst? We try and compare how successful different countries have been at containing the virus. Mathematical comedian Matt Parker helps us out with a perplexing sum about social distancing. Headlines tell us how many NHS staff and transport workers are dying from the virus, but how does this compare with the general population? And is it just us, or have the birds started singing really loudly?

A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

4903Coronavirus Deaths, Facemasks And A Potential Baby Boom2020042220200423 (R4)Is the coronavirus related death count misleading because of delays in reporting? Do face masks help prevent the spread of the virus? Was a London park experiencing Glastonbury levels of overcrowding this week? And after reports of condom shortages, we ask whether there’s any evidence that we’re nine months away from a lockdown-induced baby boom.

Plus in a break from Covid-19 reporting we ask a Nobel-prize winner how many Earth-like planets there are in existence.

Is the coronavirus death count misleading because of delays in reporting?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

The lockdown is difficult, but we hope it’s reducing the number of people catching the virus. So, when are we going to be past the worst? We try and compare how successful different countries have been at containing the virus. Mathematical comedian Matt Parker helps us out with a perplexing sum about social distancing. Headlines tell us how many NHS staff and transport workers are dying from the virus, but how does this compare with the general population? And is it just us, or have the birds started singing really loudly?

4904Ethnic Minority Deaths, Climate Change And Lockdown2020042920200501 (R4)A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Are doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds disproportionately affected by Covid-19?

We continue our mission to use numbers to make sense of the world - pandemic or no pandemic. Are doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds disproportionately affected by Covid-19? Was the lockdown the decisive change which caused daily deaths in the UK to start to decrease? With much of the world’s population staying indoors, we ask what impact this might have on climate change and after weeks of staring out of the window at gorgeous April sunshine, does cruel fate now doom us to a rain-drenched summer? Plus, crime is down, boasts the home secretary Priti Patel. Should we be impressed?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4905Testing Truth, Fatality Rates, Obesity Risk And Trampolines.2020050620200510 (R4)A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Did the UK really carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests in one day?

The Health Minister Matt Hancock promised the UK would carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April. He claims he succeeded. Did he?

The question of just how dangerous the new coronavirus really is, is absolutely crucial. If it’s high, there could be dreadful consequences if we relaxed the lockdowns. So why is the fatality rate so difficult to calculate?

Is it true that being obese makes Covid-19 ten times more dangerous? And what is injuring more kids in lockdown, trampolines or Joe Wicks’ exercises?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4906Vitamin D, Explaining R And The 2 Metre Rule2020051320200515 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Is Vitamin D an under-appreciated weapon in the fight against Covid-19?

R is one of the most important numbers of the pandemic. So what is it? And how is it estimated? We return to the topic of testing and ask again whether the governments numbers add up. As the government encourages those who can’t work at home to return to their workplaces, we’re relying on social distancing to continue to slow the spread of the virus. But where does the rule that people should stay 2 metres apart come from? And is Vitamin D an under-appreciated weapon in the fight against Covid-19?

4907School Re-opening, Germany's Covid Success And Statistically Savvy Parrots2020052020200522 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Will re-opening some schools put children or their teachers at risk?

Risk expert David Spiegelhalter discusses whether re-opening some schools could be dangerous for children or their teachers. We ask what’s behind Germany’s success in containing the number of deaths from Covid-19. Many governments across the world are borrowing huge sums to prop up their economies during this difficult time, but with everyone in the same boat who are they borrowing from? Plus we revisit the UK’s testing figures yet again and meet some statistically savvy parrots.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4908Obeying Lockdown, Flight Arrivals, And Is This Wave Of The Epidemic Waning?2020052720200529 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Does the data show this wave of the epidemic is waning in the UK?

More than 35,000 people in the UK have now officially died from Covid-19, but does the data show this wave of the epidemic is waning? We ask who respects lockdown, who breaks it, and why?

Our listeners are astounded by how many people allegedly flew into the UK in the first three months of the year - we’re on the story. We look at the performance of the Scottish health system on testing. And some pub-quiz joy involving a pencil.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4909False Negatives, Testing Capacity And Pheasants2020060320200605 (R4)A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

How accurate are the swab tests used to diagnose Covid-19?

As lockdowns begin to lift the government is relying on testing and contact tracing programmes to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections. But how accurate are the swab tests used to diagnose the disease?

The UK Statistics Authority has criticised the government for the way it reports testing figures, saying it’s not surprising that these numbers “are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.” We take a look at how the government achieved its target of developing a daily testing capacity of 200,000 by the end of May.

Can we really have only 60 harvests left in the world? Plus, the very pleasant Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a pleasant pheasant question for us.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4910Antibody Tests, Early Lockdown Advice And European Deaths2020061020200612 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Are more people are dying of Covid-19 in the UK than all the EU countries put together?

At the start of March the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that the UK’s coronavirus outbreak was four weeks behind the epidemic in Italy. This ability to watch other countries deal with the disease ahead of us potentially influenced the decisions we made about which actions to take and when, including lockdown. So was he right?

Is it true that more people are dying of Covid-19 in the UK than in the 27 countries of the EU put together? We investigate headlines reporting that antibody tests are 100% accurate. Plus, we catch up on how many coronavirus tests the government says it’s now carrying out.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

4911Quarantine, Test And Trace And Bodmas20200617Is it true that Covid-19 mostly kills people who would die soon anyway?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The UK has introduced new rules requiring everyone arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days. But given the severity of the UK’s outbreak can there be many places more infectious? Is it true that Covid-19 mostly kills people who would die soon anyway? The first figures are out showing how England’s Test and Trace scheme is performing, but they contain a mystery we’re keen to resolve. Are Pangolins the most trafficked animal in the world? And we play with some mathematical puzzles, courtesy of statistician Jen Rogers.

4912Child Poverty, School Inequality And A Second Wave20200624As lockdown eases, why hasn't there been a spike in infections?

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

As lockdown eases, why hasn't there been a spike in infections? We get a first look at the evidence for the much-trumpeted Covid-19 treatment, Dexamethasone. Stephanie Flanders tells us what’s happening to the UK economy. Keir Starmer says child poverty is up; Boris Johnson says it’s down, who's right? Plus which children are getting a solid home-school experience, and who is missing out?

A look at the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

4913 LASTWhy Did The Uk Have Such A Bad Covid-19 Epidemic?20200701A look at the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Bad decision-making, bad advice, or bad luck?

The UK has suffered one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus anywhere in the world. We’ve been analysing the numbers for the last 14 weeks, and in the last programme of this More or Less series, we look back through the events of March 2020 to ask why things went so wrong - was it bad decision-making, bad advice, or bad luck?

5001Hawaiian Pizza, Obesity And A Second Wave?20200812Covid-19 cases are rising in the UK - is it a sign of a second wave of the virus? We’re picking apart the data and asking how concerned we should be, both now and as autumn approaches. Scotland is under-counting Covid deaths, England is overcounting them: we’re asking why and whether the problems will be fixed. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claims over a quarter of all the fruit and veg kids eat is in the form of pizza, can this be true? Plus, as some people are blaming obesity for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, we’ll find out how big a difference it really makes.
5002A-level Algorithms, Poker And Buses20200819A look at the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

We unpick the A-level algoshambles and discover what poker teaches us about statistics.

5003Covid Plasma Therapy2020082620200828 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Donald Trump says allowing the emergency use of blood plasma therapy for coronavirus patients will save “countless lives” and is “proven to reduce mortality by 35%”. We look at the evidence.

Amid talk of coronavirus being back on the rise in the UK, what does the data show? Could screening for breast cancer from the age of 40 save lives? And can it really be true than one in five women in 18th century London made a living selling sex?

Claims about a Covid-19 treatment, breast cancer screening, and 18th century sex workers.

5004Schools And Coronavirus, Test And Trace, Maths And Reality2020090220200904 (R4)
20200906 (R4)
A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

As children return to school in England and Wales, we hear about what we know and what we don’t when it comes to Covid-19 risks in school settings. What do the numbers tell us about how well test and trace is working? Will reopening universities really kill 50,000 people? Are the UK’s figures on economic growth as bad as they look? And is maths real? When someone goes viral asking maths questions on social media, More or Less finds answers.

Evidence on Covid-19 risks in schools, data on contact tracing, and a philosophical query.

5005Covid Cases Rising, A Guide To Lifes Risks, And Racing Jelly-fish2020090920200911 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A jump in the number of UK Covid-19 cases reported by the government has led to fears coronavirus is now spreading quickly again. What do the numbers tell us about how worried we should be? Plus a guide to balancing life’s risks in the time of coronavirus, the government’s targets on test and trace, and a suspicious statistic about the speed of jelly-fish.

How worrying is the UK's jump in cases? Plus balancing risks and the speed of jelly-fish.

5006Covid Testing Capacity, Refugee Numbers, And Mascara2020091620200918 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Amid reports of problems with coronavirus testing across the UK, we interrogate the numbers on laboratory capacity. Does the government’s Operation Moonshot plan for mass testing make statistical sense? Has the UK been taking more refugees from outside the European Union than any EU country? We explore the connection between socio-economic status and Covid deaths. And we do the maths on a mascara brand’s bold claim about emboldening your eyelashes.

Confusing claims on lab capacity, the UK's record on asylum, and the volume of eyelashes.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

5007Covid Curve Queried, False Positives, And The Queen's Head2020092320200925 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

A scary government graph this week showed what would happen if coronavirus cases doubled every seven days. But is that what’s happening? There’s much confusion about how many Covid test results are false positives - we explain all. Plus, do coffee and pregnancy mix? And the Queen, Mao, and Gandhi go head to head: who is on the most stamps and coins?

How fast are coronavirus cases doubling? Plus testing confusion and a royal face-off.

5008'record' Covid Cases, Trump On The Death Count, And Ant Pheromones2020093020201002 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Daily recorded coronavirus cases in the UK have hit record levels;
we explain why that’s not as bad news as it sounds. We hear a mathematical answer to the problem of Covid-19 testing capacity. How can we assess a country’s capacity to take refugees? US president Donald Trump has said that just six per cent of people who were reported to have died from Covid in the US actually died from the disease. Could he be right? (No.) Plus: what ant pheromones can teach you about your life decisions.

(Leafcutter Ants carrying leaves across a branch. Credit: Carlos Ángel Vázquez Tena/Getty images)

Case counts in perspective, a suspect stat from the US, and life lessons from insects.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

5009Spreadsheet Snafu, 'long Covid' Quantified, And The Birth Of Probability2020100720201009 (R4)
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A look at numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

After nearly 16,000 cases disappeared off coronaviruses spreadsheets, we ask what went wrong. How common are lasting symptoms from Covid-19? If you survey people about the death toll from Covid, they’ll make mistakes. What do those mistakes teach us? Pedants versus poets on the subject of exponential growth. And we dive deep into the unholy marriage of mathematicians, gamblers, and actuaries at the dawn of modern finance.

Missing coronavirus case data, long-term symptoms, and a big mathematical moment.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life