More Or Less [World Service]

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20120127Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in polit.

Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in polit...

2012020320120204Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in polit.

Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

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2012032320120325Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
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2013040720130408 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013041420130415 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

2013042820130429 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

2013050520130506 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013051220130513 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

2013051920130520 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

2013052620130527 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013060220130603 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013060920130610 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013070720130708 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

2013071420130715 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013072820130729 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013080420130805 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
2013092920130930 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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02/05/20142014050420140505 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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02/12/2016 Gmt20161202

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

03/02/201220120204Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in polit...

Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

03/02/2017 Gmt2017020320170206 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

03/03/2017 Gmt2017030320170306 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

04/11/201720171105Tim 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)

06/01/2017 Gmt2017010620170109 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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07/10/2016 Gmt2016100720161010 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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08/08/20142014081020140811 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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09/12/2016 Gmt2016120920161212 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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10/02/201220120212Tim Harford explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in polit.
10/02/2017 Gmt2017021020170213 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
100 Year Floods?2015121120151214 (WS)Do so-called ‘100 year floods’ only happen once a century?

Do so-called ‘100 year floods’ only happen once a century? Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson investigate.

Also, does the air in Beijing cause as much damage as smoking 40 cigarettes a day?

(Image: Flooding in Paris in 1910. Credit: Getty)

Do so-called \u2018100 year floods' only happen once a century?

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

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

11/11/2016 Gmt2016111120161114 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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15/03/20132013031620130317 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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16/12/2016 Gmt20161216
17/02/201220120218Tim Harford investigates explains the numbers and statistics used in political debate,...

Tim Harford investigates explains the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life.

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

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

18/11/2016 Gmt2016111820161121 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

21/04/201220120422Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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21/10/2016 Gmt2016102120161024 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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22/02/20132013022320130224 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
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23/12/2016 Gmt2016122320161226 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

24/02/2017 Gmt2017022420170227 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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27/01/2017 Gmt2017012720170130 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

27/06/20142014062920140630 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

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28/04/2017 Gmt20170428Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

30/09/2016 Gmt2016093020161003 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

31/03/201220120401
60 Harvests And Statistically Savvy Parrots2020052320200524 (WS)
20200525 (WS)
Can there really only be 60 harvests left in Earth's soil?

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

A listener asks if there can really only be 60 harvests left in Earth's soil. Are we heading for an agricultural Armageddon? Plus we meet the parrots who are the first animals, outside humans and great apes, to be shown to understand probability.

(image: the highly intelligent and endangered Kea parrots of New Zealand / Credit: Imogen Warren/Getty images)

A Case Of Statistical Significance In Greece20130202The case of Andreas Georgiou, head of the Greek statistics agency, charged with treason

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

This week Ruth Alexander looks at the extraordinary case of Andreas Georgiou the head of the Greek statistics agency who is facing criminal charges for what amounts to statistical treason. It is a story that goes to the heart of the Greek debt crisis, that includes extreme office politics, alleged e-mail hacking and now a statistician facing up to five years in prison.

Also: do American Football Players die earlier than their fellow Americans?

(Image: A toy shark eating a toy man holding the Greek flag. Credit: Getty Images)

A 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?

A Grand Economic Experiment?20120506European austerity versus US stimulus.

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

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?

Plus, we investigate the height of North Koreans.

(Image: A woman holds several Euro currency notes and US ten dollar bills. Credit: BERTRAND LANGLOIS/AFP/Getty Images)

A Liver Transplant2015041720150420 (WS)A question from a listener about a living transplant

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

A 21-year old listener in need of a liver transplant has received an offer from his older brother to act as a living donor. Henry asks More or Less if the statistics can help him decide whether to accept. How long would he have to wait for an organ from a deceased donor if he chose that option instead?

When we see news reports of a child going missing we often jump to the worst conclusions. The largest big-scale research project in the USA found almost 800,000 children – 1 in 90 – were reported missing in a year. It sounds like a worryingly large number. But almost half soon turned up. Only a very small fraction - 115 - had been kidnapped. So how should these numbers be used in news reports? Hannah Moore and Ruth Alexander hear from Professor David Finkelhor, Director of the Crimes Against Children Research Centre at the University of New Hampshire.

Image: A box for transporting human organs. Credit: Getty Images

A New Covid-19 Drug And A Second Wave2020062720200628 (WS)
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Tim Harford looks into why protests haven't led to a spike in Covid-19 cases

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

The steroid Dexamethasone has been hailed a “major breakthrough” in the treatment of Covid-19. But what does the data say? Plus, why haven’t mass protests led to a second wave?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producers: Ruth Alexander and Kate Lamble

(close-up of a bottle and tablets of Dexamethasone June 16, 2020 London UK / Credit:John Phillips/Getty Images)

A Short History Of Probability2020101020201012 (WS)Gamblers, millionaires and annuities

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

A Warning About Big Data2014101720141019 (WS)
20141020 (WS)
With the hype surrounding big data are we forgetting some basic statistical lessons?

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

Big data has been enjoying a lot of hype, with promises it will help deliver everything from increased corporate profits to better healthcare. While the potential is certainly there, Tim Harford asks if the hype is blinding us to some basic statistical lessons learned over the past 200 years?

Picture: Binary data, Credit: Shutterstock

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

€☀sympathy’ For Jihadis.2015112720151130 (WS)Are claims that one in five British Muslims ‘sympathise with jihadis’ correct?

A front page article in a British tabloid claimed that one in five British Muslims have sympathy for jihadis. Ruth Alexander investigates whether this is correct, and asks which countries have the most support for Islamic State fighters.

(Image: A muslim demonstration against terrorism. Credit: Getty)

Aid To Ukraine And Being Struck By Lightning2019101220191014 (WS)
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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.

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.

(A curtain of lightning over a city in southern Utah / Credit: Getty images)

Dissecting President Trump's aid to Ukraine claims.

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

Alcohol And Cancer2014012520140126 (WS)
20140127 (WS)
Do two large glasses of wine triple your risk of mouth cancer, as claimed on a health 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

Do two large glasses of wine triple the risk of mouth cancer?

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Algorithms, Crime And Punishment2016101420161017 (WS)When maths can get you locked up.

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

A drive-by shooting in the US midwest has raised fundamental questions about how algorithms are being used in the country's criminal justice system. A defendant in the case was put behind bars after an algorithm used by the court calculated that he was at high risk of reoffending. The risk assessment algorithm crunches data about defendants' past criminal history and from their answers to a questionnaire to come up with the risk score. It's supposed to help make decisions less subjective, but one recent analysis found that the algorithm was biased against black people.

(Photo: A guard walking down a cell block. Credit: Getty Images)

(Photo: A guard walking down a cell block. Credit: Getty Images)

Amazon Forest Fires2019083120190902 (WS)
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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.

Image: Smoke billows from an area of forest on fire near Boca do Acre in the Amazon basin. Credit: Lula Sampaio/Getty Images.

Are they really 85 percent worse than last year?

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

An Urban Maze2017050720170508 (WS)
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Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.

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

Why are some parts of town are hard to navigate? Mazes may seem like a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon – but living in a maze can be a problem. Navigation expert Dr Ruth Dalton takes us on a tour of the Barbican Estate in London, a famous example of Brutalist architecture but many people struggle to find their way around the area. She explains the impact of “intelligibility” on a local economy, and outlines a link between map-reading and dementia.

Presenter: Tim Harford and Jordan Dunbar

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo: 'Floating' gardens in the Barbican Estate, Credit: Roger Jackson/Getty Images)

Why are some parts of town are hard to navigate? Mazes may seem like a fun way to spend a Sunday afternoon – but living in a maze can be a problem. Navigation expert Dr Ruth Dalton takes us on a tour of the Barbican Estate in London, a famous example of Brutalist architecture but many people struggle to find their way around the area. She explains the impact of “intelligibility ? on a local economy, and outlines a link between map-reading and dementia.

An Urban Maze20170508Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.
Analysing Chris Froome's Tour De France Victory2013072720130728 (WS)
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What do the numbers tell us about Chris Froome's Tour de France performance?

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

The winner of this year's Tour de France, British rider Chris Froome, faced numerous questions about doping during the course of his victory. More or Less assesses his performance stats, and asks whether maths can measure whether cycling really has cleaned up its act and whether Froome is simply a victim of the ghosts of cycling's past. Dr Ross Tucker from The Science of Sport website gives us his views and we hear from physiologist Fred Grappe - the only man to see Froome's tour data.

(Image: Le Tour de France 2013 - Stage Eleven. Credit: Getty Images)

Antibiotics And The Problem Of The Broken Market2016022620160229 (WS)The world needs new antibiotics so how do we entice big pharmaceuticals back in?

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

It is a life and death situation – the world is at its last line of defence against some pretty nasty bacteria and there are no new antibiotics. But it is not the science that’s the big problem, it is the economics. Despite the $40 billion market worldwide there is no money to be made in antibiotics so big pharmaceuticals have all but stopped their research. Why is this and how do we entice them back in? Wesley Stephenson finds out.

(Image: Computer artwork of bacteria. Credit: Science Photo Library)

(Image: Computer artwork of bacteria. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Anti-semitism2014081520140817 (WS)
20140818 (WS)
In the wake of the Gaza conflict, we investigate claims that anti-Semitism is rising.

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

Is anti-Semitism on the rise? Ruth Alexander and James Fletcher look at the numbers, as media reports in the wake of the Gaza conflict suggest anti-Semitism is a growing problem. Does the evidence support the claims?

(Image: Synagogue Walls Desecrated With Anti-Semitic Graffiti. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Ants And Algorithms2021010920210110 (WS)
20210111 (WS)
What can ants tells us about whether something deserves to be popular? This is a question tackled in David Sumpter’s book – ‘The Ten Equations that Rule the World: And How You Can Use Them Too.’ He tells Tim Harford about some of the algorithms that you see in nature, and those harnessed by tech companies such as YouTube.

David Sumpter describes the algorithms ruling the world

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

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

Are 90% Of War Fatalities Civilians?2018112420181126 (WS)
20181127 (WS)
One of the most widely used war statistics is the proposition that 90% of those who die in contemporary conflict are civilians. Various experts, the United Nations Development Programme and even the European Union have published the figure. But is it true? Xavier Zapata examines what the data tells us about the deadly impact of war on civilians. Interviews from Professor Adam Roberts at Oxford University and Therese Pettersson, project leader at the Uppsalla Conflict Data Programme. With thanks to Professor Michael Spagat at Royal Holloway College, University of London and Professor Francesco Checchi at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine for their advice.

(A child looks at the wreckage of a bus hit by an air strike at a market in northern Yemen which killed at least 29 children. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

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

Are 95% Of Terrorism Victims Muslim?2015011720150118 (WS)Tim Harford investigates the popular statistical claim

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

In the wake of the Paris killings, an imam in Paris told the BBC that most terrorism victims around the world are Muslim. Is that true? More or Less speaks to Erin Miller of the Global Terrorism Database.

The reported death toll of the Boko Haram attack in Baga, Nigeria, this month has ranged from 150 to more than 2000 people. More or Less speaks to Julian Rademeyer of Africa Check, who has been trying to get to the truth.

(Image: Activists of Jamaat-e-Islami pray for the victims of Taliban attack on a military-run school in Peshawar. Credit: Associated Press)

Are African Football Players More Likely To Die On The Field?2017061120170612 (WS)
20170613 (WS)
After the death of Cheick Tiote, are African footballers more prone to heart attacks?

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

Cheick Tiote, the much loved former Newcastle United player collapsed and died while training with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises earlier this month. His death and that of other black footballers have caused some commentators to ask – are African or black players more likely to die while playing than other people?

The data of footballers deaths is pretty poor but we try to glean some answers from the scant numbers available. It look like one of the most common causes of death among players on the pitch is cardiac arrest – son is this is a greater risk factor for people of African heritage?

We speak to statistician Dr Robert Mastrodomenico and Professor Sanjay Sharma, a specialist in sports cardiology.

Presented and produced by Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: Cheick Tiote of Newcastle United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St James Park Credit: Getty Images)

Are African Football Players More Likely To Die On The Field?20170612After the death of Cheick Tiote, are African footballers more prone to heart attacks?

Cheick Tiote, the much loved former Newcastle United player collapsed and died while training with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises earlier this month. His death and that of other black footballers have caused some commentators to ask – are African or black players more likely to die while playing than other people?

The data of footballers deaths is pretty poor but we try to glean some answers from the scant numbers available. It look like one of the most common causes of death among players on the pitch is cardiac arrest – son is this is a greater risk factor for people of African heritage?

We speak to statistician Dr Robert Mastrodomenico and Professor Sanjay Sharma, a specialist in sports cardiology.

Presented and produced by Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: Cheick Tiote of Newcastle United in action during the Barclays Premier League match between Newcastle United and Southampton at St James Park Credit: Getty Images)

Are African Leaders More Likely To Die In Office?2012082520120826 (WS)The Prime Minister of Ethiopia is the fourth African premier to die this year alone. Are African leaders more likely to die in office, than their counterparts elsewhere? Also: does marriage make economic sense?

Also, does marriage make economic sense?

(Image: Ghanaian soldiers carry the coffin of late President John Atta Mills during the funeral service at Independence Square in Accra on 10 August 2012. Credit: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEIPIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Are African leaders more likely than their counterparts elsewhere to die in office?

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

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

Are African Leaders More Likely To Die In Office?20120826Are African leaders more likely than their counterparts elsewhere to die in office?

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

The Prime Minister of Ethiopia is the fourth African premier to die this year alone.

Are African leaders more likely to die in office, than their counterparts elsewhere?

Also, does marriage make economic sense?

(Image: Ghanaian soldiers carry the coffin of late President John Atta Mills during the funeral service at Independence Square in Accra on 10 August 2012. Credit: AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEIPIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images)

Are Extradition Treaties Fair? Plus, Tour De France Performance Statistics2013072120130722 (WS)The predicament of a young man stuck in the transit area of a Moscow airport after blowing the whistle on the US's systematic seizing of vast amounts of phone and web data has highlighted the international politics of extradition. Edward Snowden is wanted by the US for leaking details of government surveillance programmes. But are critics right to complain that it is easier to extradite a suspect to the US than vice versa? Ruth Alexander takes a look at the numbers on this - and also European arrest warrants - and some of the results might surprise you. The programme hears from Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations at the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom thinktank in Washington DC; and Anand Doobay, an extradition lawyer from Peters and Peters Solicitors in the UK.

Plus, the leader of this year's Tour de France, British rider Chris Froome, has been speaking of his disappointment that his victory so far has been marked by questions about doping. More or Less assesses his performance stats, and asks whether maths can measure whether cycling really has cleaned up its act. Dr Ross Tucker from The Science of Sport website gives us his views.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander

Producer: Ben Carter

(Image: Edward Snowden Speaks To The Guardian. Credit: Getty Images)

Is the US-UK deal on suspects balanced? Can maths show competition leader is dope-free?

The predicament of a young man stuck in the transit area of a Moscow airport after blowing the whistle on the US's systematic seizing of vast amounts of phone and web data has highlighted the international politics of extradition. Edward Snowden is wanted by the US for leaking details of government surveillance programmes. But are critics right to complain that it is easier to extradite a suspect to the US than vice versa? Ruth Alexander takes a look at the numbers on this - and also European arrest warrants - and some of the results might surprise you. The programme hears from Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations at the Margaret Thatcher Centre for Freedom thinktank in Washington DC; and Anand Doobay, an extradition lawyer from Peters and Peters Solicitors in the UK.

(Image: Edward Snowden Speaks To The Guardian. Credit: Getty Images)

Are Manchester United A One-man Team?2013042720130428 (WS)
20130429 (WS)
Lead scorer power calculated; and, maths problems raised in the Kercher murder case

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

Is it true that top English Premier League teams are one-man sides? Before the start of the 2012/13 English Premier League season Manchester City’s manager, Roberto Mancini expressed fears that the signing of Robin Van Persie by big rival, Manchester United, would win United the league.

His fears were realised earlier this week when a Van Persie hat trick saw United beat Aston Villa to secure the league title.

But how important really have Van Persie’s goals been to Manchester United’s campaign? Would Tottenham be challenging for a Champions League spot without Gareth Bale’s goals? And how much bite has Luis Suarez’s contribution given Liverpool’s season? More or Less’ Ben Carter creates the Alternative Premier League table, where the leading scorer for each club has their goals chalked off. There are surprises, and one player really stands out as player of the season. And he wasn’t one of the six players nominated for the Professional Football Associations player of the year. Can you guess who it is?

And, as an Italian Court overturns the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, accused of killing student Merdith Kercher, mathematician and author of Math on Trial, Coralie Colmez, argues that one judge in the case failed to understand some of the probabilities attached to the forensic evidence – and, in doing so, has missed an opportunity to get to the truth of the matter.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander

Image: Tottenham Hotspur v Manchester United - Premier League, Credit: Getty Images

Are Married Women Flipping Miserable?2019062220190624 (WS)
20190625 (WS)
It was reported widely around the world recently that unmarried women without children are the happiest subgroup, while married women admit they are miserable when their husbands are out of the room. It was attributed to a happiness expert, Professor Paul Dolan from the London School of Economics. But questions were soon raised about the evidence used to make this claim. So what can we say about the happiness of people who are married, single, with or without children?

Image: Miserable woman
Credit: Getty Images

Questioning the claim that unmarried women without children are the happiest

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

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

Are More Men Dying From Coronavirus?2020040420200405 (WS)
20200406 (WS)
Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander examine the statistics around the world.

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

Are Tall People More Likely To Get Cancer?2015100920151010 (WS)
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20151012 (WS)
Are tall people really more likely to get cancer? Ruth Alexander looks at a new Swedish study that has caused headlines around the world, and asks how worried tall people like her should be about developing the condition.

(Photo: A patient has her height measured. Credit: Shutterstock)

Are tall people really more likely to get cancer? Ruth Alexander looks at a new study

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

Are There 15,000 Transgender People Serving In The Us Military?2017081320170814 (WS)
20170815 (WS)
President Trump says transgender individuals cannot serve, but how many do already?

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

President Trump recently announced that the US Government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." This provoked criticism from Congressman Mark Pocan who said that there were 15,000 transgender people serving in the military today. That number was widely reported – but is it true?

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: US Joint Service Honor Guard, Washington DC. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Are There 15,000 Transgender People Serving In The Us Military?20170814President Trump says transgender individuals cannot serve, but how many do already?

President Trump recently announced that the US Government "will not accept or allow transgender individuals to serve in any capacity in the U.S. military." This provoked criticism from Congressman Mark Pocan who said that there were 15,000 transgender people serving in the military today. That number was widely reported – but is it true?

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: US Joint Service Honor Guard, Washington DC. Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Are There More Black Men In College Or Prison In The Us?2013031620130317 (WS)Last week the US Speaker said that there were more black men in prison than in college.

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

At a university lecture only last week Ivory Toldson heard the speaker say there are more black men in prison in America than in college. ‘Here we go again’ he thought. Only the week before he had written his second article on why this statistic is not true, yet it was still being repeated. This week Ruth Alexander looks at where this ‘fact’ came from and why it is still being used.

Also, why the opinion polls got the Kenyan elections wrong.

Are There More Stars Than Grains Of Beach Sand?2018070720180708 (WS)
20180709 (WS)
20180710 (WS)
The astronomer, Carl Sagan, famously said that there were more stars in our Universe than grains of sand on the Earth’s beaches. But was it actually true? More or Less tries to count the nearly uncountable. Content warning: This episode includes gigantically large numbers.

(Photo: The barred spiral galaxy M83. Credit: Nasa).

Stars vs Sand. We work out who wins the ultimate cosmic battle.

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

(Photo: The barred spiral galaxy M83. Credit: Nasa).

Are Us Millennials More Politically Engaged Online?2017102020171023 (WS)
20171024 (WS)
Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics?

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

Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics? This was something that millennial Kevin Lin heard in the media after President Trump was elected. He decided to design a research project to see if there was evidence on the website Reddit that more young people were engaging with politics. Kevin explains his findings and the pitfalls of trying to measure anything on social media. He is the winner of the 2017 Young Writers competition for the statistical magazine Significance.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald and Jordan Dunbar
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: Students from Los Angeles California high schools gather to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States. Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Are Us Millennials More Politically Engaged Online?20171023Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics?

Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics? This was something that millennial Kevin Lin heard in the media after President Trump was elected. He decided to design a research project to see if there was evidence on the website Reddit that more young people were engaging with politics. Kevin explains his findings and the pitfalls of trying to measure anything on social media. He is the winner of the 2017 Young Writers competition for the statistical magazine Significance.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald and Jordan Dunbar
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: Students from Los Angeles California high schools gather to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States. Credit: David McNew/Getty Images)

Are We Breathing Unsafe Air?2018041420180415 (WS)
20180416 (WS)
20180417 (WS)
The World Health Organisation say that 95% of people who live in cities breathe unsafe air. But what do they mean by ‘unsafe’? And how do they calculate the levels or air pollution for every city in the world? Plus Mt Etna in Italy has reportedly moved by 14mm, but who is calculating this? And how do they know the answer with such accuracy?

(Photo: People wear masks as smoke billows from a coal fired power plant, Shanxi, China. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The W.H.O. say 95% of people in cities breathe unsafe air, but what does 'unsafe' mean?

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

(Photo: People wear masks as smoke billows from a coal fired power plant, Shanxi, China. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

(Photo: People wear masks as smoke billows from a coal fired power plant, Shanxi, China. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Are Wildfires Really Burning More Land?2018081820180819 (WS)
20180820 (WS)
20180821 (WS)
Are Wildfires in the United States and Southern Europe burning more land than before?

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

Artificial (not So) Intelligence2020022220200224 (WS)
20200225 (WS)
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 satnavs 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’.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(Image: A robot thinking about something. Credit: Getty images)

Is the problem with AI its lack of intelligence?

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

Asymptomatic Covid-19 Cases2020103120201101 (WS)
20201102 (WS)
How many Covid-19 cases are truly asymptomatic?

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

Auction Theory - Paul Milgrom And Robert Wilson2020101720201019 (WS)Paul Milgrom and his former tutor Robert Wilson worked together for years developing ways to run complicated auctions for large resources. This month the two Stanford University professors were awarded the Nobel memorial prize in economics for their work. The auction formats they designed facilitated the sale of goods and services that are difficult to sell in a conventional way, such as radio frequencies.

(L-R Paul Millgrom and Robert Wilson. Credit: Andrew Brodhead/ Stanford)

This year's Nobel memorial prize winners for economics and their work on auction theory.

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

Austerity: A Spreadsheet Error?2013042020130421 (WS)
20130422 (WS)
The story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper

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

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 graduate student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: A cardboard cut-out of a pair of scissors, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Austerity: A Spreadsheet Error?2013042120130422 (WS)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 graduate student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: A cardboard cut-out of a pair of scissors, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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.

The story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper.

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

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.

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

Australia Calling2018052620180527 (WS)
20180528 (WS)
20180529 (WS)
This week we tackle some of our listeners’ questions from Australia: do one in seven businessmen throw out their pants after wearing them once? This is a claim made by an expert talking about clothes waste – but what does it come from? Do horses kill more people than venomous animals? Australia is known for its dangerous wildlife, but how deadly is it for humans? Plus, a politician says lots of Australians have used cannabis – we take a look at the evidence.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producers: Charlotte McDonald and Sachin Croker

(Picture: Male models in underwear follow a businessman. Credit: Getty's Images)

Do one in seven businessmen throw out their underwear after wearing them once?

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

(Picture: Male models in underwear follow a businessman. Credit: Getty's Images)

(Picture: Male models in underwear follow a businessman. Credit: Getty's Images)

Automated Fact-checking2018082520180826 (WS)
20180827 (WS)
20180828 (WS)
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.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(image: President Trump and French President Macron hold a joint news conference at the White House April 2018. Photo Credit:Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Computer programmes are being developed to combat fake news.

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

(image: President Trump and French President Macron hold a joint news conference at the White House April 2018. Photo Credit:Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Avengers - Should We Reverse The Snap?2019050420190506 (WS)
20190507 (WS)
*Spoiler-free for Avengers: Endgame* At the end of the Avengers: Infinity War film, the villain - Thanos - snapped his fingers in the magical infinity gauntlet and disintegrated half of all life across the universe. The Avengers want to reverse the snap but would it be better for mankind to live in a world with a population of less than four billion? Tim Harford investigates the economics of Thanos with anthropologist professor Sharon DeWitte and fictionomics blogger Zachary Feinstein PHD.

(Photo: The Avengers Endgame film poster. Credit: ©Marvel Studios 2019)

Exploring the economic impact of losing half the world's population

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

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

Avoiding Asteroids2016111820161121 (WS)We're getting better at spotting Earth-bound space rocks \u2013 but how safe are we?

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

We’re getting better at spotting Earth-bound space rocks – but how safe are we?

A new NASA warning system means we’re getting better at spotting Earth-bound space rocks. But how safe are we?

The proportion of asteroids we know about has grown rapidly in the past few decades, so what are the chances of us being taken by surprise? If we did spot an asteroid hurtling towards Earth, what could we do about it? And – perhaps most importantly of all – could the plot of the film Armageddon happen in real life? We get answers from NASA’s Center for Near Earth Object Studies.

Image: Asteroid - photo credit: Shutterstock

Image: Asteroid - photo credit: Shutterstock

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

Baby Boxes - Are They Really Saving Infants' Lives?2017032420170327 (WS)
20170328 (WS)
They have become a bit of a phenomenon but what is the evidence that they work?

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

Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They are not new though - Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies to sleep in. Since their introduction, cot death and has fallen and child health has improved. Governments and individuals across the world have adopted them and companies have sprung up selling them. But think about it for minute – can a cardboard box on its own really have such a huge effect? Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald have been looking at the truth behind the story.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Elizabeth Cassin

(Photo:One of Scotland's first baby boxes is seen at Clackmannanshire Community Health Centre. Credit: Getty Images)

Baby Boxes €Ⓚ Are They Really Saving Infant’s Lives?2017032420170327 (WS)
20170328 (WS)
They’ve become a bit of a phenomenon but what’s the evidence that they work?

Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They’re not new though: Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies to sleep in. Since their introduction, cot death and has fallen and child health has improved. Governments and individuals across the world have adopted them and companies have sprung up selling them. But think about it for minute – can a cardboard box on its own really have such a huge effect? Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald have been looking at the truth behind the story.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald

Producer: Elizabeth Cassin

(Photo:One of Scotland's first baby boxes is seen at Clackmannanshire Community Health Centre. Credit: Getty Images)

Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They’re not new though: Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies to sleep in. Since their introduction, cot death and has fallen and child health has improved. Governments and individuals across the world have adopted them and companies have sprung up selling them. But think about it for minute – can a cardboard box on its own really have such a huge effect? Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald have been looking at the truth behind the story.

Bad Luck And Cancer2015011020150111 (WS)
20150113 (WS)
Is 'bad luck' the cause of most cancers as reports of a new study suggest?

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

Most cancers are caused by 'bad luck' according to reports of a new study. But, actually, the study doesn't say that. Tim Harford finds out what the research really tells us about the causes of cancer, speaking to PZ Myers, a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris, in the United States and Professor George Davey-Smith, clinical epidemiologist at Bristol University in the UK.

(Photo: Dividing breast cancer cell. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Belarus' Contested Election2020081520200817 (WS)Autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko claims to have won a landslide in the country’s presidential elections. But how can we know what really happened? Tim Harford delves into the numbers behind the widely questioned election result, with Dr Brian Klaas and political analyst Artyom Shraibman.

(Photo: Thousands of protesters march in Belarus over the disputed re-election.13 August 2020.Credit: Sergei Gapon/Getty Images)

Tim Harford looks at the numbers behind the widely questioned election result

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

Tim Harford looks at the numbers behind the widely questioned election result.

(Thousands of protesters march in Belarus over the disputed re-election.13 August 2020 Credit: Sergei Gapon/Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders And The Cost Of Having A Baby2019042720190429 (WS)
20190430 (WS)
Bernie Sanders, a Senator in the United States and one of the front-runners in the campaign to be the Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter that it costs $12,000 to have a baby in his country. He compared that figure to Finland, where he said it costs $60.

In this edition of More or Less, Tim Harford looks at whether Sanders has got his figures right.

With Carol Sakala of US organisation Childbirth Connection and Mika Gissler of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland.

Producer: Darin Graham
Presenters: Tim Harford and Charlotte McDonald

Image: A newborn baby's hand. Credit:Getty Images/TongRo Images Inc

Did Bernie Sanders get the cost of giving birth right?

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

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

Big Numbers2015051520150517 (WS)
20150518 (WS)
How a simple computer bug has led to explosions, missing planes and more

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

Big numbers do not just confuse people – many computers struggle to process them too. Tim Harford talks to technology journalist Chris Baraniuk, who explains how a simple software bug affects computers controlling planes, spacecraft and has led to explosions, missing space probes and more. And good news – two mothers who asked us to work out the chances of giving birth on the same day have had their babies. We reveal what happened.

(Photo:Composition of connected abstract elements on the subject of networking, science, education and modern technology. Credit: Shutterstock)

Big Polluters: Ships V Cars2017100120171002 (WS)
20171003 (WS)
Do the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world?

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

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 and Jordan Dunbar

(Photo: The ultra-large container ship MOL Triumph, from South Korea, coming in to port. Credit: M.MacMatzen/Getty Images)

Big Polluters: Ships Versus Cars20171002Do the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world?

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 and Jordan Dunbar

(Photo: The ultra-large container ship MOL Triumph, from South Korea, coming in to port. Credit: M.MacMatzen/Getty Images)

(Photo: The ultra-large container ship MOL Triumph, from South Korea, coming in to port. Credit: M.MacMatzen/Getty Images)"

Biggest Movies2015062620150628 (WS)
20150629 (WS)
Jurassic World took $511m in its first weekend. Why have recent films done so well?

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

The film Jurassic World broke the record for the biggest opening weekend taking $511m. Most of the top ten films with the biggest opening weekends were released in the last five years. So in an age where the competition is fierce for cinemas why are these films doing so well?

Bees and the British Royal Family
For reasons best known to the editors, one British newspaper decided to ask the question: ‘Who brings more to the British economy – the British Royal Family or bees. The answer? Bees of course. More or Less takes a look and finds the methodology is as bee-musing as the initial comparison.

(Photo: Scene from Jurassic World. Credit: ILM/Universal Pictures/Amblin Entert, Associated Press)

Black Prisoners In The Us2015022820150301 (WS)Legend: \u2018More black men under correctional control now than enslaved in 1850'. True?

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

Was Oscar-winner John Legend right to say that there are more black men ‘under correctional control’ in the United States now than were in slavery in 1850? Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson look into the statistics, and consider how US prisoner numbers compare with those of other countries.

Plus, how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, would it take to destroy the bottom brick? Ruth and the UK’s Open University engineering department find out.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: Common and John Legend accept the Best Original Song Award for 'Glory' from 'Selma' at the 2015 Oscars. Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images)

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

Bolivia: Can Statistics Help Detect Electoral Fraud?2019111620191118 (WS)
20191119 (WS)
Evo Morales, Bolivia’s longest-serving leader and first indigenous president, stepped down last week amid weeks of protests sparked by a dispute over a recent presidential election in the country. His opponents say the election was rigged but the embattled former president said it was a cunning coup. We take a closer look at the election results and ask if statistics can tell whether it was fair or fraudulent.

Dr Calla Hummel of the University of Miami and Professor Romulo Chumacero of the University of Chile join Ruth Alexander to discuss.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producer: Darin Graham

(Photo: Former Bolivian president Evo Morales accepting political asylum granted by Mexico on 12 November 2019. (Credit: Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

We look at the numbers and statistics from Bolivia's disputed presidential election

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

Brain Food And Bacteria20121117Ruth Alexander explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

There's not an obvious link between chocolate and Nobel prizes, but this did not stop news outlets around the world reporting the amount of chocolate a country consumes influences the number of Nobel prizes they will win.

In many cases the scientific study was reported without question or comment. Ruth Alexander asks what this story tells us about the way the media reports scientific studies, and why the correlation between the two might be so strong.

Also – it's often said that chopping boards or dishcloths have many more bacteria than toilet seat but is this really true?

(Image: Rows of chocolates, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Brazil’s Maths Superstar2014050920140511 (WS)
20140512 (WS)
Alex Bellos tells the surprising story of Brazil's favourite maths book.

Alex Bellos tells the story of The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales written by middle-eastern scholar Malba Tahan. Published in Brazil in the 1930s, it became a huge success. Malba Tahan's birthday, May 6, is now celebrated as Brazil's National Day of Mathematics. But the author was not who everybody thought he was.

(Photo credit: Official family collection/malbatah.com.br)

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

Alex Bellos tells the story of The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales written by middle-eastern scholar Malba Tahan. Published in Brazil in the 1930s, it became a huge success. Malba Tahan's birthday, May 6, is now celebrated as Brazil's National Day of Mathematics. But the author was not who everybody thought he was.

Brazil's Maths Superstar2014050920140511 (WS)
20140512 (WS)
Alex Bellos tells the surprising story of Brazil's favourite maths book.

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

Alex Bellos tells the story of The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales written by middle-eastern scholar Malba Tahan. Published in Brazil in the 1930s, it became a huge success. Malba Tahan's birthday, May 6, is now celebrated as Brazil's National Day of Mathematics. But the author was not who everybody thought he was.

(Photo credit: Official family collection/malbatah.com.br)

Breast Cancer Screening2020090520200907 (WS)Could screening for breast cancer from the age of 40 save lives?

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

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

Brexit Economics2016062420160627 (WS)What will happen to trade and business in the UK after leaving the EU?

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

Following a referendum, the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Tim Harford and the team explore what that might mean for the UK’s economy. Most notably - what might be the impact on trade? We examine the economic forecasts from the government, and how the UK might manage its relationships with other countries.

(Photo: A pay-per-view binocular with the British and European Union flags. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

(Photo: A pay-per-view binocular with the British and European Union flags. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Bushfire Mystery2020011120200113 (WS)
20200114 (WS)
Animal suffering has been a painful part of the story of Australia's bush fires. Headlines have claimed that they’ve killed more than a billion animals. 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.

(Aftermath of a bushfire that swept through bush and farmland in Kangaroo Valley NSW, Australia. Credit: Wolter Peeters/via Getty Images)

Have a billion animals died in Australia's fires?

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

Animal suffering has been a painful part of the story of Australia's bush fires. Headlines have claimed that they’ve killed more than a billion animals. 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.

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

Caffeine And Pregnancy2020092620200928 (WS)Do coffee and pregnancy mix?

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

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

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

Calculating The Distance To The Sun2014092820140929 (WS)Two young listeners ask how we calculate the distance to the sun

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

Two young listeners emailed the programme to ask how we calculate the distance to the sun. We decided to invite them and their parents to More or Less towers where Andrew Pontzen, an astrophysicist at University College London was on hand to explain the answer.

A BBC nature documentary stated that there are 14,000 ants to every person on earth, and that were we to weigh all of these ants they would weigh the same as all the people. Can this be true? Tim Harford and Hannah Moore investigate with the help of Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at the University of Sussex.

(Photo: The Sun and the Earth. Credit: Shutterstock)

Calling The Shots At Wimbledon2017071620170717 (WS)
20170718 (WS)
Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis.

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

Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis is the theme this week. In this digital age we are used to information at our fingertips. This week More or Less finds out how every rally, every shot at this tennis championship is counted and makes its way to our phones, desktops and TV screens. And once you have this information – what can you do with it? Is it useful for players and coaches? Traditionally, players will take a risk on their first chance to serve, and hit the ball as fast as they can, knowing that they have a second chance. On their second attempt, players tend to serve more slowly and carefully to make sure it goes in. But could the statistics show they might as well take a risk again?

(Photo: Venus Williams plays a backhand during the Ladies Singles first round match against Elise Mertens at Wimbledon. Credit: Getty Images)

Calling The Shots At Wimbledon20170717Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis.

Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis is the theme this week. In this digital age we are used to information at our fingertips. This week More or Less finds out how every rally, every shot at this tennis championship is counted and makes its way to our phones, desktops and TV screens. And once you have this information – what can you do with it? Is it useful for players and coaches? Traditionally, players will take a risk on their first chance to serve, and hit the ball as fast as they can, knowing that they have a second chance. On their second attempt, players tend to serve more slowly and carefully to make sure it goes in. But could the statistics show they might as well take a risk again?

(Photo: Venus Williams plays a backhand during the Ladies Singles first round match against Elise Mertens at Wimbledon. Credit: Getty Images)

Can Big Data Save Lives?2013032320130324 (WS)Ruth Alexander speaks to Kenneth Cukier about how data can be used.

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

In More or Less Ruth Alexander explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life. This week we ask - our everyday lives generate around 2.5 quintillion bytes of data according to IBM. So could we be using this daily avalanche of statistics to make our lives better? Ruth Alexander talks to Kenneth Cukier, the data editor of the Economist magazine, and co-author of Big Data – A revolution that will transform how we work live and think - about how it can be used, if it could save lives, and the darker side of big data.

(Image: A technician assembles computers Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Can We Trust Food Surveys?2016031120160314 (WS)The pitfalls of nutrition science - how do really know what people are eating?

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

Stories about what foods are good and bad for you, which foods are linked to cancer and which have beneficial qualities are always popular online and in the news. 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 – how could she tell all the ingredients in a restaurant curry? And, how many tomatoes did she eat regularly over the past six months?

(Photo: Food diary. Credit: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Food diary. Credit: Shutterstock)

Stories about what foods are good and bad for you, which foods are linked to cancer and which have beneficial qualities are always popular online and in the news. 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 – how could she tell all the ingredients in a restaurant curry? And, how many tomatoes did she eat regularly over the past six months?

Cancer Risk And Romanian Crime2013051820130519 (WS)
20130520 (WS)
Assesing the probabilities of cancer and is the UK suffering a Romanian crime wave?

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

As Angelina Jolie announces that an 87% cancer risk has prompted her to have a double mastectomy, Tim Harford assesses the probabilities associated with the disease and speaks to Dr Kat Arney from the charity Cancer Research.

Has the UK been hit by a Romanian crime wave? In a recent edition of a BBC radio debate programme Any Questions, political personality Christine Hamilton, claims it has. More or Less checks the numbers and speaks to the Romanian ambassador, Dr Ion Jinga.

(Image: Angelina Jolie. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Cape Town Murders2019091420190916 (WS)
20190917 (WS)
Are eight people a day murdered in Cape Town as the BBC claimed in July this year? And if that number is true is it unusually high given the population of the city? Tim Harford hears from Anine Kriegler, a researcher at the Centre of Criminology at the University of Cape Town and Dr Guy Lamb, Director of the Safety and Violence Initiative at the University of Cape Town.

Producer: Darin Graham

(Demonstrators gather to protest against violence in Cape Town, Sept 2019. Credit: Ziyaad Douglas/ Getty Images.)

Are eight people a day murdered in Cape Town and is that number unusually high?

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

(Demonstrators gather to protest against violence in Cape Town, Sept 2019. Credit: Ziyaad Douglas/ Getty Images.)

Caps Off To Rooney2014112220141123 (WS)
20141125 (WS)
Wayne Rooney wins his 100th cap but is it easier to earn them than in previous eras?

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

England captain Wayne Rooney made his 100th appearance last weekend but former England star Chris Waddle claims that it is easier to win caps now than it was in previous generations. Wesley Stephenson asks whether Waddle is right and how many caps would football legends like Bobby Moore, Maradona and Pele have won if they had played in today’s era.

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'. An amazing statistic but is it true?

(Photo: England's striker Wayne Rooney celebrates. Credit: Ian MacNicol/AFP/Getty Images)

Carbs, Sugar And The Truth2018080420180805 (WS)
20180806 (WS)
20180807 (WS)
Does a baked potato contain the equivalent of 19 cubes of sugar?

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

Chance Encounters2012061620120617
Chance Encounters20120617Is the chance of bumping into your boss on holiday greater than you think?

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

Chavez's Cancer Claims And Counting Doctors From Malawi2012011320120114Does the number of Latin American leaders with cancer defy probability?

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

LATIN AMERICAN CANCER PLOT?
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez thinks the US may have developed a secret technology to give him and other Latin American leaders cancer.

He said the fact that several presidents have had cancer is "difficult to explain using the law of probabilities".

Is he right? Tim Harford speaks to Dr Eduardo Cazap, president of the Union of International Cancer Control.

MALAWIAN DOCTORS
It is often said that there are more Malawian doctors in the British city of Manchester than there are in Malawi.

Can this be true? And if professionals emigrate, is it always bad news for the country they leave?

The programme hears from John Lwanda, a Malawian doctor based in the UK; and Robert Guest, author of Borderless Economics.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Picture shows Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaking before the Parliament in Caracas on 13 January 2012. Credit: AFP)

TBC

Chess Cheats And The Goat2019033020190401 (WS)
20190402 (WS)
Who is the greatest chess player in history? And what does the answer have to do with a story of a chess cheating school from Texas? In this week’s More or Less, the BBC’s numbers programme, David Edmonds finds out what a statistical analysis of chess moves can teach us about this ancient board game.

Presenter: David Edmonds
Producer: Darin Graham

Image: A Chess Board
Credit: Getty Images

What a statistical analysis of chess moves can teach us about this ancient game.

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

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

Child Marriage And Dangerous Algorithms2016102820161031 (WS)Is a girl under 15 married every seven seconds? And beware dangerous algorithms

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

Is a girl under the age of 15 married every seven seconds somewhere in the world? That is what the charity Save the Children claim in their attempts to raise awareness of child marriage. But how is this figure calculated? We take a look at the difficulties with counting child brides.

Data scientist and activist Cathy O’Neil wants to protect you from dangerous, and often hidden, algorithms. They help make important decisions, like whether you are eligible for a loan, but they could be based on unfair statistics with hidden biases. She talks about her new book Weapons of Math Destruction.

(Photo: Algorithm code. Credit: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Algorithm code. Credit: Shutterstock)

China Stock Market Crash2015082820150829 (WS)
20150830 (WS)
20150831 (WS)
The Chinese stock market may have crashed but was it really ‘Black Monday’?

The Chinese Market Crash in context.

How big is the market, how many investors does it have and does it tell us anything about the wider Chinese economy?

Sprinters legs

It may seem strange, but world class runners don’t move their legs faster than average park runner. That’s the claim anyway – is it true and if so what is it that makes athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin run so fast?

(Image: An investory looks at a stock information board. Credit: Reuters.)

The Chinese stock market may have crashed but was it really \u2018Black Monday'?

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

The Chinese Market Crash in context.
How big is the market, how many investors does it have and does it tell us anything about the wider Chinese economy?

Sprinters legs
It may seem strange, but world class runners don’t move their legs faster than average park runner. That’s the claim anyway – is it true and if so what is it that makes athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin run so fast?

(Image: An investory looks at a stock information board. Credit: Reuters.)

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

Sprinters legs
It may seem strange, but world class runners don’t move their legs faster than average park runner. That’s the claim anyway – is it true and if so what is it that makes athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin run so fast?

China’s One Child Policy2015110620151109 (WS)As China ends its one child rule what has been its impact on the country’s population? The More or Less team take a look at whether the policy on its own has slowed the rate at which China’s population has been growing. And now that parents in China will be allowed to have two children, which country will have the largest population in 2030? China or India? Ruth Alexander presents.

(Image: A woman carrying a baby in Yanji, in China's northeast Jilin province. Credit: Getty)

As China ends its one child policy what has been its impact? Ruth Alexander investigates.

China's One Child Policy2015110620151109 (WS)As China ends its one child policy what has been its impact? Ruth Alexander investigates.

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

As China ends its one child rule what has been its impact on the country’s population? The More or Less team take a look at whether the policy on its own has slowed the rate at which China’s population has been growing. And now that parents in China will be allowed to have two children, which country will have the largest population in 2030? China or India? Ruth Alexander presents.
(Image: A woman carrying a baby in Yanji, in China's northeast Jilin province. Credit: Getty)

Christian Martyrs2017011320170116 (WS)Were 90,000 Christians killed because of their faith in 2016?

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

Were 90,000 Christians killed because of their faith in 2016, as a new report claims? The figure comes from The Center for the Study of Global Christianity and was published earlier this month. But another report published this week says that 1,207 were killed – that’s from Open Doors, an organisation which helps persecuted Christians. So how did two groups, apparently looking at the same thing, come up with such different numbers? And who, if anyone, is right?

Presenters: Charlotte MacDonald and Wesley Stephenson

Producer: Joe Kent

(Image: Rrmaj cemetery in Shkoder, Albania.

Photo Credit: Gent Shkullaku /Getty Images)

Presenters: Charlotte MacDonald and Wesley Stephenson
Producer: Joe Kent

(Image: Rrmaj cemetery in Shkoder, Albania.
Photo Credit: Gent Shkullaku /Getty Images)

Climate Change2015120420151207 (WS)Ruth Alexander investigates claims climate change has contributed to the war in Syria, and with the climate change summit COP21 underway in Paris, we answer listener’s climate change number questions.

(Photo: COP21-Eiffel Tower, Credit: Stephane de Sakutin/Getty Images)

Did climate change contribute to the war in Syria?

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

Climate Change And Birdsong2020050220200503 (WS)
20200504 (WS)
With factories closed and flights grounded, what impact will this have on climate change?

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

With much of the world’s population staying indoors, there are fewer cars on the roads, planes in the skies and workplaces and factories open. Will this have an impact on climate change?

Plus as the streets become quieter, is it just us, or have the birds begun to sing much more loudly?

(A woman wearing a respiratory mask rides a bicycle past a closed factory where Fiat, Jeep and Alfa Romeo cars are built in Turin, Italy. Credit: Nicolò Campo/Getty Images)

Climate Change And Using Statistics To Predict Football Results.20120120
Climate Change And Using Statistics To Predict Football Results.20120121A bet about climate change is settled. Plus, predicting the Africa Cup of Nations winner.

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

CLIMATE CHANGE
A four-year bet between two scientists about global warming is settled.

In 2008, after there had been no new record for the global average temperature since 1998, David Whitehouse and James Annan disagreed over whether there would be a new record set by 2011.

As the UK Meteorological Office publishes the figures for the past year, presenter Tim Harford bring the two scientists together.

Who has won, and does the victory tell us anything about global warming?

Plus, Peter Stott from the Met Office tells us how the world’s temperature is measured.

AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Sports statistician Robert Mastrodomenico attempts to predict the results of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament.

Will his numerical analysis impress the BBC's African football expert Farayi Mungazi in Gabon?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: Dried up river bed near Lodwar, Kenya. Credit: Getty Images)

Close Encounters Of A Planetary Kind2019011920190121 (WS)
20190122 (WS)
Which planet is closest to Earth? A BBC programme ‘The Sky at Night’ 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.

Producers: Ruth Alexander, Bethan Head
Presenter: Tim Harford

(Earth and surrounding planets/Getty images)

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

Which planet is closest to Earth? A BBC programme ‘The Sky at Night’ 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.

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

Communicating Risk2013040620130407 (WS)
20130408 (WS)
It's the 4th anniversary of the earthquake which devastated the city of L'Aquila in Italy.

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

It's the fourth anniversary of the earthquake which devastated the city of L'Aquila in Italy and which led to the conviction of six scientists and an official who failed to predict the disaster. Scientists and statisticians worldwide were alarmed at the six-year sentences for manslaughter the seven accused received. It was feared the prospect of being put on trial would put off scientists from even trying to communicate risk – a very difficult business. But, as reporter Dany Mitzman in Italy discovers, the risk assessors’ pendulum seems to have swung the other way. Data and alarms about tremors are being issued regularly, triggering school closures and building evacuations. But how useful is this information? Ian Main, professor of seismology and rock physics at Edinburgh University in the UK, puts the risks into context.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander

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

Comparing Countries' Coronavirus Performance2020042520200426 (WS)
20200427 (WS)
Is it helpful to ask which countries are faring better in tackling the coronavirus?

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

Many articles in the media compare countries with one another - who’s faring better or worse in the fight against coronavirus? But is this helpful - or, in fact, fair?

Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander discuss the limitations that we come across when we try to compare the numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths in different countries; population size, density, rates of testing and how connected the country is all play a role.

(parked gondolas in a clear silent canal in Venice, Italy, April 19, 2020. Photo credit:Pietro D'Aprano/Getty Images)

Coronavirus2020020120200203 (WS)
20200204 (WS)
The WHO have declared a ‘Global Health Emergency’ as health officials are urgently trying to contain the spread of a new coronavirus in China and beyond; but not all the information you read is correct. We fact-check a particularly hyperbolic claim about its spread that’s been doing the rounds on social media.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producer: Anna Meisel

(Photo: A couple wear protective masks and goggles as they get off a train in Beijing, China / Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

Fact checking claims about the spread of Coronavirus

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

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

Coronavirus Baby Boom And Vitamin D2020053020200531 (WS)
20200601 (WS)
Are we going to have a coronavirus baby boom?

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

Listeners ask if vitamin D is an under-appreciated weapon in the fight against coronavirus, can it influence people’s risk of dying from the disease? After reports of condom shortages, we examine whether there’s any evidence to suggest that a lockdown-induced baby boom is nine months away.

(Babies all in a row / Getty Images)

Coronavirus: The Numbers2020021520200217 (WS)
20200218 (WS)
A lot has changed since our last episode covering the numbers behind the coronavirus - for a start it now has a name, Covid-19. This week news has broken that deaths are 20 per cent higher than 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 know – and what we still don’t.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Anna Meisel

(A boy wears makeshift protection at Shanghai railway station on February 13, 2020. Credit: Noel Celis / Getty images)

An update on Covid-19 statistics, with Tim Harford

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

Could An Apple-a-day Reduce Illness?2014011820140119 (WS)
20140120 (WS)
An apple-a-day will actually keep the doctors away, according to a study in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal. It generated headlines around the world. But were the media right to take the story so seriously? Tim interviews one of the study’s authors and critic Paul Marantz.

And, mathemagical mind-reading with Jolyon Jenkins as he reveals the maths behind a classic long-distance mind-reading card trick.

(Photo: Apples)

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

A study has shown an apple-a-day will actually keep the doctors away but is it accurate?

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

(Photo: Apples)

Could North Korea Wipe Out 90% Of Americans?2017040720170410 (WS)
20170411 (WS)
Experts warn that North Korea could wipe out most Americans in one go

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

A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalypse”.

But are hungry squirrels a greater threat to the electrical grid than North Korean weapons? We speak to senior security adviser Sharon Burke and Yoni Applebaum from The Atlantic.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo:The launch of a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 Credit: Getty Images)

A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalypse ?

Could North Korea Wipe Out 90% Of Americans?2017041020170411 (WS)Experts warn that North Korea could wipe out most Americans in one go

A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalypse ?

But are hungry squirrels a greater threat to the electrical grid than North Korean weapons? We speak to senior security adviser Sharon Burke and Yoni Applebaum from The Atlantic.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo:The launch of a surface-to-surface medium long-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2 Credit: Getty Images)

Could Statistics Cure Cancer?2013112320131125 (WS)Some of the best minds in medical research are working to understand and ultimately eliminate one of the world's biggest killers - cancer. But they are not all doctors, chemists, and biologists. Statistician professor Terry Speed has just been awarded Australia's Prime Minister Prize for his important contribution. Ruth Alexander speaks to him about how statistics is playing an important role in pioneering cancer research.

(Image: Cancer cells. Credit: Getty Images)

Professor Terry Speed explains how statistics plays an important role in cancer research

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

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

(Image: Cancer cells. Credit: Getty Images)

Counting Catholics2013022320130224 (WS)Tim Harford asks how the figure of 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide is calculated.

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

This week Tim Harford asks how the figure of 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide is calculated. He also tests the claims of the controversial video, 'Muslim Demographics' shown at the Vatican by the Ghanaian Papal candidate Cardinal Peter Turkson.

(Image: Catholic worshippers holding rosary beads. Credit: Wathiq Khuzaie/Getty Images)

Counting Climate Migrants2013083120130901 (WS)
20130902 (WS)
Is it true that environmental problems will create 200 million migrants?

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

Counting Climate Migrants2013090120130902 (WS)Is it true that environmental problems will create 200 million migrants?

Is it true that environmental problems will create 200 million migrants? Some politicians and environmentalists warn that this is the case.

But migration experts say that the numbers are exaggerated. Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes investigate.

Image: A woman tends her crops, Credit: AFP/Getty Images

But migration experts say that the numbers are exaggerated. Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes investigate.

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

Counting Covid's Impact On Gdp2021012320210124 (WS)
20210125 (WS)
GDP figures for the period covering lockdown appear to show that the UK suffered a catastrophic decline, worse than almost any other country. But as Tim Harford finds out, things aren’t quite as bad for the UK as they might seem - though they might be worse for everywhere else.

Also, alarming claims have been circulating in the UK about the number of suicides during lockdown. We look at the facts.
There is support for the issues discussed in the programme at www.help.befrienders.org

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producers: Nathan Gower and Chloe Hadjimatheou

(Robots work on the MINI car production line at the BMW plant in Cowley, Oxford, UK. Credit: Tolga Akmen/ Getty Images)

Which countries have done worse, and what can GDP tell us?

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

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

Counting Crowds2017012720170130 (WS)How many went to celebrate \u2013 and how many to protest \u2013 the Trump inauguration?

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

How many people attended President Trump’s inauguration? How many people went to the Women’s March in Washington DC the next day? A fierce debate has been raging since last weekend about the numbers of people at each event. We explore the difficulties of counting people in a crowd and take you through what experts have to contend with to come up with their best guess.

(image: Attendees line the Mall at Trump's Inauguration Day in Washington DC. Photo: Lucas Jackson/Getty Images)

Counting Foreign Fighters2015073120150802 (WS)
20150803 (WS)
How many foreigners have joined militants in Iraq and Syria, and where do they come from?

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

It has been reported that as many as 20,000 foreign fighters have joined militants in the Middle East and that they make up around 10% of ISIS. Wesley Stephenson and Federica Cocco look at the numbers behind those claims and examine where those fighting in places like Syria and Iraq come from.

(Photo: Silhouette of an Iraqi fighter. Credit: Getty Images)

Counting Images Of Queen Elizabeth Ii2012060220120603
20120603 (WS)
How many images of the Queen have ever been created?

And is Facebook really worth more than twice as much as every company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange?

(Image: Composite image showing Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee visits and events around the UK in one month spanning 17 April to 17 May 2012 in various locations. Credit: Getty Images)

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

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

Counting Images Of Queen Elizabeth Ii20120603How many images of the Queen have ever been created?

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

How many images of the Queen have ever been created?

And is Facebook really worth more than twice as much as every company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange?

(Image: Composite image showing Queen Elizabeth II on her Diamond Jubilee visits and events around the UK in one month spanning 17 April to 17 May 2012 in various locations. Credit: Getty Images)

Counting Terror Deaths2016081920160822 (WS)Has 2016 been a particularly bad year for terrorism in Europe?

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

With high profile attacks in Brussels, Nice and Munich, you might think that 2016 has been a particularly bad year for terrorism in Europe. But what happens when you put the numbers in historical context and compare them with figures for the rest of the world? More Or Less hears from Dr Erin Miller of the Global Terrorism Database and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker.

(Image: A man wrapped in a Belgian flag holds a candle as people gather at a makeshift memorial on Place de la Bourse two days after a triple bomb attack hit. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

(Image: A man wrapped in a Belgian flag holds a candle as people gather at a makeshift memorial on Place de la Bourse two days after a triple bomb attack hit. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)

Counting The Dead In Iraq2014011120140112 (WS)
20140113 (WS)
How do you count those killed in war accurately?

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

Estimates of the death count in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003 range from 100,000 to about one million. Tim Harford explores why such a range exists and what methods are used to count those killed during war. And, he discovers why the death count has not stopped Iraq's population growing by almost a third in that time. He speaks to Glen Rangwala from Cambridge University and Patrick Gerland from the UN's demographics team.

Plus, the logic of imperial measures, as explored by Number Hub presenter Matt Parker.

(Image: Dozens of empty coffins covered with the Iraq flag arranged in rows. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Covid In Africa2020080120200803 (WS)Do we have enough data to know what’s happening on the continent? We talk to Dr Justin Maeda from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Ghanaian public health researcher Nana Kofi Quakyi about tracking Africa’s outbreak.

Producer: Jo Casserly

Picture: Volunteers wait to feed local people during the weekly feeding scheme at the Heritage Baptist Church in Melville on the 118 day of lockdown due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2020.

Credit: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Do we have enough data to know what's happening on the continent?

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

Covid Misconceptions And Us Deaths2020071820200720 (WS)How many of us believe the myths about coronavirus?

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

Covid-19 Fatality Rate2020050920200510 (WS)
20200511 (WS)
20200512 (WS)
Why don't we know how dangerous Covid -19 really is?

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

The question of just how dangerous Covid-19 really is, is absolutely crucial. If a large number of those who are infected go on to die, there could be dreadful consequences if we relaxed the lockdowns that have been imposed across much of the world. If the number is smaller, for many countries the worst might already be behind us.

But the frustrating thing is: we’re still not sure. So how can we work this crucial number out?

(An Indian health official inside a COVID-19 mobile testing van uses a nasal swab to collect a sample from a man in New Delhi, India. Photo credit: Yawar Nazir/Getty Images)

Covid-19: The Risks2020032820200329 (WS)
20200330 (WS)
This week the UK responded to the coronavirus pandemic by going into the same kind of public lockdown many other countries are already experiencing.

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, puts the risks of Covid-19 into perspective. He found that the proportion of people who get infected by coronavirus, who then go on to die increases with age, and the trend matches almost exactly how our background mortality risk also goes up. Catching the disease could be like packing a year’s worth of risk into a couple of weeks.

(Mathematician and Risk guru, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter at the University of Cambridge. Credit: In Pictures Ltd./ Corbis via Getty Images)

Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter puts the risks of Covid-19 into perspective

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

Creativity And Mental Illness2015111320151116 (WS)Are creative people more likely to suffer mental illness, and has Cuba wiped out child hunger? Wesley Stephenson investigates.

(Photo: A visitor photos a screen featuring Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh. Credit: Getty Images)

Are creative people more likely to be mentally ill, and has Cuba wiped out child hunger?

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

C-sections And Sharks2020010420200106 (WS)
20200107 (WS)
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…

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.

(Great white shark, Neptune Islands, South Australia. Credit: Brad Leue/Getty Images

Hospital births in China and whether it's true 50% are delivered by caesarean section

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

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

Cybermetrics And Groundhog Day20120218Tim Harford investigates internet search engine accuracy, and groundhog weather forecasts.

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

COUNTING THE WORLDWIDE WEB
Can you measure your popularity - or that of anyone or anything - by the number of results that an internet search generates?

Tim Harford points the finger at lazy journalists.

The programme hears from Professor Mike Thelwall of Wolverhampton University in the UK, and Ahmet Uyar from Mersin University in Turkey.

GROUNDHOG DAY
Every year in February, a groundhog in Pennsylvania - made famous by the Hollywood film, Groundhog Day - makes a weather forecast.

If Punxsutawney Phil, as the creature is known, sees his shadow when he comes out of his hole, he predicts six more weeks of winter; if he sees no shadow, he predicts an early Spring.

What nonsense? Well, Professor Paul Sommers, of Middlebury College in the United States has done some statistical analysis of groundhog these metereological assessments, and found them surprisingly accurate.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: Google search engine webpage. Credit: Getty Images)

Dam Lies And Statistics2018121520181217 (WS)
20181218 (WS)
Hydropower now provides 71% of the world’s renewable energy with many countries around the world turning to mega-dam construction to power their economies. But are dams really effective and sustainable as an alternative to fossil fuels? Critics have pointed out a range of issues from cost overruns to environmental damage. More or Less looks at what the data tells us about these impacts and how dams might be used in the future.

Producer/Presenter: Tom Hill

British Pathé audio clip: opening of the Boulder Dam

(image: Hoover Dam in the Black Canyon of the Colorado River, USA. Photo credit Joe Klamar/Getty Images)

Are mega-dams really sustainable?

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

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

Data In The Time Of Cholera2020072520200727 (WS)A journey back to the birth of epidemiology

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

Daylight Saving Time And Heart Attacks2019031620190318 (WS)
20190319 (WS)
Daylight saving time moves the clocks forward an hour in Spring or back in Autumn to increase the amount of daylight people experience while out and about. In the countries that follow the century-old practice, the spring shift means people lose an hour of sleep. The sudden loss has been linked to a rise in the risk of having a heart attack in studies carried out around the world. Italian professor and cardiologist, Roberto Manfredini, put together the available figures and found a five percent increase in heart attacks in the days following the clock change. But is daylight savings really the cause and what else might disturb our cardio rhythms? With insight from sleep expert and Harvard Medical School professor, Dr Janet Mullington.

Producer: Darin Graham
Presenter: Robert Cuffe

( Heart shaped clock in the garden with snowdrops.Photo Credit: Diephosi /Getty images)

Does the sudden loss of an hour of sleep raise the risk of having a heart attack?

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

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

Dealing With The Numbers Of Cancer2019061520190617 (WS)
20190618 (WS)
We look at the numbers that your doctor tells you when you are diagnosed with cancer. Climate scientist Tamsin Edwards tells us the personal story of how her statistical training has helped her deal with her cancer diagnosis. Tamsin’s doctor Dr Kai-Keen Shiu, a consultant medical oncologist at University College London Hospital, comes into the studio to talk through his approach to explaining numbers to patients.

Presenter: Phoebe Keane
Producer: Phoebe Keane

Image: Dr Tamsin Edwards
Credit: Dr Tamsin Edwards

How one woman used statistics to help cope with cancer

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

We look at the numbers that your doctor tells you when you are diagnosed with cancer. We hear the personal story of climate scientist Tamsin Edwards on how her statistical training has helped her deal with her cancer diagnosis. Tamsin’s doctor Dr Kai-Keen Shiu, a Consultant Medical Oncologistat University College London Hospital, comes into the studio to talk through his approach to explaining numbers to patients.

How one woman used statistics to help cope with cancer.

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

We look at the numbers that your doctor tells you when you are diagnosed with cancer. Climate scientist Tamsin Edwards tells us the personal story of how her statistical training has helped her deal with her cancer diagnosis. Tamsin’s doctor Dr Kai-Keen Shiu, a consultant medical oncologist at University College London Hospital, comes into the studio to talk through his approach to explaining numbers to patients.

Death Penalty Abolition2016082620160829 (WS)The story behind the countries that have not executed anyone for 10 years

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

Statistics suggest that officially about half of the countries in the world have abolished Capital Punishment, and a further 52 have stopped its use in practice. But we tell the story behind the numbers and show why the picture is more complicated. We speak to Parvais Jabbar, co-director of the Death Penalty Project.

(Image: Handcuffed hands of a prisoner behind the bars of a prison. Credit: View Apart via Shutterstock)

(Image: Handcuffed hands of a prisoner behind the bars of a prison. Credit: View Apart via Shutterstock)

Death Row2015052220150524 (WS)
20150525 (WS)
Is it true that for every nine people executed in the US, there is one person exonerated?

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

Lawyer Bryan Stephenson recently claimed that for every nine people executed in the US, there is one person who has been exonerated. We ask if this is really true and how it differs from state to state. We also look at how many countries have the death penalty and how often they use it.

(Photo: Corridor in an abandoned penitentiary. Credit: Shutterstock)

Deaths In Gaza2014082220140824 (WS)
20140825 (WS)
Why are men over-represented in civilian death tolls and how are the statistics gathered?

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

As the Gaza conflict continues, the fact that there are estimated to be nearly three times as many men as women among the Palestinian civilian casualties has been an issue in the spotlight. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look at why men are often over-represented in civilian death tolls, and how the statistics in this conflict are being gathered.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: Five Palestinian men sit on next to a destroyed bus on August 20, 2014. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Debunking Guide - On A Postcard2018021720180218 (WS)
20180219 (WS)
20180220 (WS)
Can you fit a guide to questioning dubious statistics on the back of a postcard? Tim Harford is certainly ready to give it a try. He wants us to be curious: why do we “like” one stat but not another, who wants you to see it, and – behind the headline - what’s it really telling you?

Here’s his debunking cue-card to help you out:

1) Observe your feelings
2) Understand the claim
3) Get the backstory
4) Put things in perspective
5) Embrace imprecision
6) Be curious

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

Debunking Guide €Ⓚ On A Postcard20180218How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps

Can you fit a guide to questioning dubious statistics on the back of a postcard? Tim Harford is certainly ready to give it a try. He wants us to be curious: why do we “like ? one stat but not another, who wants you to see it, and – behind the headline - what’s it really telling you?

Here’s his debunking cue-card to help you out:

1) Observe your feelings
2) Understand the claim
3) Get the backstory
4) Put things in perspective
5) Embrace imprecision
6) Be curious

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps.

Can you fit a guide to questioning dubious statistics on the back of a postcard? Tim Harford is certainly ready to give it a try. He wants us to be curious: why do we “like” one stat but not another, who wants you to see it, and – behind the headline - what’s it really telling you?

Deforestation In Brazil2019090720190909 (WS)
20190910 (WS)
Fires in the Amazon have been widely covered by the media in recent weeks. Our last programme looked at the extent of those fires. This week we ask a broader question – what do we know about deforestation in Brazil? Has it increased significantly since President Jair Bolsonaro took office in January? We look at the long terms trend.

Picture: a tree freshly cut from the forest, as illegal logging continues near Para, Brazil. Credit: Paulo Fridman/Getty Images.

Has it increased significantly since President Bolsonaro took office in January?

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

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

Did Global Poverty Halve Overnight?2014051620140518 (WS)
20140519 (WS)
Does greater purchasing power in developing countries mean there are fewer poor people?

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

Did the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fall by half a few weeks ago? That is one interpretation of newly released figures for purchasing power parity around the world. The figures compiled by the International Comparison Programme of the World Bank show that in a lot of poorer countries, things are cheaper than we had thought. One development think tank has suggested that if people in these countries can afford to buy more, fewer of them will fall under the World Bank's definition of extreme poverty. We take a look at the argument to see if it stacks up, and whether the World Bank should be lowering its estimates for global poverty in light of the new figures.

(Photo: Chinese couple shopping in a supermarket. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Did Sir Roger Bannister Make The €☀impossible’ Possible?20180311

More or Less marks the passing of a sporting legend. This week Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run one mile in less than 4 minutes, died peacefully in Oxford at the age of 88.

His achievement was one of the most famous records of the 20th Century, and soon became shrouded in myth. After the ‘impossible’ psychological barrier was broken, motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins claim that the year after it was broken, the power of positive thinking helped dozens of runners to break the four-minute record.

Four years ago Tim Harford spoke to Sir Roger Bannister himself to separate myth from reality and find out exactly what propelled him to his famous feat.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: James Fletcher

(Britain's Roger Bannister (centre) being congratulated by Chris Chataway after setting a new record of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. On the left is Chris Brasher. Photo by Norman Potter / Getty Images)

Did Sir Roger Bannister Make The Impossible Possible?2018031120180312 ()
20180313 ()

More or Less marks the passing of a sporting legend. This week Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run one mile in less than 4 minutes, died peacefully in Oxford at the age of 88.

His achievement was one of the most famous records of the 20th Century, and soon became shrouded in myth. After the ‘impossible’ psychological barrier was broken, motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins claim that the year after it was broken, the power of positive thinking helped dozens of runners to break the four-minute record.

Four years ago Tim Harford spoke to Sir Roger Bannister himself to separate myth from reality and find out exactly what propelled him to his famous feat.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: James Fletcher

(Britain's Roger Bannister (centre) being congratulated by Chris Chataway after setting a new record of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. On the left is Chris Brasher. Photo by Norman Potter / Getty Images)

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

Did Sir Roger Bannister Make The 'impossible' Possible?2014050420140505 (WS)A mile in under four minutes. Did positive thinking propel dozens to do the same?

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

Sixty years ago Sir Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes. It’s one of the most famous records of the 20th Century, one that the passage of time has shrouded in legend. Was the four-minute mile really considered an ‘impossible’ physical barrier? Are motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins right to claim that the year after it was broken, the power of positive thinking helped dozens of runners to break the four-minute barrier? More or Less speaks with Sir Roger Bannister to separate myth from reality and find out exactly what propelled him to his famous feat.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: James Fletcher

(Image: Roger Bannister hits the tape to run the first four minute mile, Oxford, 6 May 1954. Credit: Press Association)

Did Sir Roger Bannister Make The 'impossible' Possible?2018031020180311 (WS)
20180312 (WS)
20180313 (WS)
More or Less marks the passing of a sporting legend. This week Sir Roger Bannister, the first person to run one mile in less than 4 minutes, died peacefully in Oxford at the age of 88.

His achievement was one of the most famous records of the 20th Century, and soon became shrouded in myth. After the ‘impossible’ psychological barrier was broken, motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins claim that the year after it was broken, the power of positive thinking helped dozens of runners to break the four-minute record.

Four years ago Tim Harford spoke to Sir Roger Bannister himself to separate myth from reality and find out exactly what propelled him to his famous feat.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: James Fletcher

(Britain's Roger Bannister (centre) being congratulated by Chris Chataway after setting a new record of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. On the left is Chris Brasher. Photo by Norman Potter / Getty Images)

A mile in under four minutes. Did positive thinking propel dozens to do the same?

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

(Britain's Roger Bannister (centre) being congratulated by Chris Chataway after setting a new record of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. On the left is Chris Brasher. Photo by Norman Potter / Getty Images)

(Britain's Roger Bannister (centre) being congratulated by Chris Chataway after setting a new record of 3 minutes 59.4 seconds. On the left is Chris Brasher. Photo by Norman Potter / Getty Images)

Diet Coke Habit2017121520171217 (WS)
20171218 (WS)
20171219 (WS)
What effect could the US President's Diet Coke habit have on his health?

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

What effect could the US President’s Diet Coke habit have on his health?

The State of California has seen 8,871 wild fires this year but what is the difference between a contained fire and a controlled one and how do you know it’s safe to approach an area that has been on fire? Peter Rogers of the Forestry Commission explains.

And

The New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks ‘a dozen’ Diet Coke’s a day, at 42mg of caffeine per 330ml what impact, if any, could this have on the Presidents health? Jordan Dunbar speaks to experts about the effects caffeine has on your brain and chats to someone whose own Diet Coke habit could put the President’s to shame.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(image: Donald Trump enjoying his Diet Coke at a Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, New York. Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

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

The New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks ‘a dozen’ Diet Coke’s a day, at 42mg of caffeine per 330ml what impact, if any, could this have on the Presidents health? Jordan Dunbar speaks to experts about the effects caffeine has on your brain and chats to someone whose own Diet Coke habit could put the President’s to shame.

(image: Donald Trump enjoying his Diet Coke at a Foundation Dinner at the Waldorf Astoria, New York. Photo Credit: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images)

Dna: Are You More Chimp Or Neanderthal?2018091520180916 (WS)
20180917 (WS)
20180918 (WS)
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 Peter Donnelly, Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford, to help answer this genetic generation game.

Producer: Lizzy McNeill
Presenter: Tim Harford

(image: a model of the DNA Double Helix 2017. Photo credit:Universal History Archive UIG/Getty Images)

Is our DNA more chimp or Neanderthal?

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

(image: a model of the DNA Double Helix 2017. Photo credit:Universal History Archive UIG/Getty Images)

Do Assassinations Work?2018111020181112 (WS)
20181113 (WS)
The killing of the prominent Saudi Arabian journalist Jamal Khashoggi, which some people have called an assassination, has led to widespread condemnation of the Saudi regime and - in particular – it’s leader Mohammed Bin Salman.

It’s also focused attention on the murky world of assassinations.

But how likely is an assassination attempt to succeed and what institutional and structural impact does it have have on a country?

Ben Carter talks to Ben Olken, Professor of Economics at MIT to find out the answers.

(Image: President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline smile at the crowds lining their motorcade route in Dallas, Texas on November 22 1963. Minutes later the President was assassinated. / Getty images.

How likely are assassination attempts on heads of state to succeed?

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

Do Big Football Clubs Win More Penalties?20120331
Do Big Football Clubs Win More Penalties?20120401Tim Harford looks at referee bias, and he gazes into the future with Hans Rosling's data.

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

Do Manchester United and other leading clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona benefit from biased refereeing decisions when they play in front of their home crowd? It's a widely-held view, but Tim Harford challenges it with a look at the penalty statistics.

Do Manchester United and other leading clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona benefit from biased refereeing decisions when they play in front of their home crowd? It’s a widely-held view, but Tim Harford challenges it with a look at the penalty statistics.

Plus, he meets Hans Rosling of Gapminder at the Skoll World Forum: if you want to understand the world you’re living in, and how it will be different to the world your children and grandchildren will live in, listen to this interview.

(Image: Wayne Rooney of Manchester United scores his team's second goal, from a penalty kick, during the match between Manchester United and West Bromwich Albion. Credit: ALLSPORT/Getty Images)

Do Manchester United and other leading clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona benefit from biased refereeing decisions when they play in front of their home crowd? It’s a widely-held view, but Tim Harford challenges it with a look at the penalty statistics.

Plus, if you want to understand the world you’re living in, and how it will be different to the world your children and grandchildren will live in, listen to Tim’s interview with Hans Rosling of Gapminder.

Tim Harford looks at referee bias, and he gazes into the future with Hans Rosling's data.

Do Manchester United and other leading clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona benefit from biased refereeing decisions when they play in front of their home crowd? It’s a widely-held view, but Tim Harford challenges it with a look at the penalty statistics.

Do E-cigarettes Harm Your Chances Of Quitting?2016020520160208 (WS)Should research described as 'misleading; and 'not scientific' have been published?

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

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 has 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.

(Photo: Man smoking e-cigarette. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Do Nigerian Lawmakers Make More Than President Trump?2017110420171105 (WS)
20171106 (WS)
20171107 (WS)
Fact checking the claim that Nigerian politicians earn more than 1.7million dollars

Tim 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.

Do Nigerian Lawmakers Make More Than President Trump?20171105Fact checking the claim that Nigerian politicians earn more than 1.7million dollars

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.

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

Do We Use Only 10% Of Our Brains?2014082920140831 (WS)
20140901 (WS)
Is it true that humans use just 10% of their brains? It’s the premise of the new film Lucy, in which the brain capacity of Scarlett Johansson’s character increases to dangerous levels. Tim Harford uses considerably more than 10% of his brain to separate the neuro-science facts from the fiction with Professor Sophie Scott.

What drives the price of footballers? Tim Harford tries to understand the huge transfer fees with Raffaele Poli from the CIES Football Observatory and football agent Seb Ewen.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Does Scarlett Johansson really have super powers in Lucy? Plus, football transfer fees

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

It's the premise of a new film, but do we really get by using just 10% of our brains?

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Does A Child Die From Hunger Every 15 Seconds?2013061520130616 (WS)
20130617 (WS)
It is a popular statistic used by celebrities and charity campaigners but is it true?

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

More or Less examines the claim that every 15 seconds a child dies of hunger. It is a popular statistic used by celebrities and charity campaigners in support of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. It conjures up the image of millions of young children starving to death. But is this really the case?

According to the experts behind these figures, the answer is no. The real problem is undernutrition, which leaves children more susceptible to infectious diseases. And, many of the children who are under-nourished are not going to bed hungry at night - they have enough food, just not the right kinds of food. Ruth Alexander takes a detailed look at the problem of child malnutrition - which countries are worst affected, and what is being done to try to ease the problem. She is joined by Jack Lundie, If campaign; Professor Robert Black, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Jane Howard from the UN World Food Programme.

Does A Child Die From Hunger Every 15 Seconds?2013061620130617 (WS)Ruth Alexander looks at the facts behind the shock statistic from aid campaigns.

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

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

Does A Child Die From Hunger Every 15 Seconds?2013071320130714 (WS)
20130715 (WS)
It is a popular statistic used by celebrities and charity campaigners but is it true?

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

More or Less examines the claim that every 15 seconds a child dies of hunger. It is a popular statistic used by celebrities and charity campaigners in support of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. It conjures up the image of millions of young children starving to death. But is this really the case? According to the experts behind these figures, the answer is no. The real problem is undernutrition, which leaves children more susceptible to infectious diseases. And, many of the children who are under-nourished are not going to bed hungry at night - they have enough food, just not the right kinds of food. Ruth Alexander takes a detailed look at the problem of child malnutrition - which countries are worst affected, and what is being done to try to ease the problem. She is joined by Jack Lundie, If campaign; Professor Robert Black, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Jane Howard from the UN World Food Programme.

Does Being Taller Make You A Pro Basketballer?2018051920180520 (WS)
20180521 (WS)
20180522 (WS)
If you're 6'8\u201d in the US \u2013 what are your chances of playing professional basketball?

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

Former FBI Director James Comey is very, very tall – over two metres tall, or 6’8”. Many media outlets commented on his height during his recent difficulties with President Trump. It has prompted us to explore – if he hadn’t worked for the FBI, could he have counted on his height alone to have a career in basketball?

In this week’s programme Tim Harford looks at the likelihood that James Comey – or any very tall person - might have made it as a pro in the NBA. He speaks to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz who has crunched the numbers on height, class and race to find out who is more likely to make it as a basketball superstar.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

(Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)

Former FBI Director James Comey is very, very tall – over two metres tall, or 6’8 ? Many media outlets commented on his height during his recent difficulties with President Trump. It has prompted us to explore – if he hadn’t worked for the FBI, could he have counted on his height alone to have a career in basketball?

(Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)

Does Breastfeeding Increase Iq?2015032120150322 (WS)Do breastfed babies become more intelligent adults?

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

A major 30-year study claims to show breastfed babies become more intelligent, higher earning adults. It’s not the first time we have heard that breastfeeding raises IQ levels, but is this evidence any more convincing? Ruth Alexander and Hannah Moore explore the details with Dr Stuart Ritchie from The University of Edinburgh.

Does Eating Chocolate Make Your Brain Younger?2017120920171210 (WS)
20171211 (WS)
20171212 (WS)
Are research findings misrepresented by funders, PR machines and the media?

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

Headlines claim that eating chocolate can protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The theory is that bioactives within chocolate called flavanols can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even make your brain 30 years younger! But isn’t this all a bit too good to be true? The BBC’s Head of Statistics, Robert Cuffe, investigates whether research findings are misrepresented by funders, PR machines and the media.

Presenter: Robert Cuffe
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(Image: Large chunks of chocolate. Credit: Shutterstock)

Does Eating Chocolate Make Your Brain Younger?20171210Are research findings misrepresented by funders, PR machines and the media?

Headlines claim that eating chocolate can protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The theory is that bioactives within chocolate called flavanols can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even make your brain 30 years younger! But isn’t this all a bit too good to be true? The BBC’s Head of Statistics, Robert Cuffe, investigates whether research findings are misrepresented by funders, PR machines and the media.

Presenter: Robert Cuffe
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(Image: Large chunks of chocolate. Credit: Shutterstock)

Does Politics Make Us Get Our Sums Wrong?2013110920131111 (WS)To what degree do our personal opinions cloud our judgement? Yale University researchers have attempted to detect and measure how our political beliefs affect our ability to make rational decisions. The study suggests that our ability to do maths plummets when we’re looking at data which clashes with our worldview. Ruth Alexander and Ben Carter consider Professor Dan Kahan’s findings.

(Image: 'The Thinker' by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

How researchers have measured the extent to which personal opinions cloud our judgement

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

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

(Image: 'The Thinker' by French sculptor Auguste Rodin. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Does San Francisco Have More Rough Sleepers Than Britain?2019100520191007 (WS)
20191008 (WS)
Is it true that there are more people sleeping rough in San Francisco than the whole of Britain? That’s what an article in the San Francisco Chronicle claimed but do we have any reliable statistics and how do you count people who don’t necessarily want to be found? Tim speaks to Professor Glen Bramley and Professor Margot Kushel to find out more.

Photo: A homeless man sleeps on the sidewalk in the Mission district in San Francisco, California. Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman/ Getty Images.

Is it true that there are more rough sleepers in San Francisco than in Britain?

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

Does Sex Really Make The World Wide Web Go Round?2013070620130707 (WS)
20130708 (WS)
Is the internet really 37% porn and does American football have a crime problem?

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

Many things about pornography are exaggerated - including the statistics quoted to suggest that the internet is overrun with porn. It seems that each time the subject is debated among politicians and the media a different statistic pops up... like this one: 37% of the internet is porn. Really? The BBC's technology correspondent Mark Ward isn't so sure.

And following the arrest of one of American football's top players, Aaron Hernandez, for murder, the media in the States has been awash with editorials claiming the league has a crime problem. But is that really true? We ask USA Today sports writer Brent Schrotenboer who has compiled an NFL Arrests database.

Does Sweden Really Have A Six Hour Day?2016123020170102 (WS)Can you reduce working hours without affecting productivity?

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

There have been reports that those radical Swedes have decided to reduce the working day to just six hours because, it has been claimed, productivity does not suffer. Before you all rush to the Swedish job pages this is not quite the case – but there have been trials in Sweden to test whether you can shorten people’s working hours without having an effect on output. Tim Harford talks to our Swedish correspondent Keith Moore about what the trials have found. He also speaks to professor John Pencavel, Emeritus Professor of Economics, at Stanford University, and finds that reducing working hours may not be as radical idea as it first appears.

(Photo: A business man carries a black briefcase)

(Photo: A business man carries a black briefcase)

Dozy Science2020012520200127 (WS)
20200128 (WS)
Anxiety around sleep is widespread. Many of us feel we do not get enough. An army of experts has sprung up to help, and this week we test some of the claims from one of the most prominent among them, professor Matthew Walker. He plays ball and answers some of the criticisms of his bestselling book Why We Sleep.

(Photo: Person in bed reaches towards the alarm clock. Credit: Getty images)

How much sleep do we really need?

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

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

Drinks And Drugs Capital Of The World?2012070720120708
Drinks And Drugs Capital Of The World?20120708Do residents of the tiny micronesian island of Palau really smoke more cannabis?

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

The United Nations' 2012 World Drugs Report says the nation with the highest level of cannabis use among adults is Palau, a tiny micronesian island nation.

The World Health Organisation says Palauans drink more beer, per capita, than anyone else. What's going on in Palau?

Also in the programme - what do CERN scientists mean when the talk of a "5 sigma" event?

(Image: A cannabis plant. Credit: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Drug Deaths In The Philippines2016090920160912 (WS)How many people have died during President Duterte's drug crackdown?

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

Over the last two months the Government in the Philippines has been encouraging the police to clampdown on the illegal drug trade. The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, went as far as saying that citizens could shoot and kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, and the killings of drug suspects were lawful if the police acted in self-defence. The press have been reporting numbers of how many people have been killed during the crackdown – but how much trust can we put in these figures?

Lottery wins
We interview Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet, to find out if maths can give you an edge to playing the lottery or gambling.

(Image: A Filipino human rights advocate holds a placard as he joins a demonstration in front of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters, protesting the number of deaths related to government's war against illegal drugs. Credit: European Photopress Agency)

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

Drug Deaths In The Philippines20160912Over the last two months the Government in the Philippines has been encouraging the police to clampdown on the illegal drug trade. The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, went as far as saying that citizens could shoot and kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, and the killings of drug suspects were lawful if the police acted in self-defence. The press have been reporting numbers of how many people have been killed during the crackdown – but how much trust can we put in these figures?

Lottery wins

We interview Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet, to find out if maths can give you an edge to playing the lottery or gambling.

(Image: A Filipino human rights advocate holds a placard as he joins a demonstration in front of the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters, protesting the number of deaths related to government's war against illegal drugs. Credit: European Photopress Agency)

How many people have died during President Duterte’s drug crackdown?

Edith Abbott And Crime Statistics2019102620191028 (WS)
20191029 (WS)
Edith Abbott is best known for her role as a pioneer in the field of Social Work in the United States. She became an advocate for social reform and published several books on topics from women in the workforce to the criminal justice system. In this edition, Tim Harford explores the one thing you won’t find in her Wikipedia entry, or many other places for that matter - her contribution to the world of statistics.

Producer: Drew Miller Hyndman
Presenter: Tim Harford

(Image: Edith Abbott. Wikipedia Commons)

Social worker and economist Edith Abbott and her contribution to crime statistics.

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

Egypt: Biggest Protest In History?2013072020130721 (WS)
20130722 (WS)
Was the Egyptian uprising which ousted President Mohamed Morsi the biggest ever seen?

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

It is claimed that Egyptians have taken part in the biggest uprising the world has ever seen. The nationwide demonstrations, which were followed by the removal of President Mohamed Morsi by the army, were certainly a massive show of people power. But were the crowds really as large as reported? Ruth Alexander assesses the evidence with the help of Middle East correspondent, Wyre Davies and BBC Monitoring’s Chris Greenway.

But how do you count a crowd? Hannah Fry, mathematician and researcher of complexity theory from University College London, outlines the different methods – and their shortcomings.

Escobar's Cocaine Deaths2016102120161024 (WS)How many people die for every kilo of cocaine?

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

Pablo Escobar was one of the world’s most infamous drug traffickers. From his strong hold in Medellin, Colombia, Escobar rose from the poverty of the slums to feature on the Forbes magazine’s billionaires list. He was a folk hero in his hometown of Medellin and one of America’s most wanted men in the early 1990s. It is this world that 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.

(Image: Posters of Pablo Escobar on a wall saying " Pablo for President". Credit: Getty Images)

Esther Duflo And Women In Economics2019101920191021 (WS)
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Esther Duflo is the second female economist to win a Nobel prize. She and her husband, Abhijit Banerjee, and Michael Kremer - shared this year’s award for economic sciences.

To find out more about their work, we speak to Tim Harford - he usually presents this programme but we get to interview him about once a year! Professor Sarah Smith of the University of Bristol joins to discuss the shortage of women in economics.

(image: Economist Esther Duflo at the MIT press conference October 14 2019 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.Credit: Scott Eisen / Getty Images)

Discussing Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banjeree and Michael Kremer's Nobel Prize in Economics.

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

Ethiopia's 350m Trees In A Day2019082420190826 (WS)
20190827 (WS)
In Ethiopia, the government said it planted 350 million tree seedlings in one day, 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. Journalist Kalkidan Yibeltal and Professor Legesse Negash of Addis Ababa University join us to discuss.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Darin Graham

Muddied hands pictured next to a newly planted tree in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Michael Tewelde/Getty images.

Were millions of trees planted in just one day in Ethiopia?

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

Muddied hands pictured next to a newly planted tree in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo Credit: Michael Tewelde/Getty images.

Eurostats - True Or False?2012041420120415 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
Eurostats - True Or False?20120415Are there more Porsche Cayenne owners in Greece than those earning more than 50K euros?

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

Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson take a very close look at some widely reported Eurostats to see whether they stand up to scrutiny.

Are there really more Porsche Cayenne owners in Greece than taxpayers earning over 50,000 euros?

Can there really be 30,000 chauffeur driven cars for the exclusive use of Italian politicians?

Would it really be cheaper to send everyone by taxi than train in Greece and is youth unemployment in Spain really 50%? Find out in this week's More or Less.

(Image: Porsche Cayenne cars. Credit: Getty Images)

Exposing The Biases We Have Of The World2018050520180506 (WS)
20180507 (WS)
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The great statistician, Hans Rosling, died in February last year. Throughout his life Hans used data to explain how the world was changing – and often improving – and he would challenge people to examine their own preconceptions and ignorance. Before he became ill, Hans had started working on a book about these questions and what they reveal about the mental biases that tend to lead us astray. Tim Harford speaks to his son Ola and daughter in law Anna who worked on the book with him.

Statistician Hans Rosling's family talk about the book they co-wrote about preconceptions

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

The great statistician, Hans Rosling, died in February last year. Throughout his life Hans used data to explain how the world was changing – and often improving – and he would challenge people to examine their own preconceptions and ignorance. Before he became ill, Hans had started working on a book about these questions and what they reveal about the mental biases that tend to lead us astray. Tim Harford speaks to his son Ola and daughter in law Anna who worked on the book with him.

The great statistician, Hans Rosling, died in February last year. Throughout his life Hans used data to explain how the world was changing – and often improving – and he would challenge people to examine their own preconceptions and ignorance. Before he became ill, Hans had started working on a book about these questions and what they reveal about the mental biases that tend to lead us astray. Tim Harford speaks to his son Ola and daughter in law Anna who worked on the book with him.

Fact Checking The Big Short2016030420160307 (WS)Is it true that \u201cevery one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die"?

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

Is it true that “every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die"?

Is it true that “every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die""?

Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?"" says Brad Pitt playing a former investment banker Ben Rickert, in the recent Oscar-winning film The Big Short. Although based on a true story, the filmmakers admit there is some creative license in some of the scenes. But is there any truth to this statistic? It turns out it’s a figure that has been around for many decades. We explore its origins.

The debate over whether the UK should leave the European Union is heating up ahead of the referendum this summer. Many politicians have said that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world – is that a fair assessment? We look at the GDP figures.

(Image: Brad Pitt attends the premiere of ""The Big Short"" in New York 2015. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Is it true that \u201cevery one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die""?

"Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?" says Brad Pitt playing a former investment banker Ben Rickert, in the recent Oscar-winning film The Big Short. Although based on a true story, the filmmakers admit there is some creative license in some of the scenes. But is there any truth to this statistic? It turns out it’s a figure that has been around for many decades. We explore its origins.

(Image: Brad Pitt attends the premiere of "The Big Short" in New York 2015. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?" says Brad Pitt playing a former investment banker Ben Rickert, in the recent Oscar-winning film The Big Short. Although based on a true story, the filmmakers admit there is some creative license in some of the scenes. But is there any truth to this statistic? It turns out it’s a figure that has been around for many decades. We explore its origins.

(Image: Brad Pitt attends the premiere of "The Big Short" in New York 2015. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)

Factchecking America2012092220120923 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.
Factchecking America20120923We ask - who fact-checks the fact-checkers?

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

The US presidential election campaign is fertile ground for anyone interested in the misuse of numbers.

So this week's More or Less is devoted to examining questionable claims made by both sides.

And – in a campaign which is being scrutinized more closely than ever by fact-checking websites – we ask - who fact-checks the fact-checkers?

Presenter: Yan Wong
Producer: Richard Knight

Factchecking Trump On Trade2018031620180318 (WS)
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Whenever Donald Trump talks about trade he brings up one statistic again and again, the US trade balance. This is the relationship between the goods and services the US imports from other countries and what it exports – if America buys more from a country than that country buys from America there’s a deficit, and Trump claims America has a trade deficit with almost every country in the world.

Is he right?

We unpick whether President Trump is quoting the correct numbers on trade, hear how trade figures can vary widely between countries and ask if it’s the right approach to focus trade deal negotiations on reducing the US deficit.

(Photo: President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

The US President regularly talks about America's trade deficit - do his figures stack up?

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

(Photo: President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

(Photo: President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Fact-checking Us Gun-crime Statistics20121222Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the debate on firearms deaths.

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

The recent massacre at a school in the United States has re-opened the debate on gun ownership in the United States. Tim Harford investigates whether the statistics on firearms deaths being widely shared on the internet stand up to scrutiny.
And he discovers the mathematics of juggling, with Colin Wright.
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Fantasy Football - How To Win2017082720170828 (WS)
20170829 (WS)
Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager

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

How to win at fantasy football

As the world’s most popular football leagues start up again after the summer break one loyal listener asks us to figure out the best strategy to become a fantasy football champion. Just how should you spend that £100m budget? On great strikers like Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku or top defenders like Toby Alderweireld, David Luiz and Vincent Kompany. More or Less investigates.

Disputing the link between climate change and war in Syria

In an eye catching claim Al Gore has said that by helping provoke the civil war in Syria, climate change contributed to Brexit. We ask to what extent the Syrian conflict can be blamed on climate change.

Presenter: Tim Harford and Ben Carter
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(photo: Manchester United player Paul Pogba in action. Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Fantasy Football - How To Win20170828Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager

How to win at fantasy football

As the world’s most popular football leagues start up again after the summer break one loyal listener asks us to figure out the best strategy to become a fantasy football champion. Just how should you spend that £100m budget? On great strikers like Sergio Aguero, Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku or top defenders like Toby Alderweireld, David Luiz and Vincent Kompany. More or Less investigates.

Disputing the link between climate change and war in Syria

In an eye catching claim Al Gore has said that by helping provoke the civil war in Syria, climate change contributed to Brexit. We ask to what extent the Syrian conflict can be blamed on climate change.

Presenter: Tim Harford and Ben Carter
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(photo: Manchester United player Paul Pogba in action. Credit: Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Fat Or Fiction20130126A ‘new’ BMI calculation has been proposed by Oxford Mathematician Professor Nick Trefethen but does it really address the problem with a calculation that is over a century old. Ruth Alexander looks at how it has developed and what it really tells us, if anything, about our health.

Picture: Lifestyle and Leisure Gastronomy, Science Photo Library

A \u2018new' BMI calculation has been proposed by Oxford Mathematician Professor Nick Trefethen

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

Correction: Tim Cole who appears in this programme is a Professor of Medical Statistics at University College London not Cambridge University.

Picture: Lifestyle and Leisure Gastronomy, Science Photo Library

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

Fear Of Flying2014080120140803 (WS)
20140804 (WS)
Following recent airline incidents, is flying more dangerous? Plus: Commonwealth Games.

After three tragic airline incidents in eight days, is flying becoming more dangerous? Wesley Stephenson looks at the statistics behind air travel to find out.

And what is the most successful nation in Commonwealth Games history? Australia, Canada, England? Not even close.

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

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

Fergie-time20121124Do Manchester United really get more added time at the end of matches

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

Fifa World Cup Extravaganza2018061620180617 (WS)
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20180619 (WS)
The World Cup starts this week and the More or Less team is marking the event by looking at the data behind all the World Cups since 1966 (our data shows that this was the best world cup because England won).

We’ll answer all football fans most burning questions; which World Cups have seen the most shots, fouls, dribbles and most importantly goals? Do the statistics back up the reputations of famous players like Pele, Cruyff, Maradona and Paul Gascoigne? And which of them actually committed the most fouls at one World Cup?

Ben Carter talks to Author and Opta Sports football statistician Duncan Alexander about how the ‘beautiful game’ has changed…through numbers.

(Picture: The World Cup, credit: Shutterstock)

How the \u2018beautiful game' has changed\u2026through numbers.

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

(Picture: The World Cup, credit: Shutterstock)

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

Ben Carter talks to Author and Opta Sports football statistician Duncan Alexander about how the ‘beautiful game’ has changed…through numbers.

(Picture: The World Cup, credit: Shutterstock)

Fishy Numbers?2016021220160215 (WS)Will there be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050?

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

There were reports recently that there will more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. The report comes from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. But as we discover there's something fishy about these figures.

And what are the chances that as a parent you share your birthday with two of your children.

(Image: Waste plastic strewn on the Bao beach near Dakar - photo credit: SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

Florence Nightingale - Recognising The Nurse Statistician2019052520190527 (WS)
20190528 (WS)
British school children are taught about the founder of modern nursing – Florence Nightingale. But now it’s her contribution to statistics which is gaining attention. She was the first woman to be admitted to the prestigious Royal Statistical Society in 1859. While working in hospitals full of wounded soldiers she collected and analysed data on those who were dying and from what. She was able to display that information in new and clear ways to promote the need for cleanliness.

(Florence Nightengale,1856. Credit: London Stereoscopic Company/Getty images)

How collecting data about the dead led the famous nurse to promote better sanitation.

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

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

Food Waste And Scrabble2013011220130113 (WS)Reports this week suggest that we are wasting 50 per cent of our food globally.

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

Reports this week suggest that we are wasting 50 per cent of our food globally. Ruth Alexander discovers why this number is years out of date.

Also are the values on Scrabble tiles correct? They were first assigned in the 1930's. With our changing language do we need to reassess the values?

Reports this week suggest that we are wasting 50 per cent of our food globally. Ruth Alexander discovers why this number is years out of date.

Also are the values on Scrabble tiles correct? They were first assigned in the 1930's. With our changing language do we need to reassess the values?

Football Ranking Mysteries Explained2013113020131202 (WS)How has Switzerland attained a seed when the Netherlands, Italy and England have not?

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

Ahead of the 2014 World Cup draw next Friday, we look at world football rankings. How has Switzerland attained a seed when the Netherlands, Italy and England have not? The answer lies in the playing of friendly games, which can be incredibly unfriendly to your ranking if you play the wrong team at the wrong time.

(Image: UEFA Europa League Draw. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Football's Red Card Cliche2015100220151003 (WS)
20151004 (WS)
20151005 (WS)
Is it harder to play football against ten men? Tim Harford finds out

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

Managers and pundits often say “it’s harder to play against 10 men”, but is there any truth in it? Also, Tim Harford speaks to the author Siobhan Roberts about Professor John Conway, who has been described as a genius and one of the world’s most charismatic mathematicians.

(Photo: A hand holding a red card. Credit: Shutterstock)

Managers and pundits often say “it’s harder to play against 10 men ?, but is there any truth in it? Also, Tim Harford speaks to the author Siobhan Roberts about Professor John Conway, who has been described as a genius and one of the world’s most charismatic mathematicians.

Foreign Aid: More Harm Than Good?2015101620151017 (WS)
20151018 (WS)
20151019 (WS)
Tim Harford interviews Nobel Prize winning economist professor Angus Deaton about a lifetime measuring inequality.

(Photo: Angus Deaton listens to a question after winning the Nobel Prize for Economics. Credit: Getty Images)

Nobel Prize winning economist professor Angus Deaton on a lifetime measuring inequality.

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

Foreign Aid: Who's The Most Generous?2018102020181021 (WS)
20181022 (WS)
20181023 (WS)
Last month Donald Trump said that ‘the United States is the world’s largest giver in the world by far of foreign aid’. This prompted a number of listeners to email More or Less to ask whether he was right and if just looking at the total numbers is the best way of measuring how generous a country is. We crunch the numbers and talk to Brad Parks from research lab Aiddata about aid donations from some of the world’s more secretive countries.

Presenter and producer: Ben Carter

(image: Humanitarian aid efforts continue following the super typhoon in the Philippines. Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

In foreign aid terms what's the best way of measuring how generous a country is?

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

(image: Humanitarian aid efforts continue following the super typhoon in the Philippines. Photo Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Freedom In Numbers20140401How many people in the world live in freedom?

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

How many people in the world live in freedom? The BBC’s Freedom 2014 season got Tim Harford and the More or Less team wondering about this. It’s actually pretty hard to put a number on freedom, so Tim begins by looking at something more quantifiable: how many people live in a democracy? And are people in democracies happier? Tim Harford looks at the numbers with Simon Baptist from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Plus, he examines the price of a cup of coffee, and whether Ruth Alexander can be persuaded to pay for his. The programme was broadcast live from the Media Café at BBC New Broadcasting House in London.

Picture: Children jumping, Fabian Bimmer AFP Getty

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Freedom In Numbers2014040620140407 (WS)How many people in the world live in freedom? First broadcast live on 01 April 2014.

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

How many people in the world live in freedom? The BBC’s Freedom 2014 season got Tim Harford and the More or Less team wondering about this. It’s actually pretty hard to put a number on freedom, so Tim begins by looking at something more quantifiable: how many people live in a democracy? And are people in democracies happier? Tim Harford looks at the numbers with Simon Baptist from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Plus, he examines the price of a cup of coffee, and whether Ruth Alexander can be persuaded to pay for his. This programme was first broadcast live on 01 April 2014 from the Media Café at BBC New Broadcasting House in London.

Picture: Children jumping, Fabian Bimmer AFP Getty
Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

Genocide In South Africa?2013121420131216 (WS)Do crime stats show white South Africans are the victims of widespread racist killings?

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

Ruth Alexander takes a look at the numbers behind the claim that white South Africans are being systematically killed because of the colour of their skin.

The view is held by some in right-wing Afrikaans circles and has been voiced by the South African musician, Steve Hofmeyr. He has said that the number of white South Africans being killed in racially-motivated attacks would fill a soccer stadium and that white Afrikaners are being killed ‘like flies’.

But these claims of a white genocide are not backed up by the statistics, according to Julian Rademeyer from Africa Check and Johan Burger from the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria.

(Image: White South Africans protest against racially motivated attacks on whites. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Getting Creative With Statistics2018072820180729 (WS)
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How big are your testicles and what does that mean?

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

Glasgow Vs Rwanda2021020620210207 (WS)
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Tim explores a shocking claim that life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow is less than it is in Rwanda. But is that fair on Glasgow and for that matter is it fair on Rwanda? And a listener asks whether loss of smell is a strong enough symptom of Covid that it might be used to help diagnose the virus, replacing rapid testing.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou

(Left: Rwanda refugee - photo Reza. Right: Glasgow homeless man - photo Christopher Furlong / both Getty images)

Could life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow be worse than in Rwanda?

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

Global Footprint2015061220150614 (WS)
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Do we need one and a half planets worth of resources?

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

Global Footprint
We are often told that we consume so much that we need one and a half planets. It comes from the Global Footprint Network a think-tank that has pioneered ecological foot-printing but what does that number even mean, and is it helpful?

Chocolate Makes you Thinner
We tell the story behind the chocolate experiment designed to deliberately fool the press. Concerned about the amount of pseudo-science surrounding diet and nutrition, John Bohannon and Peter Onneken ran a trial and had the results published in an online journal and sent out a press release. While the results were correct the trial was not very robust but this did not stop the story that chocolate made you thinner running in newspapers, magazines and on TV around the world. Peter and John had fooled the press and they made a documentary about it. But the experiment has sparked a debate about whether it was ethical to fool the press in this way and whether the whole project was just self-serving.

(Photo: Earth and Stars. Credit: Shutterstock)

Global Wealth2015012420150125 (WS)
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Who is in the world's wealthiest elite, and where do they live?

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

Who is in the world’s wealthiest elite, and where do they live? Which are the world’s best and worst board-games? Oliver Roeder, a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight, says a statistical analysis can tell us. Things do not look good for Monopoly and Snakes and Ladders.

(Photo: World map made of money. Credit: Shutterstock)

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

Global Wine Shortage?2013122120131223 (WS)It is reported that global wine supplies are running low but do the figures add up?

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

episode-p01n9ft7.jpg

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

Goat Or Car?2014052320140526 (WS)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?

And More or Less listeners weigh in on a problem from last week’s programme - how old will you be before you're guaranteed to celebrate a major, round-number birthday (like 40 or 50) on a weekend?

Gerd Gigerenzer on the famous probability puzzle involving goats and game shows.

Golden Ticket2014071120140714 (WS)What are Charlie's odds of finding a golden ticket in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?

In the film and musical based on Roald Dahl’s novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie Bucket receives a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. But one of our younger More or Less listeners in England wanted to find out what the chances would be of winning one of those Golden Tickets. So we sent maths book author Rob Eastaway to her school in Derby to explain the answer to her class-mates. A must-listen for anyone who struggles to get their head around probability.

Also on the programme we look at whether the age of players makes a difference in World Cup football.

(Photo: A Wonka bar. Credit: Getty Images)

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

(Photo: A Wonka bar. Credit: Getty Images)

Good News On Renewables?2016112520161128 (WS)Renewable capacity has surpassed that of coal \u2013 is this good news?

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

With all the bad news related to the climate is there actually some good news? Worldwide renewable capacity has now passed coal capacity for the first time. The story was reported across the world but is it the good news it first appears? What does the term ‘capacity’ actually mean? We've been speaking to the International Energy Agency to find out.

Last week we looked at how good we are at spotting earth-bound asteroids but listeners were a bit puzzled by NASA’s claim that they had found 95% of all the asteroids over a kilometre. If they don’t know how many there are how can they have found 95% of them? Simon Maybin has been back to NASA for clarification.

Tim Harford presents.

Image credit: Shutterstock - solar panels and wind turbines

Renewable capacity has surpassed that of coal – is this good news?

Last week we looked at how good we are at spotting earth-bound asteroids but listeners were a bit puzzled by NASA’s claim that they had found 95% of all the asteroids over a kilometre. If they don’t know how many there are how can they have found 95% of them? Simon Maybin has been back to NASA for clarification.

With all the bad news related to the climate is there actually some good news? Worldwide renewable capacity has now passed coal capacity for the first time. The story was reported across the world but is it the good news it first appears? What does the term ‘capacity’ actually mean? We've been speaking to the International Energy Agency to find out.
Last week we looked at how good we are at spotting earth-bound asteroids but listeners were a bit puzzled by NASA’s claim that they had found 95% of all the asteroids over a kilometre. If they don’t know how many there are how can they have found 95% of them? Simon Maybin has been back to NASA for clarification.
Tim Harford presents.

Image credit: Shutterstock - solar panels and wind turbines

Image credit: Shutterstock - solar panels and wind turbines

Gravitational Waves2016011520160118 (WS)In search of a previously unobserved part of Einstein's theory.

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

One of our 2015 ‘Numbers of the Year’ predictions might have come to pass. There is great excitement over rumours that one of the predictions Einstein made in his theory of General Relativity has finally been observed. But it’s not the first time it’s been reported that ‘gravitational waves’ have been discovered, and the last time proved to be an equipment test.

What is the total number of possible tweets that could be created from 140 characters? In a recent programme Professor John Allen-Paulos told us that when you take into account all of the symbols available, the total number of possible tweets is Googol2.8 (which is a 1 followed by 280 zeros.) But has he missed some options?

(Image: A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower on the Elva Hill, in Maira Valley, near Cuneo, northern Italy on December 12, 2015. Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

In search of a previously unobserved part of Einstein’s theory.

(Image: A photographer looks at the sky at night to see the annual Geminid meteor shower on the Elva Hill, in Maira Valley, near Cuneo, northern Italy on December 12, 2015. Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

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

Greece Special2015071120150712 (WS)Tim Harford looks at the numbers to tell the story of the Greek crisis.

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

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? (Image: A burning 10 Euro note. Credit: Reuters)

Gun Laws And Gold Medals2012072820120729
20120729 (WS)
Would tighter gun laws lead to fewer gun deaths? Also: how Olympians have changed.

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.

Also: how have Olympians changed in the last century?

(Image: Shell casing for.40 caliber cartridges. Credit: Getty Images)

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.

Gun Laws And Gold Medals20120729Would tighter gun laws lead to fewer gun deaths? Also: how Olympians have changed.

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

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.

Also: how have Olympians changed in the last century?

(Image: Shell casing for.40 caliber cartridges. Credit: Getty Images)

Hans Rosling - The Extraordinary Life Of A Statistical Guru2017021020170212 (WS)
20170213 (WS)
A tribute to Hans Rosling, a master communicator with a passion for global development.

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

A huge hole was left in the world this week with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He was a master communicator whose captivating presentations on global development were watched by millions. He had the ear of those with power and influence. His friend Bill Gates said Hans ‘brought data to life and helped the world see the human progress it often overlooked’.
In a world that often looks at the bad news coming out of the developing world, Rosling was determined to spread the good news: extended life expectancy, falling rates of disease and infant mortality. He was fighting what he called the ‘post-fact era‘ of global health. He was passionate about global development and before he became famous he lived and worked in Mozambique, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo using data and his skills as a doctor to save lives. Despite ill health he also travelled to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to help gather and consolidate data to help fight the outbreak. On a personal level he was warm, funny and kind and will be greatly missed by a huge number of people.

Image: Hans Rosling, Credit: Associated Press

Hardest-working Nations2012051920120520Greeks may put in more hours than Germans, but who works the longest hours in the world?

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

Earlier in the year we looked at who worked harder – the Greeks or the Germans – and found to the surprise of some that on all measures the Greeks put in more hours than the Germans.

But the Germans are more efficient.

That got us thinking: what about other international comparisons?

Who works the longest hours in the world?

Harry Potter: How Many Wizards?2018060220180603 (WS)
20180604 (WS)
20180605 (WS)
Aficionados of the Harry Potter book series have long debated - just how many wizards live among us? We follow a trail of clues in J K Rowling's best-selling books and extrapolate the figures to provide the definitive estimate of the wizarding population of the UK and Ireland.

(Photo: Universal Studios picture showing an artists impression of a planned theme park dedicated to Harry Potter. Credit: Universal Studios/PA Wire)

Fans have long debated - just how many wizards live among us?

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

(Photo: Universal Studios picture showing an artists impression of a planned theme park dedicated to Harry Potter. Credit: Universal Studios/PA Wire)

Has Islamic State Been Losing Territory?2015112020151123 (WS)Has so-called Islamic State been losing territory?

Has so-called Islamic State been losing territory? Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed IS have lost about 25-30% of their territory in Iraq. Is this true?

Plus, is Premier League footballer Héctor Bellerín faster than Usain Bolt? Bellerín can reportedly run 40 metres in 4.41 seconds. Ruth Alexander asks how their times compare.

(Photo:A Shiite Hezbollah flag on top of a mural depicting the emblem of the Islamic State group. Credit: Getty Images)

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

(Photo:A Shiite Hezbollah flag on top of a mural depicting the emblem of the Islamic State group. Credit: Getty Images)

Have 100,000 Christians Died As Martyrs?2013110220131104 (WS)Is there a global war on Christians? It is claimed that an average of 100,000 Christians have died because of their faith every year for the past decade - and that this is an 'unreported catastrophe'.

The Vatican has called it a credible number. But is it?

Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson fact-check the widely-quoted statistic.

We speak to: John Allen, journalist and author of The Global War on Christians; Professor Thomas Schirrmacher, from the International Society for Human Rights; Todd Johnson, director of the Center for the Study of Global Christianity in the US; Ian Linden, associate professor in the study of religion at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and author of Church and Revolution in Rwanda

(Image: An Egyptian Christian mourns. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

How true are claims that there is an unreported global war on Christians?

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

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

(Image: An Egyptian Christian mourns. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Have 65% Of Future Jobs Not Yet Been Invented?2017052620170529 (WS)
20170530 (WS)
Education is failing our kids, claim experts. We go sleuthing around the world.

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

Our entire education system is faulty, claim experts. They worry that schools don’t prepare kids for the world outside. But how could anyone prove what the future will be like?

We set off on a round-the-world sleuthing trip to trace a statistic that has been causing headaches for students, teachers and politicians alike. Helping us on our quest are educators Cathy Davidson, Daisy Christodoulou and Andrew Old – plus a little bit of Blade Runner and a lot data-wrangling.

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo: Classmates taking part in peer learning. Credit: Shutterstock)

Have 65% Of Future Jobs Not Yet Been Invented?20170529Education is failing our kids, claim experts. We go sleuthing around the world.

Our entire education system is faulty, claim experts. They worry that schools don’t prepare kids for the world outside. But how could anyone prove what the future will be like?

We set off on a round-the-world sleuthing trip to trace a statistic that has been causing headaches for students, teachers and politicians alike. Helping us on our quest are educators Cathy Davidson, Daisy Christodoulou and Andrew Old – plus a little bit of Blade Runner and a lot data-wrangling.

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo: Classmates taking part in peer learning. Credit: Shutterstock)

Have Mosquitoes Killed Half The World?2013100520131006 (WS)
20131007 (WS)
Have mosquitoes been responsible for the death of half the people who have ever lived?

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

Have mosquitoes been responsible for the death of half the people who have ever lived? Tim Harford assesses the claim. And he looks into a charity’s statistic that 96 elephants a day are being killed in Africa.

Plus, a return to the subject of left-handers – could it be true that they are more likely to be criminal masterminds?

Have Mosquitoes Killed Half The World?2013100620131007 (WS)Have mosquitoes been responsible for the death of half the people who have ever lived?

Have mosquitoes been responsible for the death of half the people who have ever lived? Tim Harford assesses the claim. And he looks into a charity’s statistic that 96 elephants a day are being killed in Africa.

Plus, a return to the subject of left-handers – could it be true that they are more likely to be criminal masterminds?

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

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

Heads Or Tails?2014061320140615 (WS)
20140616 (WS)
What can we learn about happiness if people make key life decisions based on a coin toss?

Freakonomics guru Steven 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?

With 365 days in the year, it feels like a huge coincidence when we meet someone with the same birthday. But you only need 23 people to have a better than even chance that two will share a birthday. This counter-intuitive result is known as the birthday paradox, and the best place to look for proof is the World Cup, where 32 squads of 23 players provide an ideal data-set. Alex Bellos crunches the numbers for us.

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

With 365 days in the year, it feels like a huge coincidence when we meet someone with the same birthday. But you only need 23 people to have a better than even chance that two will share a birthday. This counter-intuitive result is known as the birthday paradox, and the best place to look for proof is the World Cup, where 32 squads of 23 players provide an ideal data-set. Alex Bellos crunches the numbers for us.

Hidden Figures: The Real Story2017021720170220 (WS)African American women's part in the space race of the '50s and '60s

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

Hidden Figures, the film, has been nominated for three awards at the Oscars and has been a box office hit in the US. It tells the little-known story of a group of African American women and their contribution to the space race in the 50s and 60s. We explore the history of how these women were recruited by Nasa and put to work on complex mathematical tasks – at a time when African Americans and women were far less likely to be employed in such jobs.

(Photo: Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson,in a scene from Hidden Figures. Credit: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox/AP)

(Photo: Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson,in a scene from Hidden Figures. Credit: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox/AP)

Hit Movies And Killer Birthdays2012063020120701
Hit Movies And Killer Birthdays20120701What is the highest-earning film ever if you adjust for inflation?

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

The Avengers is already the third highest-grossing film of all time and it hasn’t been released everywhere yet. It's a huge hit. But what is the highest-earning film ever if you adjust for inflation?

And can it really be true – as a recent study claims to prove – that you are 14% more likely to die on your birthday than on any other day of the year?

(Image: American actor Clark Gable (1901 - 1960) in his role as Rhett Butler kissing the hand of a tearful Scarlett O'Hara, played by Vivien Leigh in Gone With The Wind. Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Hiv In Africa2016060320160606 (WS)Is it true that 74% of African girls aged 15-24 HIV positive?

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

The news aggregation website Zimbabwe Today recently ran a headline stating that 74% of African girls aged 15-24 are HIV positive. Although the statistic is not true, Mary Mahy from UNAIDS reveals that young women do have a higher infection rate than young men.

Kyle Evans is a folk singing mathematician by trade who is always looking for new ways to communicate his love of maths to a sometimes apprehensive audience. Next week he is representing the UK against 26 other countries at the Cheltenham Science festival in England. He came into the studio to perform his competition entry.

(Photo: HIV test in Africa. Credit: Polepole-tochan/Getty Images)

(Photo: HIV test in Africa. Credit: Polepole-tochan/Getty Images)

Hiv In Numbers20130309With the news that a baby has been \u2018cured' of HIV we look at the numbers.

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

With the news that a baby has been ‘cured’ of HIV we look at what the numbers tell us about the epidemic. Ruth Alexander looks at the changes in the way that the disease has been measured and asks can the progress be attributed to better treatment and prevention programmes or is there another story in the numbers? Ron Brookmeyer, Professor of Biostatistics at the University of California helps look at the figures.

Also the Dow Jones hit an all-time high this week so is it party time for investors? Justin Lahart from the Wall Street Journal helps us out.

Photo: Science Photo Library

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

Horoscope Health2015061920150621 (WS)
20150622 (WS)
Can your horoscope predict which diseases you will develop?

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

Can your horoscope predict which diseases you’ll develop? Recent media reports say so – and the claim’s based on a study by scientists from the prestigious Columbia University. More or Less takes a closer look, and hears from its lead author, Dr Nicholas Tatonetti.

Duckworth Lewis
The Duckworth-Lewis method, to most, is a mathematical mystery which has been helping sort out rain affected cricket matches for more than a decade. But it has come under fire after the method set England an impossible target of 34 runs off 13 balls in their rain affected one day match with New Zealand. Needless to say England didn’t win and captain, Eoin Morgan, said that the method needed to be looked at given the way the game has evolved. But has the game changed so much that the maths behind the Duckworth-Lewis method needs to change.

(Photo: Zodiac Signs. Credit: Shutterstock)

How Deadly Is Covid 19?2020110720201108 (WS)
20201109 (WS)
Tim Harford explores what we know about mortality rates in the current pandemic. We discuss the differences between the risks to different age groups, and why that has an effect on a country’s Covid 19 fatality rate.

We speak to Dr Hannah Ritchie from the University of Oxford and Dr Daniel Howdon of the University of Leeds in the UK.

Why there isn't one single death rate.

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

How Deadly Is Ebola?2014081020140811 (WS)It is claimed it kills up to 90% of victims, but fatality rates vary widely

How deadly is the Ebola virus? It’s often said that it kills up to 90% of victims, but while that’s true of one outbreak, the death rate in other Ebola outbreaks has varied widely.

More or Less investigates what we know about how dangerous Ebola 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 United States or Europe.

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

More or Less investigates what we know about how dangerous Ebola 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 United States or Europe.

How Deadly Was 1920s Melbourne?2018033120180401 (WS)
20180402 (WS)
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Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is one of Australia’s most popular television series and has been broadcast in 172 territories worldwide. Set in 1920s Melbourne the series’ protagonist, Miss Phryne Fisher, seems to have a lot of dead bodies on her metaphorical plate. So how does the series compare with the real life murder rate at that time? Join the More or Less team as we step back in time for some statistical sleuthing.

(Photo: Miss Phryne Fisher [Essie Davis] Credit: Every Cloud Productions/ Ben King)

How accurate is the murder rate in the crime series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries?

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

(Photo: Miss Phryne Fisher [Essie Davis] Credit: Every Cloud Productions/ Ben King)

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

How Do We Calculate The Distance To The Sun?2014092820140929 (WS)Two young listeners emailed the programme to ask how we calculate the distance to the sun. We decided to invite them and their parents to More or Less towers where Andrew Pontzen, an astrophysicist at University College London was on hand to explain the answer.

A BBC nature documentary stated that there are 14,000 ants to every person on earth, and that were we to weigh all of these ants they would weigh the same as all the people. Can this be true? Tim Harford and Hannah Moore investigate with the help of Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at the University of Sussex.

Image: Shutterstock

Two young listeners ask how we calculate the distance to the sun.

Image: Shutterstock

How Do You Calculate A Dog's True Age?2013051120130512 (WS)
20130513 (WS)
It is often said that one dog year equals seven human years. But is it true?

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

It's often said that one dog year equals seven human years. But is it true? Tim Harford and Ben Carter unveil the More or Less Dogulator.
Plus, the remains of the English King Richard III have recently been dug up in a car park in a town called Leicester. He died in the fifteenth Century War of the Roses. And an argument has broken out over where those remains should be properly buried – at the moment, the plan is to inter them in Leicester Cathedral.
But 15 distant relatives of Richard III have started legal proceedings in the High Court, saying the king should be buried in York Minster – and that by not taking their wishes into account the government is ignoring their right to respect for family life, a breach of article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
Some reporting has implied that the famous 15 are almost the only descendants of Richard III who exist. But mathematician Rob Eastaway figures out how many other distant relatives of Richard III might actually be out there.

How Effective Is One Covid Vaccine Dose?2021011620210117 (WS)
20210118 (WS)
Would it make more sense to vaccinate more people by delaying the second doses of vaccines for Covid 19? That is a debate going on at the moment. The UK has decided to delay the second dose for up to three months.

We recently received an email from a listener who says he first heard that the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine was 52% effective after the first dose and 95% after the second. Now he has been told that the first dose now has an effectiveness of 90%. Which is correct? Tim Harford looks into it.

Plus, is a new Variant first spotted in the UK really 70% more transmissible than previous variants?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Kate Lamble and Charlotte McDonald

Calculating the protection given by the Pfizer/BioNtech vaccine

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

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

How Expensive Is Italy’s World Cup Failure?20171117How much will Italy's surprise failure to make it to the world cup cost FIFA?

The Italians are calling it the apocalypse. Their team has failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But it is about more than just national pride - there is a financial cost too. Some have suggested that it will cost FIFA $100m. Is this really true? We speak to sports writer Graham Dunbar who has been counting how much money football's world governing body might lose out on. Also we fact check the claim that 45% of Nigerian women marry before their 18th birthday.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Xavier Zapata

(Image: Alessandro Florenzi of Italy at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier play-off, November 13, 2017. Credit: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

How Expensive Is Italys World Cup Failure?20171117
How Expensive Is Italy's World Cup Failure?2017111720171119 (WS)
20171120 (WS)
20171121 (WS)
How much will Italy's surprise failure to make it to the world cup cost FIFA?

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

The Italians are calling it the apocalypse. Their team has failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But it is about more than just national pride - there is a financial cost too. Some have suggested that it will cost FIFA $100m. Is this really true? We speak to sports writer Graham Dunbar who has been counting how much money football's world governing body might lose out on. Also we fact check the claim that 45% of Nigerian women marry before their 18th birthday.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Xavier Zapata

(Image: Alessandro Florenzi of Italy at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier play-off, November 13, 2017. Credit: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

How Extraordinary Is Ye Shiwen?2012080420120805 (WS)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.

There was controversy this week after Ye Shiwen - a young Chinese swimmer - won the 400 metre individual medley in fine style.

More Or Less investigates the numbers and finds there's no statistical smoking gun.

(Image: China's Ye Shiwen competing in the women's 200m individual medley heats swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Credit: AFP PHOTO/LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

How extraordinary was Ye Shiwen's Olympic performance? More or Less looks at the numbers

How extraordinary was Ye Shiwen's Olympic performance? More or Less looks at the numbers.

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.

A US swimming coach called the performance ""disturbing"", implying that she may have cheated.

How Extraordinary Is Ye Shiwen?20120805How extraordinary was Ye Shiwen's Olympic performance? More or Less looks at the numbers.

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

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.

(Image: China's Ye Shiwen competing in the women's 200m individual medley heats swimming event at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Credit: AFP PHOTO/LEON NEALLEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images)

How Fast Are Alligators And Hippos?2020020820200210 (WS)
20200211 (WS)
We all know that you should never smile at a crocodile, but rumour has it that alligators are great perambulators – at least that’s what a booklet about Florida’s wildlife claimed. Tim Harford speaks to John Hutchinson, Professor of evolutionary bio-mechanics to see whether he could outrun one of these reportedly rapid reptiles. Also – our editor thinks he could outrun a hippo, is he right? (…probably not).

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(A large American alligator that lives in swamps in the southeastern states in the US. Credit: Getty images)

Can alligators run at 50kmph? Join us in clocking alligators' gaits

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

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

How Long Can You Wait Until You Try To Have A Baby?2013102620131027 (WS)
20131028 (WS)
Why 300-year-old fertility statistics are still in use today

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

How long can you wait until you try to have a baby? Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late 30s shouldn't be as anxious about their prospects as is commonly assumed. The author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant has 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.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

How Long Can You Wait Until You Try To Have A Baby?2013102720131028 (WS)Why 300-year-old fertility statistics are still in use today

Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late 30s shouldn't be as anxious about their prospects as is commonly assumed. The author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant has 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.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander

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

How long can you wait until you try to have a baby? Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late 30s shouldn't be as anxious about their prospects as is commonly assumed. The author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant has 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.

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

How Long Will You Live?2013062920130630 (WS)
20130701 (WS)
Why life expectancy around the world has increased by six years in the past two decades

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

We examine how long you are likely to live. Life expectancy in the world’s richest countries has increased by an amazing 2.5 years per decade for the past 200 years. But does the data suggest that trend is beginning to unwind? The biggest leaps in longevity are occurring in Africa, Asia and Southern Europe, and health metrics suggest this is a trend which won’t be ending soon. But there are some countries who are being left behind – who are they and why?

We hear from Colin Mathers from the World Health Organisation; Professor James Vaupel, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany; and Richard Willets, Director of Longevity at Partnership insurance firm in the UK.

(Image: Pensioners keep fit as they participate in an exercise class. Credit: Getty Images)

How Long Will You Live?2013063020130701 (WS)Why life expectancy around the world has increased by six years in the past two decades

Ruth Alexander examines life expectancy gains.

Life expectancy around the world has increased by six years in the past two decades. But can this striking trend continue?

The biggest leaps in longevity are occurring in Africa, Asia and the Eastern Mediterranean.

The world's richest countries have also seen life expectancy at birth increase steadily, but there is some evidence that this could slow.

And there are some countries that are being left behind - which are they, and why?

Contributors: Colin Mathers, World Health Organisation; Professor James Vaupel, director of the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Germany; Richard Willets, director of longevity at Partnership insurance firm, UK. With thanks to Paul Sweeting, professor of actuarial science at the University Kent in the UK.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander

Image: Pensioners keep fit as they participate in an exercise class. Credit: Getty Images

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

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

How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists By Half A Century2018011320180114 (WS)
20180115 (WS)
20180116 (WS)
A forgotten French mathematician is the focus of our programme. He anticipated both Einstein's theories and the application of maths to the stock market. Born in the 1870s, his work was unusual at the time. With the help of Alison Etheridge, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, we explain how his ideas were rediscovered decades after his death.

(Photo: Pocket watch. Credit: Kanyapak Lim/Shutterstock)

A forgotten French mathematician's unusual approach to the stock market.

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

(Photo: Pocket watch. Credit: Kanyapak Lim/Shutterstock)

How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists By Half A Century20180114A forgotten French mathematician’s unusual approach to the stock market.

A forgotten French mathematician is the focus of our programme. He anticipated both Einstein's theories and the application of maths to the stock market. Born in the 1870s, his work was unusual at the time. With the help of Alison Etheridge, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, we explain how his ideas were rediscovered decades after his death.

(Photo: Pocket watch. Credit: Kanyapak Lim/Shutterstock)

How Many Animals Are Born Every Day?2018060820180610 (WS)
20180611 (WS)
20180612 (WS)
From penguins to nematodes - is it possible to count how many animals are born around the world every day?

That's the question one 10-year-old More or Less listener wants answered, and so reporter Kate Lamble sets off for the zoo to find out.

Along the way, she discovers that very, very small animals are much more important than very, very big animals when it comes to the sums.

[Photo: New born chicks huddle together. Credit: Shutterstock]

From penguins to nematodes - is it possible to count how many animals are born every day?

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

[Photo: New born chicks huddle together. Credit: Shutterstock]

How Many Is Too Many Bananas?2015091120150912 (WS)
20150913 (WS)
20150914 (WS)
Should population density affect refugee movements? How many bananas are too many?

Is population density the right measure to be looking at when working out how many refugees countries should take - and if not what is?

Plus, there is 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?

(Photo: Bunch of bananas)

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

(Photo: Bunch of bananas)

Is population density the right measure to be looking at when working out how many refugees countries should take - and if not what is?

How Many People Support Manchester United ?20130216This week Ruth Alexander asks whether Manchester United claim 650 million fans worldwide.

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

Real Manager Jose Mourinho says this was the match the ‘world has been waiting to see’. It pitched two of Europe’s biggest clubs against each other in what is a supposed to be a money spinner for broadcasters and sponsors alike.
But how do we know how big the interest is? Manchester United claim 650 million fans worldwide, but how can we know?

Nick Harris of SportingIntelligence.com and Richard Brinkman of KantarMedia help us look at the figures.

Also: this round of the Champions League has been a statistical surprise. The rehearsal and the real draw threw up the same fixtures meaning that the same teams were picked to play each other in both draws. Statistician Michael Wallace helps us calculate the chances of this happening.

Ruth Alexander explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

How Many Stormtroopers Are There?2015121820151221 (WS)Are Star Wars’ Stormtroopers the biggest secret army on Earth?

Are Star Wars’ Stormtroopers the biggest secret army on Earth? Ruth Alexander investigates, and looks at some of the other numbers behind one of the most successful movie franchises in history.

(Image: Stormtroopers at Star Wars: The Force Awakens premiere. Credit: PA Wire)

Are Star Wars' Stormtroopers the biggest secret army on Earth?

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

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

How Many Words Do You Need To Speak A Language?2018062320180624 (WS)
20180625 (WS)
20180626 (WS)
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.

Reporter Beth Sagar-Fenton finds out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and puts Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Lizzy McNeill

(Photo: The World surrounded by Flags. Credit: Shutterstock)

How many words do you need to speak a language and how many do native speakers use?

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

(Photo: The World surrounded by Flags. Credit: Shutterstock)

How Much Gold?2013032320130324 (WS)Ruth Alexander investigates just how much gold there is in the world.

In More or Less Ruth Alexander explains - and sometimes debunks - the numbers and statistics used in political debate, the news and everyday life. This week we ask - how much gold? It's often said that all the gold ever mined in the world would only make an 18m x 18m cube. That’s small enough to fit inside a tennis court. Is this true and how on earth do we know? Ruth Alexander finds out.

(Image: Gold bars. Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

(Image: Gold bars. Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

How Much Heat Do You Lose From Your Head?2020030720200309 (WS)
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Every winter its the same, someone will tell you to put a hat on to save your body from losing all of its heat. But how much heat do you actually lose from your head? We take you on a journey from arctic conditions to a hot tub in Canada to explain why there might actually be more than one answer...

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Leoni Robertson and Lizzy McNeiL

(friends sitting in a hot tub in winter surrounded by snow. Photo Credit: Oleh Slobodeniuk/Getty images)

Is it true that 40% of your body's heat loss comes from your head?

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

How Not To Test Public Opinion2016120220161205 (WS)The survey by the Indian PM that breaks all the polling rules.

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

People took to the streets in India this week to protest about the government’s decision to withdraw R500 R1,000 notes. But despite the uproar the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has insisted he has the support of the people after a survey, carried out on his very own mobile app, found that the decision was supported by more than 90% of respondents.

But the whole episode has echoes of the kind of manipulation evident in one particular sketch from the British political sitcom ‘Yes, Prime Minister’. With accusations of leading and confusing questions designed to get a particular outcome one marketing Professor tells us that if anyone had come up with this survey in his marketing class he would fail them.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Protestors burn an effigy of the Prime Minister at a rally in Kolkata. Credit Dibyanshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Protestors burn an effigy of the Prime Minister at a rally in Kolkata. Credit Dibyanshu Sarkar/AFP/Getty

How Rare Are Deadly Tower Block Fires?2017062520170626 (WS)
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How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London's Grenfell Tower.

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

Grenfell Tower, a residential block in London, made headlines around the world. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead and many are still missing. But how unusual is this? More or Less speaks to Robert Solomon, a fire protection engineer, who explains the recent history of fires in high-rise buildings around the world. Are tower blocks really dangerous? Or are they safer than houses?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Vadon

(image:Smoke rises from the 24 story Grenfell Tower in West London. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty images)

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Vadon

How Rare Are Deadly Tower Block Fires?20170626How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London’s Grenfell Tower.

Grenfell Tower, a residential block in London, made headlines around the world. At least 79 people have been confirmed dead and many are still missing. But how unusual is this? More or Less speaks to Robert Solomon, a fire protection engineer, who explains the recent history of fires in high-rise buildings around the world. Are tower blocks really dangerous? Or are they safer than houses?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Vadon

(image:Smoke rises from the 24 story Grenfell Tower in West London. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty images)

How Reliable Is Kevin Pietersen?20121201Assessing the cricketer's performance in the recent test match between England and India.

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

England Cricketer Kevin Pietersen's performance in the recent test match between England and India has been hailed as a match winning performance. He has been widely praised as one of the best England batsmen of the current era and possibly of all time. But in the first test match he only scored 19. So can England really not do without him or does his batting average(currently a creditable 49.86) hide inconsistencies in his performance?

Zero – why zero is an even number?

(Image: England batsman Kevin Pietersen. Credit: INDRANIL MUKHERJEE/AFP/Getty Images)

How Reliable Is Psychology Science?2015092520150926 (WS)
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The Reproducibility of Psychological Science project reported recently and it made grim reading. Having replicated 100 psychological studies published in three psychology journals only 36 had significant results compared to 97% first time around. So is there a problem with psychological science and what should be done to fix it.

Decimate

Tim used the word in an interview last week to mean devastate rather than cut by ten percent – many listeners said this was unforgivable – was it? We ask Oliver Kamm, author of Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage.

(Photo: Conceptual image of a brain. Credit: Shutterstock)

How reliable are psychological science studies? Tim Harford finds out.

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

Decimate
Tim used the word in an interview last week to mean devastate rather than cut by ten percent – many listeners said this was unforgivable – was it? We ask Oliver Kamm, author of Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage.

(Photo: Conceptual image of a brain. Credit: Shutterstock)

How Rich Was Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy?20171126What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today’s money

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 of £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it’s not clear how remarkable it really is. Today £10,000 a year in the UK is less than the amount a full-time worker on national minimum wage would earn. But as Tim Harford discovers, you need to do more than adjust the amount for inflation – there are other ways of measuring the value of Mr Darcy’s income in today’s money.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' 1995)

How Rich Was Jane Austens Mr Darcy?20171126
How Rich Was Jane Austen's Mr Darcy?2017112520171126 (WS)
20171127 (WS)
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What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today's money

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

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 of £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it’s not clear how remarkable it really is. Today £10,000 a year in the UK is less than the amount a full-time worker on national minimum wage would earn. But as Tim Harford discovers, you need to do more than adjust the amount for inflation – there are other ways of measuring the value of Mr Darcy’s income in today’s money.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: Colin Firth as Mr Darcy and Jennifer Ehle as Elizabeth Bennet in the BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's 'Pride and Prejudice' 1995)

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

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 of £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it’s not clear how remarkable it really is. Today £10,000 a year in the UK is less than the amount a full-time worker on national minimum wage would earn. But as Tim Harford discovers, you need to do more than adjust the amount for inflation – there are other ways of measuring the value of Mr Darcy’s income in today’s money.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

How Richard Thaler Changed Economics2017101520171016 (WS)
20171017 (WS)
The behavioural economist who has inspired governments around the world

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

This year’s Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics was awarded to the American, Richard Thaler, for his contributions to behavioural economics. In this week’s More or Less, Charlotte McDonald and Tim Harford explain why Thaler’s work has been so important. They introduce the audience to his world of good nudges, evil nudges and sludge.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Professor Richard Thaler standing in front of portraits of previous winners at the University of Chicago. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

How Richard Thaler Changed Economics20171016The behavioural economist who has inspired governments around the world.

This year’s Nobel Memorial Prize for Economics was awarded to the American, Richard Thaler, for his contributions to behavioural economics. In this week’s More or Less, Charlotte McDonald and Tim Harford explain why Thaler’s work has been so important. They introduce the audience to his world of good nudges, evil nudges and sludge.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Professor Richard Thaler standing in front of portraits of previous winners at the University of Chicago. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

(Professor Richard Thaler standing in front of portraits of previous winners at the University of Chicago. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)"

How Risky Is The Contraceptive Pill?2016120920161212 (WS)We look at the numbers behind the scary headlines about birth control.

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

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 and Elizabeth Cassin
Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Elizabeth Cassin

Image: Contraceptive Pills. Copyright: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty

How Safe Is Flying?2015032820150329 (WS)Following the Germanwings A320 tragedy, are plane crashes becoming more common?

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

All 150 people on board a Germanwings A320 plane were killed when it was brought down over the French Alps during its journey from Barcelona to Dusseldorf. It is the latest in a series of fatal plane crashes to hit the headlines over the past year. But are crashes becoming more common, or does it just seem that way? Ruth Alexander and Hannah Moore report.

Plus, Chelsea Football Club is complaining that it has been awarded too few penalties this season. A recent article on its website calls the number – two in 28 games – "abnormally low" compared to previous seasons. Is that right? With Kevin McConway, professor of Applied Statistics at The Open University.

(Image: Rescue workers search the site of the Germanwings plane crash. Credit: Francis Pellier MI DICOM/Ministere de l'Interieur/Getty Images)

How Should We Think About Spending?2018042120180422 (WS)
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Tim Harford talks to economist Dan Ariely about the psychology of money. They discuss how understanding the way we think about our finances can help us to spend more carefully and save more efficiently. Plus Dan explains how to never have an argument over sharing a restaurant bill again.

(Photo: Mannequins in a shop window wearing sale t-shirts. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

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

(Photo: Mannequins in a shop window wearing sale t-shirts. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

How To Cycle Really Fast2018072120180722 (WS)
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It’s the final week of the Tour De France giving the cycling geeks on the More Or Less team the perfect excuse to look at some bike-related statistics. Former British time trial champion Michael Hutchinson calculates how much better the pros are than the rest of us, and aerodynamics expert Bert Blocken explains the numbers behind slipstreaming.

(image: A shot of a cyclist's feet while cycling. (Photo Credit: Getty Images).

How much better are the pros than the rest of us and how effective is slipstreaming?

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

It’s the final week of the Tour De France giving the cycling geeks on the More Or Less team the perfect excuse to look at some bike-related statistics. Former British time trial champion Michael Hutchinson calculates how much better the pros are than the rest of us, and aerodynamics expert Bert Blocken explains the numbers behind slipstreaming.

(image: A shot of a cyclist's feet while cycling. (Photo Credit: Getty Images).

(image: A shot of a cyclist's feet while cycling. (Photo Credit: Getty Images).

How To Explain Infinity To A Four-year-old2012090120120902 (WS)Can Johnny Ball explain infinity to a 4-year-old? Plus, an interview with Count von Count.

What's the number before infinity?" asks Claudia, aged four. We challenge Johnny Ball, legendary British TV presenter, to explain.

And in celebration of the voice of Sesame Street's Count von Count, Jerry Nelson - who has died aged 78 - there's another chance to hear our 2009 interview with the Count, in which he revealed his favourite number - 34,969.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander.

(Image: Johnny Ball explaining infinity to a four-year-old Claudia)

What's the number before infinity?"" asks Claudia, aged four. We challenge Johnny Ball, legendary British TV presenter, to explain.

And in celebration of the voice of Sesame Street's Count von Count, Jerry Nelson - who has died aged 78 - there's another chance to hear our 2009 interview with the Count, in which he revealed his favourite number - 34,969.

How To Explain Infinity To A Four-year-old20120902Can Johnny Ball explain infinity to a 4-year-old? Plus, an interview with Count von Count.

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

"What's the number before infinity?" asks Claudia, aged four. We challenge Johnny Ball, legendary British TV presenter, to explain.

And in celebration of the voice of Sesame Street's Count von Count, Jerry Nelson - who has died aged 78 - there's another chance to hear our 2009 interview with the Count, in which he revealed his favourite number - 34,969.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander.

(Image: Johnny Ball explaining infinity to a four-year-old Claudia)

How To Lose Money - Fast20120812Last 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?

(Image: $100 bills. Credit: AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER)

Is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress or a threat to the financial system

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

(Image: $100 bills. Credit: AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER)

How To Make Your Artwork More Valuable2019022320190225 (WS)
20190226 (WS)
Die, sell on a sunny day, place your work a third of the way through the auction…There are some surprising factors that can affect the price of an artwork. Here are six top tips on how to get the best price for your art or, for art buyers, how to make a big return on your investment.

Presenter: Dave Edmonds
Producer: Darin Graham
Editor: Richard Vadon

Picture Credit: BBC

Six top tips on how to get the best price for your art

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

How To Measure A Hurricane2017091520170918 (WS)
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What's the best way to measure a hurricane?

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

As hurricanes continue to ravage the Caribbean and southern American states Tim Harford examines the different ways of calculating their respective strengths and he talks to a structural engineer about the considerations that are made for high winds when designing buildings.

Producer: Ben Carter

(Satellite image showing Hurricane Irma moving towards the Florida Coast on Sept 07 2017. Photo credit NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images)

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

As hurricanes continue to ravage the Caribbean and southern American states Tim Harford examines the different ways of calculating their respective strengths and he talks to a structural engineer about the considerations that are made for high winds when designing buildings.

How To Measure A Hurricane20170918What’s the best way to measure a hurricane?

As hurricanes continue to ravage the Caribbean and southern American states Tim Harford examines the different ways of calculating their respective strengths and he talks to a structural engineer about the considerations that are made for high winds when designing buildings.

Producer: Ben Carter

(Satellite image showing Hurricane Irma moving towards the Florida Coast on Sept 07 2017. Photo credit NOAA GOES Project via Getty Images)

How Well Do You Understand Your World?2018090120180902 (WS)
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What proportion of your country 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.

(image: The pregnant belly of a 14 year old girl in Britain. Photo Credit: Tina Stallard/Getty Images)

Tim Harford talks to Bobby Duffy about why we are often wrong about a lot of basic facts

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

(image: The pregnant belly of a 14 year old girl in Britain. Photo Credit: Tina Stallard/Getty Images)

Hyperinflation In Venezuela2019020920190211 (WS)
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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.

And how worried do you need to be about the time your child spends looking at their phone or tablet? It’s often reported that screen use has a detrimental impact on the well-being of young people, but a huge new statistical analysis puts this into doubt. Tim Harford speaks to Amy Orben of Oxford University.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Photo: A woman holds new Bolivar notes in Caracas on August 2018. Credit: Federico Parra/Getty Images)

Tim Harford on the astonishing speed of price rises in Venezuela; teenagers' screen use

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

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.

(image: A woman holds new Bolivar notes in Caracas on August 2018. Photo Credit: Federico Parra/Getty Images)

Ice Cream Versus Aid2016110420161107 (WS)Does the world spend more on ice cream than on humanitarian aid?

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

‘The world spends three times as much on ice cream as it does on humanitarian aid.’ That’s the claim one listener spotted but is it true? We look at the stats behind the statement and ask whether it is a useful comparison.

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.

(Photo: The great British seaside Weston-Super-Mare. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

‘The world spends three times as much on ice cream as it does on humanitarian aid.’ That’s the claim one listener spotted but is it true? We look at the stats behind the statement and ask whether it’s a useful comparison.

Image: The great British seaside Weston-Super-Mare. Photo Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty

‘The world spends three times as much on ice cream as it does on humanitarian aid.’ That’s the claim one listener spotted but is it true? We look at the stats behind the statement and ask whether it’s a useful comparison.

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.

‘The world spends three times as much on ice cream as it does on humanitarian aid.’ That’s the claim one listener spotted but is it true? We look at the stats behind the statement and ask whether it is a useful comparison.

(Photo: The great British seaside Weston-Super-Mare. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Immigrant Crime Rates In The Us2019081020190812 (WS)
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The first weekend in August was another tragic one in the United States. Two mass shootings claimed more than 30 lives. A 21-year-old man accused of killing 22 people in El Paso, Texas allegedly wrote a manifesto railing against immigration saying ‘this attack is a response to Hispanic invasion of Texas’.

President Trump has long referred to Mexican immigrants as rapists and people that bring in drugs and crime. But what evidence is there that immigrants (illegal or otherwise) commit more crimes than native-born Americans – whether it be in Texas or the US as a whole? Ben Carter talks to Alex Nowrasteh, Director of Immigration Studies at the Cato Institute’s Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity.

Presenter and Producer: Ben Carter

(Mexican and U.S. flags fly at a makeshift memorial honoring victims in El Paso, Texas. Photo Credit:Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Do immigrants commit more crime than native-born Americans in the United States?

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

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

Immigration2014020120140202 (WS)
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Tim Harford explores the economic benefits of immigration, plus wedding guest strategies.

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

Who benefits from immigration? Tim Harford finds out what immigrants and their chosen destination country get out of their decision to live and work there. Reporter Ruth Alexander speaks to Thomas Liebig, at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Carlos Vargas-Silva, an economist at the Migration Observatory at Oxford University.

When you have friends and family all around the world, how do you work out how many invites to send out for your wedding - especially with only a finite number of places at the venue? Tim Harford speaks to a couple with a statistical model for working out how many will say yes, and how many will say no.

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

Indian Farmer Suicides2013011920130120 (WS)This week Ruth Alexander is looking at farmer suicides in India

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

This week Ruth Alexander is looking at farmer suicides in India. But is it any more prevalent than in any other area of Indian society? Given the attention it has had in India and across the world the results are surprising showing the suicide rate amongst farming and agricultural workers is a third lower than the national average. It also shows that the over-emphasis on farmers may be drawing attention away from other groups that are in more urgent need of help.
Also what is the history behind the Lakh and the Crore in South Asia? It confused one contributor on the farmer suicide story and caused him to get the figures wrong by a factor of 10.

Ruth Alexander explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Ruth Alexander explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Insectageddon2019030220190304 (WS)
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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?

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producer: Darin Graham

(Image: Hairy hawker dragonfly. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Could insects go extinct in one hundred years?

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

Interview With Daniel Kahneman2012060920120610
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Tim Harford interviews psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Tim Harford interviews Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

The author of Thinking, Fast and Slow describes the common mistakes people make when confronted with statistics.

(Image: Daniel Kahneman. Credit: Getty Images)

Tim Harford interviews Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Interview With Daniel Kahneman20120610Tim Harford interviews psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

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

Investigating Crime Statistics2012091520120916 (WS)The Julian Assange extradition case has put Sweden's relatively high rate of rape under the spotlight. But can such statistics be reliably compared from one country to another?

Ruth Alexander investigates and finds out which countries are the surprise leaders of the world kidnap league, and why even murder rates are difficult to compare internationally.

Plus, who went home from the London 2012 Games with more medals – Olympians or Paralympians?

(Image: A woman sitting on bed with her head in her hands. Credit: JIM VARNEY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

Investigating Sweden's high rape rate; and which surprising countries top kidnap league?

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

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

Investigating Crime Statistics20120916Investigating Sweden's high rape rate; and which surprising countries top kidnap league?

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

The Julian Assange extradition case has put Sweden's relatively high rate of rape under the spotlight. But can such statistics be reliably compared from one country to another?

Ruth Alexander investigates and finds out which countries are the surprise leaders of the world kidnap league, and why even murder rates are difficult to compare internationally.

Plus, who went home from the London 2012 Games with more medals – Olympians or Paralympians?

(Image: A woman sitting on bed with her head in her hands. Credit: JIM VARNEY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY)

Inviting Covid For Dinner2020112120201122 (WS)
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If you go to a gathering of 25 or more people, what are the chances one of you has coronavirus?

Imagine that you’re planning to hold some sort of gathering or dinner at your home. Take your pick of big festivities - it’s Thanksgiving in the US, we’ve just had Diwali and Christmas is on the horizon. In some places such a gathering is simply illegal anyway. But if it IS legal, is it wise?

Professor Joshua Weitz and his team at Georgia Tech in the US have created a tool which allows people in the US and some European countries to select the county they live in, and the size of gathering they are intending on having, and then it calculates the chances that someone at that party, has Covid 19.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: A family gathers for dinner (Credit: Getty Images)

If you go to a gathering of 25 people, what are the chances one of you has coronavirus?

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

Ireland’s Shock Gdp Figures2016072220160725 (WS)The Irish Central Statistics Office has released figures showing that Ireland’s economy grew by 26% in 2015. That would make it the fastest growing economy in the world. But American economist Paul Krugman described this as “leprechaun economics ? as this growth rate is so unrealistically high. More or Less explores how multinational companies with headquarters in Ireland have led to an accounting headache for working out the country’s GDP.

Also, the mobile gaming app Pokemon Go has taken the US by storm and is now spreading across the world. But does Pokemon Go really have 26 million daily active users in the US? More Or Less investigates.

(Image: Riverpoint buildings and Shannon bridge in Limerick, Ireland. Credit: Luis Santos/Shutterstock)

Does Ireland have the fastest growing economy in the world?

Ireland's Shock Gdp Figures2016072220160725 (WS)Does Ireland have the fastest growing economy in the world?

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

The Irish Central Statistics Office has released figures showing that Ireland’s economy grew by 26% in 2015. That would make it the fastest growing economy in the world. But American economist Paul Krugman described this as “leprechaun economics” as this growth rate is so unrealistically high. More or Less explores how multinational companies with headquarters in Ireland have led to an accounting headache for working out the country’s GDP.

Also, the mobile gaming app Pokemon Go has taken the US by storm and is now spreading across the world. But does Pokemon Go really have 26 million daily active users in the US? More Or Less investigates.

(Image: Riverpoint buildings and Shannon bridge in Limerick, Ireland. Credit: Luis Santos/Shutterstock)

The Irish Central Statistics Office has released figures showing that Ireland’s economy grew by 26% in 2015. That would make it the fastest growing economy in the world. But American economist Paul Krugman described this as “leprechaun economics ? as this growth rate is so unrealistically high. More or Less explores how multinational companies with headquarters in Ireland have led to an accounting headache for working out the country’s GDP.

Is China On Track To End Poverty By 2020?2018020220180204 (WS)
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A key pledge of the Chinese President Xi Jinping is that China will have eradicated poverty by 2020. It’s an extraordinary claim, but the country does have a good track record in improving the wealth of its citizens; the World Bank says China has contributed more than any other country to global poverty reduction. So how does China measure poverty? And is it possible for them to make sure, over the next few years, that no one falls below their poverty line?

Photo: A woman tends to her niece amid the poor surroundings of her home's kitchen
Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

We investigate whether the Chinese government can really achieve its extraordinary pledge

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

Photo: A woman tends to her niece amid the poor surroundings of her home's kitchen
Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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

Photo: A woman tends to her niece amid the poor surroundings of her home's kitchen
Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Is Coffee Bad For You?2013082420130825 (WS)
20130826 (WS)
How dangerous is your daily caffeine fix?

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

People who drink more than four cups of coffee increase their chances of dying by 50%, it was reported recently. Given everyone’s chance of dying is already 100%, this seems a puzzle.

What does the research really say, and how reliable are the findings? Ruth Alexander speaks to Dr Vivek Muthu, director for healthcare at the Economist Intelligence Unit and chief executive of the healthcare evidence consultancy, Bazian.

Plus, she interviews Emily Oster, economist and author of Expecting Better. When the University of Chicago associate professor became pregnant, she received mixed messages about whether her daily three or four cups of coffee were still safe to drink. So she decided to use her statistical training to assess the medical evidence herself. She also discusses the conclusions she came to on alcohol and which foods she should avoid – and which she thought were probably safe for her to eat.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander

Is Coffee Bad For You?2013082520130826 (WS)People who drink more than four cups of coffee increase their chances of dying by 50%, it was reported recently. Given everyone’s chance of dying is already 100%, this seems a puzzle.

What does the research really say, and how reliable are the findings? Ruth Alexander speaks to Dr Vivek Muthu, director for healthcare at the Economist Intelligence Unit and chief executive of the healthcare evidence consultancy, Bazian.

Plus, she interviews Emily Oster, economist and author of Expecting Better. When the University of Chicago associate professor became pregnant, she received mixed messages about whether her daily three or four cups of coffee were still safe to drink. So she decided to use her statistical training to assess the medical evidence herself. She also discusses the conclusions she came to on alcohol and which foods she should avoid – and which she thought were probably safe for her to eat.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander

How dangerous is your daily caffeine fix?

Plus, she interviews Emily Oster, economist and author of Expecting Better. When the University of Chicago associate professor became pregnant, she received mixed messages about whether her daily three or four cups of coffee were still safe to drink. So she decided to use her statistical training to assess the medical evidence herself. She also discusses the conclusions she came to on alcohol and which foods she should avoid – and which she thought were probably safe for her to eat.

Is Democracy Failing In America?2017020320170206 (WS)Does North Carolina really rank alongside North Korea if you measure electoral integrity?

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

Donald Trump’s claim that three million people may have voted illegally in last year’s presidential elections have not really stood up to scrutiny. The idea that people may have voted in more than one state, or votes were cast by the dead or non-citizens, have fallen foul of the facts. So can we rest easy that US electoral integrity remains intact? Not so fast. ‘North Carolina is no longer classified as a democracy’ screamed one headline that has since gone viral. A casual glance at the article might conjure images of rigged elections, stuffed ballot boxes, and the military on the streets of Raleigh and Greenville. Read the piece more closely and you will see the claim has been made using a measure of electoral integrity that puts North Carolina on a par with Cuba and just above places like Nigeria and Iran.

This comparison may sound ridiculous but the measure by the Electoral Integrity Project is a well-respected product of Harvard University. So what is going on? How do you measure electoral integrity and are the results meaningful or is this an area where we should just leave the numbers out of it?

(Photo: Americans head to the polls in Charlotte, North Carolina. Credit: Davis Turner/Getty Images)

(Photo: Americans head to the polls in Charlotte, North Carolina. Credit: Davis Turner/Getty Images)

Is London France’s Sixth Largest City?2014032920140330 (WS)
20140331 (WS)
The Mayor of London, British journalists and commentators have trotted out this "fact" a number of times over the last few years to illustrate just how popular the UK’s capital is with its neighbours across the Channel. It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy may have said it as far back as 2008. But could there really be 300,000 French people in London and would they really want to leave France for the UK anyway? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald brush off their best French to find out the answer.

Are there really 300,000 French people in London?

The Mayor of London, British journalists and commentators have trotted out this ""fact"" a number of times over the last few years to illustrate just how popular the UK’s capital is with its neighbours across the Channel. It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy may have said it as far back as 2008. But could there really be 300,000 French people in London and would they really want to leave France for the UK anyway? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald brush off their best French to find out the answer.

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

Is London France's Sixth Largest City?2014032920140330 (WS)
20140331 (WS)
Are there really 300,000 French people in London?

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

The Mayor of London, British journalists and commentators have trotted out this "fact" a number of times over the last few years to illustrate just how popular the UK’s capital is with its neighbours across the Channel. It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy may have said it as far back as 2008. But could there really be 300,000 French people in London and would they really want to leave France for the UK anyway? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald brush off their best French to find out the answer.

Is Mansa Musa The Richest Person Of All Time?2019032320190325 (WS)
20190326 (WS)
Mansa Musa, the 14th century Mali king, has nothing on Jeff Bezos - read one recent news report.

Musa set off on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the 1300s and it’s said he left with a caravan of 60,000 people. Among them were soldiers, entertainers, merchants and slaves. A train of camels followed, each carrying gold.

In recent reports, he has been described as the richest person that ever lived. He has been compared to some of the wealthiest people alive today.

But how can we know the value of the ‘golden king’s’ wealth and can we compare a monarch to the likes of Amazon founder Bezos? In this edition, historian Dr Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah of the University of Ghana in Accra explains who Mansa Musa was and Kerry Dolan of Forbes talks to us about rich lists.

Producer: Darin Graham
Editor: Richard Vadon

(Image: Painting of Mansa Musa, Credit: Getty Images)

Is the West African king, Mansa Musa, the richest person who ever lived?

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

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

Is My Baby A Giant?2017051220170515 (WS)
20170516 (WS)
Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

All over the world mothers are given numbers as their baby grows. The numbers are from ‘growth charts’ showing how a baby is developing in comparison to others. Seven month old Baby Arlo has particularly big numbers, so much so that his parents are worried he’s one of the biggest babies in America. But where do these numbers come from? Is it an average? Why do they measure a baby’s head? Reporter Jordan Dunbar sets out to find out how we get these baby numbers and just how big Baby Arlo is.

Presenter: Tim Harford and Jordan Dunbar
Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Jordan Dunbar

(Photo: Arlo Flight at his home in Texas, USA Credit: Tom and Elizabeth Flight)

Is My Baby A Giant?20170515
Is Nuclear Power Actually Safer Than You Think?2019070620190708 (WS)
20190709 (WS)
We questioned the death count of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in last week’s edition of More or Less World Service after being inspired by the new TV miniseries about the incident. In the end, Professor Jim Smith of Portsmouth University came up with an estimate of 15,000 deaths.

In this episode, we ask how deadly nuclear power is overall and compare it with other sources of energy. Dr Hannah Ritchie of the University of Oxford joins Charlotte McDonald to explore.

Image:Chernobyl nuclear plant, October 1st 1986
Credit: Getty Images

We compare how deadly different forms of power generation are.

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

We questioned the death count of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in last week’s edition of More or Less World Service after being inspired by the new TV miniseries about the incident. In the end, Professor Jim Smith of Portsmouth University came up with an estimate of 15,000 deaths.

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

Is Steph Curry Cheap And How Random Is Random?2017070920170710 (WS)
20170711 (WS)
Evaluating the biggest basketball contract in NBA history, plus Ryanair's seat allocation

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

Are top basketball players underpaid? The American basketballer Stephen Curry has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history. The new deal will pay him $200 million over 5 years but amazingly, according to fellow superstar player Lebron James, he’s probably being underpaid. It may sound ridiculous but economists agree. How can this be true? We look at the economics of superstar sports salaries.

The Mystery of Ryanair’s Seat Allocation
Ryanair carries more international passengers a year than any other airline. The European budget carrier is renowned for its low cost seats. If you want to guarantee seating next to people you book with, you have to pay extra. Otherwise, Ryanair says it will allocate seats randomly. We speak to statistician Dr Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford about her doubts over the ‘random’ nature of the seat allocation.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Richard Vadon

(Image: NBA Finals: Game Four, Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

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

Is Steph Curry Cheap And How Random Is Random?20170710Evaluating the biggest basketball contract in NBA history, plus Ryanair’s seat allocation

Are top basketball players underpaid? The American basketballer Stephen Curry has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history. The new deal will pay him $200 million over 5 years but amazingly, according to fellow superstar player Lebron James, he’s probably being underpaid. It may sound ridiculous but economists agree. How can this be true? We look at the economics of superstar sports salaries.

The Mystery of Ryanair’s Seat Allocation
Ryanair carries more international passengers a year than any other airline. The European budget carrier is renowned for its low cost seats. If you want to guarantee seating next to people you book with, you have to pay extra. Otherwise, Ryanair says it will allocate seats randomly. We speak to statistician Dr Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford about her doubts over the ‘random’ nature of the seat allocation.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Richard Vadon

(Image: NBA Finals: Game Four, Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

The mystery of Ryanair’s seat allocation

Is Strenuous Jogging Bad For You?2015020720150208 (WS)Tim Harford on claims that keen runners might be damaging their health

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

Tim Harford asks whether claims that keen runners might be damaging their health are really true? Joggers will find comfort from an analysis of the numbers by Alissia White of consulting firm Bazian.

And is infidelity among cruise ship passengers rife? A survey claims that one in five passengers admits to cheating on their partner on a cruise and that in 80% of those cases, their partner was on board. But a closer look at the story shows the truth is not nearly so scandalous.

(Photo: Older couple running together outdoors. Credit: Science Photo Library)

Is Suicide Seasonal?2019012620190128 (WS)
20190129 (WS)
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.

And could we predict suicide? Tim talks to Jessica Ribeiro of Florida State University about whether machine learning could eventually help identify people at risk of killing themselves.

If you are struggling, wherever you are in the world, you can go to the Befrienders International website to find support in your country: www.befrienders.org

Producer: Phoebe Keane

(Credit: Ice formation with fallen leaves along path. Credit: Getty images)

Tim Harford asks which times of the year are riskiest for suicide.

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

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

Is The Kenyan Election Already Decided?20130302Do Kenyans vote along ethnic lines? More Or Less investigates.

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

Kenya votes for its next President on 4 March 2013 and while the opinion polls show that it is neck-and-neck between the two main candidates an influential Kenyan political scientists has warned that the polls are wrong.

Mutahi Ngunyi’s predicting a win for Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Coalition because of what he describes as 'the tyranny of numbers' - there are simply more registered voters from the ethnic groups that are likely to support Kenyatta than those for his rival Raila Odinga. But what is the evidence – do Kenyans vote along ethnic lines – Ruth Alexander speaks to Dr Tom Wolf from pollsters – Ipsos-Synovate in Kenya to find out.

Also, was the Pope the subject of divine intervention when lightning struck St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican just after he announced he was stepping down? Or was it just a coincidence. More or Less looks at the chances of this occurring with the help of Matthew Waldrum from lightning protection specialists Omega Red and Graeme Anderson from the UK’s Met Office.

Is The Us Census Under Threat?2018012720180128
20180128 (WS)
20180129 (WS)
20180130 (WS)
The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results.

The United States are due to run their next nationwide census in 2020, but already critics are warning that underfunding and proposed question about citizenship could affect the accuracy of its results. We look at the real life consequences if groups choose not to complete the 2020 census, and ask whether the recent politically charged debate is unusual in its two hundred year history.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Kate Lamble

Photo: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a pen
Credit: Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Kate Lamble

Photo: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a pen
Credit: Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

Photo: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a pen
Credit: Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

Is The World's Population Growing Out Of Control?2013092820130929 (WS)
20130930 (WS)
Is Sir David Attenborough right about global population projections?

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

'We just shut our eyes to the fact that the world's population is increasing out of control...and we owe it to future generations to face up to this.' Is broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough right about global population projections?

And, the BBC has reported that Scotland is home to 20% of the world's redheads. Hannah Barnes looks at whether the numbers add up.

(Image: China prepares for baby boom. Credit: Getty Images)

Is This The Greatest World Cup Ever?2014062920140630 (WS)We cast a sceptical eye over the statistics. Plus: are we seeing the death of tiki-taka?

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

Is Trump Right About Blood Plasma Therapy?2020082920200831 (WS)Is convalescent plasma therapy effective for treating Covid-19?

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

James Comey: Basketball Superstar?2018051920180520 (WS)
20180521 (WS)
20180522 (WS)
Former FBI Director James Comey is very, very tall – over two metres tall, or 6’8”. Many media outlets commented on his height during his recent difficulties with President Trump. It has prompted us to explore – if he hadn’t worked for the FBI, could he have counted on his height alone to have a career in basketball?

In this week’s programme Tim Harford looks at the likelihood that James Comey – or any very tall person - might have made it as a pro in the NBA. He speaks to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz who has crunched the numbers on height, class and race to find out who is more likely to make it as a basketball superstar.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith

(Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)

James Comey is very tall - but what are the chances he could have been a pro baller?

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

(Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)

Japan's 99% Conviction Rate2020011820200120 (WS)
20200121 (WS)
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. And a listener asks if it’s true Canada’s is roughly the same. Toronto lawyer Kim Schofield sets them straight.

(a news screen displays a sketch of former Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn in the courtroom in Tokyo. Credit: Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images)

Quantifying justice in Japan

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in 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. And a listener asks if it’s true Canada’s is roughly the same. Toronto lawyer Kim Schofield sets them straight.

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

John Nash2015052920150531 (WS)
20150601 (WS)
The life and achievements of the mathematician John Nash

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

On 23 May, the mathematician John Nash was killed in a car crash, alongside his wife Alicia. The couple were in their 80s. Professor Nash was on his way home from Norway after receiving the prestigious Abel prize for mathematics. He also won the Nobel memorial prize in economics in 1994, and was made famous far beyond academia when he was played by Russell Crowe in the film, A Beautiful Mind. Tim Harford takes a look back at his life with economist Peyton Young who knew Nash well.

Tim also looks at how many species of owl there are. A much more difficult question to answer than you would think.

(Photo: Nobel Laureates Beijing Forum 2005 Credit:China Photos/ Getty Images)

Just How Lucky Are Regular Lottery Winners?2017120220171203 (WS)
20171204 (WS)
20171205 (WS)
How statistics were used to show how unlikely it is to win hundreds of times by chance.

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

Over the last decade a number of journalists in the US have been suspicious of the number of people who seem to have won multiple prizes on scratch cards and the lottery. This week we talk to a reporter and statistician who poured over data across a number of states to work out the chances of multiple wins. Are some people just very lucky? The maths suggest that is unlikely.

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Image: A customer purchasing lottery tickets at a store in San Lorenzo, California. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Just How Lucky Are Regular Lottery Winners?20171203How statistics were used to show how unlikely it is to win hundreds of times by chance.

Over the last decade a number of journalists in the US have been suspicious of the number of people who seem to have won multiple prizes on scratch cards and the lottery. This week we talk to a reporter and statistician who poured over data across a number of states to work out the chances of multiple wins. Are some people just very lucky? The maths suggest that is unlikely.

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Image: A customer purchasing lottery tickets at a store in San Lorenzo, California. Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Just How Rare Is A Hole-in-one?2018010620180107 (WS)
20180108 (WS)
20180109 (WS)
There are golfers who could go an entire lifetime without getting a hole-in-one. Even in the professional game they are unusual. Recently the BBC reported a pair of amateur players who each scored one - one after the other. It was reported widely that there was a 1 in 17 million chance of this happening.

We speak to maths writer, Rob Eastaway, who explains the difficulties of trying to work out the chances. If you consider the number of people playing thousands of rounds, perhaps it is not so surprising that someone will achieve one. But on the other hand – it is not like a lottery where there is an equal chance of scoring a hole-in-one with each stroke. This ambiguity leads us to tell the story of the Hole-in-One gambling gang who used maths to beat the betting industry.

(Photo: Man playing golf / Credit: Shutterstock Image)

Why it is not as simple to work out as you think

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

(Photo: Man playing golf / Credit: Shutterstock Image)

Just How Rare Is A Hole-in-one?20180107Why it isn’t as simple to work out as you think.

There are golfers who could go an entire lifetime without getting a hole-in-one. Even in the professional game they’re unusual. Recently the BBC reported a pair of amateur players who each scored one - one after the other. It was reported widely that there was a 1 in 17 million chance of this happening.

We speak to maths writer, Rob Eastaway, who explains the difficulties of trying to work out the chances. If you consider the number of people playing thousands of rounds, perhaps it’s not so surprising that someone will achieve one. But on the other hand – it’s not like a lottery where there is an equal chance of scoring a hole-in-one with each stroke. This ambiguity leads us to tell the story of the Hole-in-One gambling gang who used maths to beat the betting industry.

Why it is not as simple to work out as you think

There are golfers who could go an entire lifetime without getting a hole-in-one. Even in the professional game they are unusual. Recently the BBC reported a pair of amateur players who each scored one - one after the other. It was reported widely that there was a 1 in 17 million chance of this happening.

We speak to maths writer, Rob Eastaway, who explains the difficulties of trying to work out the chances. If you consider the number of people playing thousands of rounds, perhaps it is not so surprising that someone will achieve one. But on the other hand – it is not like a lottery where there is an equal chance of scoring a hole-in-one with each stroke. This ambiguity leads us to tell the story of the Hole-in-One gambling gang who used maths to beat the betting industry.

(Photo: Man playing golf / Credit: Shutterstock Image)

Keep Your Distance2020060620200607 (WS)
20200608 (WS)
20200609 (WS)
Tim Harford examines how can we avoid infection spreading, while getting on with life.

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

What difference does a metre make? The World Health Organisation recommends that people keep at least 1 metre apart from each other to stop the spread of Covid-19, but different countries have adopted different standards.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying six feet apart - that’s just short of 2 metres; in the UK, the rule is 2 metres.

But all this has a big impact on the way businesses and societies get back to work. Tim Harford investigates the economic costs and conundrums of keeping our distance in a post-lockdown world.

How can we avoid infection spreading again, while getting on with life?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(A cyclist rides along Oxford Street in London where barriers have been installed to widen the pavement to enable social distancing due to COVID-19, June 2020. Credit: Tolga Akmen/Getty images)

Kidney Donation: The Chance Of Finding A Match2014110120141102 (WS)
20141104 (WS)
Why has the chance of a kidney match between unrelated people risen so much in 10 years?

The chance of a successful kidney match between two unrelated people has increased significantly in the past 10 years - why? Ruth Alexander speaks to Professor Anthony Warrens, president of the British Transplantation Society.

And we find out for our loyal listener how many individuals he will need to create a new race of people.

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

And, we find out for our loyal listener how many individuals he will need to create a new race of people.

(Image: Kidney male anatomy anterior x-ray view. Credit: Shutterstock)

And we find out for our loyal listener how many individuals he will need to create a new race of people.

Killed For Being Female?2014042520140427 (WS)
20140428 (WS)

“More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th Century ? It is a powerful and shocking statement from a book called Half the Sky, written by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

It has been quoted in articles, by UN agencies and on TV to highlight the fatal consequences of discrimination against women based on their sex. But is it true? More or Less looks at the evidence. How can we know if a woman is killed precisely because she is a woman? And how do we know how many men have been killed in war?

“More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th Century”. It is a powerful and shocking statement from a book called Half the Sky, written by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

“More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th Century ? It is a powerful and shocking statement from a book called Half the Sky, written by Nicholas D Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn.

Are there 100 million women missing from the world?

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

It has been quoted in articles, by UN agencies and on TV to highlight the fatal consequences of discrimination against women based on their sex. But is it true? More or Less looks at the evidence. How can we know if a woman is killed precisely because she is a woman? And how do we know how many men have been killed in war?

Kilobyte To Brontobyte: Naming The Monster Numbers2017100820171009 (WS)
20171010 (WS)
How the names of digital storage files evolved.

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

The numbers we need to describe the world around us are getting bigger. Thirty years ago computers had megabytes and kilobytes of storage space but now we need to come with bigger units of measurement every few years. We invited maths author Rob Eastaway onto the programme to tell the story behind these numbers and make the case for a new giant unit of measurement: the Brontobyte.

(Photo: Journalist working on his computer, August 1980, at the Agence France-Presse. Credit: Getty Images)

Kilobyte To Brontobyte: Naming The Monster Numbers20171009How the names of digital storage files evolved.

The numbers we need to describe the world around us are getting bigger. Thirty years ago computers had megabytes and kilobytes of storage space but now we need to come with bigger units of measurement every few years. We invited maths author Rob Eastaway onto the programme to tell the story behind these numbers and make the case for a new giant unit of measurement: the Brontobyte.

(Photo: Journalist working on his computer, August 1980, at the Agence France-Presse. Credit: Getty Images)

(Photo: Journalist working on his computer, August 1980, at the Agence France-Presse. Credit: Getty Images)"

Koalas2019121420191216 (WS)
20191217 (WS)
As bushfires rage in Australia, the plight of the koala made front-page news around the world. There were warnings that fires wiped out 80% of the marsupial's habitat and that koalas are facing extinction.

We check the claims with the help of National Geographic's Natasha Daly and Dr Christine Hosking of the University of Queensland.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producer: Darin Graham

(A Koala receives treatment at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie after its rescue from a bushfire. Credit: Safeed Khan/Getty Images)

Have bushfires destroyed 80% of the koala habitat in Australia?

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

Leicester City Football Fluke?2016050620160509 (WS)The statistics behind the English Premier League's surprise winners

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

The statistics behind the English Premier League’s surprise winners

At the beginning of the season of the English football Premier League, few people would have been brave enough to predict that Leicester City would finish top. But was it that surprising?

Tim Harford speaks to Lord Finkelstein, a political journalist, who has been running his own statistical model to assess the teams in the Premier League. We also hear from James Yorke from the football analytics website Stats Bomb. Was Leicester’s success down to the team’s skills, or was it down to luck?

(Image: Leicester City celebrate with the trophy after winning the Barclays Premier League. Credt: Action Images via Reuters)

(Image: Leicester City celebrate with the trophy after winning the Barclays Premier League. Credt: Action Images via Reuters)

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

Tim Harford speaks to Lord Finkelstein, a political journalist, who has been running his own statistical model to assess the teams in the Premier League. We also hear from James Yorke from the football analytics website Stats Bomb. Was Leicester’s success down to the team’s skills, or was it down to luck?

Lennon Or Mccartney?2018120820181210 (WS)
20181211 (WS)
The Beatles, a four piece band from Liverpool, are the bestselling band in history and an integral part of the swinging sixties. Those are facts. What is less known is who was behind many of the group’s top selling hits, John Lennon or Paul McCartney. But how can we tell when they themselves could never agree? Through maths of course! We speak to statistical analysists Professors Jason Brown and Mike Glickman, who have looked at the statistical side of musical signatures to solve the argument once and for all. Maybe.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Lizzy McNeil

How statistical modelling can work out which Beatle wrote which song

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

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

Levelling The Statistical Playing Field2012081820120819 (WS)Which countries over and under achieved at London 2012?

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 have looked like, based only on those factors? In other words, which countries over and under-achieved at London 2012?

Also, 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.

(Image: A combination of images taken during the Olympic Games in London. Credit: AFP

PHOTO/STAFFSTAFF/AFP/GettyImages)

PHOTO/STAFFSTAFF/AFP/GettyImages)

Levelling The Statistical Playing Field20120819Which countries over and under achieved at London 2012?

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

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 have looked like, based only on those factors? In other words, which countries over and under-achieved at London 2012?

Also, 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.

(Image: A combination of images taken during the Olympic Games in London. Credit: AFP
PHOTO/STAFFSTAFF/AFP/GettyImages)

Liberia’s Rape Statistic Debunked2016111120161114 (WS)Sexual violence was widespread in Liberia’s brutal and bloody year civil war. But were three quarters of women in the country raped?

We tell the story behind the number and reveal how well-meaning efforts to expose what happened have fuelled myths and miss-leading statistics that continue to be propagated to this day, including by the UN.

We speak to Amelia Hoover Green from Drexel University, Dara Cohen from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, researcher Phyllis Kimba and Aisha Dukule from the think tank Center For Liberia's Future in Monrovia.

(Photo: Liberian women and children wait for rice rations in overcrowded Monrovia, June 2003. Credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Is the claim that three out of four women were raped during Liberia's civil war true?

Liberia's Rape Statistic Debunked2016111120161114 (WS)Is the claim that three out of four women were raped during Liberia's civil war true?

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

Sexual violence was widespread in Liberia’s brutal and bloody year civil war. But were three quarters of women in the country raped?
We tell the story behind the number and reveal how well-meaning efforts to expose what happened have fuelled myths and miss-leading statistics that continue to be propagated to this day, including by the UN.

We speak to Amelia Hoover Green from Drexel University, Dara Cohen from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, researcher Phyllis Kimba and Aisha Dukule from the think tank Center For Liberia's Future in Monrovia.

(Photo: Liberian women and children wait for rice rations in overcrowded Monrovia, June 2003. Credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

Life Expectancy2015072420150726 (WS)
20150727 (WS)
How long might you live?

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

Life, Death And Data2016122320161226 (WS)Improving data to target help for the world's poorest people

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

After two decades working in development, Claire Melamed is ready to reveal a dirty secret about her work. Many of the numbers that lie behind life-and-death decisions in developing countries are, as she puts it, “a bit shaky ? If you don’t know how many people live somewhere and who’s dying when of what, you can’t make well-informed decisions to help them. Now she and others are working to change that by getting better data and using it smarter. We hear what that means in practice and the story of Justice Aheto, whose award-winning mathematical models could also be life-saving for malnourished children in his native Ghana.

Image: African children in a refugee camp. Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

After two decades working in development, Claire Melamed is ready to reveal a dirty secret about her work. Many of the numbers that lie behind life-and-death decisions in developing countries are, as she puts it, “a bit shaky”. If you don’t know how many people live somewhere and who’s dying when of what, you can’t make well-informed decisions to help them. Now she and others are working to change that by getting better data and using it smarter. We hear what that means in practice and the story of Justice Aheto, whose award-winning mathematical models could also be life-saving for malnourished children in his native Ghana.

Image: African children in a refugee camp. Photo Credit: Spencer Platt/Getty

Life-saving Economics2012102020121021 (WS)Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

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

Life-saving Economics20121021How Nobel prize-winning economists Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley are helping save lives.

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

Few economists could honestly describe themselves as life-savers. Professor Al Roth from Stanford University in the United States doesn't describe himself that way either. But he is. His application of a kind of mathematics developed as a thought-experiment 50 years ago is keeping hundreds - perhaps thousands - of people alive by enabling kidney transplants which would not otherwise have happened.

Al Roth was awarded the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences this week. He shared it with Lloyd Shapley, the man behind that half-a-century-old thought experiment. In this week’s edition of More or Less Professor Al Roth tells Tim Harford how Shapley’s insights, and his own later – life-saving – work.

(Image: Two surgeons perform a kidney transplant, Credit: Getty Images)

Live 8, The G8 And Making Poverty History2015071720150719 (WS)
20150720 (WS)
What has been achieved in the ten years since Live 8 sought to Make Poverty History?

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

Its ten years since some of the world’s richest nations met in Gleneagles, Scotland. It was there that the G8 agreed to improve trade with developing nations, increase aid, and to wipe the debt of some of the poorest countries. The agreement followed Live 8 where the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof demanded that they ‘Make Poverty History’. Wesley Stephenson and the More or Less team look at what has been achieved during the past decade.
(Image: Fans at Live Earth Sydney. Credit: Getty)

Living On Less Than A Dollar A Day20120303Tim Harford examines the dollar-a-day poverty line. How useful a measure is it?

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

Tim Harford assesses how global poverty is measured, as the World Bank releases the latest figures on the number of people living on less than a dollar a day.

What progress has been made, and how useful a benchmark is this global poverty line?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: A beggar and her child. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

London’s High-rise Death Toll20170904Why it’s so hard to know how many people died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

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.

(image: A man watches as smoke continues to rise from the Grenfell building Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

London's High-rise Death Toll2017090320170904 (WS)
20170905 (WS)
Why it's so hard to know how many people died in the Grenfell Tower fire.

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

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.

(image: A man watches as smoke continues to rise from the Grenfell building Credit: Leon Neal/Getty Images)

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

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.

Love By Numbers2014021520140216 (WS)
20140217 (WS)
The maths behind modern matchmaking

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

Can economics help you find love? Tim Harford and the team look at the maths behind modern matchmaking. Economist Michele Belot from the University of Edinburgh explains why women are pickier than men at speed dating events.

Plus - how analysing numbers from online dating agencies can help improve the chances of finding a partner. Amy Webb, author of Data, a Love Story describes her personal story of looking for her perfect match through the internet.

(Image: New York Singles Socialize During Speed Dating Sessions. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Magic Numbers2014041820140420 (WS)
20140421 (WS)
Exploring our emotional connection to numbers with author Alex Bellos.

Do you have a favourite number - one you think stands out from all the others?

Do you have a favourite number - one you love, one you think stands out from all the others? Author Alex Bellos joins us to talk about his quest to find the world’s favourite number and to discuss whether numbers really can be magical, mystical and memorable.

Why are odd numbers so appealing? Which number strikes fear into some people’s hearts? And why do lists of questions like these always come in threes?

Picture: Stock car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr drives around a large number three, Credit: Getty Images

Do you have a favourite number - one you love, one you think stands out from all the others? Author Alex Bellos joins us to talk about his quest to find the world’s favourite number and discuss whether numbers really can be magical, mystical and memorable, or whether it’s all mumbo jumbo. Why are odd numbers so appealing? Which number strikes fear into some people’s hearts? And why do lists of questions like these always come in threes?

(Image: Dale Earnhardt Jr. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Picture: Stock car driver Dale Earnhardt Jr drives around a large number three, Credit: Getty Images

Mailbox Edition2014031520140316 (WS)
20140317 (WS)
Your questions – from the USA, Australia and the world.

This programme is dedicated to answering as many questions posed by listeners as possible.

Do the Maasai in Africa number one million?

This figure has been regularly cited over the last 15 years for the traditionally nomadic group which live in Kenya and Tanzania - but where does it come from and is it true? A listener from Boston in the US asks the team to investigate.

Is it true that a quarter of Americans do not know the Earth goes round the sun?

Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?" - This was a question in a quiz by a government agency to test understanding of science in the US. Why did a quarter of Americans appear to get this basic fact wrong? A listener in Dubai asks us to find out.

Is it true that half of Tasmanians are innumerate and illiterate?

An Australian listener got in touch to say he was shocked that in a developed country like Australia, there could be a region where half of adults could not read or write. He heard the figures reported on TV and asked us to check out the numbers.

Do the 85 richest people in the world hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half?

A number of listeners contacted us asking us to check this fact which has been widely reported around the world - from the Wall Street Journal to CNN.

Your questions \u2013 from the USA, Australia and the world

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

Do the Maasai in Africa number one million?
This figure has been regularly cited over the last 15 years for the traditionally nomadic group which live in Kenya and Tanzania - but where does it come from and is it true? A listener from Boston in the US asks the team to investigate.

Is it true that a quarter of Americans do not know the Earth goes round the sun?
"Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?" - This was a question in a quiz by a government agency to test understanding of science in the US. Why did a quarter of Americans appear to get this basic fact wrong? A listener in Dubai asks us to find out.

Is it true that half of Tasmanians are innumerate and illiterate?
An Australian listener got in touch to say he was shocked that in a developed country like Australia, there could be a region where half of adults could not read or write. He heard the figures reported on TV and asked us to check out the numbers.

Do the 85 richest people in the world hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half?
A number of listeners contacted us asking us to check this fact which has been widely reported around the world - from the Wall Street Journal to CNN.

Does the Earth go around the sun, or does the sun go around the Earth?"" - This was a question in a quiz by a government agency to test understanding of science in the US. Why did a quarter of Americans appear to get this basic fact wrong? A listener in Dubai asks us to find out.

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

Making Music Out Of Money2019051820190520 (WS)
20190521 (WS)
Data visualisation is all the rage, but where does that leave the old-fashioned values of audio? Some data visualisation experts are starting to explore the benefits of turning pictures into sound. Financial Times journalist Alan Smith plays his musical interpretation of a chart depicting the yield-curve of American bonds.

Photo: A stock market screen on a mobile phone
Credit: Getty Images/primeimages

A musical interpretation of a chart depicting the yield-curve of American bonds.

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

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

Making Penalty Shoot-outs Fairer2017063020170703 (WS)
20170704 (WS)
The maths behind plans to change penalty shoot-outs

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

UEFA, European football's governing body, is currently trialling a new system for penalty shoot-outs that is based on mathematical research. At the moment if no-one manages to score a winning goal during the course of the match, the teams go to penalty shoot-outs. Each team takes turns to have a player take a penalty. But it’s well-known that the team who goes first seems to have an unfair advantage and a better chance of scoring. But 60% of penalty shoot-outs are won by the team going first, can this unfairness be overcome?

Maths whizz and football aficionado Rob Eastaway explains how the new system should help even up the chances of winning.

(image: Numbers / Shutterstock)

Making Penalty Shoot-outs Fairer20170703The maths behind plans to change penalty shoot-outs

UEFA, European football's governing body, is currently trialling a new system for penalty shoot-outs that is based on mathematical research. At the moment if no-one manages to score a winning goal during the course of the match, the teams go to penalty shoot-outs. Each team takes turns to have a player take a penalty. But it’s well-known that the team who goes first seems to have an unfair advantage and a better chance of scoring. But 60% of penalty shoot-outs are won by the team going first, can this unfairness be overcome?

Maths whizz and football aficionado Rob Eastaway explains how the new system should help even up the chances of winning.

(image: Numbers / Shutterstock)

Margaret Thatcher In Numbers2013041320130414 (WS)
20130415 (WS)
Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who died aged 87, was Britain's first female prime minister.

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

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who has died aged 87, 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. It’s claimed that she slashed taxes and rolled back the frontiers of the state; that she cut health and education spending; and that she smashed the unions, intent on destroying traditional industry. But how much of this is true? We examine the data to get beyond the rhetoric, and to the truth.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander. With special thanks to Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, whose journalism greatly contributed to this programme.

(Image: An anti poll tax demonstration in Hackney. Credit: Steve Eason/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who died aged 87, was Britain's first female prime minister.

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

Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who has died aged 87, 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.

Presenter and producer: Ruth Alexander. With special thanks to Michael Blastland and Andrew Dilnot, whose journalism greatly contributed to this programme.

Maryam Mirzakhani - A Genius Of Maths2017072120170724 (WS)
20170725 (WS)
Celebrating the only woman to win the biggest prize in mathematics.

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

The only woman to win the maths world’s biggest prize has died at the age of 40. Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani stunned colleagues with her ability and imagination. As the only female winner of the Fields Medal – the maths equivalent to the Nobel Prize – she inspired a generation of female mathematicians.

In this week’s programme we look at Maryam Mirzakhani’s life and legacy. We speak to her close friend Curtis McMullen, the Harvard Professor who worked with Mirzakhani in her earliest years; and we also hear from Professor Gwyneth Stallard OBE, a champion of women in maths.

Mirzakhani solved problems involving bizarre shapes and forms. Dr Tom Crawford explains why the doughnuts and tea-cup shapes of Mirzakhani’s work are so vitally important.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Hannah Sander

(image: Front pages of Iranian newspapers on July 16, 2017 bearing portraits of the top female scientist and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani. Credit: Atta Kenare/ Getty Images)

Maryam Mirzakhani €Ⓚ A Genius Of Maths20170724Celebrating the only woman to win the biggest prize in mathematics.

The only woman to win the maths world’s biggest prize has died at the age of 40. Iranian mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani stunned colleagues with her ability and imagination. As the only female winner of the Fields Medal – the maths equivalent to the Nobel Prize – she inspired a generation of female mathematicians.

In this week’s programme we look at Maryam Mirzakhani’s life and legacy. We speak to her close friend Curtis McMullen, the Harvard Professor who worked with Mirzakhani in her earliest years; and we also hear from Professor Gwyneth Stallard OBE, a champion of women in maths.

Mirzakhani solved problems involving bizarre shapes and forms. Dr Tom Crawford explains why the doughnuts and tea-cup shapes of Mirzakhani’s work are so vitally important.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Hannah Sander

(image: Front pages of Iranian newspapers on July 16, 2017 bearing portraits of the top female scientist and mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani. Credit: Atta Kenare/ Getty Images)

Maths And Chess2015040320150405 (WS)
20150406 (WS)
Is it really true that ability in mathematics and chess are somehow linked?

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

Tim Harford pits his wits against a math-professor-turned-professional-chess-player, John Nunn. Having gone up to Oxford aged just 15 to read maths, John Nunn gave up his eventual post as maths professor there in the early '80s to pursue a career in chess. At the highest point in his career, John ranked 9th in the world.

He has written numerous books on chess strategy, and his latest, John Nunn’s Chess Course, explains how the German chess World Champion and mathematician, Emanuel Lasker, used logic to defeat his opponents in the early 20th Century. But is it really true, as is often said, that ability in mathematics and chess are somehow linked?

Measuring Famine And Slaying A Sporting Myth20120211
Measuring Famine And Slaying A Sporting Myth20120212How do you measure a famine? Plus, Tim Harford slays a sporting myth.

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

FAMINE
How do you measure a famine? Following the UN's recent announcement that famine conditions have ended in Somalia, More or Less examines what that really means.

Tim Harford hears from Grainne Moloney, head of the UN's Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Professor Stephen Devereux from the Institute of Development Studies.

SLAYING A SPORTING MYTH
Muhammed Ali's boxing trainer, Angelo Dundee, was arguably one of sport's greatest behind-the-scenes figures.

But did he really deliberately tear Ali's boxing glove to win the star crucial recovery time in his 1963 fight against Sir Henry Cooper?

Tim Harford gets out his stopwatch for a simple exercise in counting.

(Producer: Ruth Alexander)

Image: Halima Hassan comforts her severely malnourished son Abdulrahman Abshir, seven months, at the Banadir hospital on in Mogadishu, Somalia. Credit: Getty Images.

Measuring Species Loss20120421Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Measuring Species Loss20120422Are we experiencing the greatest wave of extinction since dinosaurs?

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

It has been claimed that we are experiencing the greatest wave of extinction since the disappearance of the dinosaurs.

"Every hour," says the Convention on Biological Diversity, "three species disappear.

Every day up to 150 species are lost."

This week's More or Less explains why it is impossible to know for sure whether those numbers are even remotely accurate.

Measuring World Health2015031420150315 (WS)Will babies born in Rwanda be healthier than those in the most deprived 10% of England?

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

Babies born in Rwanda are likely to live healthier lives than those in the most deprived 10% of England, according to recent reports. But does the data back this up? And how is "good health" measured across the world? Hannah Moore and Wesley Stephenson explore the numbers with professor David Gordon from Bristol University’s International Poverty Research Centre.

(Photo: A young Rwandan woman stands in an opening of a hedgerow. Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Melting Antarctic Ice2020080820200810 (WS)One More or Less listener has heard that if all the ice in Antarctica melted, global sea levels would rise by 70 metres. But it would take 361 billion tonnes of ice to raise the world's sea levels by just 1 millimetre.

So how much ice is in Antarctica? And in the coming years, what impact might temperature changes have on whether it remains frozen?

(Gentoo penguins on top of an iceberg at King George Island, Antarctica 2020. Credit: Alessandro Dahan/Getty Images)

If all the ice in Antarctica melted, would global sea levels rise by 70 metres?

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

Menstrual Syncing2016090220160905 (WS)Do women's periods start to synchronise if they spend time together?

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

It is a commonly held belief that if women spend enough time together, their bodies start to communicate through chemical signals, known as pheromones. Eventually the women’s bodies will start to menstruate at the same time.

But where does this idea come from? And is it really true? We look at the evidence and wonder – could it be down to chance?

(Photo: Two women. Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

Do women’s periods start to synchronise if they spend time together?

(Photo: Two women. Credit: Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

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

Mice And Mind Blowing Maths2019081720190819 (WS)
20190820 (WS)
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". Tim finds out more.

And 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’.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

Photo: A mouse in hand / Credit: Getty images

Re-inserting a caveat and discussing a really cool numbers trick.

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

Photo: A mouse in hand / Credit: Getty images

Millennium Development Goals20150703Have the eight goals for addressing extreme poverty set by the UN made a difference?

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

Fifteen years ago at the Millennium Summit the United Nations set eight goals for addressing extreme poverty. They became known as the Millennium Development Goals. A deadline of 2015 was set to achieve what the UN said were ‘quantified targets’ – so how did we do?

We find that in many cases the targets are incredibly difficult to quantify and that progress in some areas might not be all it seems.

(Photo: Anti-poverty activists display a protest message pasted on dining plates at a park in Manila, 2007. Credit: Luis Liwanag/AFP/Getty Images)

Missing Planes2014032220140323 (WS)
20140324 (WS)
Could a branch of statistics named after an 18th century mathematician, Thomas Bayes, be used to find flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing?

Senior analyst Colleen Keller, from Metron Inc in the US, tells More or Less how her team used Bayesian statistics to help locate the wreckage of Air France flight 447 from Brazil to France which disappeared in 2009.

This niche form of statistical modelling has been used to find everything from submarines to missing people. Could it help locate MH370?

(Image: CHINA-VIETNAM-MALAYSIA-MALAYSIAAIRLINES-TRANSPORT-ACCIDENT. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Could Bayesian statistics help find Flight MH370?

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

Could a branch of statistics named after an 18th Century mathematician, Thomas Bayes, be used to find flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing?

(Image: Heart and a plane made from lighted candles, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Missing Women From Drug Trials2019072020190722 (WS)
20190723 (WS)
How medical testing on just men causes problems.

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

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

Mission: Impossible - Quantifying Santa2018122220181225 (WS)Father Christmas, Santa Clause, Babbo Natale, Pere Noel, St Nicholas: the man with many names who gets in his sleigh and travels the globe delivering presents to children that have been determined ‘good’ by some unknown algorithm. Mathematicians and Statisticians have long grappled with the question of how he manages this. Is he omnipresent, armed with an improbability device or is it just magic? The more or less team explore what we should be looking out for if we want to catch a glimpse of the mysterious gift giver with the help of Dr Paul Bruce, Senior Lecturer in Experimental Aerodynamics at Imperial College London.

Presenters: Lizzy McNeill and Jordan Dunbar
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(Letters to Santa Claus Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

What to look out for on Christmas Eve

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

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

Mitigation Or Suppression: What's Best To Tackle Coronavirus?2020032120200323 (WS)Last week, while schools and businesses across Europe closed in an attempt to halt the spread of Coronavirus the UK stood alone in a more relaxed approach to the pandemic; letting people choose whether they wanted to go to work, or socially distance themselves. This week, things have changed. Schools are closing for the foreseeable future and exams have been cancelled.

The British government says their change of heart was based on the work scientists like Christl Donnelly from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. So what has Christl found that has caused such concern?

(Image: A lollipop lady helps children cross the road in Glasgow. Credit: EPA/Robert Perry)

How statistical modelling can help us respond to the Coronavirus pandemic

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

Mobiles Or Lightbulbs2016031820160321 (WS)Are there more mobile phones than lightbulbs in Uganda? And thyroid cancer in Fukushima.

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

Mobile technology is spreading fast in Africa, and one lawyer Gerald Abila has done the maths and worked out that there are more mobile phones than lightbulbs in Uganda. We look at his figures and find that measuring them is more complicated than you might imagine. There are certainly numbers you can choose to demonstrate this, but are they the right ones?

Thyroid cancer has gone up after the Fukushima accident - but it's not what you think. Japanese authorities were worried about the impact of radiation that escaped into the atmosphere after a nuclear plant was damaged during the earthquake of 2011. Around 300,000 under-19s received ultrasound scans to look for abnormalities, and the results appeared alarming. One expert claimed there were 30 times more cases than might have been expected. But a group of epidemiologists have since questioned this - they say if you survey so many people, you will always find more cases.

Producer: Charlotte McDonald/Laura Gray

(Image: Woman looking at her mobile phone in Kampala, Uganda. Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

Producer: Charlotte McDonald/Laura Gray
(Image: Woman looking at her mobile phone in Kampala, Uganda. Credit: AFP / Getty Images)

Modern Slavery2014030820140309 (WS)Are there 21 million slaves in the world today?

“I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today, ? said director Steve McQueen, as he accepted the Oscar for Best Picture for his film 12 Years a Slave. But where does he get that number from?

More or Less explores the figures to find out who are modern day slaves, and where are they? We speak to Kevin Bales, lead author of the Global Slavery Index and Dr Alex Balch from Centre for the Study of International Slavery at the University of Liverpool.

(Photo: Indian activists of the United Nations Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery pose as bonded labourers with their hands tied up by rope to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery in New Delhi, 2003. Credit: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

“I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today,” said director Steve McQueen, as he accepted the Oscar for Best Picture for his film 12 Years a Slave. But where does he get that number from?

“I dedicate this award to all the people who have endured slavery, and the 21 million people who still suffer slavery today, ? said director Steve McQueen, as he accepted the Oscar for Best Picture for his film 12 Years a Slave. But where does he get that number from?

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

(Photo: Indian activists of the United Nations Trust Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery pose as bonded labourers with their hands tied up by rope to mark the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery in New Delhi, 2003. Credit: Prakash Singh/AFP/Getty Images)

Money For Nothing?2014062020140622 (WS)
20140623 (WS)
When it comes to aid, what works best - providing goods, or handing over cash?

When it comes to aid, what works best – giving people food, shelter, medicine, or just handing over cash and letting them spend it how they like? One group of researchers went to a Kenyan village to try to answer this question and to do so they also employed a new tool - randomised controlled testing. RCTs have long been the gold standard for measuring whether medical drugs work, but could they revolutionise how we measure the impact of aid?

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

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

When it comes to aid, what works best – giving people food, shelter, medicine, or just handing over cash and letting them spend it how they like? One group of researchers went to a Kenyan village to try to answer this question and to do so they also employed a new tool - randomised controlled testing. RCTs have long been the gold standard for measuring whether medical drugs work, but could they revolutionise how we measure the impact of aid?

More Alive Than Dead?20120204Are more people are alive than dead and did Michelle Obama spend $50,000 on lingerie?

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

Tim Harford investigates one of the most popular questions from More or Less listeners: "Are there more people alive today than have ever lived?". It is a zombie statistic that every time it is laid to rest it rises again. He also looks at whether science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke was right when he suggested that behind every living person are 30 ghosts.

He also investigates the strange story of Michelle Obama's shopping trip to a lingerie store in New York. Can she really have spent $50,000 on underwear?

(Picture: People walk along a crowded Oxford Street in London. Crtedit: Getty Images)

More Boys Than Girls In Sweden?2017073020170731
20170731 (WS)
20170801 (WS)
Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population’s sex ratio

Last year it was reported that there could soon be up to 123 boys aged 16 to 17 for every 100 girls the same age in Sweden. It should be around 105 boys for every 100 girls. The disparity was thought to be caused by an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum in the country. But we now look back to see if these predictions came true. We look at whether age testing of asylum seekers has had an impact and whether the numbers of people who have been granted asylum really have skewed the sex ratio in Sweden.

(image: teenagers enjoying themselves outdoors. Credit: Shutterstock)

Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population's sex ratio

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

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

More Horses Than Tanks?2017091020170911 (WS)
20170912 (WS)
Is the UK the only country with more horses than tanks in its army?

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

The idea that the number of horses exceeds the number of tanks in the British army is one that has been repeated over a number of years. Sometimes it has been used as a way to suggest that money is wasted on an animal that serves primarily a ceremonial purpose. While sometimes it is used as a way to argue more money needs to be spent on equipment such as tanks. But is it true? And what happens in other countries?

Presenter: Tim Harford and Hannah Sander
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Wellington Barracks in London, England. Credit: Oli Scarff / Getty images)

More Horses Than Tanks?20170911Is the UK the only country with more horses than tanks in its army?

The idea that the number of horses exceeds the number of tanks in the British army is one that has been repeated over a number of years. Sometimes it has been used as a way to suggest that money is wasted on an animal that serves primarily a ceremonial purpose. While sometimes it is used as a way to argue more money needs to be spent on equipment such as tanks. But is it true? And what happens in other countries?

Presenter: Tim Harford and Hannah Sander
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(image: Members of the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery at Wellington Barracks in London, England. Credit: Oli Scarff / Getty images)

More Or Less20170619Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Against expectations, the UK’s Labour party gained a number of seats in the recent General Election. On the news and on social media it has been reported that it was due to a young voters going to the polls in bigger numbers than in previous elections. Labour’s leader Jeremy Corbyn is being hailed for this success due to his popular policies such as scrapping university tuition fees. But what is the evidence that young people turned out in bigger numbers than usual? In recent decades the turnout among those under 25 in the UK has been very low – could this have changed?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

More Or Less: The Greek Odyssey2015071020150712 (WS)
20150713 (WS)
Tim Harford explains the Greek economic crisis with a little help from Homer's Odyssey

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

Most Expensive Building2016042220160425 (WS)How much to build The Great Pyramid, a nuclear power station, or an airport?

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

What is the most expensive 'object' ever built? There are plans in the UK to build a brand new nuclear power station called Hinckley Point. The environmental charity Greenpeace have claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramid of Giza? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet.

(Photo: Egyptians ride their camels past the pyramid of Khafre (Chefren) in Giza. Credit: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo: Egyptians ride their camels past the pyramid of Khafre (Chefren) in Giza. Credit: Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty Images)

Neknomination Outbreak2014022220140223 (WS)
20140224 (WS)
How quickly will the online global drinking craze Neknomination spread - and fizzle out?

An online craze – Neknomination – has caught the attention of media around the world. The idea is that someone makes a video of themselves drinking- usually downing a pint of beer. At the end they nominate two or three more people to do the same within 24 hours.

“Neknomination has all the marks of an epidemic, so it makes sense to look at the phenomenon as if it were an infection,” says Adam Kucharski, a research fellow of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

He decided to do some back-of-the-envelope calculations comparing the spread of the NekNomination game, to a disease outbreak. Using maths, he plots how quickly the game spreads among friends, and how long it takes to fizzle out.

Also, with countries such as France and Britain fixated on how much income tax the rich should pay, we take a look at which countries levy the highest and the lowest rates. Plus, we look at how the average worker fares.

Image: Man drinking beer; Credit: Press Association

“Neknomination has all the marks of an epidemic, so it makes sense to look at the phenomenon as if it were an infection, ? says Adam Kucharski, a research fellow of infectious diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

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

An online craze – Neknomination – has caught the attention of media around the world. The idea is that someone makes a video of themselves drinking, usually downing a pint of beer. At the end they nominate two or three more people to do the same within 24 hours.

He decided to do some back-of-the-envelope calculations comparing the spread of the NekNomination game to a disease outbreak. Using maths, he plots how quickly the game spreads among friends, and how long it takes to fizzle out.

Also, with the ongoing debate in France and Britain on how much income tax the rich should pay, we take a look at which countries levy the highest and the lowest rates. And for comparison, we look at how the average worker fares.

Image: Man drinking beer; Credit: Press Association

Netflix V The Environment2020022920200303 (WS)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.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Vadon

(A woman holds a remote controller while eating popcorn and watching a film. Credit: Ercin Top / Getty Images)

Does watching 30 minutes of Netflix have the same carbon footprint as driving four miles?

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

Nigeria - Rich Or Poor?2014041120140413 (WS)
20140414 (WS)
How did Nigeria become the largest African economy overnight?

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

Nigeria’s bureau of statistics has overhauled the way it calculates the country’s GDP figures. With GDP now estimated at around $510 billion, it has surpassed South Africa as the continent’s largest economy. But just because it has earned this accolade – does that make it one of the richest? Plus was the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, right to say recently that Nigeria is one of just five countries that together are home to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor? We sift through the statistics to find out if economic development is benefitting everyone in Nigeria.
(Image: A vendor of mobile phones stands behind her stand. Credit: Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images)

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

Nigeria's Gdp Revision And Kate And William's Bab(ies)20121208Where does Nigeria's plans to revise their GDP leave our understanding of growth in Africa

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

Where does Nigeria's plans to revise their GDP leave our understanding of growth in Sub-Saharan Africa? Estimates suggest it could jump as much as Ghana's did a few years ago – 60%.

This week Tim Harford talks to Morten Jerven from the School for International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Canada, author of Poor Numbers: How We Are Misled by African Development Statistics and What to Do about It', about the impact on development of these GDP statistics.

(Image: Nigerian currency. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
And what is the chance of the Duchess of Cambridge having twins given she has severe morning sickness?

Nobel Prize Puzzle2013101920131020 (WS)
20131021 (WS)
How the economist who called markets efficient is sharing top award with his big critic.

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

Tim Harford tells the story of how two economists who disagree with each other have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize.
Eugene Fama of Chicago University is being recognised for his work showing that stock markets are efficient, while Robert Shiller of Yale is being recognised for showing they’re not.
Tim explores this apparent contradiction.
Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander
(Image: A man looks at the electronic board showing downward graph of share prices. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Nobel Prize Puzzle2013102020131021 (WS)Tim Harford tells the story of how two economists who disagree with each other have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize.

Eugene Fama of Chicago University is being recognised for his work showing that stock markets are efficient, while Robert Shiller of Yale is being recognised for showing they’re not.

Tim explores this apparent contradiction.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: A man looks at the electronic board showing downward graph of share prices. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

How the economist who called markets efficient is sharing top award with his big critic.

(Image: A man looks at the electronic board showing downward graph of share prices. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Novelists In Numbers2017102920171030 (WS)
20171031 (WS)
Counting the favourite words of well-known authors

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

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)

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 Behind A Tweetstorm2018081120180812 (WS)
20180813 (WS)
20180814 (WS)
How do you get a hashtag to trend around the world? In the early hours of Sunday the 5th of August this year one twitter user created the hashtag #resignwatson and later the same day it was the most talked about topic in the global Twittersphere. But how could a hashtag about a politician little known outside the United Kingdom become such a hot topic? We look at the numbers behind the trends.

(image: Tweet key/Shutterstock)

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

(image: Tweet key/Shutterstock)

Numbers Of 201220121229Tim Harford and guests look back at the most surprising statistics of 2012.

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

Numbers Of The Year 2015 - Part One2015122520151228 (WS)How has the European migrant crisis affected the number of people seeking asylum? In this special programme Tim Harford looks back at some of the numbers making the news in 2015. He speaks to Leonard Doyle from the International Organisation for Migration and Claire Melamed from the Overseas Development Institute.

(Image: Migrants and refugees cross the Greek-Macedonian border. Credit: Getty Images)

A look back at some of the most interesting numbers that made the news during 2015

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

(Image: Migrants and refugees cross the Greek-Macedonian border. Credit: Getty Images)

Numbers Of The Year 2015 Part 22016010120160104 (WS)Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers of 2015.

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

How healthy is the Nigerian economy and how many possible tweets are there? Tim Harford looks back over some of the numbers that made the news in 2015.

(Image: Nigerians check their ballot station positions in Yenagoa. Credit: Getty Images)

Numbers Of The Year 2015: Part Three2016010820160111 (WS)Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers making the news in 2015

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

What is preventing some Americans from being creative? And, how much money does the English Premier League contribute in tax? Tim Harford looks back over some of the numbers that made the news in 2015. He speaks to author and broadcaster Farai Chideya, former footballer Graeme le Saux, and BBC cricket statistician Andrew Samson.

(Photo: Days marked on a calendar as a holiday crossed and a word postponed written over it. Credit: Shutterstock)

(Photo: Days marked on a calendar as a holiday crossed and a word postponed written over it. Credit: Shutterstock)

Numbers Of The Year Part 12020122620201227 (WS)
20201228 (WS)
Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them. From the spread of Covid-19 to the number of songs added to Spotify this year, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020.

We speak to Oliver Johnson, professor of information theory at the University of Bristol in the UK; Anne-Marie Imafidon, creator and CEO of social enterprise Stemettes; and economist Joel Waldfogel, of the University of Minnesota.

Tim Harford showcases statistics from 2020

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

Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them. From the spread of Covid 19 to the number of songs added to Spotify this year, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020.

We speak to Oliver Johnson, Professor of Information Theory at the University of Bristol in the UK; Anne-Marie Imafidon, creator and CEO of Social Enterprise Stemmets; and Joel Waldfogel, University of Minnesota.

Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them. From the spread of Covid 19 to the number of songs added to Spotify this year, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020.

Tim Harford showcases statistics from 2020

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

Numbers Of The Year Part 22021010220210103 (WS)
20210104 (WS)
From the economic impact of Covid 19 to the number of people who have access to soap and water, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020. Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them.

We speak to Razia Khan, the head of research and chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered; Sana Safi, presenter for BBC Pashto TV at the BBC's Afghanistan Service; and Jennifer Rogers, vice president for external affairs at the Royal Statistical Society.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Tim Harford showcases statistics from 2020

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

We speak to Razia Khan, I am the head of research and chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered; Sana Safi, presenter for BBC Pashto TV at the BBC's Afghanistan Service; and Jennifer Rogers, vice president for external affairs at the Royal Statistical Society.

Numbers Of The Year Part One2018122920181231 (WS)
20190101 (WS)
Russian Trolls, a president’s false claims and the amount of Nigerian households that don’t have access to clean drinking water; these all feature in this first instalment of our numbers of the year. We speak to Ben Nimmo, information defence fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Defence Lab, Heather Long, the economics correspondent at the Washington Post and Allwell Okpi, researcher and journalist with Africa Check about why they’ve chosen these numbers and why they matter.

Presenter: Lizzy McNeill
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

(Image: Montage of numbers. Credit: BBC)

The numbers that made 2018

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

Russian Trolls, a president’s false claims and the amount of Nigerian households that don’t have access to clean drinking water; these all feature in this first instalment of our numbers of the year. We speak to Ben Nimmo, Information Defence Fellow at Atlantic Council’s Digital Defence Lab, Heather Long, the Economics Correspondent at the Washington Post and Allwell Okpi, Researcher and Journalist with Africa Check about why they’ve chosen these numbers and why they matter.

Presenter: Lizzy McNeill
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

Numbers Of The Year Part Two2019010520190107 (WS)
20190108 (WS)
Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs

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

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

Numbers Of The Year: Part One2014122020141221 (WS)
20141223 (WS)
What is so special about 39,222 Mexican teachers? Professor Carlos Vilalta tells us

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

What is so special about 39,222 Mexican teachers? In the first of three episodes looking back at 2014, Mexico specialist Professor Carlos Vilalta tells Tim Harford. And More or Less also speaks to the editor of fact-checking site Africa Check, Julian Rademeyer, to hear his most memorable number from the previous 12 months.

(Image: Mexico illustration. Credit: Shutterstock)

Numbers Of The Year: Part Three2015010320150104 (WS)
20150106 (WS)
Robert Peston, Helen Joyce and Dr Hannah Fry on their most memorable numbers from 2014

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

What is the most important number in the world? The BBC’s economics editor Robert Peston tells Tim Harford.

Also in the first More or Less of 2015, Tim asks the international editor of The Economist Helen Joyce and Dr Hannah Fry of the University of London to choose their most memorable numbers from 2014.

Numbers Of The Year: Part Two2014122720141228 (WS)
20141230 (WS)
Goalkeepers, gold miners and happiness: We look at the most interesting numbers of 2014

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

How optimistic are people about the future? The BBC’s Evan Davis tells More or Less as the programme looks back at the most interesting and important numbers of 2014.

Tim Harford also speaks to Dr Pippa Malmgren, who was a former economic adviser to President George W Bush, Times football journalist Bill Edgar and the winner of the first Africa fact-checking award, Edem Srem, to discuss goalkeepers and gold miners.

Nuns On The Rise2015050120150503 (WS)
20150504 (WS)
Are more women getting in the habit?

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

It was recently reported in the news in the UK that the number of Catholic nuns has trebled in the past five years, reaching its highest level since 1990. The number of women training to become Catholic nuns in Great Britain has reached a 25 year high. Are we witnessing the so-called ‘Pope Francis effect’? What is the long term trend – are more women becoming nuns? Tim Harford looks at figures from the UK and across the world.

Plus, Matt Parker the stand-up mathematician is invited back to the programme to respond to a listener’s query about his theory on the best way to find a life partner.

(Photo: Nuns pray during a vigil to call for peace in Ukraine, Syria and all countries tormented by persecutions and war. Credit: AP)

Obesity And Poker2020082220200824 (WS)Tim Harford looks at Covid-19 and obesity. Plus, what poker teaches us about statistics.

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

Odd Socks And Algorithms2016072920160801 (WS)How can the techniques of computer science help us in everyday life?

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

How can the techniques of computer science help us in everyday life? We speak to Brian Christian co-author of Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions. He argues that the techniques of computer science can help us manage everyday situations in a more logical and efficient manner. So which algorithm can help solve the problem of odd socks? And what is the most efficient way of alphabetising your book collection? Tim Harford investigates.

(Photo: Socks. Credit: Angela N Perryman/Shutterstock)

Oil2015102320151024 (WS)
20151025 (WS)
20151026 (WS)
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said a million barrels of the country’s oil were stolen per day. Is he right? Ruth Alexander asks Peter Cunliffe-Jones of Africa Check. And, does 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil lie in the Arctic? Producers: Keith Moore and Phoebe Keane (Image: A Nigerian Oil Rig. Credit: Getty)

Are a million barrels of Nigeria’s oil stolen per day? Ruth Alexander finds out.

Are a million barrels of Nigeria's oil stolen per day? Ruth Alexander finds out.

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

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari said a million barrels of the country’s oil were stolen per day. Is he right? Ruth Alexander asks Peter Cunliffe-Jones of Africa Check. And, does 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil lie in the Arctic? Producers: Keith Moore and Phoebe Keane (Image: A Nigerian Oil Rig. Credit: Getty)

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

Oxfam And Wealth Inequality2016012220160125 (WS)Were Oxfam right to compare the wealth of the rich with that of the poor?

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

You may have seen the claim that ‘62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world’s population’. You may also have seen headlines that suggest that 1% of the world’s population now own more than the 99% put together. This is the latest iteration of Oxfam’s annual report looking at global inequality. They say that the overall the world may be getting richer but that most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. But is this really telling us what we think it’s telling us? Tim Harford asks economics writer Felix Salmon and development expert Charles Kenny.

(Image: One of the world's richest people, Bill Gates, participates in a panel discussion during the Financial Inclusion Forum. Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

(Image: One of the world's richest people, Bill Gates, participates in a panel discussion during the Financial Inclusion Forum. Credit: Alex Wong / Getty Images)

Paul Romer And William Nordhaus' Big Ideas2018101320181014 (WS)
20181015 (WS)
20181016 (WS)
What causes economies to grow and might this growth outstrip our planet’s capacity to sustain it? This is the economist’s version of ‘if 42 is the answer what is the question?’ - It is a work in progress. However, this week the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences was awarded to two economists, William Nordhaus and Paul Romer, whose work has enabled us to edge closer to an answer. Tim Harford joins Ruth Alexander to talk about how these economists’ works have challenged our perceptions of materialism, productivity and climate change.

Presenters: Ruth Alexander, Tim Harford
Producer: Lizzy McNeill

( Illustration of William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Artist: Niklas Elmehed @niklaselmehed )

The economists tackling climate change and growth

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

( Illustration of William Nordhaus and Paul Romer. Artist: Niklas Elmehed @niklaselmehed )

Peaty V Bolt: Which Is The Greatest World Record?2019092120190923 (WS)
20190924 (WS)
Adam Peaty and Usain Bolt have both set world records that put them well ahead of their opponents - but which world record is more outstanding? We use statistics to compare the records to each other, and to other benchmarks in the world of athletics and swimming.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Richard Vadon

Image: Adam Peaty competes at the 2019 FINA World Championships. Credit: Catherine Ivill /Getty Images.

Using statistics to compare world records in athletics and swimming

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

Image: Adam Peaty competes at the 2019 FINA World Championships. Credit: Catherine Ivill /Getty Images.

Plenty More Fish In The Sea?2012092920120930
20120930 (WS)
Newspaper headlines claim ""Just 100 cod left in the North Sea"". Can that be right?

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

Newspaper headlines really claimed "Just 100 cod left in the North Sea". Can that be right?

More or Less went trawling for the truth and found that this may well be the most inaccurate headline we have ever covered.

Also in the programme, why Manchester City FC hopes data will do for football, what it's already done for baseball.

(Image: Cod on the deck of a fishing boat)

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

Polling Opinion In Syria, And Europe's Work Hours20120225
Polling Opinion In Syria, And Europe's Work Hours20120226Tim Harford casts doubt on a Syrian statistic. And, which European nation works the most?

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

POLLING OPINION IN SYRIA
It's been widely reported that an opinion poll has shown that 55% of Syrians think their leader President Assad should not resign.

But on closer inspection, Tim Harford discovers the statistic is not what it seems.

EUROPE'S HARDEST WORKERS
The Eurozone crisis has pitted countries against one another.

Stereotypes of who is hardworking and who is lazy abound.

So which country works the longest hours? You might be surprised.

(Image: A supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad kissing a portrait of the leader. Credit: Getty Images)

Polling Voodoo? Predicting The Us Election20121110How did Nate Silver predict the outcome of voting in every state in the US elections?

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

Ruth Alexander looks at the other winner the US elections. Blogger and pioneer of aggregated polling, Nate Silver, predicted the outcome of the vote in every state one better than 2008. Others who have tried similar methods have also done well. Is this the dawn of a new era of poll prediction or just luck?

(Image: Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cookies, Credit: Getty Images)

Predicting L'aquila Earthquake: Is It Right To Blame The Scientists?20121027This week six scientists and one ex-government official were sentenced to six years in prison for multiple manslaughter. Part of the case against them was the falsely reassuring comments they made before the earthquake struck. On More or Less this week we look at how the probability of an earthquake is estimated. And how will this case effect scientists giving advice in the future?

Plus, Rahul Gandhi, leader of the Congress party, has caused a political storm in India by claiming that 70% of the youth in Punjab are drug addicts. More or Less explains why the figure is wrong - it comes from a gross misreading of the research - but there certainly is a serious drug problem in Punjab.

(Image: An Italian military carabinieri walking on debris past destroyed buildings after an earthquake in L'Aquila. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files)

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

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

(Image: An Italian military carabinieri walking on debris past destroyed buildings after an earthquake in L'Aquila. Credit: REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi/Files)

Predicting Olympic Medals2016080520160808 (WS)What makes a country successful at winning gold, silver and bronze?

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

How can we use statistics to predict how many medals each nation will win? We speak to Dr Julia Bredtmann, an economist at the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. She has come up with a model to predict how many medals each country will win, along with her colleagues, Sebastian Otten, also from the Leibniz Institute, and Carsten Crede of the University of East Anglia.

Some countries like the US and China have a large population and GDP, but a number of countries do very well for their size and wealth. Julia explains the different factors you have to consider to predict Olympic success.

(Image: Lagoa Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: Reuters)

(Image: Lagoa Stadium - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Credit: Reuters)

Predicting The Global Population20121013Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

Yan Wong looks at the numbers in the news, and in life. This week: The United Nations Population Fund recently predicted that but by 2050 1 in 5 of the global population will be over 60. They’re probably right: everyone who will be 60 in 2050 is already alive. But when you start to predict population levels further into the future, it gets much more difficult. Recent data suggests some of our long-held assumptions about what happens to fertility rates as countries develop could be about to change. Also in the programme: can it really be true that 1 in 150 babies are born to mothers who did not know they were pregnant? (Spoiler alert: the short answer is ‘no’.)

(Image: a huge crowd of people Credit: AFP/Getty)

Predicting The Presidency20121006This week Nate Silver tells us who he thinks will win the 2012 Presidential race.

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

In 2008 Nate Silver had already achieved success forecasting baseball results. But as Senators McCain and Obama slugged it out for the US Presidency, Silver switched from predicting batting averages to votes. He declared that Obama would win. He was right, of course. In fact, he was spectacularly right. He correctly predicted which way 49 of the 50 States would go. And he got every US Senate race right too. This young, bespectacled baseball nerd was suddenly the most talked about statistician in America.

In this week’s More or Less Nate Silver tells us who he thinks will win the 2012 Presidential race – and why his method of forecasting is based on the work of an 18th Century Englishman called Thomas Bayes.

Also in this week’s programme - 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.

(Image: US President Barack Obama (L) and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Credit: AFP PHOTO/Saul LOEBSAUL/LOEB/AFP/GettyImages

Pregnancy And Homicide2014111520141116 (WS)
20141118 (WS)
The movie Gone Girl claims homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women. Ruth Alexander asks Dr Katherine Gold from the University of Michigan if this is true.

And can we trust country rankings seen in the growing number of performance indices? We speak to the Economist’s international editor Helen Joyce.

(Image: Ben Affleck in a scene from Gone Girl. Credit: Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox/AP Photo )

Is murder a leading cause of death for pregnant women as claimed in the film Gone Girl?

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

The movie Gone Girl claims homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women. Ruth Alexander asks Dr Katherine Gold from the University of Michigan if this is true.
And can we trust country rankings seen in the growing number of performance indices? We speak to the Economist’s international editor Helen Joyce.

(Image: Ben Affleck in a scene from Gone Girl. Credit: Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox/AP Photo )

(Image: Ben Affleck in a scene from Gone Girl. Credit: Merrick Morton/20th Century Fox/AP Photo )

Pregnancy Prohibitions - The Evidence2019072720190729 (WS)
20190730 (WS)
Can you have a single glass of wine? How many cups of coffee should you drink? Should you avoid cheese? Expectant mothers are bombarded with advice about what they can and can’t do during pregnancy. Charlotte McDonald speaks to health economist Emily Oster who used her day job skills to analyse the statistical evidence behind these rules for her own pregnancy.

Taking a statistical look at what expectant mothers should avoid

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

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

Presidential Candidates And Dementia2019122820191230 (WS)
20191231 (WS)
We talk about the age of some of the frontrunners in the Democrat nomination race and President Donald Trump and the health risks they face.

Also, 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.

(US President Donald Trump at a Keep America Great Rally in Battle Creek, Michigan. Credit: Brendan Smialowski /Getty images)

The health risks some of the frontrunners in the US presidential race face.

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

Also, 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.

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

Princess Charlotte2015050820150510 (WS)
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Assessing the economic benefit of a new princess.

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

The Duke and Duchess have had a baby girl this week – but will Princess Charlotte really bring £1 billion to the British economy? Many of the newspapers having been making financial claims about how much the new baby will contribute to GDP. We look at where these numbers come from and judge how realistic they are. Plus – how useful are statistics about sex? Author and statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter explains when you should and shouldn’t trust bedroom-related figures.
(Image: Mugs celebrating the birth of Princess Charlotte. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Processed Meat And Cancer2015103020151102 (WS)Are processed meats as cancer-causing as cigarettes? Ruth Alexander investigates.

Are processed meats as cancer-causing as cigarettes, and has the Rugby world cup been the most brutal? Ruth Alexander investigates.

(Image: Cigarette sliced like Salami. Credit: Shutterstock)

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

Puerto Rico: Statistics V Politics2018042820180429 (WS)
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The government of Puerto Rico has developed a plan to strip the island’s statistical agency of its independent board as part of a money saving enterprise. But as the Caribbean island recovers from a debt crisis and the devastation of Hurricane Maria which struck last year, many are questioning whether the move could have long reaching implications.

Presenters: Tim Harford and Kate Lamble
Producer: Kate Lamble

(Photo: Damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The La Perla neighbourhood, San Juan. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Why some fear the statistics authority is about to lose its independence

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

(Photo: Damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The La Perla neighbourhood, San Juan. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(Photo: Damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The La Perla neighbourhood, San Juan. Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Qanon: Child Runaways And Trafficking Numbers Debunked2020121220201213 (WS)
20201214 (WS)
Tim Harford looks at false statistical claims online about missing and trafficked children in the US. These numbers have resurfaced online in part due to conspiracy theorists following QAnon. In the past few months they have inspired protests under the banner - ‘Save Our Children’. We wade through some of the false numbers with the help of Michael Hobbes, a reporter for Huff Post and the co-host of the podcast called You're Wrong About.

Tackling statistics spread by conspiracy theorists.

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

Tim Harford looks at false statistical claims online about missing and trafficked children in the US. These numbers have resurfaced online in part due to conspiracy theorists following QAnon. In the past few months they have inspired protests under the banner - ‘Save Our Children’. We wade through some of the false numbers with the help of Michael Hobbes, a reporter for Huff Post and the co-host of the podcast called You're Wrong About.

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

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

Qatar Migrant Worker Deaths2015060520150607 (WS)
20150608 (WS)
Is the World Cup really responsible for migrant deaths in Qatar?

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

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

Plus, we solve the fiendish maths exam question that perplexed students so much it became a trend on Twitter.

(Photo: Foreign labourers working on the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Questioning The Chernobyl Disaster Death Count2019062920190701 (WS)
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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.

Image: Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster.
Credit: Getty Images

We fact check the recent TV drama Chernobyl

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

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

Queuing Backwards2015090420150905 (WS)
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Would life be better if we served the last person to join a queue not the first.

Britons love to queue, but have we been getting it wrong? Lars Peter Osterdal from the University of Southern Denmark discusses his theory of how to make queuing more efficient.

Thinking Like an Engineer

Engineer Guru Madhavan tells the story of the development of the barcode and argues that those making policy should ask engineers as well as economists about solving social problems.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Wesley Stephenson

(Photo: Commuters queue for buses Credit: AFP Wires)

Queuing backwards

Britons love to queue, but have we been getting it wrong? Lars Peter Osterdal from the University of Southern Denmark discusses his theory of how to make queuing more efficient.

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

Queuing backwards
Britons love to queue, but have we been getting it wrong? Lars Peter Osterdal from the University of Southern Denmark discusses his theory of how to make queuing more efficient.

Thinking Like an Engineer
Engineer Guru Madhavan tells the story of the development of the barcode and argues that those making policy should ask engineers as well as economists about solving social problems.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Wesley Stephenson

(Photo: Commuters queue for buses Credit: AFP Wires)

Ranking Iceland’s Football Team2016070120160704 (WS)Is Iceland the best football team in the world per capita? England suffered a 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the European Football Championship in France. This was embarrassing for England when you consider its population is 163 times bigger than Iceland’s. We take a look at whether Iceland is now the best performing football team in the world if you compare Uefa ranking to the size of each country’s population. Plus, we take a look at the chances of a young man in Iceland and in England getting to represent their country on the pitch.

Old v Young Brexit Voters

Many media outlets have reported that it was predominantly the older generations in the UK who voted to ‘Leave’ the EU in a recent referendum, while those under 25 were keenest to ‘Remain’. It has prompted many listeners to ask whether a referendum on this topic might yield a different result if held in a few years’ time as the electorate changes. We attempt some back of the envelope calculations with Tom Chivers from Buzzfeed. But how good is the data available? How do we know how people voted or how they would vote in the future?

(Photo: England v Iceland, EURO 2016, Nice, France. Credit: Reuters)

Are Iceland's football team the best in the world per capita?

Ranking Iceland's Football Team2016070120160704 (WS)Are Iceland's football team the best in the world per capita?

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

Is Iceland the best football team in the world per capita? England suffered a 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the European Football Championship in France. This was embarrassing for England when you consider its population is 163 times bigger than Iceland’s. We take a look at whether Iceland is now the best performing football team in the world if you compare Uefa ranking to the size of each country’s population. Plus, we take a look at the chances of a young man in Iceland and in England getting to represent their country on the pitch.

Old v Young Brexit Voters
Many media outlets have reported that it was predominantly the older generations in the UK who voted to ‘Leave’ the EU in a recent referendum, while those under 25 were keenest to ‘Remain’. It has prompted many listeners to ask whether a referendum on this topic might yield a different result if held in a few years’ time as the electorate changes. We attempt some back of the envelope calculations with Tom Chivers from Buzzfeed. But how good is the data available? How do we know how people voted or how they would vote in the future?

(Photo: England v Iceland, EURO 2016, Nice, France. Credit: Reuters)

Real Lives Behind The Numbers2018012020180121 (WS)
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20180123 (WS)
If you ask an economist to explain what is happening in a country’s economy. They rely on economic data points to describe what is happening – they might talk about the unemployment rate, average wages, and the numbers of people in poverty. They pull together the information available for thousands or millions of people to work out trends.

But are we getting the whole picture?

We speak to Rachel Schneider, co-author of the book, ‘The Financial Diaries’. It’s based on a large study in the USA. Over a period of a year from 2012 to 2013, researchers interviewed several families about how they were managing their money to find out the personal stories behind economic data.

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: A couple looking at their finances. Credit: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock)

How individuals manage their money - the personal stories behind economic data.

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

(Photo: A couple looking at their finances. Credit: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock)

Real Lives Behind The Numbers20180121How individuals manage their money - the personal stories behind economic data.

If you ask an economist to explain what is happening in a country’s economy. They rely on economic data points to describe what is happening – they might talk about the unemployment rate, average wages, and the numbers of people in poverty. They pull together the information available for thousands or millions of people to work out trends.

But are we getting the whole picture?

We speak to Rachel Schneider, co-author of the book, ‘The Financial Diaries’. It’s based on a large study in the USA. Over a period of a year from 2012 to 2013, researchers interviewed several families about how they were managing their money to find out the personal stories behind economic data.

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Photo: A couple looking at their finances. Credit: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock)

Red Meat Death Risk?20120317Tim Harford assesses the dangers of red meat. And he ranks the world's largest employers.

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

Eating an extra portion of red meat every day is associated with an increased risk of death, according to a new study. But what does this mean? A risk expert from Cambridge University - Professor David Spiegelhalter - works it out for Tim Harford.

Plus, which are the world's largest employers?

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Reducing Your Risk Of Death2019110920191111 (WS)
20191112 (WS)
Two statistics about reducing your risk of an early death made headlines around the world recently. The first seems to be a great reason to add a four-legged friend to your life. It suggests that owning a dog is tied to lowering your chance of dying early by nearly a quarter.

The second statistic claims that even a minimal amount of running is linked to reducing your risk of premature death by up to 30%. Ruth Alexander finds out what’s behind these numbers and we hear from epidemiologist, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz.

Producer: Darin Graham

(image: a woman running through a wooded trail with her puppy. credit: Getty Images)

Can running and owning a dog reduce your risk of an early death?

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

Refugee Camp Statistics2016052720160530 (WS)Is it true that the average stay in a refugee camp is 17 years?

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

What is the average length of stay in a refugee camp? It is regularly reported that it is 17 years but is this true?

Floppy Disks

This week’s shocking revelation of the computer world was that the Department of Defence still uses 1970s floppy disks to coordinate its nuclear weapons systems. But can it possibly be true that you could fit more than three million of them on a single ten dollar USB drive?

Producer: Laura Gray

Presenter: Ruth Alexander

(Image: An Afghan woman carries laundry in a refugee camp in Malakasa. Credit: Milos Bicanski / Getty)

What is the average length of stay in a refugee camp? It is regularly reported that it is 17 years but is this true?

Floppy Disks

This week’s shocking revelation of the computer world was that the Department of Defence still uses 1970s floppy disks to coordinate its nuclear weapons systems. But can it possibly be true that you could fit more than three million of them on a single ten dollar USB drive?

Presenter: Ruth Alexander

Producer: Laura Gray
Presenter: Ruth Alexander

(Image: An Afghan woman carries laundry in a refugee camp in Malakasa. Credit: Milos Bicanski / Getty)

Rising Drug Overdose Deaths2014020820140209 (WS)
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Deaths from drug overdoses in the United States are on the rise \u2013 but why?

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

Philip Seymour Hoffman has become the latest celebrity to die from taking drugs. His premature death made headlines around the world - but what is less reported is the rising number of deaths from drug overdoses of both illegal and prescription drugs in the US – outstripping those of road traffic accidents and firearm deaths. The team takes a look at the numbers.
We hear from Dr. Len Paulozzi from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and Isabelle Giraudon from the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction.

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

Risk Savvy2014052320140526 (WS)Gerd Gigerenzer on the famous probability puzzle involving goats and game shows

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

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?

And, More or Less listeners weigh in on a problem from last week’s programme - how old will you be before you are guaranteed to celebrate a major, round-number birthday (like 40 or 50) on a weekend?

Rounding Up The Weed Killer Cancer Conundrum2019040620190408 (WS)
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A recent scientific review claims the weed killer glyphosate raises the risk of developing the cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent.

But deciding what causes cancer can be complicated and there are lots of people and organisations on different sides arguing for against this.

So in this edition of More or Less, we look at the disagreements and how the authors of the review came up with the results. With cancer epidemiologist Dr Geoffrey Kabat, Toxicologist Dr Luoping Zhang and statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter.

Producer: Darin Graham
Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Richard Vadon

Picture: Tractor spraying a field of wheat
Credit: Getty Images

We examine the cancer-causing potential of the weed killer glyphosate

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

Running At The World Cup2018063020180701 (WS)
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This week we take a look at some of the statistics which have caught our attention at the World Cup. There has been much debate in both the press and social media about the large distances which Russian football players have run in their first two games. We look at how they compare to other teams and what it might signify. Also –is it just bad luck that Germany has crashed out of the competition?

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Richard Vadon

(Picture: Artem Dzyuba of Russia celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia. Credit: Xin Li/Getty Images)

Is it strange that Russian football players have run such big distances?

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

(Picture: Artem Dzyuba of Russia celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia. Credit: Xin Li/Getty Images)

Rush: Formula 1 Risk2013092120130922 (WS)
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How dangerous was motor-racing in the 1970s? Plus: environmental facts about plastic bags

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

‘I accept every time I get in my car, there’s a 20% chance I could die’. It is a line from the F1 hit film Rush, spoken by 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 1000 years for a plastic bag to degrade? It is a popular claim, but More or Less finds the environmental facts about plastic bags are much less certain than that statistic suggests.

(Image: Niki Lauda. Credit: Getty Images)

Rush: Formula 1 Risk2013092220130923 (WS)How dangerous was motor-racing in the 1970s? Plus: environmental facts about plastic bags
Russia: Has Drinking Fallen By 80% In Five Years?2018021020180211 (WS)
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There’s a stereotype of Russia as a nation of vodka-swilling hard drinkers – but is that idea out of date? The Russian health minister told a conference recently that the country’s alcohol consumption there has dropped by 80% in just five years. Can that be true? The BBC Russian Service’s Georgy Neyaskin has been trying to track down the source of the figures.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

(image: People stand next to a shelf with strong drinks in a food store in Moscow. Photo credit Andrey Smirnov/Getty Images)

Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia's health ministry.

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

(image: People stand next to a shelf with strong drinks in a food store in Moscow. Photo credit Andrey Smirnov/Getty Images)

(image: People stand next to a shelf with strong drinks in a food store in Moscow. Photo credit Andrey Smirnov/Getty Images)

Russia: Has Drinking Fallen By 80% In Five Years?20180211Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia’s health ministry.

There’s a stereotype of Russia as a nation of vodka-swilling hard drinkers – but is that idea out of date? The Russian health minister told a conference recently that the country’s alcohol consumption there has dropped by 80% in just five years. Can that be true? The BBC Russian Service’s Georgy Neyaskin has been trying to track down the source of the figures.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Beth Sagar-Fenton

(image: People stand next to a shelf with strong drinks in a food store in Moscow. Photo credit Andrey Smirnov/Getty Images)

Ryanair Punctuality; Mistakes In Academic Papers2013052520130526 (WS)
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Ryanair claims that more than 90% of its flights land on time but do the numbers prove it?

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

Tim Harford inspects budget airline Ryanair’s claim that more than 90% of its flights land on time. It is a boast it makes each time its planes land on time, but can More or Less find the numbers to prove it? Meanwhile, the programme hears that schedule padding – the practice of lengthening official journey times to improve punctuality records – is common practice among many international airlines.

Earlier in the series, we brought you the story of a highly influential economics paper - written by two Harvard professors - which had helped shape the debate on austerity in America and Europe, and the graduate student who spotted some problems with it. The issues Thomas Herndon and his professors found with Growth in a Time of Debt, the paper by Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff, have become a cause celebre. But there are those who are warning that this paper is by no means the only one out there which has mistakes in it – millions of others may have too.

Sachin Tendulkar - The Greatest, Or Just The 29th Best Test Batsman Of All Time?2013111620131118 (WS)Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has amassed 15,847 test runs, which is 2,500 more runs than any other batsman. But other ways have been devised to calculate cricketing greatness and the Little Master, as he has become known, does not feature as prominently in a lot of them. More or Less crunches the numbers.

(Image: Sachin Tendulkar batting. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

How do other measuring systems rate the Little Master?

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

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

(Image: Sachin Tendulkar batting. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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

Safe Drinking2016032520160328 (WS)UK Alcohol guidelines recommend drinking less \u2013 but do the numbers support them?

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

New alcohol guidelines were issued recently in the UK 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.
Tim Harford presents.

(Photo: Man drinking beer. Credit: George Marks/Retrofile/Getty Images)

UK Alcohol guidelines recommend drinking less – but do the numbers support them?

Samba, Strings And The Story Of Hiv2017060420170605 (WS)
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Can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out?

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

Trumpets are blasting in this week’s musical episode. But can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out? That was the challenge which epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani set for composer Tony Haynes. This June, his Grand Union Orchestra will be performing Song of Contagion, an evening of steel pans, saxophones and singers telling the story of diseases including Zika and AIDs.

We met Elizabeth and Tony in an East London music studio, to hear Song of Contagion come together for the very first time.

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo: Detail close up of French Horn musical instrument, part of the Brass family of instruments. Credit: Shutterstock)

Samba, Strings And The Story Of Hiv20170605Can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out?

Trumpets are blasting in this week’s musical episode. But can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out? That was the challenge which epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani set for composer Tony Haynes. This June, his Grand Union Orchestra will be performing Song of Contagion, an evening of steel pans, saxophones and singers telling the story of diseases including Zika and AIDs.

We met Elizabeth and Tony in an East London music studio, to hear Song of Contagion come together for the very first time.

Producer: Hannah Sander

(Photo: Detail close up of French Horn musical instrument, part of the Brass family of instruments. Credit: Shutterstock)

Screening For Ebola2014102420141026 (WS)Are airport screenings for Ebola really effective at stopping the disease's transmission?

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

Ruth Alexander asks whether airport screenings for Ebola are really an effective way of stopping transmission of the disease. And as the United Nations asks for another $1billion (£625million) in aid we take a look at which governments and charities are rallying to the cause and which are not. The programme hears from David Mabey, Professor of Communicable Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Dr Kamran Khan, an infectious disease physician at St Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

(Image: An employee of the airport emergency medical service presents an information note on the Ebola virus and an electronic thermometer on October 17, 2014 at the Roissy-Charles-de-Gaulle airport in Roissy-en-France. Credit: KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP/Getty Images)

Sex And Heart Attacks2018120120181203 (WS)
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Could your sex play a role in determining your chances of surviving a heart attack? Heart attacks are one of the biggest killers for both sexes around the world however studies have frequently pointed to a disparity between men and women. More or Less examines the evidence from around the world as well as the possible reasons why.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Tom Hill

(image: woman with heart pain. Credit: Getty images)

Are women more likely to die from a heart attack than men?

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

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

Sex On The Brain?2013060820130609 (WS)
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It is often said that men think about sex every seven seconds, but is it true?

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

What do the numbers tells us about how to be healthy in pregnancy - is it really important to cut out caffeine? And how can statistics guide you when trying to choose the best school for your children? Tim Harford talks to Charles Wheelan, the author of the book Naked Statistics.

Men think about sex every seven seconds - a ‘fact’ has been repeated time and again in songs, articles and advertising. But is it true? Tim Harford speaks to Terri Fisher, professor of psychology at Ohio State University in the United States, who has carried out experiments to try to find out.

Sex Recession2019051120190513 (WS)
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This week it was reported that British people are having less sex than they used to, and similar stories are cropping up across the world. But one US stat seemed particularly stark – the amount of young men having no sex at all in the past year has tripled in a decade. Is it true?

Image: A couple using smartphones in bed.
Credit: Getty Images.

US and British surveys show people are having less sex than in the past.

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

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

Sex Workers In The 18th Century And Jellyfish2020091220200914 (WS)Did one in five women in 18th century London made a living selling sex?

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

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

Sexist Data Crisis2016061020160613 (WS)Are we collecting enough data about women?

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

Are countries around the world failing to collect adequate details about their female citizens? Campaigners have argued we are missing data in areas that would help us understand women’s lives better, for example land and inheritance rights. We also explore how women’s work can be overlooked in labour surveys.

(Photo: A woman works in a corn field, near Bouake, central Ivory Coast. Credit: Issouf Sanogo/Getty Images)

(Photo: A woman works in a corn field, near Bouake, central Ivory Coast. Credit: Issouf Sanogo/Getty Images)

Sexual Violence And Statistics In Asia2013091420130915 (WS)
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A report suggests almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape. Is it true?

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

It has been reported that almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape. 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.

“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.

(Image: Women hold out their hands with the words 'No Rape'. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

“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.

Sexual Violence And Statistics In Asia2013091520130916 (WS)A report suggests almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape. Is it true?

A report suggests almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape. Is it true?

Shakespeare V Rappers2014091220140914 (WS)
20140915 (WS)
Who has the biggest vocabulary - the Bard or today's rap stars?

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

It is a 'fact' beloved of English teachers around the world that Shakespeare, the greatest playwright writing in English, also had the greatest vocabulary. But research published earlier this year suggests English teachers might have to look elsewhere to establish the superiority of the Bard - apparently his vocabulary lags behind the best and most famous rappers of the last decades. Is this comparison fair, and if so, does it diminish Shakespeare's lustre?

(Photo: Run DMC. Credit: Getty Images)

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

Should We Have Smaller Families To Save The Planet?2018071420180715 (WS)
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The planet is warming up and some people are giving up on having children to try and save it. Are they right? More Or Less looks at just how bad having children is for the environment and whether not having them could halt climate change.

(image: A one child family playing in the park. Credit: Shutterstock.)

Having one fewer child could be the biggest thing you do to reduce your carbon footprint

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

(image: A one child family playing in the park. Credit: Shutterstock.)

Should We Really Be Drinking Eight Glasses Of Water A Day?2017010620170109 (WS)How much water do we need and how much is too much?

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

How much water should you be drinking? There’s some age-old advice that suggests you should be drinking eight ounces (230 ml) eight times a day. Some people even advise you should be drinking this on top of what you normally drink. There is lots of advice out there but how do you know when you’ve had enough or if you’re drinking too much. With help from Professor Stanley Goldfarb from the University of Pennsylvania, Wesley Stephenson finds out.

(Image: Hand holding a glass of water. Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire)

(Image: Hand holding a glass of water. Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire)

Should You Wear A Face Mask?2020041120200412 (WS)
20200413 (WS)
Do face masks stop you getting coronavirus? You might instinctively think that covering your mouth and nose with cloth must offer protection from Covid-19. And some health authorities around the world say people should make their own masks. But expert opinion is divided. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander unpick the arguments.

(A woman wears a homemade face mask in Guayaquil, Ecuador. Photo credit:Francisco Macías/Getty Images)

Tim Harford looks at the debate over making your own Covid-19 protection.

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

Simpson’s Paradox2016042920160502 (WS)We explore how statistics can support two seemingly contradictory results.

A Dutch statistician recently became suspicious by headlines in the Dutch news that women were being discriminated against when it came to getting science research funding. Professor Casper Albers of the Heymans Institute for Psychological Research, Groningen, discovered that the study into the funding process showed that when you looked at the overall numbers of successful candidates, women seemed to be less successful than men. And yet, when you looked at a breakdown of the different subjects people could apply for, it showed that women were not losing out disproportionately to men. How could two opposite findings be true? This contradiction is explained by a famous statistical paradox. We explain what is known as Simpson’s Paradox with the aid of a choir metaphor, performed by the BBC Singers.

(Image: A circle of women and men, Credit: Thinkstock)

Simpson's Paradox2016042920160502 (WS)We explore how statistics can support two seemingly contradictory results.

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

A Dutch statistician recently became suspicious by headlines in the Dutch news that women were being discriminated against when it came to getting science research funding. Professor Casper Albers of the Heymans Institute for Psychological Research, Groningen, discovered that the study into the funding process showed that when you looked at the overall numbers of successful candidates, women seemed to be less successful than men. And yet, when you looked at a breakdown of the different subjects people could apply for, it showed that women were not losing out disproportionately to men. How could two opposite findings be true? This contradiction is explained by a famous statistical paradox. We explain what is known as Simpson’s Paradox with the aid of a choir metaphor, performed by the BBC Singers.

(Image: A circle of women and men, Credit: Thinkstock)

Sleeping: The 8-hour Myth2015022120150222 (WS)Could having a lie-in lead to an early death?

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

It’s often said that we should all be aiming to get eight hours of sleep a night. But could it actually lead you to an early grave?

Research shows that sleeping for longer, or shorter, than average is associated with an increased risk of disease and mortality. But what’s causing the health problems, and should you really give up the lie-in? Ruth Alexander looks at the latest sleep science with Dr Gregg Jacobs from UMASS Medical Center, US; Professor Franco Cappuccio from Warwick University, UK; Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University, UK; and Professor Shawn Youngstedt of Arizona State University, US.

(Photo: Man asleep in a bed. Credit: Corbis)

Sleeping: The 8-hour Myth2016070820160711 (WS)Could having a lie-in lead to an early death?

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

It’s often said that we should all be aiming to get eight hours of sleep a night. But could it actually lead you to an early grave? Research shows that sleeping for longer, or shorter, than average is associated with an increased risk of disease and mortality. But what’s causing the health problems, and should you really give up the lie-in? Ruth Alexander looks at the latest sleep science with Dr Gregg Jacobs from UMASS Medical Center, US; Professor Franco Cappuccio from Warwick University, UK; Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University, UK; and Professor Shawn Youngstedt of Arizona State University, US.

(Photo: Man asleep in a bed. Credit: Corbis)

(Photo: Man asleep in a bed. Credit: Corbis)

Social Distancing And Government Borrowing2020051620200517 (WS)
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Where do the different social distancing measurements come from?

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

As lockdowns start to lift, many countries are relying on social distancing to continue to slow the spread of coronavirus. The UK says we should stay 2 metres apart, the World Health Organisation recommends 1 metre, Canada six feet. So where do these different measurements come from?

Plus, governments around the world are trying to prop up their economies by borrowing money. But with everyone in the same situation, where are they borrrowing from?

Producers: Darin Graham, Kate Lamble and May Cameron
Presenter: Tim Harford
Editor: Richard Vadon

(Passengers queue while keeping social distance waiting to board a Rajdhani Express train to Delhi on May 13, 2020, Patna, India. Credit: Santosh Kumar/ Getty Images)

Soviet World War Deaths2014121320141214 (WS)
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Did almost 80% of boys born in the Soviet Union in 1923 not survive World War Two?

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

Did almost 80% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 not survive World War Two, as has been claimed online? Ruth Alexander hears from professor Mike Haynes from the University of Wolverhampton and professor Mark Harrison of Warwick University.

Plus, the Chinese economy has overtaken the US to become the biggest in the world according to a recent IMF announcement. We hear from Matthew Crabbe, author of Myth Busting China’s Numbers, who explains the trouble with understanding and using China’s statistics.

(Image: Russian infantry men advancing. Credit: Three Lions/Getty Images)

Spanish Coronavirus Figures And Pangolins2020061320200614 (WS)
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Are pangolins the most trafficked animal in the world?

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

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

Every country's Covid-19 statistics contain their own idiosyncracies, but some problems are larger than others. At the beginning of June, the Spanish government made headlines when they announced they had gone 48 hours without a coronvirus related death. But dig a little deeper, and it's clear a new way of registering cases was hiding the real number. Plus, are Pangolins the most trafficked animal in the world?

(Pangolin unrolling itself after being curled in a protective ball.
Credit: Getty images)

Species In Decline?2014101020141012 (WS)
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The coverage of the Living Planet Index and its claim that species populations have dropped 50% in the last 40 years aroused much suspicion among More Or Less listeners. The team looks at what the figure means and how it was calculated.

(Photo: Male Royal Bengal tiger staring towards the camera from inside the jungle. Credit: Shutterstock)

Are claims that species populations have dropped 50% in the last 40 years true?