More Or Less [world Service]

Episodes

TitleFirst
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
20120127

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.

2012020320120204

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.

2012032320120324
2012032320120325
2012032320120325

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

2013020120130202
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.

2013042820130429 (WS)

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.

2013051920130520 (WS)

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

20130526
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.

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.

2014040420140406 (WS)
20140407 (WS)

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

2018031820180319 ()
20180320 ()

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

2018101320181014 (WS)

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

2018101320181015 (WS)

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

2018101320181016 (WS)

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

2018101320181014 (WS)
20181015 (WS)
20181016 (WS)

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

20181103

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

"samba, Strings And The Story Of Hiv"20170605

Can 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)

\u2018sympathy\u2019 For Jihadis.2015112720151130 (WS)

Are claims that one in five British Muslims \u2018sympathise with jihadis\u2019 correct?

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

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)

01/02/201320130202
01/03/201320130302
02/03/201220120303
02/05/20142014050420140505 (WS)

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

02/11/201220121103
02/12/2016 Gmt20161202
03/02/201220120204

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.

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.

06/01/2017 Gmt2017010620170109 (WS)

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

07/04/201220120408
07/10/2016 Gmt2016100720161010 (WS)

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

07/12/201220121208
08/03/201320130309
08/08/20142014081020140811 (WS)

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

09/03/201220120310
09/03/201220120311
09/11/201220121110
09/12/2016 Gmt2016120920161212 (WS)

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

10/02/201220120211
10/02/201220120212

Tim 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.

100 Year Floods?2015121120151214 (WS)

Do so-called \u2018100 year floods\u2019 only happen once a century?

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

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)

11/11/2016 Gmt2016111120161114 (WS)

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

12/05/20122012051220120513
13/01/201220120114
13/01/201220120115
14/04/201220120415
14/04/2017 Gmt20170414
14/12/201220121215
15/03/20132013031620130317 (WS)

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

16/03/201220120317
16/11/201220121117
16/12/2016 Gmt20161216
17/02/201220120218

Tim 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.

17/03/2017 Gmt20170317
18/11/2016 Gmt2016111820161121 (WS)

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

20/01/201220120121
21/04/201220120422

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

21/04/2017 Gmt20170421
21/05/2017 Gmt20170522
21/10/2016 Gmt2016102120161024 (WS)

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

21/12/201220121222
22/02/20132013022320130224 (WS)

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

23/03/201220120324
23/03/201220120325
23/11/201220121124
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.

24/03/2017 Gmt20170324
27/01/201220120128
27/01/201220120129
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.

28/04/201220120429
28/04/2017 Gmt20170428

Tim 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
A Case Of Statistical Significance In Greece20130202

The 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?2012050520120506

European 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?20120506

European 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 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

€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)

Alcohol And Cancer2014012520140126 (WS)
20140127 (WS)

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.

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 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

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)

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)

An Urban Maze2017050720170508 (WS)
20170509 (WS)

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)

An Urban Maze20170508

Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.

Analysing Chris Froome's Tour De France Victory2013072720130728 (WS)
20130729 (WS)

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)

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)

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)

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?20170612

After 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?

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 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.

Are African Leaders More Likely To Die In Office?20120826

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.

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?

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 Tall People More Likely To Get Cancer?2015100920151010 (WS)
20151011 (WS)
20151012 (WS)

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 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 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?20170814

President 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)

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.

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).

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?20171023

Did 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 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.

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)

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.

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)

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.

Australia Calling2018052620180527 (WS)
20180528 (WS)
20180529 (WS)

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.

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)

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

Computer programmes are being developed to combat fake news.

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

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)

Avoiding Asteroids2016111820161121 (WS)

We\u2019re 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.

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

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

Baby Boxes \u2013 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)

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)

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 Cars20171002

Do 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)

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\u2019. 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)

Brain Food And Bacteria20121117

Ruth 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\u2019s 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)

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.

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)

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)

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 Wimbledon20170717

Using 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)

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)

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)

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 Encounters20120617

Is 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 Malawi2012011320120114
Chavez's Cancer Claims And Counting Doctors From Malawi20120114

Does 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)

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)

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)

China Stock Market Crash2015082820150829 (WS)
20150830 (WS)
20150831 (WS)

The Chinese stock market may have crashed but was it really \u2018Black Monday\u2019?

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.)

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.)

China\u2019s 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)

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.

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)

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)

Climate Change2015120420151207 (WS)

Did climate change contribute to the war in Syria?

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

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)

Climate Change And Using Statistics To Predict Football Results.20120120

TBC

Climate Change And Using Statistics To Predict Football Results.20120121

A 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)

Communicating Risk2013040620130407 (WS)
20130408 (WS)

It's the 4th anniversary of the earthquake which devastated the city of L\u2019Aquila 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

Could An Apple-a-day Reduce Illness?2014011820140119 (WS)
20140120 (WS)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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.

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)

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)

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 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.

Counting Images Of Queen Elizabeth Ii20120603

How 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)

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)

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)

Creativity And Mental Illness2015111320151116 (WS)

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.

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)

Cybermetrics And Groundhog Day20120218

Tim 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)

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)

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)

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 \u2013 On A Postcard2018021720180218 (WS)
20180219 (WS)
20180220 (WS)

How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps

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

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

Debunking Guide € On A Postcard20180218

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?

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

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)

Did Sir Roger Bannister Make The \u2018impossible\u2019 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 \u2018impossible\u2019 Possible?2018031020180311 (WS)
20180312 (WS)
20180313 (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.

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.

Diet Coke Habit2017121520171217 (WS)
20171218 (WS)
20171219 (WS)

What effect could the US President\u2019s Diet Coke habit have on his health?

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

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)

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

Dna: Are You More Chimp Or Neanderthal?2018091520180916 (WS)
20180917 (WS)
20180918 (WS)

Is our DNA more chimp or Neanderthal?

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

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)

Do Big Football Clubs Win More Penalties?20120331
Do Big Football Clubs Win More Penalties?20120401

Tim 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.

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)

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)

Do Nigerian Lawmakers Make More Than President Trump?20171105

Fact 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)

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)

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.

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

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

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.

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\u2019re 6\u20198\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)

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?20171210

Are 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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

Drinks And Drugs Capital Of The World?2012070720120708
Drinks And Drugs Capital Of The World?20120708

Do 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\u2019s 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)

Drug Deaths In The Philippines20160912

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)

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

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\u2019s 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)

Eurostats - True Or False?2012041420120415 (WS)

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

Eurostats - True Or False?20120415

Are 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)
20180508 (WS)

Statistician Hans Rosling\u2019s 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.

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.

"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 “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)

Factchecking America2012092220120923 (WS)

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

Factchecking America20120923

We 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)
20180319 (WS)
20180320 (WS)

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.

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)

Fact-checking Us Gun-crime Statistics20121222

Tim 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 Win20170828

Figuring 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 Fiction20130126

A \u2018new\u2019 BMI calculation has been proposed by Oxford Mathematician Professor Nick Trefethen

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

A ‘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.

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

A ‘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 ‘new’ BMI calculation has been proposed by Oxford Mathematician Professor Nick Trefethen

Fear Of Flying2014080120140803 (WS)
20140804 (WS)

Following recent airline incidents, is flying more dangerous? Plus: Commonwealth Games.

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

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.

Fergie-time20121124

Do 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)
20180618 (WS)
20180619 (WS)

How the \u2018beautiful game\u2019 has changed\u2026through numbers.

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

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)

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)

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)

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?

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)

Football\u2019s Red Card Clich\u00e92015100220151004 (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)

Football’s Red Card Clich2015100220151003 (WS)
20151004 (WS)
20151005 (WS)

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)

Is it harder to play football against ten men? Tim Harford finds out

Foreign Aid: More Harm Than Good?2015101620151017 (WS)
20151018 (WS)
20151019 (WS)

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.

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)

Foreign Aid: Who\u2019s The Most Generous?2018102020181021 (WS)

In foreign aid terms what\u2019s the best way of measuring how generous a country is?

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

Foreign Aid: Who\u2019s The Most Generous?2018102020181022 (WS)

In foreign aid terms what\u2019s the best way of measuring how generous a country is?

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

Foreign Aid: Who\u2019s The Most Generous?2018102020181023 (WS)

In foreign aid terms what\u2019s the best way of measuring how generous a country is?

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

Freedom In Numbers20140401

How 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)

Getting Creative With Statistics2018072820180729 (WS)
20180730 (WS)
20180731 (WS)

How big are your testicles and what does that mean?

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

Global Footprint2015061220150614 (WS)
20150615 (WS)

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)
20150127 (WS)

Who is in the world\u2019s 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)

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

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?

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

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)

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)

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

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?

Gravitational Waves2016011520160118 (WS)

In search of a previously unobserved part of Einstein\u2019s 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)

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.

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)

Gun Laws And Gold Medals20120729

Would 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 Nations2012051920120520
Hardest-working Nations20120520

Greeks 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)

Fans have long debated - just how many wizards live among us?

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

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)

Has Islamic State Been Losing Territory?2015112020151123 (WS)

Has so-called Islamic State been losing territory?

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

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)

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)

Have 100,000 Christians Died As Martyrs?2013110220131104 (WS)

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.

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)

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)

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?20170529

Education 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.

Heads Or Tails?2014061320140615 (WS)
20140616 (WS)

What can we learn about happiness if people make key life decisions based on a coin toss?

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

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.

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.

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)

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)

Hit Movies And Killer Birthdays2012063020120701
Hit Movies And Killer Birthdays20120701

What 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)

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)

Hiv In Numbers20130309

With the news that a baby has been \u2018cured\u2019 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

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 Ebola?2014081020140811 (WS)

It is claimed it kills up to 90% of victims, but fatality rates vary widely

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

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.

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.

How Deadly Was 1920s Melbourne?2018033120180401 (WS)
20180402 (WS)
20180403 (WS)

How accurate is the murder rate in the crime series Miss Fisher\u2019s Murder Mysteries?

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

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 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.

How Do You Calculate A Dog\u2019s 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 Expensive Is Italy\u2019s 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 Expensive Is Italys World Cup Failure?20171117

How 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 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.

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 extraordinary was Ye Shiwen's Olympic performance? More or Less looks at the numbers

How Extraordinary Is Ye Shiwen?20120805

How 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 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

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

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.

How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists By Half A Century2018011320180114 (WS)
20180115 (WS)
20180116 (WS)

A forgotten French mathematician\u2019s unusual approach to the stock market.

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

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 Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists By Half A Century20180114

A 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 every day?

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

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]

How Many Is Too Many Bananas?2015091120150912 (WS)
20150913 (WS)
20150914 (WS)

Should population density affect refugee movements? How many bananas are too many?

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

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)

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)

How Many People Support Manchester United ?20130216

This 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\u2019 Stormtroopers the biggest secret army on Earth?

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

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)

How Many Words Do You Need To Speak A Language?2018062320180624 (WS)
20180625 (WS)
20180626 (WS)

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.

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 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)

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

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

How Rare Are Deadly Tower Block Fires?2017062520170626 (WS)
20170627 (WS)

How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London\u2019s 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)

How Rare Are Deadly Tower Block Fires?20170626

How 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?20121201

Assessing 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)
20150927 (WS)
20150928 (WS)

How reliable are psychological science studies? Tim Harford finds out.

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

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)

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 Rich Was Jane Austen\u2019s Mr Darcy?2017112520171126 (WS)
20171127 (WS)
20171128 (WS)

What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today\u2019s 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)

How Rich Was Jane Austens Mr Darcy?20171126

What 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 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 Economics20171016

The 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)

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)
20180423 (WS)
20180424 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Dan Ariely about the psychology of money.

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

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)

How To Cycle Really Fast2018072120180722 (WS)
20180723 (WS)
20180724 (WS)

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).

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 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)

How To Explain Infinity To A Four-year-old20120902

Can 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 - Fast20120812

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.

Last week Knight Capital lost a lot of money very quickly.

It was the latest chapter in the story of something called 'high frequency trading'.

Investors have always valued being the first with the news.

But high frequency trading is different - algorithms execute automatic trades, conducted by computers, at astonishing speeds.

We ask - is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress, or – as some think – a threat to the stability of the entire financial system?

(Image: $100 bills. Credit: AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER)

Last week Knight Capital lost a lot of money very quickly.

It was the latest chapter in the story of something called 'high frequency trading'.

Investors have always valued being the first with the news.

But high frequency trading is different - algorithms execute automatic trades, conducted by computers, at astonishing speeds.

We ask - is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress, or – as some think – a threat to the stability of the entire financial system?

(Image: $100 bills. Credit: AFP PHOTO/Karen BLEIER)

How To Measure A Hurricane2017091520170918 (WS)
20170919 (WS)

What\u2019s 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)

How To Measure A Hurricane20170918

What’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)
20180903 (WS)
20180904 (WS)

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.

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)

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.

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.

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 is a useful comparison.

(Photo: The great British seaside Weston-Super-Mare. Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

Immigration2014020120140202 (WS)
20140203 (WS)

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.

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.

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.

Interview With Daniel Kahneman2012060920120610
20120610 (WS)

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)

Interview With Daniel Kahneman20120610

Tim 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.

Investigating Crime Statistics20120916

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.

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)

Ireland\u2019s 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)

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?

Is China On Track To End Poverty By 2020?2018020220180204 (WS)
20180205 (WS)
20180206 (WS)

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.

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

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?

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)

Is London France\u2019s 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 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?

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 Steph Curry Cheap And How Random Is Random?2017070920170710 (WS)
20170711 (WS)

Evaluating the biggest basketball contract in NBA history, plus Ryanair\u2019s 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)

Is Steph Curry Cheap And How Random Is Random?20170710

Evaluating 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)

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)

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 The Kenyan Election Already Decided?20130302

Do 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 (WS)
20180129 (WS)
20180130 (WS)

The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results.

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

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

Is The Us Census Under Threat?20180128

The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results.

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

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.

James Comey: Basketball Superstar?2018051920180522 (WS)

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.

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)

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?20171203

How 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)

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.

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)

Just How Rare Is A Hole-in-one?20180107

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)

Why 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.

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?

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

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.

(Image: Kidney male anatomy anterior x-ray view. Credit: Shutterstock)

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.

Killed For Being Female?2014042520140427 (WS)
20140428 (WS)

Are there 100 million women missing from the world?

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

“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.

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 Numbers20171009

How 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)

Leicester City Football Fluke?2016050620160509 (WS)

The statistics behind the English Premier League\u2019s surprise winners

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

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)

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)

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)

Levelling The Statistical Playing Field20120819

Which 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\u2019s 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)

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?

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.

Life-saving Economics20121021

How 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 Day20120303

Tim 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\u2019s High-rise Death Toll2017090320170904 (WS)
20170905 (WS)

Why it\u2019s 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)

London’s High-rise Death Toll20170904

Why 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)

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)

Magic Numbers2014041820140420 (WS)
20140421 (WS)

Do you have a favourite number - one you think stands out from all the others?

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

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

Exploring our emotional connection to numbers with author Alex Bellos.

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)

Mailbox Edition2014031520140316 (WS)
20140317 (WS)

Your questions \u2013 from the USA, Australia and the world

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

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 – 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.

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 Fairer20170703

The 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\u2019s 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)

Maryam Mirzakhani \u2013 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 Maths20170724

Celebrating 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 Myth20120212

How 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 Loss20120421

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

Measuring Species Loss20120422

Are 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)

Menstrual Syncing2016090220160905 (WS)

Do women\u2019s 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)

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?

Millennium Development Goals20150703

Have 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 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?

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: Heart and a plane made from lighted candles, Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

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)

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)

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)

Modern Slavery2014030820140309 (WS)

Are there 21 million slaves in the world today?

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

“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?

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)

Money For Nothing?2014062020140622 (WS)
20140623 (WS)

When it comes to aid, what works best - providing goods, or handing over cash?

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?

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?20120204

Are 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 (WS)
20170801 (WS)

Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population\u2019s sex ratio

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

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)

More Boys Than Girls In Sweden?20170731

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)

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?20170911

Is 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 Less20170619

Tim 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\u2019s 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)

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)

Neknomination Outbreak2014022220140223 (WS)
20140224 (WS)

How quickly will the online global drinking craze Neknomination spread - and fizzle out?

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.

“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 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

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

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)

Nigeria\u2019s Gdp Revision And Kate And William\u2019s Bab(ies)20121208

Where 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.

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 Numbers20171030

Counting 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?

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

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)

Numbers Of 201220121229

Tim 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)

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.

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

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)

Are a million barrels of Nigeria\u2019s 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)

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.

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)

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)

Paul Romer and William Nordhaus\u2019 Big Ideas2018101320181014 (WS)

The economists tackling climate change and growth

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

Paul Romer and William Nordhaus\u2019 Big Ideas2018101320181015 (WS)

The economists tackling climate change and growth

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

Paul Romer and William Nordhaus\u2019 Big Ideas2018101320181016 (WS)

The economists tackling climate change and growth

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

Plenty More Fish In The Sea?2012092920120930 (WS)

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

Plenty More Fish In The Sea?20120930

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)

Polling Opinion In Syria, And Europe's Work Hours20120225
Polling Opinion In Syria, And Europe's Work Hours20120226

Tim 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 Election20121110

How 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?20121027

On More or Less this week we look at how the probability of an earthquake is estimated.

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

This 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)

This 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)

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)

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)

Predicting The Global Population20121013

Tim 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 Presidency20121006

This 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)

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 )

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 )

Princess Charlotte2015050820150510 (WS)
20150511 (WS)

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.

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

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)

Puerto Rico: Statistics V Politics2018042820180429 (WS)
20180430 (WS)
20180501 (WS)

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.

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)

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)

Queuing Backwards2015090420150905 (WS)
20150906 (WS)
20150907 (WS)

Would life be better if we served the last person to join a queue not the first.

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)

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\u2019s 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)

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?

Real Lives Behind The Numbers2018012020180121 (WS)
20180122 (WS)
20180123 (WS)

How individuals manage their money - the personal stories behind economic data.

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

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)

Real Lives Behind The Numbers20180121

How 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?20120317

Tim 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

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?

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)
20140210 (WS)

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.

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?

Running At The World Cup2018063020180701 (WS)
20180702 (WS)
20180703 (WS)

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.

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)

Rush: Formula 1 Risk2013092120130922 (WS)
20130923 (WS)

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)

Russia: Has Drinking Fallen By 80% In Five Years?2018021020180211 (WS)
20180212 (WS)
20180213 (WS)

Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia\u2019s health ministry.

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

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)

Russia: Has Drinking Fallen By 80% In Five Years?20180211

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.

Ryanair Punctuality; Mistakes In Academic Papers2013052520130526 (WS)
20130527 (WS)

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)

How do other measuring systems rate the Little Master?

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

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)

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)

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?

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)

Samba, Strings And The Story Of Hiv2017060420170605 (WS)
20170606 (WS)

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 Hiv20170605
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 On The Brain?2013060820130609 (WS)
20130610 (WS)

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.

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)

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)

Sexual Violence And Statistics In Asia2013091420130915 (WS)
20130916 (WS)

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)

Shakespeare V Rappers2014091220140914 (WS)
20140915 (WS)

Who has the biggest vocabulary - the Bard or today\u2019s 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)

Should We Have Smaller Families To Save The Planet?2018071420180715 (WS)
20180716 (WS)
20180717 (WS)

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.

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.)

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)

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)

Simpson\u2019s 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)

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)

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)

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)

Soviet World War Deaths2014121320141214 (WS)
20141216 (WS)

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)

Species In Decline?2014101020141012 (WS)
20141013 (WS)

Are claims that species populations have dropped 50% in the last 40 years true?

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

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)

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)

Sperm - Are We Going Extinct?2017092420170925 (WS)
20170926 (WS)

How much of a problem is falling sperm count?

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

A study released recently says that male sperm count has declined by 50 percent since 1973. It’s not the first time we’ve been worried about this issue, in 1992 the now contentious ‘Carlsen’ study also suggested a plunging sperm count.

But previous studies have made similar claims and turned out to have questionable methodology. Is the new study more reliable? (Yes.) Previous critics claim it has addressed many of the problems faced by previous studies.

And how much of a problem is falling sperm count?

We speak with Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, Dr Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Dr Tina Jensen of Syddansk University, Denmark.

(Image: A father with his daughter at breakfast time. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Sperm - Are We Going Extinct?20170925

How much of a problem is falling sperm count?

A study released recently says that male sperm count has declined by 50 percent since 1973. It’s not the first time we’ve been worried about this issue, in 1992 the now contentious ‘Carlsen’ study also suggested a plunging sperm count.

But previous studies have made similar claims and turned out to have questionable methodology. Is the new study more reliable? (Yes.) Previous critics claim it has addressed many of the problems faced by previous studies.

And how much of a problem is falling sperm count?

We speak with Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, Dr Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Dr Tina Jensen of Syddansk University, Denmark.

(Image: A father with his daughter at breakfast time. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

A study released recently says that male sperm count has declined by 50 percent since 1973. It’s not the first time we’ve been worried about this issue, in 1992 the now contentious ‘Carlsen’ study also suggested a plunging sperm count.

But previous studies have made similar claims and turned out to have questionable methodology. Is the new study more reliable? (Yes.) Previous critics claim it has addressed many of the problems faced by previous studies.

And how much of a problem is falling sperm count?

We speak with Prof Allan Pacey of Sheffield University, Dr Hagai Levine from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem and Dr Tina Jensen of Syddansk University, Denmark.

Spurious Correlations2014060620140608 (WS)
20140609 (WS)

Is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption?

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

Is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption? It sounds ridiculous, but you might be tempted to believe it if you saw the graphs side by side. It's one of many pairs of statistics featured on the 'Spurious Correlations' website started recently by Tyler Vigen. We talk to him about some of the funniest correlations he's found and the serious point he's trying to make. And it's World Cup Office Sweepstake time, so Tim Harford peels the probability onion to help a listener decide the ideal sweepstake strategy, and lifts the lid on our own office sweepstake design.

Is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption? It sounds ridiculous, but you might be tempted to believe it if you saw the graphs side by side. It's one of many pairs of statistics featured on the 'Spurious Correlations' website started recently by Tyler Vigen. We talk to him about some of the funniest correlations he's found and the serious point he's trying to make. And it's World Cup Office Sweepstake time, so Tim Harford peels the probability onion to help a listener decide the ideal sweepstake strategy, and lifts the lid on our own office sweepstake design.

Stamp Prices And The First Maths Book20120407
Stamp Prices And The First Maths Book20120408

Tim Harford compares post costs around the world, and finds out how modern maths took off.

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

The Royal Mail says UK stamp prices are still among the best value in Europe, despite an imminent price rise. Tim Harford finds out whether this is true, and compares the price of postal services around the world.

Plus, he finds out how, after being invented by Indian mathematicians, modern numbers became established in the ancient Arab world and then journeyed on to Europe in what was essentially the first maths textbook ever written, Liber Abaci. Its author was Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci. Tim speaks to Keith Devlin, author of The Man of Numbers, to find out more.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Statistics Of The Year 20172017123020171231 (WS)
20180101 (WS)
20180102 (WS)

Phones, lawn mowers and how Kim Kardashian helped the public understanding of risk

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

How many active phone lines are there in the world? How many people die from lawn mowers on average each year in the US? How does this compare to terrorism deaths? Plus, is England densely populated compared to the rest of the world? We speak to Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter about the winners of the Royal Statistical Society’s competition to find numbers reported in the news that surprise us.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producers: Charlotte McDonald and Lizzy McNeill

(Photo: US reality TV star Kim Kardashian looks at her iPhone. Credit: Karen Minasyan/Getty Images.)

Statistics Of The Year 201720171231

Phones, lawn mowers and how Kim Kardashian helped the public understanding of risk

How many active phone lines are there in the world? How many people die from lawn mowers on average each year in the US? How does this compare to terrorism deaths? Plus, is England densely populated compared to the rest of the world? We speak to Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter about the winners of the Royal Statistical Society’s competition to find numbers reported in the news that surprise us.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander
Producers: Charlotte McDonald and Lizzy McNeill

(Photo: US reality TV star Kim Kardashian looks at her iPhone. Credit: Karen Minasyan/Getty Images.)

Surviving the Battle of Britain2018092920180930 (WS)

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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

Surviving the Battle of Britain2018092920181001 (WS)

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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

Surviving the Battle of Britain2018092920181002 (WS)

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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

Surviving the Battle of Britain2018092920181002 (WS)
20181001 (WS)
20180930 (WS)

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

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.

Sustainable Development Goals \u2013 Are There Too Many?2016100720161010 (WS)

Is there a better way of looking at the Sustainable Development Goals?

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

It is now a year since the UN set its new Sustainable Development Goals to try to make the world a better place. They include 17 goals and a massive 169 targets on subjects like disease, education and governance. But some people like Bjorn Lomborg are saying that there are just too many and they are too broad, and left like that will never achieve anything. Is he right? Is there a better way to make the world better and stop some countries lagging behind? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald find out.

(Photo: A teacher writes on a blackboard during a class in Kenya. Credit: Getty Images)

Swedish Refugees2016012920160201 (WS)

Have refugees caused a gender imbalance in Sweden's teenage population?

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

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

(Photo: People hold a 'Refugees Welcome' banner in Stockholm. Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

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

(Photo: People hold a 'Refugees Welcome' banner in Stockholm. Credit: Jonathan Nackstrand/AFP/Getty Images)

Swimming World Records2016081220160815 (WS)

Why are swimming world records frequently being broken?

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

World Records are being set at a much faster rate in swimming than in other sports. At the Rio Olympics, British swimmer Adam Peaty managed to break the men's 100m breaststroke world record twice in two days. Tim Harford speaks to swimming coach, Rick Madge, about the reasons swimmers keep getting better results in the pool.

Also, science writer Christie Aschwanden makes the case for the virtues of the 5,000 metre race. She says that in recent times it has become very popular for people to train to run a marathon. But when you look at the numbers, is the 5K a better distance?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Image: Britain's Adam Peaty swimming, credit: Reuters)

World Records are being set at a much faster rate in swimming than in other sports. At the Rio Olympics, British swimmer Adam Peaty managed to break the men's 100m breaststroke world record twice in two days. Tim Harford speaks to swimming coach, Rick Madge, about the reasons swimmers keep getting better results in the pool.

Also, science writer Christie Aschwanden makes the case for the virtues of the 5,000 metre race. She says that in recent times it has become very popular for people to train to run a marathon. But when you look at the numbers, is the 5K a better distance?

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

(Image: Britain's Adam Peaty swimming, credit: Reuters)

Teenage Pregnancy2014112920141130 (WS)
20141202 (WS)

The truth behind the claim that 'one-third' of US girls become pregnant as teenagers

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

"About one-third of American girls become pregnant as teenagers” an article in the New York Times claimed. More or Less investigates whether that is true and examines the long-term trends when it comes to teenage pregnancy in developed countries. We speak to Bill Albert from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy and Heather Boonstra from the Guttmacher Institute.

Does 55% of communication really come from body language and gestures, 38% from facial expression and only 7% from words? It is a question that More or Less is regularly asked to look into. Five years on from first doing so, we replay the interview with professor Albert Mehrabian whose research is the source of the often heard claim.

(Image: Pregnant woman with hands over tummy. Credit: Shutterstock)

Testing The Pisa Test2013120720131209 (WS)

Are the OECD PISA rankings really as definitive as people believe?

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

The publication of the latest international education league table has created waves around the world. From Shanghai at the top of the table to Peru at the bottom, the PISA rankings create a lot of discussion about the best way to teach children. In some countries the OECD-led ratings are taken so seriously that education policy has been changed to try to improve national performance. But is the league table really as definitive as many people believe? Ruth Alexander looks behind the numbers.

Presenter/producer: Ruth Alexander

That's Not Much Gold2013033020130401 (WS)

What if a super-villain took control of the world\u2019s gold and melted it into a cube?

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

What would happen if a super-villain managed to take control of the world’s gold and melt it down into a cube? How big would it be? It’s often said that all the gold ever mined would only form a cube with sides of 20 metres. Is this true and how- on-earth do we know? Wesley Stephenson finds out.

(Image: Gold bars. Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

What would happen if a super-villain managed to take control of the world’s gold and melt it down into a cube? How big would it be? It’s often said that all the gold ever mined would only form a cube with sides of 20 metres. Is this true and how- on-earth do we know? Wesley Stephenson finds out.

(Image: Gold bars. Credit: REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files)

What if a super-villain took control of the world’s gold and melted it into a cube?

The 10,000 Hours Rule2014030120140302 (WS)
20140303 (WS)

Is it possible to become an expert on practice alone?

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

If you practised anything for long enough, would you become a pro? Author Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that if you devote yourself to anything from chess to playing an instrument for 10,000 hours, you will become an expert.

But where did the idea come from, and is it true? More or Less tells the story of how a paper published in 1993 went on to spark a debate – is practice enough, or do you need innate talent as well?

David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene and Malcolm Gladwell explain their views.

Plus, we hear from a photographer who quit his job to concentrate on trying to become a golf pro, despite claiming to have no natural talent.

If you practised anything for long enough, would you become a pro? Author Malcolm Gladwell popularised the idea that if you devote yourself to anything from chess to playing an instrument for 10,000 hours, you will become an expert.

But where did the idea come from, and is it true? More or Less tells the story of how a paper published in 1993 went on to spark a debate – is practice enough, or do you need innate talent as well?

David Epstein, author of The Sports Gene and Malcolm Gladwell explain their views.

Plus, we hear from a photographer who quit his job to concentrate on trying to become a golf pro, despite claiming to have no natural talent.

The Attention Span Of A Goldfish2017031020170313 (WS)

Are our attention spans now shorter than a goldfish's?

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

Everyone knows our attention spans are getting shorter. It's just obvious. In the always-connected world of social media, smartphones and hyperlinks in the middle of everything you read, it's become that much harder to stay focused. And there are statistics too. They say that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That's less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.

But the statistics are not all that they seem - and neither is the received wisdom about goldfish.

Producer/Presenter: Simon Maybin

(Image: Shutterstock/Goldfish)

Everyone knows our attention spans are getting shorter. It's just obvious. In the always-connected world of social media, smartphones and hyperlinks in the middle of everything you read, it's become that much harder to stay focused. And there are statistics too. They say that the average attention span is down from 12 seconds in the year 2000 to eight seconds now. That's less than the nine-second attention span of your average goldfish.

But the statistics are not all that they seem - and neither is the received wisdom about goldfish.

Producer/Presenter: Simon Maybin

(Image: Shutterstock/Goldfish)

The Concrete Facts About Trump\u2019s Wall And China2017031720170320 (WS)

Did China use more concrete in three years than the US in the 20th Century?

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

If the US is going to build a wall on their border with Mexico – it’s going to take a heck of a lot of concrete - millions of tonnes in fact. But as Wesley Stephenson finds out there is a unlikely winner from all this construction. But even with such a huge construction project the US is still a minnow when it comes to concrete use and it is often said that China used more concrete between 2008-2011 than the US did in the whole of the Twentieth Century. It sounds astonishing - but is it true?

Presenter/Producer: Wesley Stephenson

Image: Getty/Credit: David McNew / Stringer

The Concrete Facts About Trump’s Wall And China2017031720170320 (WS)

If the US is going to build a wall on their border with Mexico – it’s going to take a heck of a lot of concrete - millions of tonnes in fact. But as Wesley Stephenson finds out there is a unlikely winner from all this construction. But even with such a huge construction project the US is still a minnow when it comes to concrete use and it is often said that China used more concrete between 2008-2011 than the US did in the whole of the Twentieth Century. It sounds astonishing - but is it true?

Presenter/Producer: Wesley Stephenson

Image: Getty/Credit: David McNew / Stringer

Did China use more concrete in three years than the US in the 20th Century?

The Cost Of A Wedding Gift2016091620160919 (WS)

How much should spend when a couple get married?

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

Can economics help us work out the perfect amount to spend on a wedding gift? Our reporter Jordan Dunbar is in a tricky situation-he’s heading to an old friend’s wedding and needs to figure out how much to give as a gift without breaking the bank. Luckily, economist Maria Kozlovskaya is on hand to talk about her findings on what factors we need to consider for gift giving, as well as preserving Jordan’s friendship and wallet.

(Photo: Several gifts wrapped and on a table. Credit: Jayme Burrows/Shutterstock)

The Cost Of A Wedding Gift20160919

How much should spend when a couple get married?

Can economics help us work out the perfect amount to spend on a wedding gift? Our reporter Jordan Dunbar is in a tricky situation-he’s heading to an old friend’s wedding and needs to figure out how much to give as a gift without breaking the bank. Luckily, economist Maria Kozlovskaya is on hand to talk about her findings on what factors we need to consider for gift giving, as well as preserving Jordan’s friendship and wallet.

(Photo: Several gifts wrapped and on a table. Credit: Jayme Burrows/Shutterstock)

The Death Rate Of White Americans2017042120170424 (WS)
20170425 (WS)

Are middle-aged white Americans dying younger than other groups?

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

Throughout the 20th Century the developed world saw mortality rates fall and people lived longer and longer. But there is one group who may no longer be seeing a fall in their mortality rate –middle-aged White Americans. This is according to research from the eminent economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton. It is shocking research that adds to a view that times are tough for white working class men, a group that contributed to Donald Trump’s electoral success. But the work has been criticised for statistical problems and for not focusing enough on black Americans. Tim Harford attempts to explain what is really going on with mortality rates in the USA.

(Photo: Harmonica playing steel workers perched on a girder on the 22nd storey of the Murray Hill building, New York. Credit: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

The Death Rate Of White Americans € What’s Going On?2017042120170424 (WS)
20170425 (WS)

Throughout the 20th Century the developed world saw mortality rates fall and people lived longer and longer. But there is one group who may no longer be seeing a fall in their mortality rate –middle-aged White Americans. This is according to research from the eminent economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton. It is shocking research that adds to a view that times are tough for white working class men, a group that contributed to Donald Trump’s electoral success. But it is work that some have criticised for statistical problems and for not focusing enough on black Americans. Tim Harford attempts to explain what is really going on with mortality rates in the USA.

(Photo: Harmonica playing steel workers perched on a girder on the 22nd storey of the Murray Hill building, New York. Credit: General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)

Are middle-aged white Americans dying younger than other groups?

The Death Toll In Syria2013090720130908 (WS)
20130909 (WS)

How accurate are the reported death estimates in the Syrian conflict?

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

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

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

(Image: A man holds his forehead as he stands amongst rubble in Syria. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Elliptical Pool Table2015082120150822 (WS)
20150823 (WS)
20150824 (WS)

The geometric properties of an elliptical pool table.

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

The ancient Greeks saw magic in the geometry of an ellipse and now mathematical writer Alex Bellos has put this to use in a specially designed table for a specially designed game of pool.

Premier League predictions
If a Martian came to earth wanting to know where each team would finish in the English Premier League this season where should he go to get the most accurate prediction?

The ancient Greeks saw magic in the geometry of an ellipse and now mathematical writer Alex Bellos has put this to use in a specially designed table for a specially designed game of pool.

Premier League predictions

If a Martian came to earth wanting to know where each team would finish in the English Premier League this season where should he go to get the most accurate prediction?

The End Of The Penny.2013020920130210 (WS)

Canada has stopped distributing its smallest coin \u2013the one cent or the penny.

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

Canada has stopped distributing its smallest coin – the one cent or the penny. This week Ruth Alexander looks at why some countries get rid of their smallest coins and some just cannot part with them. She asks whether people really fall for so-called psychological prices that end in 99, rather than seeing them for the round numbers they really are. And which country has the coin with the smallest monetary value?

Image:Future of the Penny in Doubt Credit: Getty Images)

Ruth Alexander explains the numbers and statistics in the news and in life.

The Formula That Changed The World20120428
The Formula That Changed The World20120429

The Midas Formula. The story of Black-Scholes - the equation that transformed Wall Street.

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

The Future Of Food2015030720150308 (WS)

Do we need to produce more food by 2050 than we have in the past 10,000 years?

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

“In the next 40 years, humans will need to produce more food that they did in the previous 10,000,” claimed a recent edition of The Economist. Ruth Alexander and Hannah Moore look at whether this is true.

With the world’s population expected to reach nine billion by 2050, how confident can we be that everyone will have enough to eat?

(Image: Vegetable stall at Borough market in London. Credit: Press Association)

The Great Eu Cabbage Myth2016040120160404 (WS)

Does the European Union dedicate 26,911 words to cabbage regulation?

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

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

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

The Great Playing Field Sell Off?2012081820120819 (WS)

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)

The Hawthorne Effect2013101220131013 (WS)
20131014 (WS)

The social study that showed that workers are more productive if they are given attention

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

Tim Harford tells the story of the Hawthorne Experiments, one of the most famous social studies of the 20th Century.

The finding – that workers are more productive if they are given attention - became known as the Hawthorne Effect, and gave rise to the human resources sector. But did the experiments really prove the existence of this effect? Tim Harford speaks to John List, author of The Why Axis, who has tracked down some of the original Hawthorne data.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Ruth Alexander

The Hawthorne Effect2013101320131014 (WS)

Tim Harford tells the story of the Hawthorne Experiments, one of the most famous social studies of the 20th Century.

The finding – that workers are more productive if they are given attention - became known as the Hawthorne Effect, and gave rise to the human resources sector. But did the experiments really prove the existence of this effect? Tim Harford speaks to John List, author of The Why Axis, who has tracked down some of the original Hawthorne data.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander

The social study that showed that workers are more productive if they are given attention

The Ignorance Test2015041020150412 (WS)
20150413 (WS)

Can you pass world health expert Hans Rosling\u2019s Ignorance Test?

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

Professor Hans Rosling - perhaps best described as a kind of international development myth buster - delivers his Ignorance Test. Hans is a professor of international public health, and has started the Ignorance Project to investigate what people know and don’t know about the world. His organisation, Gapminder, uses surveys to ask people simple questions about key-aspects of global development. Most people do badly. Hans asked presenter Ruth Alexander three questions from his Ignorance Test. Can you do any better?

The Ignorance Test2017041420170417 (WS)
20170418 (WS)

How much do you know about the world?

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

Following the death of Professor Hans Rosling - perhaps best described as a kind of international development myth buster – we rebroadcast one of his interviews from the show. In this episode he delivers his Ignorance Test. Hans was a professor of international public health, and started the Ignorance Project to investigate what people know and don’t know about the world. His organisation, Gapminder, uses surveys to ask people simple questions about key-aspects of global development. Most people do badly. Hans asked presenter Ruth Alexander three questions from his Ignorance Test. Can you do any better?

(Photo: Hans Rosling, Statistician, Founder of Gapminder speaks about the impact of growing global population on resources at the ReSource 2012 conference Credit: Matthew Lloyd)

Following the death of Professor Hans Rosling - perhaps best described as a kind of international development myth buster – we rebroadcast one of his interviews from the show. In this episode he delivers his Ignorance Test. Hans was a professor of international public health, and started the Ignorance Project to investigate what people know and don’t know about the world. His organisation, Gapminder, uses surveys to ask people simple questions about key-aspects of global development. Most people do badly. Hans asked presenter Ruth Alexander three questions from his Ignorance Test. Can you do any better?

(Photo: Hans Rosling, Statistician, Founder of Gapminder speaks about the impact of growing global population on resources at the ReSource 2012 conference Credit: Matthew Lloyd)

The Ignorance Test20170417

How much do you know about the world?

The Life Expectancy Of A Pope2016041520160418 (WS)

Statistics show that the Head of the Catholic Church can expect to live to an old age

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

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

The Curse of the London Olympics
In a similar vein, is there an unusually high death count among athletes who took part in the London Olympics in 2012? The French press seem to think there is. Currently news reports estimate that 18 people have so far died since taking part in the sports event. The athletes come from teams around the world and have died from all sorts of causes – from cancer to drowning, murder, suicide, a helicopter crash among other things. But is there really a link between taking part in the London Olympics and the chances of dying? Or is it to be expected, statistically speaking, that 18 people have died over the last four years?

(Photo: Pope Francis. Credit: European Photo press Agency)

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

The Curse of the London Olympics

In a similar vein, is there an unusually high death count among athletes who took part in the London Olympics in 2012? The French press seem to think there is. Currently news reports estimate that 18 people have so far died since taking part in the sports event. The athletes come from teams around the world and have died from all sorts of causes – from cancer to drowning, murder, suicide, a helicopter crash among other things. But is there really a link between taking part in the London Olympics and the chances of dying? Or is it to be expected, statistically speaking, that 18 people have died over the last four years?

(Photo: Pope Francis. Credit: European Photo press Agency)

The Magic Of Maths2013081720130818 (WS)
20130819 (WS)

How a love of magic led to a love of maths for Stanford professor Persi Diaconis

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

Tim Harford speaks to Persi Diaconis, top professor of maths and statistics and legendary magician. The Stanford University professor and co-author of the book Magical Mathematics has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy - and as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick.

(Image: Lane the Conjuror. Credit: Getty Images)

The Magic Of Maths2013081820130819 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to Persi Diaconis about how a love of magic led to a love of maths.

Tim Harford speaks to Persi Diaconis, top professor of maths and statistics and legendary magician. The Stanford University professor and co-author of the book "Magical Mathematics" has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy, and then, as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick - see the performance below.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Image Title: Lane The Conjuror, credit: Getty Images

The Mathematical Secrets To Relationships2015021420150215 (WS)

How maths can help you find love, and hold on to it. Plus, listeners\u2019 favourite stats

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

In celebration of Valentine’s Day, Tim Harford interviews Hannah Fry, author of a new book The Mathematics of Love. Should you be bold and approach people at parties? Should you compromise in a relationship or is disagreement healthy? Hannah explains how equations have revealed some of the answers to finding a lasting relationship.

Plus, we hear a collection of our listeners’ favourite statistics.

(Photo: Valentine's day rose and chocolates. Credit: Press Association)

The Maths Of Dating2015013120150201 (WS)
20150203 (WS)

How to use mathematics to find your partner. And, how reliable are pregnancy due dates?

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

How to use mathematics to find your life partner, with Matt Parker, author of Things to Make and Do in the Fourth Dimension. And, what are the chances that two friends, given the same due date for their babies' birth, actually do give birth on the same day? Tim discusses the reliability - or otherwise - of pregnancy due dates with professor Jason Gardosi of the Perinatal Institute in the UK.

Image: Two people, in symmetry making a heart with their hands, Credit: Thinkstock

The Maths Of Infidelity2012052620120527

It’s a very commonly-held belief that men are less faithful than women But it takes two to tango. So can this be mathematically possible? And we answer a cry for help from an Australian listener who wants to be “a bit more average?

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

The Maths Of Infidelity20120527

It's often said men are less faithful than women. Is that mathematically possible?

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

It's a very commonly-held belief that men are less faithful than women - but it takes two to tango.

So can this be mathematically possible?

And we answer a cry for help from an Australian listener who wants to be "a bit more average".

(Image: A couple kissing in bed. Credit: Royalty-Free/CORBIS)

The Maths Of Mozart And Birds2013050420130505 (WS)
20130506 (WS)

The maths behind Mozart's opera The Magic Flute

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

"In America each day, more than 2 million birds die crashing into window panes” - a fact from a recent episode of a BBC quiz show, The Unbelievable Truth. And according to the British Trust for Ornithology, 100 million crash into windows in the UK each year, with a third dying as a result. These are oft-repeated facts, but are they true? Tim Harford investigates.

Mozart’s final opera, The Magic Flute, premiered just ten weeks before the composer’s death, was the biggest hit of his life. With its pantomime-style storyline and catchy tunes, it is said to be one of the most accessible operas for the uninitiated. But, there is an awful lot going on beneath the jokes and the musical notes. Mathematician Marcus du Sautoy recently took to the stage at London’s Royal Opera House to give a mathematical reading of The Magic Flute. BBC’s Charlotte McDonald was in the audience.

The Maths Of Spies And Terrorists2013060120130602 (WS)
20130603 (WS)

How feasible is it for the authorities to keep track of everyone on their watch list?

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

In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the killing of a British soldier on the streets of Woolwich in London, it emerged that the suspects were known to the security services. But how feasible is it for the authorities to keep track of everyone on their watch list?

Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale's names have become well known since they became key suspects in the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in a street attack in Woolwich on 22 May. But it has transpired that they were already familiar names to the UK’s domestic intelligence service, MI5. The UK Parliament's Intelligence and Security Committee is to investigate the security service's actions in relation to the case.

Boston bomb suspect Tamerlan Tsarnaev was questioned in 2011 amid claims he had adopted radical Islam. But is it practical - or even possible - to keep close tabs on every person who comes to the attention of the security services?

Tim Harford crunches the numbers with the help of former head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington; Howard Wainer, distinguished research scientist at the National Board of Medical Examiners; and Professor Louise Amore, a security data analytics expert from Durham University.

The Numbers Of 2013 - Part One2013122820131230 (WS)

The most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year

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

A guide to 2013 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees.
The contributors are: David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC Chief Business Correspondent; and Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets.

Producer: Ben Carter

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

The contributors are: David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC Chief Business Correspondent; and Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets.

Producer: Ben Carter

The Numbers Of 2013 - Part Two2014010420140106 (WS)

The most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year

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

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

The contributors are: Dr Pippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, comedian and presenter.

Producer: Ben Carter

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

The contributors are: Dr Pippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, comedian and presenter.

Producer: Ben Carter

The Parable Of The Ox20130105

Tim Harford tells us about a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition.

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

Tim Harford tells us what a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition tells us about a bloated and disfunctional financial system. It features two noted economics writers: James Surowiecki of the New Yorker and John Kay of the Financial Times and a brand new composition from the legendary Radiophonic Workshop.

Tim Harford tells us what a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition tells us about a bloated and disfunctional financial system. It features two noted economics writers: James Surowiecki of the New Yorker and John Kay of the Financial Times and a brand new composition from the legendary Radiophonic Workshop.

The Piketty Affair2014053020140601 (WS)
20140602 (WS)

Did \u2018rock-star\u2019 French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong?

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

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

But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty’s data on wealth. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty’s response.

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

Did ‘rock-star’ French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong?

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

But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty’s data on wealth. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty’s response.

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

The Prevalence Of Paedophilia2014072520140727 (WS)
20140728 (WS)

If 2% of Catholic clergy are paedophiles how does this compare to the rest of society?

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

The Pope was reported to have said that 2% of Catholic clergy were paedophiles. Is this a big number? Wesley Stephenson looks at the research on the prevalence of paedophilia and how the Catholic clergy compare to the world's population as a whole.

(Image: Pope Francis Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Rise Of The Giants?2015091820150919 (WS)
20150920 (WS)
20150921 (WS)

Are rugby players getting bigger and bigger?

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

The average rugby pack is much bigger than it was 20 years ago but has the growth finally plateaued?

Living Blue Planet Index
A report says populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, but what does this actually mean?

(Photo: England's number eight Billy Vunipola looks at a ball. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The average rugby pack is much bigger than it was 20 years ago but has the growth finally plateaued?

Living Blue Planet Index

A report says populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, but what does this actually mean?

(Photo: England's number eight Billy Vunipola looks at a ball. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

The Safest Car In The World?2018090820180909 (WS)
20180910 (WS)
20180911 (WS)

A listener asks whether his Volvo is the safest car on the road

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

A listener asks whether his Volvo is the safest car on the road. The world’s automotive press has reported no one has ever died at the wheel of a XC90 in the UK. We fact-check the claim, and find out about the new technology saving lives and changing the cars we drive.

With the advances being made in self driving cars, we are already seeing huge changes to cars on the road today. Automatic braking systems it’s claimed are as significant to car safety as the seat belt. Cars are now taking control of themselves to prevent accidents.

But the picture across the world is very different when it comes to regulations and safety testing; we look at the numbers behind this revolution in driving.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Jordan Dunbar

(Image: A car and crash test dummy after a frontal collision test. Photo credit: Bertrand Guay/Getty Images)

The Story Of Average2016040820160411 (WS)

How astronomers introduced the world to the average.

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

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

(Image: Illustration of an observatory. Credit: Shutterstock)

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

(Image: Illustration of an observatory. Credit: Shutterstock)

The Tour De France2014071820140720 (WS)
20140721 (WS)

What is the best body type to win the Tour de France's yellow jersey?

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

The Tour de France has reached the mountains, but what does it take to be a good climber and why are the cyclists thin and bony, while sprinters are bigger with bulging muscles? And what is the best body type to win the yellow jersey?

Also are 24,000 people really killed by lightning each year?

Picture: The Tour de France, Credit: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

The Tour de France has reached the mountains, but what does it take to be a good climber and why are the cyclists thin and bony, while sprinters are bigger with bulging muscles? And what is the best body type to win the yellow jersey?

Also are 24,000 people really killed by lightning each year?

Picture: The Tour de France, Credit: Eric Feferberg/AFP/Getty Images

The Tour De France And The Statistics Of Cheating2012072120120722
20120722 (WS)

The Tour de France, we are told, has finally cleaned up its act and clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

But if it has, should we expect today's drug-free riders to be slower than their drug-fuelled forebears? Can statistics tell us whether the Tour de France really is cleaner than it was?

Also in the programme - does when you retire influence when you die?

(Image: The peloton climbs the Cote de Burs during stage seventeen of the 2012 Tour de France from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes. Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

Can maths prove whether the Tour de France has clamped down on the use of banned drugs?

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

The Tour De France And The Statistics Of Cheating20120722

Can maths prove whether the Tour de France has clamped down on the use of banned drugs?

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

The Tour de France, we are told, has finally cleaned up its act and clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

But if it has, should we expect today's drug-free riders to be slower than their drug-fuelled forebears? Can statistics tell us whether the Tour de France really is cleaner than it was?

Also in the programme - does when you retire influence when you die?

(Image: The peloton climbs the Cote de Burs during stage seventeen of the 2012 Tour de France from Bagneres-de-Luchon to Peyragudes. Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Trump Bump20170821

President Trump has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair?

During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had in the history of our country.? This is not the first time the American President has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair? We take a look at the numbers.

(Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to auto workers at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Credit: Getty Images)

During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had I the history of our country.? This is not the first time the American President has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair? We take a look at the numbers.

(Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to auto workers at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Credit: Getty Images)

The Uk Vs Mississippi2014091920140921 (WS)
20140922 (WS)

Is Britain really poorer than every US state, except for Mississippi?

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

Is Britain poorer than every US state, except for Mississippi? Journalist Fraser Nelson calculates that’s the case. Tim Harford speaks to economist Chris Dillow about why he is right. Late last year BBC Trending referred to Eritrea as ‘tiny’. Listeners complained and the complaint was upheld. More or Less talks to Trending producer Mukul Devichand and asks whether any country can rightly be called ‘tiny’.

The Uk\u2019s Foreign Secretary Gets A Factcheck2017042820170501 (WS)
20170502 (WS)

In an interview, Boris Johnson mentioned a few statistics that turned out to be untrue

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

The British prime minister surprised the country by calling a General Election for 8 June. This week UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson went on the Today programme and in a wide-ranging interview, he mentioned a few statistics that leapt out as being untrue. Two of these we have explored on the programme previously – the £350 million figure so widely mentioned in the UK Referendum, and the idea that London is one of the biggest French cities.

The UK’s Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said recently that living standards are falling. This was one of the points he made in response to Theresa May's announcement of a snap General Election. It is not the first time he has made this claim and so we decided to check it out. Tim Harford finds out from senior economist Jonathan Cribb at the Institute for Fiscal Studies, that there have been some interesting twists and turns to living standards.

(Photo: Foreign secretary Boris Johnson arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street. Credit: Getty Images)

The Uk’s Foreign Secretary Gets A Factcheck20170501

In an interview, Boris Johnson mentioned a few statistics that turned out to be untrue.

The Winter Olympics2018022420180225 (WS)
20180226 (WS)
20180227 (WS)

Which is the most successful country? Plus the chances of a dead heat.

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

This week we are answering a range of statistical questions from listeners about the Winter Olympics.

What’s the most successful nation? We see if the medal table tells the whole story, or if factors like population, GDP per capita and snowfall change what we’d expect each country to achieve.

Plus, what do we mean when we talk about a nation having their most successful games ever?
The two-man bobsleigh event ended in a dead heat with both Canada and Germany achieving a time of three minutes 16.86 seconds.

News outlets called it ‘the first time since 1998’ but is this true and what is the likelihood of a dead heat result in a bobsleigh competition?

(image: Canadians Alexander Kopacz and Justin Kripps and Germans Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis celebrate winning joint-Gold in the 2 man bobsleigh at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.Credit:Tom Pennington/Getty Images.)

The Winter Olympics20180225

This week we are answering a range of statistical questions from listeners about the Winter Olympics.

What’s the most successful nation? We see if the medal table tells the whole story, or if factors like population, GDP per capita and snowfall change what we’d expect each country to achieve.

Plus, what do we mean when we talk about a nation having their most successful games ever?
The two-man bobsleigh event ended in a dead heat with both Canada and Germany achieving a time of three minutes 16.86 seconds.

News outlets called it ‘the first time since 1998’ but is this true and what is the likelihood of a dead heat result in a bobsleigh competition?

(image: Canadians Alexander Kopacz and Justin Kripps and Germans Francesco Friedrich and Thorsten Margis celebrate winning joint-Gold in the 2 man bobsleigh at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.Credit:Tom Pennington/Getty Images.)

Which is the most successful country? Plus the chances of a dead heat.

The World\u2019s Most Diverse City2016051320160516 (WS)

Is it true that London is the most diverse city in the world?

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

Is London the most diverse city in the world? The new London mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed that it is, but is he right? How is diversity measured?

This month, British mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles will go to Oslo to collect the Abel prize, a prestigious maths prize for his work proving Fermat’s last theorem. Science author Simon Singh explains his work.

(Photo: A street in Brixton, London. Credit: Getty Images)

The World’s Most Diverse City2016051320160516 (WS)

Is London the most diverse city in the world? The new London mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed that it is, but is he right? How is diversity measured?

This month, British mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles will go to Oslo to collect the Abel prize, a prestigious maths prize for his work proving Fermat’s last theorem. Science author Simon Singh explains his work.

(Photo: A street in Brixton, London. Credit: Getty Images)

Is it true that London is the most diverse city in the world?

The World's Most Profitable Product2016052020160523 (WS)

Is the iPhone the most profitable product in history? What are the other contenders?

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

Recently one of our listeners contacted us to say he heard a BBC correspondent describe the iPhone as the most profitable product in history. It was just an off-the-cuff comment but it got us thinking - could it be true? We compare and contrast a range of products suggested by More or Less listeners to work out if the iPhone truly is the most profitable.

Producer: Laura Gray

(Image: An iPhone on a pile of coins. Credt: Shutterstock)

Recently one of our listeners contacted us to say he heard a BBC correspondent describe the iPhone as the most profitable product in history. It was just an off-the-cuff comment but it got us thinking - could it be true? We compare and contrast a range of products suggested by More or Less listeners to work out if the iPhone truly is the most profitable.

Producer: Laura Gray

(Image: An iPhone on a pile of coins. Credt: Shutterstock)

To Ice Or Not To Ice?2014090520140907 (WS)
20140908 (WS)

The ALS ice bucket challenge has made $100m. How should we choose charities to donate to?

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

The ALS ice bucket challenge has become a viral phenomenon. People around the world have been dousing themselves in ice-cold water and in the process have raised over $100m for charity. But a true nerd doesn't run with the herd, and Tim Harford is only going to do the challenge if the facts stack up. He investigates whether a viral challenge like this is good for charitable giving overall, and whether there are reasons to be more choosy about the charities we give to.

(Image: KISS ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Credit: Getty Images)

The ALS ice bucket challenge has become a viral phenomenon. People around the world have been dousing themselves in ice-cold water and in the process have raised over $100m for charity. But a true nerd doesn't run with the herd, and Tim Harford is only going to do the challenge if the facts stack up. He investigates whether a viral challenge like this is good for charitable giving overall, and whether there are reasons to be more choosy about the charities we give to.

(Image: KISS ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Credit: Getty Images)

Tracking And Tackling Ebola2014110820141109 (WS)

We speak to global health expert Hans Rosling about the numbers surrounding Ebola.

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

We talk to global health expert and data visionary, Hans Rosling, who has just arrived in Liberia. He is working as an independent professor at the Health ministry there, as part of the team tracking and tackling Ebola. We look at the latest numbers surrounding the virus.

(Image: University Of Oxford and its Smith School Of Enterprise And Environment host ReSource 2012. Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Stringer/Getty)

We talk to global health expert and data visionary, Hans Rosling, who has just arrived in Liberia. He is working as an independent professor at the Health ministry there, as part of the team tracking and tackling Ebola. We look at the latest numbers surrounding the virus.

(Image: University Of Oxford and its Smith School Of Enterprise And Environment host ReSource 2012. Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Stringer/Getty)

Trouble On The Greek Railways20120512
Trouble On The Greek Railways20120513

Is Greek rail so inefficient it would be cheaper to send every passenger by taxi?

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

Is the Greek rail network so inefficient it would be cheaper to send every Greek rail passenger by taxi instead?

Also in this week's programme, a number of global companies have seen significant shareholder rebellions over executive pay in recent weeks.

Are shareholders right to question whether they are getting good value for money from their CEOs?

New research suggests they are.

(Image: A Greek railway employee signals for departing and arriving trains at Athens main train station. Credit: Reuters)

Trump And The Puerto Rico Death Toll2018092220180923 (WS)
20180924 (WS)
20180925 (WS)

How can we calculate excess mortality after a natural disaster?

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

On the 20 September 2017 Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, a self-governing overseas territory of the United States. George Washington University has published a report – commissioned by the Puerto Rican government – claiming that the hurricane accounted for nearly 3,000 deaths in Puerto Rico. President Trump disputed these official figures, tweeting that the Democrats were inflating the death toll to "make me look as bad as possible". So, who is right, and how do you determine who died as a result of a natural disaster? We look at what is meant by the term ‘excess death’ and whether Hurricane Maria was less deadly than the 2005 Hurricane Katrina which officials say claimed 1,833 lives. Tim Harford speaks to Dr Carlos Santos-Burgoa lead investigator of the George Washington University report to find out whose numbers add up.

Producer: Lizzy McNeill
Presenter: Tim Harford

Trump Bump?2017082020170821 (WS)

President Trump has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair?

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

During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had in the history of our country.” This is not the first time the American President has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair? We take a look at the numbers.

(Photo: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to auto workers at the American Center for Mobility in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Credit: Getty Images)

Trump\u2019s Crime Claims2016092320160926 (WS)

Are some US inner cities more dangerous than Afghanistan?

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

This week Donald Trump claimed that there are some inner city areas in the US which are suffering from the worst crime rates ever. They are so dangerous, he says, that Afghanistan is safer than many of these areas. But could this be true? We take a look at crime in the US and assess whether you can compare it to a conflict zone such as Afghanistan.

(Image: Chicago - Neighbourhood residents watch as police investigate a homicide scene. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Trump’s Crime Claims2016092320160926 (WS)

This week Donald Trump claimed that there are some inner city areas in the US which are suffering from the worst crime rates ever. They are so dangerous, he says, that Afghanistan is safer than many of these areas. But could this be true? We take a look at crime in the US and assess whether you can compare it to a conflict zone such as Afghanistan.

(Image: Chicago - Neighbourhood residents watch as police investigate a homicide scene. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Are some US inner cities more dangerous than Afghanistan?

Tulipmania Mythology2018051220180513 (WS)
20180514 (WS)
20180515 (WS)

What is the truth behind the 17th Century Dutch craze for tulips?

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

The story goes that Amsterdam in the 1630s was gripped by a mania for tulip flowers. But then there was a crash in the market. People ended up bankrupt and threw themselves into canals. This story is still being trotted out when people talk about financial markets lately as a comparison to buying and selling bitcoin. But how much of what we know of the tulip craze is fact, and how much is myth? We speak to Anne Goldgar at Kings College London who explains all.

(Photo: Tulips, Credit: Shutterstock)

The story goes that Amsterdam in the 1630’s was gripped by a mania for Tulip flowers. But then there was a crash in the market. People ended up bankrupt and threw themselves into canals. This story is still being trotted out when people talk about financial markets, lately as a comparison to buying and selling bitcoin. But how much of what we know of the Tulip craze is fact, and how much is myth? We speak to Anne Goldgar at Kings College London who explains all.

(Photo: Tulips, Credit: Shutterstock)

Uganda's Refugees2017052120170522 (WS)
20170523 (WS)

Has Uganda accepted more refugees than some European countries manage in an entire year?

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

Has Uganda been accepting more refugees on a daily basis than some European countries manage in an entire year? That is the claim from the Norwegian Refugee Council – and it is a claim we put to the test.
Civil war and famine in South Sudan have forced millions to leave their homes, and this has had a colossal impact on neighbouring Uganda. We speak to Gopolang Makou, a researcher at Africa Check who has some startling figures to share.

(Photo: Children wait as WFP, 'World Food Programme' prepare to deliver food aid at the Bidi Bidi refugee camp. Credit: Getty Images)

Uk Election: Was It The Youth Vote?2017061820170619 (WS)
20170620 (WS)

What do the general election results mean? Did more young people vote than expected?

Tim 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

Us Convictions20121103

Do 99.5% of prosecutions in the US end up in convictions as Conrad Black claims?

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

Conrad Black, the former newspaper executive recently released from prison in the United States, has claimed that 99.5% of prosecution cases in America end up in convictions. On More or Less this week we ask whether it’s really this high and try to estimate how this compares to the number of convictions in other parts of the world.

Plus, a recent study says that one in eight Australians live in poverty. This indeed seems to be true, but a ‘loyal listener’ asks how this can be the case in such a developed nation. We look at how poverty is measured across the world.

Vaccines: The Importance Of The Herd And Social Media2018102720181028 (WS)
20181029 (WS)
20181030 (WS)

What proportion of a population needs to be vaccinated to stop a disease spreading?

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

Violence, Shootings And The Police In The Us2016071520160718 (WS)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers surrounding police shootings in the USA.

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

Protests have spread across the United States over the last few weeks. The protestors have been registering their feelings about incidents where police have shot and killed black men. High profile recent incidents resulted in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castle, and the protestors feel that minorities are being disproportionately targeted by the police.

On top of this, at a recent protest in Dallas a gunman shot and killed five police officers.

But what can the numbers tell us about the issue? How many people do police officers kill each year in the USA? And how many police officers are killed? Tim Harford investigates.

(Photo: Police officers stand guard at a barricade following the sniper shooting in Dallas. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Weight Of The World2012062320120624
Weight Of The World20120624

How fat could we get? Plus, statistics to the rescue in Pacquiao-Bradley boxing row.

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

Were \u2018extra\u2019 Votes Counted In Russia\u2019s Presidential Election?2018032420180325 (WS)
20180326 (WS)
20180327 (WS)

We look at voting data to investigate allegations of election fraud in Russia

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

Last week Vladimir Putin won a second consecutive and fourth overall term as the Russian president. Official polling results from the election show he received over 76% of the vote, with a total turnout of 67%, but there were also widespread allegations of irregularities including inflated turnout figures. More or Less takes a closer look at the election data from Russia to see if these complaints have merit.

(Photo: A man walks out of a voting booth at a polling station during Russia's presidential election. Credit: Sergei Gapon/Getty Images)

Were Extra Votes Counted In Russias Presidential Election?20180324
What Happened Last Night In Sweden?2017022420170227 (WS)

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

Ruth Alexander tells the strange tale that connects Donald Trump, rape in Sweden, immigration and her reporting on More or Less.

Presenter: Ruth Alexander / Producer: Richard Vadon

What Is "rare"?20121215

When we say something is rare what do we mean?

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

When we say something is rare what do we mean? Lightning strikes which typically kill three people a year in the UK are often described as rare but how do we square that with a condition like motor neurone disease which is also described as rare yet kills 1500 people a year in the UK.

Also we speak to Nassim Taleb about his book Anti-fragility.

What Is The Most Visited Country In The World?2013080320130804 (WS)
20130805 (WS)

Which countries top the most visited country list and how much do tourists spend there?

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

This week we find out what the most visited country in the world is and ask why aren’t they capitalising financially as well as their rivals. Plus, we also investigate the complex - and often controversial - web of international extradition treaties. The programme hears from extradition lawyer Anand Doobay, from Peters and Peters, and Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations in Washington DC.

What Is The World's Average Salary?20120324
What Is The World's Average Salary?20120325

Tim Harford explores income equality, and ranks the world's top militaries.

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

If there were perfect income equality worldwide so that everybody earned the same amount of money, how much would we each earn?

And what is the average employee wage across the world?

Tim Harford answers both these questions.

And he attempts to rank the world's top military forces.

(Image: Foreign currency notes. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

When \u00a310,000 Isn\u2019t A Good Incentive2016021920160222 (WS)

Could no prize have been a better way to motivate snooker player Ronnie O\u2019Sullivan?

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

British snooker player Ronnie O’ Sullivan decided not to complete a maximum 147 this week because he said the prize money was too low. “If it had been more, I'd have gone for the 147” he told BBC Sport. Can incentives demotivate as well as motivate people, what makes a good incentive and do they really work?

And how do you measure a coastline? It’s trickier than you might think.

Presenter: Wesley Stephenson

(Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan. Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty)

When £10,000 Isn’t A Good Incentive2016021920160222 (WS)

Could no prize have been a better way to motivate snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan?

British snooker player Ronnie O’ Sullivan decided not to complete a maximum 147 this week because he said the prize money was too low. “If it had been more, I'd have gone for the 147? he told BBC Sport. Can incentives demotivate as well as motivate people, what makes a good incentive and do they really work?

And how do you measure a coastline? It’s trickier than you might think.

Presenter: Wesley Stephenson

(Image: Ronnie O'Sullivan. Credit: Adrian Dennis/AFP/Getty)

When Companies Track Your Life2016061720160620 (WS)

How are companies using our personal data?

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

How are companies using our personal data? It is a familiar concern. Online retailers are tracking us so they can sell things to us. Bricks and mortar retailers have loyalty card schemes. Our banks and credit card companies know all about us. And of course, the big computer and telecoms companies could potentially track our internet searches, our phone calls – even our location as we wander around. But this isn’t the first time that large corporations have gathered sensitive data about their customers. We tell the shadowy story of how the personal details of Americans were pooled among insurance companies more than a hundred years ago.

(Photo: A police CCTV camera observes a woman walking. Credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

How are companies using our personal data? It is a familiar concern. Online retailers are tracking us so they can sell things to us. Bricks and mortar retailers have loyalty card schemes. Our banks and credit card companies know all about us. And of course, the big computer and telecoms companies could potentially track our internet searches, our phone calls – even our location as we wander around. But this isn’t the first time that large corporations have gathered sensitive data about their customers. We tell the shadowy story of how the personal details of Americans were pooled among insurance companies more than a hundred years ago.

(Photo: A police CCTV camera observes a woman walking. Credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)

Where Are All The Us Paralympics Gold Medals?2012090820120909 (WS)

Why did the USA top the gold medals league in the Olympics, but not the Paralympics?

Ruth Alexander examines the performance numbers of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and discovers which countries are punching above their weight, and which below.

Plus, how many songs could ever be written?

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

(Image: (L-R) Arnu Fourie of South Africa, Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, Richard Browne of the United States, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, and Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of Brazil, compete in the T44 100m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

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

Where Are All The Us Paralympics Gold Medals?20120909

Why did the USA top the gold medals league in the Olympics, but not the Paralympics?

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

Why did the USA top the gold medals league in the Olympics, but not the Paralympics?

Ruth Alexander examines the performance numbers of the London 2012 Paralympic Games, and discovers which countries are punching above their weight, and which below.

Plus, how many songs could ever be written?

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

(Image: (L-R) Arnu Fourie of South Africa, Jonnie Peacock of Great Britain, Richard Browne of the United States, Oscar Pistorius of South Africa, and Alan Fonteles Cardoso Oliveira of Brazil, compete in the T44 100m at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

Where Could We Fit The Entire World\u2019s Population?2013081020130811 (WS)
20130812 (WS)

Where could we fit the entire world\u2019s population and the effectiveness of soccer managers?

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

If all the world’s population crowded together, where could we all fit? London? Texas? More or Less figures it out, and separates fact from fiction. And, as the soccer season returns, is it possible to measure the effectiveness of a team’s manager? We hear from David Sally, author of The Numbers Game.

Where Could We Fit The Entire World’s Population?2013081120130812 (WS)

Where could we fit the entire world’s population and the effectiveness of soccer managers?

If all the world’s population crowded together, where could we all fit? London? Texas? More or Less figures it out, and separates fact from fiction. And, as the soccer season returns, is it possible to measure the effectiveness of a team’s manager? We hear from David Sally, author of The Numbers Game.

Which Is The World's Biggest City?20120128
Which Is The World's Biggest City?20120129

Tim Harford asks which is the world's biggest city - not as simple a query as it seems.

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

SIZING UP CITIES
"Chongqing has become the largest city not only in China but in the world", the media has proclaimed.

More or Less casts doubt on both those claims.

So which is the world's biggest city, and what is its population?

Two simple questions that we discover are surprisingly difficult to answer. Luckily, geographers Professor Kam Wing Chan, of the University of Washington, and Rich Greene, of the University of Northern Illinois, are on hand to help out.

WEIGHING THE WORLD
Has the world got heavier or lighter since the industrial revolution?

It's a question posed by a More or Less listener that got us wondering, too.

Dr Chris Smith, part of a group of Cambridge University researchers, known as the Naked Scientists, reckons he's worked out the answer.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: Tokyo skyline at sunset. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Who Are The Libor Losers?2012071420120715

How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system?

After all, most financial trades are two way bets - and for every winner, there is a loser.

Did the banks really pick our pockets as they manipulated Libor?

Or were they just picking each others’?

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

Who Are The Libor Losers?20120715

How much damage did messing with Libor actually do to the financial system?

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

Who Won The Us Presidential Debate?2016093020161003 (WS)

Polling on the Clinton-Trump TV showdown \u2013 and why not all polls are equal

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

Polling on the first TV debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be divided over who won it. But not all polls are equal. If the people being polled are not representative of the population at large, then their responses may not tell you anything useful. And, when internet polls can be hijacked by online activists, they can throw up some pretty strange results.

(Photo: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton first presidential debate. Credit: Getty Images)

Polling on the first TV debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be divided over who won it. But not all polls are equal. If the people being polled are not representative of the population at large, then their responses may not tell you anything useful. And, when internet polls can be hijacked by online activists, they can throw up some pretty strange results.

(Photo: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton first presidential debate. Credit: Getty Images)

Polling on the Clinton-Trump TV showdown – and why not all polls are equal

Why Albums Are Getting Longer2017111120171112 (WS)
20171113 (WS)
20171114 (WS)

More or less finds out the numbers that are changing modern music.

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

Chris Brown’s latest album is stuffed with so many songs it runs at a sprawling two hours and twenty minutes. It’s only the latest in a string of lengthy album releases that includes artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Lil B. More or Less speaks to Hugh McIntyre, a music journalist who has found out that a numerical change in the way the album charts are measured is tempting artists into making longer albums.

We also talk to Marc Hogan, a senior writer at Pitchfork, about a number that is changing the sound of pop music. You can find more of Marc Hogan's writing on pitchfork.com.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar Producer: Xavier Zapata

(Image: Chris Brown performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Why Albums Are Getting Longer20171112

More or less finds out the numbers that are changing modern music.

Chris Brown’s latest album is stuffed with so many songs it runs at a sprawling two hours and twenty minutes. It’s only the latest in a string of lengthy album releases that includes artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Lil B. More or Less speaks to Hugh McIntyre, a music journalist who has found out that a numerical change in the way the album charts are measured is tempting artists into making longer albums.

We also talk to Marc Hogan, a senior writer at Pitchfork, about a number that is changing the sound of pop music. You can find more of Marc Hogan's writing on pitchfork.com.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar Producer: Xavier Zapata

(Image: Chris Brown performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Chris Brown’s latest album is stuffed with so many songs it runs at a sprawling two hours and twenty minutes. It’s only the latest in a string of lengthy album releases that includes artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Lil B. More or Less speaks to Hugh McIntyre, a music journalist who has found out that a numerical change in the way the album charts are measured is tempting artists into making longer albums.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar Producer: Xavier Zapata

(Image: Chris Brown performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

Why Apple Isn't Worth More Than Poland20120310
Why Apple Isn't Worth More Than Poland20120311

Tim Harford debunks reports that Apple is bigger than Poland, and probes safe water goal.

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

Tim Harford explains why the technology giant Apple is not bigger than Poland, as media reports have claimed.

He explores more meaningful ways to compare the relative size of companies and countries.

And he finds that although Apple may not be worth more than Poland, it could still be considered one of the biggest 'economies' in the world.

HOW SAFE IS SAFE?
Tim scrutinises the claim that the Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of schedule.

The World Health Organisation, which along with Unicef announced that the target had been met, concedes that the numbers are not actually that certain.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

(Image: A Sudanese child drinking clean water. Credit: AFP/Getty Images)

Why Are Hollywood Actresses Paid Less Than Men?2017030320170306 (WS)

The Hollywood gender pay gap is big. Charlotte McDonald asks why.

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

There has been a steady stream of top Hollywood actresses who have complained that they have been paid less than their male co-stars. Meryl Streep, Jennifer Lawrence and Natalie Portman have all pointed out the disparity. So why in the 21st Century is this still the case? There have been several theories from the idea that men simply get given all the best roles in the highest grossing movies, to women not negotiating hard enough. Which is right? Charlotte McDonald has been investigating.

Presenter :Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Jennifer Lawrence at the Oscars. Getty Images/Valerie Macon

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181007 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Adshade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181008 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Adshade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181009 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Adshade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181007 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181008 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?2018100620181009 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why Are Lesbians More Likely To Divorce Than Gay Men?2018100620181009 (WS)
20181008 (WS)
20181007 (WS)

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Tim Harford talks to economist Marina Ashdade about same-sex divorce statistics.

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

Why Is Kenya\u2019s Election So Expensive?2017080620170807 (WS)
20170808 (WS)

Why the cost of running the vote will be $25 a person.

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

On Tuesday Kenyans go to the polls to elect members of parliament and the next president. A report in Quartz Africa has estimated that the cost of putting on the election by the Government works out at around $25 per head – $480 million in total. It also estimated that it cost Rwanda $1 a head, and Uganda $4 a head to lay on elections. Recently an expert on this programme estimated that the UK General election cost about $4 a head. We explore why there is such a difference in the amounts spent.

(image: Staff from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sort ballots for counting at a polling station in Kenya during the last election. Credit: Georgina Goodwin/Getty Images)

Why Is Kenya’s Election So Expensive?20170807

Why the cost of running the vote will be $25 a person.

On Tuesday Kenyans go to the polls to elect members of parliament and the next president. A report in Quartz Africa has estimated that the cost of putting on the election by the Government works out at around $25 per head – $480 million in total. It also estimated that it cost Rwanda $1 a head, and Uganda $4 a head to lay on elections. Recently an expert on this programme estimated that the UK General election cost about $4 a head. We explore why there is such a difference in the amounts spent.

(image: Staff from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) sort ballots for counting at a polling station in Kenya during the last election. Credit: Georgina Goodwin/Getty Images)

Why January Makes Us Want To Scream2017012020170123 (WS)

Blue Monday and Oxfam\u2019s claims about billionaires\u2013the stories that come around every year

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

There are two things that you can be sure of in January and both of them make us want to scream. Firstly, Oxfam put out their ‘x number of billionaires hold the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’ stat. But as we’ve said in the past the comparison doesn’t make sense. The bottom half can include people with a pretty comfortable income but just because they have lots of debt they has negative wealth and on the other hand there could be people with barely any income – living off less than $1.25 a day - who have a small asset, such as a bike or a shack who are way up the wealth distribution.

The second head-banger is ‘Blue Monday’, the formula that supposedly tells us that the third Monday in January is when people are at their saddest. It’s like a virus that has infected the media. Each year it appears on different press releases promoting different products and the press lap it up. But there is no science to it at all. The formula is a stupid invention dreamt up to promote a TV channel in 1995 and it refuses to die.

In this programme we revisit both these issues to see if we can put them to rest once and for all.

(Image: Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' 1893. No copyright / in the Public Domain)

Why January Makes Us Want To Scream20170123

There are two things that you can be sure of in January and both of them make us want to scream. Firstly, Oxfam put out their ‘x number of billionaires hold the same wealth as the poorest half of the world’ stat. But as we’ve said in the past the comparison doesn’t make sense. The bottom half can include people with a pretty comfortable income but just because they have lots of debt they has negative wealth and on the other hand there could be people with barely any income – living off less than $1.25 a day - who have a small asset, such as a bike or a shack who are way up the wealth distribution.

The second head-banger is ‘Blue Monday’, the formula that supposedly tells us that the third Monday in January is when people are at their saddest. It’s like a virus that has infected the media. Each year it appears on different press releases promoting different products and the press lap it up. But there is no science to it at all. The formula is a stupid invention dreamt up to promote a TV channel in 1995 and it refuses to die.

In this programme we revisit both these issues to see if we can put them to rest once and for all.

(Image: Edvard Munch's 'The Scream' 1893. No copyright / in the Public Domain)

Blue Monday and Oxfam’s claims about billionaires–the stories that come around every year

Why London\u2019s Murder Rate Is Being Compared To New York\u2019s2018040720180408 (WS)
20180409 (WS)
20180410 (WS)

Finding out if London is now more deadly than New York.

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

London’s murder rate is on the rise – and for the first time ever it has just overtaken New York’s, according to a number of media outlets. But is it true? And is it appropriate for journalists to compare between the two cities?

South Africa’s missing children statistics

A viral Facebook post has suggested that one child is kidnapped every thirty seconds in South Africa. We examine the evidence which shows that a child is reported missing every nine hours to the police, and this includes more than just kidnappings.

(Photo: Police officers inspect the scene of a knife attack in London. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

Will 40 Per Cent Of The World's Workforce Really Be In Africa By 2050?2013062220130623 (WS)
20130624 (WS)

How do we calculate future population projections in Africa?

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

In late May the US Secretary of State, John Kerry told an audience in Ethiopia that by 2050, 40% of the world's workforce would be African. The night before at the African Union 50th Anniversary Summit he said something slightly different - that 25% of the world's workforce would be African by 2050 rather and that by 2100, 40% of the world's young people would be African. We examine whether any of the claims are true.

The programme hears from Francois Pelletier, the Chief of the Estimates and Projections Division in the United Nations Population Division and Sarah Walters, an African Demographer from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The final scene of one of this year's most popular films - The Fast and the Furious 6 - has been the subject of intense debate. How long must the runway have been to have allowed a transport jet travelling in excess of 100 miles an hour to land, be chased by cars and then try and take off again? The internet has been awash with speculation and estimates but More or Less will attempt to provide the definitive answer.

Image: Nigerian worker with a laptop. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

Will 40 Per Cent Of The World's Workforce Really Be In Africa By 2050?2013062320130624 (WS)

In late May the US Secretary of State, John Kerry told an audience in Ethiopia that by 2050, 40% of the world's workforce would be African. The night before at the African Union 50th Anniversary Summit he said something slightly different - that 25% of the world's workforce would be African by 2050 rather and that by 2100, 40% of the world's young people would be African. We examine whether any of the claims are true.

The programme hears from Francois Pelletier, the Chief of the Estimates and Projections Division in the United Nations Population Division and Sarah Walters, an African Demographer from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The final scene of one of this year's most popular films - The Fast and the Furious 6 - has been the subject of intense debate. How long must the runway have been to have allowed a transport jet travelling in excess of 100 miles an hour to land, be chased by cars and then try and take off again? The internet has been awash with speculation and estimates but More or Less will attempt to provide the definitive answer.

Image: Nigerian worker with a laptop. Credit: AFP/Getty Images

How do we calculate future population projections in Africa?

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

Will Berlin See A Sub-two-hour Marathon?2014100320141005 (WS)
20141006 (WS)

Why Berlin is likely to be the place we eventually see a sub-two-hour marathon

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

In Berlin last Sunday Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto set a new world record for the mens marathon. He covered the 26.22 mile course in two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds breaking the previous mark by 26 seconds.

It is the fifth time in the last eight years that the record has been broken - each time in Berlin between 25th September and 30th September. The spate of world records has only increased speculation about if and when we might see the marathon run in less than two hours.

Wesley Stephenson and Ben Carter find out what is so special about the Berlin course and talk to the experts about the possibility of a sub-two-hour marathon.

The programme hears from Mark Milde, director of the Berlin marathon, Dr Ross Tucker, exercise physiologist at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and Hugh Jones, winner of the 1982 London marathon.

In Berlin last Sunday Kenyan runner Dennis Kimetto set a new world record for the mens marathon. He covered the 26.22 mile course in two hours, two minutes and 57 seconds breaking the previous mark by 26 seconds.

It is the fifth time in the last eight years that the record has been broken - each time in Berlin between 25th September and 30th September. The spate of world records has only increased speculation about if and when we might see the marathon run in less than two hours.

Wesley Stephenson and Ben Carter find out what’s so special about the Berlin course and talk to the experts about the possibility of a sub-two-hour marathon.

The programme hears from Mark Milde, director of the Berlin marathon, Dr Ross Tucker, exercise physiologist at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa and Hugh Jones, winner of the 1982 London marathon.

Will Bitcoin Use More Electricity Than The United States?2017122320171224 (WS)
20171225 (WS)
20171226 (WS)

Measuring the energy used to keep the crypotcurrency secure

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

There have been stories in the media suggesting that Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland, 1.5% of the world’s energy.

And if current trends continue, by July 2019, the Bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses.

Can these extraordinary claims be true? We look at the energy required to power the computers to keep the cryptocurrency secure, with help from Alex de Vries of the Digiconomist blog.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Richard Vadon

(image: Digital Cryptocurrency, a Bitcoin alongside a selection of fiat currencies, December 2017 in London, UK. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Will Bitcoin Use More Electricity Than The United States?20171224

Measuring the energy used to keep the crypotcurrency secure

There have been stories in the media suggesting that Bitcoin mining consumes more electricity a year than Ireland, 1.5% of the world’s energy.

And if current trends continue, by July 2019, the Bitcoin network will require more electricity than the entire United States currently uses.

Can these extraordinary claims be true? We look at the energy required to power the computers to keep the cryptocurrency secure, with help from Alex de Vries of the Digiconomist blog.

Presenter: Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Richard Vadon

(image: Digital Cryptocurrency, a Bitcoin alongside a selection of fiat currencies, December 2017 in London, UK. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

Will One In Four People Develop A Mental Health Problem?2017033120170403 (WS)
20170404 (WS)

Is there evidence that one in four people will develop a mental health problem?

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

The claim that “one in four” of us will suffer from a mental health problem is popular amongst campaigners, politicians and the media. But this leads you to a simple question – where is this figure from and what’s the evidence? This was exactly what neuroscientist Jamie Horder asked, and far from being simple, it led him on quite a journey. So do we really know how many people are likely to develop mental health problems – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald find out.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald
Producer: Elizabeth Cassin

(Photo: Commuters pass through Grand Central Terminal during morning rush hour Credit: Getty Images)

The claim that “one in four? of us will suffer from a mental health problem is popular amongst campaigners, politicians and the media. But this leads you to a simple question – where is this figure from and what’s the evidence? This was exactly what neuroscientist Jamie Horder asked, and far from being simple, it led him on quite a journey. So do we really know how many people are likely to develop mental health problems – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald find out.

Presenter: Charlotte McDonald

Producer: Elizabeth Cassin

(Photo: Commuters pass through Grand Central Terminal during morning rush hour Credit: Getty Images)

Will We Die Before Our Parents?2014070420140706 (WS)
20140707 (WS)

Will the current generation have a shorter life span than their parents due to obesity?

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

It has been claimed that the current generation of children may have a shorter life span than their parents because of obesity. But is this true? Ruth Alexander looks at the data and explores the ‘Obesity Paradox’ – the idea that overweight people are less likely to die than those of normal weight.

She also questions whether bonuses in The World Cup have improved performances.

Producer: Laura Gray

Picture: FDA Claims 13% of Children Aged 6 - 11 are obese. Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images. Photograph taken in 2003

Women, The Oscars And The Bechdel Test2018030220180304 (WS)
20180305 (WS)
20180306 (WS)

Ninety years\u2019 worth of Best Picture winning films under the spotlight.

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

Are Hollywood films ignoring women? As this is the 90th year of the Academy Awards - we find out how many ‘Best Picture’ winners pass the Bechdel Test. This is a light-hearted way of challenging whether a film meets a low standard of female representation. They have to fulfil three criteria: are there at least two named female characters in the cast? Do those two women speak to each other? And do they have a conversation about something other than a man? In collaboration with the BBC’s 100 Women team, we reveal the answer but also look at what other ways we could be assessing representation in film.

Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Producers: Charlotte McDonald and the BBC’s 100 Women team

(L-R) Actors Mahershala Ali, Best Supporting Actor for 'Moonlight,' Emma Stone, Best Actress for 'La La Land,' Viola Davis, Best Supporting Actress for 'Fences,' Casey Affleck, Best Actor for 'Manchester by the Sea,' at the 2017 Academy Awards. Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Worm Wars2015081420150815 (WS)
20150816 (WS)
20150817 (WS)

Are mass deworming projects a good idea?

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

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

(Photo: A nurse gives medicine to a child to prevent worms. Credit: AFP)

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

(Photo: A nurse gives medicine to a child to prevent worms. Credit: AFP)

Wrestlers: Dying Too Young?2015080720150809 (WS)
20150810 (WS)

Are WWE stars more likely to die sooner than their non-wrestling peers?

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

Following the recent death of wrestler 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper we ask if wrestlers are more likely to die young. We explore why that might be and how they compare to athletes from other sports. Plus, is Nigeria the largest consumer of champagne in the world after France?

(Photo: 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper at WrestleMania 25. Credit: Getty Images)

Xenophobia In South Africa2015042420150426 (WS)
20150427 (WS)

Are international migrants stealing jobs?

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

After a spate of xenophobic attacks in South Africa over the last few weeks, the army has been deployed to calm down volatile hotspots. More or Less looks at some of the numbers behind often cited claims – that migrants are stealing jobs, and that South Africa receives more asylum applications than any other country in the world.

Plus, the Tanzanian parliament has passed an act that could make publishing certain statistics a crime. The government wants to impose higher standards on its National Statistics Bureau – a positive aim. But some journalists and researchers are worried about a clause preventing people communicating what the government deems ‘false’ statistics. They say this would stop them telling the full story on issues like education and poverty, if it becomes law. With Justin Sandefur, research fellow at the Center for Global Development.

(Image: A South African holds up a sign saying 'stand up against xenophobia'. Credit: Mujahid Safodien/ AFP/Getty Images)

Yellow Cards For Christmas2016121620161219 (WS)

Are footballers trying to get suspended for Christmas?

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

Former football referee Howard Webb told a story recently that he had been approached by players in the English Premier League asking to be booked so they could be suspended for Christmas. Unlike their European counterparts English footballers don’t get a mid-season break around Christmas. In fact, things go the other way and players are expected to play three games in a week meaning that often many will train on Christmas Day. One way to get a break is to rack up five yellow cards and be suspended. But do players really try anything so unsportsmanlike? Tim Harford asks journalist Rob Minto to delve into the data.

Former football referee Howard Webb told a story recently that he had been approached by players in the English Premier League asking to be booked so they could be suspended for Christmas. Unlike their European counterparts English footballers don’t get a mid-season break around Christmas. In fact, things go the other way and players are expected to play three games in a week meaning that often many will train on Christmas Day. One way to get a break is to rack up five yellow cards and be suspended. But do players really try anything so unsportsmanlike? Tim Harford asks journalist Rob Minto to delve into the data.

Zimbabwe's Economy2014120620141207 (WS)
20141209 (WS)

Following Zimbabwe\u2019s budget last week, what do the numbers mean for the nation's future?

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

Zimbabwe’s budget provided a fascinating insight into the country’s economy last week. Ben Carter looks at what the numbers mean for the future prosperity of Zimbabwe and the challenges the nation faces. The programme hears from David Blair, Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, Julian Rademeyer, editor of fact checking website Africa Check and Russell Lamberti, author of When Money Destroys Nations.

(Image: Zimbabwean Minister of Finance Patrick Chinamasa. Credit: Desmond Kwande/AFP/Getty Images)