More Or Less

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

Episodes

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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)

01/01/201020100103

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

01/04/201120110403

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

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

01/05/200920090503
01/10/201020101003

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

02/01/200920090104
02/09/201120110904
02/12/201120111204
03/09/201020100905
04/06/201020100606
04/09/200920090906
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06/01/201220120108
07/08/200920090809
08/01/201020100110
08/04/201120110410

Investigating the numbers in the news.

08/05/200920090510
09/01/200920090111
09/09/201120110911
09/12/201120111211

Children's Books:

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

Supermarket price wars:

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

Eurostats II:

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

Amazing?

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

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Editor: Richard Vadon.

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

10/12/201020101212

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

11/05/20122012051120120513
11/06/201020100613
11/09/200920090913
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In the last series we looked at what changes to the tuition fee system will cost students. In this programme we examine the other side of the equation: how much will the changes cost the taxpayer? Could the Government be on the hook for more than it thinks?

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

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

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

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

15/05/200920090517
16/01/200920090118
16/12/201120111218

Higgs Boson:

In the week that scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that the most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, Tim Harford hears how everyone is getting confused about how to report statistical significance. Robert Matthew of Aston University says the meaning of 2, 3 and 5-sigma evidence is being misinterpreted by science journalists and some of the physicists themselves.

Medieval mathematics:

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

How (not) to corner a market:

Performance artist Jamie Moakes is trying to corner the market in a 1980s plastic doll from cartoon series He- Man. Tim Harford explores the difficulties of Jamie's quest to push up the price of something that for many years no one has much wanted. He hears from Professor Eric Smith of the University of Essex who says that there is no saying why certain items gain value, although in this instance Jamie may struggle to achieve his goal. He also hears lessons from history from John Gapper of the Financial Times.

Producer: Ruth Alexander

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

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

17/04/200920090419

Tim Harford investigates the link between cancer and drinking.

17/12/201020101219

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

18/05/20182018052020180518 (R4)

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

18/06/201020100620
18/12/200920091220
19/08/201120110821

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

19/12/200820081221
20/04/201220120422
21/01/201120110123

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

21/05/201020100523
21/08/200920090823
22/01/201020100124
22/04/201120110424
22/05/200920090524

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

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23/12/201120111225

99 v 1%:

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

Laughing in the face of risk:

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

The magic of maths:

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

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

24/04/200920090426
24/09/201020100926

In this week's programme:

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

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

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

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

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

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

24/12/201020101226

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

26/08/201120110828

In More or Less this week:

Scottish independence

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

Mobile phones and cancer

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

Is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman alive?

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

Producer: Phil Kemp.

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

26/12/200820081228

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

27/04/201220120429
27/08/201020100829
28/05/201020100530
28/08/200920090830
30/12/201120120101

A guide to interesting, informative or just plain idiosyncratic numbers of the year.

31/12/201020110102

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

Abortion, Modern Slavery, Math Versus Maths2018051320180511 (R4)

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

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate

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

Superforecasting

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

Modern Slavery

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

Math versus Maths

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

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

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland's referendum debate

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

Superforecasting

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

Modern Slavery

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

Math versus Maths

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

Cancer Screening, The Windrush Generation, Audiograms2018050620180504 (R4)

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

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Breast screening - the Numbers

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

Counting the Windrush Generation

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

Has Nigel Farage been on Question Time too often?

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

Painting a picture with an audiogram

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

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

Un Rape Claims, Stalin, Mr Darcy

How many people have UN staff raped?

It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade. We unpick the back of an envelope calculation that has resulted in this extraordinary figure.

Gender in literature

How are women depicted in books? Author Ben Blatt has carried out an analysis of the types of words used to describe them, and also their absence in some of the classics.

How many people did Stalin kill?

How do you extract facts from a regime that was so profoundly secretive? We speak to Professor James Harris and Professor Barbara Anderson about why there are so many different figures and how historians and demographers calculate death tolls by regimes.

The wealth of Mr Darcy

The male love interest of 'Pride and Prejudice' is supposed to be fabulously wealthy. It says in the early 19th century English novel that Mr Darcy has an income £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it's not clear how remarkable it really is. We speak to Professor Stephen Broadberry of the University of Oxford.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

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Featuring the man who can walk only by counting and the art of being statistically slippery.

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0201Revealing Numbers In The Nhs20021112

This edition asks what NHS performance statistics really tell us - and more importantly, what they fail to tell us.

0202The Complexity Of Call Charges20021119

Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which looks at numbers.

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

0203Quantifying Economic Success20021126
0204Making Sense Of Millions20021203
0205Numbers In The Dock20021210
0206 LASTSchool League Tables20021217
0301Measuring Behaviour20030218

As anti-war protestors marched in London, More or Less asked who's counting, and how?

0302The Perception Of Risk20030225

More or Less asks how well does news of danger measure up to the facts.

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

0303Testing Toxicity20030304

More or Less finds out how we measure the toxicity of substances.

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

0304Good Business20030311

More or Less asks what makes a good company.

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

0305Singular Statistics20030318

More or Less asks where are all the men? What is the statistical evidence for the Bridget Jones syndrome - single career women finding it hard to meet a man.

0306Pensioner Poverty20030325

More or Less asks is pensioner poverty the measure of a pension crisis.

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

0401Measuring Illness20030612

More or Less examines what the thermometer doesn't tell you.

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

0402Many More Fish In The Sea?20030619

There has been a collapse of fish stocks in the north sea.

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

0403Taxing Issues20030626

The debate about income tax rises misses the critical numbers.

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

Plus, we looked at gambling and round numbers.

0404Is God A Mathematician?20030703

More or Less looks for the numbers in nature.

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

Plus, how reliable is DNA testing?

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Among the questions for this week's programme: why might a surfeit of overdue babies be all in the counting?

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Among the questions for this week's programme: what have the government's attempts to improve performance in the public sector got to do with the collapse of the Soviet economy.

0503School League Tables2004012220040129
0504Speed Cameras2004012920040205

Andrew Dilnot looks at the numbers behind the news, and figures out which stories do and don't add up.

0505The Divided Kingdom?2004020520040212

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

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Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; measurement and quantification of every kind in our personal lives and elsewhere.

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Andrew Dilnot presents the essential guide to numbers, risk, league tables, targets, budgets, you name it; quantification of every kind in the news, in our personal lives and elsewhere.

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

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Andrew Dilnot reports on all the ways we use numbers, STATISTICS, measurement and quantification of every kind, in the NEWS, in politics, in life.

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

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

080220050630

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

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

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

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Andrew Dilnot is the man with all the most vital statistics as the numbers magazine investigates subjects that range from medicine to the climate, or from speed cameras to plane crashes.

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The programme that makes sense of numerical nonsense, guiding us through the numbers and statistics in the news and in life, showing where numbers have the power to explain as well as to deceive.

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Andrew Dilnot is the man with all the most vital statistics as the numbers magazine investigates subjects that could range from medicine to the climate, or speed cameras to plane crashes.

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Andrew Dilnot presents the series that explores numbers and their place in the world around us.

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

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Andrew Dilnot presents the magazine which looks at numbers.

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

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

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

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

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3/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

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4/8.

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

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

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5/8. Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere, in the news, in politics and in life.

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6/8.

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

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

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7/8.

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

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

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

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

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Tim Harford explores the pseudoscience behind best-selling business success books.

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

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Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

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

15042008122620081228

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

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

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

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

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

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

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

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

Tim Harford investigates the link between cancer and drinking.

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

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

1606 LAST* *2009052220090524

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1701* *2009080720090809

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

Do its claims about the DNA Database really add up?

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

1702* *2009081420090816

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1703* *2009082120090823

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

An Open University co-production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1704* *2009082820090830

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1705* *2009090420090906

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

1706 LAST* *2009091120090913

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

Tim Harford presents the magazine which looks at numbers everywhere.

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

They also examine a claim that beautiful people have more daughters, and use maths to decode a Beatles musical mystery.

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

1801* *2009121120091213

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

And they meet one of their greatest heroes: Sesame Street's Count von Count.

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

1802* *2009121820091220

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

18032010010120100103

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

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

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

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

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

An Open University co production for BBC Radio 4.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In this week's programme:

The Chancellor recently said that while he would continue to protect deserving benefit claimants, people who claimed benefits "as a lifestyle choice" would have to stop because the money would no longer be there.

What does the evidence tell us about how many people fall into that category - and how incentives work in the welfare system?

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

The median salary in Britain is £25,800, so that's a PMI of 0.2, for example.

If you jump to a PMI of 10,000, you get to the hedge fund manager John Paulson on £1.4 billion.

Last week the British Trust for Ornithology published the results of its 40th annual garden bird-feeding survey - revealing huge falls in the numbers of some species.

Blue tits down 42% over 40 years.

House sparrows down 70%.

Song thrushes down 75%.

Are cats to blame?

Last week we were examined how to adjust for age and sex to create a level playing field for two runners - a 28-year-old woman, and a 52-year-old man.

Our very own 28-year-old woman and 52-year-old man entered the Great North Run half marathon to test our calculations.

This week, we bring you the results.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

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

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

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

We explain why it matters.

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

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

But is that always true?

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

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

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

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

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In More or Less this week:

Scottish independence

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

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

Mobile phones and cancer

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

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

Is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman alive?

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

Producer: Phil Kemp.

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

Investigating the numbers in the news.

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In More or Less this week:

Debt: A European Odyssey

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

And the European debt crisis is pretty complicated.

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

Alternative medicine and the placebo effect

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

Interesting.

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

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

Asking the right questions

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

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

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

The reason? Steel.

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

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

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

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

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

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

The National Literacy Trust said this week that one in three children does not own a book.

The national media lamented, but we take a closer inspection of the report and the data collected, and find some better news.

Supermarket price wars:

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

Eurostats II:

We continue to scrutinise the enormous numbers emerging from the Eurozone crisis.

Do Italian tax payers really pay 2 billion euros a year for their politicians to be chauffered around? Wesley Stephenson checks out the figures.

Amazing?

What are the odds of breaking four double-yolk eggs into your baking bowl, one after another? That's what happened to our colleague Jennifer Clarke and her friend Lynsey as they prepared profiteroles at the weekend.

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

Producer: Ruth Alexander

Editor: Richard Vadon.

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

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Higgs Boson:

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

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

Medieval mathematics:

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

How (not) to corner a market:

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

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

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

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

Producer: Ruth Alexander

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

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

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

Laughing in the face of risk:

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

The magic of maths:

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

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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

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

A guide to interesting, informative or just plain idiosyncratic numbers of the year.

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With Tim Harford. Rain and drought in numbers, the formula that changed Wall Street and then the world, and why Conservative MPs used to be taller than their Labour counterparts.

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

A grand economic experiment?

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

Border brouhaha

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

Bank holidays

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

Choral coincidence

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

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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?

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

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

2505120,000 Families Responsible For A Disproportionate Share Of Society's Ills2012051820120520

Investigating the numbers in the news.

2506Would Firing Staff 'at Will' Boost The Economy?2012052520120527

In this week's programme:

Fire "at will"?

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

Hard-working Greeks

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

The maths of infidelity

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

Publication bias

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

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In this week's programme:

Fire "at will"?

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

Hard-working Greeks

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

The maths of infidelity

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

Publication bias

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

2601Who Are The Libor Losers?2012071320120715

How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system? Plus, investigating the claim made by a leading charity that a million British children are 'starving'.

In this week's programme:

Libor losers

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

A million starving children?

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

Challenge Yan

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

Crunching the census

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

2602The Tour De France And The Statistics Of Cheating2012072020120722

Can maths prove whether the Tour de France has successfully clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs? Also retirement and death, obesity stats and a deficit update.

Has the Tour cleaned up?

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

Will 90% of us be too fat by 2050?

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

Deficit update

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

Does when you retire influence when you die?

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

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

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

Levelling the statistical playing field

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

Gun control

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

Tax

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

Leaders' mums

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

How has Britain changed since 1908?

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

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Ye Shiwen's statistics, what's happening to homelessness, and TV's murder capital.

In this week's programme:

How extraordinary is Ye Shiwen?

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

Homelessness

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

How many songs could ever be written?

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

The crime capital of television

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

2605How To Lose Money, Fast2012081020120812

High-frequency trading, Trumptonomics and more medalling with the Olympics.

In this week's programme:

High frequency trading

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

Medalling with the Olympics

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

Trumptonomics

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

The geeks are coming

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

2606 LASTThe Great Playing Field Sell Off?2012081720120819

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

Playing the fields

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

RIP RPI?

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

David's line

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

20mph roads

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

Thinking in Numbers

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Richard Knight.

2701Ash Dieback And Fergie-time2012112320121125

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

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

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

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

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

2702The Art Of Polling, Kevin Pietersen, Stacking Lego20121130

Tim Harford looks at opinion polling, the consistency of Kevin Pietersen's batting, and how high you can stack Lego bricks.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

2704The Census And What Is - Rare2012121420121216

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

2705Fact-checking Us Gun Crime Statistics2012122120121223

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

2706Numbers Of 20122012122820121230

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford.

Producer: Charlotte Pritchard.

2707The Parable Of The Ox2013010420130106

Tim Harford explains what a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition can tell us about a bloated and dysfunctional financial system.

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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

2901What Price The Life Of A Badger?2013083020130901

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

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

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

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

2906 LASTAn Army Of Drunk Children?2013100420131006

Investigating the numbers in the news.

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

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3002Numbers Of The Year2013122720131229

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

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

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

Producer: Ben Carter

3003The Power Of Pension Fees2014010320140105

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

3004The Week That Kills2014011020140112

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

3005Fact-checking Obesity Crisis Claims2014011720140119

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

3006Counting The Contribution Of Immigrants2014012420140126

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

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

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

3007 LASTThe 50p Tax Rate2014013120140202

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

31012014050220140504

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

3102Food Bank Britain2014050920140511

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3104Romanian Crime2014052320140525

Are Romanians responsible for more crime than other nationalities?

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

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

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

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

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

3105The Piketty Affair2014053020140601

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

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

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

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

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

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

3106What Is Scottish Independence Worth?2014060620140608

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

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

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

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

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

3107 LAST2014061320140615

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

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

3203How Deadly Is Ebola?2014082920140831

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

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

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

32042014090520140907

Investigating the numbers in the news.

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Investigating the numbers in the news with Tim Harford

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3207 LASTThe Barnett Formula2014092620140928

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

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

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

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

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

3301Numbers Of The Year 20142015010220150104 (R4)

Tim Harford and guests look back at some of the weird and wonderful numbers of 2014.

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

33022015010920150111 (R4)

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

33032015011620150118 (R4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

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

3305Cameron's 1000 Jobs2015013020150201 (R4)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

3306 LASTIs Strenuous Jogging Bad For You?2015020620150208
20150208 (R4)

Tim Harford asks whether claims that keen runners might be damaging their health are really true? Joggers will find comfort from an NHS Behind the Headlines analysis of the numbers by Alissia White of consulting firm Bazian.

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

Is infidelity among cruise ship passengers rife?

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Ruth Alexander.

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

3401The Election In Numbers2015050120150503 (R4)

How have the political parties used statistics in their election campaigns?

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

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

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

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

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

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

3405Seven-day Nhs2015052920150531 (R4)

Tim Harford asks if people admitted to hospital at weekends are more likely to die.

Seven Day NHS.

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

Productivity?

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

Animal Slaughter

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

John Nash

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

3406World Cup Migrant Deaths2015060520150607 (R4)

Qatar migrant worker deaths.

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

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

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

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

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

3407 LAST2015061220150614 (R4)

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

34SPECIALGreece Special20150712

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

Producer:Joe Kent.

Editor: Richard Vadon.

3501Migrant Crisis2015081420150816 (R4)

A 'swarm' of migrants heading for Europe? Are the numbers really up?

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

Worm wars

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

Football

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

Generations

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

We find out..

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

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

Diabetes

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

Odd (attempted) burglaries

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

Men who pay for sex

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

Loop

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

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3505Is It Worth Targeting Non-voters?2015091120150913 (R4)

Can you rely on non-voters

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

The latest on deaths for people admitted at a weekend?

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

Too dense

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

How many houses do we need?

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

How many bananas will kill you?

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

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

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3601Numbers Of The Year 20152016010120160103 (R4)

Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers behind the news in 2015.

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

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

36022016010820160110 (R4)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3603Weekend Stroke Deaths2016011520160117 (R4)

Jeremy Hunt says if you have a stroke at the weekend, you are 20% more likely to die.

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

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

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

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

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

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

36042016012220160124 (R4)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3605How Harmful Is Alcohol?2016012920160131 (R4)

New alcohol guidelines were issued recently which lowered the number of units recommended for safe drinking. But are the benefits and harms of alcohol being judged correctly? We speak to Professor David Speigelhalter and

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

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

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

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

3606E-cigarettes: Can They Help People Quit?2016020520160207 (R4)

Do e-cigarettes make quitting smoking more difficult?

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

A campaign of dodgy statistics

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

Will missing a week of school affect your GCSE results?

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

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

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

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3607 LAST2016021220160214 (R4)

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3701The Great Eu Cabbage Myth2016040120160403 (R4)

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

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

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

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

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

3702Fathers And Babies2016040820160410 (R4)

Paternity Leave

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

Exponential Love

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

The cost of the EU

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

The story of 'average'

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

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

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

3703Celebrity Deaths2016041520160417 (R4)

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

'What British Muslims really think' poll

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

The number of Brits abroad

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

European Girls Maths Olympiad

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

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

Investigating the numbers in the news.

3704Brexit Numbers2016042220160424 (R4)

EU Treasury report

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

Hinckley Point nuclear power station

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

Chances of serving on a jury

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

European Girls Maths Olympiad

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

Life expectancy of a Pope

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

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Do the Treasury's Brexit numbers add up?

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

3801The Supermarket Effect2016072920160731 (R4)

Tim Harford returns with Brexit, Trumpton, the Antiques Roadshow and some good news.

The Waitrose Effect

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

Statistics and the EU referendum campaign

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

Antiques Roadshow

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

Computer Science and Socks

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

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Has a 5p charge caused a drop in the use of carrier bags?

Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

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Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

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Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

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Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

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Series that investigates the numbers in the news.

3901Trump Tells The Truth2016110420161106 (R4)

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

Is wildlife in decline?

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

Parliamentary seat boundaries

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

Desk of Good News – women in parliament

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

Escobar’s Cocaine Deaths

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

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

How the presidential hopeful has used statistics

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We go behind the numbers to explore the election map.

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

Stray Cats

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

Oliver Hart interview

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

Puzzles

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

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

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3903Is Dementia The Number One Killer?2016111820161120 (R4)

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

Oliver Hart interview

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

The chocolate muffin puzzle

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

Immigration and Brexit

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

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

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

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High-rolling pensioners?

In Philip Hammond’s Autumn Statement he said that: “We will meet our pledge to our country’s pensioners through the triple lock.? This should ensure that the state pension continues to rise. However, are pensioners the ones struggling with stagnant incomes? We speak to the Institute for Fiscal Studies about who has a higher income – the retired or those working.

Predicting Norovirus outbreaks

The Food Standards Agency has been using Twitter to predict outbreaks of the ‘winter vomiting bug’. They want to warn the public as cases of Norovirus start to rise, rather than after they have seen a peak in lab reports. Dr Sian Thomas explains how social media can help.

Finding friends at a club

Have you ever been in a nightclub or festival and lost your friends? One PhD student has been modelling your options on finding them. Nathan Cunningham explains whether you should actively search for them, or stay put. We send out one of the team to try it out.

Air pollution deaths

Are 40,000 people dying a year in the UK from air pollution? Is breathing the air in London the equivalent of smoking 15 cigarettes a day? These are a couple of claims that have been in the news and shared online recently. We speak to Professor Anthony Frew from the Royal Sussex County Hospital about understanding the risks of air pollution.

Image: Pensioner playing the slot machines in a casino. Credit: John Moore/Getty

High-rolling pensioners, predicting norovirus, finding friends, and air pollution.

3905Are You Related To Edward Iii…and Danny Dyer?2016120220161204 (R4)

The BBC series ‘Who do you think you are?’ has traced the ancestors of the actor Danny Dyer, famous for parts in Eastenders and many films. The programme revealed that he is in fact related to Edward III. But how unusual is that? We look at the odds of someone with English heritage being descended from this medieval king who died in 1377.

How many cows for a fiver?

The news that products from cows have been used to make the new five pound notes has caused consternation. Vice News have tried to work out statistically how many animals must have died in order to make these new notes in circulation. It is a very low number.

Five year olds not so bad after all

‘Shocking’ stats were revealed this week by the Department of Education. School assessments showed that just under a third of five year olds were below the expected standards for children of their age. But not only are these results not that shocking there is another reason why the statistics are not all they seem.

How to wrap a football

Christmas is approaching and Tim Harford has a puzzling present-related question – what’s the best way to wrap a spherical object? Fortunately mathematician Hannah Fry has been thinking about this and gives her best thoughts on how to tackle this festive problem.

Cleaning up water

In the Desk of Good News, we look at how improving sanitation has transformed lives. We speak to Johan Norberg, author of ‘Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future’ about the Great Stink of 1858.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Danny Dyer on 'Who do you think you are?'. BBC Copyright

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3906How Wrong Were The Brexit Forecasts?2016120920161211 (R4)

The economic doom that never was; childhood cancer figures and Ed Balls

Before the EU referendum a number of serious and weighty organisations published research on what they thought would be the economic consequences of a vote to Leave. Since then, they have come under criticism for being unduly pessimistic. We take a look at what was said before the referendum, and how the economy is looking now. In the run up to the vote Tim Harford spoke to Chris Giles of the Financial Times and Andrew Lilico of the consultancy, Europe Economics. We invited them back to discuss

Ed Balls

Did the former MP get more votes at a general election or performing on the BBC show Strictly Come Dancing? We wanted badly to answer our listener’s question but we struggled to get to the truth.

Is modern life really killing our children?

Earlier in the year there were many headlines about cancer in children and young people having risen 40%. The Telegraph headlined their piece ‘Modern Life is Killing Our Children’ stating that air pollution, powerlines, pesticides and poor diets were possible causes of the rise. The piece was based on work by a charity Children with Cancer UK. But as we’ve discovered the numbers are deceptive and they’ve been dismissed as scaremongering. Is modern life killing our children? – no, more like it’s saving them.

The economics of dining couples

Imagine you’re out to dinner with a date. You’re looking at the menu thinking about what you will have. Now you may not immediately think that economics could play a part in explaining what happens next, but Megan McArdle has been thinking about just that. She’s the author of The Upside of Down and a columnist at Bloomberg View. She says that couples – and indeed she and her husband – go through four stages of how they choose their food.

How risky is the contraceptive pill?

Many of the potential side effects of the pill, such as blood clots, have been well documented since its release in the 1960s. And now, a study has claimed to have established a link between depression and the pill. But perhaps the main risk women face is poorly interpreted statistics.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Image: Tourists in Parliament Square, Westminster/Credit Getty

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3907Have More Famous People Died This Year?2016121620161218 (R4)

Back in April More or Less tried to work out if more famous people were dying this year compared to previous years. When we looked at the number of BBC obituaries from the first three months of the year, the answer appeared to be yes. There was a jump from only five between January and late March 2012 to a staggering 24 in the same period this year - an almost five-fold increase. But now 2016 is drawing to an end we take a look to see if it really has been such an unusual year.

Homophobic hate crime

The Home Office recently published reported crime figures showing that in England and Wales there was a big post-referendum rise in the number of racially or religiously aggravated offences. And – according to The Observer and others – there was an even higher rise in homophobic hate crime over the summer in the UK. But we’ve been talking to the LGBT anti-violence charity behind the story and they say the stats may not actually show what the headlines suggest.

The value of a royal yacht

The royal yacht was decommissioned in 1997 but, with Brexit on the horizon, there have been calls for Britannia to rule the waves again. The argument goes that the yacht would be the perfect venue to make trade deals – as happened in the Britannia’s time. But there’s been a flotilla of – sometimes contradictory - figures about how much the deals signed on the Britannia actually benefited the UK economy. With the help of a commodore, we investigate the claims.

The Queen’s Christmas Message

Mathematician Hannah Fry has analysed every Christmas broadcast that the Queen has given since her reign began. Taking each year’s message, Hannah and a colleague have compared the number of words she has used to the number of unique words used by rappers and singers in their music. Hannah also explains that she has found a way of generating her own Queen’s Christmas Speech, using a simple algorithm to suggest passages that the Queen might say judged on her previous messages.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

3908Christmas Quiz2016122320161225 (R4)

For the last programme of the year we are mixing up the format and holding a Christmas Quiz. Tim Harford poses some difficult numerical questions to our contestants: Stephanie Flanders, former BBC Economics Editor; Paul Lewis, presenter of Radio 4's Money Box; comedian Nathan Caton and science writer Helen Pilcher.

How will they fare with questions based on a range of topical subjects including the Olympics, the EU Referendum and reindeer? Plus, friend of the programme, Rob Eastaway poses a mathematical puzzle.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Scorekeeper: Simon Maybin

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

4001Economics Of Overbooking2017041420170416 (R4)

This week, passengers on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Kentucky witnessed an extraordinary sight. Security officers seized hold of a seated passenger and dragged him down the aisle by his arms. And the cause of all of this chaos? The airline found that it did not have enough seats left to accommodate everyone it wanted to get onto the plane. But could maths - and some cheerful bribery - prevent incidents like this from occurring again?

The pitfalls of fact-checking

It seems to be a burgeoning age for fact-checkers. There are websites and journalists keen to examine the truth behind what politicians and governments say. More or Less has been part of that tradition for many years. But do people always find these fact-checks persuasive? And when does fact-checking and myth-busting backfire? We take a look at some of the problems.

Humans or goldfish

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

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

Plus, we also ask why, when children's teeth are getting healthier, so many newspapers have been reporting that tooth extractions are on the rise. And are house prices increased by a good school - we're not so sure.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4002Living Standards And Kate Bush Maths2017042120170423 (R4)

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

A recent Guardian front page suggested that sexual harassment at British universities is at 'epidemic levels'. We looked at the data cited and we are not so sure the evidence backs that up.

Maths teacher and performer Kyle Evans takes us on a mathematical journey of some of his favourite songs. He checks the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Kate Bush for the accuracy of their lyrics.

Do the Conservatives really have a 20 point lead over Labour in the opinion polls? We have been sceptical in the past of the accuracy of polling. We speak to Matt Singh about whether we need to be worried again now.

Recent headlines suggested that returning to blue passports once we leave the EU may cost half a billion pounds. We discover this is not at all what it seems.

Presenter: Tim Harford

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate Bush.

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

A recent Guardian front page suggested that sexual harassment at British universities is at 'epidemic levels'. We looked at the data cited and we are not so sure the evidence backs that up.

Maths teacher and performer Kyle Evans takes us on a mathematical journey of some of his favourite songs. He checks the Beatles, Bob Dylan and Kate Bush for the accuracy of their lyrics.

Do the Conservatives really have a 20 point lead over Labour in the opinion polls? We have been sceptical in the past of the accuracy of polling. We speak to Matt Singh about whether we need to be worried again now.

Recent headlines suggested that returning to blue passports once we leave the EU may cost half a billion pounds. We discover this is not at all what it seems.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

4003Fact-checking Boris Johnson20170428

Giant bombs, a war hero and the foreign secretary's stats.

The foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, appeared on Today this week, where he fired off a salvo of highly questionable statistics. We examine them. Also in the programme: are three million school kids at risk of going hungry this summer? We put this bold claim to the test. William Sitwell, Lord Woolton's biographer, explains how this working-class boy from Salford became a war hero (and President of the Royal Statistical Society). As the General Election campaign gets underway, we look into claims that education spending is at "record" levels. And just how big is the "mother of all bombs"?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

Is crime rising?

Last week saw the release of the latest batch of crime statistics for England and Wales. The figures showed a shocking 21% rise in homicides and a 19% rise in violent crime. Crime Policy expert Tom Gash explains why you should always read the footnotes on statistical releases and why violence might not mean what you think it means.

Help for number-phobes

The term 'maths anxiety' has become more popular in recent times, people who are scared of or hate numbers. We found an organisation that is determined to help. Citizen Maths is a free online course designed to help adults become more confident with maths in both work and everyday life. To test this out we found a digit dodging colleague willing to give the course a try. Noel-Ann Bradshaw from Citizen Maths spoke to us about the state of maths in Britain today.

When is a cut not a cut?

This week Jeremy Corbyn sent out a Tweet stating that if elected, Labour would stop Conservative cuts of £22 billion to the NHS. The NHS is certainly facing funding difficulties over the coming years with a rising and ageing population. But we explain how it's not correct to suggest that funding is being cut.

The mathematics of mazes

Children love a maze. Adults love a maze. And it seems mathematicians love them too. We send Jordan Dunbar to Crystal Palace with maze expert Dr Ruth Dalton, to put some classic mathematical methods to the test.
But can a wooden die, some office post-it notes and a thorough understanding of mathematical probability really save Jordan when he gets lost amidst the hedges?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4005Nurses' Pay, Scottish Seats, Penalty Shootouts20170512

Are nurses paid more than the national average? We take a look.

What is happening to nurses pay?

Amid reports of nurses using food banks, Jeremy Hunt said he doesn't recognise claims their wages are worth less now than in 2010. He says nurses are actually paid £31,000 - more than the average person. If he's right, why do so many nurses say they're earning much less than that?

The Great Scottish Election Conspiracy

The reporting of the Scottish council elections has caused a bit of a stir. Did the SNP lose seven seats or gain six. The media including the BBC reported that they had lost seats, the many SNP supporters are sure that this isn't a fair representation of their performance. This all hinges on how you look at the results last time around and how you account for the major boundary review that took place between elections. Tim tries to get to the bottom of what has happened with Professor David Denver from Lancaster University.

Penalty shootout maths

What do coffee, stew and nerve-biting football finales have in common? Maths whizz and football aficionado Rob Eastaway explains all.
UEFA, European football's governing body, is currently trialling a new system for penalty shootouts. But what is the maths behind the new system - and could a century-old Scandinavian mathematical sequence offer a better approach?

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

Investigating the numbers in the news.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

Labour launched their manifesto this week, introducing new rates of tax for high earners. But did the BBC do a good job of explaining it? A screen grab taken from a TV item was spread on social media which gave a misleading impression of the amount of tax you would pay if you earned £80,000 or £123,000. We take a look at what the tax rate would mean for people earning these amounts or more.

When we lie and tell the truth online

Researchers are very excited about the amount of data that is being generated by people using social media and internet tools. But what can we really glean from that information. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz has written a book called Everybody Lies where he explores the image we portray on social media versus the truths we tell about ourselves by what we search online. We also find out some speed dating tips.

We still have sea ice

Recently BBC 4 aired a documentary from 2007 which made the claim that by 2013 all the sea ice in the world would have disappeared during summer due to global warming. It is 2017 and that has not happened. We find out why that prediction was wrong and what is really happening to sea ice.

Maths and cake

Dr Eugenia Cheng takes us through a tour of real life items that she likes to use as the basis to explain more complicated mathematical ideas. We find out how she uses hotels, cakes and yoghurt to illustrate her ideas.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

On this final programme of the series we try to give some context to some of the issues that are being discussed during the current election campaign.

Who pays tax?

What proportion of adults are paying income tax? How much are they paying? Where does the highest burden lay? We take a look. Also, we look at the different political parties' tax policies. This includes corporation tax, but what about National Insurance?

How do you cut migration?

The Conservative manifesto again includes the aim to lower net migration to tens of thousands. How has this aim fared in the last six years? And what could the Conservatives do in future years to achieve their goal? We also take a look at what impact that might have on the economy.

Taking the nations' temperature

Summer has arrived - but we cast our minds to the chilly months ahead and think about the Winter Fuel Payment. The Conservatives are proposing to change this to a means-tested system - everywhere except Scotland. Is this because Scotland is colder than the rest of the UK? BBC Weather Man Phil Avery has the answer.

Free School Meals

It's been a popular topic in party manifestos - free school meals. Jamie Oliver thinks school dinners are essential for fighting obesity - but is there really a case to be made for the health benefits of a school lunch? Emily Tanner from the National Centre for Social Research puts the case for and against Universal Free School Meals - while munching a pie and a packed lunch.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

Are boys getting more top A Level grades than girls?

Last week it was reported that more boys were getting top grades than girls in A Levels. This bucked a trend which previously showed that girls got better grades. But is it as simple as boys getting better? We find out that it really depends on what subjects you take.

Is a lack of school swimming lessons leading to more deaths by drowning?

Are more young people really drowning due to children in primary schools receiving fewer swimming lessons? That was the question posed to us by one loyal listener after she read newspaper headlines suggesting that was the case. So what do the numbers say? Tim Harford talks to Mike Dunn from The Royal Life Saving Society.

Why are dress sizes so weird?

"What clothes size are you?" - the question every woman hates to be asked. Not only because it's a bit rude, but because quite frankly it's hard to know the answer. Today most shops hire a 'fit' model - a real life woman who they consider to have the dimensions of their perfect customer. They then create clothes to fit her dimensions - waste, hips and bust. More Or Less takes one size 8 fit model shopping to show how sizes differ between shops.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Editor: Jasper Corbett.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

Grenfell Tower's death toll

In the early hours of June 14th a fire engulfed Grenfell Tower, a residential tower block in West London. A large number of people died and in the aftermath residents, the wider public, politicians and celebrities all expressed frustration that a tragedy like this one was able to happen in 21st Century Britain.
Some people were also sceptical at the numbers of fatalities being reported by the police - and then the media. Were the police being too conservative in their estimates?
A local resident emailed the programme asking us to look into the numbers. Tim Harford talks to Commander Stuart Cundy, who oversaw the Met police operation following the fire; to ask him why it is has been so hard to establish the death toll.

Houston - we have a problem

Hurricane Harvey has caused devastation in Texas and neighbouring states. Commentators have speculated that this will be one of the costliest storms in history. We explore why this might be - could the US Government's flood insurance programme be inadvertently contributing to the problem by supporting the buildings in flood plains?

How many sexual partners do we have?

Recently on the Today programme John Humphreys said: "Thirty years ago a man would have had eight sexual partners and women three, now those averages are 12 for men and eight for women" This sparked a discussion on Twitter among our listeners. How can the number of average partners of men and women be so different? We speak to Sir David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Risk at the University of Cambridge.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

Are children in Manchester ready for school?

"Thousands of children in Greater Manchester are starting school unable to speak in full sentences or use the toilet" ran a headline in the Manchester Evening News earlier this week. The new mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham also made the claim. Can that really be true asked a loyal listener? More or Less investigates.

Will we need 10 new power plants by 2040 for the electric car revolution?

Sales of new petrol and diesel cars will be banned from 2040 in the UK. So it's expected there will be a huge increase in the number of electric vehicles on our roads. But what will happen when we all try and charge them? Newspaper headlines have quoted us as needing ten new nuclear power plants to cover it and some have even suggested we won't have enough power to charge these vehicles. So we set out to look at the numbers driving the electric car revolution.

Maths underpinning science

Professor Alison Etheridge from the University of Oxford tells the programme why maths can sometimes be overlooked. She talks about her interest in genetics and why mathematicians need to be more vocal about their work.

And we deal with a number of complaints about last week's programme.

4104Are Natural Disasters On The Rise20170915

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Disasters
Are natural disasters on the rise? Following the devastating hurricanes to have battered the Caribbean and the United States, the floods in Asia and the mudslides in Sierra Leone, the UN Secretary General told a press conference that the number of disasters in the world has quadrupled since the 1980s - is he right?

Police Pay
Theresa May said at Prime Ministers Question's that pay for certain police officers who started in 2010 had risen by 32%. This statement outraged the Police Federation - Tim Harford puts this claim into context and discovers that that the Prime Minister picked this particular group of officers for a reason.

Zillions
We like a specific number on More or Less but the English language isn't always so exact. It turns out that people love words that give a sense of size, but are vague about an actual number, terms like zillion and umpteenth. Helen Zaltzman is the presenter of the podcast 'The Allusionist' that looks at the way we use language. Tim has been talking to her about what are called indefinite hyperbolic numbers.

A present for a Statistically significant other.
Last series, Dave called us for help. 'What should he buy his statistics-mad partner who also loved cross-stich?' Zillions of More or Less listeners got in touch to suggest ideas - so did he take their advice?

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Investigating the numbers in the news.

£350 million claim again

Boris Johnson has made the claim again that when the UK leaves the EU it will gain control of £350 million a week. The UK Statistics Authority has written to the Foreign Secretary to tell him it is a mis-use of official statistics to make this assertion. We take a look at why they have taken this action.

Disadvantaged students going to university

We look at two claims - is Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn correct to say that there are fewer students from disadvantaged backgrounds going to university now. Plus - is it true that disadvantaged students from England are twice as likely to go to university than those from Scotland.

Spanish vets

Is it true that British vets train for seven years while in Spain it only takes a year to qualify?

The value of Half a Crown from 1887

A loyal listener and a friend were recently discussing a Half Crown coin that they found at a sale. They wanted to know how much it would be worth in today's money. The answer is not as straight forward as you might think.

4106 LASTUber, Eu Passports, Counting Domestic Violence2017092920171001

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Is Uber safe?

Recently Transport for London took the decision not to renew Uber's London license. One criticism of the company is that its drivers commit too many sexual offences. Billboards around the capital last year said that 32 of the 154 allegations of assault made against London taxi drivers between February 2015 and February 2016 involved Uber drivers. But is that a big number and how do the total number of allegations made compare to the years before Uber was even operating?

The Brits seeking European passports elsewhere

In partnership with Reality Check, More or Less has spoken to each of the other 27 countries in the EU to find out whether an increasing number of Brits living abroad have applied for citizenship. This has certainly been the trend in many countries. We'll reveal the most popular countries and tell the tale of how easy it may or may not have been to get the numbers!

How do we know if there is more domestic violence around?

If you want to look at whether the amount of domestic violence in the UK is going up or down, how would you measure it? Over the last three decades, this is something that Sylvia Walby, Professor of Sociology at Lancaster University, has been trying to figure this out. We speak to her about ways to improve the current statistics available.

Big polluters: container ships versus cars

A number of websites have claimed that '15 of the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world.' That is a very catchy statement which gives an indication of the pollution produced by shipping containers around the world. But is it true. We look at the different types of emissions produced by container ships and cars.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4201Missed Appointments, Graduate Pay, Cocaine On Banknotes2018011220180114

Do missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion? And do you always earn more with a degree?

Did missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year?
New figures published recently suggest that the financial cost to the NHS for missed appointments was £1 billion last year. But our listeners are curious. How has this figure been worked out? And don't missed appointments actually ease the pressure on an overcrowded system?

Graduate pay - is it always higher than non-graduates' pay?
It is often claimed that if you go to university and get a degree, you will earn more than those who do not. But is that always true? We take a look to see if there are occasions when having a degree makes little difference or whether the benefit of a degree has changed over time.

How much cocaine is on a bank note?
Tim Harford speaks to Richard Sleeman who works for a firm, Mass Spec Analytical, that specialises in working out how much cocaine can be found on bank notes across the country. Do some parts of the country have more cocaine on their notes than others? Is it true that 99% of bank notes in London have cocaine on them?

Is it true that one in five can't name an author of literature?
Last year the Royal Society of Literature made this claim - but what was it based on? It turns out a polling company found that 20 percent questioned failed to name a single author. Should we be surprised? We took a look at the data.

Diet Coke Habit
The New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks 'a dozen' Diet Cokes a day. With each can of 330ml containing 42mg of caffeine - what impact, if any, could this have on the President's health?

4202Gender Pay Gaps And How To Learn A Language20180119

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4203A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime Numbers20180126

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

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

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

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

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

4204Transgender Numbers, Parkrun And Snooker20180202

How many transgender people are there in the UK? Plus a statistical take on parkruns.

How many transgender people are there in the UK?

The UK produces official statistics about all sorts of things - from economic indicators to demographic data. But it turns out there are no official figures for the number of transgender people in the UK. We explore what we do know, and what is harder to measure.

Do 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol?

According to recent headlines, just 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol sold in England. But can so few people really account for so much of the countries bar tab? We find out where the statistic came from.

Bank of England's Mark Carney says no to RPI

At a hearing of the House of Lords' economic affairs committee, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said it would be useful to have a single measure of inflation for consumers - and that CPI was a much better measure than RPI, which he said had "no merit". We find out why with the FT's Chris Giles.

A statistical take on parkrun

Every weekend over 1.5 million people run 5,000m on Saturday mornings for parkrun which is a free event that takes place all over the UK and indeed across the globe. Each runner is given a bar code, which is scanned at the end of the run and fed into a database showing them what place they came in their race- we take a look at which courses are the fastest, slowest, hardest and easiest.

Testing for a cough correlation between snooker and smoking

A listener emailed us this week to ask whether you can connect the number of coughs during snooker matches to the decline in smoking. We got counting to see if the theory was a trick shot - with help from John Virgo.

Photo: Jimmy White
Credit: Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images.

4205The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun Part Ii20180209

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

Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't

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

The cost of tampons

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

Park Run Part II

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

Are 25% of citizens in the UK criminals?

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

What proportion of women got the vote in 2018?

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

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4206 LASTUn Rape Claims, Stalin, Mr Darcy20180216

Back of the envelope calculations on rape, and how many died under Stalin?

How many people have UN staff raped?

It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade. We unpick the back of an envelope calculation that has resulted in this extraordinary figure.

Gender in literature

How are women depicted in books? Author Ben Blatt has carried out an analysis of the types of words used to describe them, and also their absence in some of the classics.

How many people did Stalin kill?

How do you extract facts from a regime that was so profoundly secretive? We speak to Professor James Harris and Professor Barbara Anderson about why there are so many different figures and how historians and demographers calculate death tolls by regimes.

The wealth of Mr Darcy

The male love interest of 'Pride and Prejudice' is supposed to be fabulously wealthy. It says in the early 19th century English novel that Mr Darcy has an income £10,000 a year - that seems to impress the fictional characters. Two hundred years later, it's not clear how remarkable it really is. We speak to Professor Stephen Broadberry of the University of Oxford.

Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.

4301Straws, Women On Boards, Animals Born Each Day2018042720180429

Measuring plastic pollution, female FTSE directors and counting animal offspring.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life

Straws

How much difference will a ban on straws really make to the amount of plastic in our seas? Some say it could be just a drop in the ocean.

Women on boards

Why do people quote the number of women on FTSE 100 boards? Is it telling us something useful about the glass ceiling? We explore whether the proportion of female executives has changed over time, and what it tells us about women in business.

Using personal data for the public good

Recent headlines surrounding Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have kick started a debate about who should access our data. Hetan Shah, the Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, shares a plan he's had to make sure social media details are used for the public good.

The number of animals born each day

A ten year old listener got in touch to ask 'how many animals are born every day?' We set off on a hunt to the coast of Chile (well a simulated version at Penguin beach in London Zoo) to find the answer.

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

43022018050420180506 (R4)

Investigating the numbers in the news.

Tim Harford explains the numbers and statistics used in everyday life