Recent Entries

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 18, 2019, 2 p.m.

Day light saving time and heart attacks (p073pbdm.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 9, 2019, 10 a.m.

The gender gap in tech (p072z8ct.mp3)

Are women really less likely than men to be hired for jobs in tech just because of their sex? A study claims that sexism in the recruitment process is holding women back from entering the tech sector. But the study is not all it seems. There are much better statistics that can help explain why fewer women than men work in tech in the USA and lessons to be learned from India, where there is a much smaller gender gap in the tech sector. Presenter: Phoebe Keane Photo: An engineer looking at information on a screen interface Credit: Metamorworks / Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 2, 2019, 10 a.m.

Insectageddon (p072c3cm.mp3)

Insects live all around us and if a recent scientific review is anything to go by, then they are on the path to extinction. The analysis found that more than 40 percent of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5 percent a year suggests they could disappear in one hundred years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble? Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Darin Graham (Image: Hairy hawker dragonfly. Credit: Science Photo Library)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 22, 2019, 3:30 p.m.

How To Make Your Art Work More Valuable (p071pp7c.mp3)

Die, sell on a sunny day, place your work a third of the way through the auction….There are some surprising factors that can affect the price of an art work. Here are six top tips on how to get the best price for your art or, for art buyers, how to make a big return on your investment. Presenter: Dave Edmonds Producer: Darin Graham Editor: Richard Vadon Picture Credit: BBC

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 18, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: When maths mistakes really matter (p07113db.mp3)

Tim Harford talks to Matt Parker on how simple maths mistakes can cause big problems.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 15, 2019, 5:59 p.m.

Climate Change, Victorian Diseases, Alcohol (p07112mw.mp3)

Tim Harford on climate change, Victorian diseases, maths mistakes and alcohol consumption

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 12, 2019, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: From the archives: Groundhogs and Kings (p070jxc2.mp3)

Who can better forecast the weather – meteorologists or a rodent? What percentage of the English public are related to King Edward the III, and is malnutrition really on the rise in the UK? Sit back, relax and enjoy some of the good stuff from the More or Less archives.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 8, 2019, 10:44 p.m.

Teen Suicide; Brexit Business Moves; Wood-Burner Pollution (p070d39y.mp3)

Tim Harford finds untrue a recent report that there is a 'suicidal generation' of teens.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 4, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: You have 15,000 likes! (p06zr3ml.mp3)

A listener doubts her popularity on the dating app Tinder. We investigate the numbers.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 1, 2019, 5:24 p.m.

Holocaust Deniers; Venezuelan Hyperinflation; Tinder Likes (p06zqy4z.mp3)

Tim Harford on Holocaust deniers; food prices in Venezuela, and dating app statistics

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 26, 2019, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Is Suicide Seasonal? (p06z3zqg.mp3)

Tim Harford asks which times of the year are riskiest for suicide.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 25, 2019, 5:22 p.m.

Domestic Violence, Jobs, Easter Snowfall (p06z3zc2.mp3)

Tim Harford on domestic violence, employment numbers, and the chance of a white Easter.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 19, 2019, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Close Encounters of a Planetary Kind (p06yhdg7.mp3)

Which planet is closest to Earth?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 18, 2019, 5:30 p.m.

Intersex Numbers, Fact-Checking Facebook, Jack Bogle (p06yhdyn.mp3)

Tim Harford asks whether 1.7% of people are intersex, and examines false claims about MPs

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 12, 2019, 6 a.m.

WS More or Less: The Mathematics of Fever (p06xq3vv.mp3)

We look at the numbers behind body temperature – what is normal?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 11, 2019, 5 p.m.

Sugar, Outdoors Play and Planets (p06xvj9w.mp3)

Tim Harford on sugar, train fares, children's outdoors play and Earth's closest neighbour

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 5, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 2 (p06w33ns.mp3)

Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 4, 2019, 12:29 p.m.

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 2 (p06x6k3m.mp3)

Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 29, 2018, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 1 (p06w33fy.mp3)

The numbers that made 2018.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 22, 2018, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: Mission Impossible - Quantifiying Santa (p06w32dt.mp3)

What to look out for on Christmas Eve.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 17, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

WS More or Less: Dam Lies and Statistics (p06vv0q4.mp3)

Are mega-dams really sustainable?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 30, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Sex and Heart Attacks (p06t9h4v.mp3)

Are women more likely to die from a heart attack than men?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 23, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Are 90% of War Fatalities Civilians? (p06snh64.mp3)

Xavier Zapata examines what the data tells us about the deadly impact of war on civilians

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 16, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: When’s a Kilogram Not a Kilogram? (p06s0rfz.mp3)

Updating the kilogram.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 9, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Do Assassinations Work? (p06qmfbm.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 28, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Vaccines - The importance of the herd and social media (p06pzkf0.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 19, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Foreign Aid: Who’s the most generous? (p06pbpb2.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 12, 2018, 4:19 p.m.

WS More or Less: Paul Romer and William Nordhaus’ Big Ideas (p06npz7r.mp3)

The economists tackling climate change and growth.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 9, 2018, 1:20 p.m.

Loneliness, School Funding, Same-Sex Divorce (p06nckkd.mp3)

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are much higher among women than among men. The pattern is the same in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Everywhere where there are statistics on same-sex divorce it is the same sex doing the bulk of the divorcing. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at Canada’s Vancouver School of Economics and author of Dirty Money, a book which applies economic ideas to the study of sex and love. Producer: Ruth Alexander (Photo: Same-sex wedding cake toppers. Credit: Lucas Schifres/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 7, 2018, 8:05 p.m.

WS More or Less: Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men? (p06n2myt.mp3)

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are much higher among women than among men. The pattern is the same in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Everywhere where there are statistics on same-sex divorce it is the same sex doing the bulk of the divorcing. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at Canada’s Vancouver School of Economics and author of “Dirty Money”, a book which applies economic ideas to the study of sex and love. Producer: Ruth Alexander Image: Same-sex wedding cake toppers Credit: Lucas Schifres/Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 5, 2018, 5:32 p.m.

Loneliness; School Funding; Same-Sex Divorce. (p06n2l5f.mp3)

This week BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind programme announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment. It was a large survey conducted by the programme in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. The largest survey into the issue of loneliness to date, said All in the Mind, while the accompanying BBC press release reported that “The survey results indicate that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.” In the editors' notes, the press release cautions that “This was a self-selecting sample, so people experiencing loneliness might have been more attracted to take part, inflating reported levels of loneliness.” But much of the reporting by other BBC outlets and the wider media was not so restrained. Tim Harford speaks to Deirdre Toher from the University of the West of England about why the survey's results need careful interpretation. Listeners have been asking us to explain the schools funding row. When headteachers marched in protest at school spending last week, the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, went on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to say "We are spending record amounts on our school funding. We are the third highest spender on education in the OECD”. BBC Education correspondent Sean Coughlan explains how he discovered that the OECD figure includes university tuition fees paid by students. Is it true that "Polish Pilots Shot down 60% of German Aircraft on Battle of Britain Day"? Lizzie McNeill fact-checks this claim found on the side of a van. New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are higher among women than among men. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at the Vancouver School of Economics and author of “Dirty Money”, a book about the economics of sex and love. Plus, what makes a listener loyal? A nine-year debate rages on. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Ruth Alexander Image: A single fan sits in the stands before a college football game Credit: Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Oct. 1, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More of Less: Surviving the Battle of Britain (p06mfn08.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 28, 2018, 5 p.m.

Surviving the Battle of Britain; the World Cup and Domestic Violence; Buckfast and Arrests in Scotland (p06mfk3b.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 24, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Trump and the Puerto Rico Death Toll (p06ltldd.mp3)

How can we calculate excess mortality after a natural disaster?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 21, 2018, 5:45 p.m.

How Many Schoolchildren are Carers? Shareholder Income, and Museum Visitors Vs Football Fans (p06lthql.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 17, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: DNA - Are You More Chimp or Neanderthal? (p06l689q.mp3)

What is the difference between 96% similarity or sharing 20% of our DNA?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 14, 2018, 6:10 p.m.

Male suicide, school ratings, are female tennis players treated unfairly by umpires? (p06l60vy.mp3)

Tim Harford with statistics on suicide, good schools and sexism in tennis. Plus goats

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 10, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: The Safest Car in the World? (p06klm14.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 7, 2018, 5:33 p.m.

Heart Age Calculator; Danish Sperm Imports; Counting Goats (p06klkjq.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Sept. 3, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS: More or Less - How well do you understand your world? (p06jzf3v.mp3)

Tim Harford talks to Bobby Duffy about why we are often wrong about a lot of basic facts

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 31, 2018, 5:21 p.m.

African Trade Tariffs; Alcohol Safe Limits; President Trump's Popularity (p06jz62k.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 29, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - Coffins Full of Car Keys (p06gh9yn.mp3)

BONUS PODCAST: For the rest of August, in addition to More or Less you’ll get a brand new podcast, Economics with Subtitles. It’s your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this edition, Ayeisha and Steve make sense of interest rates. Why did they lead to coffins full of car getting sent to the US Federal Reserve? What factors affect what you have to pay on your loans? And what do your film choices say about why you decide to borrow? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve Bugeja

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 27, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS: More or Less - Automated fact-checking (p06jcrsv.mp3)

Computer programmes are being developed to combat fake news.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 24, 2018, 5:02 p.m.

A no-frills life, automated fact-checking and Lord-of-the-Rings maths (p06jcm5p.mp3)

What would have been the most efficient way to get to Mordor?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 22, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - How Condoms Can Cost a Week’s Wages (p06gh5dv.mp3)

BONUS PODCAST: For the rest of August, in addition to More or Less you’ll get a brand new podcast, Economics with Subtitles. It’s your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this show, Ayeisha and Steve make sense of inflation. They’ll explain how hyperinflation is affecting how Venezuelans have sex, why you can’t afford a ticket to see your favourite band in concert anymore and why a sale on sofas isn’t always a good thing. Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve Bugeja

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 20, 2018, 5:05 p.m.

WS More or Less: Are Wildfires Really Burning More Land? (p06hzrlx.mp3)

Are Wildfires in the United States and Southern Europe burning more land than before?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 15, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - Bracelets for Bullets (p06gcj9h.mp3)

BONUS PODCAST: For the rest of August, in addition to More or Less you’ll get a brand new podcast, Economics with Subtitles. It’s your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this show, Ayeisha and Steve explore government debt. Why did an anonymous mother send her bracelet to the government to be turned into a bullet? How are you lending the government money without even realising? And when should you be worried about how much debt the government is in? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve Bugeja

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 10, 2018, 4 p.m.

Numbers Behind a Tweetstorm (p06h3tgt.mp3)

How do you get a hashtag to trend around the world?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 8, 2018, 12:30 p.m.

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - How Buying Cocaine Helps the Government (p06gcgbk.mp3)

BONUS PODCAST: For the rest of August, in addition to More or Less, you’ll get four bonus editions of Economics with Subtitles. It’s a brand new podcast that will bring you an everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this edition, Ayeisha and Steve look at how we quantify economic success. Should dodgy drug deals be included? What is Steve’s contribution to GDP? And should we ban people who pinch too many of your crisps? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve Bugeja

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Aug. 3, 2018, 5 p.m.

Carbs, Sugar and the Truth (p06ghhsr.mp3)

Does a baked potato contain the equivalent of 19 cubes of sugar?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on July 27, 2018, 5:17 p.m.

Getting Creative with Statistics (p06fwqjt.mp3)

How big are your testicles and what does that mean?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on July 23, 2018, 8 p.m.

Should we have smaller families to save the planet? (p06f8t4d.mp3)

Having one fewer child could be the biggest thing you do to reduce your carbon footprint

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on July 20, 2018, 4:17 p.m.

How to Cycle Really Fast (p06f8wj6.mp3)

How much better are the pros than the rest of us and how effective is slipstreaming?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on July 6, 2018, 5:03 p.m.

Are there more stars than grains of beach sand? (p06d1wnd.mp3)

The astronomer, Carl Sagan, famously said that there were more stars in our Universe than grains of sand on the Earth’s beaches. But was it actually true? More or Less tries to count the nearly uncountable. Content warning: This episode includes gigantically large numbers. (Photo: The barred spiral galaxy M83. Credit: Nasa).

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 29, 2018, 5:20 p.m.

Running at the World Cup (p06cfx2g.mp3)

This week we take a look at some of the statistics which have caught our attention at the World Cup. There has been much debate in both the press and social media about the large distances which Russian football players have run in their first two games. We look at how they compare to other teams and what it might signify. Also –is it just bad luck that Germany has crashed out of the competition? Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Richard Vadon (Picture: Artem Dzyuba of Russia celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia. Credit: Xin Li/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 22, 2018, 4:03 p.m.

How many words do you need to speak a language? (p06bv2f1.mp3)

Ein Bier bitte? Loyal listener David made a new year's resolution to learn German. Three years later, that's about as far as he's got. Keen to have something to aim for, he asked More or Less how many words you really need to know in order to speak a language. Reporter Beth Sagar-Fenton finds out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and puts Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is. (Image: The World surrounded by Flags. Credit: Shutterstock) Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Beth Sagar-Fenton Producer: Charlotte McDonald, Lizzy McNeill

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 15, 2018, 3:54 p.m.

FIFA World Cup Extravaganza (p06b63y2.mp3)

The World Cup starts this week and the More or Less team is marking the event by looking at the data behind all the World Cups since 1966 (our data shows that this was the best world cup because England won). We’ll answer all football fans most burning questions; which World Cups have seen the most shots, fouls, dribbles and most importantly goals? Do the statistics back up the reputations of famous players like Pele, Cruyff, Maradona and Paul Gascoigne? And which of them actually committed the most fouls at one World Cup? Ben Carter talks to Author and Opta Sports football statistician Duncan Alexander about how the ‘beautiful game’ has changed…through numbers. (Picture: The World Cup, credit: Shutterstock)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 11, 2018, 12:01 a.m.

WS More or Less: How Many Animals are Born Every Day? (p069jjg6.mp3)

From penguins to nematodes, is it possible to count how many animals are born around the world every day? That’s the question one 10-year-old listener wants answered, and so reporter Kate Lamble sets off for the zoo to find out. Along the way, she discovers that very, very small animals are much more important than very, very big animals when it comes to the sums. (09.05) Artificial Intelligence or A.I. has been hailed as the answer to an easier life – but will it really make the world a better place, or just reinforce existing prejudices? Tim Harford speaks to author Meredith Broussard about ‘techno-chauvinism’.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 8, 2018, 5 p.m.

Infant Mortality, How to Reduce Exam Revision With Maths, London’s Murder Rate (p069jbmw.mp3)

(0.24) Infant mortality is on the rise in England and Wales – but is this change down to social issues such as obesity and deprivation, as claimed, or the way doctors count very premature babies? (9.45) A self-confessed lazy student wrote in to ask how he can minimise exam revision, while still ensuring a high chance of passing – we do the sums. (15.44) Do a billion birds really die each year by flying into buildings? We explain another zombie statistic which refuses to die. (18.40) It was reported earlier this year that London’s murder rate was higher than New York City’s – but how do the two cities compare now, and is there any value in these snapshot comparisons?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 4, 2018, 9:04 a.m.

Counting Rough Sleepers (p068w92v.mp3)

How do you count the number of people sleeping rough? According to the latest official figures around 4700 people were sleeping in the streets in the autumn of 2017. And that got us thinking. These statistics aren’t just downloaded from some big database in the sky. They need – like any statistic – to be collected and calculated. So how is it done?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 1, 2018, 6:25 p.m.

The High Street, Home Births and Harry Potter Wizardry (p068w6xh.mp3)

Is WH Smith really the worst shop on the High Street? Harry Potter fans want to know how many wizards there are – we try to work it out. Is giving birth at home as safe as giving birth in hospital? (Photo: Mother and baby. Credit: Shutterstock)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 28, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Australia Calling (p0687zrg.mp3)

This week we tackle some of our listeners’ questions from Australia: do one in seven businessmen throw out their pants after wearing them once? This is a claim made by an expert talking about clothes waste – but what does it come from? Do horses kill more people than venomous animals? Australia is known for its dangerous wildlife, but how deadly is it for humans? Plus, a politician says lots of Australians have used cannabis – we take a look at the evidence. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Charlotte McDonald and Sachin Croker (Picture: Male models in underwear follow a businessman. Credit: Getty's Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 25, 2018, 5:44 p.m.

Forecasting rain, teabags and voter ID trials (p0687z8t.mp3)

(00.28) Reading the BBC weather app – we explain the numbers on the forecast (06:55) University of Oxford Admissions: how diverse is its intake? (11:37) Voter idea trial at the local elections – counting those who were turned away from the polling station. (15:46) How much tea do Brits drink? We investigate a regularly cited estimate (20:06) Are pensioners richer than people of working age?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 21, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: James Comey - Basketball Superstar? (p067kz0g.mp3)

Former FBI Director James Comey is very, very tall – over two metres tall, or 6’8” - and many media outlets commented on his height during his recent run-in with President Trump. But to what extent does being very tall improve your chances of becoming a professional basketball player? In this week’s programme Tim Harford looks at the likelihood that James Comey – or any very tall person - might make it as a pro in the NBA. He speaks to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz who has crunched the numbers on height and class to find out who is more likely to make it as a pro baller. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith (Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 18, 2018, 5:20 p.m.

Poverty, Progress 8 and how green is grass? (p067kypc.mp3)

(0.22) Are more children from working families in poverty? (6.50) Progress 8 – explaining the new school league tables for England (12.51) Can a garden product really make your grass 6 times greener? (18.03) ‘Data is’ versus ‘data are’ (20.21) Royal Wedding economics

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 14, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Tulipmania mythology (p066x9zk.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 11, 2018, 5:21 p.m.

Abortion, modern slavery, math versus maths (p066x7km.mp3)

(00:26) The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland’s referendum debate (03:49) Superforecasting author Phillip Tetlock talks to Tim Harford (09:51) Modern Slavery figures in the UK (17:43) Should you say math or maths?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 7, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Exposing the biases we have of the world (p0668htp.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 4, 2018, 5:33 p.m.

Cancer screening, the Windrush Generation, Audiograms (p0668hy2.mp3)

(0:32) Breast screening – the Numbers: 450,000 women have accidentally not been invited for breast cancer screening (07:26) Counting the Windrush Generation: What do we know about those who might be lacking documentation (11:15) Has Nigel Farage been on Question Time too often? We chart his appearances over 18 years (16:32) Painting a picture with an audiogram: Data journalist Mona Chalabi talks about her unusual approach to analysing numbers. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard Vadon

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 29, 2018, 10 a.m.

WS More or Less: Puerto Rico - statistics versus politics (p065jyny.mp3)

The government of Puerto Rico has developed a plan to strip the island’s statistical agency of its independent board as part of a money saving enterprise. But as the Caribbean island recovers from a debt crisis and the devastation of Hurricane Maria which struck last year, many are questioning whether the move could have long reaching implications. Presenters: Tim Harford and Kate Lamble Producer: Kate Lamble (Photo: Damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The La Perla neighbourhood, San Juan. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 27, 2018, 5:22 p.m.

Straws, women on boards, plus animals born each day (p065k183.mp3)

Does the UK throw away 8.5 billion straws a year? (0’33’’) Women on FTSE 100 boards (4’35”) We explore whether the proportion of female directors has changed over time, and what it tells us about women in business. Using personal data for the public good (11’28”) Hetan Shah, the Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, talks about storing people’s data. How many animals are born every day? (15’39”)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 20, 2018, 5:12 p.m.

WS More or Less: How Should We Think About Spending? (p064xwgq.mp3)

Tim Harford talks to economist Dan Ariely about the psychology of money. They discuss how understanding the way we think about our finances can help us to spend more carefully and save more efficiently. Plus Dan explains how to never have an argument over sharing a restaurant bill again. (Photo: Mannequins in a shop window wearing sale t-shirts. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 13, 2018, 4:47 p.m.

WS More More or Less: Are We Breathing Unsafe Air? (p064785b.mp3)

The World Health Organisation say that 95% of people who live in cities breathe unsafe air. But what do they mean by ‘unsafe’? And how do they calculate the levels or air pollution for every city in the world? Plus Mt Etna in Italy has reportedly moved by 14mm, but who is calculating this? And how do they know the answer with such accuracy? (Photo: People wear masks as smoke billows from a coal fired power plant, Shanxi, China. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 8, 2018, 8:30 p.m.

WS More or Less: Why London’s Murder Rate is Being Compared to New York’s (p063jqqy.mp3)

London’s murder rate is on the rise – and for the first time ever it has just overtaken New York’s, according to a number of media outlets. But is it true? And is it appropriate for journalists to compare between the two cities? South Africa’s missing children statistics A viral Facebook post has suggested that one child is kidnapped every thirty seconds in South Africa. We examine the evidence which shows that a child is reported missing every nine hours to the police, and this includes more than just kidnappings. (Photo: Police officers inspect the scene of a knife attack in London. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 29, 2018, 3:10 p.m.

WS More or Less: How Deadly Was 1920s Melbourne? (p062q4s6.mp3)

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries is one of Australia’s most popular television series and has been broadcast in 172 territories worldwide. Set in 1920’s Melbourne the series’ protagonist, Miss Phryne Fisher, seems to have a lot of dead bodies on her metaphorical plate. So how does the series compare with the real life murder rate at that time? Join the More Or Less team as we step back in time for some statistical sleuthing.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 23, 2018, 3:24 p.m.

Were ‘extra’ votes counted in Russia’s presidential election? (p0623lx4.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 16, 2018, 4:14 p.m.

Factchecking Trump on Trade (p061ctf7.mp3)

Whenever Donald Trump talks about trade he brings up one statistic again and again, the US trade balance. This is the relationship between the goods and services the US imports from other countries and what it exports – if America buys more from a country than that country buys from America there’s a deficit, and Trump claims America has a trade deficit with almost every country in the world. Is he right? We unpick whether President Trump is quoting the correct numbers on trade, hear how trade figures can vary widely between countries and ask if it’s the right approach to focus trade deal negotiations on reducing the US deficit. (Photo: President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 9, 2018, 6:45 p.m.

WS More or Less: Sir Roger Bannister (p060nfgp.mp3)

After Sir Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes, did positive thinking propel dozens to do the same?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 5, 2018, 10:52 a.m.

WS More or Less: Women, the Oscars and the Bechdel Test (p06049gv.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 25, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: The Winter Olympics (p05z577y.mp3)

What’s the most successful nation? (0’40”) We look at population, GDP per capita and ski areas of the countries with the most medals. How do you judge a country’s ‘best’ performance? (3.45”) What are the chances of dead heat in a race? (6’35”) The two-man bobsleigh event ended in a dead heat with both Canada and Germany achieving a time of three minutes 16.86 seconds. Is this the coldest winter games? (8’41”)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 18, 2018, noon

WS More or Less: Debunking guide – on a postcard (p05yfp9m.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 16, 2018, 5:29 p.m.

UN rape claims, Stalin and Mr Darcy (p05yfdtc.mp3)

How many people have UN staff raped? – (0’40’’) It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade. The wealth of Mr Darcy – (5’10”) The male love interest of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is supposed to be fabulously wealthy. Is he? How many people did Stalin kill? – (10’00”) Why there are so many different figures reported. Avoid splitting the bill – (18’25”) Credit card roulette is Dan Ariely’s preferred way of ending a meal with friends. Gender in literature – (22’15”)How are women depicted in books? Author Ben Blatt does an analysis.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 11, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Has Russian Drinking Fallen by 80% in five years? (p05xnwl3.mp3)

Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia’s health ministry

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 9, 2018, 6:20 p.m.

The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun part II (p05xnv8q.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 5, 2018, 8 a.m.

WS More or Less: Is China On Track to End Poverty by 2020? (p05wxzy2.mp3)

A key pledge of the Chinese President Xi Jinping is that China will have eradicated poverty by 2020. It’s an extraordinary claim, but the country does have a good track record in improving the wealth of its citizens; the World Bank says China has contributed more than any other country to global poverty reduction. So how does China measure poverty? And is it possible for them to make sure, over the next few years, that no one falls below their poverty line? Photo: A woman tends to her niece amid the poor surroundings of her home's kitchen Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Feb. 2, 2018, 7:41 p.m.

Transgender Numbers, Parkrun and Snooker (p05wy4r7.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 29, 2018, 11:58 a.m.

Is the US Census Under Threat? (p05wfz0k.mp3)

The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results. The United States are due to run their next nationwide census in 2020, but already critics are warning that underfunding and proposed question about citizenship could affect the accuracy of its results. We look at the real life consequences if groups choose not to complete the 2020 census, and ask whether the recent politically charged debate is unusual in its two hundred year history. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Kate Lamble Photo: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a pen Credit: Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 26, 2018, 7:45 p.m.

A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime numbers (p05w716l.mp3)

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.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 22, 2018, 11:57 a.m.

WS More or Less: Real Lives Behind the Numbers (p05vpw6y.mp3)

If you ask an economist to explain what is happening in a country’s economy. They rely on economic data points to describe what is happening – they might talk about the unemployment rate, average wages, and the numbers of people in poverty. They pull together the information available for thousands or millions of people to work out trends. But are we getting the whole picture? We speak to Rachel Schneider, co-author of the book, ‘The Financial Diaries’. It’s based on a large study in the USA. Over a period of a year from 2012 to 2013, researchers interviewed several families about how they were managing their money to find out the personal stories behind economic data. Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald (Photo: A couple looking at their finances. Credit: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 19, 2018, 7:22 p.m.

Gender Pay Gaps and How to Learn a Language (p05vgyp8.mp3)

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)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 15, 2018, 1:31 p.m.

WS More or Less: How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists by Half a Century (p05ty4ds.mp3)

A forgotten French mathematician is the focus of our programme. He anticipated both Einstein's theories and the application of maths to the stock market. Born in the 1870s, his work was unusual at the time. With the help of Alison Etheridge, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, we explain how his ideas were rediscovered decades after his death. (Photo: Pocket watch. Credit: Kanyapak Lim/Shutterstock)

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 12, 2018, 5 p.m.

Missed appointments, graduate pay, plus cocaine on bank notes (p05tplq1.mp3)

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?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Jan. 7, 2018, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Just how rare is a hole-in-one? (p05ssbwg.mp3)

Why it isn’t as simple to work out as you think.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 31, 2017, 8 p.m.

More or Less: Statistics of the Year 2017 (p05rv2q5.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 24, 2017, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: Will Bitcoin use more electricity than the United States? (p05rt35p.mp3)

Measuring the energy used to keep the cryptocurrency secure.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 18, 2017, 11:03 a.m.

WS More or Less: Diet Coke Habit; 'Contained' Wildfires (p05rf8pf.mp3)

Could the US President’s Diet Coke habit affect his health? and 'contained' wildfires

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 11, 2017, 10:51 a.m.

WS More or Less: Does Eating Chocolate Make Your Brain Younger? (p05qqz05.mp3)

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

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Dec. 4, 2017, noon

WS More or Less: Just how lucky are regular lottery winners? (p05q0p96.mp3)

Are some people just very lucky? The maths suggest that is unlikely.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 26, 2017, 8 p.m.

WS More or Less: How Rich was Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy? (p05p3ssf.mp3)

What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today’s money.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on Nov. 17, 2017, 10 p.m.

How expensive is Italy's World Cup failure? (p05nd45q.mp3)

The Italians are calling it the apocalypse. Their team has failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But it is about more than just national pride - there is a financial cost too. Some have suggested that it will cost FIFA $100m. Is this really true? We speak to sports writer Graham Dunbar who has been counting how much money football's world governing body might lose out on. Also we fact check the claim that 45% of Nigerian women marry before their 18th birthday. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Xavier Zapata (Image: Alessandro Florenzi of Italy at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier play-off, November 13, 2017. Credit: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)