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Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 21, 2019, 5:02 p.m.

Questioning the Chernobyl disaster death count (p07dtdwq.mp3)

The recent TV miniseries ‘Chernobyl’ has stirred up debate online about the accuracy of its portrayal of the explosion at a nuclear power plant in the former Soviet state of Ukraine. We fact-check the programme and try and explain why it so hard to say how many people will die because of the Chernobyl disaster. Image: Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster. Credit: Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 14, 2019, 5 p.m.

WS More or Less: Dealing with the Numbers of Cancer (p07d504g.mp3)

How one woman used statistics to help cope with cancer.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 10, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: The things we fail to see (p07cklbg.mp3)

The hidden influences that a make a big difference to the way the world works.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 7, 2019, 5:59 p.m.

Are married women flipping miserable? (p07ckkn4.mp3)

Measuring happiness, university access in Scotland, plus will one in two get cancer?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on June 3, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: Volcanoes versus humans (p07bx7h3.mp3)

Does Mount Etna produce more carbon emissions than humans? We check the numbers.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 31, 2019, 5:21 p.m.

Hay Festival Special (p07bx47h.mp3)

What does it mean to say that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 27, 2019, 2 p.m.

WS More or Less: Florence Nightingale – recognising the nurse statistician (p07b8bbf.mp3)

How collecting data about the dead led the famous nurse to promote better sanitation.

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

Eurovision and fact-checking Naomi Wolf (p07b88w2.mp3)

The stats behind making a successful song, plus misunderstanding Victorian court records.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 20, 2019, 2 p.m.

Making music out of Money (p079kkp4.mp3)

Data visualisation is all the rage, but where does that leave the old-fashioned values of audio? Some data visualisation experts are starting to explore the benefits of turning pictures into sound. Financial Times journalist Alan Smith plays his musical interpretation of a chart depicting the yield-curve of American bonds. Image: Human heart attack, illustration Credit: Science Photo Library

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 17, 2019, 5:44 p.m.

Heart deaths, Organised crime and Gender data gaps (p079kgs7.mp3)

Are deaths from heart disease on the rise? This week the British Heart Foundation had us all stopping mid-biscuit with the news that the number of under 75s dying from cardiovascular disease is going up for the first time in half a century. It sounds like bad news – but is it? Does Huawei contribute £1.7billion to the UK economy? People were sceptical that the Chinese telecom company could contribute such a large amount to the UK economy. We take a deeper look at the number and discuss whether it is reasonable to include such a broad range of activities connected to the company to reach that figure. Deaths from organised crime The National Crime Agency (NCA) said this week that organised crime kills more people in the UK than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined. But what does the evidence say? The NCA also said that there are 181,000 offenders in the UK fueling serious and organised crime. That’s more than twice the strength of the British Army. We try to find out where those figures came from. The absence of women’s lives in data Do government and economic statistics capture the lives of women fairly? If not, does it matter? How could things be changed? Tim Harford speaks to Caroline Criado-Perez about her new book ‘Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.’ Image: Human heart attack, illustration Credit: Science Photo Library

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 13, 2019, 9 a.m.

Sex Every Seven Seconds (p078w8wl.mp3)

We revisit some classic topics from past years. We hear which statistics about sex you should trust, and which are less robust. Do men think about sex every seven seconds? Plus, did the arrival of royal baby Princess Charlotte really contribute to the British economy?

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 10, 2019, 6:14 p.m.

Sex, coal, missing people and mice (p078w8wn.mp3)

Sex Recession This week it was reported that British people are having less sex than they used to. Similar statistics are cropping up elsewhere in the world too. But one US stat seemed particularly stark: the number of young men having no sex at all in the past year has tripled in a decade. But is it true? No coal power for a week There were many reports in the newspapers this week saying the UK has set a new record for the number of consecutive days generating energy without burning any coal. So where is our electricity coming from? Missing people Some listeners got in touch to say they were surprised to hear that a person is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds. Dr Karen Shalev Greene of the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons joins us to explore the numbers. In Mice One scientist is correcting headlines on Twitter by adding one key two-word caveat – the fact that the research cited has only been carried out "in mice". We ask him why he’s doing it.

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 6, 2019, 2 p.m.

Avengers - Should we reverse the snap? (p0788dv4.mp3)

At the end of Avengers: Infinity War film the villain, Thanos, snapped his fingers in the magical infinity gauntlet and disintegrated half of all life across the universe. The Avengers want to reverse the snap but would it better for mankind to live in a world with a population of less than 4 billion? Tim Harford investigates the economics of Thanos with anthropologist Professor Sharon DeWitte and fictionomics blogger Zachary Feinstein PHD. Image: The Avengers Endgame film poster Credit: ©Marvel Studios 2019

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on May 3, 2019, 5:19 p.m.

Nurses, flatmates and cats (p07886nw.mp3)

Nurse suicide rates There were some worrying figures in the news this week about the number of nurses in England and Wales who died by suicide over the last seven years. We try to work out what the numbers are really telling us. Are 27 million birds killed a year by cats? Newspapers reported this week that 27 million birds are killed by cats each year. We find out how this number - which might not really be "news" - was calculated. How rare are house shares? A listener got in touch to say she was surprised to read that only 3% of people aged 18 to 34 live in a house share with other people. She feels it must be too low – but is she living in a London house-sharing bubble? We find out. Proving that x% of y = y% of x Why is it that 4% of 75 is the same as 75% of 4? Professor Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford joins Tim in the studio to explore a mind-blowing maths ‘trick’. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Charlotte McDonald, Darin Graham and Beth Sagar-Fenton

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 29, 2019, 2 p.m.

Bernie Sanders and the cost of having a baby (p077rpgd.mp3)

Bernie Sanders, a Senator in the United States and one of the front-runners in the campaign to be the Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter that it costs $12,000 to have a baby in his country. He compared that figure to Finland, where he said it costs $60. In this edition of More or Less, Tim Harford looks at whether Sanders has got his figures right. With Carol Sakala of US organisation Childbirth Connection and Mika Gissler of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland. Producer: Darin Graham Presenters: Tim Harford and Charlotte McDonald Image: A newborn baby's hand. Credit:Getty Images/TongRo Images Inc

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 26, 2019, 6:28 p.m.

Hottest Easter, Insects, Scottish villages (p077l5ck.mp3)

Was it a surprise that Easter Monday was so hot? A heatwave struck the UK over Easter – and in fact Easter Monday was declared the hottest on record in the UK. But listeners asked - is it that surprising that it was the warmest when the date fell so late in April? We crunch the numbers supplied by the Met Office. Insectageddon Insects live all around us and if a recent scientific review is anything to go by, then they are on the path to extinction. The analysis found that more than 40% of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5% a year suggests they could disappear in 100 years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble? Collecting income tax from the 1% Recently Lord Sugar said in a Tweet “The fact is if you taxed everyone earning over £150k at a rate of 70% it would not raise enough to pay for 5% of the NHS.” Is that true? Helen Miller, Deputy Director and head of tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at how much such a policy might raise from the 1% of tax payers who earn over £150,000. Where is Scotland’s highest village? A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all. Image: A man and woman sitting on deckchairs on the beach Credit: Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 20, 2019, 12:05 a.m.

The economic impact of mega sporting events (p076wwt7.mp3)

The Olympic Games and the football World Cup, two of the biggest events in the world which are each hosted every four years, are big business. And it costs a lot of money to host them, and a lot of the money comes from public funds. In this week’s edition of More or Less, we’ll be finding out – after all the sporting activities are over – how realistic were those economic predictions? Producer: Darin Graham Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard Vadon Picture Credit: Fang Guangming/Southern Metropolis Daily/VCG

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 15, 2019, 2 p.m.

Where is Scotland’s highest village? (p076bmsy.mp3)

A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all. Presenter: Phoebe Keane Picture: A village in the Southern Scottish uplands. Credit: Jan Halfpenny

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 8, 2019, 2 p.m.

Rounding up the weed killer cancer conundrum (p075mvmf.mp3)

A recent scientific review claims the weed killer glyphosate raises the risk of developing the cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent. But deciding what causes cancer can be complicated and there are lots of people and organisations on different sides arguing for against this. So in this edition of More or Less, we look at the disagreements and how the authors of the review came up with the results. With cancer epidemiologist Dr Geoffrey Kabat, Toxicologist Dr Luoping Zhang and statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter. Producer: Darin Graham Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard Vadon Picture: Tractor spraying a field of wheat Credit: Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on April 2, 2019, 2:34 p.m.

Chess cheats and the GOAT (p07597rz.mp3)

Who is the greatest chess player in history? And what does the answer have to do with a story of a chess cheating school from Texas? In this week’s More or Less, the BBC’s numbers programme, David Edmonds finds out what a statistical analysis of chess moves can teach us about this ancient board game. Presenter: David Edmonds Producer: Darin Graham Image: A Chess Board Credit: Getty Images

From More or Less: Behind the Stats on March 25, 2019, 2 p.m.

Is Mansa Musa the richest person of all time? (p074jv8y.mp3)

Mansa Musa, the 14th century Mali king, has nothing on Jeff Bezos - read one recent news report. Musa set off on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the 1300s and it’s said he left with a caravan of 60,000 people. Among them were soldiers, entertainers, merchants and slaves. A train of camels followed, each carrying gold. In recent reports, he has been described as the richest person that ever lived. He has been compared to some of the wealthiest people alive today. But how can we know the value of the ‘golden king’s’ wealth and can we compare a monarch to the likes of Amazon founder Bezos? In this edition, historian Dr Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah of the University of Ghana in Accra explains who Mansa Musa was and Kerry Dolan of Forbes talks to us about rich lists. Producer: Darin Graham Editor: Richard Vadon (Image: Painting of Mansa Musa, Credit: Getty Images)

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.