More or Less: Behind the Stats

More or Less: Behind the Stats

Tim Harford investigates numbers in the news. Numbers are used in every area of public debate. But are they always reliable? Tim and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. A half-hour programme broadcast at 1600 on Friday afternoons and repeated at 2000 on Sundays on Radio 4. BBC World Service broadcasts a short edition over the weekend.

  • Updated:
    Weekly
  • Episodes available:
    Indefinitely help

Subscribe for free

Subscribe to this podcast and automatically receive the latest episodes.

More help with subscribing

Recent episodes (10)

  • WS The prevalence of paedophilia? 25 Jul 14

    Sat, 26 Jul 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

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

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS The Tour de France 18 Jul 14

    Sat, 19 Jul 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Tour de France has reached the mountains, but what does it take to be a good climber and why are the cyclists thin and bony, while sprinters are bigger with bulging muscles? And what is the best body type to win the yellow jersey? Also are 24,000 people really killed by lightning each year? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS Golden Ticket 11 Jul 14

    Sat, 12 Jul 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    In Roald Dahl’s novel "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory", Charlie Bucket wins a golden ticket to visit Willy Wonka’s factory. But one of our younger More or Less listeners in England wanted to find out what the chances would be of winning one of those Golden Tickets. So we sent maths book author Rob Eastaway to her school in Derby to explain the answer to her class-mates - a must-listen for anyone who struggles to get their head around probability. Also on the programme we look at whether the age of players makes a difference in World Cup football. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Will we die before our parents? 04 Jul 14

    Sat, 5 Jul 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Obesity may mean children have a shorter lifespan than their parents, it has been claimed, but is this true? Ruth Alexander looks at the data and explores the 'Obesity Paradox' – the idea that overweight people are less likely to die than those of normal weight. She also questions whether the promise of bonuses in The World Cup has improved performances. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS Is this the greatest world cup ever? 27 Jun 14

    Sat, 28 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As we reach the end of the group stage are we really witnessing the greatest world cup ever? Ruth Alexander casts a sceptical eye over the statistics. She also takes a look at the possession stats to see if we’re seeing the death of tiki-taka with the help of Michael Cox from ZonalMarking.net. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS Money for nothing? 20 Jun 14

    Sat, 21 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    When it comes to aid, what works best – giving people food, shelter, medicine, or just handing over cash and letting them spend it how they like? One group of researchers went to a Kenyan village to try to answer this question and to do so they also employed a new tool - randomised controlled testing. RCTs have long been the gold standard for measuring whether medical drugs work, but could they revolutionise how we measure the impact of aid?

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS Heads Or Tails? 13 Jun 14

    Mon, 16 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Freakonomics guru Steven Levitt joins us to talk about an unusual experiment – getting people to agree to make major life decisions based on the toss of a coin. Is this really good social science? And what do the results tell us about decision making and happiness? And with 365 days in the year, it feels like a huge coincidence when we meet someone with the same birthday. But you only need 23 people to have a better than even chance that two will share a birthday. This counter-intuitive result is known as the birthday paradox, and the best place to look for proof is the World Cup, where 32 squads of 23 players provide an ideal data-set. Alex Bellos crunches the numbers for us. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Faith and Charity? 13 Jun 14

    Fri, 13 Jun 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    "Religion Makes People More Generous"- according to The Daily Telegraph's interpretation of a new BBC poll on charitable giving. Tim Harford investigates whether there is a link between practising a religion and whether we give. Plus: Big data - the hype says it will help deliver everything from increased corporate profits to better healthcare but are we being blinded to basic statistical lessons learned over the past two hundred years? And it feels like a huge coincidence, but you only need 23 people to have a better than even chance of meeting someone with the same birthday. This is the birthday paradox, and the best place to look for proof is the World Cup, where 32 squads of 23 players provide an ideal data-set. Alex Bellos crunches the numbers for us.

    Download 14MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WS 'Spurious Correlations' 06 Jun 14

    Mon, 9 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption? It's one of many pairs of statistics featured on the 'Spurious Correlations' website started recently by Tyler Vigen. We talk to him about some of the funniest correlations he's found and the serious point he's trying to make. Plus: World Cup Office Sweepstake strategy. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

    Download 5MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • What's Scottish Independence Worth? 06 Jun 14

    Fri, 6 Jun 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Scottish independence - yes or no? Which will line your pocket more? The Scottish government says a Yes vote will leave Scots £1,000 each better off; the UK treasury says a No vote means a £1,400 bonus for Scots. More or Less looks at exactly what these claims mean, the key assumptions underlying them, and asks whether either number is likely to be accurate. Plus: the "zombie" statistic that each year 100,000 Christians are martyred around the world; getting people to agree to make major life decisions based on the toss of a coin and World Cup Office Sweepstake strategy.

    Download 13MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

Terms of Use

The BBC Podcasts are for your personal non-commercial use only.

All title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the BBC Podcasts shall remain the property of the BBC or third parties. You may not edit, alter, adapt or add to the BBC Podcast in any way. The BBC Podcasts are made available by the BBC on an "as is" and "as available" basis and the BBC gives no warranty of any kind in relation to the BBC Podcast. To the maximum extent permitted by law the BBC will not be liable for any loss or damage which you may suffer as a result of, or connected to, the download or use of the BBC Podcasts.

 

See the full Standard Licence Terms here.

Play recent episodes

You may also like

In Our Time Archive: History

  • Factual > History
  • Factual > Science & Nature > Nature & Environment
  • Factual

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss the people, conflicts and events that have shaped the world.

Thu, 7 Jul 11

42 minutes

A History of Britain in Numbers

  • Learning
  • Entertainment
  • Factual

British history in numbers, the big trends and changes in our lives, brought to life with interviews and new audio techniques, and compared with the present day. Andrew Dilnot presents 10 programmes

Fri, 29 Nov 13

13 minutes

Genres

  • No matches found