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:
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Recent episodes (10)

  • WS Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brains? 29 Aug 14

    Mon, 1 Sep 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is it true that humans use just 10% of their brains? It’s the premise of the new film Lucy, in which the brain capacity of Scarlett Johansson’s character increases to dangerous levels. Tim Harford uses considerably more than 10% of his brain to separate the neuro-science facts from the fiction with Professor Sophie Scott. What drives the price of footballers? Tim Harford tries to understand the huge transfer fees with Raffaele Poli from the CIES Football Observatory and football agent Seb Ewen. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Ruth Alexander This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • How Deadly Is Ebola? 29 Aug 14

    Fri, 29 Aug 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Media reports are suggesting that as many as 12,000 people may have Ebola in West Africa, but experts tell More or Less that's not the case. It's also said that Ebola kills up to 90% of victims, but while that's true of one outbreak, the death rate in other Ebola outbreaks has varied widely. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander

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  • WS Deaths in Gaza 22 Aug 14

    Mon, 25 Aug 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As the Gaza conflict continues, the fact that there are estimated to be nearly three times as many men as women among the Palestinian civilian casualties has been an issue in the spotlight. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look at why men are often over-represented in civilian death tolls, and how the statistics in this conflict are being gathered. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • Troubled families? 22 Aug 14

    Fri, 22 Aug 14

    Duration:
    28 mins

    "Revealed: half a million problem families" reported The Sunday Times. The government's expanding its Troubled Families programme - two years after More or Less found it statistically wanting. Tim Harford discusses the new numbers with BBC Newsnight's Chris Cook. Plus: CEO remuneration; deaths in Gaza; divorce risks and further adventures in the audio presentation of data.

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  • WS Anti-Semitism 15 Aug 14

    Mon, 18 Aug 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is anti-semitism on the rise? Ruth Alexander and James Fletcher look at the numbers, as media reports in the wake of the Gaza conflict suggest anti-semitism is a growing problem. Does the evidence support the claims? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • Student Loans 15 Aug 14

    Fri, 15 Aug 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    The cost of the government's new student loan system is rising according to a recent report. Tim Harford investigates whether the rising costs should have been foreseen, and whether the new system will end up costing more than the old one. Plus: mobile phone goldmines in our pockets; paedophilia in the priesthood and from machine learning to deep learning.

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  • WS Ebola 10 Aug 14

    Sun, 10 Aug 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    What do we know about how deadly the Ebola virus is, and how likely is it that there might be an outbreak of the virus in the United States or Europe?

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  • WS Fear of Flying 01 Aug 14

    Sat, 2 Aug 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    After three tragic airline incidents in eight days, is flying becoming more dangerous? Wesley Stephenson looks at the statistics behind air travel to find out? And which is the most successful nation in Commonwealth Games history? Australia, Canada, England – not even close. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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