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.

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Recent episodes (10)

  • WS Pregnancy and Homicide 14 Nov 14

    Sat, 15 Nov 14

    Duration:
    11 mins

    The movie Gone Girl claims homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women. Ruth Alexander asks Dr Katherine Gold from the University of Michigan if this is true. And can we trust country rankings seen in the growing number of performance indices? We speak to the Economist’s international editor Helen Joyce. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • Tracking and Tackling Ebola 07 Nov 14

    Sat, 8 Nov 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Hans Rosling, global health expert and data visionary, has just arrived in Liberia. He is working as an independent professor at the Health ministry there, as part of the team tracking and tackling Ebola. We talk to him about the latest numbers surrounding the virus. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • WS Kidney Donation 31 Oct 14

    Sat, 1 Nov 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The chance of a successful kidney match between two unrelated people has increased significantly in the past 10 years - why? Ruth Alexander speaks to Professor Anthony Warrens, president of the British Transplantation Society. And we find out for our loyal listener how many individuals he will need to create a new race of people. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • Screening for Ebola 24 Oct 14

    Sat, 25 Oct 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are airport screenings for Ebola really an effective way of stopping transmission of the disease? And as the United Nations asks for another $1bn (£625m) in aid we take a look at which governments and charities are rallying to the cause and which are not. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • WS Big Data 17 Oct 14

    Sat, 18 Oct 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Big data has been enjoying a lot of hype, with promises it will help deliver everything from increased corporate profits to better healthcare. While the potential is certainly there, Tim Harford asks if the hype is blinding us to some basic statistical lessons learned over the past two-hundred years? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • Species in Decline? 10 Oct 14

    Sat, 11 Oct 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The coverage of the Living Planet Index and its claim that species populations have dropped 50% in the last 40 years aroused much suspicion among More Or Less listeners. The team looks at what the figure means and how it was calculated. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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  • WS Will Berlin see a sub-two-hour marathon? 03 Oct 14

    Mon, 6 Oct 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Why is Berlin the place to break the marathon world record and how long will it be before we witness someone run it in less than two hours?

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  • WS How do we calculate the distance to the sun? 26 Sept 2014

    Mon, 29 Sep 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Two young listeners emailed the programme to ask how we calculate the distance to the sun. We decided to invite them and their parents to More or Less towers where Andrew Pontzen, an astrophysicist at University College London was on hand to explain the answer. A BBC nature documentary stated that there are 14,000 ants to every person on earth, and that were we to weigh all of these ants they would weigh the same as all the people. Can this be true? Tim Harford and Hannah Moore investigate with the help of Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at the University of Sussex.

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  • The Barnett Formula 26 Sept 14

    Fri, 26 Sep 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    This week Tim explains the Barnett Formula with a bit of help from Money Box's Paul Lewis. He looks at Ed Balls sleight of hand in his speech to the Labour Party Conference. Is Ed Miliband's promise on NHS funding really worse than the funding increases delivered by Margaret Thatcher? And how do we know how far away is the sun really is?

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  • WS The UK vs Mississippi 19 Sept 2014

    Mon, 22 Sep 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is Britain poorer than every US state, except for Mississippi? Journalist Fraser Nelson calculates that’s the case. Tim Harford speaks to economist Chris Dillow about why he’s right. Late last year BBC Trending referred to Eritrea as ‘tiny’. Listeners complained and the complaint was upheld. More or Less talks to Trending producer Mukul Devichand and asks whether any country can rightly be called ‘tiny’.

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