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:
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Recent episodes (10)

  • 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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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

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  • 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?

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