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

All episodes (228)

  • Shakespeare vs Rappers 12 Sep 14

    Mon, 15 Sep 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It's a 'fact' beloved of English teachers around the world: that Shakespeare, the greatest playwright in English, also had the greatest vocabulary. But research published earlier this year suggests English teachers might have to look elsewhere to establish the superiority of the Bard - apparently his vocabulary lags behind the best and most famous rappers of the last decades. Is this comparison fair, and if so, does it diminish the Bard's lustre? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Scottish referendum polls 12 Sep 14

    Fri, 12 Sep 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford talks to pollsters about how they are trying to gauge the political mood in Scotland, and he analyses Nigel Farage's claim that more than half of Scotland is on benefits. Plus: celebrating Countdown, the longest-running TV quiz show; quantifying malnutrition in the UK; and does the ‘Curse of Strictly Come Dancing’ really exist?

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

  • WS To ice or not to ice? 05 Sep 14

    Mon, 8 Sep 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The ALS ice bucket challenge has become a viral phenomenon. People around the world have been dousing themselves in ice-cold water and in the process have raised over $100m for charity. But a true nerd doesn't run with the herd, and Tim Harford is only going to do the challenge if the facts stack up. He investigates whether a viral challenge like this is good for charitable giving overall, and whether there are reasons to be more choosy about the charities we give to. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • To ice or not to ice? 05 Sep 14

    Fri, 5 Sep 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    The ALS ice bucket challenge viral phenomenon has raised over $100m. Is this good for charitable giving overall, and should we be more choosy about the charities we give to? Plus: is there a 'rising tide' of anti-Semitism in Europe; does Shakespeare have the largest vocabulary, or is the Bard bested by hip hop’s finest; and is the current generation of young people likely to live shorter lives than their parents?

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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?

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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")

  • WS The Piketty Affair 30 May 14

    Mon, 2 Jun 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Did 'rock-star' French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong? His theories about rising inequality and the increasing importance of capital have been the talk of the economic and political worlds this year. And part of their power has been the massive amount of data Piketty has brought together to back them. But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty's data on wealth. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty's response. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The Piketty Affair 30 May 14

    Fri, 30 May 14

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Did 'rock-star' French economist Thomas Piketty get his numbers wrong? His theories about rising inequality and the increasing importance of capital have been the talk of the economic and political worlds this year. And part of their appeal has been the massive amount of data Piketty has brought together to back them. But the Financial Times claims to have found significant problems with Piketty's data on wealth, and says this undermines his claims about rising inequality. Tim Harford examines the FT's claims and Thomas Piketty's response. Plus: is as much land given over to golf courses as housing in England; is racism on the rise in Britain; and should we be concerned that several young men who have died recently were players of the video game Call of Duty?

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

  • WS Risk Savvy 23 May 14

    Mon, 26 May 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A famous probability puzzle is discussed involving goats and game shows with German psychologist Gerd Gigerenzer. Is he right to suggest in his new book 'Risk Savvy' that we really don't understand risk and uncertainty? And More or Less listeners weigh in on a problem from last week’s programme - how old will you be before you're guaranteed to celebrate a major, round-number birthday (like 40 or 50) on a weekend?

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

  • Romanian Crime 23 May 14

    Fri, 23 May 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Are the statistics put forward by UKIP accurate, and are Romanians responsible for more crime than other nationalities? Plus: Gerd Gigerenzer on the famous probability puzzle involving goats and game shows; do 24,000 people die every year from lightning strikes globally; how old will you be before you're guaranteed a round-number birthday on a weekend; and is the divorce rate in the US state of Maine linked to margarine consumption?

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

  • WS Did global poverty halve overnight? 16 May 14

    Mon, 19 May 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Did the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty fall by half a few weeks ago? That's one interpretation of newly released figures for purchasing power parity around the world. The figures compiled by the International Comparison Programme of the World Bank show that in a lot of poorer countries, things are cheaper than we had thought. One development think tank has suggested that if people in these countries can afford to buy more, fewer of them will fall under the World Bank's definition of extreme poverty. We take a look at the argument to see if it stacks up, and whether the World Bank should be lowering its estimates for global poverty in light of the new figures. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Tax Dodgers and Benefits Cheats 16 May 14

    Fri, 16 May 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Does the government have lots of people chasing the relatively small amounts lost to benefits cheats, while massive amounts of tax evasion are barely investigated? Plus: did global poverty fall by half a few weeks ago; Eurovision data crunching; Willy Wonka's coveted 'Golden Tickets' and is London the 6th biggest French city?

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

  • WS Brazil’s Maths Superstar 09 May 14

    Mon, 12 May 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Man Who Counted, a book of 'Arabic' mathematical tales written by Middle Eastern scholar Malba Tahan was published in Brazil in the 1930s. It became a huge success. Malba Tahan's birthday, May 6th, is now celebrated as Brazil's National Day of Mathematics. But the author wasn't who everybody thought he was. Alex Bellos tells his story. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Food Bank Britain 09 May 14

    Fri, 9 May 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Food banks are being used by a million people in Britain according to recent newspaper reports. But what do we really know about how many people are using food banks, and does this tell us anything about whether food poverty is increasing? Plus: we remember Gary Becker; Alex Bellos tells the story of Brazil's most famous mathematician; and did a fruit and vegetable seller run the first four minute mile in 1770?

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

  • Sir Roger Bannister's ‘impossible’ feat 02 May 14

    Mon, 5 May 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Sir Roger Bannister became the first man to run a mile in under four minutes 60 ago. It's one of the most famous records of the 20th Century, one that the passage of time has shrouded in legend. Was the four-minute mile really considered an 'impossible' physical barrier? Are motivational speakers like Anthony Robbins right to claim that the year after it was broken, the power of positive thinking helped dozens of runners to break the four-minute barrier. More or Less speaks with Sir Roger Bannister to separate myth from reality and find out exactly what propelled him to his famous feat. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • British Law - Made in Brussels? 02 May 14

    Fri, 2 May 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    How much British law is made in Brussels - 75% as UKIP say, or 7% as Nick Clegg says? And how might the ideas of an 18th century minister help find the missing flight MH370?

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

  • Killed for being female? 25 Apr 14

    Sat, 26 Apr 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are 100 million women missing from the world? A listener asks More or Less to explore this powerful statement - "More girls were killed in the last 50 years, precisely because they were girls, than men killed in all the wars in the 20th century." The quote is from a book called 'Half the Sky' by Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn. It has been used in articles, by UN agencies and on TV to highlight the fatal consequences of discrimination of women based on their sex. But is it true? More or Less looks at the evidence. How can we know if a woman is killed precisely because she is a woman? And how do we know how many men have been killed in war?

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

  • Magic Numbers 18 Apr 14

    Sat, 19 Apr 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Do you have a favourite number - one you love, one you think stands out from all the others? Author Alex Bellos joins us to talk about his quest to find the world's favourite number and discuss whether numbers really can be magical, mystical and memorable, or whether it's all mumbo jumbo. Why are odd numbers so appealing? Which number strikes fear into some people's hearts? And why do lists of questions like these always come in threes? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Nigeria - rich or poor? 11 Apr 14

    Sat, 12 Apr 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Nigeria's bureau of statistics has overhauled the way it calculates the country's GDP figures. With GDP now estimated at around $510 billion, it has surpassed South Africa as the continent's largest economy. But just because it has earned this accolade – does that make it one of the richest? Plus was the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, right to say recently that Nigeria is one of just five countries that together are home to two-thirds of the world’s extreme poor? We sift through the statistics to find out if economic development is benefitting everyone in Nigeria. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Freedom in Numbers 04 Apr 14

    Sat, 5 Apr 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How many people in the world live in freedom? The BBC's Freedom 2014 season got Tim Harford and the More or Less team wondering about this. It's actually pretty hard to put a number on freedom, so Tim begins by looking at something more quantifiable: how many people live in a democracy? And are people in democracies happier? Tim Harford looks at the numbers with Simon Baptist from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Plus, he examines the price of a cup of coffee, and whether Ruth Alexander can be persuaded to pay for his. This programme was first broadcast live on the BBC World Service on 01 April 2014 from the Media Café at BBC New Broadcasting House in London.

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

  • Is London France’s sixth largest city? 29 Mar 14

    Sat, 29 Mar 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are there really be 300,000 French people in London and would they really want to leave France for the UK anyway? The Mayor of London, British journalists and commentators have trotted out this "fact" a number of times over the last few years to illustrate just how popular the UK’s capital is with its neighbours across the Channel. It appears that Nicolas Sarkozy may have said it as far back as 2008. Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald brush off their best French to find out the truth. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Missing planes 22 Mar 14

    Sat, 22 Mar 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Could Bayesian statistics find Flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing? This niche form of statistical modelling has been used to find everything from submarines to missing people. More or Less explores how it was used to locate the wreckage of Air France flight 447 from Brazil to France which disappeared in 2009. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Mailbox edition 15 Mar 14

    Sat, 15 Mar 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Your questions answered - Do the Maasai in Africa number one million? Is it true that a quarter of Americans do not know the Earth goes round the sun? Are half of Tasmanians innumerate and illiterate? Plus, Do the 85 richest people in the world hold the same amount of wealth as the poorest half? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Modern Slavery 08 Mar 2014

    Sat, 8 Mar 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are there 21 million slaves in the world today? Director of 12 Years a Slave, Steve McQueen, made this claim at both the Oscars and the BAFTAs while accepting awards. More or Less looks into the definition of a slave, where they can be found, and explores how they can be counted. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The 10,000 hours rule 01 Feb 14

    Sat, 1 Mar 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Becoming a pro on practice alone – is that possible? Or do you need innate talent? After reading books promoting the idea, a photographer with no natural talent explains how he is practising for 10,000, hours to become a professional golfer. We hear David Epstein, author of 'The Sports Gene', and Malcolm Gladwell, author of 'Outliers' explain their views on whether you need innate ability. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Neknomination Outbreak 22 Feb 2014

    Sat, 22 Feb 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The rise and fall of an online epidemic: How studying the spread of infectious diseases suggests the global drinking craze Neknomination will fizzle out. Drinkers post videos of their exploits and nominate others to do the same – but eventually the fad will run out of steam says epidemiologist Adam Kucharski from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. Plus, while politicians debate how much to tax the rich in France and the UK– we look at which countries levy the highest and the lowest rates of income tax for both the wealthy and average worker. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Love by numbers 15 Feb 14

    Sat, 15 Feb 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Can economics help you find love? Tim Harford and the team look at the maths behind modern match-making. Economist Michele Belot from the University of Edinburgh explains why women are pickier than men at speed dating events. Plus - how analysing numbers from online dating agencies can help improve the chances of finding a partner: a personal story by Amy Webb, CEO of digital strategists Webbmedia Group. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Rising drug overdose deaths 08 Feb 14

    Mon, 10 Feb 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    In the US, more people are dying from drug overdoses than from road traffic accidents and firearms. As headlines are filled with the news that actor Philip Seymour Hoffman died from an overdose recently, the team takes a look at the number of deaths from drug overdoses of both illegal and prescription drugs in the US and the rest of the world. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Immigration 01 Feb 14

    Mon, 3 Feb 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How much do migrants cost or benefit a nation? Plus, planning a wedding - when you have friends and family all around the world and a finite number of places at the venue, how do you work out how many invitations to send? Tim Harford speaks to a couple who thought statistics might have the answer. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The 50p tax rate 31 Jan 14

    Fri, 31 Jan 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Chancellor George Osborne says a 50p tax rate does not bring in much revenue; Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls says it does. Tim Harford takes a look at why it is so hard to pin down how much tax is owed by the wealthy. Plus, have wages risen? How much does it cost to raise a child? Who do you invite to your wedding?

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

  • WS Alcohol risk 25 Jan 14

    Mon, 27 Jan 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Do two large glasses of wine triple your risk of mouth cancer, as claimed on a health leaflet spotted by a sceptical listener? Tim Harford examines the difficulties of extracting smoking from the equation. Surprising as this may seem, one of the world's best tennis players of all time, Roger Federer, is also the worst ranked player on one scale. The scoring system makes it possible to lose a match despite winning more points, and Federer has lost the highest percentage of these types of games. Tim speaks to sports number-cruncher Ryan Rodenberg about why this might be the case. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Immigration 24 Jan 14

    Fri, 24 Jan 14

    Duration:
    28 mins

    What does a detailed look at immigration statistics tell us about the benefits, or otherwise, of welcoming overseas citizens? Plus, is it true that by the age of 60, more than twice as many women as men are single, and that older men are often living with younger men? Do two large glasses of wine triple your risk of mouth cancer? And which of the world's best tennis players of all time is also the worst-ranked player in one sense. Tim Harford presents.

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

  • WS An apple-a-day 18 Jan 14

    Mon, 20 Jan 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    An apple-a-day will actually keep the doctors away, according to a study in the Christmas edition of the British Medical Journal. It generated headlines around the world. But were the media right to take the story so seriously? Tim interviews one of the study’s authors and critic Paul Marantz. And, mathemagical mind-reading: Jolyon Jenkins reveals the maths behind a classic long-distance mind-reading card trick. Presenter: Tim Harford. Producer: Ruth Alexander. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Obesity crisis? 17 Jan 14

    Fri, 17 Jan 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford discovers that health statistics contradict a report which says obesity is worsening. Plus, he fact-checks: armed police shooting statistics; reports that the UK's had the worst winter storms in 20 years; media reports about controversial Channel 4 programme, Benefits Street; a study that says an apple-a-day really keeps the doctor away.

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

  • WS Counting the Dead in Iraq 11 Jan 14

    Mon, 13 Jan 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    In Iraq, estimates of the death count since the war started 2003 range from 100,000 to about one million. Tim Harford explores why such a range exists and what methods are used to count those killed during war. Meanwhile he discovers that Iraq's population has been growing strongly over the same period. Plus, mathematician and comedian Matt Parker presents his guide to the imperial measurement system. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The week that kills 10 Jan 14

    Fri, 10 Jan 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Most deaths occur in this week of the year - Tim Harford asks why. He also asks: are there really two million millionaire pensioners in the UK, and how many people have died in Iraq since 2003? Plus, mathematician and comedian, Matt Parker, apologises for his previous apology.

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

  • WS The numbers of 2013 - part 2 04 Jan 14

    Sat, 4 Jan 14

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A guide to 2013 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees. Contributors: Dr Pippa Malmgren, President and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Merryn Somerset-Webb, Editor in Chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, Comedian and Presenter. Producer: Ben Carter. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Pension Charges 03 Jan 14

    Fri, 3 Jan 14

    Duration:
    29 mins

    When the government announced that fees charged by pension providers could be capped, some listeners were sceptical that the benefits could be as great as was being claimed. Tim Harford and Money Box presenter Paul Lewis explain why the numbers do add up. It's claimed that an average of 100,000 Christians die as martyrs every year; Ruth Alexander and Tim Harford fact-check the widely-quoted statistic. Plus, Number Hub mathematician Matt Parker presents his guide to imperial measures; is Britain's railway really Europe's 'most improved'? And when six cyclists died in just two weeks in London, was that a cluster in a random distribution, or a sign that something is systematically wrong with road safety in the capital?

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

  • WS The numbers of 2013 - part 1 28 Dec 13

    Sat, 28 Dec 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A guide to 2013 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees. Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Professor for the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC Chief Business Correspondent; Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets. Producer: Ben Carter. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Numbers of the year 27 Dec 13

    Fri, 27 Dec 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    A guide to 2013 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees. Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Winton professor for the public understanding of risk at Cambridge University; Linda Yueh, BBC chief business correspondent; Simon Singh, author of The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets; Dr Pippa Malmgren, president and founder of Principalis Asset Management; Paul Lewis; presenter of BBC Radio 4's Money Box programme; Dr Hannah Fry, Centre of the Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London; Merryn Somerset-Webb, editor-in-chief of MoneyWeek; Helen Arney, comedian. Producer: Ben Carter.

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

  • WS Wine shortage? 21 Dec 13

    Sat, 21 Dec 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It has been reported that global wine supplies are running low. But shops still seem to be well-stocked. So, what is going on? Tim Harford fact-checks the claim. Plus, are the four festive football fixtures as crucial to Premier League teams as many claim? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Britain's 80,000 homeless children 20 Dec 13

    Fri, 20 Dec 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    About 80,000 children will wake up homeless on Christmas Day, according to the charity Shelter. What exactly does that mean? Tim Harford explores the statistic. Plus, he fact-checks the news reports of a global wine shortage; and a magician, who exploits the maths of card shuffling, attempts to read his mind. Also, are the four festive football fixtures as crucial to Premier League teams as many claim? And, in tribute to the former BBC economics editor, Stephanie Flanders, listen to what was perhaps her finest broadcasting moment.

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

  • WS Genocide in South Africa? 14 Dec 13

    Sat, 14 Dec 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It is claimed white South Africans are being systematically killed because of the colour of their skin, but do the crime statistics back this up? No, explains Julian Rademeyer from Africa Check and Johan Burger from the Institute of Security Studies in Pretoria. Presenter: Ruth Alexander. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Testing the PISA test 07 Dec 13

    Sat, 7 Dec 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The publication of the latest international education league table has created waves around the world. From Shanghai at the top of the table to Peru at the bottom, the PISA rankings create a lot of discussion about the best way to teach children. In some countries the OECD-led ratings are taken so seriously that education policy has been changed to try to improve national performance. But is the league table really as definitive as many people believe? Ruth Alexander looks behind the numbers. Presenter/producer: Ruth Alexander This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Football Ranking Mysteries Explained 30 Nov 13

    Sat, 30 Nov 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Ahead of the 2014 World Cup draw next Friday, we look at world football rankings. How are Switzerland seeded when the Netherlands, Italy and England are not? The answer lies in the playing of friendly games, which can be incredibly unfriendly to your ranking if you play the wrong team at the wrong time. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Could statistics cure cancer? 23 Nov 13

    Sat, 23 Nov 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Ruth Alexander speaks to a statistician at the forefront of cancer research, Professor Terry Speed. He has just been awarded the Prime Minister’s Prize for Science in Australia. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Sachin Tendulkar - best batsman of all time? 16 Nov 13

    Sat, 16 Nov 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar has amassed 15,847 test runs, which is 2,500 more runs than any other batsman. But other ways have been devised to calculate cricketing greatness and the Little Master, as he has become known, does not feature as prominently in a lot of them. More or Less crunches the numbers. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Does politics make us get our sums wrong? 09 Nov 13

    Sat, 9 Nov 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    To what degree do our personal opinions cloud our judgement? Yale University researchers have attempted to detect and measure how our political beliefs affect our ability to make rational decisions. The study suggests that our ability to do maths plummets when we are looking at data which clashes with our worldview. Ruth Alexander and Ben Carter consider Professor Dan Kahan's findings. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • 100,000 Christian martyrs? 02 Nov 13

    Sat, 2 Nov 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It is claimed an average of 100,000 Christians have died because of their faith every year for the past decade: and that this is an 'unreported catastrophe'. The Vatican has called it a credible number. But is it? Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson report.

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

  • WS Fertility - when is too late? 26 Oct 13

    Sat, 26 Oct 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Women in their late thirties shouldn’t be as anxious about their prospects of having a baby as is commonly assumed, psychologist Jean Twenge argues. Tim Harford finds fertility experts agree. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Nobel Prize puzzle 19 Oct 13

    Sat, 19 Oct 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford tells the story of how two economists who disagree with each other have been jointly awarded the Nobel Prize. Eugene Fama has shown that stock markets are efficient, while Robert Shiller has shown that they're not. Tim interviews both professors about their findings, and this apparent contradiction.

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

  • The Hawthorne Effect 12 Oct 13

    Sat, 12 Oct 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford tells the story of the Hawthorne Experiments, one of the most famous social studies of the Twentieth Century. The finding – that workers are more productive if they are given attention - became known as the Hawthorne Effect. And he hears how the original data are now casting doubt on the legendary results. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WS Mosquitoes and elephants 05 Oct 13

    Mon, 7 Oct 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Has the mosquito killed half the people who have ever lived? Tim Harford assesses the claim. Are 96 elephants a day being killed in Africa? Plus, a return to the subject of left-handers – could it be true that they're more likely to be criminal masterminds? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Underage drinking 04 Oct 13

    Fri, 4 Oct 13

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Are hundreds of young children visiting A&E because of alcohol? Plus, an update on the Trumptonshire economy. And has the mosquito killed half the people who have ever lived? Tim Harford presents.

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

  • WS Population explosion? 28 Sep 13

    Mon, 30 Sep 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    "We just shut our eyes to the fact that the world's population is increasing out of control." Is broadcaster and naturalist Sir David Attenborough right about global population projections? And Tim Harford wonders whether it's true that Scotland is home to 20% of the world's redheads. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • NHS hospital deaths 27 Sep 13

    Fri, 27 Sep 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford examines the claim that NHS hospital patients are 45% more likely to die than US ones. Is Sir David Attenborough right that the world's population is increasingly out of control? And are 20% of the world's redheads in Scotland? Plus, the story of the Hawthorne Experiment, one of the most famous studies in industrial history.

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

  • WSFormula 1 racing risk 21 Sep 13

    Mon, 23 Sep 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    'I accept every time I get in my car, there's a 20% chance I could die'. It's a line from the Formula 1 hit film, Rush. Spoken by racing driver Niki Lauda's character. Formula 1 was certainly a dangerous sport during the 1970s, but was it really that dangerous? Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes look at the data. Plus, is it true that it takes 1,000 years for a plastic bag to degrade? It's a popular claim, but More or Less finds the environmental facts about plastic bags are much less certain than that statistic suggests. This edition was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Do free school meals work? 20 Sep 13

    Fri, 20 Sep 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    All pupils at infant schools in England are to get free school lunches from next September, but does the evidence prove free dinners improve results? 'I accept every time I get in my car, there's a 20% chance I could die' - it's a line from the Formula 1 hit film, Rush, but was it really true for 1970s racing drivers? The government wants shops to start charging for plastic bags and the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says a plastic bag takes 1,000 years to degrade, but More or Less finds the environmental facts about plastic bags are much less certain than that statistic suggests. And do the health benefits of cycling outweigh the risk of injury? Professor David Spiegelhalter goes through the numbers.

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

  • WSSexual violence statistics in Asia 14 Sep 13

    Mon, 16 Sep 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Almost a quarter of men in some Asian countries admit rape, it has been reported. The headlines have been sparked by a UN report, which looks at violence against women in parts of Asia. Are the numbers of rapists really this high? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander look into the detail of the study. And, “Africa has a drinking problem” - so says Time Magazine. More or Less discovers a more mixed picture. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Fertility: when is too late? 13 Sep 13

    Fri, 13 Sep 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Psychologist Jean Twenge argues that women in their late thirties shouldn’t be as anxious about their prospects of having a baby as is commonly assumed. Tim Harford finds fertility experts agree. The economy’s turning a corner, the Chancellor says - Tim Harford takes a closer look at the numbers. Plus, sexual violence statistics in Asia; Britain’s ‘small island’ status rebutted; and does Africa really have a ‘drinking problem’? This is the edition of the programme first broadcast on BBC Radio 4.

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

  • WSThe death toll in Syria 07 Sep 13

    Mon, 9 Sep 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As global leaders remain divided on whether to carry out a military strike against Syria in response to the apparent use of chemical weapons against its people, Tim Harford looks at the different claims made about how many people have been killed. And, apparently, it's a fact that if there's one thing that's worse for you than drinking, scoffing bacon sandwiches and smoking 80 unfiltered cigarettes a day, it's being left-handed. Left-handers die on average several years earlier than right-handers. Or do they? Tim gets to the bottom of a sinister statistic. This edition was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The Death Toll in Syria 06 Sep 13

    Fri, 6 Sep 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford looks at the different claims made about how many people have been killed in the apparent chemical attack in Syria. The cost of care has forced a million families to sell their homes in the past five years, it’s been reported – but is it true? What can statistics tell us about the safety of Super Puma helicopters? Tim finds out whether left-handers really die nine years earlier than right-handers. And, he assesses the facts behind the claim that 300,000 attempts have been made to access pornographic websites at Parliament in a year.

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

  • WSCounting climate migrants 31 Aug 13

    Sat, 31 Aug 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is it true that environmental problems will create 200 million migrants? Some politicians and environmentalists warn that this is the case. But migration experts say that the numbers are exaggerated. Tim Harford and Hannah Barnes investigate. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • What price the life of a badger? 30 Aug 13

    Fri, 30 Aug 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Has the government taken into account the worth of a badger's life in any cost-benefit analysis of the badger cull? It aims to kill 70% of badgers in the two cull zones, but Tim Harford discovers that such precision might be tricky. Plus, have blundering doctors and nurses really killed 13,000 patients in England? Shadow immigration minister Chris Bryant has warned that climate change is going to create 200 million more migrants but, More or Less discovers, migration experts disagree. And, always down with the cool kids, Tim discovers more about this buzz phrase, "big data". Might it be telling the world our darkest secrets?

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

  • Is coffee bad for you? 24 Aug 2013

    Sat, 24 Aug 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    People who drink more than 4 cups of coffee increase their chances of dying by 50%, it was reported recently. Given everyone’s chance of dying is already 100%, this seems a puzzle. What does the research really say, and how reliable are the findings? Plus, Ruth Alexander interviews economist and Expecting Better author Emily Oster, who used her statistical training to assess the evidence for herself on what effect coffee, alcohol and certain foods have on pregnant women. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The magic of maths 17 Aug 13

    Sat, 17 Aug 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford speaks to Persi Diaconis, top professor of maths and statistics and legendary magician. The Stanford University professor and co-author of the book "Magical Mathematics" has an enthralling story to tell of how he discovered magic as a boy, and then, as a consequence, a love of maths. And to illustrate how closely maths and magic are linked, Crossing Continents editor and the BBC's in-house magician, Hugh Levinson, performs a mathemagical card trick - see the performance below. This programme was broadcast on the BBC World Service. The interview was recorded in 2011.

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

  • Where could we fit the entire world’s population? 10 Aug 13

    Sat, 10 Aug 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    If all the world’s population crowded together, where could we all fit? London? Texas? More or Less figures it out, and separates fact from fiction. And, as the soccer season returns, is it possible to measure the effectiveness of a team’s manager? We hear from David Sally, author of The Numbers Game. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • What is the most visited country in the world? 03 Aug 13

    Sat, 3 Aug 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week we find out what the most visited country in the world is and ask why aren’t they capitalising financially as well as their rivals. Plus we also investigate the complex - and often controversial - web of international extradition treaties. The programme hears from extradition lawyer Anand Doobay, from Peters and Peters, and Ted Bromund, a senior research fellow in Anglo-American relations in Washington DC. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Chris Froome's Tour de France victory 27 Jul 2013

    Sat, 27 Jul 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The winner of this year's Tour de France, British rider Chris Froome, faced numerous questions about doping during the course of his victory. More or Less assesses his performance stats, and asks whether maths can measure whether cycling really has cleaned up its act and whether Froome is simply a victim of the ghosts of cycling's past. Dr Ross Tucker from The Science of Sport website gives us his views and we hear from physiologist Fred Grappe - the only man to see Froome's tour data. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSEgypt: Biggest protest in history? 13 Jul 2013

    Sat, 13 Jul 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It’s claimed that Egyptians have taken part in the biggest uprising the world has ever seen. The nationwide demonstrations, which were followed by the removal of the president by the army, were certainly a massive show of people power. But were the crowds really as large as reported? Ruth Alexander assesses the evidence, and finds out why it is so difficult to count a crowd. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSSex and the world wide web 06 Jul 13

    Sat, 6 Jul 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The world of porn is often exaggerated but does it really make up 37% of the web? And after some high profile cases we ask whether the American football league has a crime problem? This edition was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSHow long will you live? 29 Jun 13

    Sat, 29 Jun 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Life expectancy at birth around the world has increased by six years in the past two decades. But can this striking trend continue? Ruth Alexander looks at the data. This edition was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSWill 40% of the world's workforce really be in Africa by 2050?

    Sat, 22 Jun 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Ruth Alexander examines US Secretary of State, John Kerry’s claim that 40% of the world’s workforce will be in Africa by 2050 and talks to the chief of the United Nations’ population division about its projections for 2050 and 2100. The programme also examines the final scene in The Fast and the Furious 6, the global box office sensation. How long must that runway have been at the end of the film? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSIs a child dying of hunger every 15 seconds? 15 Jun 13

    Sat, 15 Jun 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Ruth Alexander examines the claim that every 15 seconds a child dies of hunger. It’s a popular statistic used by celebrities and charity campaigners in support of the Enough Food for Everyone IF campaign. It conjures up the image of millions of young children starving to death. But is this really the case? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • WSSex on the Brain? 10 Jun 13

    Mon, 10 Jun 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Parents take note – what can numbers reveal about bringing up children? Plus, Tim Harford explore if men really do think about sex every seven seconds. This urban myth will not go away and yet pinning down any evidence proves a challenge for the More or Less team.

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

  • A&E, and the chances of having twins 07 Jun 13

    Fri, 7 Jun 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    A&E waiting times have been making the headlines - Tim Harford takes a look at some of the numbers and puts them into context. Today presenter Evan Davis explains his frustration with finding official statistics online. We explore if men really do think about sex every seven seconds. Plus, what are the chances of having twins?

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

  • WSThe maths of spies and terrorists 01 Jun 13

    Mon, 3 Jun 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing and the killing of a British soldier on the streets of Woolwich in London, it emerged that the suspects were known to the security services. But how feasible is it for the authorities to keep track of everyone on their watch list? Tim Harford crunches the numbers, with the help of the former head of the UK intelligence service MI5, Dame Stella Rimington.

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

  • The maths of spies and terrorists 31 May 13

    Fri, 31 May 13

    Duration:
    25 mins

    After the killing of a British soldier on the streets of Woolwich in London, it emerged that the suspects were known to the security services. But how feasible is it for the authorities to keep track of everyone on their watch list? Tim Harford crunches the numbers, with the help of the former head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimington. Plus: a listener requests a cost-benefit analysis of kidney donations; and Johnny Ball gives the Apprentices a maths lesson.

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WSRyanair punctuality; mistakes in academic papers 26 May 13

    Mon, 27 May 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford examines Ryanair’s claim that more than 90% of its flights land on time; and discovers that millions of scientific papers may be incorrect. Producer: Ruth Alexander

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

  • The economics of Scottish independence 24 May 13

    Fri, 24 May 13

    Duration:
    25 mins

    Tim Harford inspects the claims the UK Treasury and the Scottish government make about the economics of an independent Scotland; tests Ryanair’s claim that more than 90% of its flights land on time; re-runs the Eurovision song contest, excluding the votes of the former Soviet countries to test whether political alliances are affecting the final results; discovers that millions of scientific papers may be incorrect; and learns more about dog years – and cat years.

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • WSAngelina Jolie’s 87% cancer risk 18 MAY 13

    Mon, 20 May 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    As Angelina Jolie announces that an 87% cancer risk has prompted her to have a double mastectomy, Tim Harford assesses the probabilities associated with the disease. Plus, has the UK been hit by a Romanian crime wave?

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

  • Angelina Jolie’s 87% cancer risk 17 May 2013

    Fri, 17 May 13

    Duration:
    25 mins

    As Angelina Jolie announces that an 87% cancer risk has prompted her to have a double mastectomy, Tim Harford assesses the probabilities associated with the disease. Plus, has the UK been hit by a Romanian crime wave? Also in the programme: Education Secretary Michael Gove’s use of PR surveys; and why the UK’s poor growth has not had led to the high levels of unemployment that economists would expect.

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • How old is your dog? 11 May 2013

    Mon, 13 May 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It's often said that one dog year equals seven human years. But is it true? Tim Harford and Ben Carter unveil the More or Less Dogulator. Plus, 15 distant relatives of England’s King Richard III are petitioning the High Court about where the king should be buried. Some reporting has implied that the famous 15 are almost the only descendants of Richard III who exist. But mathematician Rob Eastaway figures out how many other relatives of Richard III might actually be out there.

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

  • How much does the EU cost the UK? Plus, dog years 10 May 2013

    Fri, 10 May 13

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford makes sense of the numbers being used in the political battle about the UK and its membership of the EU. And, he looks at whether it’s true that more war veterans kill themselves than die in combat ; why you could well be a descendant of Richard III; and what Margaret Thatcher’s funeral really cost. Plus, is it true that one dog year equals seven human years? Tim unveils the More or Less Dogulator.

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

  • WSThe Maths of Mozart and Birds 04 May 2013

    Mon, 6 May 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Birds + windows =? The BBC Quiz show The Unbelievable Truth reckons that more than 2 million birds die crashing into window panes every day in the US. Tim Harford finds this, well, unbelievable. Marcus du Sautoy explores the maths in Mozart's The Magic Flute; a student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper, which has been used to make the case for austerity cuts, explains how he did it.

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

  • Birds, Mozart, austerity, Thatcher 03 May 13

    Fri, 3 May 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Birds + windows =? The BBC Quiz show The Unbelievable Truth reckons that more than 2 million birds die crashing into window panes every day in the US. Tim Harford finds this, well, unbelievable. Marcus du Sautoy explores the maths in Mozart's The Magic Flute; a student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper, which has been used to make the case for austerity cuts, explains how he did it; and separating fact from fiction about Margaret Thatcher with a look at the numbers of her time in office.

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

  • Are Man Utd a one-man team? 28 April 2013

    Sat, 27 Apr 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    More or Less creates the Alternative Premier League, with lead scorer goals chalked off to work out whether it’s true that Van Persie’s really single-handedly won Manchester United’s the League? And would Tottenham be challenging for a Champions League spot without Gareth Bale’s goals? And how much bite has Luis Suarez’s contribution given Liverpool’s season? There are surprises, and one player really stands out as player of the season. Can you guess who it is? And, as an Italian Court overturns the acquittal of Amanda Knox and Raffaele Sollecito, accused of killing student Meredith Kercher, mathematician and author of Math on Trial, Coralie Colmez, argues that one judge in the case failed to understand some of the probabilities attached to the forensic evidence – and, in doing so, has missed an opportunity to get to the truth of the matter.

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

  • Austerity: a spreadsheet error? 21 April 2013

    Mon, 22 Apr 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford tells the story of the student who uncovered a mistake in a famous economic paper that has been used to make the case for austerity cuts. In 2010, two Harvard economists published an academic study, which showed that when government debt rises above 90% of annual economic output, growth falls significantly. As politicians tried to find answers to the global economic crisis, “Growth in a Time of Debt” by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff was cited by some of the key figures making the case for tough debt-cutting measures in the US and Europe. But, in the course of a class project, student Thomas Herndon and his professors say they have found problems with the Reinhart-Rogoff findings. What does this mean for austerity economics?

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

  • Thatcher in numbers 13 April 2013

    Mon, 15 Apr 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Baroness Margaret Thatcher, who has died aged 87, was Britain’s first female prime minister and one of the most influential political figures of the 20th Century. She was a pioneer of free market economics, helping to spread the ideas around the world. But the Iron lady was a divisive figure with passionate supporters and critics. Both hold to strong beliefs about what she did. But what does the data tell us about the many claims made about Mrs Thatcher?

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

  • Communicating Risk 06 April 2013

    Mon, 8 Apr 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It’s the fourth anniversary of the earthquake which devastated the city of L’Aquila in Italy and which led to the conviction of six scientists and an official who failed to predict the disaster. Scientists and statisticians worldwide were alarmed at the six-year sentences for manslaughter the seven accused received. It was feared the prospect of being put on trial would put off scientists from even trying to communicate risk – a very difficult business. But the risk assessors’ pendulum seems to have swung the other way. Data and alarms about tremors are being issued regularly, triggering school closures and building evacuations. But how useful is this information? Ruth Alexander speaks to Ian Main, professor of seismology and rock physics at Edinburgh University in the UK, who puts the risks into context.

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

  • That's not much gold 30 March 2013

    Sat, 30 Mar 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    What if a super-villain took control of the world's gold a melted it in to a cube? How big would it be? Wesley Stephenson finds out.

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

  • Can big data save lives? 23 March 2013

    Mon, 25 Mar 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    With an avalanche of 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated daily, could this be used to change our lives and does it have a darker side?

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

  • WSAre there more black men in college or prison in the US? 16 March 2013

    Mon, 18 Mar 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Only last week Ivory Toldson heard the speaker say there are more black men in prison in America than in college. ‘Here we go again’ he thought. Only the week before he had written his second article on why this statistic is not true. This week Ruth Alexander looks at where this ‘fact’ came from and why it is still being used. Also, why the opinion polls got the Kenyan elections wrong.

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

  • WSHIV in numbers 09 March 2013

    Mon, 11 Mar 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    With the news that a baby has been ‘cured’ of HIV what do the numbers tell us about the epidemic. Ruth Alexander looks at the changes in the way that the disease has been measured. Also the Dow Jones hit an all-time high this week so is it party time for investors?

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

  • WSIs the Kenyan election already decided? 02 Mar 2013

    Mon, 4 Mar 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Kenya votes for its next President on 4th March. The opinion polls show that it is neck-and-neck between the two main candidates but an influential Kenyan political scientists has warned that the polls are wrong. Mutahi Ngunyi’s predicting a win for Uhuru Kenyatta and his Jubilee Coalition because of what he describes as ‘the tyranny of numbers’ - there are simply more registered voters from the ethnic groups that are likely to support Kenyatta than those for his rival Raila Odinga. But will Kenyans vote along ethnic lines – Ruth Alexander finds out. Also, was the Pope the subject of divine intervention when lightning struck St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican just after he announced he was stepping down? Or was it just a coincidence. More or Less looks at the chances of this occurring.

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

  • WSCounting Catholics 23 Feb 2013

    Mon, 25 Feb 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week Tim Harford asks how the figure of 1.2 billion Catholics world-wide is calculated. He also tests the claims of the controversial video, 'Muslim Demographics' shown at the Vatican by the Ghanaian Papal candidate Cardinal Peter Turkson.

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

  • WSHow many people support Manchester United? 16 Feb 2013

    Mon, 18 Feb 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week Ruth Alexander looks at Manchester United versus Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League. Real Manager Jose Mourinho says this was the match the "world has been waiting to see". It pitched two of Europe's biggest clubs against each other in what is a supposed to be a money spinner for broadcasters and sponsors alike. But how do we know how big the interest is? Manchester United claim 650 million fans worldwide, but how can we know? Nick Harris of SportingIntelligence.com and Richard Brinkman of KantarMedia help us look at the figures. Also: this round of the Champions League has been a statistical surprise. The rehearsal and the real draw threw up the same fixtures meaning that the same teams were picked to play each other in both draws. Statistician Michael Wallace helps us calculate the chances of this happening.

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

  • WSThe end of the Penny 09 Feb 2013

    Mon, 11 Feb 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Canada has stopped distributing its smallest coin –the one cent or the penny. This week Ruth Alexander looks at why some countries get rid of their smallest coins and some just cannot part with them. Also which country has the coin with the smallest monetary value?

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

  • WSA case of statistical significance in Greece 02 Feb 2013

    Mon, 4 Feb 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week Ruth Alexander looks at the extraordinary case of Andreas Georgiou the head of the Greek statistics agency, Elstat. He is facing criminal charges for what amounts to statistical treason. It is a story that goes to the heart of the Greek debt crisis, that includes extreme office politics, alleged e-mail hacking and a statistician facing at least five years in prison. We speak to Economists Miranda Xafa and Professor Yanis Vourafafkis as well as Syriza MP Dimitris Tsoukalas. Also: do American football players die earlier than their fellow Americans?

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

  • Fat or Fiction 26 Jan 2013

    Mon, 28 Jan 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A ‘new’ BMI calculation has been proposed by Oxford Mathematician Professor Nick Trefethen but does it really address the problem with a calculation that is over a century old. Body Mass Index was first calculated over 150 years ago and in recent years has become controversial for its imprecise nature. Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson look at how it has developed and what it really tells us, if anything, about our health.

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

  • WS Indian Farmer Suicides 19 Jan 2013

    Mon, 21 Jan 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week Ruth Alexander is looking at farmer suicides in India. But is it any more prevalent than in any other area of Indian society? Also what is the history behind the Lakh and the Crore in South Asia? It confused one contributor on the farmer suicide story and caused him to get the figures wrong by a factor of 10.

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

  • Pop up economics - 16 Jan 2013

    Wed, 16 Jan 13

    Duration:
    15 mins

    Episode 1 of Tim Harford's new series, Pop Up Economics, in which he tells a live audience short stories about fascinating people and ideas in economics.

    Download 7MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Food waste and Scrabble 12 Jan 2013

    Mon, 14 Jan 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Reports this week suggest that we are wasting 50 per cent of our food globally. It comes from a study by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers in the UK. Ruth Alexander discovers why this number is out of date and is likely to be much lower than half. Also are the values on Scrabble tiles correct? They were first assigned in the 1930s. With our changing language do we need to reassess the values. We speak to Joshua Lewis, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, San Diego about his new value system ‘Valetta’ and ask John Chew, Co-President of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, what he thinks.

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

  • WSThe Parable of the Ox 04 Jan 2013

    Mon, 7 Jan 13

    Duration:
    10 mins

    What does a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition tells us about a bloated and dysfunctional financial system? We find out in the Parable of the Ox written by John Kay of the Financial Times. The tale is told with the help of economics writer James Surowiecki as well as John Kay himself. It also features a brand new composition from the New Radiophonic Workshop.

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

  • The Parable of the Ox 04 Jan 2013

    Fri, 4 Jan 13

    Duration:
    29 mins

    What does a 'guess the weight of the ox' competition tells us about a bloated and dysfunctional financial system? We find out in the Parable of the Ox written by John Kay of the Financial Times. The tale is told with the help of economics writer James Surowiecki as well as John Kay himself. It also features a brand new composition from the New Radiophonic Workshop.

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

  • WSNumbers of 2012 29 Dec 2012

    Mon, 31 Dec 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A special review of the year through the interesting, informative and idiosyncratic numbers of 2012.

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

  • Numbers of 2012 28 Dec 2012

    Fri, 28 Dec 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    A guide to 2012 in numbers - the most informative, interesting and idiosyncratic statistics of the year discussed by More or Less interviewees.

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

  • WSGun Statistics 21 Dec 2012

    Mon, 24 Dec 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the debate on firearms deaths, and discovers the mathematics of juggling. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Fact-checking US gun crime statistics 21 Dec 2012

    Fri, 21 Dec 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford investigates gun crime statistics in the US. Plus, why death is not always the one hard fact that’s hard to fudge; the average age of first-time buyers; whether chocolate makes you clever; the statistical paradox of road collisions caused by deer; and the maths of juggling. Producer Ruth Alexander

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

  • WS What is "rare"? 15 Dec 2012

    Mon, 17 Dec 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week: What is ‘rare’? When we say something is rare what do we mean? Lightning strikes which typically kill three people a year in the UK are often described as rare but how do we square that with a condition like motor neurone disease which is also described as rare yet kills 1500 people a year in the UK. Also we speak to Nassim Taleb about his book Anti-fragile.

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

  • The Census and what does 'rare' mean? 14 Dec 2012

    Fri, 14 Dec 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Why was the estimate, in 2003, for Eastern Europeans coming to the UK so wrong? Which is better when communicating information words or numbers? Nassim Taleb explains anti-fragility And we'll debunk the oft quoted 'you're never more than 6ft from a rat'

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

  • World Service: Africa GDP & Royal twins 08 Dec 2012

    Mon, 10 Dec 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Where does Nigeria’s plan to revise its GDP leave our understanding of growth in Sub-saharan Africa? And what is the chance of the Duchess of Cambridge having twins given she has severe morning sickness.

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

  • Radio 4: Royal Twins & Autumn Statement 07 Dec 2012

    Fri, 7 Dec 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In light of the Royal pregnancy Tim Harford asks what severe morning sickness tells us about the chances of having twins. Yan Wong helps him look at the figures. We disentangle the Chancellor' Autumn Statement and ask: where is the economy really at? As Nigeria prepares to revise its GDP statistics with an expected jump of 40-60%, we ask how reliable are African GDP statistics? Another Daily Telegraph headline comes under scrutiny. And we return to our Lego tower and look at how Lego can be used to teach maths with Eugenia Cheng of Sheffiled University.

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

  • More or Less: How reliable is Kevin Pietersen? 01 Dec 2012

    Mon, 3 Dec 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Kevin Pietersen has been widely praised as one of the best England batsmen of the current era and possibly of all time. But in the first test match he only scored 19. So can England really not do without him? Also why is Zero an even number?

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

  • More or Less: Opinion polling, Kevin Pietersen, and stacking Lego 30 Nov 2012

    Fri, 30 Nov 12

    Duration:
    25 mins

    On More or Less this week Tim Harford looks at three polls carried out to gauge the public’s opinion on press regulation gave vastly different answers despite being carried out by the same polling company. Tim talks to Peter Kellner, President of online polling company YouGov. Would you send Kevin Pietersen out to bat if your life depended on him scoring a century? Have two thirds of millionaires really left the country as claimed by the Daily Telegraph this week? What percentage of drinks might be affected by the introduction of a minimum price for alcohol. And how high could you build a Lego tower before the bottom brick collapses? Ruth Alexander dons her safety goggles to find out?

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • Fergie Time 24 Nov 2012

    Mon, 26 Nov 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This is the first in the new series of the programme. There’s a well-established idea that Manchester United get more added time than every other Premier League team. More or Less looks at the numbers behind this so called ‘Fergie Time’. Do Manchester United get more injury time than other top teams when they’re drawing or losing?

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

  • Ash Die Back and Fergie Time 23 Nov 2012

    Fri, 23 Nov 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    This is the first in the new series of the programme. Tim Harford has been busy felling some ash tree statistics. He asks whether the UK could lose 30% of our woodland trees and did the ash die back disease really kill 90% of ash trees in Denmark? Plus, there’s a well established idea that Manchester United get more added time than every other Premier League team. More or Less looks at the numbers behind this so called ‘Fergie Time’. Do Manchester United get more injury time than other top teams when they’re drawing or losing?

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

  • Brain Food and Bacteria: 19 Nov 2012

    Mon, 19 Nov 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    There's not an obvious link between chocolate and Nobel prizes, but this did not stop news outlets around the world reporting the amount of chocolate a country consumes influences the number of Nobel prizes they will win. In many cases the scientific study was reported without question or comment. Ruth Alexander asks what this story tells us about the way the media reports scientific studies, and why the correlation between the two might be so strong. Also – it's often said that chopping boards or dishcloths have many more bacteria than toilet seat but is this really true?

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

  • Voodoo polling? Predicting the US election: 12 Nov 2012

    Mon, 12 Nov 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week Ruth Alexander looks at the other winner the US elections. Blogger and pioneer of aggregated polling, Nate Silver, predicted the outcome of the vote in every state one better than 2008. Others who have tried similar methods have also done well. Is this the dawn of a new era of poll prediction or just luck? Also, what effect did Hurricane Sandy have on death rates in places it hit and how did they differ from a normal day.

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

  • Is America’s conviction rate really 99.5%? 03 Nov 2012

    Mon, 5 Nov 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Conrad Black has claimed that 99.5% of prosecution cases in America end up in convictions. Is it really this high? We try to estimate how this compares to the number of convictions in other parts of the world.

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

  • Predicting L'Aquila Earthquake: is it right to blame the scientists? 27 Oct 2012

    Mon, 29 Oct 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    This week six scientists and one ex-government official were sentenced to prison for multiple manslaughter following the L’Aquila earthquake in Italy. Part of the case against them was the falsely reassuring comments they made before the earthquake struck. Will this deter scientists from giving advice in the future?

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

  • Life-saving economics 20 Oct 2012

    Mon, 22 Oct 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Professor Al Roth tells Tim Harford about the work for which he has just been awarded the 2012 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

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

  • Predicting the global population 12 Oct 2012

    Mon, 15 Oct 12

    Duration:
    9 mins

    Predicting the global population: does anyone really know what’s going to happen?

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

  • Predicting the Presidency 06 Oct 2012

    Mon, 8 Oct 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Nate Silver tells us who will win the 2012 US election - and how he knows.

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

  • Plenty more fish in the sea? 29 Sep 2012

    Mon, 1 Oct 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Only 100 cod are left in the North Sea according to newspapers. Is this the most wrong headline in More or Less history?

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

  • Factchecking America 21 Sep 2012

    Mon, 24 Sep 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    US Presidential Election factchecked. Is Mitt Romney right to say that 47% of Americans pay no tax? And how many jobs has President Obama really created?

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

  • Investigating crime statistics 14 Sep 2012

    Mon, 17 Sep 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Ruth Alexander investigates Sweden's high rape rate, and finds out which countries are the surprise leaders of the world kidnap league. Plus, who went home from the London 2012 Games with more medals – Olympians or Paralympians? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service

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

  • Where are the Paralympics Medals? 08 Sep 2012

    Mon, 10 Sep 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Why did the USA top the gold medals league in the Olympics, but not the Paralympics? Ruth Alexander examines the performance numbers of the London 2012 Paralympic Games and discovers which countries are punching above their weight, and which below. And Yan Wong tries to calculate how many opening bars are possible in music. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • How to explain infinity to a 4-year-old 01 Sep 2012

    Mon, 3 Sep 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    ‘What’s the number before infinity?’ asks Claudia, aged 4. We challenge Johnny Ball, legendary British TV presenter, to explain. And in celebration of the voice of Sesame Street’s Count von Count, Jerry Nelson, who’s died aged 78, there’s another chance to hear our 2009 interview with the Count, in which he revealed his favourite number: 34,969. Presented by Ruth Alexander, this programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Are African leaders more likely to die in office? 24 Aug 2012

    Mon, 27 Aug 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Prime Minister of Ethiopia is the fourth African premier to die this year alone. Are African leaders more likely to die in office, than their counterparts elsewhere? Also: does marriage make economic sense?

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

  • MoreOrLess:Levelling the statistical playing field 20 Aug 2012

    Mon, 20 Aug 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Given that some countries are richer than others, and some have larger populations, what should the Olympic medal tally really have looked like? Also: numbers help us understand the world. But for Daniel Tammet, author of “Thinking in Numbers". They don't just help him to understand the world - but to be a part of it.

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

  • The great playing field sell off? 17 Aug 2012

    Fri, 17 Aug 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Given that some countries are richer than others, and some have larger populations, what should the Olympic medal tally really have looked like? Also: numbers help us understand the world. But for Daniel Tammet, author of “Thinking in Numbers". They don't just help him to understand the world - but to be a part of it.

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

  • How to lose money - fast!

    Mon, 13 Aug 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Last week Knight Capital lost a lot of money very quickly. It was the latest chapter in the story of something called ‘high frequency trading’. Investors have always valued being the first with the news. But high frequency trading is different: algorithms execute automatic trades, conducted by computers, at astonishing speeds. We ask: is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress, or – as some think – a threat to the stability of the entire financial system?

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

  • How to lose money - fast!

    Fri, 10 Aug 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Last week Knight Capital lost a lot of money very quickly. It was the latest chapter in the story of something called ‘high frequency trading’. Investors have always valued being the first with the news. But high frequency trading is different: algorithms execute automatic trades, conducted by computers, at astonishing speeds. We ask: is the rapid growth of high frequency trading progress, or – as some think – a threat to the stability of the entire financial system?

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

  • How extraordinary is Ye Shiwen? WS 03 Aug 2012

    Sat, 4 Aug 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    There was controversy this week after Ye Shiwen, a young Chinese swimmer, won the 400 metre individual medley in fine style. A US swimming coach called the performance "disturbing", implying that she may have cheated. More or Less investigates the numbers and finds there's no statistical smoking gun.

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

  • How extraordinary is Ye Shiwen? 03 Aug 2012

    Fri, 3 Aug 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    There was controversy this week after Ye Shiwen, a young Chinese swimmer, won the 400 metre individual medley in fine style. A US swimming coach called the performance "disturbing", implying that she may have cheated. More or Less investigates the numbers and finds there's no statistical smoking gun.

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

  • Gun laws and gold medals (WS) 28 July 2012

    Sat, 28 Jul 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Last week's mass-shooting at a cinema in Colorado has - not surprisingly - intensified America's bitter and long-running argument with itself about gun control. The argument is political and highly partisan. But it is also practical: would tighter gun laws actually lead to fewer gun deaths? You might think it's obvious that they would. But it seems the evidence isn't quite that clear. Also: how have Olympians changed in the last century?

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

  • Gun laws and gold medals 27 July 2012

    Fri, 27 Jul 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Last week's mass-shooting at a cinema in Colorado has - not suprisingly - intensified America's bitter and long-running argument with itself about gun control. The argument is political and highly partisan. But it is also practical: would tighter gun laws actually lead to fewer gun deaths? You might think it's obvious that they would. But it seems the evidence isn't quite that clear. Also: how have Olympians changed in the last century?

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

  • Has clamping down on drugs made the Tour de France slower? (WS) 20 July 2012

    Sat, 21 Jul 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Tour de France, we are told, has finally cleaned up its act and clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But if it has, should we expect today’s drug-free riders to be slower than their drug-fuelled forebears? Can statistics tell us whether the Tour de France really is cleaner than it was? Also in the programme: does when you retire influence when you die?

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

  • Has clamping down on drugs made the Tour de France slower? 20 July 2012

    Fri, 20 Jul 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    The Tour de France, we are told, has finally cleaned up its act and clamped down on the use of performance-enhancing drugs. But if it has, should we expect today’s drug-free riders to be slower than their drug-fuelled forebears? Can statistics tell us whether the Tour de France really is cleaner than it was? Also in the programme: does when you retire influence when you die?

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

  • MoreOrLess:Who are the Libor losers? 13.07.12

    Sat, 14 Jul 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system? And we investigate the claim made by a leading charity that a million British children are "starving".

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

  • More or Less: Who are the Libor losers? (WS) 13 July 2012

    Sat, 14 Jul 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How much damage did messing with Libor really do to the financial system? After all, most financial trades are two way bets – and for every winner, there is a loser.

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

  • Drinks and drugs capital of the world? (WS) 06 July 2012

    Fri, 6 Jul 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Do residents of the tiny micronesian island of Palau really smoke more cannabis, and drink more beer, than anyone else?

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

  • Hit movies and killer birthdays (WS) 29 June 12

    Fri, 29 Jun 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    What is the highest-earning film ever if you adjust for inflation? And are birthdays killing us?

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

  • (WS) Weight of the world 23 JUN 12

    Sat, 23 Jun 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How fat could the global population become? Plus, Angela Saini considers whether statistics could settle the disputed result of the world title fight between boxers Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • MoreOrLess (WS) Chance encounters 15.06.12

    Mon, 18 Jun 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is the likelihood of bumping into your boss on holiday greater than you think? Angela Saini and the More or Less team assess the probabilities of some of life's great coincidences. This edition of More or Less was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Interview with Daniel Kahneman 08.06.12

    Mon, 11 Jun 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford interviews Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won the Nobel Prize in Economics. The author of Thinking, Fast and Slow describes the common mistakes people make with statistics.

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

  • Counting images of The Queen. (WS) 01 June 12

    Mon, 4 Jun 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How many images of Queen Elizabeth II have ever been created? And is Facebook really worth more than twice as much as every company on the Nigerian Stock Exchange?

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

  • Would firing staff 'at will' work? (R4) 25 May 12

    Mon, 28 May 12

    Duration:
    25 mins

    Is there any evidence to support the Beecroft Review's recommended changes to employment law? Plus: hard-working Greeks, infidelity, and Ben Goldacre on publication bias.

    Download 12MB (right click & "save target as / link as")

  • The maths of infidelity (WS) 25 May 12

    Fri, 25 May 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    It’s a very commonly-held belief that men are less faithful than women But it takes two to tango. So can this be mathematically possible? And we answer a cry for help from an Australian listener who wants to be “a bit more average”.

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

  • Where are the world hardest workers? (WS) 18 May 12

    Mon, 21 May 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Earlier in the year we found out that Greeks put in more working hours than Germans. But the Germans are more efficient. So that got us thinking: who works the longest hours in the world?

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

  • Troubled families and unneutered cats. (R4) 18 May 12

    Fri, 18 May 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Troubled families, nursing numbers and the mathematical consequences of unneutered cats.

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

  • Trouble on the Greek railways (WS) 11 May 12

    Mon, 14 May 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Would it be cheaper to send every Greek rail passenger by taxi instead? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Are CEOs worth it? (R4) 11 May 12

    Fri, 11 May 12

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Executive pay, chess and trouble on the Greek railway.

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

  • A grand economic experiment? (WS) 04 May 12

    Fri, 4 May 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are we witnessing a grand economic experiment being played out between Europe, trying to cut its way out of trouble, and the United States, trying to spend its way to redemption? Plus, we investigate the height of North Koreans. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Austerity, border queues and bank holidays (R4) 04 May 12

    Fri, 4 May 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Are we witnessing a grand economic experiment playing out between Britain and the United States? How long have travellers been waiting to get through immigration at Heathrow? Plus, are you going to destroy the economy this bank holiday weekend?

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

  • The formula that changed the world 27 Apr 12

    Fri, 27 Apr 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Midas Formula - In this week's More or Less: The story of Black-Scholes, the equation that transformed Wall Street – and the arguments over whether it made the world a better place, or helped cause the financial mess we have all been dealing with for the past five years. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • The formula that changed the world 27 Apr 12

    Fri, 27 Apr 12

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Rain and drought in numbers, the formula which changed Wall Street and then the world forever - and why Conservative MPs used to be taller than their Labour counterparts.

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

  • 20 Apr 12

    Fri, 20 Apr 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Is the rate of species extinction exaggerated - or even unknowable? Producer: Richard Knight This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • 20 Apr 12

    Fri, 20 Apr 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    We investigate the height of North Koreans, the width of police officers and rate of species extinction. Producer: Richard Knight

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

  • Eurostats - True or False? 13 Apr 12

    Fri, 13 Apr 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Are there really more Porsche Cayenne owners in Greece than taxpayers earning over 50,000 euros? Can there really be 30,000 chauffeur driven cars for the exclusive use of Italian politicians? Would it really be cheaper to send everyone by taxi than train in Greece and is youth unemployment in Spain really 50%? Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson take a very close look at some widely reported Eurostats to see whether they stand up to scrutiny for out this week's More or Less. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Stamp prices and the first maths book 06 Apr 12

    Fri, 6 Apr 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    The Royal Mail says UK stamp prices are still among the best value in Europe, despite an imminent steep price rise. Tim Harford finds out whether this is true, and compares the price of postal services around the world. Plus, he finds out how, after being invented by Indian mathematicians, modern numbers became established in the ancient Arab world and then journeyed on to Europe in what was essentially the first maths textbook ever written, "Liber Abaci". Its author was Leonardo of Pisa, better known as Fibonacci. Tim speaks to Keith Devlin, author of The Man of Numbers, to find out more. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Do big football clubs win more penalties? 30 Mar 12

    Fri, 30 Mar 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Do Manchester United and other leading clubs like Real Madrid and Barcelona benefit from biased refereeing decisions when they play in front of their home crowd? It’s a widely-held view, but Tim Harford challenges it with a look at the penalty statistics. Plus, he meets Hans Rosling of Gapminder at the Skoll World Forum: if you want to understand the world you’re living in, and how it will be different to the world your children and grandchildren will live in, listen to this interview. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • What is the world average salary? 23 Mar 12

    Fri, 23 Mar 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    If there were perfect income equality worldwide, and everybody earned the same amount of money, how much would they earn? And what is the average employee wage across the world? Tim Harford answers both these questions. Plus, he attempts to rank the world’s top military forces. This edition of the programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Red meat death risk? 16 Mar 12

    Fri, 16 Mar 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Eating an extra portion of red meat every day is associated with an increased risk of death, says a new study. But what does this mean? A risk expert works it out for Tim Harford. Plus, which are the world’s largest employers? This edition of More or less was broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Is Apple worth more than Poland? 09 Mar 2012

    Fri, 9 Mar 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford explains why the technology giant Apple is not bigger than Poland, as media reports have claimed. And he scrutinises the claim that the Millennium Development Goal on safe drinking water has been achieved ahead of schedule. The World Health Organisation, which along with Unicef announced that the target had been met, concedes that the numbers are not actually that certain. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Less than a dollar a day 02 Mar 12

    Fri, 2 Mar 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford assesses how global poverty is measured, as the World Bank releases the latest figures on the number of people living on less than a dollar a day. What progress has been made, and how useful a benchmark is this “dollar a day” global poverty line? This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Syria poll and Europe’s work hours 24 Feb 12

    Fri, 24 Feb 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Fifty-five per cent of Syrians do not think their leader President Assad should resign, according to media reports of an opinion poll. It’s a striking number, given the bloody violence that has broken out in Syria. But Tim Harford discovers that, on closer inspection, the statistic is not what it seems. Plus, which European country works the longest hours? You might be surprised. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World service.

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

  • Cybermetrics and Groundhog Day 17 Feb 12

    Fri, 17 Feb 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Can you measure your popularity – or that of anyone or anything – by the number of results that an internet search generates? Tim Harford points the finger at lazy journalists. Plus, a professor of economics assesses the accuracy of a groundhog’s weather forecasts, made famous by the Hollywood film Groundhog Day. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Measuring famine 10 Feb 12

    Fri, 10 Feb 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    How do you measure a famine? Following the UN’s recent announcement that famine conditions have ended in Somalia, More or Less explores what the definition of a famine is – and how definite a definition it is. Tim Harford hears from Grainne Moloney, head of the UN’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit and Professor Stephen Devereux from the Institute of Development Studies. Also in the programme: Muhammed Ali’s boxing trainer, Angelo Dundee, was arguably one of sport’s greatest behind-the-scenes figures. But did he really deliberately tear Ali’s boxing glove to win the star crucial recovery time in his 1963 fight against Sir Henry Cooper? Tim Harford gets out his stopwatch for a simple exercise in counting. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • More alive than dead? 03 Feb 12

    Fri, 3 Feb 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    Tim Harford investigates one of the most popular questions from More or Less listeners: “Are there more people alive today than have ever lived?” It is a zombie statistic that every time it is laid to rest it rises again. He also looks at whether science fiction writer Arthur C Clarke was right when he suggested that behind every living person are 30 ghosts. He also investigates the strange story of Michelle Obama’s shopping trip to a lingerie store in New York. Can she really have spent $50,000 on underwear? This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Sizing up cities 27 Jan 2012

    Fri, 27 Jan 12

    Duration:
    11 mins

    Which are the world’s biggest cities, and what are their populations? Two simple questions that we discover are surprisingly difficult to answer. Plus, has the world got heavier or lighter since the industrial revolution? It’s a question posed by a More or Less listener that got us wondering, too. Dr Chris Smith, part of a group of Cambridge University researchers, known as the Naked Scientists, reckons he’s worked out the answer. This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Climate bet; Africa Cup of Nations 20 Jan 2012

    Fri, 20 Jan 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    A four-year bet about global warming between two scientists is settled. In 2008, after there had been no new record for the global average temperature set since 1998, David Whitehouse and James Annan disagreed over whether there would be a new record by 2011. As the UK Meteorological Office publishes the figures for the past year, presenter Tim Harford brings the two scientists together. Who has won, and does the victory tell us anything about global warming? Plus, Peter Stott from the Met Office tells us how the world’s temperature is measured. Also in the programme: sports statistician Robert Mastrodomenico attempts to predict the results of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations football tournament. Will his numerical analysis impress the BBC’s African football expert Farayi Mungazi? This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • Chavez's cancer claims 14 Jan 12

    Sat, 14 Jan 12

    Duration:
    10 mins

    President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela thinks the US may have developed a secret technology to give him and other Latin American leaders cancer. He said the fact that several presidents have had cancer is "difficult to explain using the law of probabilities". Is he right? Tim Harford speaks to Dr Eduardo Cazap, president of the Union of International Cancer Control. Plus, it is often said that there are more Malawian doctors in the British city of Manchester than there are in Malawi. Can this be true? And if professionals emigrate is it always bad news for the country they leave? The programme hears from John Lwanda, a Malawian doctor based in the UK; and Robert Guest, author of "Borderless Economics". This programme was originally broadcast on the BBC World Service.

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

  • High speed rail 13 Jan 12

    Fri, 13 Jan 12

    Duration:
    29 mins

    High Speed rail - Tim Harford speaks to railway consultant Chris Stokes and Alison Munro from HS2 Ltd. He investigates the different measures of the rise in executive pay with Steve Tatton from Income Data Services and Sarah Wilson from research group Manifest. And resolves a four year-old bet on climate change between climate scientist James Annan and astrophysicist David Whitehouse and Wesley Stephenson looks behind the figures for youth unemployment in Spain.

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

  • Using statistics in court 06 Jan 12

    Fri, 6 Jan 12

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford tackles the use of statistics in court, the average rise in rail fares, infinity and resolves another marital dispute about probability.

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

  • 2011 in numbers 30 Dec 11

    Fri, 30 Dec 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    A guide to interesting, informative or just plain idiosyncratic numbers of the year. Plus, does probability really exist? Contributors: David Spiegelhalter, Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University; Owen Spottiswoode, Fullfact.org; Tracey Brown from Sense about Science; Jil Matheson, UK Statistics Authority; George Monbiot; Sir Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust; Money Box presenter Paul Lewis; Sports Statistician, Robert Mastrodomenico; Dr Linda Yeuh Economics Correspondent at Bloomberg; Stand up Mathematician Matt Parker

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

  • Who are the 1% and the 99%? 23 DEC 11

    Fri, 23 Dec 11

    Duration:
    31 mins

    Tim Harford on income inequality in the UK, and elsewhere. He speaks to Professor Sir Tony Atkinson of Oxford University; Stewart Lansley, author of 'The Cost of Inequality'; and Professor Donald Boudreaux of George Mason University. Also, David Spiegelhalter, the Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at Cambridge University explains why he took on what could be his riskiest venture to date - appearing on BBC One's Winter Wipeout. Plus, the magic of maths with magician and Stanford maths professor Persi Diaconis.

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

  • Higgs boson statistics 16 Dec 11

    Fri, 16 Dec 11

    Duration:
    30 mins

    In the week scientists at the Large Hadron Collider announced that the most coveted prize in particle physics - the Higgs boson - may have been found, Tim Harford hears that the statistical significance is being mis-reported. Plus, the difficulties of cornering a market (especially when the commodity is a 1980s plastic doll). And, Tim Harford talks to author Keith Devlin about how Fibonacci revolutionised trade by introducing medieval businessmen to simple arithmetic.

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

  • Supermarket price wars 09 Dec 12

    Fri, 9 Dec 11

    Duration:
    30 mins

    Tim Harford on National Literacy Trust figures and the maths of supermarket price wars. Plus, he continues to scrutinise the popular statistics of the Eurozone crisis - do Italian tax payers really shell out 2 billion euros a year for their politicians to be chauffeured around? And, what are the odds of cracking six double-yolk eggs in a row?

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

  • Pensions, and the Eurozone crisis.

    Fri, 2 Dec 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    In the week of a nationwide strike over pension changes, Tim Harford explains how the government can make public sector pensions sound generous, at the same time the unions can make them sound small. And he finds out why a Greek national statistician is under suspicion of committing crimes against numbers. Plus, is it really true that there are more Porsche Cayenne owners than tax payers declaring an income of more than 55,000 euros in Greece? Also, are affordable homes affordable? And can the whole world fit on the Isle of Wight? Tim tries to cram his studio full of Radio 4 presenters and producers to test the theory.

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

  • Brain Culture Part 3, 29 Nov 2011

    Tue, 29 Nov 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    In a change to our usual format, we are podcasting Matthew Taylor's "Brain Culture" series. The former Number 10 strategy head looks at politics and mind control, asking if new knowledge about the human brain will allow us to make better choices or leave us open to ever more manipulation . 

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

  • Brain Culture Part 2, 22 Nov 2011

    Tue, 22 Nov 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    In a change to the usual format, we are podcasting Matthew Taylor's "Brain Culture" series. Matthew Taylor’s series “Brain Culture” continues. The former Number 10 head of strategy asks whether Britain’s education system will be changed by new insights into how human brains learn and retain knowledge.

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

  • Brain Culture Part 1, 15 Nov 2011

    Tue, 15 Nov 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    In a change to the usual format, we are podcasting Matthew Taylor’s series “Brain Culture”. He explores how neuroscience will change society, asking how the justice system will change now that we can scan criminal brains.

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

  • Government waste 09 Sep 11

    Fri, 9 Sep 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In More or Less this week: Government waste, a logic puzzle, the statistics of spying, Olympic economics and the Janitor problem.

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

  • A Euro Debt Odyssey: 02 Sep 2011

    Fri, 2 Sep 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In this week's More or Less: a Euro debt odyssey, the placebo effect and 70 years of social surveys.

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

  • Scottish Independence: 26 Aug 2011

    Fri, 26 Aug 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    On this week's More or Less: Scottish independence, mobile phones and cancer, and is Tendulkar the greatest sportsman?

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

  • Is salt bad for you? 19 Aug 2011

    Fri, 19 Aug 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    More or Less has the latest on salt, 'zero tolerance' policing, and how to predict the adult height of growing children.

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

  • The maths of rioting: 12 Aug 2011

    Fri, 12 Aug 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In More or Less this week: riots, debt, disability benefit and when to buy a lotto ticket.

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

  • US debt: 05 Aug 2011

    Fri, 5 Aug 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford and the More or Less team unpick more numbers in the news. This week: US debt, NHS funding and the "27 club".

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

  • Public Sector Pay: 13 May 2011

    Fri, 13 May 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Investigating the public sector pay premium, statins and the 'decline effect'.

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

  • Climate Refugees: 8 May 2011

    Sat, 7 May 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    More or Less looks at child poverty, climate refugees and Sir Henry Cooper's greatest moment.

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

  • Wedding Stats: 29 April 2011

    Fri, 29 Apr 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In More or Less this week: a cornucopia of wedding-related numbers. And AV explained.

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

  • How useful is GDP? 22 Apr 2011

    Fri, 22 Apr 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford and team look at GDP, school standards and the results of 'The Other Census'.

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

  • Tuition fees: 15 April 2010

    Fri, 15 Apr 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Tim Harford and the team examine examine tuition fees, drugs testing and inflation.

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

  • Youth Unemployment: 08 Apr 2011

    Fri, 8 Apr 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    In More or Less this week: youth unemployment, Trumpton and social mobility.

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

  • Small spending cuts? 01 Apr 11

    Fri, 1 Apr 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford is back with a new series of More or Less, and the numbers behind the news. Are the cuts "small"? And we introduce "The Other Census".

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

  • The Story of Economics 'Monsters': 30 Mar 11

    Wed, 30 Mar 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    In this three-part series Michael Blastland lays out the history of economic ideas to understand why economics goes wrong and whether it can ever go entirely right. In the third and final programme, 'Monsters', Michael investigates another view of economics: that it is the story of people, how they think and behave.

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

  • The Story of Economics 'Cogs': 23 Mar 2011

    Wed, 23 Mar 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    'More or Less' creator Michael Blastland goes to Chicago to explore a machine-like view of the economy in the second part of 'The Story of Economics'.

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

  • The Story of Economics 'Gods': 16 Mar 2011

    Wed, 16 Mar 11

    Duration:
    29 mins

    More or Less creator Michael Blastland lays out the history of economic ideas to understand why economics goes wrong and whether it can ever go entirely right. In the first programme of a three part series, Michael travels to Athens and the site of Aristotle's Lyceum - where economics as a discipline began.

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

  • Health check 21 Jan 11

    Fri, 21 Jan 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    The Government says Britain's health care standards have fallen behind those of our European neighbours. And World Health Organisation figures support his claim. But do those numbers tell the whole story?

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

  • Street grooming 14 Jan 11

    Fri, 14 Jan 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    We look at street grooming, examine the new bank taxes, revisit Ambridge in the wake of Loxleygate and ask just how many guys there are named Mo(hammed).

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

  • Big numbers 07 Jan 11

    Fri, 7 Jan 11

    Duration:
    28 mins

    More or Less examines this week's claims and counter-claims about VAT, exposes some seriously sloppy reporting and - finally - reveals the truth about Jack the "psychic" monkey.

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

  • 2010 in numbers 31 Dec 10

    Fri, 31 Dec 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford and the More or Less team explore 2010 in numbers. Happy New Year to all our listeners.

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

  • What the Dickens? 24 Dec 10

    Fri, 24 Dec 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Boom. Bust. Bah humbug. Tim Harford narrates 'A More or Less Christmas Carol' in which British Bank plc boss Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the ghosts of banking past, present and future. Will he heed their warnings?

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

  • Council of despair 17 Dec 10

    Fri, 17 Dec 10

    Duration:
    29 mins

    Local government budgets are being cut. More or Less looks at how the pie is sliced and finds everything depends on Wokingham (yes, really). Plus: we take a look at inflation and consult the magic More or Less monkey.

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

  • Degrees of Debt: 10 Dec 2010

    Fri, 10 Dec 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    We look at the numbers behind the increase in the cap on undergraduate tuition fees in England. Are the changes fair and progressive? Are they dropping future students into a deep hole of debt? Or are they both?

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

  • Gay Britain 01 Oct 10

    Fri, 1 Oct 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine the micromort measure of risk and official statistics on sexual identity.

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

  • How welfare works 24 Sep 10

    Fri, 24 Sep 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Tim Harford and the More or Less team examine more numbers in the news. This week: Claiming benefits has been described by the Chancellor as - for some - a "lifestyle choice". What does the evidence tell us about how incentives work in the welfare system?; The numbers of some of Britain's best-loved birds are declining. Fast. Many think cats are to blame. Are they right?; Why the Prime Minister's salary has become a convenient unit of measurement; And we bring you the results of our mathematical attempt to level the playing field at this year's Great North Run half marathon.

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

  • Who earns more? 17 Sep 2010

    Fri, 17 Sep 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    Who earns more: private or public employees? And are your trousers flattering you?

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

  • Back to school: 10 Sep 2010

    Fri, 10 Sep 10

    Duration:
    29 mins

    More or Less looks at how maths is taught in schools today and it asks what the population of the world be if WWI had never happened.

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

  • 03 Sep 2010

    Fri, 3 Sep 10

    Duration:
    28 mins

    How reliable are life expectancy figures? Can cycling ever be safer than driving? And, what can maths tell us about guerilla insurgencies?

    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 episodes

You need Javascript enabled and Flash version 10 installed to access this audio. Please view our BBC Webwise guide.

You may also like

Americana: inside the USA

  • Factual
  • News

An insider’s guide to the stories and people shaping the USA today. Discussion and insight from some of the best known names and voices in America.

Mon, 12 Sep 11

32 minutes

Feedback

  • Factual

Radio 4's forum for comments, queries, criticisms and congratulations. Roger Bolton airs listeners' views on BBC radio programmes and policy.

Fri, 8 Aug 14

27 minutes

Genres

  • No matches found