Main content

A no-frills life, automated fact-checking, Lord of the Rings maths

Investigating the numbers in the news.

What would have been the most efficient way to get to Mordor? To answer this Tim Harford turns to information in the Lord of the Rings books and original documents at the Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Libraries in Oxford. He crunches the numbers with the help of Professor Graham Taylor of Oxford University, an expert in mathematical biology.

Could computers do a better job than humans of exposing fake news and holding politicians to account? Tim Harford interviews Mevan Babakar of the fact-checking organisation Fullfact about the software tools she and her team are building to try to automatically verify statistical claims.

The Child Poverty Action Group claims low-earning parents working full-time are unable to earn enough to provide their family with a basic, no-frills lifestyle. Tim Harford examines the numbers with the author of the group's report, Professor Donald Hirsch of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University.

Presenter: Tim Harford.

Available now

28 minutes


  • Fri 24 Aug 2018 16:30
  • Sun 26 Aug 2018 20:00

When can you trust statistics?

When can you trust statistics?

BBC Ideas discovers three easy ways to help make sense of statistics.

Explore further with The Open University

Explore further with The Open University

Visit The Open University’s More or Less pages on OpenLearn

Download this programme

Download this programme

Subscribe to the More or Less Podcast or download individual episodes.