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More or Less: Behind the Stats Podcast by Tim Harford

More or Less: Behind the Stats Podcast

by Tim Harford

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Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4.

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  • Factchecking Trump on Trade
    Fri, Mar 16, 2018

    Whenever Donald Trump talks about trade he brings up one statistic again and again, the US trade balance. This is the relationship between the goods and services the US imports from other countries and what it exports – if America buys more from a country than that country buys from America there’s a deficit, and Trump claims America has a trade deficit with almost every country in the world.Is he right?We unpick whether President Trump is quoting the correct numbers on trade, hear how trade figures can vary widely between countries and ask if it’s the right approach to focus trade deal negotiations on reducing the US deficit.(Photo: President Donald Trump participates in a meeting with leaders of the steel industry at the White House, Washington, DC. Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

  • WS More or Less: Sir Roger Bannister
    Fri, Mar 09, 2018

    After Sir Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes, did positive thinking propel dozens to do the same?

  • WS More or Less: Women, the Oscars and the Bechdel Test
    Mon, Mar 05, 2018

    Are Hollywood films ignoring women? As this is the 90th year of the Academy Awards - we find out how many ‘Best Picture’ winners pass the Bechdel Test. This is a light-hearted way of challenging whether a film meets a low standard of female representation. They have to fulfil three criteria: are there at least two named female characters in the cast? Do those two women speak to each other? And do they have a conversation about something other than a man? In collaboration with the BBC’s 100 Women team, we reveal the answer but also look at what other ways we could be assessing representation in film.

  • WS More or Less: The Winter Olympics
    Sun, Feb 25, 2018

    What’s the most successful nation? (0’40”) We look at population, GDP per capita and ski areas of the countries with the most medals.How do you judge a country’s ‘best’ performance? (3.45”)What are the chances of dead heat in a race? (6’35”) The two-man bobsleigh event ended in a dead heat with both Canada and Germany achieving a time of three minutes 16.86 seconds.Is this the coldest winter games? (8’41”)

  • WS More or Less:Debunking guide on a postcard
    Sun, Feb 18, 2018

    How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps.

  • UN rape claims, Stalin and Mr Darcy
    Fri, Feb 16, 2018

    How many people have UN staff raped? – (0’40’’) It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade.The wealth of Mr Darcy – (5’10”) The male love interest of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ is supposed to be fabulously wealthy. Is he?How many people did Stalin kill? – (10’00”) Why there are so many different figures reported.Avoid splitting the bill – (18’25”) Credit card roulette is Dan Ariely’s preferred way of ending a meal with friends.Gender in literature – (22’15”)How are women depicted in books? Author Ben Blatt does an analysis.

  • WS More or Less: Has Russian Drinking Fallen by 80% in five years?
    Sun, Feb 11, 2018

    Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia’s health ministry

  • The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun part II
    Fri, Feb 09, 2018

    Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't, and how much do women spend on tampons?

  • WS More or Less: Is China On Track to End Poverty by 2020?
    Mon, Feb 05, 2018

    A key pledge of the Chinese President Xi Jinping is that China will have eradicated poverty by 2020. It’s an extraordinary claim, but the country does have a good track record in improving the wealth of its citizens; the World Bank says China has contributed more than any other country to global poverty reduction. So how does China measure poverty? And is it possible for them to make sure, over the next few years, that no one falls below their poverty line?Photo: A woman tends to her niece amid the poor surroundings of her home's kitchenCredit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

  • Transgender Numbers, Parkrun and Snooker
    Fri, Feb 02, 2018

    How many transgender people are there in the UK?The UK produces official statistics about all sorts of things – from economic indicators to demographic data. But it turns out there are no official figures for the number of transgender people in the UK. We explore what we do know, and what is harder to measure.Do 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol?According to recent headlines, just 4% of the population drink nearly a third of the alcohol sold in England. But can so few people really account for so much of the countries bar tab? We find out where the statistic came from.Bank of England’s Mark Carney says no to RPIAt a hearing of the House of Lords’ economic affairs committee, the Governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, said it would be useful to have a single measure of inflation for consumers – and that CPI was a much better measure than RPI, which he said had “no merit”. We find out why with the FT’s Chris Giles.A statistical take on parkrunEvery weekend over 1.5 million people run 5,000m on Saturday mornings for parkrun which is a free event that takes place all over the UK and indeed across the globe. Each runner is given a bar code, which is scanned at the end of the run and fed into a database showing them what place they came in their race– we take a look at which courses are the fastest, slowest, hardest and easiest.Testing for a cough correlation between snooker and smokingA listener emailed us this week to ask whether you can connect the number of coughs during snooker matches to the decline in smoking. We got counting to see if the theory was a trick shot - with help from John Virgo.Photo: Jimmy WhiteCredit: Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

  • Is the US Census Under Threat?
    Mon, Jan 29, 2018

    The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results.The United States are due to run their next nationwide census in 2020, but already critics are warning that underfunding and proposed question about citizenship could affect the accuracy of its results. We look at the real life consequences if groups choose not to complete the 2020 census, and ask whether the recent politically charged debate is unusual in its two hundred year history.Presenter: Tim HarfordProducer: Kate LamblePhoto: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a penCredit: Nicolas McComber/Getty Images

  • A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime numbers
    Fri, Jan 26, 2018

    First sexual experience - checking the factsA short film for the Draw A Line campaign has made the claim that one in three girls first sexual experience is rape. This seems shockingly high, but what is the evidence? Is it just for the UK or a global figure? We go back to the reports that were used to source the claim, and find the research has been misinterpreted.How long can a shark go for without eating?A recent episode of Blue Planet II stated that after a large meal a Sixgill shark might not have to eat for 'up to an entire year'. Tim Harford speaks to Dr David Ebert, a shark expert who has studied the stomach contents of Sixgills over the years. And to Professor Alex Roger, a zoologist who advised the Blue Planet team, to try and find out how accurate the claim is and why the deep sea is still a mystery.The wonder of Prime NumbersOxford mathematician Vicky Neale talks about her new book - Closing The Gap - and how mathematicians have striven to understand the patterns behind prime numbers.Multiple granniesA Swiss mummy has recently been identified as a distant ancestor of Boris Johnson. But some people have been getting tangled up over just how many great-great-great-great-great-great-great grandmothers the Foreign Secretary might have. We tackle an email from one listener - none other than the broadcaster Stephen Fry.

  • WS More or Less: Real Lives Behind the Numbers
    Mon, Jan 22, 2018

    If you ask an economist to explain what is happening in a country’s economy. They rely on economic data points to describe what is happening – they might talk about the unemployment rate, average wages, and the numbers of people in poverty. They pull together the information available for thousands or millions of people to work out trends.But are we getting the whole picture?We speak to Rachel Schneider, co-author of the book, ‘The Financial Diaries’. It’s based on a large study in the USA. Over a period of a year from 2012 to 2013, researchers interviewed several families about how they were managing their money to find out the personal stories behind economic data.Presenter and Producer: Charlotte McDonald(Photo: A couple looking at their finances. Credit: Wayhome Studio/Shutterstock)

  • Gender Pay Gaps and How to Learn a Language
    Fri, Jan 19, 2018

    Gender Pay GapThis week the Office for National Statistics has published analysis trying to find out why it is that on average women are paid less than men in specific industries and occupations. We examine their findings, as well as taking a look at the current discussion about equal pay at the BBC.Alcohol reaction timesWe take a look at a study that suggests that people's reaction speeds are affected over time by regular drinking. It recommends that official guidelines for the amount of alcohol consumed a week should be lowered. But what does the evidence show?Bus announcements - when is too many?Transport for London has introduced a new announcement on its buses to warn travellers that the bus is about to move. We discuss the benefit of such messages.How many words do you need to speak a language?Ein bier bitte? Loyal listener David made a new year's resolution to learn German. Three years later, that's about as far as he's got. Keen to have something to aim for, he asked More or Less how many words you really need to know in order to speak a language. We find out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and put Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is.Producer: Charlotte McDonald.(Photo: Man and woman working on a car production plant. Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)

  • WS More or Less: How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists by Half a Century
    Mon, Jan 15, 2018

    A forgotten French mathematician is the focus of our programme. He anticipated both Einstein's theories and the application of maths to the stock market. Born in the 1870s, his work was unusual at the time. With the help of Alison Etheridge, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, we explain how his ideas were rediscovered decades after his death.(Photo: Pocket watch. Credit: Kanyapak Lim/Shutterstock)

  • Missed appointments, graduate pay, plus cocaine on bank notes
    Fri, Jan 12, 2018

    Did missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year?New figures published recently suggest that the financial cost to the NHS for missed appointments was £1 billion last year. But our listeners are curious. How has this figure been worked out? And don’t missed appointments actually ease the pressure on an overcrowded system?Graduate pay – is it always higher than non-graduates’ pay?It is often claimed that if you go to university and get a degree, you will earn more than those who do not. But is that always true? We take a look to see if there are occasions when having a degree makes little difference or whether the benefit of a degree has changed over time.How much cocaine is on a bank note?Tim Harford speaks to Richard Sleeman who works for a firm, Mass Spec Analytical, that specialises in working out how much cocaine can be found on bank notes across the country. Do some parts of the country have more cocaine on their notes than others? Is it true that 99% of bank notes in London have cocaine on them?Is it true that one in five can’t name an author of literature?Last year the Royal Society of Literature made this claim – but what was it based on? It turns out a polling company found that 20 percent questioned failed to name a single author. Should we be surprised? We took a look at the data.Diet Coke HabitThe New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks ‘a dozen’ Diet Cokes a day. With each can of 330ml containing 42mg of caffeine - what impact, if any, could this have on the President’s health?

  • WS More or Less: Just how rare is a hole-in-one?
    Sun, Jan 07, 2018

    Why it isn’t as simple to work out as you think.

  • More or Less: Statistics of the Year 2017
    Sun, Dec 31, 2017

    Phones, lawn mowers and how Kim Kardashian helped the public understanding of risk.

  • WS More or Less: Will Bitcoin use more electricity than the United States?
    Sun, Dec 24, 2017

    Measuring the energy used to keep the cryptocurrency secure.

  • WS More or Less: Diet Coke Habit; 'Contained' Wildfires
    Mon, Dec 18, 2017

    Could the US President’s Diet Coke habit affect his health? and 'contained' wildfires

  • WS More or Less: Does Eating Chocolate Make Your Brain Younger?
    Mon, Dec 11, 2017

    Headlines claim that eating chocolate can protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The theory is that bioactives within chocolate called flavanols can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even make your brain 30 years younger! But isn’t this all a bit too good to be true? The BBC’s Head of Statistics, Robert Cuffe, investigates whether research findings are misrepresented by funders, PR machines and the media. Presenter: Robert Cuffe Producer: Lizzy McNeill

  • WS More or Less: Just how lucky are regular lottery winners?
    Mon, Dec 04, 2017

    Are some people just very lucky? The maths suggest that is unlikely.

  • WS More or Less: How Rich was Jane Austens Mr Darcy?
    Sun, Nov 26, 2017

    What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today’s money.

  • How expensive is Italy's World Cup failure?
    Fri, Nov 17, 2017

    The Italians are calling it the apocalypse. Their team has failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But it is about more than just national pride - there is a financial cost too. Some have suggested that it will cost FIFA $100m. Is this really true? We speak to sports writer Graham Dunbar who has been counting how much money football's world governing body might lose out on. Also we fact check the claim that 45% of Nigerian women marry before their 18th birthday. Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Xavier Zapata(Image: Alessandro Florenzi of Italy at the end of the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier play-off, November 13, 2017. Credit: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images)

  • WS More or Less: Why Albums are Getting Longer
    Sun, Nov 12, 2017

    Chris Brown’s latest album is stuffed with so many songs it runs at a sprawling two hours and twenty minutes. It’s only the latest in a string of lengthy album releases that includes artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Lil B. More or Less speaks to Hugh McIntyre, a music journalist who has found out that a numerical change in the way the album charts are measured is tempting artists into making longer albums.We also talk to Marc Hogan, a senior writer at Pitchfork, about a number that is changing the sound of pop music. You can find more of Marc Hogan's writing on pitchfork.comPresenter: Jordan Dunbar Producer: Xavier Zapata(Chris Brown performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)

  • WS More or Less: Do Nigerian lawmakers get $1.7m and do Yams cause twins?
    Sun, Nov 05, 2017

    Finding out if Nigerian politicians really get paid more than the American President.

  • WS More or Less: Novelists in numbers
    Mon, Oct 30, 2017

    Counting the favourite words of well-known authors: Stephen King, Hemingway and others

  • WS More or Less: Are US millennials more politically engaged online?
    Fri, Oct 20, 2017

    Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics?

  • How Richard Thaler changed Economics
    Fri, Oct 13, 2017

    The behavioural economist who has inspired governments around the world.

  • WS More or Less: Kilobyte to Brontobyte
    Tue, Oct 10, 2017

    Naming the monster numbers - how the names of digital storage files evolved.

  • WS More or Less: Big polluters - ships versus cars
    Mon, Oct 02, 2017

    Do the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world?

  • Uber; EU passports; counting domestic violence
    Fri, Sep 29, 2017

    Is Uber safe? The post Brexit dual nationality surge and measuring partner abuse.

  • WS More or Less: Sperm - Are we going extinct?
    Mon, Sep 25, 2017

    How much of a problem is falling sperm count?

  • Statistics abuse, tuition fees and beer in 1887
    Fri, Sep 22, 2017

    Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is accused of mis-using official statistics.

  • WS More or Less: How to measure a Hurricane
    Fri, Sep 15, 2017

    What’s the best way to measure a hurricane?

  • Are Natural Disasters on the Rise?
    Fri, Sep 15, 2017

    Has the number of natural disasters really quadrupled in the last forty years?

  • WS More or Less: More Horses than Tanks?
    Mon, Sep 11, 2017

    Is the UK the only country with more horses than tanks in its army?

  • Electric cars, school-ready and feedback
    Fri, Sep 08, 2017

    Will we need more power stations? Plus, are children in Manchester ready for school?

  • One in 500 Year Storm
    Mon, Sep 04, 2017

    Experts are saying that Houston just suffered a one in 500 year storm but what does that mean?

  • Grenfell Tower's Death Toll
    Fri, Sep 01, 2017

    The difficulties of finding the true number of people who died in the fire.

  • Fantasy Football - How to win
    Mon, Aug 28, 2017

    Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager.

  • A-levels, drowning and dress sizes
    Fri, Aug 25, 2017

    Are boys getting more top A Level grades than girls? Plus why are dress sizes so weird?

  • The Trump Bump
    Sun, Aug 20, 2017

    During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had I the history of our country.” This is not the first time the American President has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair? We take a look at the numbers.

  • Are there 15,000 transgender people serving in the US military?
    Mon, Aug 14, 2017

    President Trump says transgender individuals cannot serve, but how many do already?

  • Why is Kenyas election so expensive?
    Mon, Aug 07, 2017

    On Tuesday Kenyans go to the polls to elect members of parliament and the next president. A report in Quartz Africa has estimated that the cost of putting on the election by the Government works out at around $25 per head – $480 million in total. It also estimated that it cost Rwanda $1 a head, and Uganda $4 a head to lay on elections. Recently an expert on this programme estimated that the UK General election cost about $4 a head. We explore why there is such a difference in the amounts spent.

  • More boys than girls in Sweden?
    Mon, Jul 31, 2017

    Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population’s sex ratio

  • Maryam Mirzakhani A Genius of Maths
    Mon, Jul 24, 2017

    Celebrating the only woman to win the biggest prize in mathematics.

  • Calling the shots at Wimbledon
    Mon, Jul 17, 2017

    Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis is the theme this week. In this digital age we are used to information at our fingertips. This week More or Less finds out how every rally, every shot at this tennis championship is counted and makes its way to our phones, desktops and TV screens. And once you have this information – what can you do with it? Is it useful for players and coaches? Traditionally, players will take a risk on their first chance to serve, and hit the ball as fast as they can, knowing that they have a second chance. On their second attempt, players tend to serve more slowly and carefully to make sure it goes in. But could the statistics show they might as well take a risk again?(Venus Williams plays a backhand during the Ladies Singles first round match against Elise Mertens at Wimbledon. Credit: Getty Images)

  • Is Steph Curry cheap and how random is random?
    Mon, Jul 10, 2017

    Are top basketball players underpaid?The American basketballer Stephen Curry has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history. The new deal will pay him $200 million over 5 years but amazingly, according to fellow superstar player Lebron James, he’s probably being underpaid. It may sound ridiculous but economists agree. How can this be true? We look at the economics of superstar sports salaries.The mystery of Ryanair’s seat allocationRyanair carries more international passengers a year than any other airline. The European budget carrier is renowned for its low cost seats. If you want to guarantee seating next to people you book with, you have to pay extra. Otherwise, Ryanair says it will allocate seats randomly. We speak to statistician Dr Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford about her doubts over the ‘random’ nature of the seat allocation.Presenter: Charlotte McDonaldProducer: Charlotte McDonald and Richard Vadon

  • In Search of Woodall Primes
    Fri, Jun 30, 2017

    It’s the 100 year centenary of an obscure type of prime number – the Woodall Primes. To celebrate, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker is calling on listeners to search for a new one. Ordinary citizens can already help search for Mersenne Prime numbers by lending computer processing power to GIMPS – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Matt explains to Tim Harford what a Woodall Prime is, and why it deserves more attention.Also - Making penalty shoot-outs fairer - 60% of penalty shoot-outs are won by the team going first, can this unfairness be overcome?(image Matt Parker / photographer: Steve Ullathorne)

  • How rare are deadly tower block fires?
    Mon, Jun 26, 2017

    How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London’s Grenfell Tower.

  • Trumpton Extra
    Wed, Jun 21, 2017

    The Voice of 1960s British children’s TV series ‘Trumpton’, Brian Cant, died this week. The More or Less team has visited the town of Trumpton on a number of occasions so we have brought together a handful of our favourites as a tribute.

  • Post-Election Special
    Mon, Jun 19, 2017

    The results of the general election are in - but what do they mean? Did more young people vote than expected? Have we now got a more diverse parliament? How many extra votes would Jeremy Corbyn have needed to become Prime Minister - these are just some of the claims and questions that have been floating around on social media and in the press. Tim Harford and the team are going to analyse, add context and try and find answers.

  • WS More or Less: Are African football players more likely to die on the field?
    Mon, Jun 12, 2017

    Cheick Tiote, the much loved former Newcastle United player collapsed and died while training with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises earlier this month. His death and that of other black footballers have caused some commentators to ask – are African or black players more likely to die while playing than other people?The data of footballers deaths is pretty poor but we try to glean some answers from the scant numbers available. It look like one of the most common causes of death among players on the pitch is cardiac arrest – son is this is a greater risk factor for people of African heritage?We speak to statistician Dr Robert Mastrodomenico and Professor Sanjay Sharma, a specialist in sports cardiology.Presented and produced by Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald

  • UK Election extra
    Wed, Jun 07, 2017

    This podcast is a compilation of interviews by the More or Less team with Eddie Mair from Radio 4’s PM programme. Each interview features a different claim or hotly discussed topic from the UK general election campaign: from school funding, to numbers of armed police officers.

  • WS More or Less: Samba, strings and the story of HIV
    Mon, Jun 05, 2017

    Trumpets are blasting in this week’s musical episode. But can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out? That was the challenge which epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani set for composer Tony Haynes. This June, his Grand Union Orchestra will be performing Song of Contagion, an evening of steel pans, saxophones and singers telling the story of diseases including Zika and AIDs.We met Elizabeth and Tony in an East London music studio, to hear Song of Contagion come together for the very first time.Producer: Hannah Sander(Photo: Detail close up of French Horn musical instrument, part of the Brass family of instruments. Credit: Shutterstock)

  • Election Special: Tax, borders and climate
    Fri, Jun 02, 2017

    On this final programme of the series we try to give some context to some of the issues that are being discussed during the current election campaign.Who pays tax?What proportion of adults are paying income tax? How much are they paying? Where does the highest burden lay? We take a look. Also, we look at the different political parties’ tax policies. This includes corporation tax, but what about National Insurance?How do you cut migration?The Conservative manifesto again includes the aim to lower net migration to tens of thousands. How has this aim fared in the last six years? And what could the Conservatives do in future years to achieve their goal? We also take a look at what impact that might have on the economy.Taking the nations’ temperatureSummer has arrived – but we cast our minds to the chilly months ahead and think about the Winter Fuel Payment. The Conservatives are proposing to change this to a means-tested system – everywhere except Scotland. Is this because Scotland is colder than the rest of the UK? BBC Weather Man Phil Avery has the answer.Free School MealsIt’s been a popular topic in party manifestos - free school meals. Jamie Oliver thinks school dinners are essential for fighting obesity – but is there really a case to be made for the health benefits of a school lunch? Emily Tanner from the National Centre for Social Research puts the case for and against Universal Free School Meals – while munching a pie and a packed lunch.

  • WS More or Less: Have 65% of future jobs not yet been invented?
    Sun, May 28, 2017

    Our entire education system is faulty, claim experts. They worry that schools don’t prepare kids for the world outside. But how could anyone prove what the future will be like?We set off on a round-the-world sleuthing trip to trace a statistic that has been causing headaches for students, teachers and politicians alike. Helping us on our quest are educators Cathy Davidson, Daisy Christodoulou and Andrew Old – plus a little bit of Blade Runner and a lot data-wrangling.Producer: Hannah Sander(Photo: Classmates taking part in peer learning. Credit: Shutterstock)

  • Spies, care homes, and ending sneak peeks
    Fri, May 26, 2017

    Can security services follow everyone known to them?The attack on Manchester Arena took place exactly four years since the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Back in 2013 we broadcast an interview with the former Head of MI5, Dame Stella Rimmington, about the difficulties of monitoring people who have been flagged up to the services. We are re-visiting that interview.Chances of ending up in a care homeThere are around 11.6 million people over the age of 65 in the UK, but how many need social care services? A listener got in chances to say that he was 72 - what are the chances that he will need social care services in his lifetime? We look at the numbers of people in both residential care and receiving formal care services in the home currently.Penalty shoot outs updateA few weeks ago we explained UEFA's new procedure for carrying out penalty shoot outs. We bring news of how that system is playing out, and how a loyal listener has spotted a famous pattern in Blur's song, 'Girls and Boys'.Stop sneak peak accessFor years statisticians have been calling for an end to the practice of allowing ministers and officials to see official numbers before everyone else. Why does it matter? We tell the strange tale exploring whether economic data is leaked to City traders before its official publication. Could pre-release access to Government statistics be behind strange movements on financial markets? With help from Mike Bird of the Wall Street Journal, and Alex Kurov of the University of West Virginia, we take a look at the evidence.Also - a tribute to Sir Roger Moore.

  • WS More or Less: Ugandas refugees
    Mon, May 22, 2017

    Has Uganda been accepting more refugees on a daily basis than some European countries manage in an entire year? That is the claim from the Norwegian Refugee Council – and it is a claim we put to the test.Civil war and famine in South Sudan have forced millions to leave their homes, and this has had a colossal impact on neighbouring Uganda. We speak to Gopolang Makou, a researcher at Africa Check who has some startling figures to share.(Photo: Children wait as WFP, 'World Food Programme' prepare to deliver food aid at the Bidi Bidi refugee camp Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

  • Tax, speed dating and sea ice
    Fri, May 19, 2017

    Exploring the Labour manifesto's tax plans for high earners.

  • Nurses' pay, Scottish seats, Penalty shootouts
    Sat, May 13, 2017

    What is happening to nurses pay?Amid reports of nurses using food banks, Jeremy Hunt said he doesn’t recognise claims their wages are worth less now than in 2010. He says nurses are actually paid £31,000 - more than the average person. If he’s right, why do so many nurses say they’re earning much less than that?The Great Scottish Election ConspiracyThe reporting of the Scottish council elections has caused a bit of a stir. Did the SNP lose seven seats or gain six. The media including the BBC reported that they had lost seats, the many SNP supporters are sure that this isn’t a fair representation of their performance. This all hinges on how you look at the results last time around and how you account for the major boundary review that took place between elections. Tim tries to get to the bottom of what has happened with Professor David Denver from Lancaster University.Penalty shootout mathsWhat do coffee, stew and nerve-biting football finales have in common? Maths whizz and football aficionado Rob Eastaway explains all.UEFA, European football’s governing body, is currently trialling a new system for penalty shootouts. But what is the maths behind the new system – and could a century-old Scandinavian mathematical sequence offer a better approach?Presenter: Tim HarfordProducer: Charlotte McDonald

  • WS More or Less: Is my Baby a Giant?
    Fri, May 12, 2017

    All over the world mothers are given numbers as their baby grows. The numbers are from ‘growth charts’ showing how a baby is developing in comparison to others. Seven month old Baby Arlo has particularly big numbers, so much so that his parents are worried he’s one of the biggest babies in America. But where do these numbers come from? Is it an average? Why do they measure a baby’s head? Reporter Jordan Dunbar sets out to find out how we get these baby numbers and just how big Baby Arlo is.Presenter: Tim Harford and Jordan DunbarProducer: Charlotte McDonald and Jordan Dunbar

  • WS More or Less: An urban maze
    Mon, May 08, 2017

    Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.

  • Is Crime Rising?
    Fri, May 05, 2017

    It looks like homicides are on the rise - but better check the footnotes

  • WS More or Less: The Maths of Dating
    Mon, May 01, 2017

    How to use mathematics to find your partner. And, how reliable are pregnancy due dates?

  • Fact-checking Boris Johnson
    Fri, Apr 28, 2017

    Giant bombs, a war hero and the foreign secretary's stats.

  • WS More or Less:The death rate of white Americans Whats going on?
    Fri, Apr 21, 2017

    Are middle-aged white Americans dying younger than other groups?

  • Living standards and Kate Bush maths
    Fri, Apr 21, 2017

    Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate Bush

  • WS More or Less: The Ignorance Test
    Fri, Apr 14, 2017

    How much do you know about the world?

  • Economics of Overbooking
    Fri, Apr 14, 2017

    Why airlines bet that not everybody will turn up for a flight.

  • WS More or Less: Could North Korea Wipe out 90% of Americans?
    Mon, Apr 10, 2017

    A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalypse”.But are hungry squirrels a greater threat to the electrical grid than North Korean weapons? We speak to senior security adviser Sharon Burke and Yoni Applebaum from The Atlantic.Presenter: Charlotte McDonaldProducer: Hannah Sander

  • WS More or Less: Will one in four people develop a mental health problem?
    Fri, Mar 31, 2017

    The claim that “one in four” of us will suffer from a mental health problem is popular amongst campaigners, politicians and the media. But this leads you to a simple question – where is this figure from and what’s the evidence? This was exactly what neuroscientist Jamie Horder asked, and far from being simple, it led him on quite a journey. So do we really know how many people are likely to develop mental health problems – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald find out.Presenter: Charlotte McDonaldProducer: Elizabeth Cassin

  • WS More Or Less: Baby Boxes are they really saving infants lives?
    Fri, Mar 24, 2017

    Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They’re not new though Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies to sleep in. Since their introduction cot death and has fallen and child health improved. Governments and individuals across the world have adopted them and companies have sprung up selling them. But think about for minute – can a cardboard box on its own really have such a huge effect – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald have been looking at the truth behind the story.Presenter: Charlotte McDonaldProducer: Elizabeth Cassin(Photo:One of Scotland's first baby boxes is seen at Clackmannanshire Community Health Centre. Credit: Getty Images)

  • More or Less: The concrete facts about Trumps wall and China
    Fri, Mar 17, 2017

    Did China use more concrete in three years than the US in the 20th Century?

  • WS More or Less: The Attention Span of a Goldfish
    Fri, Mar 10, 2017

    Are our attention spans now shorter than a goldfish's?

  • WS More or Less: Why are Hollywood actresses paid less than men?
    Fri, Mar 03, 2017

    Top Hollywood actresses have complained that they are paid less than their male co-stars

  • WS More or Less: What happened last night in Sweden?
    Fri, Feb 24, 2017

    What happened last night in Sweden?

  • Hidden Figures: The Real Story
    Fri, Feb 17, 2017

    Hidden Figures, the film, has been nominated for three awards at the Oscars and has been a box office hit in the US. It tells the little-known story of a group of African American women and their contribution to the space race in the 50s and 60s. We explore the history of how these women were recruited by Nasa and put to work on complex mathematical tasks – at a time when African Americans and women were far less likely to be employed in such jobs.(Photo: Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson,in a scene from Hidden Figures. Credit: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox/AP)

  • WS More or Less: Hans Rosling - the extraordinary life of a statistical guru
    Mon, Feb 13, 2017

    A huge hole was left in the world this week with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He was a master communicator whose captivating presentations on global development were watched by millions. He had the ear of those with power and influence. His friend Bill Gates said Hans ‘brought data to life and helped the world see the human progress it often overlooked’. In a world that often looks at the bad news coming out of the developing world, Rosling was determined to spread the good news, extended life expectancy, falling rates of disease and infant mortality. He was fighting what he called the ‘post-fact era‘ of global health. He was passionate about global development and before he became famous he lived and worked in Mozambique, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo using data and his skills as a doctor to save lives. Despite ill health he also travelled to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to help gather and consolidate data to help fight the outbreak. On a personal level he was warm, funny and kind and will be greatly missed by a huge number of people.Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Wesley Stephenson(Image: Hans Rosling, speaks at a conference in 2012. Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images for ReSource 2012)

  • WS More or Less: Is democracy failing in America?
    Fri, Feb 03, 2017

    Does North Carolina really rank alongside North Korea if you measure electoral integrity

  • WS More or Less: Counting Crowds
    Fri, Jan 27, 2017

    How many went to celebrate – and how many to protest – the Trump inauguration?

  • WS More or Less: Why January makes us want to scream
    Fri, Jan 20, 2017

    Blue Monday and Oxfam’s comparison wealth of billionaires and the poor –the stories that come around every year.

  • WS More or Less: Christian Martyrs
    Fri, Jan 13, 2017

    Were 90,000 Christians killed because of their faith in 2016?

  • WS More or Less: Should we really be drinking eight glasses of water a day?
    Fri, Jan 06, 2017

    How much water should you be drinking? There’s some age-old advice that suggests you should be drinking eight ounces (230 ml) eight times a day. Some people even advise you should be drinking this on top of what you normally drink. There is lots of advice out there but how do you know when you’ve had enough or if you’re drinking too much. With help from Professor Stanley Goldfarb from the University of Pennsylvania, Wesley Stephenson finds out.(Image: Hand holding a glass of water. Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire)

  • WS More or Less: Does Sweden Really Have a Six Hour Day?
    Tue, Jan 03, 2017

    There have been reports that those radical Swedes have decided to reduce the working day to just six hours because, it has been claimed, productivity does not suffer. Before you all rush to the Swedish job pages this is not quite the case – but there have been trials in Sweden to test whether you can shorten people’s working hours without having an effect on output. Tim Harford talks to our Swedish correspondent Keith Moore about what the trials have found. He also speaks to professor John Pencavel, Emeritus Professor of Economics, at Stanford University, and finds that reducing working hours may not be as radical idea as it first appears. (Photo: A business man carries a black briefcase)

  • The Haber-Bosch Process
    Wed, Dec 28, 2016

    Saving lives with thin air - by taking nitrogen from the air to make fertiliser

  • WS More or Less:Life, death and data
    Mon, Dec 26, 2016

    Improving data to target help to the poorest people

  • Christmas Quiz
    Fri, Dec 23, 2016

    Tim Harford poses a tough statistical challenge

  • WS More or Less: Yellow cards for Christmas
    Fri, Dec 16, 2016

    Are footballers trying to get suspended for Christmas?

  • Have more famous people died this year?
    Fri, Dec 16, 2016

    Notable deaths, Rule Britannia and creating your own Christmas speech

  • WS More or Less:How risky is the contraceptive pill?
    Mon, Dec 12, 2016

    We look at the numbers behind the scary headlines about birth control.

  • How wrong were the Brexit forecasts?
    Fri, Dec 09, 2016

    The economic doom that never was; childhood cancer figures and Ed Balls

  • WS More or Less:How not to test public opinion
    Fri, Dec 02, 2016

    The survey by the Indian PM that broke all the polling rules and started a mass protest

  • Are you related to Edward III - and Danny Dyer?
    Fri, Dec 02, 2016

    What are the odds of being related to a medieval king? and how many cows for a fiver?

  • WS More or Less: Good news on renewables?
    Mon, Nov 28, 2016

    Renewable capacity has surpassed that of coal–is this good news? Plus an asteroid update.

  • Pensioners aren't poor anymore
    Fri, Nov 25, 2016

    High-rolling pensioners? predicting Norovirus, air pollution deaths and lost or found?

  • WS More or Less: Avoiding Asteroids
    Mon, Nov 21, 2016

    A new NASA warning system means we’re getting better at spotting Earth-bound space rocks. But how safe are we?

  • Is dementia the number one killer?
    Fri, Nov 18, 2016

    Is dementia on the rise? Plus immigration, incomplete contacts and chocolate muffins

  • WS More or Less: Liberias Rape Statistic Debunked
    Mon, Nov 14, 2016

    Sexual violence was widespread in Liberia’s brutal and bloody year civil war. But were three quarters of women in the country raped?We tell the story behind the number and reveal how well-meaning efforts to expose what happened have fuelled myths and miss-leading statistics that continue to be propagated to this day, including by the UN.We speak to Amelia Hoover Green from Drexel University, Dara Cohen from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, researcher Phyllis Kimba and Aisha Dukule from the think tank Center For Liberia's Future in Monrovia.(Photo: Liberian women and children wait for rice rations in overcrowded Monrovia, June 2003. Credit: Georges Gobet/AFP/Getty Images)

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