More or Less: Behind the Stats

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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Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-05-24 10:33
last episode published
2019-05-20 13:00
publication frequency
4.9 days
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Number of Episodes
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Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors

Making music out of Money

Data visualisation is all the rage, but where does that leave the old-fashioned values of audio? Some data visualisation experts are starting to explore the benefits of turning pictures into sound. Financial Times journalist Alan Smith plays his musica...
BBC Radio 4 author

Heart deaths, Organised crime and Gender data gaps

Are deaths from heart disease on the rise? This week the British Heart Foundation had us all stopping mid-biscuit with the news that the number of under 75s dying from cardiovascular disease is going up for the first time in half a century. It sounds ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Sex Every Seven Seconds

We revisit some classic topics from past years. We hear which statistics about sex you should trust, and which are less robust. Do men think about sex every seven seconds? Plus, did the arrival of royal baby Princess Charlotte really contribute to the ...
BBC Radio 4 author

Sex, coal, missing people and mice

Sex Recession This week it was reported that British people are having less sex than they used to. Similar statistics are cropping up elsewhere in the world too. But one US stat seemed particularly stark: the number of young men having no sex at all in...
BBC Radio 4 author

Avengers - Should we reverse the snap?

At the end of Avengers: Infinity War film the villain, Thanos, snapped his fingers in the magical infinity gauntlet and disintegrated half of all life across the universe. The Avengers want to reverse the snap but would it better for mankind to live in...
BBC Radio 4 author

Nurses, flatmates and cats

Nurse suicide rates There were some worrying figures in the news this week about the number of nurses in England and Wales who died by suicide over the last seven years. We try to work out what the numbers are really telling us. Are 27 million birds...
BBC Radio 4 author

Bernie Sanders and the cost of having a baby

Bernie Sanders, a Senator in the United States and one of the front-runners in the campaign to be the Democratic presidential candidate, said on Twitter that it costs $12,000 to have a baby in his country. He compared that figure to Finland, where he s...
BBC Radio 4 author

Hottest Easter, Insects, Scottish villages

Was it a surprise that Easter Monday was so hot? A heatwave struck the UK over Easter – and in fact Easter Monday was declared the hottest on record in the UK. But listeners asked - is it that surprising that it was the warmest when the date fell so l...
BBC Radio 4 author

The economic impact of mega sporting events

The Olympic Games and the football World Cup, two of the biggest events in the world which are each hosted every four years, are big business. And it costs a lot of money to host them, and a lot of the money comes from public funds. In this week’s edit...
BBC Radio 4 author

Where is Scotland’s highest village?

A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can on...
BBC Radio 4 author

Rounding up the weed killer cancer conundrum

A recent scientific review claims the weed killer glyphosate raises the risk of developing the cancer non-Hodgkin lymphoma by 41 percent. But deciding what causes cancer can be complicated and there are lots of people and organisations on different sid...
BBC Radio 4 author

Chess cheats and the GOAT

Who is the greatest chess player in history? And what does the answer have to do with a story of a chess cheating school from Texas? In this week’s More or Less, the BBC’s numbers programme, David Edmonds finds out what a statistical analysis of ches...
BBC Radio 4 author

Is Mansa Musa the richest person of all time?

Mansa Musa, the 14th century Mali king, has nothing on Jeff Bezos - read one recent news report. Musa set off on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia in the 1300s and it’s said he left with a caravan of 60,000 people. Among them were soldiers, entertainers, me...
BBC Radio 4 author

Day light saving time and heart attacks

Does the sudden loss of an hour of sleep raise the risk of having a heart attack?
BBC Radio 4 author

The gender gap in tech

Are women really less likely than men to be hired for jobs in tech just because of their sex? A study claims that sexism in the recruitment process is holding women back from entering the tech sector. But the study is not all it seems. There are much b...
BBC Radio 4 author


Insects live all around us and if a recent scientific review is anything to go by, then they are on the path to extinction. The analysis found that more than 40 percent of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5 percent a year sugg...
BBC Radio 4 author

How To Make Your Art Work More Valuable

Die, sell on a sunny day, place your work a third of the way through the auction….There are some surprising factors that can affect the price of an art work. Here are six top tips on how to get the best price for your art or, for art buyers, how to mak...
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: When maths mistakes really matter

Tim Harford talks to Matt Parker on how simple maths mistakes can cause big problems.
BBC Radio 4 author

Climate Change, Victorian Diseases, Alcohol

Tim Harford on climate change, Victorian diseases, maths mistakes and alcohol consumption
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: From the archives: Groundhogs and Kings

Who can better forecast the weather – meteorologists or a rodent? What percentage of the English public are related to King Edward the III, and is malnutrition really on the rise in the UK? Sit back, relax and enjoy some of the good stuff from the Mor...
BBC Radio 4 author

Teen Suicide; Brexit Business Moves; Wood-Burner Pollution

Tim Harford finds untrue a recent report that there is a 'suicidal generation' of teens.
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WS More or Less: You have 15,000 likes!

A listener doubts her popularity on the dating app Tinder. We investigate the numbers.
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Holocaust Deniers; Venezuelan Hyperinflation; Tinder Likes

Tim Harford on Holocaust deniers; food prices in Venezuela, and dating app statistics
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WS More or Less: Is Suicide Seasonal?

Tim Harford asks which times of the year are riskiest for suicide.
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Domestic Violence, Jobs, Easter Snowfall

Tim Harford on domestic violence, employment numbers, and the chance of a white Easter.
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Close Encounters of a Planetary Kind

Which planet is closest to Earth?
BBC Radio 4 author

Intersex Numbers, Fact-Checking Facebook, Jack Bogle

Tim Harford asks whether 1.7% of people are intersex, and examines false claims about MPs
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WS More or Less: The Mathematics of Fever

We look at the numbers behind body temperature – what is normal?
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Sugar, Outdoors Play and Planets

Tim Harford on sugar, train fares, children's outdoors play and Earth's closest neighbour
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WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 2

Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs.
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WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 2

Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs.
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 1

The numbers that made 2018.
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WS More or Less: Mission Impossible - Quantifiying Santa

What to look out for on Christmas Eve.
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WS More or Less: Dam Lies and Statistics

Are mega-dams really sustainable?
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WS More or Less: Sex and Heart Attacks

Are women more likely to die from a heart attack than men?
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WS More or Less: Are 90% of War Fatalities Civilians?

Xavier Zapata examines what the data tells us about the deadly impact of war on civilians
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WS More or Less: When’s a Kilogram Not a Kilogram?

Updating the kilogram.
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Do Assassinations Work?

How likely are assassination attempts on heads of state to succeed?
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WS More or Less: Vaccines - The importance of the herd and social media

What proportion of a population needs to be vaccinated to stop a disease spreading?
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Foreign Aid: Who’s the most generous?

In foreign aid terms what’s the best way of measuring how generous a country is?
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Paul Romer and William Nordhaus’ Big Ideas

The economists tackling climate change and growth.
BBC Radio 4 author

Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are much higher among women than among men. The pattern is the same in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Everywhere where there are statistics on same-sex divorce it is the same sex doin...
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More or Less: Why are Lesbians More Likely to Divorce than Gay Men?

New figures reveal that same-sex divorce rates are much higher among women than among men. The pattern is the same in Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the UK. Everywhere where there are statistics on same-sex divorce it is the same sex doin...
BBC Radio 4 author

Loneliness; School Funding; Same-Sex Divorce.

This week BBC Radio 4’s All in the Mind programme announced the results of The Loneliness Experiment. It was a large survey conducted by the programme in collaboration with the Wellcome Collection. The largest survey into the issue of loneliness to dat...
BBC Radio 4 author

WS More of Less: Surviving the Battle of Britain

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?
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Surviving the Battle of Britain; the World Cup and Domestic Violence; Buckfast and Arrests in Scotland

Tim Harford on Spitfire pilots, and whether football triggers violence in the home.
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WS More or Less: Trump and the Puerto Rico Death Toll

How can we calculate excess mortality after a natural disaster?
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How Many Schoolchildren are Carers? Shareholder Income, and Museum Visitors Vs Football Fans

Tim Harford on child carers, shareholder income, football vs museums and dangerous sports
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WS More or Less: DNA - Are You More Chimp or Neanderthal?

What is the difference between 96% similarity or sharing 20% of our DNA?
BBC Radio 4 author

Male suicide, school ratings, are female tennis players treated unfairly by umpires?

Tim Harford with statistics on suicide, good schools and sexism in tennis. Plus goats
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