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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The Rise of Delta
The Delta Variant was first identified in India, fuelling a huge wave of cases and deaths. It is now spreading around the world, becoming the most dominant variant in many countries. This week we take a look at the numbers - where?s it spreading, how is this different to previous waves and what can be done to stop it? Tim Harford speaks to Professor Azra Ghani, Chair in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at Imperial College, London and John Burn-Murdoch, the chief data reporter at The Financial Times.Listen

The Freedom Day Gamble
On the day the Government plans to drop the remaining Covid restirictions, Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to work out how long cases will continue to rise and whether we can be sure the link with deaths and hospitalisations has been broken. Is this ?freedom day" or an unnecessary gamble with people?s lives?Listen

Are there 40 million Nigerians on Twitter?
In recent months, Twitter has rarely been out of the headlines in Nigeria. After it deleted a tweet by the country?s president, the Nigerian government responded by banning it altogether. In the media coverage of the story it has been commonly claimed that Nigeria has 40 million Twitter users ? but could this really be true? We spoke to Allwell Okpi of the fact-checking organisation AfricaCheck. Also, which places have the best full vaccination rates in the world? Turns out, its some of the smallest. We run through the top five. Producer: Nathan GowerListen

Is Ivermectin a Covid ?wonder drug??
To some on the internet, the cheap anti-parasitic drug Ivermectin is a potential wonder drug that could dramatically change the global fight against Covid-19. It has passionate proponents, from a small group of scientists to the more conspiratorially-minded. But with a scattered evidence base of varying quality, what - if anything - do we know for sure about Ivermectin? And is uncovering the truth a more complex process than some appreciate? With Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz from the University of Wollongong, Australia. Producer: Nathan GowerListen

Scotland cases, flood risk and taxing the poor
The UK?s Covid cases are still rising and Scotland is being hit particularly hard - so are we speeding up our vaccination programme in response? Will many of the UK?s coastal towns, not to mention central London, be underwater in the next few years? Do the country?s poorest households really pay more than half their income in tax? What are the top five places with the best vaccination rates in the world? The answers may surprise you. We speak to Tom Chivers, a science journalist who has written a book called ?How to Read numbers? with his cousin the economist David Chivers.Listen

Maths and the Mayflower
This year sees the delayed 400th anniversary celebrations of the Mayflower voyage, an event seen as a crucial moment in the history of the United States. But how many people alive today can trace back their lineage to those first 102 passengers? Tim speaks to Rob Eastaway and Dr Misha Ewen about maths and the Mayflower.Listen

Delta cases, blue tits and that one-in-two cancer claim
The Delta variant is behind the big increase in the number of new Covid 19 cases in the UK since April. We take a look at what impact vaccines have had on infections, hospitalisations and deaths. Chris Packham told viewers on the BBC?s Springwatch that blue tits eat 35 billion caterpillars a year. We get him onto the programme to explain. How much does Type 2 diabetes cost the NHS a year? While exploring a dubious claim we find out why its hard to work that out. Is it true that on in two people will get cancer? We?ve looked at this statistic before but listeners keep spotting it on TV. We also ask: if the SarsCov2 RNA is 96% similar to the RNA of a virus found in bats - is that similar, or not?Listen



The origins of Covid
To find out where a virus comes from, researchers compare it to other viruses to try to trace its origin. This leads to claims like SARS-CoV-2 is 91 or even 96% similar to other known viruses. But what does that really mean? Tim Harford talks to the virus ecologist Marilyn J Roossinck.Listen

Covid deaths, outdoor swimming and care homes
The official number of deaths attributed to Covid 19 around the world in the whole of 2020 is 1.88 million. The global toll this year surpassed this figure on 11th of June. We look at how things are worse worldwide, despite vaccines and lock downs. Does the UK have the worst bathing sites in Europe? That?s certainly a claim made by a number of newspapers. We show why this is not the case. Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been in the news again with comments regarding care homes during the pandemic. Just how good was the government?s ?ring of protection? around care homes during the first wave - and the second? We speak to Steven Johnson about his book ?Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer.?Listen

The doubling of life-expectancy
Steven Johnson, author of Extra Life, tells the fascinating history of life expectancy, and the extraordinary achievements of the last century, in which it has practically doubled. It?s a story that has data at its heart, from the ground-breaking invention of the category itself in 17th century London to the pioneering social health surveys of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1890s Philadelphia. Tim Harford spoke to Steven about the numbers beneath possibly the most important number of all.Listen

Third wave fears, smart motorways and bra sizes
Covid cases are rising again in the UK ? should we be worried about a third wave? Tim Harford speaks to David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Risk at the University of Cambridge. How safe are smart motorways? Many listeners have concerns that they seem more dangerous than conventional motorways. We take a look at the numbers. What proportion of adults in England have been vaccinated? Listeners have spotted a potential discrepancy in the public data online. Are 80% of women wearing the wrong size bra? This frequently repeated statistic has been around for decades ? could it possibly be true?Listen

Bolton vaccines, Yorkshire versus Scotland and the average gamer
Health Minister Matt Hancock recently told the House of Commons that: ?The number of vaccinations happening in Bolton right now is phenomenal - tens of thousands every single day.? We explain why this is not the case. The recent SNP election success has turned attention to the question of independence. We compare Scotland?s finances to the comparably sized Yorkshire and Humber region. How do you work out 28 + 47 in your head? We speak to mathematician Katie Steckles. A listener asked us to find out if it is true that the average age of a gamer is over 40. Plus, we take a look at this claim from Netflix documentary Seaspiracy: ?if current fishing trends continue we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048.?Listen

The Seaspiracy ?virtually empty ocean? claim
Popular Netflix documentary Seaspiracy has sparked a lot of debate recently, including some controversy over some of the claims the documentary makes and the numbers behind them. One of the most striking is that: ?if current fishing trends continue we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048.? Although overfishing is a global problem, we take a look and find that this scenario is unlikely.Listen

Wales jab success, Eurovision and living with your parents
Wales has given one vaccination dose against Covid 19 to a larger proportion of their population than any other country except a couple of super tiny ones. They?ve given one vaccine dose to over 80% of their adult population. We explore some reasons why they seem to be doing so well. The UK continues to do poorly at Eurovision ? we take a look back over the years to examine why the UK used to do well, and why it doesn?t any more. Waiting lists for NHS treatment across the UK have grown ? but why are things so bad in Northern Ireland? Is it true that 42% of young people are living at home with their parents? We find out what a young person is and why they haven?t flown the nest.Listen



The medical trial that proved Trump wrong
The Recovery Trial, a nation-wide clinical study in the UK, helped identify treatments for Covid 19 in the early months of the pandemic. Tim Harford speaks to Professor Martin Landray of Oxford University whose team established the randomised trial.Listen

Explaining maths without Numbers
Tim Harford interviews Milo Beckman - a young mathematician, still in his twenties, who has written a book called ?Math without Numbers?. Milo explains why he wanted to strip out digits to make it easier to describe the beauty of mathematics.Listen

Finding Mexico City?s real death toll
Mexico City?s official Covid 19 death toll did not seem to reflect the full extent of the crisis that hit the country in the spring of 2020 - this is according to Laurianne Despeghel and Mario Romero. These two ordinary citizens used publicly available data to show that excess deaths during the crisis - that?s the total number of extra deaths compared to previous years - was four times higher than the confirmed Covid 19 deaths.Listen

Bayes: the clergyman whose maths changed the world
Bayes? Rule has been used in AI, genetic studies, translating foreign languages and even cracking the Enigma Code in the Second World War. We find out about Thomas Bayes - the 18th century English statistician and clergyman whose work was largely forgotten until the 20th century.Listen

Will 2021 have more Covid deaths than 2020?
In 2020 there were 1.8 million reported Covid deaths. So far this year, we?ve had 1.2 million. We?re currently seeing around 12,000 deaths a day across the world. But while some areas are seeing falls in numbers, others such as India are seeing a surge. This week Tim Harford tries to answer the question: Will there be more global deaths this year from Covid 19 compared to last year?Listen

How many swimming pools full of vaccine do we need?
If we brought together all the Covid 19 vaccine needed for the whole world, how much space would it fill up? An Olympic size swimming pool? We do some back of the envelope sums. Plus - we look at the increased risk of clots from pregnancy. Last week we looked at the increased risk of getting a clot from taking the combined contraceptive pill and compared it to risk of possible rare clots identified following the Astra Zeneca jab. How does pregnancy compare?Listen

Clot risks: The Pill versus the vaccine
The Astra Zeneca Covid 19 jab remains in the headlines because some regulators have concluded that it may raise the risk of a very rare type of blood clot, albeit to a risk that is still very low. In the past few weeks a number of countries have said they will limit its use to older age groups. But people are drawing comparisons to the contraceptive pill which is well-known to increase the risk of clots and asking why this level of risk is tolerated. Is this comparison fair? Tim Harford speaks to Professor Frits Rosendaal from the University of Leiden in the Netherlands and Susan Ellenberg, professor of biostatistics at the University of Pennsylvania.Listen



Too fast for Minecraft?
The impressive speed records of a well-known gamer called Dream for the video game Minecraft have come under scrutiny. Many say that Dream has completed speed runs in such a fast time that it doesn?t seem possible. Are these suspicions correct? We speak to stand-up mathematician Matt Parker who has looked at the probabilities on the elements of chance in the game to see if these records seem plausible.Listen

In praise of Covid Data
On this week?s programme we talk to Clare Griffiths from the UK?s coronavirus dashboard and Alexis Madrigal from the Atlantic Magazine?s Covid Tracking Project in the US.Listen

Deciding when to suspend a vaccine
Many countries recently decided to suspend the use of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine over fears it was increasing the risk of blood clots. The European Medicines Agency and the WHO called on countries to continue using the vaccine but regulators in individual countries opted to be cautious, waiting for investigations to take place. But why? Tim Harford explores the risks of blood clots and weighing up whether it was necessary to suspend using the vaccine.Listen

The truth about obesity and Covid 19
A widely reported study claims that 90% of Covid 19 deaths across the world happened in countries with high obesity rates. While an individual?s risk of death is increased by having a high Body Mass Index, the broader effect on a country?s death rate is not what it seems.Listen

Sainthood and Cup draws
Tim Harford explores the chances of becoming a saint, inspired by a throw away comment by the detective on the TV drama ?Death in Paradise.? Plus, a listener has a question about the recent Europa League Draw for the final knockout round. He spotted that none of the teams face a rival from their own country. What were the chances of that happening?Listen

Why are US Covid cases falling?
Cases of Covid 19 began to soar in the US in the autumn. By early January there were around 300,000 new cases a day. But since then the numbers have fallen steeply. What caused this dramatic drop? From herd immunity to the weather, Tim Harford explores some of the theories with Derek Thompson of The Atlantic magazine and Professor Jennifer Dowd, deputy director of the Lever Hume Centre for Demographic Science at the University of Oxford.Listen

Covid 19 death count: which countries are faring worst?
Are different countries counting deaths from Covid 19 in the same way? Tim Harford finds out if we can trust international comparisons with the data available. We discover Peru currently has the most excess deaths per capita over the course of the pandemic, while Belgium has the highest Covid death count per capita. Tim speaks to Hannah Ritchie from Our World in Data and John Burn Murdoch, senior data visualisation journalist at the Financial Times.Listen



Comparing death counts, Lock Down drinking and Long Covid
The UK was the first European country to surpass 100,000 deaths from Covid 19. The UK has one of the worst death rates. But can we trust the numbers? Many of our listeners have asked us to investigate. Long Covid is widely acknowledged as being a growing problem, but what are the numbers involved? Just how many people have longterm symptoms after their initial infection? There have been reports that we are drinking more in Lock Down. We examine the evidence. Dr Natalie MacDermott was one of the first guests invited on to More or Less to talk about the new coronavirus early last year. We revisit what she said then and what we know now. Plus, she tells of her own struggles with Long Covid.Listen

How much Covid in the World?
If we brought all the virus particles of the Sars-CoV-2 virus from every human currently infected, how much would there be? This was a question posed by one of our listeners. We lined up two experts to try to work this out. YouTube maths nerd Matt Parker and Kit Yates, senior lecturer in mathematical biology at the University of Bath, UK give us their best estimates. One believes the particles would fit into a small can of coke, the other a spoonful.Listen

Brexit exports, cladding and are 1 in 5 disabled?
Are exports to the EU from the UK down 68% since Brexit? This apocalyptic statistic is being widely reported, but does it really tell us what?s happening at Dover and Folkstone? Ministers are tweeting reassuring numbers about flammable cladding on high rise buildings. We?re not so sure. Is it really true that one in five people are disabled? Plus, if you assembled all the coronavirus particles in the world into a pile - how big would it be?Listen

Glasgow vs Rwanda
Tim explores a shocking claim that life expectancy in some parts of Glasgow is less than it is in Rwanda. But is that fair on Glasgow and for that matter is it fair on Rwanda? And a listener asks whether loss of smell is a strong enough symptom of Covid that it might be used to help diagnose the virus, replacing rapid testing. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Chloe Hadjimatheou (Left: Rwanda refugee - photo Reza. Right: Glasgow homeless man - photo Christopher Furlong / both Getty images)Listen

Teachers, Test & Trace and Butterflies
Prominent Labour politicians have claimed teachers are more likely to catch Covid-19, is that true? England?s Test and Trace programme has been widely criticised, has it raised its game in recent months? A ferocious row has broken out between scientists about how effective fast turnaround Lateral Flow tests are, and how they should be used. We examine the data. Plus, we examine a claim from Extinction Rebellion that British butterflies have declined by 50% since 1976.Listen

Teachers, Test & Trace and Butterflies
Prominent Labour politicians have claimed teachers are more likely to catch Covid-19, is that true? England?s Test and Trace programme has been widely criticised, has it raised its game in recent months? A ferocious row has broken out between scientists about how effective fast turnaround Lateral Flow tests are, and how they should be used. We examine the data. Plus, we examine a claim from Extinction Rebellion that British butterflies have declined by 50% since 1976.Listen

The Rapid Test Row
A ferocious row has broken out among scientists about new coronavirus tests. Lateral flow tests provide results within minutes and some scientists believe they are offer accurate enough results at a speed that could allow us to resume business as usual. Others think they are so poor at detecting the virus that they could pose a huge danger. In this week?s More or Less, Tim Harford looks at the evidence and what we know about these new tests.Listen



Deaths at Home, Supermarket Infections and the Cobra Effect
Since the start of the pandemic there have been many warnings that people might die not just from the coronavirus itself, but also if they didn?t seek medical help out of fear that hospitals might be dangerous. Is there any evidence that this has happened? David Spiegelhalter is on the case. The UK is in lockdown, but tens of thousands of people a day are still testing positive for Coronavirus. Where are they catching it? Grim data on drug deaths in Scotland has been called into question on social media. We ferret out the truth. Plus, what can venomous snakes tell us about the government's plan to increase the number of people self-isolating?Listen

Deaths at home, supermarket infections and the Cobra effect
Since the start of the pandemic there have been many warnings that people might die not just from the coronavirus itself, but also if they didn?t seek medical help out of fear that hospitals might be dangerous. Is there any evidence that this has happened? David Spiegelhalter is on the case. The UK is in lockdown, but tens of thousands of people a day are still testing positive for Coronavirus. Where are they catching it? Grim data on drug deaths in Scotland has been called into question on social media. We ferret out the truth. Plus, what can venomous snakes tell us about the government's plan to increase the number of people self-isolating?Listen

Counting Covid?s impact on GDP
GDP figures for the period covering lockdown appear to show that the UK suffered a catastrophic decline, worse than almost any other country. But as Tim Harford finds out, things aren?t quite as bad for the UK as they might seem - though they might be worse for everywhere else. Also, alarming claims have been circulating in the UK about the number of suicides during lockdown. We look at the facts. There is support for the issues discussed in the programme at help.befrienders.org Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Nathan Gower and Chloe Hadjimatheou (Robots work on the MINI car production line at the BMW plant in Cowley, Oxford, UK. Credit: Tolga Akmen/ Getty Images)Listen

Will the vaccine bring back normal life? GDP and Fishing
The vaccine rollout continues: how long will it take before we see the benefits, and what benefits will we see? Figures suggest the UK?s economy performed worse than almost anywhere else in the world during the pandemic. But are the numbers misleading us? Alarming claims have been circulating about the number of suicides during lockdown. We look at the facts. Plus, will UK fishing quotas increase two thirds in the wake of Brexit? We trawl through the data.Listen

How effective is one dose of the vaccine?
A lot has changed since More or Less was last on air. We give you a statistical picture of the second wave: how bad is it, and is there hope? The new vaccine regime is to delay the booster shot of the Pfizer vaccine for up to 3 months. But is the first dose 52% or 90% effective? A new virus variant is meant to be 70% more transmissible, what does that mean? Plus, one of our youngest loyal listeners has a question about her classmates names.Listen

Ants and Algorithms
What can ants tells us about whether something deserves to be popular? This is a question tackled in David Sumpter?s book ? ?The Ten Equations that Rule the World: And How You Can Use Them Too.? He tells Tim Harford about some of the algorithms that you see in nature, and those harnessed by tech companies such as YouTube.Listen

Numbers of the year: Part two
From the economic impact of Covid 19 to the number of people who have access to soap and water, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020. Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them. We speak to Razia Khan, the head of research and chief economist for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered; Sana Safi, presenter for BBC Pashto TV at the BBC's Afghanistan Service; and Jennifer Rogers, vice president for external affairs at the Royal Statistical Society. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen



Numbers of the year: Part one
Tim Harford asks a group of numbers-minded people to take a look back on the year and think of one statistic that really stands out for them. From the spread of Covid-19 to the number of songs added to Spotify this year, we showcase figures that tell us something about 2020. We speak to Oliver Johnson, professor of information theory at the University of Bristol in the UK; Anne-Marie Imafidon, creator and CEO of social enterprise Stemettes; and economist Joel Waldfogel, of the University of Minnesota.Listen

The economics of a Covid Christmas
Tim Harford asks economist Joel Waldfogel how Covid 19 could affect spending at Christmas this year. They discuss the usual bump in sales and gift giving. The author of ?Scroogenomics? usually argues that presents are rarely as valued by the recipient compared to something they might buy for themselves. But what should people do this year?Listen

QAnon: Child runaways and trafficking numbers debunked
Tim Harford looks at false statistical claims online about missing and trafficked children in the US. These numbers have resurfaced online in part due to conspiracy theorists following QAnon. In the past few months they have inspired protests under the banner - ?Save Our Children?. We wade through some of the false numbers with the help of Michael Hobbes, a reporter for Huff Post and the co-host of the podcast called You're Wrong About.Listen

Vaccines: how safe and who gets it?
The UK has become the first country in the world to approve the use of a vaccine for Covid 19. But some people are worried that the decision was taken too quickly - can we really know it?s safe yet? Tim Harford tackles these safety concerns. Plus, what is the best way to distribute the vaccine? How do you maximise the benefit of the first round of vaccines? Stuart McDonald, a fellow of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries in the UK works out what groups would benefit most.Listen

Tracking Covid 19
This year has shown us the importance of good robust data - as Covid-19 spread around the world it was vital to track where it was, how many people it was infecting and where it might go next. On More or Less we?ve spent months reporting on data inaccuracies and vacuums, but what makes for good or indeed bad data? I?ve been speaking to Amy Maxmen, Senior reporter at the scientific journal ?Nature? about which countries are getting data collection right and which aren?t.Listen

Inviting Covid for Dinner
If you go to a gathering of 10 or more people, what are the chances one of you has coronavirus? Imagine that you?re planning to hold some sort of gathering or dinner at your home. Take your pick of big festivities - it?s Thanksgiving in the US, we?ve just had Diwali and Christmas is on the horizon. In some places such a gathering is simply illegal anyway. But if it IS legal, is it wise? Professor Joshua Weitz and his team at Georgia Tech in the US have created a tool which allows people in the US and some European countries to select the county they live in, and the size of gathering they are intending on having, and then it calculates the chances that someone at that party, has Covid 19. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen

Vaccine numbers
A vaccine which has shown in a clinical trial to be 90% effective against Covid 19 has been widely welcomed. But what does it mean and how was it worked out? Although experts and politicians urge caution, how excited can we be about the results of this trial of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech? Tim Harford explores what we know about this new vaccine candidate with Jennifer Rogers, vice president of the Royal Statistical Society in the UK, and she also works for Phastar, a consultancy which specialises in analysing clinical trials. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen



How deadly is Covid 19?
Tim Harford explores what we know about mortality rates in the current pandemic. We discuss the differences between the risks to different age groups, and why that has an effect on a country?s Covid 19 fatality rate. We speak to Dr Hannah Ritchie from the University of Oxford and Dr Daniel Howdon of the University of Leeds in the UK.Listen

Asymptomatic Covid19 Cases
A headline in a British tabloid newspaper claimed that ?Staggering 86% who tested Covid positive in lockdown had NONE of the official symptoms? but what does this mean and is it true?Listen

US election: facts or fiction
Tim Harford hears about the sheer volume of false claims made during the campaign. President Trump is well known for making wild statements, but has his behaviour changed? And what about Joe Biden? So much attention is concentrated on Trump?s claims, how does the Democratic candidate fare? Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post and Katherine J Wu at the New York Times tell us about fact-checking during the run up to the election.Listen

Auction Theory - Paul Milgrom and Robert Wilson
Paul Milgrom and his former tutor Robert Wilson worked together for years developing ways to run complicated auctions for large resources. This month the two Stanford University professors were awarded the Nobel memorial prize in economics for their work. The auction formats they designed facilitated the sale of goods and services that are difficult to sell in a conventional way, such as radio frequencies.Listen

A short history of probability
Tim Harford speaks to Jacob Goldstein about the unholy marriage of mathematicians, gamblers, and actuaries at the dawn of modern finance.Listen

Spreadsheet snafu, ?Long Covid? quantified, and the birth of probability
After nearly 16,000 cases disappeared off coronaviruses spreadsheets, we ask what went wrong. How common are lasting symptoms from Covid-19? If you survey people about the death toll from Covid, they?ll make mistakes. What do those mistakes teach us? Pedants versus poets on the subject of exponential growth. And we dive deep into the unholy marriage of mathematicians, gamblers, and actuaries at the dawn of modern finance.Listen

?Record? Covid cases, Trump on the death count, and ant pheromones
Case counts in perspective, a suspect stat from the US, and life lessons from insects.Listen



Covid curve queried, false positives, and the Queen?s head
A scary government graph this week showed what would happen if coronavirus cases doubled every seven days. But is that what?s happening? There?s much confusion about how many Covid test results are false positives - we explain all. Plus, do coffee and pregnancy mix? And the Queen, Mao, and Gandhi go head to head: who is on the most stamps and coins?Listen

The magical maths of pool testing
Tim Harford speaks to Israeli researcher, Tomer Hertz, about how the mathematical magic of pool testing could help countries to ramp up their Covid-19 testing capacity.Listen

Covid testing capacity, refugee numbers, and mascara
Amid reports of problems with coronavirus testing across the UK, we interrogate the numbers on laboratory capacity. Does the government?s Operation Moonshot plan for mass testing make statistical sense? Has the UK been taking more refugees from outside the European Union than any EU country? We explore the connection between socio-economic status and Covid deaths. And we do the maths on a mascara brand?s bold claim about emboldening your eyelashes.Listen

Covid cases rising, a guide to life?s risks, and racing jelly-fish
A jump in the number of UK Covid-19 cases reported by the government has led to fears coronavirus is now spreading quickly again. What do the numbers tell us about how worried we should be? Plus a guide to balancing life?s risks in the time of coronavirus, the government?s targets on test and trace, and a suspicious statistic about the speed of jelly-fish.Listen

Schools and coronavirus, test and trace, maths and reality
As children return to school in England and Wales, we hear about what we know and what we don?t when it comes to Covid-19 risks in school settings. What do the numbers tell us about how well test and trace is working? Will reopening universities really kill 50,000 people? Are the UK?s figures on economic growth as bad as they look? And is maths real? When someone goes viral asking maths questions on social media, More or Less finds answers.Listen

Covid plasma therapy
Donald Trump says allowing the emergency use of blood plasma therapy for coronavirus patients will save ?countless lives? and is ?proven to reduce mortality by 35%?. We look at the evidence. Amid talk of coronavirus being back on the rise in the UK, what does the data show? Could screening for breast cancer from the age of 40 save lives? And can it really be true than one in five women in 18th century London made a living selling sex?Listen

A-level algorithms, poker and buses
We unpick the A-level algoshambles, discover why 1.3 million Covid tests disappeared from the government's statistics last week, and for reasons that may become clear, we examine the chance of being hit by a bus. Plus, what does poker teach us about the role of randomness in our lives?Listen



Belarus? contested election
Autocratic leader Alexander Lukashenko claims to have won a landslide in the country?s presidential elections. But how can we know what really happened? Tim Harford delves into the numbers behind the widely-questioned election result, with Dr Brian Klaas and political analyst Artyom Shraibman.Listen

Hawaiian Pizza, obesity and a second wave?
Covid-19 cases are rising in the UK - is it a sign of a second wave of the virus? We?re picking apart the data and asking how concerned we should be both now and as autumn approaches. Scotland is undercounting Covid deaths, England is overcounting them: we?ll ask why and whether the problems will be fixed. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver claims over a quarter of all the fruit and veg kids eat is in the form of pizza, can this be true? Plus, as some people are blaming obesity for the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, we?ll find out how big a difference it really makes.Listen

Melting Antarctic ice
One More or Less listener has heard that if all the ice in Antarctica melted, global sea levels would rise by 70 metres. But it would take 361 billion tonnes of ice to raise the world's sea levels by just 1 millimetre. So how much ice is in Antarctica? And in the coming years, what impact might temperature changes have on whether it remains frozen? (Gentoo penguins on top of an iceberg at King George Island, Antarctica January 2020. Credit: Alessandro Dahan/ Getty Images)Listen

Covid in Africa
Do we have enough data to know what?s happening on the continent? We talk to Dr Justin Maeda from the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Ghanaian public health researcher Nana Kofi Quakyi about tracking Africa?s outbreak. Producer: Jo Casserly Picture: Volunteers wait to feed local people during the weekly feeding scheme at the Heritage Baptist Church in Melville on the 118 day of lockdown due to the Covid-19 Coronavirus, Johannesburg, South Africa, 2020. Credit: EPA/KIM LUDBROOKListen

Data in the time of cholera
Tim Harford speaks to Steven Johnson about William Farr and the birth of epidemiology in the 1800s.Listen

Covid misconceptions and US deaths
Tim Harford talks to statistician Ola Rosling about his research into misconceptions about Covid-19. And an update on the epidemic in the US.Listen

Sweden?s lockdown lite
Unlike its Nordic neighbours, Sweden never imposed a lockdown to stem the spread of coronavirus. Tim Harford speaks to statistician Ola Rosling to find out what the results have been. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Jo Casserly Picture: A woman wearing a face mask stands at a bus stop featuring a sign reminding passengers to maintain a minimum social distance between each other to reduce the risk of infection with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the pandemic COVID-19 disease, in Stockholm, Sweden, 25 June 2020. Credit: EPA/ Stina StjernkvistListen



Why Trump is wrong about the USA?s coronavirus case comeback
Are cases really rising in the US or are they just testing more? Tim digs into the data.Listen

Why did the UK have such a bad Covid-19 epidemic?
The UK has suffered one of the worst outbreaks of coronavirus anywhere in the world. We?ve been tracking and analysing the numbers for the last 14 weeks, and in the last programme of this More or Less series, we look back through the events of March 2020 to ask why things went so wrong - was it bad decision-making, bad advice, or bad luck?Listen

A new Covid-19 drug and a second wave
The steroid Dexamethasone has been hailed a ?major breakthrough? in the treatment of Covid-19. But what does the data say? Plus, why haven?t mass protests led to a second wave?Listen

Child Poverty, School Inequality and a Second Wave
As lockdown eases, why hasn't there been a spike in infections? We get a first look at the evidence for the much-trumpeted Covid-19 treatment, Dexamethasone. Stephanie Flanders tells us what?s happening to the UK economy. Keir Starmer says child poverty is up; Boris Johnson says it?s down, who's right? Plus which children are getting a solid home-school experience, and who is missing out?Listen

Who Should be Quarantined?
Some countries are requiring new arrivals to self-isolate, a policy designed to stop infection spreading from areas of high prevalence to low prevalence. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander find out which countries have the highest rate of Covid-19 infection. Plus, is it really true that the coronavirus mostly kills people who would die soon anyway?Listen

Quarantine, Test and Trace and BODMAS
The UK has introduced new rules requiring all people arriving in the country to self-isolate for 14 days. But given the severity of the UK?s outbreak can there be many places more infectious? Is it true that Covid-19 mostly kills people who would die soon anyway? The first figures are out showing how England?s Test and Trace programme is performing, but they contain a mystery we?re keen to resolve. And we play with some mathematical puzzles, courtesy of statistician Jen Rogers.Listen

Antibody tests, early lockdown advice and European deaths
At the start of March the government's Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said that the UK?s coronavirus outbreak was four weeks behind the epidemic in Italy. This ability to watch other countries deal with the disease ahead of us potentially influenced the decisions we made about which actions to take and when, including lockdown. So was he right?Listen



Keep your distance
What difference does a metre make? The World Health Organisation recommends that people keep at least 1 metre apart from each other to stop the spread of Covid-19, but different countries have adopted different standards. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying six feet apart - that?s just short of 2 metres; in the UK, the rule is 2 metres. But all this has a big impact on the way businesses and societies get back to work. Tim Harford investigates the economic costs and conundrums of keeping our distance in a post-lockdown world. How can we avoid infection spreading again, while getting on with life?Listen

False negatives, testing capacity and pheasants
As lockdowns begin to lift the government is relying on testing and contact tracing programmes to prevent a second wave of Covid-19 infections. But how accurate are the swab tests used to diagnose the disease? The UK Statistics Authority has criticised the government for the way it reports testing figures, saying it?s not surprising that these numbers ?are so widely criticised and often mistrusted.? We take a look at how the government achieved its target of developing a daily testing capacity of 200,000 by the end of May. Can we really have only 60 harvests left in the world? Plus, the very pleasant Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall has a pleasant pheasant question for us.Listen

Obeying lockdown, flight arrivals and is this wave of the epidemic waning?
More than 35,000 people in the UK have now officially died from Covid-19, but what does the data show about whether this wave of the epidemic is waning? We ask who respects lockdown, who breaks it, and why? Our listeners are astounded by how many people allegedly flew into the UK in the first three months of the year - we?re on the story. We look at the performance of the Scottish health system on testing. And some pub-quiz joy involving a pencil.Listen

60 Harvests and statistically savvy parrots
A listener asks if there can really only be 60 harvests left in Earth's soil. Are we heading for an agricultural Armageddon? Plus we meet the parrots who are the first animals, outside humans and great apes, to be shown to understand probability. (image: Kea parrots in New Zealand)Listen

School re-opening, Germany?s Covid-19 success and statistically savvy parrots
Risk expert David Spiegelhalter discusses whether re-opening some schools could be dangerous for children or their teachers. We ask what?s behind Germany?s success in containing the number of deaths from Covid-19. Many governments across the world are borrowing huge sums to prop up their economies during this difficult time, but with everyone in the same boat who are they borrowing from? Plus we revisit the UK?s testing figures yet again and meet some statistically savvy parrots.Listen

Social Distancing and Government Borrowing
As lockdowns start to lift, many countries are relying on social distancing to continue to slow the spread of coronavirus. The UK says we should stay 2 metres apart, the World Health Organisation recommends 1 metre, Canada six feet. So where do these different measurements come from? Plus, governments around the world are trying to prop up their economies by borrowing money. But with everyone in the same situation, where are they borrrowing from?Listen

Vitamin D, explaining R and the 2 meter rule
R is one of the most important numbers of the pandemic. But what is it? And how is it estimated? We return to the topic of testing and ask again whether the governments numbers add up. As the government encourages those who can?t work at home to return to their workplaces - we?re relying on social distancing to continue to slow the spread of the virus. But where does the rule that people should stay 2 meters apart come from? And is Vitamin D an under-appreciated weapon in the fight against Covid-19?Listen



Covid-19 fatality rate
The question of just how dangerous Covid-19 really is, is absolutely crucial. If a large number of those who are infected go on to die, there could be dreadful consequences if we relaxed the lockdowns that have been imposed across much of the world. If the number is smaller, for many countries the worst might already be behind us. But the frustrating thing is: we?re still not sure. So how can we work this crucial number out?Listen

Testing truth, fatality rates, obesity risk and trampolines.
The Health Minister Matt Hancock promised the UK would carry out 100,000 coronavirus tests a day by the end of April. He claims he succeeded. Did he? The question of just how dangerous the new coronavirus really is, is absolutely crucial. If it?s high, there could be dreadful consequences if we relaxed the lockdowns. So why is the fatality rate so difficult to calculate? Is it true that being obese makes Covid-19 ten times more dangerous? And whatis injuring more kids in lockdown, trampolines or Joe Wicks? exercises?Listen

Climate change and birdsong
With much of the world?s population staying indoors, there are fewer cars on the roads, planes in the skies and workplaces and factories open. Will this have an impact on climate change? Plus as the streets become quieter, is it just us, or have the birds begun to sing much more loudly?Listen

Ethnic minority deaths, climate change and lockdown
We continue our mission to use numbers to make sense of the world - pandemic or no pandemic. Are doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds disproportionately affected by Covid-19? Was the lockdown the decisive change which caused daily deaths in the UK to start to decrease? With much of the world?s population staying indoors, we ask what impact this might have on climate change and after weeks of staring out of the window at gorgeous April sunshine, does cruel fate now doom us to a rain-drenched summer? Plus, crime is down, boasts the home secretary Priti Patel. Should we be impressed?Listen

Comparing countries' coronavirus performance
Many articles in the media compare countries with one another - who?s faring better or worse in the fight against coronavirus? But is this helpful - or, in fact, fair? Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander discuss the limitations that we come across when we try to compare the numbers of Covid-19 cases and deaths in different countries; population size, density, rates of testing and how connected the country is all play a role.Listen

Bonus Podcast: Professor John Horton Conway
John Horton Conway died in April this year at the age of 82 from Covid-19 related complications. An influential figure in mathematics, Conway?s ideas inspired generations of students around the world. We remember the man and his work with mathematician Matt Parker and Conway?s biographer Siobhan Roberts.Listen

Comparing countries, the risk to NHS staff, and birdsong
We compare Covid-19 rates around the world. Headlines say NHS staff are dying in large numbers, how bad is it? And is it just us, or have the birds started singing really loudly?Listen



Superforecasting the Coronavirus
Scientific models disagree wildly as to what the course of the coronavirus pandemic might be. With epidemiologists at odds, Tim Harford asks if professional predictors, the superforecasters, can offer a different perspective. (Image: Coronovirus graphic/Getty images)Listen

Should you wear a face mask?
Do face masks stop you getting coronavirus? You might instinctively think that covering your mouth and nose with cloth must offer protection from Covid-19. And some health authorities around the world say people should make their own masks. But expert opinion is divided. Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander unpick the arguments.Listen

Coronavirus deaths, facemasks and a potential baby boom
Is the coronavirus related death count misleading because of delays in reporting? Do face masks help prevent the spread of the virus? Was a London park experiencing Glastonbury levels of overcrowding this week? And after reports of condom shortages, we ask whether there?s any evidence that we?re nine months away from a lockdown-induced baby boom. Plus in a break from Covid-19 reporting we ask a Nobel-prize winner how many Earth-like planets there are in existence.Listen

Are more men dying from coronavirus?
Tim Harford and Ruth Alexander examine the statistics around the world to see if more men are dying as a result of Covid-19, and why different sexes would have different risks. Plus is it true that in the US 40% of hospitalisations were of patients aged between 20 and 50?Listen

Supermarket stockpiling, A-level results and Covid-19 gender disparity
This week, we examine criticisms of Imperial College?s epidemiologists. We ask how A-Level and GCSE grades will be allocated, given that the exams have vanished in a puff of social distancing. Adam Kucharski, author of The Rules of Contagion, tells us about the history of epidemiology. We look at the supermarkets: how are their supply chains holding up and how much stockpiling is really going on. And is coronavirus having a different impact on men than on women?Listen

The Risk
Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter, Chair of the Winton Centre for Risk and Evidence Communication, puts the risks of Covid-19 into perspective. He found that the proportion of people who get infected by coronavirus, who then go on to die increases with age, and the trend matches almost exactly how our background mortality risk also goes up. Catching the disease could be like packing a year?s worth of risk into a couple of weeks. (Mathematician and Risk guru, Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter at the University of Cambridge. Credit: In Pictures Ltd./Corbis via Getty Images)Listen

Coronavirus Special
We?ve dedicated this special episode to the numbers surrounding the Coronavirus pandemic. Statistical national treasure Professor Sir David Spiegelhalter put the risks of Covid-19 into perspective. We ask whether young people are safe from serious illness, or if statistics from hospitalisations in the US show a high proportion of patients are under 50. We try to understand what the ever-tightening restrictions on businesses and movement mean for the UK?s economy, and we take a look at the mystery of coronavirus numbers in Iran. Presenter: Tim HarfordListen



Mitigation or Suppression: What?s best to tackle Coronavirus?
Last week, while schools and businesses across Europe closed in an attempt to halt the spread of Coronavirus the UK stood alone in a more relaxed approach to the pandemic; letting people choose whether they wanted to go to work, or socially distance themselves. This week, things have changed. Schools are closing for the foreseeable future and exams have been cancelled. The British government says their change of heart was based on the work scientists like Christl Donnelly from Imperial College London and the University of Oxford. So what has Christl found that has caused such concern? (Image: A lollipop lady helps children cross the road in Glasgow. Credit: EPA/Robert Perry)Listen

The mystery of Iran?s coronavirus numbers
Does Iran have a lot more covid-19 cases that its figures suggest?Listen

How much heat do you lose from your head?
Every winter its the same, someone will tell you to put a hat on to save your body from losing all of its heat. But how much heat do you actually lose from your head? We take you on a journey from arctic conditions to a hot tub in Canada to explain why there might actually be more than one answer... Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Leoni Robertson and Lizzy McNeillListen

Netflix vs the environment
Does watching 30 minutes of Netflix have the same carbon footprint as driving four miles?Listen

More or Less: Superforecasting, wood burning stoves and the real story of Hidden Figures
Dipping into the archive for stories on the art of prediction and wood burner pollutionListen

Artificial (not so) Intelligence
Artificial Intelligence ? or AI for short ? is often depicted in films in the shape of helpful droids, all-knowing computers or even malevolent ?death bots?. In real life, we?re making leaps and bounds in this technology?s capabilities with satnavs, and voice assistants like Alexa and Siri making frequent appearances in our daily lives. So, should we look forward to a future of AI best friends or fear the technology becoming too intelligent. Tim Harford talks to Janelle Shane, author of the book ?You Look Like a Thing and I Love you? about her experiments with AI and why the technology is really more akin to an earthworm than a high-functioning ?death bot?.Listen

WS More or Less: Coronavirus - The Numbers
A lot has changed since our last episode covering the numbers behind the coronavirus - for a start it now has a name, Covid-19. This week news has broken that deaths are 20 per cent higher than thought, and the number of cases has increased by a third. Tim Harford talks to Dr Nathalie MacDermott, a clinical lecturer at King?s College London about what we know ? and what we still don?t.Listen



Coronavirus, jam, AI and tomatoes
Covid-19 stats, spreading jam far and wide, cooking with AI, and James Wong on vegetablesListen

WS More or Less: How Fast Are Alligators and Hippos?
We all know that you should never smile at a crocodile, but rumour has it that alligators are great perambulators ? at least that?s what a booklet about Florida?s wildlife claimed. Tim Harford speaks to John Hutchinson, Professor of evolutionary bio-mechanics to see whether he could outrun one of these reportedly rapid retiles. Also ? our editor thinks he could outrun a hippo, is he right? (?probably not).Listen

Tracking Terror Suspects
Costing counter-terrorism, interrogating tomatoes, the UK's reading age, politics and GDPListen

WS More or Less: Coronavirus
The WHO have declared a ?Global Health Emergency? as health officials are urgently trying to contain the spread of a new coronavirus in China and beyond; but not all the information you read is correct. We fact-check a particularly hyperbolic claim about its spread that?s been doing the rounds on social media.Listen

Coronavirus, emotions and guns.
Fact checking claims about coronavirus and whether more guns equal fewer homicides.Listen

WS More or Less: Dozy Science
Anxiety around sleep is widespread. Many of us feel we don?t get enough. An army of experts has sprung up to help, and this week we test some of the claims from one of the most prominent among them: Professor Matthew Walker. He plays ball and answers some of the criticisms of his bestselling book Why We Sleep.Listen

Netflix and Chill
The list of ways campaigners say we need to change our behaviour in response to climate change seems to grow every week. Now, streaming video is in the frame. We test the claim that watching 30 minutes of Netflix has the same carbon footprint as driving four miles. We hear scepticism about a report that sepsis is responsible for one in five deaths worldwide. Author Bill Bryson stops by with a question about guns ? and gets quizzed about a number in his new book. And, how much sleep do we really need? Find out if we need more or less.Listen



WS More or Less: Japan?s 99% Conviction Rate
The fugitive former Nissan boss, Carlos Ghosn, has raised questions about justice in Japan. The government in Tokyo has defended its system, where 99% of prosecutions lead to conviction. Prof Colin Jones, from Doshisha Law School in Kyoto, explains what's behind this seemingly shocking statistic. And a listener asks if it?s true Canada?s is roughly the same. Toronto lawyer Kim Schofield sets them straight.Listen

Weighing the Cost of Brexit
Is it possible to calculate the cost of Brexit? Gemma Tetlow from the Institute for Government helps us weigh the arguments. How much does luck play into Liverpool FC's amazing season? And, crucially, how fast is an alligator?Listen

WS More or Less: Bushfire mystery
Have a billion animals died in Australia?s fires? And which ones are likely to survive?Listen

Australian Animal Deaths, Carbon Emissions, Election Mystery
Tim Harford on animal deaths in Australia's fires, how many Labour voters went Conservative and are UK carbon emissions really down 40%. Plus: have we really entered a new decade?Listen

C-sections and sharks
How many women in China give birth in hospitals, and whether it was true that 50% of births there are delivered by caesarean section. Oh, and we also mention guts and bacteria? Sharks kill 12 humans a year but humans kill 11,417 sharks an hour. That?s the statistic used in a Facebook meme that?s doing the rounds. Is it true?Listen

Presidential candidates and dementia
We talk about the age of some of the frontrunners in the Democrat nomination race and President Donald Trump and the health risks they face. Also, More or Less listeners were surprised by a claim they read on the BBC website recently: ?Pets are estimated to be consuming up to 20 percent of all meat globally.? So we ? of course ? investigated and will explain all.Listen

The Simpsons and maths
We explore the maths secrets of The Simpsons on their 30th anniversary.Listen



Koalas
As bushfires rage in Australia, the plight of the koala made front-page news around the world. There were warnings that fires wiped out 80% of the marsupial's habitat and that koalas are facing extinction. We check the claims with the help of National Geographic's Natasha Daly and Dr Christine Hosking of the University of Queensland. (A Koala receives treatment at the Koala Hospital in Port Macquarie after its rescue from a bushfire. Credit: Safeed Khan/Getty Images)Listen

Election Special (2/2)
Labour's spending plans, Conservatives claims on homelessness, the SNP's education recordListen

Tree Planting Pledges
The UK General Election is fast approaching, top of the agenda are the political parties green ambitions and one particular initiative is garnering a lot of attention, tree planting. The Labour Party has the most ambitious target ? a whopping 2 billion trees planted by 2040. How much land would this take, how does it stack up against other party pledges and what difference will it make? Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Lizzy McNeillListen

Election Special 1/2
50,000 nurses? 40 new hospitals? Big corporate tax rises? Childcare promises? Election pledges might sound good, but do they stand up to scrutiny? In the run up to the General Election on 12th December, Tim Harford takes his scalpel of truth to the inflamed appendix of misinformation. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Neal RazzellListen

Testing tomatoes
Have these saucy fruits become less healthy over time?Listen

WS More or Less: The world?s busiest shipping lanes
A listener wrote in asking which is the busiest shipping lane in the world. Ruth Alexander tries to find out with sea traffic analyst and former captain, Amrit Singh and Jean Tournadre, a researcher that uses satellite date to ships. Producer: Darin Graham Editor: Richard Vadon Image: Freighter ships in Thessaloniki, Greece Credit: Getty ImagesListen

Bolivia: Can statistics help detect electoral fraud?
Evo Morales, Bolivia?s longest-serving leader and first indigenous president, stepped down last week amid weeks of protests sparked by a dispute over a recent presidential election in the country. His opponents say the election was rigged but the embattled former president said it was a cunning coup. We take a closer look at the election results and ask if statistics can tell whether it was fair or fraudulent. Dr Calla Hummel of the University of Miami and Professor Romulo Chumacero of the University of Chile join Ruth Alexander to discuss.Listen



Reducing your risk of death
Two statistics about reducing your risk of an early death made headlines around the world recently. The first seems to be a great reason to add a four-legged friend to your life. It suggests that owning a dog is tied to lowering your chance of dying early by nearly a quarter. The second statistic claims that even a minimal amount of running is linked to reducing your risk of premature death by up to 30%. Ruth Alexander finds out what?s behind these numbers and we hear from epidemiologist, Gideon Meyerowitz-Katz. Producer: Darin GrahamListen

Unbelievable: The forgotten rape data
In the United States, some police jurisdictions didn?t send off DNA evidence from people who were raped for testing in a crime lab and for uploading into a national criminal database. Instead, the sets of evidence, known as rape kits, were sat on shelves and in warehouses. It?s estimated that hundreds of thousands need processing. In this edition, Ruth Alexander explores how some jurisdictions are testing the kits now and using the data to catch criminals. Producer: Darin Graham Presenter: Ruth Alexander (Untested sexual assault kits on warehouse shelves. Image: courtesy Joyful Heart Foundation)Listen

Edith Abbott and crime statistics
Social worker and economist Edith Abbott and her contribution to crime statistics.Listen

Esther Duflo and women in economics
Discussing Esther Duflo, Abhijit Banjeree and Michael Kremer?s economics Nobel Prize.Listen

The Extra Episode: Minimum wage, drinking in Scotland and identical twins.
We explore the numbers behind the new minimum wage announcements, whether drinking is going up or down in Scotland, the truth about squeezing people onto the Isle of Wight and how long one identical twin lives after the other twin dies. You?ll want to hear our special extra episode.Listen

WS More or Less: Does San Francisco have more rough sleepers than Britain?
Are the shocking statistics true? and how do you count people who don't wish to be found?Listen

New hospitals promised, aid to Ukraine, and bacon sandwiches
Dissecting the government?s hospitals announcement and President Trump?s Ukraine claims.Listen



WS More or Less: Who fought in World War 1?
Were a third of those that fought for Britain in WW1 black or Asian?Listen

Austerity Deaths, C-Sections and being struck by lightning
Has Austerity caused 120 thousand deaths in the UK and does God hate men?Listen

WS More or Less: Peaty v. Bolt: Which is the greatest world record?
Using statistics to compare world records in athletics and swimming.Listen

Dementia, inflation and shark deaths
Health risks for Presidential hopefuls, falling inflation, shark deaths and salary claimsListen

WS More or Less: Cape Town murders
Are eight people a day murdered in Cape Town and is that number unusually high?Listen

Maternal deaths, taxi driver earnings and statistical pop music
Are black women five times more likely to die in childbirth? Plus making pop music.Listen

WS More or Less: Deforestation in Brazil
Has it increased significantly since President Bolsonaro took office in January?Listen



Climate deaths, austerity and pet food
Challenging the idea of six billion deaths due to climate change; plus what pets eat.Listen

Bonus Podcast: Amazon forest fires
Are they really 85 percent worse than last year?Listen

Amazon fires, state pension and American burgers
Are forest fires in Brazil the worst in recent times? What is the state pension worth?Listen

WS More or Less: Ethiopia?s 350m trees in a day
Were millions of trees planted in just one day in Ethiopia?Listen

Exam grades, Chernobyl and Ethiopian trees
Was your A Level grade correct? Plus were 350m trees planted in one day in Ethiopia?Listen

Mice and mind blowing maths
Re-inserting a caveat and discussing a really cool numbers trick.Listen

Immigrant Crime Rate in the US
Do immigrants commit more crime than native-born Americans in the United States?Listen



The spread of fact-checking in Africa
With misinformation so easy to spread, how can it be stopped or challenged?Listen

Pregnancy prohibitions ? the evidence
Taking a statistical look at what expectant mothers should avoid.Listen

Missing women from drug trials
How medical testing on just men causes problems.Listen

Zimbabwe?s economy: Are sanctions to blame?
We look at politicians? claims that sanctions are to blame for Zimbabwe?s difficulties.Listen

Two World Cups: Football and Cricket
On this week?s More or Less, Ruth Alexander looks at the numbers involved with the two world cups that are going on at the moment. Are more men than women watching the Women?s World Cup and how accurate is the Cricket World Cup rule of thumb that suggests if you double the score after 30 overs you get a good estimate of the final innings total? Producer: Richard Vadon Image: Cricket World Cup Trophy 2019 Credit: Getty Images/ Gareth Copley-IDIListen

Is nuclear power actually safer than you think?
We questioned the death count of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in last week?s More or Less podcast. In the end, Professor Jim Smith of Portsmouth University came up with an estimate of 15,000 deaths. But we wondered how deadly nuclear power is overall when compared to other energy sources? Dr Hannah Ritchie of the University of Oxford joins Charlotte McDonald to explore. Image:Chernobyl nuclear plant, October 1st 1986 Credit: Getty ImagesListen

Questioning the Chernobyl disaster death count
The recent TV miniseries ?Chernobyl? has stirred up debate online about the accuracy of its portrayal of the explosion at a nuclear power plant in the former Soviet state of Ukraine. We fact-check the programme and try and explain why it so hard to say how many people will die because of the Chernobyl disaster. Image: Chernobyl nuclear power plant a few weeks after the disaster. Credit: Getty ImagesListen



WS More or Less: Dealing with the Numbers of Cancer
How one woman used statistics to help cope with cancer.Listen

WS More or Less: The things we fail to see
The hidden influences that a make a big difference to the way the world works.Listen

Are married women flipping miserable?
Measuring happiness, university access in Scotland, plus will one in two get cancer?Listen

WS More or Less: Volcanoes versus humans
Does Mount Etna produce more carbon emissions than humans? We check the numbers.Listen

Hay Festival Special
What does it mean to say that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world?Listen

WS More or Less: Florence Nightingale ? recognising the nurse statistician
How collecting data about the dead led the famous nurse to promote better sanitation.Listen

Eurovision and fact-checking Naomi Wolf
The stats behind making a successful song, plus misunderstanding Victorian court records.Listen



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 musical interpretation of a chart depicting the yield-curve of American bonds. Image: Human heart attack, illustration Credit: Science Photo LibraryListen

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 like bad news ? but is it? Does Huawei contribute £1.7billion to the UK economy? People were sceptical that the Chinese telecom company could contribute such a large amount to the UK economy. We take a deeper look at the number and discuss whether it is reasonable to include such a broad range of activities connected to the company to reach that figure. Deaths from organised crime The National Crime Agency (NCA) said this week that organised crime kills more people in the UK than terrorism, war and natural disasters combined. But what does the evidence say? The NCA also said that there are 181,000 offenders in the UK fueling serious and organised crime. That?s more than twice the strength of the British Army. We try to find out where those figures came from. The absence of women?s lives in data Do government and economic statistics capture the lives of women fairly? If not, does it matter? How could things be changed? Tim Harford speaks to Caroline Criado-Perez about her new book ?Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men.? Image: Human heart attack, illustration Credit: Science Photo LibraryListen

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 British economy?Listen

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 the past year has tripled in a decade. But is it true? No coal power for a week There were many reports in the newspapers this week saying the UK has set a new record for the number of consecutive days generating energy without burning any coal. So where is our electricity coming from? Missing people Some listeners got in touch to say they were surprised to hear that a person is reported missing in the UK every 90 seconds. Dr Karen Shalev Greene of the Centre for the Study of Missing Persons joins us to explore the numbers. In Mice One scientist is correcting headlines on Twitter by adding one key two-word caveat ? the fact that the research cited has only been carried out "in mice". We ask him why he?s doing it.Listen

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 a world with a population of less than 4 billion? Tim Harford investigates the economics of Thanos with anthropologist Professor Sharon DeWitte and fictionomics blogger Zachary Feinstein PHD. Image: The Avengers Endgame film poster Credit: ©Marvel Studios 2019Listen

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 killed a year by cats? Newspapers reported this week that 27 million birds are killed by cats each year. We find out how this number - which might not really be "news" - was calculated. How rare are house shares? A listener got in touch to say she was surprised to read that only 3% of people aged 18 to 34 live in a house share with other people. She feels it must be too low ? but is she living in a London house-sharing bubble? We find out. Proving that x% of y = y% of x Why is it that 4% of 75 is the same as 75% of 4? Professor Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford joins Tim in the studio to explore a mind-blowing maths ?trick?. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Charlotte McDonald, Darin Graham and Beth Sagar-FentonListen

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 said it costs $60. In this edition of More or Less, Tim Harford looks at whether Sanders has got his figures right. With Carol Sakala of US organisation Childbirth Connection and Mika Gissler of the National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland. Producer: Darin Graham Presenters: Tim Harford and Charlotte McDonald Image: A newborn baby's hand. Credit:Getty Images/TongRo Images IncListen



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 late in April? We crunch the numbers supplied by the Met Office. Insectageddon 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% of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5% a year suggests they could disappear in 100 years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble? Collecting income tax from the 1% Recently Lord Sugar said in a Tweet ?The fact is if you taxed everyone earning over £150k at a rate of 70% it would not raise enough to pay for 5% of the NHS.? Is that true? Helen Miller, Deputy Director and head of tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at how much such a policy might raise from the 1% of tax payers who earn over £150,000. 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 higListen

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 edition of More or Less, we?ll be finding out ? after all the sporting activities are over ? how realistic were those economic predictions? Producer: Darin Graham Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard Vadon Picture Credit: Fang Guangming/Southern Metropolis Daily/VCGListen

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 only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all. Presenter: Phoebe Keane Picture: A village in the Southern Scottish uplands. Credit: Jan HalfpennyListen

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 sides arguing for against this. So in this edition of More or Less, we look at the disagreements and how the authors of the review came up with the results. With cancer epidemiologist Dr Geoffrey Kabat, Toxicologist Dr Luoping Zhang and statistician Sir David Spiegelhalter. Producer: Darin Graham Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard Vadon Picture: Tractor spraying a field of wheat Credit: Getty ImagesListen

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 chess moves can teach us about this ancient board game. Presenter: David Edmonds Producer: Darin Graham Image: A Chess Board Credit: Getty ImagesListen

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, merchants and slaves. A train of camels followed, each carrying gold. In recent reports, he has been described as the richest person that ever lived. He has been compared to some of the wealthiest people alive today. But how can we know the value of the ?golden king?s? wealth and can we compare a monarch to the likes of Amazon founder Bezos? In this edition, historian Dr Emmanuel Ababio Ofosu-Mensah of the University of Ghana in Accra explains who Mansa Musa was and Kerry Dolan of Forbes talks to us about rich lists. Producer: Darin Graham Editor: Richard Vadon (Image: Painting of Mansa Musa, Credit: Getty Images)Listen

Day light saving time and heart attacks
Does the sudden loss of an hour of sleep raise the risk of having a heart attack?Listen



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 better statistics that can help explain why fewer women than men work in tech in the USA and lessons to be learned from India, where there is a much smaller gender gap in the tech sector. Presenter: Phoebe Keane Photo: An engineer looking at information on a screen interface Credit: Metamorworks / Getty ImagesListen

Insectageddon
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 suggests they could disappear in one hundred years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble? Presenter: Ruth Alexander Producer: Darin Graham (Image: Hairy hawker dragonfly. Credit: Science Photo Library)Listen

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 make a big return on your investment. Presenter: Dave Edmonds Producer: Darin Graham Editor: Richard Vadon Picture Credit: BBCListen

WS More or Less: When maths mistakes really matter
Tim Harford talks to Matt Parker on how simple maths mistakes can cause big problems.Listen

Climate Change, Victorian Diseases, Alcohol
Tim Harford on climate change, Victorian diseases, maths mistakes and alcohol consumptionListen

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 More or Less archives.Listen

Teen Suicide; Brexit Business Moves; Wood-Burner Pollution
Tim Harford finds untrue a recent report that there is a 'suicidal generation' of teens.Listen



WS More or Less: You have 15,000 likes!
A listener doubts her popularity on the dating app Tinder. We investigate the numbers.Listen

Holocaust Deniers; Venezuelan Hyperinflation; Tinder Likes
Tim Harford on Holocaust deniers; food prices in Venezuela, and dating app statisticsListen

WS More or Less: Is Suicide Seasonal?
Tim Harford asks which times of the year are riskiest for suicide.Listen

Domestic Violence, Jobs, Easter Snowfall
Tim Harford on domestic violence, employment numbers, and the chance of a white Easter.Listen

WS More or Less: Close Encounters of a Planetary Kind
Which planet is closest to Earth?Listen

Intersex Numbers, Fact-Checking Facebook, Jack Bogle
Tim Harford asks whether 1.7% of people are intersex, and examines false claims about MPsListen

WS More or Less: The Mathematics of Fever
We look at the numbers behind body temperature ? what is normal?Listen



Sugar, Outdoors Play and Planets
Tim Harford on sugar, train fares, children's outdoors play and Earth's closest neighbourListen

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

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

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 1
The numbers that made 2018.Listen

WS More or Less: Mission Impossible - Quantifiying Santa
What to look out for on Christmas Eve.Listen

WS More or Less: Dam Lies and Statistics
Are mega-dams really sustainable?Listen

WS More or Less: Sex and Heart Attacks
Are women more likely to die from a heart attack than men?Listen



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 civiliansListen

WS More or Less: When?s a Kilogram Not a Kilogram?
Updating the kilogram.Listen

WS More or Less: Do Assassinations Work?
How likely are assassination attempts on heads of state to succeed?Listen

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?Listen

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?Listen

WS More or Less: Paul Romer and William Nordhaus? Big Ideas
The economists tackling climate change and growth.Listen

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 doing the bulk of the divorcing. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at Canada?s Vancouver School of Economics and author of Dirty Money, a book which applies economic ideas to the study of sex and love. Producer: Ruth Alexander (Photo: Same-sex wedding cake toppers. Credit: Lucas Schifres/Getty Images)Listen



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 doing the bulk of the divorcing. Tim Harford discusses why this may be with Marina Ashdade, economist at Canada?s Vancouver School of Economics and author of ?Dirty Money?, a book which applies economic ideas to the study of sex and love. Producer: Ruth Alexander Image: Same-sex wedding cake toppers Credit: Lucas Schifres/Getty ImagesListen

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 date, said All in the Mind, while the accompanying BBC press release reported that ?The survey results indicate that 16-24 year olds experience loneliness more often and more intensely than any other age group. 40% of respondents aged 16-24 reported feeling lonely often or very often, while only 29% of people aged 65-74 and 27% of people aged over 75 said the same.? In the editors' notes, the press release cautions that ?This was a self-selecting sample, so people experiencing loneliness might have been more attracted to take part, inflating reported levels of loneliness.? But much of the reporting by other BBC outlets and the wider media was not so restrained. Tim Harford speaks to Deidre Toher from the University of the West of England about why the survey's results need careful interpretation. Listeners have been asking us to explain the schools funding row. When headteachers marched in protest at school spending last week, the Minister for School Standards, Nick Gibb, went on BBC Radio 4's Today programme to say "We are spending record amounts on our school funding. We are the third highest spender on education in the OECD?. BBC Education correspondent Sean Coughlan explains howListen

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?Listen

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.Listen

WS More or Less: Trump and the Puerto Rico Death Toll
How can we calculate excess mortality after a natural disaster?Listen

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 sportsListen

WS More or Less: DNA - Are You More Chimp or Neanderthal?
What is the difference between 96% similarity or sharing 20% of our DNA?Listen



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 goatsListen

WS More or Less: The Safest Car in the World?
A listener asks whether his Volvo is the safest car on the road?Listen

Heart Age Calculator; Danish Sperm Imports; Safest Car on the Road; Counting Goats
Tim Harford questions the usefulness of a popular heart age calculator.Listen

WS: More or Less - How well do you understand your world?
Tim Harford talks to Bobby Duffy about why we are often wrong about a lot of basic factsListen

African Trade Tariffs; Alcohol Safe Limits; President Trump's Popularity
Tim Harford fact checks EU trade deals with Africa, and whether one drink is one too manyListen

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - Coffins Full of Car Keys
BONUS PODCAST: For the rest of August, in addition to More or Less you?ll get a brand new podcast, Economics with Subtitles. It?s your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this edition, Ayeisha and Steve make sense of interest rates. Why did they lead to coffins full of car getting sent to the US Federal Reserve? What factors affect what you have to pay on your loans? And what do your film choices say about why you decide to borrow? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve BugejaListen

WS: More or Less - Automated fact-checking
Computer programmes are being developed to combat fake news.Listen



A no-frills life, automated fact-checking and Lord-of-the-Rings maths
What would have been the most efficient way to get to Mordor?Listen

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - How Condoms Can Cost a Week?s Wages
BONUS PODCAST: The Moneybox podcast is on it?s summer holiday but fear not, for the rest of August, you will get a brand new podcast instead. Economics with Subtitles is your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this show, Ayeisha and Steve make sense of inflation. They?ll explain how hyperinflation is affecting how Venezuelans have sex, why you can?t afford a ticket to see your favourite band in concert anymore and why a sale on sofas isn?t always a good thing. Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve BugejaListen

WS More or Less: Are Wildfires Really Burning More Land?
Are Wildfires in the United States and Southern Europe burning more land than before?Listen

Economics with Subtitles - Bracelets for Bullets
Why an Essex mum wanted her jewellery melted down and what it says about government debt. Economics with Subtitles is your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this show, Ayeisha and Steve explore government debt. Why did an anonymous mother send her bracelet to the government to be turned into a bullet? How are you lending the government money without even realising? And when should you be worried about how much debt the government is in? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve BugejaListen

Numbers Behind a Tweetstorm
How do you get a hashtag to trend around the world?Listen

Economics with Subtitles - How Buying Cocaine Helps the Government
The surprising story of GDP and whether it's time to change how we measure our economy. Economics with Subtitles is your everyday guide to economics and why you should care. In this edition, Ayeisha and Steve look at how we quantify economic success. Should dodgy drug deals be included? What is Steve?s contribution to GDP? And should we ban people who pinch too many of your crisps? Producers: Simon Maybin & Phoebe Keane Presenters: Ayeisha Thomas-Smith & Steve BugejaListen

Carbs, Sugar and the Truth
Does a baked potato contain the equivalent of 19 cubes of sugar?Listen



Getting Creative with Statistics
How big are your testicles and what does that mean?Listen

Should we have smaller families to save the planet?
Having one fewer child could be the biggest thing you do to reduce your carbon footprintListen

How to Cycle Really Fast
How much better are the pros than the rest of us and how effective is slipstreaming?Listen

Are there more stars than grains of beach sand?
The astronomer, Carl Sagan, famously said that there were more stars in our Universe than grains of sand on the Earth?s beaches. But was it actually true? More or Less tries to count the nearly uncountable. Content warning: This episode includes gigantically large numbers. (Photo: The barred spiral galaxy M83. Credit: Nasa).Listen

Running at the World Cup
This week we take a look at some of the statistics which have caught our attention at the World Cup. There has been much debate in both the press and social media about the large distances which Russian football players have run in their first two games. We look at how they compare to other teams and what it might signify. Also ?is it just bad luck that Germany has crashed out of the competition? Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Richard Vadon (Picture: Artem Dzyuba of Russia celebrates scoring against Saudi Arabia. Credit: Xin Li/Getty Images)Listen

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. Reporter Beth Sagar-Fenton finds out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and puts Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is. (Image: The World surrounded by Flags. Credit: Shutterstock) Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Beth Sagar-Fenton Producer: Charlotte McDonald, Lizzy McNeillListen

FIFA World Cup Extravaganza
The World Cup starts this week and the More or Less team is marking the event by looking at the data behind all the World Cups since 1966 (our data shows that this was the best world cup because England won). We?ll answer all football fans most burning questions; which World Cups have seen the most shots, fouls, dribbles and most importantly goals? Do the statistics back up the reputations of famous players like Pele, Cruyff, Maradona and Paul Gascoigne? And which of them actually committed the most fouls at one World Cup? Ben Carter talks to Author and Opta Sports football statistician Duncan Alexander about how the ?beautiful game? has changed?through numbers. (Picture: The World Cup, credit: Shutterstock)Listen



WS More or Less: How Many Animals are Born Every Day?
From penguins to nematodes, is it possible to count how many animals are born around the world every day? That?s the question one 10-year-old listener wants answered, and so reporter Kate Lamble sets off for the zoo to find out. Along the way, she discovers that very, very small animals are much more important than very, very big animals when it comes to the sums. (09.05) Artificial Intelligence or A.I. has been hailed as the answer to an easier life ? but will it really make the world a better place, or just reinforce existing prejudices? Tim Harford speaks to author Meredith Broussard about ?techno-chauvinism?.Listen

Infant Mortality, How to Reduce Exam Revision With Maths, London?s Murder Rate
(0.24) Infant mortality is on the rise in England and Wales ? but is this change down to social issues such as obesity and deprivation, as claimed, or the way doctors count very premature babies? (9.45) A self-confessed lazy student wrote in to ask how he can minimise exam revision, while still ensuring a high chance of passing ? we do the sums. (15.44) Do a billion birds really die each year by flying into buildings? We explain another zombie statistic which refuses to die. (18.40) It was reported earlier this year that London?s murder rate was higher than New York City?s ? but how do the two cities compare now, and is there any value in these snapshot comparisons?Listen

Counting Rough Sleepers
How do you count the number of people sleeping rough? According to the latest official figures around 4700 people were sleeping in the streets in the autumn of 2017. And that got us thinking. These statistics aren?t just downloaded from some big database in the sky. They need ? like any statistic ? to be collected and calculated. So how is it done?Listen

The High Street, Home Births and Harry Potter Wizardry
Is WH Smith really the worst shop on the High Street? Harry Potter fans want to know how many wizards there are ? we try to work it out. Is giving birth at home as safe as giving birth in hospital? (Photo: Mother and baby. Credit: Shutterstock)Listen

WS More or Less: Australia Calling
This week we tackle some of our listeners? questions from Australia: do one in seven businessmen throw out their pants after wearing them once? This is a claim made by an expert talking about clothes waste ? but what does it come from? Do horses kill more people than venomous animals? Australia is known for its dangerous wildlife, but how deadly is it for humans? Plus, a politician says lots of Australians have used cannabis ? we take a look at the evidence. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Charlotte McDonald and Sachin Croker (Picture: Male models in underwear follow a businessman. Credit: Getty's Images)Listen

Forecasting rain, teabags and voter ID trials
(00.28) Reading the BBC weather app ? we explain the numbers on the forecast (06:55) University of Oxford Admissions: how diverse is its intake? (11:37) Voter idea trial at the local elections ? counting those who were turned away from the polling station. (15:46) How much tea do Brits drink? We investigate a regularly cited estimate (20:06) Are pensioners richer than people of working age?Listen

WS More or Less: Does Being Taller Make You a Pro Basketballer?
Former FBI Director James Comey is very, very tall ? over two metres tall, or 6?8?. Many media outlets commented on his height during his recent difficulties with President Trump. It has prompted us to explore ? if he hadn?t worked for the FBI, could he have counted on his height alone to have a career in basketball? In this week?s programme Tim Harford looks at the likelihood that James Comey ? or any very tall person - might have made it as a pro in the NBA. He speaks to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz who has crunched the numbers on height, class and race to find out who is more likely to make it as a basketball superstar. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Richard Fenton-Smith (Picture: Former FBI Director James Comey, Credit: Shutterstock)Listen



Poverty, Progress 8 and how green is grass?
(0.22) Are more children from working families in poverty? (6.50) Progress 8 ? explaining the new school league tables for England (12.51) Can a garden product really make your grass 6 times greener? (18.03) ?Data is? versus ?data are? (20.21) Royal Wedding economicsListen

WS More or Less: Tulipmania mythology
The story goes that Amsterdam in the 1630?s was gripped by a mania for Tulip flowers. But then there was a crash in the market. People ended up bankrupt and threw themselves into canals. This story is still being trotted out when people talk about financial markets, lately as a comparison to buying and selling bitcoin. But how much of what we know of the Tulip craze is fact, and how much is myth? We speak to Anne Goldgar at Kings College London who explains all.Listen

Abortion, modern slavery, math versus maths
(00:26) The UK abortion statistics gaining attention in Ireland?s referendum debate (03:49) Superforecasting author Phillip Tetlock talks to Tim Harford (09:51) Modern Slavery figures in the UK (17:43) Should you say math or maths?Listen

WS More or Less: Exposing the biases we have of the world
The great statistician, Hans Rosling, died in February last year. Throughout his life Hans used data to explain how the world was changing ? and often improving ? and he would challenge people to examine their own preconceptions and ignorance. Before he became ill, Hans had started working on a book about these questions and what they reveal about the mental biases that tend to lead us astray. Tim Harford speaks to his son Ola and daughter in law Anna who worked on the book with him.Listen

Cancer screening, the Windrush Generation, Audiograms
(0:32) Breast screening ? the Numbers: 450,000 women have accidentally not been invited for breast cancer screening (07:26) Counting the Windrush Generation: What do we know about those who might be lacking documentation (11:15) Has Nigel Farage been on Question Time too often? We chart his appearances over 18 years (16:32) Painting a picture with an audiogram: Data journalist Mona Chalabi talks about her unusual approach to analysing numbers. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonald Editor: Richard VadonListen

WS More or Less: Puerto Rico - statistics versus politics
The government of Puerto Rico has developed a plan to strip the island?s statistical agency of its independent board as part of a money saving enterprise. But as the Caribbean island recovers from a debt crisis and the devastation of Hurricane Maria which struck last year, many are questioning whether the move could have long reaching implications. Presenters: Tim Harford and Kate Lamble Producer: Kate Lamble (Photo: Damage to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria: The La Perla neighbourhood, San Juan. Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images.)Listen

Straws, women on boards, plus animals born each day
Does the UK throw away 8.5 billion straws a year? (0?33??) Women on FTSE 100 boards (4?35?) We explore whether the proportion of female directors has changed over time, and what it tells us about women in business. Using personal data for the public good (11?28?) Hetan Shah, the Executive Director of the Royal Statistical Society, talks about storing people?s data. How many animals are born every day? (15?39?)Listen



WS More or Less: How Should We Think About Spending?
Tim Harford talks to economist Dan Ariely about the psychology of money. They discuss how understanding the way we think about our finances can help us to spend more carefully and save more efficiently. Plus Dan explains how to never have an argument over sharing a restaurant bill again. (Photo: Mannequins in a shop window wearing sale t-shirts. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)Listen

WS More More or Less: Are We Breathing Unsafe Air?
The World Health Organisation say that 95% of people who live in cities breathe unsafe air. But what do they mean by ?unsafe?? And how do they calculate the levels or air pollution for every city in the world? Plus Mt Etna in Italy has reportedly moved by 14mm, but who is calculating this? And how do they know the answer with such accuracy? (Photo: People wear masks as smoke billows from a coal fired power plant, Shanxi, China. Credit: Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)Listen

WS More or Less: Why London?s Murder Rate is Being Compared to New York?s
London?s murder rate is on the rise ? and for the first time ever it has just overtaken New York?s, according to a number of media outlets. But is it true? And is it appropriate for journalists to compare between the two cities? South Africa?s missing children statistics A viral Facebook post has suggested that one child is kidnapped every thirty seconds in South Africa. We examine the evidence which shows that a child is reported missing every nine hours to the police, and this includes more than just kidnappings. (Photo: Police officers inspect the scene of a knife attack in London. Credit: Jack Taylor/Getty Images)Listen

WS More or Less: How Deadly Was 1920s Melbourne?
Miss Fisher?s Murder Mysteries is one of Australia?s most popular television series and has been broadcast in 172 territories worldwide. Set in 1920?s Melbourne the series? protagonist, Miss Phryne Fisher, seems to have a lot of dead bodies on her metaphorical plate. So how does the series compare with the real life murder rate at that time? Join the More Or Less team as we step back in time for some statistical sleuthing.Listen

Were ?extra? votes counted in Russia?s presidential election?
Last week Vladimir Putin won a second consecutive and fourth overall term as the Russian President. Official polling results from the election show he received over 76 percent of the vote, with a total turnout of 67 percent, but there were also widespread allegations of irregularities including inflated turnout figures. More or Less takes a closer look at the election data from Russia to see if these complaints have merit.Listen

Factchecking Trump on Trade
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)Listen

WS More or Less: Sir Roger Bannister
After Sir Roger Bannister ran a mile in under four minutes, did positive thinking propel dozens to do the same?Listen



WS More or Less: Women, the Oscars and the Bechdel Test
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.Listen

WS More or Less: The Winter Olympics
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?)Listen

WS More or Less: Debunking guide ? on a postcard
How to question dubious statistics in just a few short steps.Listen

UN rape claims, Stalin and Mr Darcy
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.Listen

WS More or Less: Has Russian Drinking Fallen by 80% in five years?
Alcohol consumption has fallen sharply according to Russia?s health ministryListen

The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun part II
Why the biggest ever fall in the Dow wasn't, and how much do women spend on tampons?Listen

WS More or Less: Is China On Track to End Poverty by 2020?
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 kitchen Credit: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty ImagesListen



Transgender Numbers, Parkrun and Snooker
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 RPI At 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 parkrun Every 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 easiListen

Is the US Census Under Threat?
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 Harford Producer: Kate Lamble Photo: Concerned woman holding a clipboard and a pen Credit: Nicolas McComber/Getty ImagesListen

A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime numbers
First sexual experience - checking the facts A 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 Numbers Oxford mathematician Vicky Neale talks about her new book - Closing The Gap - and how mathematicians have striven to understand the patterns behind prime numbers. Multiple grannies A 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.Listen

WS More or Less: Real Lives Behind the Numbers
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)Listen

Gender Pay Gaps and How to Learn a Language
Gender Pay Gap This 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 times We 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.Listen

WS More or Less: How Louis Bachelier Scooped Economists by Half a Century
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)Listen

Missed appointments, graduate pay, plus cocaine on bank notes
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 Habit The New York Times claims that Donald TrumListen



WS More or Less: Just how rare is a hole-in-one?
Why it isn?t as simple to work out as you think.Listen

More or Less: Statistics of the Year 2017
Phones, lawn mowers and how Kim Kardashian helped the public understanding of risk.Listen

WS More or Less: Will Bitcoin use more electricity than the United States?
Measuring the energy used to keep the cryptocurrency secure.Listen

WS More or Less: Diet Coke Habit; 'Contained' Wildfires
Could the US President?s Diet Coke habit affect his health? and 'contained' wildfiresListen

WS More or Less: Does Eating Chocolate Make Your Brain Younger?
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 McNeillListen

WS More or Less: Just how lucky are regular lottery winners?
Are some people just very lucky? The maths suggest that is unlikely.Listen

WS More or Less: How Rich was Jane Austen?s Mr Darcy?
What the Pride and Prejudice character would have earned in today?s money.Listen



How expensive is Italy's World Cup failure?
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)Listen

Why albums are getting longer
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. Presenter: Jordan Dunbar Producer: Xavier Zapata (Image: Chris Brown performs onstage at 2017 BET Awards. Credit: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for BET)Listen

WS More or Less: Do Nigerian lawmakers get $1.7m and do Yams cause twins?
Finding out if Nigerian politicians really get paid more than the American President.Listen

Novelists in numbers
Counting the favourite words of well-known authors: Stephen King, Hemingway and othersListen

WS More or Less: Are US millennials more politically engaged online?
Did the 2016 US election galvanise young people to become more engaged in politics?Listen

How Richard Thaler changed Economics
The behavioural economist who has inspired governments around the world.Listen

WS More or Less: Kilobyte to Brontobyte
Naming the monster numbers - how the names of digital storage files evolved.Listen



WS More or Less: Big polluters - ships versus cars
Do the largest ships emit as much pollution as all the cars in the world?Listen

Uber; EU passports; counting domestic violence
Is Uber safe? The post Brexit dual nationality surge and measuring partner abuse.Listen

WS More or Less: Sperm - Are we going extinct?
How much of a problem is falling sperm count?Listen

Statistics abuse, tuition fees and beer in 1887
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson is accused of mis-using official statistics.Listen

WS More or Less: How to measure a Hurricane
What?s the best way to measure a hurricane?Listen

Are Natural Disasters on the Rise?
Has the number of natural disasters really quadrupled in the last forty years?Listen

WS More or Less: More Horses than Tanks?
Is the UK the only country with more horses than tanks in its army?Listen



Electric cars, school-ready and feedback
Will we need more power stations? Plus, are children in Manchester ready for school?Listen

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

Grenfell Tower's Death Toll
The difficulties of finding the true number of people who died in the fire.Listen

Fantasy Football - How to win
Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager.Listen

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

The Trump Bump
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.Listen

Are there 15,000 transgender people serving in the US military?
President Trump says transgender individuals cannot serve, but how many do already?Listen



Why is Kenya?s election so expensive?
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.Listen

More boys than girls in Sweden?
Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population?s sex ratioListen

Maryam Mirzakhani ? A Genius of Maths
Celebrating the only woman to win the biggest prize in mathematics.Listen

Calling the shots at Wimbledon
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)Listen

Is Steph Curry cheap and how random is random?
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 allocation Ryanair 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 McDonald Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Richard VadonListen

In Search of Woodall Primes
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)Listen

How rare are deadly tower block fires?
How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London?s Grenfell Tower.Listen



Trumpton Extra
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.Listen

Post-Election Special
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.Listen

WS More or Less: Are African football players more likely to die on the field?
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 McDonaldListen

UK Election extra
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.Listen

WS More or Less: Samba, strings and the story of HIV
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)Listen

Election Special: Tax, borders and climate
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? temperature Summer 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 Meals It?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 puListen

WS More or Less: Have 65% of future jobs not yet been invented?
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)Listen



Spies, care homes, and ending sneak peaks
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 home There 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 update A 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 access For 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 moveListen

WS More or Less: Uganda?s refugees
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)Listen

Tax, speed dating and sea ice
Exploring the Labour manifesto's tax plans for high earners.Listen

WS More or Less: Is my Baby a Giant?
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 Dunbar Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Jordan DunbarListen

Nurses' pay, Scottish seats, Penalty shootouts
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 Conspiracy The 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 maths What 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 Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen

WS More or Less: An urban maze
Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.Listen

Is Crime Rising?
It looks like homicides are on the rise - but better check the footnotesListen



WS More or Less: The Maths of Dating
How to use mathematics to find your partner. And, how reliable are pregnancy due dates?Listen

Fact-checking Boris Johnson
Giant bombs, a war hero and the foreign secretary's stats.Listen

WS More or Less:The death rate of white Americans ? What?s going on?
Are middle-aged white Americans dying younger than other groups?Listen

Living standards and Kate Bush maths
Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate BushListen

WS More or Less: The Ignorance Test
How much do you know about the world?Listen

Economics of overnbooking
Why airlines bet that not everybody will turn up for a flight.Listen

WS More or Less: Could North Korea Wipe out 90% of Americans?
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 McDonald Producer: Hannah SanderListen



WS More or Less: Will one in four people develop a mental health problem?
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 McDonald Producer: Elizabeth CassinListen

WS More Or Less: Baby Boxes ? are they really saving infant?s lives?
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 McDonald Producer: Elizabeth Cassin (Photo:One of Scotland's first baby boxes is seen at Clackmannanshire Community Health Centre. Credit: Getty Images)Listen

More or Less: The concrete facts about Trump?s wall and China
Did China use more concrete in three years than the US in the 20th Century?Listen

WS More or Less: The Attention Span of a Goldfish
Are our attention spans now shorter than a goldfish's?Listen

WS More or Less: Why are Hollywood actresses paid less than men?
Top Hollywood actresses have complained that they are paid less than their male co-starsListen

WS More or Less: What happened last night in Sweden?
What happened last night in Sweden?Listen

Hidden Figures: The Real Story
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)Listen



WS More or Less: Hans Rosling - the extraordinary life of a statistical guru
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)Listen

WS More or Less: Is democracy failing in America?
Does North Carolina really rank alongside North Korea if you measure electoral integrityListen

WS More or Less: Counting Crowds
How many went to celebrate ? and how many to protest ? the Trump inauguration?Listen

WS More or Less: Why January makes us want to scream
Blue Monday and Oxfam?s comparison wealth of billionaires and the poor ?the stories that come around every year.Listen

WS More or Less: Christian Martyrs
Were 90,000 Christians killed because of their faith in 2016?Listen

WS More or Less: Should we really be drinking eight glasses of water a day?
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)Listen

WS More or Less: Does Sweden Really Have a Six Hour Day?
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)Listen



The Haber-Bosch Process
Saving lives with thin air - by taking nitrogen from the air to make fertiliserListen

WS More or Less: Life, death and data
Improving data to target help to the poorest peopleListen

Christmas Quiz
Tim Harford poses a tough statistical challengeListen

WS More or Less: Yellow cards for Christmas
Are footballers trying to get suspended for Christmas?Listen

Have more famous people died this year?
Notable deaths, Rule Britannia and creating your own Christmas speechListen

WS More or Less: How risky is the contraceptive pill?
We look at the numbers behind the scary headlines about birth control.Listen

How wrong were the Brexit forecasts?
The economic doom that never was; childhood cancer figures and Ed BallsListen



WS More or Less: How not to test public opinion
The survey by the Indian PM that broke all the polling rules and started a mass protestListen

Are you related to Edward III - and Danny Dyer?
What are the odds of being related to a medieval king? and how many cows for a fiver?Listen

WS More or Less: Good news on renewables?
Renewable capacity has surpassed that of coal?is this good news? Plus an asteroid update.Listen

Pensioners aren't poor anymore
High-rolling pensioners? predicting Norovirus, air pollution deaths and lost or found?Listen

WS More or Less: Avoiding Asteroids
A new NASA warning system means we?re getting better at spotting Earth-bound space rocks. But how safe are we?Listen

Is dementia the number one killer?
Is dementia on the rise? Plus immigration, incomplete contacts and chocolate muffinsListen

WS More or Less: Liberia?s Rape Statistic Debunked
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)Listen



US election, stray cats and puzzles
Who voted in the US elections? Plus are there nine million stray cats in the UK?Listen

WS More or Less: Ice Cream versus aid
Does the world really spend three times as much on ice cream than on humanitarian aid?Listen

Trump tells the Truth
The fact-checkers have been working overtime looking into the numbers used by Donald Trump during his campaign to become President of the USA. In the wake of the election next week, we take a look at some of Trump?s more outrageous statistical claimsListen

WS More or Less: Child Marriage, Dangerous Algorithms
Is a girl under 15 married every seven seconds? And beware dangerous algorithmsListen

WS More or Less: Escobar?s Cocaine Deaths
How many people die for every kilo of cocaine? More Or Less investigates.Listen

WS More or Less: Algorithms, Crime and Punishment
When maths can get you locked up.Listen

WS More or Less: The Sustainable Development Goals ? are there just too many?
It?s now a year since the UN set its new Sustainable Development Goals to try to make the world a better place. They include 17 goals and a massive 169 targets on subjects like disease, education and governance. But some people like Bjorn Lomborg are saying that there?s just too many and they are too broad, and left like that will never achieve anything. Is he right ? and is there a better way to make the world better and stop some countries lagging behind? Wesley Stephenson and Charlotte McDonald find out.Listen



WS More or Less: Who Won the US Presidential Debate?
Polling on the first TV debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump appears to be divided over who won it. But not all polls are equal. If the people being polled aren?t representative of the population at large, then their responses may not tell you anything useful. And when internet polls can be hijacked by online activists, they can throw up some pretty strange results. (Photo: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton first presidential debate. Credit: Getty Images)Listen

WS More or Less: Trump?s crime claims
This week Donald Trump claimed that there are some inner city areas in the US which are suffering from the worst crime rates ever. They are so dangerous, he says, that Afghanistan is safer than many of these areas. But could this be true? We take a look at crime in the US and assess whether you can compare it to a conflict zone such as Afghanistan. (Image: Chicago - Neighbourhood residents watch as police investigate a homicide scene. Credit: Scott Olson/Getty Images)Listen

WS More or Less: Wedding gift economics
Can economics help us work out the perfect amount to spend on a wedding gift? Our reporter Jordan Dunbar is in a tricky situation-he?s heading to an old friend?s wedding and needs to figure out how much to give as a gift without breaking the bank. Luckily, economist Maria Kozlovskaya is on hand to talk about her findings on what factors we need to consider for gift giving, as well as preserving Jordan?s friendship and wallet.Listen

WS More or Less: Drug deaths in the Philippines
Over the last two months the Government in the Philippines has been encouraging the police to clampdown on the illegal drug trade. The new President, Rodrigo Duterte, went as far as saying that citizens could shoot and kill drug dealers who resisted arrest, and the killings of drug suspects were lawful if the police acted in self-defence. The press have been reporting numbers of how many people have been killed during the crackdown ? but how much trust can we put in these figures? Lottery wins We interview Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet, to find out if maths can give you an edge to playing the lottery or gambling.Listen

WS More or Less: Menstrual Syncing
It is a commonly held belief that if women spend enough time together, their bodies start to communicate through chemical signals, known as pheromones. Eventually the women?s bodies will start to menstruate at the same time. But where does this idea come from? And is it really true? We look at the evidence and wonder ? could it be down to chance?Listen

Irish Passports
Britons entitled to Irish passports After the Brexit vote in June, so many Britons applied for Irish passports that Ireland?s foreign minister had to ask them to stop ? pointing out that the UK remains, for now, in the EU. If some of the figures that have been quoted are correct, the Irish passport service may find itself completely inundated in future. But does one in four Britons really have Irish heritage? We reveal the dubious history of that number and attempt to estimate the number of Britons who are actually entitled to dual nationality with Ireland. Do women?s periods sync? It is a commonly held belief that if women spend time together, their bodies start to sync and they will have their periods at the same time. But where does this idea come from? And is it really true? We look at the evidence and wonder ? could it be down to chance? Numbers in music Marcus du Sautoy takes us on a journey through some of his favourite musical pieces, pointing out the interesting mathematical patterns hidden in the compositions. Dangerous algorithms Cathy O?Neil, a data scientist and activist, has written a new book, ?Weapons of Math Destruction.? She is concerned about the proliferation of certain kinds of algorithms ? that help make important decisions, but that could be based on unfair statistics with hidden biases. She explains how to look out for them, and what we can do to protecListen

Death Penalty abolition
Statistics suggest that officially about half of the countries in the world have abolished Capital Punishment, and a further 52 have stopped its use in practice. But we tell the story behind the numbers and show why the picture is more complicated. We speak to Parvais Jabbar, co-director of the Death Penalty Project.Listen



Gender Pay Gap
The ?gender pay gap? This topic has been in the news this week after the Institute for Fiscal Studies published research showing women end up 33% worse off than their male counterparts after they have children. But earlier in the summer, Fraser Nelson wrote in the Telegraph that the pay gap is ?no longer an issue? for women born after 1975. Can both assessments be true? And could the label ?gender pay gap? be hindering our understanding of what really lies behind the numbers? The cost of a hospital If a politician or commentator wants to underline just how wasteful a piece of expenditure is, a common strategy is to compare it to the number of hospitals you could build instead. Of course, hospitals are positive things ? we all want more, right? But just how much is a hospital? Is it really a useful unit of measurement? We speak to health economist John Appleby. Corbyn Facts As Labour members begin voting on the party leadership, we investigate some of the claims made on the ?Corbyn Facts? website set up by Jeremy Corbyn?s campaign. Did he really give 122 speeches on the EU referendum during the campaign? Were this year?s local election results as good as Labour?s best performance under Ed Miliband? We look at what the numbers tell us. Death Penalty abolition Statistics suggest that officially about half of the countries in the world have abolished Capital Punishment, and a Listen

WS More or Less: Counting Terror Deaths
With high profile attacks in Brussels, Nice and Munich, you might think that 2016 has been a particularly bad year for terrorism in Europe. But what happens when you put the numbers in historical context and compare them with figures for the rest of the world? More Or Less hears from Dr Erin Miller of the Global Terrorism Database and Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker. (Image: A man wrapped in a Belgian flag holds a candle as people gather at a makeshift memorial on Place de la Bourse two days after a triple bomb attack hit. Credit: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images)Listen

Counting Terror Deaths
Is 2016 an unusually deadly year for terrorism? In a joint investigation with BBC Newsbeat and BBC Monitoring, we?ve analysed nearly 25,000 news articles to assess whether 2016 so far has been a unusually deadly year for terrorism. It certainly feels like it. But what do the numbers say? We estimate that, between January and July this year, 892 people died in terrorist attacks in Europe ? making it the most deadly first seven months of a year since 1994. But the vast majority of those deaths have been in Turkey. The number for Western Europe is 143, which is lower than many years in the 1970s. Dying ?at the hands of the police? This week retired footballer Dalian Atkinson died after being 'tasered' by police. His death has renewed concerns about the number of people who die after coming into contact with the police. Recently it was claimed that one person a week dies ?at the hands of the police? and that ?black people are disproportionately affected.? We take a look at the numbers. Olympic predictions As the Games in Rio draw to an end, we look back at the medal predictions we made before they started. Which countries have performed as expected? And which failed to meet our expectations? The cost of a wedding gift Can economics tell us how much to spend on a wedding gift? Our reporter Jordan is in a tight spot. He?s heading to an old friend?s wedding andListen

WS More or Less: Swimming World Records
World Records are being set at a much faster rate in swimming than in other sports. At the Rio Olympics, British swimmer Adam Peaty managed to break the men's 100m breaststroke world record twice in two days. Tim Harford speaks to swimming coach, Rick Madge, about the reasons swimmers keep getting better results in the pool. Also, science writer Christie Aschwanden makes the case for the virtues of the 5,000 metre race. She says that in recent times it has become very popular for people to train to run a marathon. But when you look at the numbers, is the 5K a better distance? Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen

Grammar Schools
It has been reported that Prime Minister Theresa May is planning on lifting the ban on creating new grammar schools. Chris Cook, Policy Editor for Newsnight, has been looking at the evidence for whether these selective schools improve exam performance or social mobility. Swimming World Records New world records are being set in swimming at a much faster rate than other sports ? but why? Tim Harford speaks to swim coach and blogger, Rick Madge about the reason swimmers keep getting better results in the pool. Why do other sports, like athletics, not seem to have the same continual improvements in results? Teenage girls aren?t so bad after all This week?s Desk of Good News challenges the concept that teenage girls and young women are badly behaved. It features statistics on falling teenage pregnancy rates, drinking figures and improving educational success. The rise of TV Was the Queen's Coronation the event that sparked the biggest rise in TV sales ever? We take a look at the rise of television in the UK. Lottery wins Adam Kucharski, author of The Perfect Bet, looks at the maths behind playing the lottery or gambling. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen

WS More or Less: Predicting Olympic Medals
How can we use statistics to predict how many medals each nation will win? We speak to Dr Julia Bredtmann, an economist at the RWI Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. She has come up with a model to predict how many medals each country will win, along with her colleagues, Sebastian Otten, also from the Leibniz Institute, and Carsten Crede of the University of East Anglia. Some countries like the US and China have a large population and GDP, but a number of countries do very well for their size and wealth. Julia explains the different factors you have to consider to predict Olympic success.Listen

Plastic Bags
The Government says that since the introduction of the 5p fee for single use plastic bags their use has plummeted. We take a look at the numbers. Olympic Medals at Rio 2016 The Olympic Games are with us again. So how can we use statistics to predict how many medals each nation will win? We speak to Dr Julia Bredtmann, an economist at the Leibniz Institute for Economic Research. Income inequality Politicians and commentators often claim that the rich are getting richer while the poor are getting poorer. But what do the numbers actually tell us about income inequality in the UK? Tim Harford interviews Jonathan Cribb of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the co- author of a comprehensive analysis of Living Standards, Income Inequality and Poverty in the UK. Desk of Good News ? Maternal mortality rates The number of women dying in childbirth is falling around the world. In 1990, maternal mortality rates were 385 deaths per 100,000 live births Today there are 216 deaths per 100,000 live births. This means the death rate is down by nearly half. The Coastline Paradox Why is it so difficult to measure coastlines? The further you zoom into the detail of a coastline, the longer it becomes. This is referred to as ?The Coastline Paradox?. We speak to Mairi Walker, a mathematician at the University of Edinburgh, and Danny Hyam, from The Ordnance Survey - the UK government agency responsibListen



WS More or Less: Odd Socks and Algorithms
How can the techniques of computer science help us in everyday life? We speak to Brian Christian co-author of ?Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions?. He argues that the techniques of computer science can help us manage everyday situations in a more logical and efficient manner. So which algorithm can help solve the problem of odd socks? And what is the most efficient way of alphabetising your book collection? Tim Harford investigates.Listen

The Supermarket Effect
Many news outlets have reported this week that a Waitrose supermarket pushes up house prices in the surrounding area. It?s based on research that also suggests that other supermarkets have a similar but smaller effect. We take a highly sceptical look at the correlation. Statistics and the EU referendum campaign We look at how the two campaigns, the media, and the much-discussed ?experts? used statistics during the EU referendum campaign. Tim Harford interviews Will Moy, director of Fullfact, and Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies. Antiques Roadshow BBC One?s Antiques Roadshow is a hugely popular television programme, where experts examine and value antiques and collectables. We ask whether the items featured really jump in value, or are we just seeing the price tag rise over the centuries in line with inflation? More Or Less reporter Charlotte McDonald heads down to the show to find out. Computer Science and Socks Tim Harford speaks to Brian Christian, co-author of ?Algorithms to Live by: The Computer Science of Human Decisions?. How can the techniques of computer science help us in every-day situations? And, most importantly, which algorithm will help our reporter Jordan Dunbar sort out his socks?Listen

WS More or Less: Ireland?s Shock GDP figures
The Irish Central Statistics Office has released figures showing that Ireland?s economy grew by 26% in 2015. That would make it the fastest growing economy in the world. But American economist Paul Krugman described this as ?leprechaun economics? as this growth rate is so unrealistically high. More or Less explores how multinational companies with headquarters in Ireland have led to an accounting headache for working out the country?s GDP. Also, the mobile gaming app Pokemon Go has taken the US by storm and is now spreading across the world. But does Pokemon Go really have 26 million daily active users in the US? More Or Less investigates.Listen

WS More or Less: Violence, shootings and the police in the US
Protests have spread across the United States over the last few weeks. The protestors have been registering their feelings about incidents where police have shot and killed black men. High profile recent incidents resulted in the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castle, and the protestors feel that minorities are being disproportionately targeted by the police. On top of this, at a recent protest in Dallas a gunman shot and killed five police officers. But what can the numbers tell us about the issue? How many people do police officers kill each year in the USA? And how many police officers are killed? Tim Harford investigates. Producers: Charlotte McDonald, Elizabeth CassinListen

WS More or Less: Sleeping: the 8-hour myth
It?s often said that we should all be aiming to get eight hours of sleep a night. But could it actually lead you to an early grave? Research shows that sleeping for longer, or shorter, than average is associated with an increased risk of disease and mortality. But what?s causing the health problems, and should you really give up the lie-in? Ruth Alexander looks at the latest sleep science with Dr Gregg Jacobs from UMASS Medical Center, US; Professor Franco Cappuccio from Warwick University, UK; Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University, UK; and Professor Shawn Youngstedt of Arizona State University, US. *Please note this is a repeat from February 2015* (Photo: Man asleep in a bed. Credit: Corbis)Listen

Ranking Iceland?s Football Team
Is Iceland the best football team in the world per capita? England suffered a 2-1 defeat to Iceland in the European Football Championship in France. This was embarrassing for England when you consider its population is 163 times bigger than Iceland?s. We take a look at whether Iceland is now the best performing football team in the world if you compare UEFA ranking to the size of each country?s population. Plus, we take a look at the chances of a young man in Iceland and in England getting to represent their country on the pitch. Old versus young Brexit voters Many media outlets have reported that it was predominantly the older generations in the UK who voted to ?Leave? the EU in a recent referendum, while those under 25 were keenest to ?Remain?. It has prompted many listeners to ask whether a referendum on this topic might yield a different result if held in a few years? time as the electorate changes. We attempt some back of the envelope calculations with Tom Chivers from Buzzfeed. But actually ? how good is the data available? How do we know how people voted or how they would vote in the future?Listen

WS More or Less: Brexit Economics
Following a referendum, the UK has voted to leave the European Union. Tim Harford and the team explore what that might mean for the UK?s economy. Most notably - what might be the impact on trade? We examine the economic forecasts from the government, and how the UK might manage its relationships with other countries. (Image: A pay-per-view binocular with the British and European Union flags. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)Listen



WS More or Less: When Companies Track Your Life
How are companies using our personal data? It?s a familiar concern. Online retailers are tracking us so they can sell things to us. Bricks and mortar retailers have loyalty card schemes. Our banks and credit card companies know all about us. And of course, the big computer and telecoms companies could potentially track our internet searches, our phone calls ? even our location as we wander around. But this isn?t the first time that large corporations have gathered sensitive data about their customers. We tell the shadowy story of how the personal details of Americans were pooled among insurance companies more than a hundred years ago. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Elizabeth Cassin (Image: A police CCTV camera observes a woman walking. Credit: Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images)Listen

The Referendum by Numbers: Trade
If it seems the EU referendum debate just involves two politicians shouting contradictory statistics at each other - then we are here to help. In this series, we're giving you a break from the politicians and we're going to try to figure out the truth. Bracing concept, isn't it? We'll be looking at some of the big questions - the cost of being a member, immigration, lawmaking and regulation. But today we're looking at trade. Tim Harford asks if the UK would be better off in or out when it comes to trade with other nations.Listen

The Referendum by Numbers: Regulation
If it seems the EU referendum debate just involves two politicians shouting contradictory statistics at each other - then we are here to help. In this series, we're giving you a break from the politicians and we're going to try to figure out the truth. Bracing concept, isn't it? We'll be looking at some of the big questions - the cost of being a member, immigration, law-making and trade. But today we're looking at EU regulation. Tim Harford asks how much red tape from the EU is costs the UK and what might happen if we leave?Listen

The Referendum by Numbers: Law
If it seems the EU referendum debate just involves two politicians shouting contradictory statistics at each other - then we are here to help. In this series, we're giving you a break from the politicians and we're going to try to figure out the truth. Bracing concept, isn't it? We'll be looking at some of the big questions - the cost of being a member, immigration, regulations and trade. But today we're looking at lawmaking. Tim Harford asks how much UK law comes from the EU and are we always being outvoted on what to implement?Listen

The Referendum by Numbers: Immigration
If it seems the EU referendum debate just involves two politicians shouting contradictory statistics at each other - then we are here to help. In this series, we're giving you a break from the politicians and we're going to try to figure out the truth. Bracing concept, isn't it? We'll be looking at some of the big questions - The cost of the EU, lawmaking, regulations and trade. In th secomd of these programmes Tim Harford asks what might happen to migration if we left the EU, and what are the benefits and costs of EU migrants to the UK economy?Listen

The Referendum by Numbers: The Cost of EU Membership
If the EU referendum debate just involves two politicians shouting contradictory statistics at each other - then we are here to help. In this series, we're giving you a break from the politicians and we're going to try to figure out the truth. Bracing concept, isn't it? We'll be looking at some of the big questions - immigration, lawmaking, regulations and trade. But in this first program, Tim Harford tackles two very basic questions: how much would we save if we left the EU? And what would we lose if we did?Listen

WS More or Less: Sexist Data Crisis
There is a black hole in our knowledge of women and girls around the world. Campaigners say that they are often missing from official statistics and areas of their lives are ignored completely - but what needs to be done? Producer: Charlotte McDonald Presenter: Tim HarfordListen



WS More or Less: HIV in Africa
The news aggregation website Zimbabwe Today recently ran a headline stating that 74% of African girls aged 15-24 are HIV positive. Although the statistic is not true, Mary Mahy from UNAIDS reveals that young women do have a higher infection rate than young men. Kyle Evans is a folk singing mathematician by trade who is always looking for new ways to communicate his love of maths to a sometimes apprehensive audience. Next week he is representing the UK against 26 other countries at the Cheltenham Science festival in England. He came into the studio to perform his competition entry. Producer: Laura Gray Presenter: Ruth AlexanderListen

WS More or Less: Refugee Camp Statistics
What is the average length of stay in a refugee camp? It is regularly reported that it is 17 years but is this true? Floppy Disks This week?s shocking revelation of the computer world was that the Department of Defence still uses 1970s floppy disks to coordinate its nuclear weapons systems. But can it possibly be true that you could fit more than three million of them on a single ten dollar USB drive? Producer: Laura Gray Presenter: Ruth AlexanderListen

WS More or Less: The World's Most Profitable Product
Recently one of our listeners contacted us to say he heard a BBC correspondent describe the iPhone as the most profitable product in history. It was just an off-the-cuff comment but it got us thinking - could it be true? We compare and contrast a range of products suggested by More or Less listeners to work out if the iPhone truly is the most profitable. Producer: Laura GrayListen

WS More or Less: The world?s most diverse city
Is London the most diverse city in the world? The new London mayor Sadiq Khan has claimed that it is, but is he right? How is diversity measured? This month, British mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles will go to Oslo to collect the Abel prize, a prestigious maths prize for his work proving Fermat?s last theorem. Science author Simon Singh explains his work. Producers: Laura Gray and Ed Davey.Listen

WS More or Less: Leicester City football fluke?
At the beginning of the season of the English football Premier League, few people would have been brave enough to predict that Leicester City would finish top. But was it that surprising? Tim Harford speaks to Lord Finkelstein, a political journalist, who has been running his own statistical model to assess the teams in the Premier League. We also hear from James Yorke from the football analytics website Stats Bomb. Was Leicester?s success down to the team?s skills, or was it down to luck?Listen

The most profitable product in history
Recently one of our listeners contacted us to say he heard a BBC correspondent describe the iPhone as the most profitable product in history. It was just an off-the-cuff comment but it got us thinking ? could it be true? We asked listeners to get in touch with their suggestions. We take a look at a handful of them, from Viagra to popcorn in our quest for an answer. Could it be something more historical? EU and trade: We take a look at the numbers on trade and at the UK?s relationship with the EU. Tim Harford interviews Chad P. Bown, a Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Leicester City's Premier League success: At the beginning of the football season we explored the fallibility of predictions from experts and fans. As the season is ending, that is the only prediction we made correctly ? that they are usually very wrong. Leicester City has had an astonishing success in winning the English Premier League. We take a look at the numbers behind the team?s performance. Sexist Data Crisis: Are countries around the world failing to collect adequate details about their female citizens? Campaigners have argued we are missing data in areas that would help us understand women?s lives better, for example land and inheritance rights. We also explore how women?s work can be overlooked from labour surveys.Listen

WS More or Less: Simpson?s Paradox
A Dutch statistician recently became suspicious by headlines in the Dutch news that women were being discriminated against when it came to getting science research funding. Professor Casper Albers of the Heymans Institute for Psychological Research, Groningen, discovered that the study into the funding process showed that when you looked at the overall numbers of successful candidates, women seemed to be less successful than men. And yet, when you looked at a breakdown of the different subjects people could apply for, it showed that women were not losing out disproportionately to men. How could two opposite findings be true? This contradiction is explained by a famous statistical paradox. We explain what is known as Simpson?s Paradox with the aid of a choir metaphor, performed by the BBC Singers.Listen



EU Migration
How many people have come from the EU to live in the UK? And what impact do they have on the economy? This week it was reported there had been an increase in fire deaths ? we aren?t so sure. We explain the achievement of Abel Prize winning mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles for Fermat?s Last Theorem. Plus, we explore the numbers behind Simpson?s Paradox.Listen

WS More or Less: Most Expensive Building
What is the most expensive ?object? ever built? There are plans in the UK to build a brand new nuclear power station called Hinckley Point. The environmental charity Greenpeace have claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramid of Giza? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet.Listen

Brexit numbers
EU Treasury report This week there was much debate over the Treasury report which modelled how leaving the EU would affect the economy. Tim Harford speaks to the Spectator?s Fraser Nelson about how the document was presented to the public, and how it was reported. Chris Giles of the Financial Times explains that there are useful points to take from the Treasury?s analysis. Hinckley Point nuclear power station What is the most expensive ?object? ever built? The environmental charity Greenpeace has claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramids? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet. Chances of serving on a jury A listener in Scotland is curious to know what the chances are of being selected for jury service. Several of his family members have received summons, but he has not. We look at who is eligible to serve, and what your odds are of receiving a summons. European Girls Maths Olympiad Last week we told the story of how the European Girls Maths Olympiad (EGMO) came into being. We followed the UK team on their recent journey to Romania to compete against 38 other teams from Europe and around the world. Life expectancy of a Pope In 2014 Pope Francis alluded to the fact he didn?t expect to live more than another two or three years. A group of staListen

WS More or Less: The life expectancy of a Pope
Life expectancy of a Pope In 2014 Pope Francis alluded to the fact he didn?t expect to live more than another two or three years. A group of statisticians have taken a look at the life expectancy of popes over the centuries and decided that he may have been rather pessimistic. The curse of the London Olympics In a similar vein, is there an unusually high death count among athletes who took part in the London Olympics in 2012? The French press seem to think there is. Currently news reports estimate that 18 people have so far died since taking part in the sports event. The athletes come from teams around the world and have died from all sorts of causes ? from cancer to drowning, murder, suicide, a helicopter crash among other things. But is there really a link between taking part in the London Olympics and the chances of dying? Or is it to be expected, statistically speaking, that 18 people have died over the last four years?Listen

Celebrity deaths
Celebrity deaths A number of people have asked the team if more famous people have died this year compared to other years. It?s a hard one to measure ? but we have had a go at some back of the envelope calculations with data from Who?s Who and BBC obituaries. Is the intuitive feeling that more people have died this year misplaced? ?What British Muslims really think? poll This week many news outlets covered polling research carried out for a documentary on Channel 4. Some of the points that came out included that half of all British Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal and that 23% want Sharia Law. But how representative are these views? We speak to Anthony Wells from the blog UK Polling Report who explains the difficulties of carrying out polling. The number of Brits abroad Figures released this week suggested that there was an increase in the number of people coming to the UK from other parts of Europe. But many listeners have been asking ? how many Brits are living in other parts of Europe? We try to find the best figures available. European Girls Maths Olympiad In 2012 a new international maths competition was started at the University of Cambridge. It was a chance for female students to get a chance of meeting girls from other countries and try to solve hard maths problems, as they are under represented at most other international competitions. We hear about how theListen

WS More or Less: The story of average
In the 1600s astronomers were coming up with measurements to help sailors read their maps with a compass. But with all the observations of the skies they were making, how do they choose the best number? We tell the story of how astronomers started to find the average from a group of numbers. By the 1800s, one Belgian astronomer began to apply this to all sorts of social and national statistics ? and the ?Average Man? was born.Listen

Fathers and babies
Paternity Leave This week it was claimed that only 1 percent of men are taking up the option of shared parental leave ? a new provision that came into force a year ago. A number of media outlets covered the story, interviewing experts about why there was such a low take-up. But in reality the figures used are deeply flawed and cannot be used to prove such a statement. Exponential Love ?I love you twice as much today as yesterday, but half as much as tomorrow.? ? This is the inscription on a card that teacher Kyle Evans once saw in a card from his father to his mother. But if that was true, what would it have meant over the course of their relationship? Kyle takes us through a musical exploration of what exponential love would look like. The item is based on a performance he gave for a regional heat of Cheltenham Festivals Famelab ? a competition trying to explain science in an engaging way. The cost of the EU One of our listeners spotted a comparison made this week between the UK?s contribution to the EU and a sandwich. One blogger says it?s like buying a £3 sandwich with a £5 note, and getting over a £1,000 in change. We look at the figures on how much the UK pays to the EU, and what it gets back. The story of ?average? In the 1600s astronomers were coming up with measurements to help sailors read their maps with a compass. But with all the observations of the skies they were making%Listen



WS More or Less: The Great EU Cabbage Myth
Could there really be 26,911 words of European Union regulation dedicated to the sale of cabbage? This figure is often used by those arguing there is too much bureaucracy in the EU. But we trace its origins back to 1940s America. It wasn?t true then, and it isn?t true today. So how did this cabbage myth grow and spread? And what is the real number of words relating to the sale of cabbages in the EU? Tim Harford presents.Listen

The Great EU Cabbage Myth
Could there really be 26,911 words of European Union regulation dedicated to the sale of cabbage? This figure is often used by those arguing there is too much bureaucracy in the EU. But we trace its origins back to 1940s America. It wasn't true then, and it isn't true today. So how did this cabbage myth grow and spread? And what is the real number of words relating to the sale of cabbages in the EU? After the recent announcement that all schools would be converted to academies, a number of listeners have asked us to look into the evidence of how they perform. Education Secretary Nicky Morgan wrote a guest post on Mumsnet and More or Less were called upon to check her numbers. The popular TV show The Only Way is Essex claimed in its 200th episode that it had contributed more than a billion pounds to the UK economy. We investigate if this is true. Plus, can we trust food surveys? Stories about which foods are good and bad for you, which foods are linked to cancer and which have beneficial qualities are always popular. But how do experts know what people are eating? Tim Harford speaks to Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight's lead writer for science, about the pitfalls of food surveys. She kept a food diary and answered nutrition surveys and found many of the questions were really hard to answer.Listen

WSMoreOrLess: Safe drinking
New alcohol guidelines were issued recently in the UK which lowered the number of units recommended for safe drinking. But are the benefits and harms of alcohol being judged correctly? We speak to Professor David Speigelhalter. Tim Harford presents. Producer: Charlotte McDonald/Richard VadonListen

WSMoreOrLess: Mobiles or lightbulbs
Mobile technology is spreading fast in Africa, and one lawyer Gerald Abila has done the maths and worked out that there are more mobile phones than lightbulbs in Uganda. We look at his figures and find that measuring them is more complicated than you might imagine. There are certainly numbers you can choose to demonstrate this, but are they the right ones? Thyroid cancer has gone up after the Fukushima accident - but it's not what you think. Japanese authorities were worried about the impact of radiation that escaped into the atmosphere after a nuclear plant was damaged during the earthquake of 2011. Around 300,000 under-19s received ultrasound scans to look for abnormalities, and the results appeared alarming. One expert claimed there were 30 times more cases than might have been expected. But a group of epidemiologists have since questioned this - they say if you survey so many people, you will always find more cases. Producer: Charlotte McDonald/Laura GrayListen

WSMoreOrLess: Can we trust food surveys?
Stories about what foods are good and bad for you, which foods are linked to cancer and which have beneficial qualities are always popular online and in the news. But how do experts know what people are eating? Tim Harford speaks to Christie Aschwanden, FiveThirtyEight?s lead writer for science, about the pitfalls of food surveys. She kept a food diary and answered nutrition surveys and found many of the questions were really hard to answer ? how could she tell all the ingredients in a restaurant curry; and how many tomatoes did she eat regularly over the past six months? Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonald/Wesley StephensonListen

WSMoreOrLess: Fact checking The Big Short
"Every one percent unemployment goes up, 40,000 people die, did you know that?" says Brad Pitt playing a former investment banker Ben Rickert, in the recent Oscar-winning film The Big Short. Although based on a true story, the filmmakers admit there is some creative license in some of the scenes. But is there any truth to this statistic? It turns out it?s a figure that has been around for many decades. We explore its origins. The debate over whether the UK should leave the European Union is heating up ahead of the referendum this summer. Many politicians have said that the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world ? is that a fair assessment? We look at the GDP figures. (Image: Brad Pitt attends the premiere of "The Big Short" in New York 2015. Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images)Listen

WSMoreOrLess: Antibiotics and the problem of the broken market
It?s a life and death situation ? the world is at its last line of defence against some pretty nasty bacteria and there are no new antibiotics. But it?s not the science that?s the big problem, it the economics. Despite the $40 billion market worldwide there?s no money to be made in antibiotics so big pharma have all but stopped their research. Why is this and how do we entice them back in? Wesley Stephenson finds out. (Image: Computer artwork of bacteria - credit: Science Photo Library)Listen



WSMoreOrLess: When £10,000 isn?t a good incentive
Could no prize have been a better way to motivate snooker player Ronnie O?Sullivan?Listen

WSMoreOrLess: Fishy numbers?
There were reports recently that there will more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. The report comes from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. But as we discover there's something fishy about these figures. And what are the chances that as a parent you share your birthday with two of your children.Listen

Selfies, sugar daddies and dodgy surveys
Adverstising dressed up as research has inspired us this week. Firstly recent reports that said that young women aged between 16 and 25 spend five and a half hours taking selfies on average. It doersn't take much thinking to realise that thhere something really wrong with this number. We pick apart the survey that suggested women are spending all that time taking pictures of themselves. The second piece of questionable research comes from reports that a quarter of a million UK students are getting money from 'sugar daddies' they met online. The story came from a sugar daddy website. They claim around 225,000 students have registered with them and have met (mostly) men for what they call "mutually beneficial arrangements". We explain our doubts over the figures. There were reports recently that there will more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. The report comes from The Ellen MacArthur Foundation. But, as we discover, there's something fishy about these figures. Away from advertising, studies have shown that children born in the summer do not perform as well as children born earlier in the academic year. For this reason schools are being encouraged to be sympathetic to parents that want their summer-born children to start a year later. But what should parents do? Is this a good option? We speak to Claire Crawford, Assistant Professor of Economics at the University. Gemma Tetlow from the InstitutListen

WSMoreOrLess: Do e-cigarettes really harm your chances of quitting smoking?
Research last month claimed to show that e-cigarettes harm your chances of quitting smoking. The paper got coverage world-wide but it also came in for unusually fierce criticism from academics who spend their lives trying to help people quit. It?s been described as "grossly misleading" and "not scientific". We look at what is wrong with the paper and ask if it should have been published in the first place. (Image: Man smoking e-cigarette. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)Listen

E-cigarettes: Can They Help People Quit?
Do e-cigarettes make quitting smoking more difficult? Research last month claimed to show that e-cigarettes harm your chances of quitting smoking. The paper got coverage world-wide but it also came in for unusually fierce criticism from academics who spend their lives trying to help people quit. It's been described as 'grossly misleading' and 'not scientific'. We look at what is wrong with the paper and ask if it should have been published in the first place. A campaign of dodgy statistics Are American presidential hopefuls getting away with statistical murder? We speak to Angie Drobnic, Editor of the US fact-checking website Politifact, about the numbers politicians are using - which are not just misleading, but wrong. Will missing a week of school affect your GCSE results? Recently education minister Nick Gibb said that missing a week of school could affect a pupil's GCSE grades by a quarter. We examine the evidence and explore one of the first rules of More or Less ? 'correlation is not causation'. We interview Stephen Gorard, Professor of Education at Durham University. What are the chances that a father and two of his children share the same birthday? A loyal listener got in touch to find out how rare an occurrence this is. Professor David Spiegelhalter from the University of Cambridge explains the probabilities involved. Presenter: Tim Harford Listen

Swedish refugees
Have refugees caused a gender imbalance in Sweden? It has been reported that there are 123 boys for every 100 girls aged between 16 and 17 in Sweden. In China, the ratio is 117 boys to 100 girls. We explore if the numbers add up and why this might be.Listen

How harmful is alcohol?
New alcohol guidelines were issued recently which lowered the number of units recommended for safe drinking. But are the benefits and harms of alcohol being jusged correctly? We speak to Professor David Speigelhalter and Sepsis ? do 44,000 people die of it a year? Is it the country's second biggest killer? We speak to Dr Marissa Mason about the difficulties of knowing the numbers. Dan Bouk tells the story of a statistician who crept around graveyards in South Carolina at the turn of the century recording how long people lived - all to help out an insurance firm. It's from his book 'How our days became numbered' ? looking at how data from insurance company has shaped knowledge about our lives. Have refugees caused a gender imbalance in Sweden or is there something funny going on? It has been reported that there are 123 boys for every 100 girls aged between 16 and 17 in Sweden. In China, the ratio is 117 boys to 100 girls. We explore if the numbers add up and why this might be. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Charlotte McDonaldListen



WSMoreOrLess: Oxfam and Wealth Inequality
You may have seen the claim that ?62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world?s population?. You may also have seen headlines that suggest that 1% of the world?s population now own more than the 99% put together. This is the latest iteration of Oxfam?s annual report looking at global inequality. They say that the overall the world may be getting richer but that most of the wealth is concentrated in the hands of fewer and fewer people. But is this really telling us what we think it?s telling us? Tim Harford asks economics writer Felix Salmon and development expert Charles Kenny.Listen

Billionaires versus the world
Oxfam says that 62 people now own as much wealth as half of the world?s population. But is this really telling us anything meaningful? And how is it that this study shows that some of the world?s poorest people live in the United States? What do you do with bored children on a bus? Rob Eastaway, author of ?Maths on the go,? gets three pupils to play a game on the Number 12 in south London. Prime Minister David Cameron said this week that 22% of British Muslim women speak little or no English. He says that equates to 190,000. We look at the figures. Plus, was the Hatton Garden Heist the biggest robbery ever? Is water more expensive than oil? And a new prime number is discovered.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Gravitational Waves
One of our 2015 ?Numbers of the Year? predictions might have come to pass. There is great excitement over rumours that one of the predictions Einstein made in his theory of General Relativity has finally been observed. But it?s not the first time it?s been reported that ?gravitational waves? have been discovered, and the last time proved to be an equipment test. What is the total number of possible tweets that could be created from 140 characters? In a recent programme Professor John Allen-Paulos told us that when you take into account all of the symbols available, the total number of possible tweets is Googol^2.8 (which is a 1 followed by 280 zeros.) But has he missed some options?Listen

Weekend Stroke Deaths
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that if you have a stroke at the weekends, you're 20% more likely to die. But is that true? We look at the evidence. Are you more likely to win prizes with newer Premium Bonds? We ask Radio 4?s Money Box presenter Paul Lewis if there is any truth in this. A few weeks ago many newspapers were reporting that alcohol was the cause of 70% of Accident and Emergency attendances over the weekends. Did the newspapers misunderstand the research? Why was the polling in the run up to the General Election last year so wrong? We speak to Professor John Curtice, lead author on a report using the 2015 British Social Attitudes Survey to see if they could come up with better data. There is great excitement over rumours that one of the predictions Einstein made in his theory of General Relativity has finally been observed. We ask UCL physicist Dr Andrew Pontzen why this is big news. Plus, is the air in Beijing is so bad that it's like smoking 40 cigarettes a day? We investigate.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015: Part Three
What is preventing some Americans from being creative? And, how much money does the English Premier League contribute in tax? Tim Harford looks back over some of the numbers that made the news in 2015. He speaks to author and broadcaster Farai Chideya, former footballer Graeme le Saux, and BBC cricket statistician Andrew Samson.Listen

Flood Defence Spending
Tim Harford and the team take a look at some of the numbers in the news about flooding. What is a one hundred year flood? And is there really a north-south divide in the amount of money spent on flood defences in England? What is the total number of possible tweets that could be created from 140 characters? In a recent programme Professor John Allen-Paulos told us that when you take into account all of the symbols available, the total number of possible tweets is Googol2.8 (which is a 1 followed by 280 zeros.) But has he missed some options? One of our listener?s questions whether Christmas Eve is really the busiest day on the roads. We take a look at the figures. Plus ? which is the bigger number? The total number of Storm Trooper toys ever made, or the number of real life soldiers serving in armies around the world?Listen

WSMoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015 Part 2
How healthy is the Nigerian economy and how many possible tweets are there? Tim Harford looks back over some of the numbers that made the news in 2015. Guests include: Peter Cunliffe-Jones from Africa Check, Professor John Allen Paulos and Dr Andrew PontzenListen



Numbers of the Year 2015
Tim Harford looks back at some of the most interesting numbers behind the news in 2015, from the migrant crisis to social media messages. Contributors include: Professor Jane Green, Helen Arney, Paul Lewis, Andrew Samson, Leonard Doyle , Peter Cunliffe-Jones, Farai Chideya, Claire Melamed and Professor John Allen Paulos.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015 Part 1
How has the European migrant crisis affected the number of people seeking asylum? In this special programme Tim Harford looks back at some of the numbers making the news in 2015. Guests include: Leonard Doyle from the International Organisation for Migration and Claire Melamed from the Overseas Development Institute.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: How Many Stormtroopers are there?
Are Star Wars? Stormtroopers the biggest secret army on Earth? Ruth Alexander investigates, and looks at some of the other numbers behind one of the most successful movie franchises in history.Listen

WS MoreOrLess:100 Year Floods?
Do so-called ?100 year floods? only happen once a century? Ruth Alexander and Wesley Stephenson investigate. Also, does the air in Beijing cause as much damage as smoking 40 cigarettes a day?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Climate Change
Ruth Alexander investigates claims climate change has contributed to the war in Syria, and with the climate change summit COP21 underway in Paris, we answer listener?s climate change number questions.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: '?Sympathy? for jihadis
A front page article in a British tabloid claimed that one in five British Muslims have sympathy for jihadis. Ruth Alexander investigates whether this is correct, and asks which countries have the most support for Islamic State fighters.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Has Islamic State been Losing Territory?
Has so-called Islamic State been losing territory? Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron has claimed IS have lost about 25-30% of their territory in Iraq. Is this true? Plus, is Premier League footballer Héctor Bellerín faster than Usain Bolt? Bellerín can reportedly run 40 metres in 4.41 seconds. Ruth Alexander asks how their times compare.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Creativity and Mental Illness
Are creative people more likely to suffer mental illness, and has Cuba wiped out child hunger? Wesley Stephenson investigates.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: China's One Child Policy
As China ends its one child rule what has been its impact on the country?s population? The More or Less team take a look at whether the policy on its own has slowed the rate at which China?s population has been growing. And now that parents in China will be allowed to have two children, which country will have the largest population in 2030? China or India? Ruth Alexander presents.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Processed Meat and Cancer
Are processed meats as cancer-causing as cigarettes, and has the Rugby world cup been the most brutal? Ruth Alexander investigates.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Oil
Nigeria?s President Muhammadu Buhari said a million barrels of the country?s oil were stolen per day. Is he right? Ruth Alexander asks Peter Cunliffe-Jones of Africa Check. And, does 13% of the world?s undiscovered oil lie in the Arctic? Producers: Keith Moore and Phoebe Keane.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Foreign Aid: More Harm Than Good?
Tim Harford interviews Nobel Prize winning economist professor Angus Deaton about a lifetime measuring inequalityListen

WS MoreOrLess: Are Tall People More Likely to Get Cancer?
Are tall people really more likely to get cancer? Ruth Alexander looks at a new Swedish study that?s caused headlines around the world, and asks how worried tall people like her should be about developing the conditions.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Football?s Red Card Cliché
Managers and pundits often say ?it?s harder to play against ten men?, but is there any truth in it? Also, Tim Harford speaks to the author Siobhan Roberts about Professor John Conway, who has been described as a genius and one of the world?s most charismatic mathematicians. Producers: Keith Moore and Wesley StephensonListen



WS MoreOrLess: How Reliable is Psychology Science?
How reliable is psychology science? The Reproducibility of Psychological Science project reported recently and it made grim reading. Having replicated 100 psychological studies published in three psychology journals only thirty six had significant results compared to 97% first time around. So is there a problem with psychological science and what should be done to fix it. Decimate Tim used the word in an interview last week to mean devastate rather than cut by ten percent ? many listeners said this was unforgivable ? was it? ? We ask Oliver Kamm - Author of 'Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage'.Listen

Alzheimers, Psychology science, John Conway, Red cards, Decimate
Alzheimers What's behind the claim that 1 in 3 people born in the UK this year could get Alzheimers? How reliable is the science in psychology? The Reproducibility of Psychological Science project reported recently and it made grim reading. Having replicated 100 psychological studies published in three psychology journals only thirty six had significant results compared to 97% first time around. So is there a problem with psychological science and what should be done to fix it? One of mathematics' enigmas He is described as one of the most charismatic mathematicians but he is also shy and enigmatic. Professor John Conway has been described as a genius whose most famous innovation is the cell automaton The Game of Life - Tim talks to Siobhan Roberts about the man and his life. Is it more difficult to play against ten men? Arsene Wenger has said it, Sam Allerdyce and Steve Bruce have said it too - it's more difficult to play against ten men. It's an oft quoted footballing cliché but is there any truth in it? Decimate Tim used the word in an interview last week to mean devastate rather than cut by ten percent - many listeners said this was unforgivable - was it? - We ask Oliver Kamm - Author of 'Accidence Will Happen: The Non-Pedantic Guide to English Usage'.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The Rise of the Giants?
The average rugby pack is much bigger than it was 20 years ago but has the growth finally plateaued? Living Blue Planet Index Populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. But what does this actually mean?Listen

Striking Numbers
Striking numbers? Are the unions really on the rise again and holding the country to ransom? The rise of the giants Are rugby players really getting biger and bigger? Living Blue Planet Index Populations of marine mammals, birds, fish and reptiles have declined by 49% since 1970, a report says. But what does this actually mean? Bean counter The Office for National Statistics is much maligned whether it's its data revisions, the fact that some of it statistics have been deemed not fit for purpose or that we still haven't worked out why UK productivity is so low. So George Osborne has launched a review of the economic statistics spewed out by the ONS to see where improvements can be made. Tim talks to Professor Sir Charles Bean who is conducting the review. Banana Equivalent dose Following on from our revelation that bananas can't kill you even if you eat seven we look deeper into their radioactivity and the 'banana equivalent dose'.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: How Many is Too Many Bananas?
Too dense Is population density the right measure to be looking at when working out how many refugees countries should take- and if not what is? How many bananas will kill you? There?s a belief among some people that too many bananas will kill you. Eat too many and you will overdose on potassium and die. But how many bananas would you need to eat?Listen

Is it worth targetting non-voters?
Can you rely on non-voters During the election for the leadership of the Labour Party in the UK Jeremy Corbyn has whipped up unprecedented support among grass roots activists pushing him into a surprising lead. Bernie Sanders the left-wing Democratic candidate has done the same energised grass roots support in the United States in a similar way. Their supporters believe in both cases they can shake up the political mainstream and convince non-voters to turn out at the ballot box. But is this a wise strategy? The latest on deaths for people admitted at a weekend? Reports suggested 11,000 are dying in hospital after being admitted at the weekend but what does the report actually say? Too dense Is the UK already more densely populated than other places in Europe and is this a good argument against taking more refugees. How many houses do we need? We're told that we need to build 200,000+ houses a year to meet housing need in this country. We talk to Kate Barker the woman who first came up with this number about where it comes from and what it means. How many bananas will kill you? There's a belief among some people that too many bananas will kill you. Eat too many and you will overdose on potassium and die. But how many bananas would you need to eat?Listen

Queuing Backwards
Queuing backwards Britons love to queue, but have we been getting it wrong? Lars Peter Osterdal from the University of Southern Denmark discusses his theory of how to make queuing more efficient. Thinking Like an Engineer Engineer Guru Madhavan tells the story of the development of the barcode and argues that those making policy should ask engineers as well as economists about solving social problems. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Wesley StephensonListen



Fit for work or at deaths door?
Deaths of people 'fit for work' Thousands of people are dying after being declared 'fit for work' by the government according to the Guardian. The figures are from a long awaited freedom of information release from the Department for Work and Pensions. But do the figures actually tell us anything? More or Less investigates. Sugar Sugar has had a pretty bad press over the last few months and seems to have replaced fat as the current 'evil' in our diets. We look at some of the claims that have been made about rotting teeth and the justifications for a sugar tax. Zero-hours contracts The latest figures show a 20% rise - but does this really mean that more people are on zero hours contracts thab=n last year? Queuing Backwards Britons love to queue, but have we been getting it wrong? Lars Peter Osterdal from the University of Southern Denmark discusses his theory of how to make queuing more efficient.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: China Stock Market Crash
The Chinese Market Crash in context. How big is the market, how many investors does it have and does it tell us anything about the wider Chinese economy? Sprinters legs It may seem strange, but world class runners don?t move their legs faster than average park runner. That?s the claim anyway ? is it true and if so what is it that makes athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin run so fast?Listen

China Stock Market Crash
The Chinese Market Crash in context. How big is the market, how many investors does it have and does it tell us anything about the wider Chinese economy? Eight Million Foreigners Are there really eight million foreigners in the UK? What does 95% less harmful actually mean? E-cigarettes are 95% less harmful than ordinary cigarettes according to last week's report by Public Health England. But what does this mean? The number was arrived at using something called 'multi criteria decision analysis' so how does it work ? we ask the man who brought it to the UK, Professor Larry Phillips. Thinking Like an Engineer Guru Madhavan from America's National Academy of Scientists lifts the lid on how engineers think and argues that those making policy should ask engineers as well as economists about solving social problems. Sprinters legs It's may seem strange, but world class runners don't move their legs faster than average park runner. That's the claim anyway ? is it true and if so what is it that means athletes like Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin run so fast?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The Elliptical Pool Table
Loop The ancient Greeks saw magic in the geometry of an ellipse and now mathematical writer Alex Bellos has put this to use in a specially designed table for a specially designed game of pool. Premier League predictions If a martian came to earth wanting to know where each team would finish in the English Premier League this season where should he go to get the most accurate prediction?Listen

Soaring diabetes - is there some good news?
Diabetes We heard earlier this week that there had been a 60% rise in the number of cases of diabetes in the last ten years. But is there actually some good news in these figures? Odd (attempted) burglaries Police in Leicestershire have been only sending forensic teams to attempted burglaries at houses with even numbers. The papers reported it as a scandal driven by money saving. But is it a scandal or a sensible attempt to work out how to deploy the police's tight resources? Men who pay for sex Do one in 10 men regulalrly pay for sex as a Channel 4 Documentary claimed? Loop The ancient Greeks saw magic in the geometry of an ellipse and now mathematical writer Alex Bellos has but this to use in a specially designed game of pool.Listen

WS More or Less: Worm wars
A debate has been raging over the last month about the benefits of mass deworming projects. Hugely popular with the UN and charities, the evidence behind the practice has come under attack. Are the criticisms justified? We hear from the different sides ? both economists and epidemiologists and their approach to the numbers. Football predictions How useful are football predictions and should we always trust the so called experts? The More or Less team look into the idea that predicting where sides will finish in the English football Premier League is best based on how they performed in previous seasons.Listen

Migrant Crisis
Migrant Crisis There is a "swarm" of migrants coming into Europe according to the Prime Minister. Where are they coming from and how many are coming to Calais to try to get into Britain? Are 70 percent of migrants in Calais making it to the UK, as claimed in the Daily Mail? We scrutinise the numbers. Worm wars A debate has been raging over the last month about the benefits of mass deworming projects. Hugely popular with the UN and charities, the evidence behind the practice has come under attack. Are the criticisms justified? We hear from the different sides ? both economists and epidemiologists. Football How useful are football predictions and should we always trust the so called experts? The More or Less team look into the idea that predicting where sides will finish in the Premier League is best based on how they performed in previous seasons. Also, why is Leicester City the most watched Premier League team in the Outer Hebrides? Generations Loyal Listener Neil asks: So much is currently reported as the best, worst, least certain 'in a generation' - but just how long is that? We find out..Listen



WS More or Less: Wrestlers - dying too young?
Following the recent death of wrestler "Rowdy" Roddy Piper we ask if wrestlers are more likely to die young. We explore why that might be and how they compare to athletes from other sports. Plus - is Nigeria the largest consumer of champagne in the world after France?Listen

WSMoreOrLess: Counting Foreign Fighters
It has been reported that as many as 20,000 foreign fighters have joined militants in the Middle East and that they make up around 10% of ISIS. Wesley Stephenson and Federica Cocco look at the numbers behind those claims and examine where those fighting in places like Syria and Iraq come from.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Life Expectancy
Ruth Alexander and the team return to the question of how long you might live. Those born today are expected to live six and a half years longer than those born in 1990 but can this trend continue?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Live 8, The G8 and Making Poverty History
Its ten years since some of the world?s richest nations met in Gleneagles, Scotland. It was there that the G8 agreed to improve trade with developing nations, increase aid, and to wipe the debt of some of the poorest countries. The agreement followed Live 8 where the likes of Bono and Bob Geldof demanded that they ?Make Poverty History?. Wesley Stephenson and the More or Less team look at what has been achieved during the past decade.Listen

Greece Special
Is it true that Greece failed to collect 89% of taxes in 2010? Tim Harford and the More or Less team look at the numbers behind the tax system and the other statistics used to tell the story of the Greek crisis. Which ones are home truths and which ones are myths.Listen

Biggest Movies
The film Jurassic World broke the record for the biggest opening weekend taking $511m. It?s a record that has been broken once already this year and most of the top ten films with the biggest opening weekends were released in the last five years. So in an age where the competition is fierce for cinemas why are these films doing so well? Bees and the British Royal Family For reasons best known to the editors, one British newspaper decided to ask the question: ?Who brings more to the British economy ? the British Royal Family or bees. The answer? Bees of course. More or Less takes a look and finds the methodology is as bee-musing as the initial comparison.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Horoscope Health
Can your horoscope predict which diseases you?ll develop? And does cricket?s Duckworth-Lewis method need to evolve?Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Global Footprint
Global Footprint We?re often told that we consume so much that we need one and a half planets. It comes from the Global Footprint Network a think-tank that has pioneered ecological foot-printing but what does that number even mean, and is it helpful? Chocolate makes you thinner We tell the story behind the chocolate experiment designed to deliberately fool the press. Concerned about the amount of pseudo-science surrounding diet and nutrition, John Bohannon and Peter Onneken ran a trial and had the results published in an online journal, sent out a press release. While the results were correct the trial wasn?t very robust but this didn?t stop the story that chocolate made you thinner running in newspapers, magazines and on TV around the world. Peter and John had fooled the press and they made a documentary about it. But the experiment has sparked a debate about whether it was ethical to fool the press in this way and whether the whole project was just self-serving.Listen

Obesity Projections, Global Footprint, Street Value of Drugs
It's the last in the series so we're packing in the statistical goodies so that you can go into numerical hibernation until August. We're looking at the street value of drugs: when police claim that they've confiscated hundreds of millions of pounds worth of narcotics, where do those numbers come from? And how has the dark internet changed drug prices? We'll also be looking at claims that those of us who aren't binging on drugs are binging on biscuits instead. Apparently much of the UK and almost the entire population of Ireland is going to be obese before long. But how have such alarming forecasts fared in the past? We're often told that we consume so much that we need one and a half planets - and not just to provide room for all those obese people. What does that number even mean, and is it helpful? And Richard Thaler, the co-author of "Nudge", joins us to talk about the psychology of risk.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Qatar migrant worker deaths
Tim Harford asks if the World Cup is to blame for migrant deaths in Qatar. And we solve the fiendish maths exam question that baffled students so much it became a trend on Twitter.Listen

World Cup Migrant Deaths
Tim Harford asks if the World Cup is really responsible for migrant deaths in Qatar.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: John Nash
On 23 May, the mathematician John Nash was killed in a car crash, alongside his wife Alicia. The couple were in their 80s. Professor Nash was on his way home from Norway after receiving the prestigious Abel prize for mathematics. He also won the Nobel memorial prize in economics in 1994, and was made famous far beyond academia when he was played by Russell Crowe in the film, A Beautiful Mind. Tim Harford takes a look back at his life with economist Peyton Young who knew Nash well. Tim also looks at how many species of owl there are. A much more difficult question to answer than you would think.Listen

Seven-day NHS
This week: Seven Day NHS. As a commitment appears in the Queen's Speech to introduce a 'truly seven day-a-week NHS' we look at David Cameron's assertion that mortality rates are 16% higher for people admitted on a Sunday over those admitted on a Wednesday. And is seven day working really about saving lives. John Nash The mathematician and scientist, Nobel Laureate and subject of the film a beautiful mind was killed in car accident earlier this month. We look at why he was so important to game theory. Productivity? We're told we have a productivity problem in the UK. What is it, how is it measured and why is it so low in the UK compared to other economies. We get an economist to explain the answers to a listener. What is a generation? A loyal listener has asked how you measure a generation. We ask a sociologist and a demographer. Animal Slaughter How many animals are killed each day for food? One claim suggested it was half a billion worldwide, which sounds like a lot to us. Are we really pigging out to such an extent? Are we all so hungry we could all eat a horse? Or is this just a load of bull?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Death Penalty
Death Row exoneration statistics. Recently it?s been claimed that for every nine people executed in the US, one person has been exonerated. Is this true ? and do the statistics vary state to state?Listen



Female Drink Drivers
The Police Federation says female drivers aren?t heeding the drink drive warnings. Tim Harford attempts to find out the numbers behind this. Plus: the Rotterdam Effect; Death Row exonerations; pub closures; and owl counting.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Big Numbers
How computers are fooled by big numbers. Chris Baraniuk, technology journalist, talks about the simple software bug that has led to explosions, missing space probes, and more. Plus, an update on the two mothers-to-be whose due dates we analysed earlier on in the year.Listen

Strokes, Teachers, Confused Computers 15 May15
Are stroke numbers on the rise? This was according to recent headlines. We spoke to Tony Rudd, National Clinical Director for Stroke NHS England. Plus: teachers leaving their jobs; computers being confused by big numbers; and how the UK Election would have been changed by alternate polling methods.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Princess Charlotte
The birth of Princess Charlotte could contribute £1 billion to the British economy, according to some newspapers. True? Plus, the statistics of sex. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Election and Adultery Special
Tim Harford and a panel of experts discuss pre-election polls and election fact checking. Plus, is Beeston in Nottinghamshire really the most adulterous town in the country?Listen

UK election podcast 4
Why don?t all the opinion polls give the same results? Plus, would Labour?s plan to introduce a rent cap work, and how boring has this election been? The podcast features a collection of interviews from Radio 4's PM programme.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Nuns on the rise
It was recently reported that the number of women training to become Catholic nuns in Great Britain has reached a 25-year high. What's the long-term trend ? are more women becoming nuns? Tim Harford looks at figures from the UK and across the world. Plus, Matt Parker the stand-up mathematician is invited back to the programme to respond to a listener's query about his theory on the best way to find a life partner.Listen



Polls, nuns and life partners
On the eve of the UK's general election, Tim Harford takes a look at what polling data can tell us about predicting elections. Is the number of Catholic nuns on the up? What's the long-term trend ? are more women becoming nuns in the UK? Tim Harford looks at the figures. Plus, Matt Parker the stand-up mathematician is invited back to the programme to respond to a listener's query about his theory on the best way to find a life partner.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Xenophobia in South Africa
Are migrants ?stealing? jobs; does South Africa have more asylum seekers than any other country in the world? These are some of the claims we explore this week in the midst of some of the worst xenophobic attacks in recent years in South Africa. Plus ? could you go to jail for reporting false statistics? You might in Tanzania where they are in the process of bringing in a law to tackle publishing bad figures. We ask whether journalists and researchers should be worried. This edition of More or Less was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

UK Election Podcast 3
Are we witnessing a jobs ?miracle?? Also under scrutiny - Scotland?s deficit; a mansion tax; and what would a Miliband-SNP pact cost us? The podcast features a collection of interviews from Radio 4's PM programme.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Liver Transplant.
A young listener who needs a liver transplant has received an offer from his brother to act as a living donor. What are the statistics on survival? Plus, is it true that a child goes missing every 90 seconds in the USA? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

UK election podcast 2
Fact-checking the politicians during the election campaign on NHS funding; rail fares and the railways; public spending; debt and the deficit; the Right-to-Buy; and education. The podcast features a collection of interviews from Radio 4's PM programme.Listen

UK election podcast 1
Can you trust the figures given to you by the political parties during the UK's General Election campaign period? We examine and unpick the statistics so you can decide how useful they are. The podcast features a collection of interviews from Radio 4's PM programme. We look at zero hours contracts, non-dom tax status and the broader economy.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The Ignorance Test
Professor Hans Rosling - perhaps best-described as a kind of international development myth buster - delivers his Ignorance Test. Hans asked presenter Ruth Alexander three questions from the test. Can you do any better? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Maths and Chess
Is it really true that ability in mathematics and chess are somehow linked? Tim Harford pits his wits against a math-professor-turned-professional-chess-player, John Nunn. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: How safe is flying?
The Germanwings A320 tragedy, in which 150 people died, is the latest in a series of fatal crashes over the past year. Are more planes crashing, or does it just seem that way? Plus: is the number of penalties Chelsea Football Club have been awarded in the Premier League this season "abnormally low" as they have claimed? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Does Breastfeeding Increase IQ?
A major 30-year study claims to show breastfed babies become more intelligent, higher earning adults. It's not the first time we've heard that breastfeeding raises IQ levels; but is this evidence any more convincing? Ruth Alexander and Hannah Moore explore the details with Dr Stuart Ritchie from The University of Edinburgh. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Measuring World Health
Babies born in Rwanda are likely to live healthier lives than those in the most deprived 10% of England, according to recent reports. But does the data back this up? And how is "good health" measured across the world? Hannah Moore and Wesley Stephenson explore the numbers with Professor David Gordon from Bristol University?s International Poverty Research Centre. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The future of food
"In the next 40 years, humans will need to produce more food that they did in the previous 10,000," claimed a recent edition of The Economist. Ruth Alexander and Hannah Moore look at whether this is true. With the world's population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, how confident can we be that everyone will have enough to eat? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Black prisoners in the US
Oscar-winner John Legend said that there are more black men "under correctional control" in the United States today than were in slavery in 1850. Is he right? Plus, how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, would it take to destroy the bottom brick? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Sleeping: the 8-hour myth
It?s often said that we should all be aiming to get eight hours of sleep a night but could it actually lead you to an early grave? Ruth Alexander reports. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen



The mathematical secrets to relationships
How maths can help you find love, and hold on to it. Plus, we hear a collection of our listeners? favourite statistics. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Is strenuous jogging bad for you?
Tim Harford asks whether claims that keen runners might be damaging their health are really true? And is infidelity among cruise ship passengers rife? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Is strenuous jogging bad for you?
Tim Harford on claims that keen runners might be damaging their health. Plus, tuition fees; affairs among cruise passengers; UK election safe seats; loyal listeners' favourite statistics.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The maths of dating
How to use mathematics to find your life partner. Plus: what are the chances that two friends, given the same due date for their babies' birth, actually do give birth on the same day? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Cameron?s 1000 jobs
Fact-checking the Conservatives' employment claims; the price of milk; unhappy teachers; how to use maths to find your life partner; baby due dates; teen pregnancies.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Global Wealth
Who is in the world's wealthiest elite, and where do they live? Which are the world's best and worst board-games? Oliver Roeder, a senior writer for FiveThirtyEight, says a statistical analysis can tell us. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Is anti-Semitism widespread in the UK?
Are the majority of hate crimes in the UK directed against Jewish people? Plus: who are the wealthiest 1% and politicians' healthcare connections examined.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Are 95% of Terrorism Victims Muslim?
In the wake of the Paris killings, an imam in Paris told the BBC that most terrorism victims around the world are Muslim. Is that true? Plus: The death toll of the Boko Haram attack in Baga, Nigeria. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Bad Luck and Cancer
Most cancers are caused by "bad luck" according to reports of a new study. But, actually, the study doesn't say that. Tim Harford finds out what the research really tells us. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

A&E waiting times
The NHS in England has missed its four-hour A&E waiting time target with performance dropping to its lowest level for a decade, it's reported. Tim Harford takes a closer look at the numbers. Plus: do 85 people really own half the world's wealth; bad luck and cancer; beware the statistics which are true but unfair; and the dubious fashion for international rankings.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year part 3.
What is the most important number in the world? Robert Peston tells us and Helen Joyce and Dr Hannah Fry choose their most memorable numbers from 2014. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Numbers of the Year 2014.
Tim Harford and guests look back at some of the weird and wonderful numbers of 2014. Featuring contributions from Simon Singh, Sir David Spiegelhalter, Helen Joyce, Nick Robinson, Helen Arney, Pippa Malmgren, Paul Lewis and Carlos Vilalta.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year part 2.
How optimistic are people about the future? The BBC's Evan Davis tells More or Less as the programme looks back at the most interesting and important numbers of 2014. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year part 1.
What is so special about 39,222 Mexican teachers? In the first of three episodes looking back at 2014, Mexico specialist Professor Carlos Vilalta tells Tim Harford. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Soviet World War Deaths
Did almost 80% of the males born in the Soviet Union in 1923 not survive World War Two, as has been claimed online? Plus: the problem with China?s economic figures. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Zimbabwe's Economy
Zimbabwe?s budget provided a fascinating insight into the country?s economy last week. Ben Carter looks at what the numbers mean for the future prosperity of Zimbabwe and the challenges the nation faces. The programme hears from David Blair, Chief Foreign Correspondent at The Daily Telegraph, Julian Rademeyer, director of fact checking website Africa Check and Russell Lamberti, author of When Money Destroys Nations.This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Teenage Pregnancy
"About one-third of American girls become pregnant as teenagers? a recent article claimed. More or Less asks if this is true and looks at the long-term pregnancy trends in developed countries. Plus: Does 55% of communication really come from body language and gestures, 38% from facial expression and only 7% from words? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Caps off to Rooney
England captain Wayne Rooney made his 100th appearance last weekend but former England star Chris Waddle claims that it?s easier to win caps now than it was in previous generations. Wesley Stephenson asks whether Waddle is right and how many caps would greats like Bobby Moore, Maradona and Pele have won if they?d played in today?s era. Plus the programme hears from Professor Carlos Vilalta from the University of California San Diego and Steven Dudley from Insight Crime about claims that ?98% of homicides in Mexico are unsolved.? An amazing statistic but is it true? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Pregnancy and Homicide
The movie Gone Girl claims homicide is a leading cause of death for pregnant women. Ruth Alexander asks Dr Katherine Gold from the University of Michigan if this is true. And can we trust country rankings seen in the growing number of performance indices? We speak to the Economist?s international editor Helen Joyce. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Tracking and Tackling Ebola
Hans Rosling, global health expert and data visionary, has just arrived in Liberia. He is working as an independent professor at the Health ministry there, as part of the team tracking and tackling Ebola. We talk to him about the latest numbers surrounding the virus. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Kidney Donation
The chance of a successful kidney match between two unrelated people has increased significantly in the past 10 years - why? Ruth Alexander speaks to Professor Anthony Warrens, president of the British Transplantation Society. And we find out for our loyal listener how many individuals he will need to create a new race of people. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen



Screening for Ebola
Are airport screenings for Ebola really an effective way of stopping transmission of the disease? And as the United Nations asks for another $1bn (£625m) in aid we take a look at which governments and charities are rallying to the cause and which are not. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Big Data
Big data has been enjoying a lot of hype, with promises it will help deliver everything from increased corporate profits to better healthcare. While the potential is certainly there, Tim Harford asks if the hype is blinding us to some basic statistical lessons learned over the past two-hundred years? This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

Species in Decline?
The coverage of the Living Planet Index and its claim that species populations have dropped 50% in the last 40 years aroused much suspicion among More Or Less listeners. The team looks at what the figure means and how it was calculated. This programme was first broadcast on the BBC World Service.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Will Berlin see a sub-two-hour marathon?
Why is Berlin the place to break the marathon world record and how long will it be before we witness someone run it in less than two hours?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: How do we calculate the distance to the sun?
Two young listeners emailed the programme to ask how we calculate the distance to the sun. We decided to invite them and their parents to More or Less towers where Andrew Pontzen, an astrophysicist at University College London was on hand to explain the answer. A BBC nature documentary stated that there are 14,000 ants to every person on earth, and that were we to weigh all of these ants they would weigh the same as all the people. Can this be true? Tim Harford and Hannah Moore investigate with the help of Francis Ratnieks, professor of apiculture at the University of Sussex.Listen

The Barnett Formula
This week Tim explains the Barnett Formula with a bit of help from Money Box's Paul Lewis. He looks at Ed Balls sleight of hand in his speech to the Labour Party Conference. Is Ed Miliband's promise on NHS funding really worse than the funding increases delivered by Margaret Thatcher? And how do we know how far away is the sun really is?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The UK vs Mississippi
Is Britain poorer than every US state, except for Mississippi? Journalist Fraser Nelson calculates that?s the case. Tim Harford speaks to economist Chris Dillow about why he?s right. Late last year BBC Trending referred to Eritrea as ?tiny?. Listeners complained and the complaint was upheld. More or Less talks to Trending producer Mukul Devichand and asks whether any country can rightly be called ?tiny?.Listen



Kidney donation: the chance of finding a match
The chance of a successful kidney match between two unrelated people has increased significantly in the past ten years - why? Tim Harford speaks to Professor Anthony Warrens, president of the British Transplantation Society. Donations to the Manchester Dogs' Home have exceeded £1m in the wake of a fire, which killed more than 50 dogs. The large sum raised caused Today presenter Justin Webb to comment that it often seems easier to raise money for animals than humans who are in need. Is it true that we give more generously to animals? Ben Carter reports. An edition of BBC Four's Wonder of Animals states that there are 14,000 ants to every person on earth, and that were we to weigh all of these ants they would weigh the same as all the people. Can this be true? And a complaint has been held up against a BBC programme for calling Eritrea 'tiny'. Can any country rightly be described this way?Listen

Shakespeare vs Rappers
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.Listen

Scottish referendum polls
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: To ice or not to ice?
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.Listen

To ice or not to ice?
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Do We Use Only 10% of Our Brains?
Is it true that humans use just 10% of their brains? Itâ??s the premise of the new film Lucy, in which the brain capacity of Scarlett Johanssonâ??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.Listen

How Deadly Is Ebola?
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 AlexanderListen



WS MoreOrLess: Deaths in Gaza
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.Listen

Troubled families?
"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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Anti-Semitism
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.Listen

Student Loans
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Ebola
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Fear of Flying
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The prevalence of paedophilia?
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.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: The Tour de France
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Golden Ticket
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.Listen

Will we die before our parents?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Is this the greatest world cup ever?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Money for nothing?
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Heads Or Tails?
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.Listen

Faith and Charity?
"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.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: 'Spurious Correlations'
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.Listen

What's Scottish Independence Worth?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The Piketty Affair
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.Listen

The Piketty Affair
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Risk Savvy
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?Listen

Romanian Crime
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Did global poverty halve overnight?
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.Listen



Tax Dodgers and Benefits Cheats
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Brazil?s Maths Superstar
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.Listen

Food Bank Britain
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?Listen

Sir Roger Bannister's ?impossible? feat
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.Listen

British Law - Made in Brussels?
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?Listen

Killed for being female?
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?Listen

Magic Numbers
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.Listen



Nigeria - rich or poor?
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 â?? 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 worldâ??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.Listen

Freedom in Numbers
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.Listen

Is London France?s sixth largest city?
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.Listen

Missing planes
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.Listen

Mailbox edition
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Modern Slavery
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Neknomination Outbreak
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.Listen



Love by numbers
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.Listen

Rising drug overdose deaths
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Immigration
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.Listen

The 10,000 hours rule
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.Listen

The 50p tax rate
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?Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Alcohol risk
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.Listen

Immigration
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.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: An apple-a-day
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.Listen

Obesity crisis?
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.Listen

How big are the Conservatives' planned cuts?
The Conservatives' plans to achieve a budget surplus by 2019-20 have led to near universal acknowledgment that big reductions in spending would be required. However, David Cameron said this week that government spending would only need to be reduced by 1% per year. So, would Conservative cuts be big or small? Plus: are 95% of terrorism victims Muslim; Nigeria's Baga death toll; the world's best and worst board games; species decline.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Counting the Dead in Iraq
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.Listen

The week that kills
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: The numbers of 2013 - part 2
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.Listen

Pension Charges
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?Listen



WS MoreOrLess: The numbers of 2013 - part 1
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.Listen

Numbers of the year
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Wine shortage?
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.Listen

Britain's 80,000 homeless children
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Genocide in South Africa?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Testing the PISA test
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.Listen

Football Ranking Mysteries Explained
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.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Could statistics cure cancer?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Sachin Tendulkar - best batsman of all time?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Does politics make us get our sums wrong?
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.Listen

100,000 Christian martyrs?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Fertility - when is too late?
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Nobel Prize puzzle
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.Listen

The Hawthorne Effect
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.Listen



WS MoreOrLess: Mosquitoes and elephants
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.Listen

Underage drinking
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Population explosion?
"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.Listen

NHS hospital deaths
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.Listen

Formula 1 racing risk
'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.Listen

Do free school meals work?
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.Listen

Sexual violence statistics in Asia
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.Listen



Fertility: when is too late?
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.Listen

The death toll in Syria
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.Listen

The Death Toll in Syria
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.Listen

Counting climate migrants
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.Listen

What price the life of a badger?
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?Listen

Is coffee bad for you?
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.Listen

The magic of maths
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.Listen



Where could we fit the entire world?s population?
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.Listen

What is the most visited country in the world?
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.Listen

Chris Froome's Tour de France victory
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.Listen

Egypt: Biggest protest in history?
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.Listen

Sex and the world wide web
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.Listen

How long will you live?
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.Listen

Will 40% of the world's workforce really be in Africa by 2050?
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.Listen



Is a child dying of hunger every 15 seconds?
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.Listen

Sex on the Brain?
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.Listen

A&E, and the chances of having twins
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?Listen

The maths of spies and terrorists
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.Listen

The maths of spies and terrorists
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.Listen

Ryanair punctuality; mistakes in academic papers
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 AlexanderListen

The economics of Scottish independence
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.Listen



Angelina Jolie?s 87% cancer risk
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?Listen

Angelina Jolie?s 87% cancer risk
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.Listen

How old is your dog?
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.Listen

How much does the EU cost the UK? Plus, dog years
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.Listen

The Maths of Mozart and Birds
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.Listen

Birds, Mozart, austerity, Thatcher
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.Listen

Are Man Utd a one-man team?
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.Listen



Austerity: a spreadsheet error?
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?Listen

Thatcher in numbers
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?Listen

Communicating Risk
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.Listen

That's not much gold
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.Listen

Can big data save lives?
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?Listen

Are there more black men in college or prison in the US?
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.Listen

HIV in numbers
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?Listen



Is the Kenyan election already decided?
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.Listen

Counting Catholics
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.Listen

How many people support Manchester United?
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.Listen

The end of the Penny
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?Listen

A case of statistical significance in Greece
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?Listen

Fat or Fiction
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.Listen

WS MoreOrLess: Indian Farmer Suicides
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.Listen





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