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More or Less: Behind the Stats

BBC Radio 4

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

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Transgender Numbers, Parkrun and Snooker

31:14 | Feb 2nd, 2018

How many transgender people are there in the UK? The UK produces official statistics about all sorts of things – from economic indicators to demographic data. But it turns out there are no official figures for the number of transgender people in t...Show More

Where is Scotland’s highest village?

08:58 | Apr 15th

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 ...Show More

Rounding up the weed killer cancer conundrum

08:58 | Apr 8th

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 s...Show More

Chess cheats and the GOAT

10:04 | Apr 2nd

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 ch...Show More

Is Mansa Musa the richest person of all time?

08:58 | Mar 25th

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, ...Show More

Day light saving time and heart attacks

08:58 | Mar 18th

Does the sudden loss of an hour of sleep raise the risk of having a heart attack?

The gender gap in tech

09:03 | Mar 9th

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...Show More


12:20 | Mar 4th

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 su...Show More

How To Make Your Art Work More Valuable

09:14 | Feb 22nd

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 m...Show More

WS More or Less: When maths mistakes really matter

09:10 | Feb 18th

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

Climate Change, Victorian Diseases, Alcohol

23:04 | Feb 15th

Tim Harford on climate change, Victorian diseases, maths mistakes and alcohol consumption

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

18:35 | Feb 12th

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 M...Show More

Teen Suicide; Brexit Business Moves; Wood-Burner Pollution

28:29 | Feb 8th

Tim Harford finds untrue a recent report that there is a 'suicidal generation' of teens.

WS More or Less: You have 15,000 likes!

09:11 | Feb 4th

A listener doubts her popularity on the dating app Tinder. We investigate the numbers.

Holocaust Deniers; Venezuelan Hyperinflation; Tinder Likes

28:54 | Feb 1st

Tim Harford on Holocaust deniers; food prices in Venezuela, and dating app statistics

WS More or Less: Is Suicide Seasonal?

09:11 | Jan 26th

Tim Harford asks which times of the year are riskiest for suicide.

Domestic Violence, Jobs, Easter Snowfall

23:17 | Jan 25th

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

Intersex Numbers, Fact-Checking Facebook, Jack Bogle

30:09 | Jan 18th

Tim Harford asks whether 1.7% of people are intersex, and examines false claims about MPs

WS More or Less: The Mathematics of Fever

10:55 | Jan 12th

We look at the numbers behind body temperature – what is normal?

Sugar, Outdoors Play and Planets

28:07 | Jan 11th

Tim Harford on sugar, train fares, children's outdoors play and Earth's closest neighbour

WS More or Less: Numbers of the Year Part 2

08:58 | Jan 4th

Helena Merriman with numbers about water shortage, plastic recycling and American jobs.

WS More or Less: Sex and Heart Attacks

08:58 | Nov 30th, 2018

Are women more likely to die from a heart attack than men?

WS More or Less: Are 90% of War Fatalities Civilians?

16:19 | Nov 23rd, 2018

Xavier Zapata examines what the data tells us about the deadly impact of war on civilians

WS More or Less: Do Assassinations Work?

08:58 | Nov 9th, 2018

How likely are assassination attempts on heads of state to succeed?

WS More or Less: Vaccines - The importance of the herd and social media

11:10 | Oct 28th, 2018

What proportion of a population needs to be vaccinated to stop a disease spreading?

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

08:58 | Oct 19th, 2018

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

Loneliness, School Funding, Same-Sex Divorce

09:40 | Oct 9th, 2018

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 do...Show More

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

09:19 | Oct 7th, 2018

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 do...Show More

Loneliness; School Funding; Same-Sex Divorce.

20:59 | Oct 5th, 2018

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 d...Show More

WS More of Less: Surviving the Battle of Britain

09:06 | Oct 1st, 2018

Were Spitfire pilots killed after an average of four weeks in the World War Two battle?

WS More or Less: Trump and the Puerto Rico Death Toll

08:58 | Sep 24th, 2018

How can we calculate excess mortality after a natural disaster?

How Many Schoolchildren are Carers? Shareholder Income, and Museum Visitors Vs Football Fans

25:22 | Sep 21st, 2018

Tim Harford on child carers, shareholder income, football vs museums and dangerous sports

WS More or Less: DNA - Are You More Chimp or Neanderthal?

09:11 | Sep 17th, 2018

What is the difference between 96% similarity or sharing 20% of our DNA?

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

24:42 | Sep 14th, 2018

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

WS More or Less: The Safest Car in the World?

09:08 | Sep 10th, 2018

A listener asks whether his Volvo is the safest car on the road?

Heart Age Calculator; Danish Sperm Imports; Counting Goats

23:41 | Sep 7th, 2018

Tim Harford questions the usefulness of a popular heart age calculator.

WS: More or Less - How well do you understand your world?

08:58 | Sep 3rd, 2018

Tim Harford talks to Bobby Duffy about why we are often wrong about a lot of basic facts

African Trade Tariffs; Alcohol Safe Limits; President Trump's Popularity

23:37 | Aug 31st, 2018

Tim Harford fact checks EU trade deals with Africa, and whether one drink is one too many

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - Coffins Full of Car Keys

28:20 | Aug 29th, 2018

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 rate...Show More

WS: More or Less - Automated fact-checking

08:58 | Aug 27th, 2018

Computer programmes are being developed to combat fake news.

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - How Condoms Can Cost a Week’s Wages

27:59 | Aug 22nd, 2018

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 show, Ayeisha and Steve make sense of inflation. They’...Show More

WS More or Less: Are Wildfires Really Burning More Land?

08:58 | Aug 20th, 2018

Are Wildfires in the United States and Southern Europe burning more land than before?

BONUS PODCAST: Economics with Subtitles - Bracelets for Bullets

28:06 | Aug 15th, 2018

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 show, Ayeisha and Steve explore government debt. Why d...Show More

Numbers Behind a Tweetstorm

08:58 | Aug 10th, 2018

How do you get a hashtag to trend around the world?

Economics with Subtitles - How Buying Cocaine Helps the Government

28:30 | Aug 8th, 2018

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 succe...Show More

Carbs, Sugar and the Truth

08:59 | Aug 3rd, 2018

Does a baked potato contain the equivalent of 19 cubes of sugar?

Getting Creative with Statistics

08:58 | Jul 27th, 2018

How big are your testicles and what does that mean?

Should we have smaller families to save the planet?

10:22 | Jul 23rd, 2018

Having one fewer child could be the biggest thing you do to reduce your carbon footprint

How to Cycle Really Fast

08:58 | Jul 20th, 2018

How much better are the pros than the rest of us and how effective is slipstreaming?

Are there more stars than grains of beach sand?

08:58 | Jul 6th, 2018

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 giga...Show More

Running at the World Cup

10:15 | Jun 29th, 2018

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 ga...Show More

How many words do you need to speak a language?

08:58 | Jun 22nd, 2018

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...Show More

FIFA World Cup Extravaganza

08:59 | Jun 15th, 2018

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 b...Show More

WS More or Less: How Many Animals are Born Every Day?

15:03 | Jun 10th, 2018

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...Show More

Infant Mortality, How to Reduce Exam Revision With Maths, London’s Murder Rate

24:21 | Jun 8th, 2018

(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 a...Show More

Counting Rough Sleepers

12:14 | Jun 4th, 2018

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 data...Show More

The High Street, Home Births and Harry Potter Wizardry

20:42 | Jun 1st, 2018

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)

WS More or Less: Australia Calling

11:11 | May 28th, 2018

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...Show More

Forecasting rain, teabags and voter ID trials

23:48 | May 25th, 2018

(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...Show More

WS More or Less: Does Being Taller Make You a Pro Basketballer?

09:04 | May 21st, 2018

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...Show More

Poverty, Progress 8 and how green is grass?

24:00 | May 18th, 2018

(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) R...Show More

WS More or Less: Tulipmania mythology

11:04 | May 14th, 2018

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 fi...Show More

Abortion, modern slavery, math versus maths

23:26 | May 11th, 2018

(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?

WS More or Less: Exposing the biases we have of the world

09:48 | May 7th, 2018

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...Show More

Cancer screening, the Windrush Generation, Audiograms

23:49 | May 4th, 2018

(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 Farag...Show More

WS More or Less: Puerto Rico - statistics versus politics

10:38 | Apr 29th, 2018

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 ...Show More

Straws, women on boards, plus animals born each day

23:42 | Apr 27th, 2018

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...Show More

WS More or Less: How Should We Think About Spending?

08:58 | Apr 20th, 2018

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...Show More

WS More More or Less: Are We Breathing Unsafe Air?

09:38 | Apr 13th, 2018

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 mov...Show More

WS More or Less: Why London’s Murder Rate is Being Compared to New York’s

08:58 | Apr 8th, 2018

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 missin...Show More

WS More or Less: How Deadly Was 1920s Melbourne?

08:58 | Mar 29th, 2018

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 me...Show More

Were ‘extra’ votes counted in Russia’s presidential election?

09:37 | Mar 23rd, 2018

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 wides...Show More

Factchecking Trump on Trade

09:31 | Mar 16th, 2018

Whenever Donald Trump talks about trade he brings up one statistic again and again, the US trade balance. This is the relationship between the goods and services the US imports from other countries and what it exports – if America buys more from a co...Show More

WS More or Less: Sir Roger Bannister

09:20 | Mar 9th, 2018

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

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

13:14 | Mar 5th, 2018

Are Hollywood films ignoring women? As this is the 90th year of the Academy Awards - we find out how many ‘Best Picture’ winners pass the Bechdel Test. This is a light-hearted way of challenging whether a film meets a low standard of female represent...Show More

WS More or Less: The Winter Olympics

11:01 | Feb 25th, 2018

What’s the most successful nation? (0’40”) We look at population, GDP per capita and ski areas of the countries with the most medals. How do you judge a country’s ‘best’ performance? (3.45”) What are the chances of dead heat in a race? (6’35”) ...Show More

WS More or Less: Debunking guide – on a postcard

10:04 | Feb 18th, 2018

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

UN rape claims, Stalin and Mr Darcy

28:21 | Feb 16th, 2018

How many people have UN staff raped? – (0’40’’) It was reported in a number of the newspapers this week that UN staff are responsible for 60,000 rapes in a decade. The wealth of Mr Darcy – (5’10”) The male love interest of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ i...Show More

WS More or Less: Has Russian Drinking Fallen by 80% in five years?

06:33 | Feb 11th, 2018

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

The Dow, Tampons, Parkrun part II

28:06 | Feb 9th, 2018

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

WS More or Less: Is China On Track to End Poverty by 2020?

13:02 | Feb 5th, 2018

A key pledge of the Chinese President Xi Jinping is that China will have eradicated poverty by 2020. It’s an extraordinary claim, but the country does have a good track record in improving the wealth of its citizens; the World Bank says China has con...Show More

Is the US Census Under Threat?

09:04 | Jan 29th, 2018

The survey question that could affect the accuracy of its results. The United States are due to run their next nationwide census in 2020, but already critics are warning that underfunding and proposed question about citizenship could affect the ac...Show More

A Girl's First Time, Shark's Stomachs, Prime numbers

23:46 | Jan 26th, 2018

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 globa...Show More

WS More or Less: Real Lives Behind the Numbers

08:58 | Jan 22nd, 2018

If you ask an economist to explain what is happening in a country’s economy. They rely on economic data points to describe what is happening – they might talk about the unemployment rate, average wages, and the numbers of people in poverty. They pull...Show More

Gender Pay Gaps and How to Learn a Language

27:47 | Jan 19th, 2018

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 ...Show More

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

09:09 | Jan 15th, 2018

A forgotten French mathematician is the focus of our programme. He anticipated both Einstein's theories and the application of maths to the stock market. Born in the 1870s, his work was unusual at the time. With the help of Alison Etheridge, Professo...Show More

Missed appointments, graduate pay, plus cocaine on bank notes

28:13 | Jan 12th, 2018

Did missed appointments cost the NHS £1 billion last year? New figures published recently suggest that the financial cost to the NHS for missed appointments was £1 billion last year. But our listeners are curious. How has this figure been worked out...Show More

WS More or Less: Just how rare is a hole-in-one?

08:58 | Jan 7th, 2018

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

More or Less: Statistics of the Year 2017

09:25 | Dec 31st, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Diet Coke Habit; 'Contained' Wildfires

09:43 | Dec 18th, 2017

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

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

10:21 | Dec 11th, 2017

Headlines claim that eating chocolate can protect you from developing Alzheimer’s disease. The theory is that bioactives within chocolate called flavanols can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, strokes and even make your brain 30 years younger! B...Show More

WS More or Less: Just how lucky are regular lottery winners?

10:04 | Dec 4th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: How Rich was Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy?

08:58 | Nov 26th, 2017

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

How expensive is Italy's World Cup failure?

08:58 | Nov 17th, 2017

The Italians are calling it the apocalypse. Their team has failed to make it to the World Cup for the first time in 60 years. But it is about more than just national pride - there is a financial cost too. Some have suggested that it will cost FIFA $1...Show More

WS More or Less: Why Albums are Getting Longer

13:18 | Nov 12th, 2017

Chris Brown’s latest album is stuffed with so many songs it runs at a sprawling two hours and twenty minutes. It’s only the latest in a string of lengthy album releases that includes artists like Drake, The Weeknd and Lil B. More or Less speaks to Hu...Show More

WS More or Less: Do Nigerian lawmakers get $1.7m and do Yams cause twins?

08:59 | Nov 5th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Novelists in numbers

08:58 | Oct 30th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Are US millennials more politically engaged online?

08:58 | Oct 20th, 2017

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

How Richard Thaler changed Economics

22:17 | Oct 13th, 2017

The behavioural economist who has inspired governments around the world.

WS More or Less: Kilobyte to Brontobyte

08:58 | Oct 10th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Big polluters - ships versus cars

09:12 | Oct 2nd, 2017

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

Uber; EU passports; counting domestic violence

24:12 | Sep 29th, 2017

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

Statistics abuse, tuition fees and beer in 1887

25:22 | Sep 22nd, 2017

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

WS More or Less: How to measure a Hurricane

09:37 | Sep 15th, 2017

What’s the best way to measure a hurricane?

Are Natural Disasters on the Rise?

25:15 | Sep 15th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: More Horses than Tanks?

09:09 | Sep 11th, 2017

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

Electric cars, school-ready and feedback

25:32 | Sep 8th, 2017

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

One in 500 Year Storm

06:49 | Sep 4th, 2017

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

Grenfell Tower's Death Toll

27:39 | Sep 1st, 2017

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

Fantasy Football - How to win

10:53 | Aug 28th, 2017

Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager.

A-levels, drowning and dress sizes

27:58 | Aug 25th, 2017

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

The Trump Bump

10:18 | Aug 20th, 2017

During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had I the history of our ...Show More

Are there 15,000 transgender people serving in the US military?

08:58 | Aug 14th, 2017

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

Why is Kenya’s election so expensive?

08:58 | Aug 7th, 2017

On Tuesday Kenyans go to the polls to elect members of parliament and the next president. A report in Quartz Africa has estimated that the cost of putting on the election by the Government works out at around $25 per head – $480 million in total. It ...Show More

More boys than girls in Sweden?

08:58 | Jul 31st, 2017

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

Maryam Mirzakhani – A Genius of Maths

09:26 | Jul 24th, 2017

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

Calling the shots at Wimbledon

08:58 | Jul 17th, 2017

Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis is the theme this week. In this digital age we are used to information at our fingertips. This week More or Less finds out how every rally, every shot at this tennis championship is counted a...Show More

Is Steph Curry cheap and how random is random?

08:58 | Jul 10th, 2017

Are top basketball players underpaid? The American basketballer Stephen Curry has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history. The new deal will pay him $200 million over 5 years but amazingly, according to fellow superstar player Lebron James...Show More

In Search of Woodall Primes

20:00 | Jun 30th, 2017

It’s the 100 year centenary of an obscure type of prime number – the Woodall Primes. To celebrate, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker is calling on listeners to search for a new one. Ordinary citizens can already help search for Mersenne Prime number...Show More

How rare are deadly tower block fires?

08:59 | Jun 26th, 2017

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

Trumpton Extra

16:45 | Jun 21st, 2017

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

Post-Election Special

29:33 | Jun 19th, 2017

The results of the general election are in - but what do they mean? Did more young people vote than expected? Have we now got a more diverse parliament? How many extra votes would Jeremy Corbyn have needed to become Prime Minister - these are just so...Show More

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

09:26 | Jun 12th, 2017

Cheick Tiote, the much loved former Newcastle United player collapsed and died while training with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises earlier this month. His death and that of other black footballers have caused some commentators to ask – are African o...Show More

UK Election extra

14:50 | Jun 7th, 2017

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

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

09:22 | Jun 5th, 2017

Trumpets are blasting in this week’s musical episode. But can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out? That was the challenge which epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani set for composer Tony Haynes. This June, his Grand Union Orchestra wi...Show More

Election Special: Tax, borders and climate

29:17 | Jun 2nd, 2017

On this final programme of the series we try to give some context to some of the issues that are being discussed during the current election campaign. Who pays tax? What proportion of adults are paying income tax? How much are they paying? Wher...Show More

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

09:07 | May 28th, 2017

Our entire education system is faulty, claim experts. They worry that schools don’t prepare kids for the world outside. But how could anyone prove what the future will be like? We set off on a round-the-world sleuthing trip to trace a statistic th...Show More

Spies, care homes, and ending sneak peeks

23:59 | May 26th, 2017

Can security services follow everyone known to them? The attack on Manchester Arena took place exactly four years since the killing of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich. Back in 2013 we broadcast an interview with the former Head of MI5, Dame Stella R...Show More

WS More or Less: Uganda’s refugees

09:19 | May 22nd, 2017

Has Uganda been accepting more refugees on a daily basis than some European countries manage in an entire year? That is the claim from the Norwegian Refugee Council – and it is a claim we put to the test. Civil war and famine in South Sudan have f...Show More

Tax, speed dating and sea ice

24:01 | May 19th, 2017

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

Nurses' pay, Scottish seats, Penalty shootouts

23:50 | May 13th, 2017

What is happening to nurses pay? Amid reports of nurses using food banks, Jeremy Hunt said he doesn’t recognise claims their wages are worth less now than in 2010. He says nurses are actually paid £31,000 - more than the average person. If he’s ri...Show More

WS More or Less: Is my Baby a Giant?

09:26 | May 12th, 2017

All over the world mothers are given numbers as their baby grows. The numbers are from ‘growth charts’ showing how a baby is developing in comparison to others. Seven month old Baby Arlo has particularly big numbers, so much so that his parents are w...Show More

WS More or Less: An urban maze

09:33 | May 8th, 2017

Why some parts of town are hard to navigate.

Is Crime Rising?

24:03 | May 5th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: The Maths of Dating

09:16 | May 1st, 2017

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

Fact-checking Boris Johnson

28:01 | Apr 28th, 2017

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

WS More or Less:The death rate of white Americans – What’s going on?

09:20 | Apr 21st, 2017

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

Living standards and Kate Bush maths

23:33 | Apr 21st, 2017

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

Economics of Overbooking

24:01 | Apr 14th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Could North Korea Wipe out 90% of Americans?

09:02 | Apr 10th, 2017

A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalyp...Show More

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

09:01 | Mar 31st, 2017

The claim that “one in four” of us will suffer from a mental health problem is popular amongst campaigners, politicians and the media. But this leads you to a simple question – where is this figure from and what’s the evidence? This was exactly what ...Show More

WS More Or Less: Baby Boxes – are they really saving infant’s lives?

09:02 | Mar 24th, 2017

Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They’re not new though Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies ...Show More

More or Less: The concrete facts about Trump’s wall and China

09:02 | Mar 17th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: The Attention Span of a Goldfish

08:59 | Mar 10th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Why are Hollywood actresses paid less than men?

08:59 | Mar 3rd, 2017

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

Hidden Figures: The Real Story

09:03 | Feb 17th, 2017

Hidden Figures, the film, has been nominated for three awards at the Oscars and has been a box office hit in the US. It tells the little-known story of a group of African American women and their contribution to the space race in the 50s and 60s. We ...Show More

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

26:29 | Feb 13th, 2017

A huge hole was left in the world this week with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He was a master communicator whose captivating presentations on global development were watched by millions. He had the ear of those with power and in...Show More

WS More or Less: Is democracy failing in America?

08:58 | Feb 3rd, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Counting Crowds

08:58 | Jan 27th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Why January makes us want to scream

09:03 | Jan 20th, 2017

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

WS More or Less: Christian Martyrs

09:02 | Jan 13th, 2017

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

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

09:02 | Jan 6th, 2017

How much water should you be drinking? There’s some age-old advice that suggests you should be drinking eight ounces (230 ml) eight times a day. Some people even advise you should be drinking this on top of what you normally drink. There is lots of a...Show More

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

09:11 | Jan 3rd, 2017

There have been reports that those radical Swedes have decided to reduce the working day to just six hours because, it has been claimed, productivity does not suffer. Before you all rush to the Swedish job pages this is not quite the case – but there...Show More

The Haber-Bosch Process

09:24 | Dec 28th, 2016

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

WS More or Less: Life, death and data

09:09 | Dec 26th, 2016

Improving data to target help to the poorest people

Christmas Quiz

28:09 | Dec 23rd, 2016

Tim Harford poses a tough statistical challenge

WS More or Less: Yellow cards for Christmas

09:01 | Dec 16th, 2016

Are footballers trying to get suspended for Christmas?

Have more famous people died this year?

23:13 | Dec 16th, 2016

Notable deaths, Rule Britannia and creating your own Christmas speech

WS More or Less: How risky is the contraceptive pill?

09:16 | Dec 12th, 2016

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

How wrong were the Brexit forecasts?

24:01 | Dec 9th, 2016

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

WS More or Less: How not to test public opinion

09:20 | Dec 2nd, 2016

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

Are you related to Edward III - and Danny Dyer?

23:50 | Dec 2nd, 2016

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

WS More or Less: Good news on renewables?

09:31 | Nov 28th, 2016

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

Pensioners aren't poor anymore

24:18 | Nov 25th, 2016

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

WS More or Less: Avoiding Asteroids

09:15 | Nov 21st, 2016

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

Is dementia the number one killer?

24:20 | Nov 18th, 2016

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

WS More or Less: Liberia’s Rape Statistic Debunked

09:33 | Nov 14th, 2016

Sexual violence was widespread in Liberia’s brutal and bloody year civil war. But were three quarters of women in the country raped? We tell the story behind the number and reveal how well-meaning efforts to expose what happened have fuelled myths ...Show More

US election, stray cats and puzzles

24:08 | Nov 11th, 2016

Who voted in the US elections? Plus are there nine million stray cats in the UK?

WS More or Less: Ice Cream versus aid

09:03 | Nov 7th, 2016

Does the world really spend three times as much on ice cream than on humanitarian aid?

Trump tells the Truth

23:58 | Nov 4th, 2016

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 claims

WS More or Less: Child Marriage, Dangerous Algorithms

08:59 | Oct 28th, 2016

Is a girl under 15 married every seven seconds? And beware dangerous algorithms

WS More or Less: Escobar’s Cocaine Deaths

08:59 | Oct 24th, 2016

How many people die for every kilo of cocaine? More Or Less investigates.

WS More or Less: The Sustainable Development Goals – are there just too many?

08:58 | Oct 7th, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: Who Won the US Presidential Debate?

08:58 | Sep 30th, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: Trump’s crime claims

09:03 | Sep 23rd, 2016

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 l...Show More

WS More or Less: Wedding gift economics

09:13 | Sep 18th, 2016

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. Lu...Show More

WS More or Less: Drug deaths in the Philippines

09:21 | Sep 12th, 2016

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 ...Show More

WS More or Less: Menstrual Syncing

09:22 | Sep 5th, 2016

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 i...Show More

Irish Passports

28:02 | Sep 2nd, 2016

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 tha...Show More

Death Penalty abolition

09:14 | Aug 30th, 2016

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. W...Show More

Gender Pay Gap

27:42 | Aug 26th, 2016

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 Nels...Show More

WS More or Less: Counting Terror Deaths

09:20 | Aug 22nd, 2016

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 ...Show More

Counting Terror Deaths

28:01 | Aug 19th, 2016

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 fe...Show More

WS More or Less: Swimming World Records

09:24 | Aug 15th, 2016

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, Ric...Show More

Grammar Schools

28:01 | Aug 12th, 2016

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 performanc...Show More

WS More or Less: Predicting Olympic Medals

09:25 | Aug 8th, 2016

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,...Show More

Plastic Bags

28:05 | Aug 5th, 2016

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 pred...Show More

WS More or Less: Odd Socks and Algorithms

09:30 | Aug 1st, 2016

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 ever...Show More

The Supermarket Effect

24:01 | Jul 29th, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: Ireland’s Shock GDP figures

09:23 | Jul 22nd, 2016

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 ...Show More

WS More or Less: Violence, shootings and the police in the US

09:21 | Jul 15th, 2016

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 Ster...Show More

WS More or Less: Sleeping: the 8-hour myth

09:23 | Jul 8th, 2016

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 ...Show More

Ranking Iceland’s Football Team

09:22 | Jul 1st, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: Brexit Economics

09:15 | Jun 24th, 2016

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,...Show More

WS More or Less: When Companies Track Your Life

09:04 | Jun 20th, 2016

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 c...Show More

The Referendum by Numbers: Trade

11:42 | Jun 17th, 2016

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 trut...Show More

The Referendum by Numbers: Regulation

11:43 | Jun 16th, 2016

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 trut...Show More

The Referendum by Numbers: Law

11:46 | Jun 15th, 2016

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 trut...Show More

The Referendum by Numbers: Immigration

11:45 | Jun 14th, 2016

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 trut...Show More

The Referendum by Numbers: The Cost of EU Membership

11:16 | Jun 13th, 2016

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. Brac...Show More

WS More or Less: Sexist Data Crisis

09:04 | Jun 10th, 2016

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 McDon...Show More

WS More or Less: HIV in Africa

09:23 | Jun 3rd, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: Refugee Camp Statistics

09:04 | May 27th, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: The World's Most Profitable Product

09:22 | May 20th, 2016

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 ran...Show More

WS More or Less: The world’s most diverse city

09:31 | May 13th, 2016

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 pres...Show More

WS More or Less: Leicester City football fluke?

09:24 | May 9th, 2016

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 journal...Show More

The most profitable product in history

27:50 | May 6th, 2016

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 ...Show More

WS More or Less: Simpson’s Paradox

09:26 | May 2nd, 2016

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, ...Show More

EU Migration

28:00 | Apr 29th, 2016

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 mathematic...Show More

WS More or Less: Most Expensive Building

09:15 | Apr 25th, 2016

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 coul...Show More

Brexit numbers

27:38 | Apr 22nd, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: The life expectancy of a Pope

09:26 | Apr 18th, 2016

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 m...Show More

Celebrity deaths

28:02 | Apr 15th, 2016

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...Show More

WS More or Less: The story of average

09:18 | Apr 11th, 2016

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...Show More

Fathers and babies

27:56 | Apr 8th, 2016

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 ther...Show More

WS More or Less: The Great EU Cabbage Myth

09:28 | Apr 5th, 2016

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,...Show More

The Great EU Cabbage Myth

27:50 | Apr 4th, 2016

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,...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Safe drinking

09:14 | Mar 24th, 2016

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. ...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Mobiles or lightbulbs

09:04 | Mar 18th, 2016

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...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Can we trust food surveys?

09:04 | Mar 11th, 2016

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 Aschwand...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Fact checking The Big Short

09:04 | Mar 4th, 2016

"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 ...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Antibiotics and the problem of the broken market

09:04 | Feb 26th, 2016

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 worldwid...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: When £10,000 isn’t a good incentive

09:04 | Feb 19th, 2016

Could no prize have been a better way to motivate snooker player Ronnie O’Sullivan?

WSMoreOrLess: Fishy numbers?

09:09 | Feb 15th, 2016

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 y...Show More

Selfies, sugar daddies and dodgy surveys

27:46 | Feb 12th, 2016

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 somet...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Do e-cigarettes really harm your chances of quitting smoking?

09:49 | Feb 8th, 2016

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 be...Show More

E-cigarettes: Can They Help People Quit?

27:55 | Feb 5th, 2016

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 w...Show More

Swedish refugees

09:18 | Feb 1st, 2016

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...Show More

How harmful is alcohol?

27:50 | Jan 29th, 2016

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...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Oxfam and Wealth Inequality

09:48 | Jan 25th, 2016

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 iteratio...Show More

Billionaires versus the world

27:51 | Jan 22nd, 2016

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 y...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Gravitational Waves

09:46 | Jan 18th, 2016

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’...Show More

Weekend Stroke Deaths

27:59 | Jan 15th, 2016

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...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015: Part Three

09:34 | Jan 11th, 2016

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 Chidey...Show More

Flood Defence Spending

24:12 | Jan 8th, 2016

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...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015 Part 2

09:35 | Jan 4th, 2016

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 Andre...Show More

Numbers of the Year 2015

28:02 | Jan 1st, 2016

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 Cunl...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Numbers of the Year 2015 Part 1

09:34 | Dec 25th, 2015

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 M...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: How Many Stormtroopers are there?

12:33 | Dec 18th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess:100 Year Floods?

09:35 | Dec 11th, 2015

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?

WS MoreOrLess: Climate Change

09:29 | Dec 8th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: '‘Sympathy’ for jihadis

09:35 | Nov 27th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: Has Islamic State been Losing Territory?

09:36 | Nov 20th, 2015

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? Belle...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Creativity and Mental Illness

09:35 | Nov 13th, 2015

Are creative people more likely to suffer mental illness, and has Cuba wiped out child hunger? Wesley Stephenson investigates.

WS MoreOrLess: China's One Child Policy

09:34 | Nov 6th, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Processed Meat and Cancer

09:34 | Oct 30th, 2015

Are processed meats as cancer-causing as cigarettes, and has the Rugby world cup been the most brutal? Ruth Alexander investigates.

WS MoreOrLess: Oil

09:34 | Oct 23rd, 2015

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: K...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Foreign Aid: More Harm Than Good?

08:58 | Oct 16th, 2015

Tim Harford interviews Nobel Prize winning economist professor Angus Deaton about a lifetime measuring inequality

WS MoreOrLess: Are Tall People More Likely to Get Cancer?

09:35 | Oct 9th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: Football’s Red Card Cliché

09:34 | Oct 2nd, 2015

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 cha...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: How Reliable is Psychology Science?

09:35 | Sep 28th, 2015

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 re...Show More

Alzheimers, Psychology science, John Conway, Red cards, Decimate

28:22 | Sep 25th, 2015

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 re...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: The Rise of the Giants?

09:35 | Sep 21st, 2015

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 a...Show More

Striking Numbers

29:17 | Sep 18th, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: How Many is Too Many Bananas?

09:34 | Sep 14th, 2015

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. E...Show More

Is it worth targetting non-voters?

27:55 | Sep 11th, 2015

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 Democrat...Show More

Queuing Backwards

08:58 | Sep 7th, 2015

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...Show More

Fit for work or at deaths door?

27:16 | Sep 4th, 2015

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 Pensi...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: China Stock Market Crash

09:36 | Aug 31st, 2015

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 av...Show More

China Stock Market Crash

27:41 | Aug 28th, 2015

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 d...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: The Elliptical Pool Table

09:33 | Aug 24th, 2015

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 eart...Show More

Soaring diabetes - is there some good news?

23:37 | Aug 21st, 2015

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 on...Show More

WS More or Less: Worm wars

09:37 | Aug 17th, 2015

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 sid...Show More

Migrant Crisis

23:52 | Aug 14th, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS More or Less: Wrestlers - dying too young?

09:35 | Aug 7th, 2015

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 w...Show More

WSMoreOrLess: Counting Foreign Fighters

09:35 | Jul 31st, 2015

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 fight...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Life Expectancy

09:34 | Jul 24th, 2015

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?

WS MoreOrLess: Live 8, The G8 and Making Poverty History

09:36 | Jul 17th, 2015

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...Show More

Greece Special

30:18 | Jul 10th, 2015

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 o...Show More

Biggest Movies

09:29 | Jun 26th, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Horoscope Health

09:35 | Jun 19th, 2015

Can your horoscope predict which diseases you’ll develop? And does cricket’s Duckworth-Lewis method need to evolve?

WS MoreOrLess: Global Footprint

09:35 | Jun 13th, 2015

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?...Show More

Obesity Projections, Global Footprint, Street Value of Drugs

23:47 | Jun 12th, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Qatar migrant worker deaths

09:35 | Jun 6th, 2015

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.

World Cup Migrant Deaths

27:56 | Jun 5th, 2015

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

WS MoreOrLess: John Nash

09:35 | May 30th, 2015

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 Nobe...Show More

Seven-day NHS

27:47 | May 29th, 2015

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 W...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Death Penalty

09:34 | May 23rd, 2015

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?

Female Drink Drivers

27:50 | May 22nd, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: Big Numbers

09:35 | May 16th, 2015

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 earli...Show More

Strokes, Teachers, Confused Computers 15 May15

23:43 | May 15th, 2015

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 woul...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Princess Charlotte

09:33 | May 11th, 2015

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.

Election and Adultery Special

23:08 | May 8th, 2015

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?

UK election podcast 4

16:48 | May 6th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: Nuns on the rise

09:35 | May 2nd, 2015

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. ...Show More

Polls, nuns and life partners

23:47 | May 1st, 2015

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 ...Show More

WS MoreOrLess: Xenophobia in South Africa

09:35 | Apr 25th, 2015

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...Show More

UK Election Podcast 3

16:46 | Apr 24th, 2015

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.

WS MoreOrLess: Liver Transplant.

09:37 | Apr 18th, 2015

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 broad...Show More

UK election podcast 2

27:31 | Apr 17th, 2015

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 programm...Show More