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More or Less: Behind the Stats

BBC

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

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

Location:

United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

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

Language:

Aboriginal


Episodes

The World Cup: how many migrant workers have died?

12/3/2022
Qatar has been fiercely criticised over its treatment of migrant workers, many of whom have been employed to build stadiums and other infrastructure in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. We look at the wildly varying estimates of the number of migrant deaths with the help of Max Tunon, head of the Qatar office of the International Labour Organisation and Steve Cockburn, head of economic and social justice at Amnesty International.

Duration:00:11:59

When do food shortages become a famine?

11/26/2022
Somalia is experiencing its worst drought for 40 years and there are warnings that millions of people need food assistance urgently. The UN body tasked with classifying levels of food security has projected a famine, although no official declaration has yet been made. We ask what data is used to formally categorise famine and explore some of the difficulties in collecting it, with the help of UN IPC Global Programme Manager Jose Lopez and Professor Laura Hammond, Pro Director of Research &...

Duration:00:11:28

A $220 billion World Cup?

11/19/2022
As the FIFA World Cup in Qatar gets underway, and the newly built stadia, lavish hotels and transport networks come to life, More or Less investigates just how much the Gulf nation has spent in the lead-up to the tournament. Reports claim the figure could be as much as $220 billion - that’s more than Qatar's annual GDP, and more than ten times higher than the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. At an estimated $15 billion, this was previously the most expensive tournament to date. With no access to...

Duration:00:10:53

Bonus Episode: Understand the Economy

11/14/2022
Tim Harford brings you the first episode of his new podcast, Understand the Economy. If you’ve been missing his dulcet tones, here’s a chance for you to have a preview of Tim Harford’s latest podcast, in which he offers really simple explanations to help make sense of the economy today. If you enjoy it, you can find the rest of the series on BBC Sounds or wherever you get your podcasts. In this episode, inflation. What is inflation, why does it matter, and is someone to blame if it goes up?...

Duration:00:15:46

Improving the numbers in the news

11/12/2022
How can journalists improve their use of statistics in their reporting of the world around us? It’s a question US academics John Bailer and Rosemary Pennington tackle in their new book Statistics Behind the Headlines. They join Tim Harford to talk about how journalism can be improved by asking the right questions about numbers and using them in the wider context of a story. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Jon Bithrey Editor: Simon Watts Production Coordinator: Jacqui Johnson Sound Engineer:...

Duration:00:11:20

Lula’s “zero deforestation” plan for the Amazon

11/5/2022
Lula Da Silva has pledged “zero deforestation” in the Amazon as he prepares to become Brazil’s next president, in contrast to the policies of outgoing leader Jair Bolsonaro under whom the destruction of the rainforest has soared. On this edition of More or Less we ask how much of the Amazon has been lost and whether Lula’s aim of zero deforestation can be achieved. Presenter and producer: Jon Bithrey Editor: Simon Watts: Sound engineer: David Crackles Production Co-ordinator: Jacqui Johnson...

Duration:00:08:58

Can China’s GDP data be trusted?

10/29/2022
This week, China released its third quarter GDP figure. At 3.9%, its rate of economic growth is better than many analysts expected, but still significantly short of the 5.5% target the Chinese government had set itself. There was an unprecedented delay in releasing this particular GDP stat - and that delay coincided with the 20th Chinese Communist Party congress. President Xi Jinping was reappointed for a historic third term at the twice-a-decade gathering. Some analysts found the delay...

Duration:00:08:58

Do half of new books really sell fewer than twelve copies?

10/22/2022
A US government lawyer recently caused a stir in the publishing world when he said during a high profile legal trial that half of all new trade titles – books aimed at a general audience - sell a dozen copies or less. Tim Harford investigates with the help of Kristen McLean from the NPD Books group. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Octavia Woodward, Jon Bithrey Editor: Emma Rippon Production Coordinator: Jacqui Johnson Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot (Image: Stack of books on display at...

Duration:00:08:58

Ben Bernanke and the magic of banking

10/15/2022
The former head of the US Federal Reserve Ben Bernanke is named as one of three winners of the 2022 Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences for his work on how banking collapses were a major factor in the Great Depression of the 1930s. He shares the prize with two fellow US academics, Douglas Diamond and Philip Dybvig. Tim Harford discusses the significance of their work focusing on the role of banks and why their smooth functioning is so important to society. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald...

Duration:00:10:04

Catching Chess Cheats with Data

10/8/2022
A cheating scandal is currently rocking the world of chess, as World Champion Magnus Carlsen accuses the young American Hans Niemann of cheating. A bombshell new report has said that Niemann is likely to have cheated in over 100 games online, and uses data to support its argument. So how is statistics being used to catch cheats in chess - and just how prevalent might cheating be at the highest levels of the game? David Edmonds finds out. Presenter: David Edmonds Producer: Nathan Gower...

Duration:00:08:59

Teens and antidepressants, stamp duty savings and earthquake probabilities

10/7/2022
A survey from a mental health charity suggested that more than a third of British teenagers had been prescribed antidepressants. We debunk the figure. Also we investigate a tweet from the UK Treasury about how much homebuyers will save in stamp duty. Plus how Mexico has been hit by earthquakes three times on the same day of the year - what are the chances? And how incorrect figures from the government have given a false picture of the number of cars on Britain’s minor roads. Presenter: Tim...

Duration:00:28:28

Teens and antidepressants, stamp duty savings and earthquake probabilities

10/5/2022
A survey from a mental health charity suggested that more than a third of British teenagers had been prescribed antidepressants. We debunk the figure. Also we investigate a tweet from the UK Treasury about how much homebuyers will save in stamp duty. Plus how Mexico has been hit by earthquakes three times on the same day of the year - what are the chances? And how incorrect figures from the government have given a false picture of the number of cars on Britain’s minor roads. Presenter: Tim...

NASA’s asteroid collision: how many asteroids are really out there?

10/1/2022
This week NASA slammed a spacecraft into an asteroid in the hope of diverting its course. The Double Asteroid Redirection Test or DART mission will help scientists understand how easy it would be protect Earth if one was headed in our direction. More Or Less first discussed this in 2016 with a little help from the movie Armageddon – with listeners getting in touch once again we ask how many asteroids are really out there and how dangerous they might be to Earth. Presenters: Charlotte...

Duration:00:10:21

Falling pound, the Queen’s funeral and is 0.5 on the Richter scale a big number?

9/28/2022
The value of the pound against other currencies has been incredibly volatile ever since the Chancellor’s ‘mini-budget’. We ask how much we should worry and look at how much taxes will really fall. Also did 4.1 billion people really watch the Queen’s funeral? Gas prices are falling – so why aren’t energy bills? There are early signs that new covid variants could cause another spike in cases over the winter. And with the government lifting a moratorium on fracking, we ask how seismic a number...

Duration:00:29:55

Ukraine’s progress in numbers

9/24/2022
Ukraine has reportedly recaptured nearly 10,000 square kilometres of territory that had been occupied by Russia. We ask where the numbers come from and what they mean. Plus with Norway supplanting Russia to become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, we ask how much money the country is making from the increased demand and higher prices. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Jon Bithrey Editor: Richard Vadon Production Coordinator: Jacqui Johnson Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill

Duration:00:10:27

Ukraine offensive, weak pound & how much do women really exercise

9/22/2022
Ukraine has reportedly recaptured nearly 10,000 square kilometres of territory that had been occupied by Russia. We ask where the numbers come from, what they mean and why everyone is comparing them to the size of Greater London. We ask how much money Norway is making out of the current energy crisis. Also why is the pound so weak against the dollar, some odd claims about women and exercise and does it really take 20,000 uses for an organic cotton bag to become more environmentally friendly...

Duration:00:28:51

Ukraine offensive, weak pound & how much do women really exercise

9/21/2022
Ukraine has reportedly recaptured nearly 10,000 square kilometres of territory that had been occupied by Russia. We ask where the numbers come from, what they mean and why everyone is comparing them to the size of Greater London. We ask how much money Norway is making out of the current energy crisis. Also why is the pound so weak against the dollar, some odd claims about women and exercise and does it really take 20,000 uses for an organic cotton bag to become more environmentally friendly...

Duration:00:28:57

How bad is fashion for the environment?

9/17/2022
Is fashion really the second most polluting industry after oil and does it account for 10% of greenhouse gas emissions? Sustainable fashion journalist Alden Wicker does some fashion fact checking with Adam Fleming, presenter of BBC podcast and Radio 4 programme Antisocial. And reporter Charlotte McDonald revisits a claim made in an edition of More or Less last month about the effectiveness of using condoms as a form of contraception. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Jon Bithrey Editor:...

Duration:00:09:06

Energy crisis plan, imperial measures survey, gardens v national parks

9/14/2022
One of Liz Truss's first acts as Prime Minister was to announce a giant plan to protect domestic energy users from huge rises in wholesale gas and electricity costs, meaning a typical household will pay about £1000 less than otherwise would have been the case. We ask how much the Energy Price Guarantee will cost the government and also explain what a “typical” household really is. A consultation has opened into whether we’d like more of our goods and services priced in imperial measures –...

Duration:00:30:10

Is a third of Pakistan really under water?

9/10/2022
Pakistan is battling a huge natural disaster as a result of heavy monsoon rains. It’s been widely reported that a third of the country is under water. But can that really be the case? Featuring the BBC’s correspondent in Pakistan Pumza Fihlani and Dr Simon Cook, a senior lecturer in Environmental Science at the University of Dundee. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Jon Bithrey Editor: Richard Vadon Production Coordinator: Jacqui Johnson Sound Engineers: Graham Puddifoot & James Beard (Image:...

Duration:00:09:06