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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

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United Kingdom

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BBC

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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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Aboriginal


Episodes
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MP misconduct, NHS waiting lists and gold (gold)

5/22/2024
Is it going to take 685 years to clear NHS waiting lists in England? Are 10 per cent of MPs under investigation for sexual misconduct? How does gold effect the UKs export figures? What does it mean to say that a woman has 120% chance of getting pregnant? Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Nathan Gower and Bethan Ashmead Latham Series producer: Tom Colls Sound mix: Neil Churchill Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:29:05

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Are falling marriage rates causing happiness to fall in the US?

5/18/2024
It’s long been known that marriage is associated with happiness in survey data. But are falling marriage rates in the US dragging down the mood of the whole nation? We investigate the statistical relationships with Professor Sam Peltzman from the University of Chicago, and Professor John Helliwell, from the University of British Columbia. Presenter: Tom Colls Reporter: Natasha Fernandes Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Nigel Appleton Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:09:49

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Is reading for pleasure the single biggest factor in how well a child does in life?

5/11/2024
If a child loves reading, how big a difference does that make to their future success? In a much-repeated claim, often sourced to a 2002 OECD report, it is suggested that it makes the biggest difference there is – that reading for pleasure is the biggest factor in future success. But is that true? We speak to Miyako Ikeda from the OECD and Professor Alice Sullivan from University College London. Presenter / series producer: Tom Colls Reporter / producer: Debbie Richford Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:10:20

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Do one in five young Americans think the holocaust is a myth?

5/4/2024
Polling by YouGov made headlines around the world when it suggested 20% of young adults in the US thought the holocaust was a myth. But polling experts at the Pew Research Centre thought the result might not be accurate, due to problems with the kind of opt-in polling it was based on. They tried to replicate the finding, and did not get the same answer. We speak to Andrew Mercer from the Pew Research Centre and YouGov chief scientist Douglas Rivers. Presenter /series producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:09:43

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Has Milei fixed Argentina’s inflation problem?

4/26/2024
Libertarian populist Javier Milei won the presidential election in Argentina on a promise austerity and economic “shock” measures for the ailing economy. Just a few months in, some are hailing the falling rate of inflation as showing those measures are working. Economist Monica de Bolle, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, explains whether that thinking is correct. Presenter/producer: Tom Colls Producer: Ajai Singh Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon.

Duration:00:08:58

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98%: Is misinformation being spread about a review of trans youth medicine?

4/20/2024
The Cass Review is an independent report on the state of gender identity services for under-18s in England’s NHS. It found children had been let down by a lack of research and "remarkably weak" evidence on medical interventions in gender care. But before it was even released, claims were circulating online that it ignored 98% of the evidence in reaching its conclusion. Is that claim true? We speak to Dr Hilary Cass, the author of the review, Professor Catherine Hewitt of York University, who analysed the scientific research, and Kamran Abbasi, editor in chief of the British Medical Journal. Presenter: Kate Lamble Producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: James Beard Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:11:53

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Tackling The Three-Body Problem

4/13/2024
Netflix has a big new show named after and inspired by a classic problem in astrophysics, 'The Three Body Problem', where predicting the course and orbits of three or more celestial bodies proves near impossible. But how faithful is the Netflix show - and original novel - to the actual physics? Dr Anna Lisa Varri from the University of Edinburgh explains what we can and can't say about the complex and beautiful motions of planets, stars and moons, and brings a dose of scientific facts to science fiction. Presenter: Kate Lamble Producer: Nathan Gower Sound Engineer: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:08:58

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Is loneliness as bad for you as smoking?

4/6/2024
Is loneliness as bad for you as smoking 15 cigarettes per day? That’s the claim circulating on social media. We trace this stat back to its source and speak the scientist behind the original research on which it is based, Professor Julianne Holt-Lunstad. Presenter / series producer: Tom Colls Reporter: Perisha Kudhail Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:08:57

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Remembering Daniel Kahneman

3/30/2024
Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist and More or Less hero, has died at the age of 90. Tim Harford explains his ideas and influence. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Series producer: Tom Colls Sound mix: Hal Haines Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:08:58

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Bonus episode: Daniel Kahneman on Thinking, Fast and Slow

3/28/2024
In an episode of More or Less from 2012, Daniel Kahneman – the Nobel prize-winning behavioural economist who has died at the age of 90 – explains the big ideas in his book Thinking, Fast and Slow.

Duration:00:09:12

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What's happening to Arctic ice?

3/25/2024
The area of ice covering the Arctic ocean has been in a state of long decline, as climate change takes effect. But recent fluctuations in the ice have been seized on by climate change sceptics, who say it tells a different story. We speak to polar climate scientist Professor Julienne Stroeve to better understand how to read the ice data. Presenter / producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:09:48

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Does the Russian government really spend 40% of its budget on the military?

3/16/2024
According to the head of the British military, the Russian government spends 40% of its budget on its war machine. But is it true? With the help of Professor Bettina Renz from Nottingham University and Dr Richard Connolly from The Royal United Services Institute, Olga Smirnova investigates the figure. Presenter: Tom Colls Producer: Olga Smirnova Production Co-ordinator Katie Morrison Series Producer: Tom Colls Sound Mix: Graham Puddifoot Editor: Richard Vadon Image: Russian Military Perform Victory Day Parade Night Rehearsal in Moscow Credit: (Photo by Oleg Nikishin/Getty Images)

Duration:00:08:58

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Is public speaking really our biggest fear?

3/9/2024
For over 50 years it’s been widely reported that speaking before a group is people’s number one fear. But is it really true? With the help of Dr Karen Kangas Dwyer, a former Professor in the School of Communication at the University of Nebraska-Omaha and Dr Christopher Bader, Professor of Sociology at Chapman University, Tim Harford tracks the source of the claim back to the 1970’s and explores whether it was true then, and whether it’s true today. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Production Co-ordinator: Katie Morrison Series Producer: Tom Colls Sound Mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon Picture Credit: vchal via Getty

Duration:00:08:58

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Ultramarathons: Are women faster than men?

3/2/2024
As running races get longer, the gap between male and female competitors seems to close. Tim Harford and Lucy Proctor investigate the claim that when the race is 195 miles long, women overtake men to become the fastest runners. Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Lucy Proctor Producers: Nathan Gower and Debbie Richford Production Co-ordinator: Katie Morrison Series Producer: Tom Colls Sound Mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon (Image:Male and female running together up a mountain trail. Credit: nattrass via Getty)

Duration:00:08:58

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School spending, excess deaths and billions of animals at Heathrow

2/28/2024
Is school funding at record levels as the education secretary claimed? Why did the ONS change how they measure excess deaths? Is there a shoplifting epidemic? Did 6.5bn creatures arrive in the UK by plane last year? Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Nathan Gower, Perisha Kudhail, Debbie Richford and Olga Smirnova Series producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Katie Morrison Sound mix: Sarah Hockley Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:28:59

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NBA basketball: Is height more important than skill?

2/24/2024
In the NBA, the US professional basketball league, the average player is a shade over 6ft 6 inches tall. So just how much does being very tall increase a man’s chances of becoming a professional player? Tim Harford talks to data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Who Makes the NBA?: Data-Driven Answers to Basketball’s Biggest Questions. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Production Co-ordinator: Katie Morrison Series Producer: Tom Colls Sound Mix: David Crackles Editor: Richard Vadon (Image: Charlotte Hornets v New York Knicks. Credit: Focus on Sport/Getty Images)

Duration:00:08:59

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Per capita GDP, MP claims and the entire EU budget

2/21/2024
What does per capita GDP tell us about the UK economy? Did the government spend £94bn helping with rising energy prices? Was Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg right about the cost of the EU covid recovery scheme? How did Ben Goldacre persuade scientists to publish all their medical research? Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news. Presenter: Tim Harford Reporters: Nathan Gower and Lucy Proctor Producers: Debbie Richford, Perisha Kudhail, Olga Smirnova Series producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Katie Morrison Sound mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

Duration:00:28:23

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The digital ‘robots’ unlocking medical data

2/17/2024
Big medical datasets pose a serious problem. Thousands of patients’ health records are an enormous risk to personal privacy. But they also contain an enormous opportunity – they could show us how to provide better treatments or more effective health policies. A system called OpenSAFELY has been designed to solve this problem, with the help of a computer code “robot”. Professor Ben Goldacre, director of the Bennett Institute for Applied Data Science at the University of Oxford, explains how it works. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Janet Staples Sound mix: Hal Haines Editor: Charlotte McDonald

Duration:00:09:47

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Debt, students, shark and chips

2/14/2024
What is the government’s fiscal rule on the national debt? Are international students stealing places from the UK’s young people? How much social housing is really being built? Do 90% of chip shops sell shark and chips? Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news. Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Nathan Gower and Debbie Richford Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Janet Staples Sound mix: Rod Farquhar Editor: Charlotte McDonald

Duration:00:28:35

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The global gender split in young people’s politics

2/9/2024
In a surprising new trend, young men and women around the world are dividing by gender on their politics and ideologies. Whilst young women are becoming more liberal, young men are becoming more conservative. Tim Harford speaks to John Burn-Murdoch, Columnist and Chief Data Reporter at the Financial Times, about why this global phenomena may be occurring and Dr Heejung Chung, Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, explains why the ideological divisions between young men and women in South Korea are some of the most extreme. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Series Producer: Tom Colls Production Co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon (Picture: A couple with their back to each other busy with their mobile phones Credit: Martin DM / Getty)

Duration:00:08:58