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    More or Less: Behind the Stats

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

    enBBC955 Episodes

    Episodes (955)

    Federer’s 54%: Tennis stats explained

    Federer’s 54%: Tennis stats explained

    How can tennis star Roger Federer have won only 54% of the points he played, but been the best player in the world? Jeff Sackmann, the tennis stats brain behind tennisabstract.com, explains to Tim Harford how probability works in the sport.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Series producer: Tom Colls Production co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: Nigel Appleton Editor: Richard Vadon

    The magic of trigonometry

    The magic of trigonometry

    You might have found it boring in school maths classes, but Matt Parker thinks we should all learn to love trigonometry.

    The ‘Love Triangle’ author talks to Tim Harford about the maths used in GPS, architecture and special effects.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Series Producer: Tom Colls Production Co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Sound Mix: Nigel Appleton Editor: Richard Vadon

    Election endings, tennis and meeting men in finance

    Election endings, tennis and meeting men in finance

    Are Labour right about employment? Are the Conservatives right about cutting NHS managers? Are the Lib Dems right about share buyback? Are Reform UK right about their tax plans?

    How do they make the exit poll so accurate?

    What are the odds of meeting a very tall man in finance (with a trust fund)?

    What does it mean that Roger Federer only won 54% of the points he played?

    Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Kate Lamble Producers: Nathan Gower, Beth Ashmead Latham and Debbie Richford Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Rod Farquhar Editor: Richard Vadon

    How a tick box doubled the US maternal mortality rates.

    How a tick box doubled the US maternal mortality rates.

    he US has been portrayed as in the grip of a maternal mortality crisis. In contrast to most other developed nations, the rate of maternal deaths in the US has been going up since the early 2000s.

    But why? With the help of Saloni Dattani, a researcher at Our World in Data, Tim Harford explores how a gradual change in the way the data was gathered lies at the heart of the problem.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Production Co-ordinator: Brenda Brown Series Producer: Tom Colls Sound Mix: Emma Harth Editor: Richard Vadon

    Election claims and erection claims

    Election claims and erection claims

    Are Labour right about the Liz Truss effect on mortgages? Are the Conservatives right about pensioners? Are Plaid Cymru right about spending? Are the Lib Dems right about care funding? Is Count Binface right about croissants?

    Why are MRP polls coming up with such different numbers?

    Do erections require a litre of blood?

    Tim Harford investigates the numbers in the news.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Kate Lamble Producers: Simon Tulett, Nathan Gower, Beth Ashmead Latham and Debbie Richford Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Rod Farquhar Editor: Richard Vadon

    Do ‘pig butchering’ cyber scams make as much as half Cambodia’s GDP?

    Do ‘pig butchering’ cyber scams make as much as half Cambodia’s GDP?

    So-called “pig butchering” scams take billions of dollars from people around the globe. But do the cyber scams run from compounds in Cambodia really take an amount of money equivalent to half that country’s GDP? We investigate how the scale of these criminal operations has been calculated.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Andrew Garratt Editor: Richard Vadon

    Worse mortgages, better readers, and potholes on the moon

    Worse mortgages, better readers, and potholes on the moon

    Will Conservative policies raise mortgages by £4800, as Labour claim? Are primary school kids in England the best readers in the (western) world, as the Conservatives claim? Are there more potholes in the UK than craters on the moon?

    Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Kate Lamble Producers: Nathan Gower, Simon Tullet Beth Ashmead-Latham and Debbie Richford Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: James Beard Editor: Richard Vadon

    Shakespeare’s maths

    Shakespeare’s maths

    AWilliam Shakespeare might well rank as the most influential writer in the English language. But it seems he also had a knack for numbers.

    Rob Eastaway, author of Much Ado about Numbers, tells Tim Harford about the simple maths that brings Shakespeare’s work to life.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Readings: Stella Harford and Jordan Dunbar Producer: Beth Ashmead-Latham Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: James Beard Editor: Richard Vadon

    Leaflets, taxes, oil workers and classrooms

    Leaflets, taxes, oil workers and classrooms

    What’s going on with the dodgy bar charts that political parties put on constituency campaign leaflets?

    What’s the truth about tax promises?

    Are 100,000 oil workers going to lose their jobs in Scotland?

    Will class sizes increase in state schools if private schools increase their fees?

    Tim Harford investigates some of the numbers in the news.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporter: Kate Lamble Producers: Nathan Gower, Beth Ashmead-Latham, Debbie Richford Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Neil Churchill Editor: Richard Vadon

    Why medical error is not the third leading cause of death in the US

    Why medical error is not the third leading cause of death in the US

    The claim that medical error is the third leading cause of death in the US has been zooming around the internet for years.

    This would mean that only heart disease and cancer killed more people than the very people trying to treat these diseases.

    But there are good reasons to be suspicious about the claim.

    Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, director of The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute, or THIS Institute, at Cambridge University, explains what’s going on.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Nigel Appleton Editor: Richard Vadon

    Debate, Reform, tax evasion and ants

    Debate, Reform, tax evasion and ants

    Were there any suspicious claims in the election debate between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer?

    Do the claims in Reform UK’s policy documents on excess deaths and climate change make sense?

    Can the Conservatives and Labour raise £6bn a year by cracking down on tax avoidance and evasion?

    And do all the humans on earth weigh more than all of the ants?

    Presenter: Tim Harford Reporters: Kate Lamble and Nathan Gower Producer: Beth Ashmead-Latham Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

    Data for India

    Data for India

    India’s election has been running since 19 April. With results imminent on 4th June, More or Less talks with Chennai based data communicator Rukmini S. She founded Data for India, a new website designed to make socioeconomic data on India easier to find and understand. She talks us through the changing trends to help give a better picture of the type of country the winning party will govern.

    Producers: Bethan Ashmead and Nathan Gower Sound Engineer: Nigel Appleton Production Coordinator: Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

    UK growth, prisons and Swiftonomics

    UK growth, prisons and Swiftonomics

    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said that the UK economy is growing faster than Germany, France and the US, while Labour says the typical household in the UK is worse off by £5,883 since 2019. Are these claims fair? We give some needed context.

    Net migration has fallen - we talk to someone who predicted it would - Dr Madeleine Sumption, director of the Migration Observatory at the University of Oxford.

    Is Taylor Swift about to add £1 bn to the British economy as some media outlets have claimed? The answer is ‘No’.

    Why are our prisons full? We ask Cassia Rowland from the Institute for Government.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Producers: Charlotte McDonald, Nathan Gower, Bethan Ashmead Latham and Ellie House Series producer: Tom Colls Sound mix: Neil Churchill Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Editor: Richard Vadon

    Is intermittent fasting going to kill you?

    Is intermittent fasting going to kill you?

    News stories earlier in the year appeared to suggest that time restricted eating – where you consume all your meals in an 8 hour time window – was associated with a 91% increase in the risk of death from cardiovascular disease.

    But is this true? Tim Harford looks into the claim with the help of Cardiologist Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University in the US.

    Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Debbie Richford Series producer: Tom Colls Production coordinator: Brenda Brown Sound mix: Nigel Appleton Editor: Richard Vadon

    MP misconduct, NHS waiting lists and gold (gold)

    MP misconduct, NHS waiting lists and gold (gold)

    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

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

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

    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

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

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

    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

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

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

    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

    Has Milei fixed Argentina’s inflation problem?

    Has Milei fixed Argentina’s inflation problem?

    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.

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

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

    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

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