300 episodes

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

More or Less: Behind the Stats BBC Radio 4

    • News
    • 4.7 • 663 Ratings

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

    Ed Sheeran and the mathematics of musical coincidences

    Ed Sheeran and the mathematics of musical coincidences

    After beating a plagiarism claim in court, musician Ed Sheeran said that musical coincidences were inevitable with only 12 notes to choose from… but what do the numbers say? Mathematician and concert pianist Eugenia Cheng takes us through the mathematics of music and explains how the power of exponentials mean that just a handful of notes can open up a seemingly endless world of musical variety.

    Presenter: Tim Harford
    Producer: Nathan Gower
    Programme Coordinator: Janet Staples
    Sound Engineer: Neil Churchill

    • 11 min
    Rail strikes, tyre pollution and sex statistics

    Rail strikes, tyre pollution and sex statistics

    Do rail workers really earn £13,000 a year more than nurses? As rail strikes severely hit services we look at some of the claims being made around pay – and explain how you can measure average pay in different ways.

    Plus we investigate claims that Chancellor Rishi Sunak wasted £11bn by paying too much interest on Britain’s national debt.

    Is pollution from tyres really 2000 times worse than pollution from exhausts?

    And we look at sex and statistics in America.

    Produced in partnership with the Open University.

    Credits:
    Presenter: Tim Harford
    Series Producer: Charlotte McDonald
    Reporters: Nathan Gower, Jon Bithrey
    Production Coordinator: Janet Staples
    Sound Engineer: James Beard
    Editor: Richard Vadon

    • 28 min
    How often do people have sex?

    How often do people have sex?

    Magazine articles and advice columns are commonly littered with spurious statistics about how much sex we’re having. So how much do we really know – and what are the difficulties of collecting information about such an intimate part of our lives?

    Doctor Marina Adshade from the Vancouver School of Economics, who specialises in the economics of sex and love, answers questions posed by a curious More or Less listener in Japan.

    • 8 min
    Maternity litigation, stars, bees and windowless planes

    Maternity litigation, stars, bees and windowless planes

    The former Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says that the cost of maternity litigation claims in England is now more than the cost of salaries for maternity nurses and doctors. We crunch the numbers and ask how worried parents and taxpayers should be. Also are there more bees in the world than stars in the galaxy? And would planes be much lighter if they didn’t bother with windows? Maths Professor Hannah Fry talks to us about her experience of cancer and the choices she and others have faced after a diagnosis. And we hear from author Simon Singh, who wants to bring fun maths conversations into homes everywhere.

    Produced in partnership with the Open University.

    • 28 min
    Hannah Fry: Understanding the numbers of cancer

    Hannah Fry: Understanding the numbers of cancer

    British mathematics professor and broadcaster Hannah Fry has spent many years trying to explain the world through numbers. But when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer she embarked on a new mission – to discover whether the medical world, and we as individuals, make the right choices around treatment. Are patients always given the facts – and the time - they need to make rational decisions? And could we be at risk of unnecessary overtreatment?

    • 10 min
    Employment puzzle, pyramids and triplets

    Employment puzzle, pyramids and triplets

    The UK has a low unemployment rate, and a large number of people who are not working right now – we look at how both of these are true with the help of Chris Giles from the FT and Louise Murphy from the Resolution Foundation.

    Have pyramids really moved 4km south since they were built?

    For years, the media has been claiming that the odds of having identical triplets are one in 200 million – we are very suspicious. And we look at apparently concerning reports about women's life expectancy in the poorest parts of England.

    Plus, we have received a lot of emails from listeners about last week’s episode. Some questioning the definition of a billion, others questioning our explanation of the nautical mile. We do some reflecting.

    • 28 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
663 Ratings

663 Ratings

dldnh ,

Excellent

An excellent podcast, always very interesting.

mkcheshire ,

great show

My only complaint is the ANNOYINGLY LOUD SOUND after ADs.

nicmart ,

Sometimes good, sometimes awful

It has often been good, but then the guest about the “gender pay gap” was a reporter from leftist NPR. I unfollowed the podcast. It isn’t that I object to disparate opinions, I object to activism masquerading as expertise. Surely the host of the show knows that there are experts on this topic.

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