Tim Harford and the More or Less team try to make sense of the statistics which surround us. From BBC Radio 4
The origins of Covid
To find out where a virus comes from, researchers compare it to other viruses to try to trace its origin. This leads to claims like SARS-CoV-2 is 91 or even 96% similar to other known viruses. But what does that really mean? Tim Harford talks to the virus ecologist Marilyn J Roossinck.
Covid deaths, outdoor swimming and care homes
The official number of deaths attributed to Covid 19 around the world in the whole of 2020 is 1.88 million. The global toll this year surpassed this figure on 11th of June. We look at how things are worse worldwide, despite vaccines and lock downs.
Does the UK have the worst bathing sites in Europe? That’s certainly a claim made by a number of newspapers. We show why this is not the case.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has been in the news again with comments regarding care homes during the pandemic. Just how good was the government’s ‘ring of protection’ around care homes during the first wave - and the second? We speak to Steven Johnson about his book ‘Extra Life: A Short History of Living Longer.’
The doubling of life-expectancy
Steven Johnson, author of Extra Life, tells the fascinating history of life expectancy, and the extraordinary achievements of the last century, in which it has practically doubled.
It’s a story that has data at its heart, from the ground-breaking invention of the category itself in 17th century London to the pioneering social health surveys of W.E.B. Du Bois in 1890s Philadelphia.
Tim Harford spoke to Steven about the numbers beneath possibly the most important number of all.
Third wave fears, smart motorways and bra sizes
Covid cases are rising again in the UK – should we be worried about a third wave? Tim Harford speaks to David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of Risk at the University of Cambridge.
How safe are smart motorways? Many listeners have concerns that they seem more dangerous than conventional motorways. We take a look at the numbers.
What proportion of adults in England have been vaccinated? Listeners have spotted a potential discrepancy in the public data online.
Are 80% of women wearing the wrong size bra? This frequently repeated statistic has been around for decades – could it possibly be true?
Bolton vaccines, Yorkshire versus Scotland and the average gamer
Health Minister Matt Hancock recently told the House of Commons that: “The number of vaccinations happening in Bolton right now is phenomenal - tens of thousands every single day.” We explain why this is not the case.
The recent SNP election success has turned attention to the question of independence. We compare Scotland’s finances to the comparably sized Yorkshire and Humber region.
How do you work out 28 + 47 in your head? We speak to mathematician Katie Steckles.
A listener asked us to find out if it is true that the average age of a gamer is over 40.
Plus, we take a look at this claim from Netflix documentary Seaspiracy: “if current fishing trends continue we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048.”
The Seaspiracy “virtually empty ocean” claim
Popular Netflix documentary Seaspiracy has sparked a lot of debate recently, including some controversy over some of the claims the documentary makes and the numbers behind them. One of the most striking is that: “if current fishing trends continue we will see virtually empty oceans by the year 2048.” Although overfishing is a global problem, we take a look and find that this scenario is unlikely.
I share this podcast all the time!
I am so glad i stumbled upon this podcast. The explanations and statistical analysis done by the contributors is fascinating.
I would like to have access to some of the research articles, etc mentioned in each episode for further reading and education.
Interesting and well-done show
Great show! The topics are interesting and well-explained. The host is engaging, informative, and really helps the audience understand topics that initially seem really complex. Keep up the outstanding work!!
Host great; correspondent- no
Tim Harford is inquisitive and brilliant. Sadly, a new correspondent named Amy has a decidedly political and preachy bent.