More or Less: Behind the Stats

More or Less: Behind the Stats

United Kingdom

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


WS More or Less:The death rate of white Americans – What’s going on?  

Are middle-aged white Americans dying younger than other groups?

Living standards and Kate Bush maths  

Are people's incomes falling? Plus singing Pi like Kate Bush

WS More or Less: The Ignorance Test  

How much do you know about the world?

Economics of overnbooking  

Why airlines bet that not everybody will turn up for a flight.

WS More or Less: Could North Korea Wipe out 90% of Americans?  

A single nuclear weapon could destroy America’s entire electrical grid, claims a former head of the CIA. The explosion would send out an electromagnetic pulse – resulting in famine, societal collapse and what one newspaper has called a “Dark Apocalypse”. But are hungry squirrels a greater threat to the electrical grid than North Korean weapons? We speak to senior security adviser Sharon Burke and Yoni Applebaum from The Atlantic. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Hannah Sander

WS More or Less: Will one in four people develop a mental health problem?  

The claim that “one in four” of us will suffer from a mental health problem is popular amongst campaigners, politicians and the media. But this leads you to a simple question – where is this figure from and what’s the evidence? This was exactly what neuroscientist Jamie Horder asked, and far from being simple, it led him on quite a journey. So do we really know how many people are likely to develop mental health problems – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald find out. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Elizabeth Cassin

WS More Or Less: Baby Boxes – are they really saving infant’s lives?  

Ever since a BBC article highlighted the use of baby boxes in Finland they have become a bit of a phenomenon. They’re not new though Finland has been doing this for 75 years. The simple cardboard boxes are given to families for their new born babies to sleep in. Since their introduction cot death and has fallen and child health improved. Governments and individuals across the world have adopted them and companies have sprung up selling them. But think about for minute – can a cardboard box on its own really have such a huge effect – Elizabeth Cassin and Charlotte McDonald have been looking at the truth behind the story. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Elizabeth Cassin (Photo:One of Scotland's first baby boxes is seen at Clackmannanshire Community Health Centre. Credit: Getty Images)

More or Less: The concrete facts about Trump’s wall and China  

Did China use more concrete in three years than the US in the 20th Century?

WS More or Less: The Attention Span of a Goldfish  

Are our attention spans now shorter than a goldfish's?

WS More or Less: Why are Hollywood actresses paid less than men?  

Top Hollywood actresses have complained that they are paid less than their male co-stars

Hidden Figures: The Real Story  

Hidden Figures, the film, has been nominated for three awards at the Oscars and has been a box office hit in the US. It tells the little-known story of a group of African American women and their contribution to the space race in the 50s and 60s. We explore the history of how these women were recruited by Nasa and put to work on complex mathematical tasks – at a time when African Americans and women were far less likely to be employed in such jobs. (Photo: Taraji P. Henson as Katherine Johnson,in a scene from Hidden Figures. Credit: Hopper Stone/Twentieth Century Fox/AP)

WS More or Less: Hans Rosling - the extraordinary life of a statistical guru  

A huge hole was left in the world this week with the death of the Swedish statistician Han Rosling. He was a master communicator whose captivating presentations on global development were watched by millions. He had the ear of those with power and influence. His friend Bill Gates said Hans ‘brought data to life and helped the world see the human progress it often overlooked’. In a world that often looks at the bad news coming out of the developing world, Rosling was determined to spread the good news, extended life expectancy, falling rates of disease and infant mortality. He was fighting what he called the ‘post-fact era‘ of global health. He was passionate about global development and before he became famous he lived and worked in Mozambique, India and the Democratic Republic of Congo using data and his skills as a doctor to save lives. Despite ill health he also travelled to Liberia during the Ebola outbreak in 2014 to help gather and consolidate data to help fight the outbreak. On a personal level he was warm, funny and kind and will be greatly missed by a huge number of people. Presenter: Tim Harford Producer: Wesley Stephenson (Image: Hans Rosling, speaks at a conference in 2012. Credit: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images for ReSource 2012)

Is democracy failing in America?  

Does North Carolina really rank alongside North Korea if you measure electoral integrity

WS More or Less: Counting Crowds  

How many went to celebrate – and how many to protest – the Trump inauguration?

WS More or Less: Why January makes us want to scream  

Blue Monday and Oxfam’s comparison wealth of billionaires and the poor –the stories that come around every year.

WS More or Less: Christian Martyrs  

Were 90,000 Christians killed because of their faith in 2016?

WS More or Less: Should we really be drinking eight glasses of water a day?  

How much water should you be drinking? There’s some age-old advice that suggests you should be drinking eight ounces (230 ml) eight times a day. Some people even advise you should be drinking this on top of what you normally drink. There is lots of advice out there but how do you know when you’ve had enough or if you’re drinking too much. With help from Professor Stanley Goldfarb from the University of Pennsylvania, Wesley Stephenson finds out. (Image: Hand holding a glass of water. Credit: Charlotte Ball/PA Wire)

WS More or Less: Does Sweden Really Have a Six Hour Day?  

There have been reports that those radical Swedes have decided to reduce the working day to just six hours because, it has been claimed, productivity does not suffer. Before you all rush to the Swedish job pages this is not quite the case – but there have been trials in Sweden to test whether you can shorten people’s working hours without having an effect on output. Tim Harford talks to our Swedish correspondent Keith Moore about what the trials have found. He also speaks to professor John Pencavel, Emeritus Professor of Economics, at Stanford University, and finds that reducing working hours may not be as radical idea as it first appears. (Photo: A business man carries a black briefcase)

The Haber-Bosch Process  

Saving lives with thin air - by taking nitrogen from the air to make fertiliser

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