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

Episodes

WS More or Less: More Horses than Tanks?  

Is the UK the only country with more horses than tanks in its army?

Electric cars, school-ready and feedback  

Will we need more power stations? Plus, are children in Manchester ready for school?

One in 500 Year Storm  

Experts are saying that Houston just suffered a one in 500 year storm but what does that mean?

Grenfell Tower's Death Toll  

The difficulties of finding the true number of people who died in the fire.

Fantasy Football - How to win  

Figuring out the best strategy as a wannabe team manager.

A-levels, drowning and dress sizes  

Are boys getting more top A Level grades than girls? Plus why are dress sizes so weird?

The Trump Bump  

During a recent press conference President Trump said: “I’ve created over a million jobs since I’m president. The country is booming. The stock market is setting records. We’ve got the highest employment numbers we have ever had I the history of our country.” This is not the first time the American President has taken credit for a booming economy. But is that fair? We take a look at the numbers.

Are there 15,000 transgender people serving in the US military?  

President Trump says transgender individuals cannot serve, but how many do already?

Why is Kenya’s election so expensive?  

On Tuesday Kenyans go to the polls to elect members of parliament and the next president. A report in Quartz Africa has estimated that the cost of putting on the election by the Government works out at around $25 per head – $480 million in total. It also estimated that it cost Rwanda $1 a head, and Uganda $4 a head to lay on elections. Recently an expert on this programme estimated that the UK General election cost about $4 a head. We explore why there is such a difference in the amounts spent.

More boys than girls in Sweden?  

Exploring if an influx of teenage boys claiming asylum skewed the population’s sex ratio

Maryam Mirzakhani – A Genius of Maths  

Celebrating the only woman to win the biggest prize in mathematics.

Calling the shots at Wimbledon  

Using statistics to prove or disprove the wisdom of tennis is the theme this week. In this digital age we are used to information at our fingertips. This week More or Less finds out how every rally, every shot at this tennis championship is counted and makes its way to our phones, desktops and TV screens. And once you have this information – what can you do with it? Is it useful for players and coaches? Traditionally, players will take a risk on their first chance to serve, and hit the ball as fast as they can, knowing that they have a second chance. On their second attempt, players tend to serve more slowly and carefully to make sure it goes in. But could the statistics show they might as well take a risk again? (Venus Williams plays a backhand during the Ladies Singles first round match against Elise Mertens at Wimbledon. Credit: Getty Images)

Is Steph Curry cheap and how random is random?  

Are top basketball players underpaid? The American basketballer Stephen Curry has just signed the biggest contract in NBA history. The new deal will pay him $200 million over 5 years but amazingly, according to fellow superstar player Lebron James, he’s probably being underpaid. It may sound ridiculous but economists agree. How can this be true? We look at the economics of superstar sports salaries. The mystery of Ryanair’s seat allocation Ryanair carries more international passengers a year than any other airline. The European budget carrier is renowned for its low cost seats. If you want to guarantee seating next to people you book with, you have to pay extra. Otherwise, Ryanair says it will allocate seats randomly. We speak to statistician Dr Jennifer Rogers from the University of Oxford about her doubts over the ‘random’ nature of the seat allocation. Presenter: Charlotte McDonald Producer: Charlotte McDonald and Richard Vadon

In Search of Woodall Primes  

It’s the 100 year centenary of an obscure type of prime number – the Woodall Primes. To celebrate, stand-up mathematician Matt Parker is calling on listeners to search for a new one. Ordinary citizens can already help search for Mersenne Prime numbers by lending computer processing power to GIMPS – the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search. Matt explains to Tim Harford what a Woodall Prime is, and why it deserves more attention. Also - Making penalty shoot-outs fairer - 60% of penalty shoot-outs are won by the team going first, can this unfairness be overcome? (image Matt Parker / photographer: Steve Ullathorne)

How rare are deadly tower block fires?  

How statistics can help us understand the tragic fire at London’s Grenfell Tower.

Trumpton Extra  

The Voice of 1960s British children’s TV series ‘Trumpton’, Brian Cant, died this week. The More or Less team has visited the town of Trumpton on a number of occasions so we have brought together a handful of our favourites as a tribute.

Post-Election Special  

The results of the general election are in - but what do they mean? Did more young people vote than expected? Have we now got a more diverse parliament? How many extra votes would Jeremy Corbyn have needed to become Prime Minister - these are just some of the claims and questions that have been floating around on social media and in the press. Tim Harford and the team are going to analyse, add context and try and find answers.

WS More or Less: Are African football players more likely to die on the field?  

Cheick Tiote, the much loved former Newcastle United player collapsed and died while training with Chinese side Beijing Enterprises earlier this month. His death and that of other black footballers have caused some commentators to ask – are African or black players more likely to die while playing than other people? The data of footballers deaths is pretty poor but we try to glean some answers from the scant numbers available. It look like one of the most common causes of death among players on the pitch is cardiac arrest – son is this is a greater risk factor for people of African heritage? We speak to statistician Dr Robert Mastrodomenico and Professor Sanjay Sharma, a specialist in sports cardiology. Presented and produced by Jordan Dunbar and Charlotte McDonald

UK Election extra  

This podcast is a compilation of interviews by the More or Less team with Eddie Mair from Radio 4’s PM programme. Each interview features a different claim or hotly discussed topic from the UK general election campaign: from school funding, to numbers of armed police officers.

WS More or Less: Samba, strings and the story of HIV  

Trumpets are blasting in this week’s musical episode. But can medical statistics be transformed into a jazzy night out? That was the challenge which epidemiologist Elizabeth Pisani set for composer Tony Haynes. This June, his Grand Union Orchestra will be performing Song of Contagion, an evening of steel pans, saxophones and singers telling the story of diseases including Zika and AIDs. We met Elizabeth and Tony in an East London music studio, to hear Song of Contagion come together for the very first time. Producer: Hannah Sander (Photo: Detail close up of French Horn musical instrument, part of the Brass family of instruments. Credit: Shutterstock)

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