Rank #1: The Extra Episode: Minimum wage, drinking in Scotland and identical twins.
Oct 11 2019
Rank #2: Teen Suicide; Brexit Business Moves; Wood-Burner Pollution
Feb 08 2019
Rank #3: Fathers and babies
This week it was claimed that only 1 percent of men are taking up the option of shared parental leave – a new provision that came into force a year ago. A number of media outlets covered the story, interviewing experts about why there was such a low take-up. But in reality the figures used are deeply flawed and cannot be used to prove such a statement.
“I love you twice as much today as yesterday, but half as much as tomorrow.” – This is the inscription on a card that teacher Kyle Evans once saw in a card from his father to his mother. But if that was true, what would it have meant over the course of their relationship? Kyle takes us through a musical exploration of what exponential love would look like. The item is based on a performance he gave for a regional heat of Cheltenham Festivals Famelab – a competition trying to explain science in an engaging way.
The cost of the EU
One of our listeners spotted a comparison made this week between the UK’s contribution to the EU and a sandwich. One blogger says it’s like buying a £3 sandwich with a £5 note, and getting over a £1,000 in change. We look at the figures on how much the UK pays to the EU, and what it gets back.
The story of ‘average’
In the 1600s astronomers were coming up with measurements to help sailors read their maps with a compass. But with all the observations of the skies they were making, how did they choose the best number? We tell the story of how astronomers started to find the average from a group of numbers. By the 1800s, one Belgian astronomer began to apply it to all sorts of social and national statistics – and the ‘Average Man’ was born.
And we set a little maths problem to solve...
Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Apr 08 2016
Rank #4: Hottest Easter, Insects, Scottish villages
A heatwave struck the UK over Easter – and in fact Easter Monday was declared the hottest on record in the UK. But listeners asked - is it that surprising that it was the warmest when the date fell so late in April? We crunch the numbers supplied by the Met Office.
Insects live all around us and if a recent scientific review is anything to go by, then they are on the path to extinction. The analysis found that more than 40% of insect species are decreasing and that a decline rate of 2.5% a year suggests they could disappear in 100 years. And as some headlines in February warned of the catastrophic collapse of nature, some More or Less listeners questioned the findings. Is insect life really in trouble?
Collecting income tax from the 1%
Recently Lord Sugar said in a Tweet “The fact is if you taxed everyone earning over £150k at a rate of 70% it would not raise enough to pay for 5% of the NHS.” Is that true? Helen Miller, Deputy Director and head of tax at the Institute for Fiscal Studies looks at how much such a policy might raise from the 1% of tax payers who earn over £150,000.
Where is Scotland’s highest village?
A battle is brewing in the Southern Scottish uplands between two rival villages. How can statistics help determine which village should take the crown? Wanlockhead and Leadhills both lay claim to the title of Scotland’s highest village but there can only be one winner. More or Less attempts to settle the age old dispute once and for all.
Image: A man and woman sitting on deckchairs on the beach
Credit: Getty Images
Apr 26 2019
Rank #5: More or Less: Statistics of the Year 2017
Dec 31 2017
Rank #6: WS More or Less: Just how lucky are regular lottery winners?
Dec 04 2017
Rank #7: WS More or Less: Sleeping: the 8-hour myth
*Please note this is a repeat from February 2015*
(Photo: Man asleep in a bed. Credit: Corbis)
Jul 08 2016
Rank #8: WS More or Less: How Rich was Jane Austen’s Mr Darcy?
Nov 26 2017
Rank #9: WS More or Less: Are US millennials more politically engaged online?
Oct 20 2017
Rank #10: WS More or Less: Will Bitcoin use more electricity than the United States?
Dec 24 2017
Rank #11: WS More or Less: Does San Francisco have more rough sleepers than Britain?
Oct 07 2019
Rank #12: WS More or Less: How Should We Think About Spending?
(Photo: Mannequins in a shop window wearing sale t-shirts. Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Apr 20 2018
Rank #13: Missed appointments, graduate pay, plus cocaine on bank notes
New figures published recently suggest that the financial cost to the NHS for missed appointments was £1 billion last year. But our listeners are curious. How has this figure been worked out? And don’t missed appointments actually ease the pressure on an overcrowded system?
Graduate pay – is it always higher than non-graduates’ pay?
It is often claimed that if you go to university and get a degree, you will earn more than those who do not. But is that always true? We take a look to see if there are occasions when having a degree makes little difference or whether the benefit of a degree has changed over time.
How much cocaine is on a bank note?
Tim Harford speaks to Richard Sleeman who works for a firm, Mass Spec Analytical, that specialises in working out how much cocaine can be found on bank notes across the country. Do some parts of the country have more cocaine on their notes than others? Is it true that 99% of bank notes in London have cocaine on them?
Is it true that one in five can’t name an author of literature?
Last year the Royal Society of Literature made this claim – but what was it based on? It turns out a polling company found that 20 percent questioned failed to name a single author. Should we be surprised? We took a look at the data.
Diet Coke Habit
The New York Times claims that Donald Trump drinks ‘a dozen’ Diet Cokes a day. With each can of 330ml containing 42mg of caffeine - what impact, if any, could this have on the President’s health?
Jan 12 2018
Rank #14: Carbs, Sugar and the Truth
Aug 03 2018
Rank #15: WS More or Less: Simpson’s Paradox
May 02 2016
Rank #16: Gender Pay Gaps and How to Learn a Language
This week the Office for National Statistics has published analysis trying to find out why it is that on average women are paid less than men in specific industries and occupations. We examine their findings, as well as taking a look at the current discussion about equal pay at the BBC.
Alcohol reaction times
We take a look at a study that suggests that people's reaction speeds are affected over time by regular drinking. It recommends that official guidelines for the amount of alcohol consumed a week should be lowered. But what does the evidence show?
Bus announcements - when is too many?
Transport for London has introduced a new announcement on its buses to warn travellers that the bus is about to move. We discuss the benefit of such messages.
How many words do you need to speak a language?
Ein bier bitte? Loyal listener David made a new year's resolution to learn German. Three years later, that's about as far as he's got. Keen to have something to aim for, he asked More or Less how many words you really need to know in order to speak a language. We find out with help from Professor Stuart Webb, and put Tim through his paces to find out how big his own English vocabulary is.
Producer: Charlotte McDonald.
(Photo: Man and woman working on a car production plant. Credit: SEBASTIEN BOZON/AFP/Getty Images)
Jan 19 2018
Rank #17: EU Migration
Apr 29 2016
Rank #18: WS More or Less: Exposing the biases we have of the world
May 07 2018
Rank #19: WS More or Less: The world’s most diverse city
This month, British mathematician Sir Andrew Wiles will go to Oslo to collect the Abel prize, a prestigious maths prize for his work proving Fermat’s last theorem. Science author Simon Singh explains his work.
Producers: Laura Gray and Ed Davey.
May 13 2016
Rank #20: Brexit numbers
This week there was much debate over the Treasury report which modelled how leaving the EU would affect the economy. Tim Harford speaks to the Spectator’s Fraser Nelson about how the document was presented to the public, and how it was reported. Chris Giles of the Financial Times explains that there are useful points to take from the Treasury’s analysis.
Hinckley Point nuclear power station
What is the most expensive “object” ever built? The environmental charity Greenpeace has claimed it is set to be the most expensive object on Earth. But could it really cost more to build than the Great Pyramids? We take a look at some of the most costly building projects on the planet.
Chances of serving on a jury
A listener in Scotland is curious to know what the chances are of being selected for jury service. Several of his family members have received summons, but he has not. We look at who is eligible to serve, and what your odds are of receiving a summons.
European Girls Maths Olympiad
Last week we told the story of how the European Girls Maths Olympiad (EGMO) came into being. We followed the UK team on their recent journey to Romania to compete against 38 other teams from Europe and around the world.
Life expectancy of a Pope
In 2014 Pope Francis alluded to the fact he didn’t expect to live more than another two or three years. A group of statisticians have taken a look at the life expectancy of popes over the centuries and decided that he may have been rather pessimistic.
Presenter: Tim Harford
Producer: Charlotte McDonald
Apr 22 2016