20 May 2010

The World Cup, Eurovision and toaster accidents – More or Less is back!

More or Less, The Open University and BBC’s popular numbers programme, returns to BBC Radio 4 on 21 May 2010. The six programmes will aim to demystify some of the common statistics quoted and validate whether some predictions could statistically come true.

The series starts by addressing the hot topic of electoral reform, and investigates how unfair the current system is and whether fairness is an achievable outcome. It then moves on to health and safety, where a listener challenges the widely held belief that toasters kill more people every year than sharks. Is this true, and how do we know that if the UK no longer collects detailed data on accidents?

Kevin McConway, Professor of Applied Statistics at The Open University and the academic consultant to the series, said: “We’re surrounded by a sea of numbers. Like the real sea, it can be useful, and it can be fun, but there are dangers too. More or Less aims to help you understand the statistics and even to see the fun in them.”

The series will also investigate the 80/20 or Pareto Principle. Self-help gurus and consultants widely recommend it as the solution to many management problems, but is there a mathematical reason why it should work?

On a lighter note, statisticians are invited to predict the outcome of the Eurovision song contest and we find out if it is possible.

The World Cup also gets a looking into – not only through selecting the strongest England football team statistically, but Germany’s Mental Calculation World Cup. Intrigued? Tune in to Radio 4, 1:30pm on a Friday afternoon.

Editor’s Notes
More or Less is presented by Tim Harford and this is 13th series that The Open University has been involved in. The programme starts on Friday 21 May at 1:30 pm and is repeated on Sundays at 8:00 pm. It is also available as a free podcast, downloadable from the BBC.

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