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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 January, 2005, 15:54 GMT
The paternity myth
A family
More or Less gets behind the truth of a paternity myth
More or Less returned for a new series on Thursday, 13 January with its dependable mixture of incisive analysis of numbers in the news and insights from numbers of every kind about the world around us, and this time co-produced with the Open University.

This week we look at paternity.

BBC Radio 4's More or Less was broadcast on Thursday, 13 January at 1500 GMT

Have you heard that one in 10 men is not really the father of the child they think is theirs?

You have? Not surprised, it is quoted everywhere.

We expose this supposed "fact" as an urban myth, discovering that there is no credible research to support it.


There are between 23.4 and 28.4 million people living with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa according to UN AIDS. But have the figures been quietly revised downwards?

Following the recent death of Nelson Mandela's son who died from Aids, we look ahead to new figures due out for South Africa in the next week and examine the row about whether they have been seriously exaggerated.

Mobile phone safety

Plus, if you are anxious about mobile phones following the latest report from the British Radiological Protection Board by Sir William Stewart, we look in detail at one of the risks cited.

Sir William says his advice that children should be restricted in their use of mobile phones was influenced by a Swedish study on an association between phone use and tumours in the ear.

We take a careful look at the numbers in that study, with interesting results.


And finally, think you understand averages?

A short essay by Helen Joyce, editor of Significance, the magazine of the Royal Statistical Society, offers some reasons for thinking twice about averages, particularly if you've an eye on the weather.

And listen out for two stories struggling to get into this week's programme but which, if not, will be with you very soon.

First, Benford's Law. How a weird fact of nature which shows that there is not a random number of 1s 2s and 3s out there but more of some than others, is helping to catch fraud.

And second, following the tsunami, there have been renewed calls for the cancellation of developing world debt.

So if debt is bad, and the big debts of developing countries worst of all, why would anyone argue for more lending?

We speak to someone who does.

Producer: Michael Blastland
Editor: Nicola Meyrick

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More or Less and The Open University
12 Jan 05 |  More Or Less


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