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Meet the team

The More or Less team
The More or Less team (L to R): Richard Vadon; Daniel Tetlow; Innes Bowen; Oliver Hawkins; Tim Harford; Chris Bowlby; Ruth Alexander.

The economist and writer Tim Harford is the voice of More or Less.

And he is supported by a production team of six journalists - a perfect number.

TIM HARFORD, PRESENTER

Tim Harford
Tim has been the presenter of the programme since October 2007.

Highest mathematical qualification:

By far the hardest maths I have had to cope with was for the econometrics (economic statistics) course of my M.Phil in Economics.

I have two A-Levels in Maths; if you take a seriously biased sample of my results, I got an "A". An alternative biased sample says that I got an "E".

Eureka! moment:

When reporter Ruth Alexander investigated how many CCTV cameras there were in Britain. There is a number that gets repeated again and again, but Ruth found out that it is many years old and based on heroic extrapolation from the number of cameras on a couple of streets in Putney.

I already knew that statistics get repeated again and again without question. But what I also realised then was that there is no reason why we should know how many CCTV cameras there are. Nobody's counting.

We are so used to everything being quantified, everything having a number attached, that we don't always accept that sometimes there is no number - or at least, none that we should trust.

INNES BOWEN, SERIES PRODUCER

Innes Bowen

Innes joined the programme as a reporter in 2003, apprenticed herself to the programme's founder Michael Blastland, and took over as series producer in October 2007.

Highest mathematical qualification:

O-Levels in Maths and Statistics.

Eureka! moment:

Discovering that smokers are not a drain on public funds and also that the typical pregnancy lasts longer than most doctors realise.

CHRIS BOWLBY, REPORTER

Chris Bowlby

This series, Chris has showed 115% commitment in uncovering rampant inflation in the way we talk about percentages.

And he has discovered how numerical superstition is now official policy in some local authorities. Listen to the series to find out more...

Highest mathematical qualification:

O-Level maths, plus advanced ability - based on intense annual practice - at working out Newcastle United's chances of avoiding relegation, according to a wide variety of Premier League permutations.

Eureka! moment:

The realisation that what the media call a "survey" can cover a multitude of statistical sins.

DANIEL TETLOW, PRODUCER

Daniel Tetlow

Daniel joined the team for the Spring series this year.

As well as producing stories, he occasionally wrestles the microphone off Tim to report.

Highest mathematical qualification:

GCSE Maths

Eureka! moment:

Finding that Rhayader in Wales is undoubtedly the town with the most pubs in the UK! Leeds, Brighton....pff!

OLIVER HAWKINS, RESEARCHER

Oliver Hawkins

Oliver has just joined the More or Less team. But he has shown no fear, diving straight into the maths of money supply.

Highest mathematical qualification:

I stopped studying maths after GCSEs only to rediscover it later in life as a software developer.

Eureka! moment:

I love statistics because of what they can tell you about the world. There is something paradoxical about the kind of knowledge they give you.

Statistical evidence can be so compelling it makes you doubt every untested claim.

It can confound your expectations and challenge your most complacent beliefs.

Like Richard Feynman said: "Science is a way of trying not to fool yourself. The first principle is that you must not fool yourself, and you are the easiest person to fool."

RICHARD VADON, EDITOR

Richard Vadon

Highest mathematical qualification:

An O-Level. I started Maths A-Level but it seemed far too much like hard work, so I dropped out.

I later did a degree in Economics and took some Econometrics courses. Looking back, I wish I'd done more statistics.

Eureka! moment:

That came when I worked out a major Government report on obesity had got its figures wrong. I just could not believe a report that cost millions to produce could make such a big error and no-one else had noticed.

It taught me a lesson about how "frightening" statistics are created to grab headlines and keep bandwagons rolling.

RUTH ALEXANDER, MULTIPLATFORM PRODUCER

Ruth Alexander

Ruth has worked on More or Less as a Reporter and Producer since 2006.

She is now working on this website - making videos, and all sorts.

Highest mathematical qualification:

GCSE Maths. And does GCSE Physics count?

Eureka! moment:

Finding out about a statistical phenomenon known as "regression to the mean" has certainly made me understand the world around me a bit better.

If there are fewer crashes at an accident black spot after a speed camera is installed, it must be that the speed camera has done its job. Well - I now know - not necessarily.

That there were a lot of accidents in the first place could have just been randomness - the statistical chances are that the number of accidents will be much closer to the average the next time you monitor that stretch of road.

Oh, and it was rather alarming to find that gift vouchers may not be worth their face value.




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