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Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Friday, 7 August 2009 12:47 UK

Welcome to Eurabia?

A Dutch woman wearing a burka
More or Less
Friday, 7 August 2009
BBC Radio 4, 1330 BST

Will France be a Muslim Republic in 39 years?

If you have watched the "Muslim Demographics" video on YouTube - and many millions have - you might have wondered whether the statistics presented in it are reliable.

The seven-and-a-half minute video uses slick graphics, punctuated with dramatic music, to make some surprising claims, asserting that much of Europe will be majority Muslim in only a few decades.

So how credible are the numbers in the video?

The short answer is: not very. But the long answer is more interesting - as our crunching of the numbers illustrates.

Muslim Demographics: The Truth

DNA to stay?

DNA molecule sequences

A Home Office paper seems to suggest that innocent people are as likely as guilty ones to go on to commit crimes in the future.

If true, this presents a pretty good reason for keeping their profiles on the DNA database.

But is it true?

Presenter Tim Harford interviews statistician Professor Sheila Bird who has been looking at the evidence the Home Office has used to support its claim.

Lost in music

Sheet music, recently identified as part of a childhood creation by Mozart

Music is maths. Don't believe us?

Then listen to this piece of pure brilliance from our reporter Ruth Alexander.

You will never look at a piano in the same way again.

BBC Radio 4's More or Less is broadcast on Friday, 7 August at 1330 BST and repeated on Sunday, 9 August at 2000 BST.

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Your Comments

Debunking a YouTube hit

I would like to really thank you for the precise and clear job you've done to counter the manipulation of the "muslim demographic" video. The video has been seen 10 million times on You Tube . But when you perform a search on the google video engine, the video is in fact replicated on many sites. Unfortunately, on the google video search, "muslim demographic : the truth" only comes up today on page 3. As we all know, very few internet users will reach that page...I will personally share your video with a large extent of my contacts. Let's hope the "more or less" video can soon come on page 1 in internet search engines. Vincent Placer, France

For a video which isn't even able to correctly quote the number of EU member states, is it really a surprise that the rest of the mindless propaganda is wholly inaccurate? Peter Mayne

I agreed wholeheartedly with your piece yesterday about the wild claims of some regarding the Islamification of the UK and I applaud your bravery in dealing with the otherwise taboo subject. Whilst I agreed with your debunking of some absurd assumptions there were also some assumptions in your own case that might be questioned. The idea that migrating populations adopt fertility patterns of hosting populations is not universal. Where religious groups are concerned it is in fact clear that they carry with them their traditional fertility patterns. As an example, the Catholic pattern is very similar the world over and does not tend to the norm of any containing population. Where a migrating group is closely knit by language, faith culture etc. the tendency is to remain separate and not to trend towards the norm in any medium term timescale. Paul J. Weighell

The Pythagorean comma

You told the story of Pythagoras passing a smithy and hearing the different pitches from the different hammers and anvils, in nice integer ratios. It's a nice story, but anyone who has wielded a hammer in this way will recognise that it is just a story. There is no simple relationship between the size of a solid object and the nominal pitch it produces when struck. As well, the overtones are almost guaranteed to be markedly non-integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. Pythagoras would have gained no insight into the numerical relationships between the tones from looking at the sizes or weights of the hammers or anvils. As an example, bell makers have go to some considerable lengths to design a shape for the bell which has approximately integer ratios for the first few overtones at least. This has to be worked at - it is certainly not a self evident consequence of the bell's shape. Scott Campbell, New Zealand

Having long considered mathematics merely a convenient human construct capable of proving/disproving virtually any concept, particularly when used to formulate statistics, today's programme went some way to confirming this regarding suspect musical notation, where the object appears to count the notes accurately rather than sitting back and enjoying a performance, wrong notes and all, indicating that mathematicians should get out more. Gordon Petherbridge

I would like to congratulate you on your excellent report on numbers and music in relation to keyboard instruments. I was waiting with baited breath for the usual misconceptions to be trotted out and they weren't. You didn't even repeat that oft quoted misconception that Bach composed his 40 Preludes and Fugues to demonstrate equal temperament. John Pike Mander

DNA to stay?

The item about the misuse of statistics by the police, in their attempts to justify retention of the DNA of innocent people was more about the misuse of language than the misuse of statistics: confusing "rearrest" and "reoffending," for example, or by assuming arrest means guilt. This is a confusion of definition which then seems to lead to the statistical conclusion the police seem to want. I have no idea whether this is deliberate on their part, but it certainly isn't a problem of their misinterpretation of statistics, just of their native language! Sara Neill

In all the discussions regarding the police DNA data base including yours, just now, the tacit assumption seems to be made that anyone not convicted is therefore innocent. Wrong wrong wrong! All you can say is that the evidence produced has not convinced the public prosecutor or the jury. Clearly an important part of gathering evidence for a re-trial will be the DNA file. To my mind, therefore, there is no motive for ceasing to hold this evidence (under proper control) and every motive to do so. The statistics of reconviction do not affect this argument. The statistics of re-arrest may well be more relevant where the arrested is skilled at concealing evidence. Paul Cope

What are the odds of an incorrect match occuring on the database in someone's life time? Each year younger and younger people are put on the database so that someone may well be on it for over 65 years. Now knowing how many times the database is searched each year proivides a start for estimating the answer to this question. However it is important also to take account of the fact in the future as DNA detection becomes easier and cheaper more and more searches will be done (perhaps in 50 years in may increase 50 or 100 or even 1000 fold as DNA replaces figure printing etc.). Mr M Watkins



SEE ALSO
Debunking a YouTube hit
07 Aug 09 |  Magazine
Disproving the Muslim Demographics sums
07 Aug 09 |  More Or Less

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