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Who governs Britain?

EU and national flags outside European Parliament in Strasbourg
More or Less
Friday, 14 August 2009
BBC Radio 4, 1330 BST

Does 75 per cent of UK law really come from Brussels?

Eurosceptics say it does.

Or is it just nine per cent, as europhiles would have you believe?

To answer this question, More or Less embarks on a statistical Grand Tour.

It leads, eventually, to Lithuania (but not, alas, to a definitive answer).

Forecasting football

Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United with the Premier League trophy
Statistics can predict the most likely outcomes in the Premier League

In the final programme of our last series we spoke to Professor David Speigelhalter who knows little about football and does not even support a team.

And yet, despite these not inconsiderable obstacles, Professor Speigelhalter devised a statistical model to predict the most likely outcomes of the final 10 games of last season's Premiership.

So did it work? We invited the professor back to discuss his probabilities.

Fare dos

People queuing at Heathrow airport
A wet UK summer means people have been booking last minute flights

Mathematician-turned-travel writer Simon Calder explains the air fare algorithm.

He reveals the maths of why the passenger in the next seat on the plane might well have paid less than you, and what you can do about it.

True to form, he does all this from his favourite seat aboard a Boeing 747: 49K.

Words or deeds

French Junior minister for Transport Dominique Bussereau (L) and minister Patrick Devedjian
Facial expressions add extra information to our verbal language

We investigate one of the most-quoted - but least-understood - statistics of all: that "93% of communication is non-verbal".

It is the sort of thing men in trendy glasses say at management seminars.

But is it true?

BBC Radio 4's More or Less is broadcast on Friday, 14 August at 1330 BST and repeated on Sunday, 16 August at 2000 BST.

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Your Comments

Who governs Britain?

UKIP claim we pay the EU £19billion per annum. Although the loss of the value of the pound makes it difficult to be exact but I estimate we pay the EU about £3billion net. UKIP never states that we get most of our money back. In addition. we can apply to the EU for help for all sorts of projects. Bill Coughlan

Non verbal communication

Thanks for another interesting episode of More Or Less. Having heard the piece about the "93% of communication is body-language" statistic, I went to check Wikipedia and found the statistic happily sitting there right in the opening sentences of the article. I've now tweaked that article to try and make it clearer that this is a misunderstanding... Dan Stowell

Thank you for the article about the percentage of communication that is non-verbal. As someone who lives and works with people with autism this statistic is frequently (and depressingly) used. It was very interesting (and quite relieving) to hear from the man whose research had come up with this figure. I have never thought to question where this figure came from as it is so widely used and by some very respected academics who research autism. So it's not just a figure repeated by management types but also has been used as the starting point for many research projects, resulting in many papers and books. Thanks again! Rachel Officer

Footballing stats

I listened with interest to this week's short interview with Professor David Spiegelhalter and read his article on your site:

I thought it would be interesting to see to what extent I could recreate his work with a simple spreadsheet (which the article suggested would be easy) and set about gathering the last year's premier league data. However, I immediately found that the very first statistic quoted in the article - that the average number of goals scored by a Premier League team at home last season was 1.36 - differs from my own calculations which show that at the time that article was published (id est with one week of premier league fixtures left to play) the average number of home goals was 1.40 (518 home goals having been scored in 370 games).

Am I missing something blindingly obvious or was there an error in the article? I'm also sceptical about the subsequent claim that Arsenal had scored 39% above average at home - by my calcs it was just 4%. Nick Weller, China


In your article about pensions, you gave a comparison of the UK pension with the average European pension. Surely, of more relevance to UK pensioners is the fraction of our pensions compared with the average national wage (across the EU). Of course, related to this is the level of national taxation (again, across the EU). Frank Matthews

The professor's Premiership probabilities
22 May 09 |  More Or Less
Facial expressions 'not global'
14 Aug 09 |  Science & Environment


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