More or Less
Friday, 1 January 2010
BBC Radio 4, 1330 GMT
For this New Year's Day edition we invited two kindred spirits to join us in the More or Less studio:
Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, authors of the hugely influential Freakonomics - and their recent sequel, Superfreakonomics.
In the introduction to Superfreakonomics, Levitt and Dubner write:
"Some people may argue that statistics can be made to say anything
but the economic approach aims for the opposite: to address a given topic with neither fear nor favour, letting numbers speak the truth".
Which is why we invited Messrs Levitt and Dubner to steer this special edition of More or Less by suggesting numbers stories for us to investigate.
Stephen Dubner (L) Tim Harford (middle) and Steven Levitt (R) in the studio. Dubner and Levitt are the authors of Freakonomics.
Cheating in sport
This Harlequins rugby player was suspended for a year after being found guilty of fabricating an injury.
Tom Williams, the Harlequins rugby winger, used a capsule of fake blood to get himself substituted in a game in 2009.
When Steven Levitt read about this he began to wonder whether the Brits are particularly bad (or good) at cheating.
Now wash your hands
Hand sanitizers have been cropping up everywhere to help reduce swine flu cases, but do they work?
The government is telling us to wash our hands to help prevent the spread of Swine Flu.
Stephen Dubner wondered whether hand-washing really kills the flu virus.
If we all heed the advice, could there be unexpected consequences?
Drill and fill
Americans often accuse the British of having bad teeth. Is it because of the system of incentives?
Like many Americans, Steven Levitt is concerned about the state of British teeth.
More specifically, he asked us to investigate the NHS contract for dentists in England and Wales.
He fears it is encouraging poor treatment through a flawed system of incentives.
Has London's congestion charge worked?
The London C Charge costs £8 a day per car and operates from 7am until 6pm, Monday to Friday.
In 2003 London embarked on what some regard as one of the great economic experiments: the congestion charge.
Steven Levitt asked us to look closely at the results.
Did it work? And were there any unintended effects?
Looking into the recording studio at BBC Bush House, where Tim interviewed Dubner and Levitt for More or Less.
And don't forget our
end of year quiz
BBC Radio 4's More or Less is broadcast on Friday, 1 January 2010 at 1330 GMT and repeated on Sunday, 3 January at 2000 GMT.
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