Tuesday, 21 May 2013

More or Less Right

BBC Radio Four has some  exceedingly good programmes and amongst them is More or Less. This should be compulsory listening for everyone.  It is presented by Tim Harford, the Undercover Economist from The Financial Times and he dissects statistical claims made recently in the media.  I would say that he shows the vast majority of these claims to be wrong but that would be an unsupported opinion on my part and might attract Tim's attention.
Last week, on Any Questions, Christine Hamilton claimed that there are 48k Romanians living in Britain and 28k of them have been arrested for serious offences.  Understandably this caused some perturbation in the audience. tim was able to determine that the 48k figure actually refers to London, not Britain. the Office for National Statistics estimate the national figure to be 93k. He was able to confirm the figure of 28k for the number of arrests which is not the same as the number of people  (serial offenders) or convitions (an arrest does not necessarily proceed to aconviction)
So, the case Christine Hamilton was making was erroneous but could be more serious than even she was claiming.
To listen to that programme follow this link.
The next broadcast is on Friday at 16.30


  1. Sad to say, the only Romanian immigrant in England I can think of is a rather famous fictional one... and yes, he committed a lot of crimes.

  2. I wrote to More or Less last year to bring to enlist their help in getting rid of the 'up to' and 'more than' expressions used so often on the radio news. Did you know that ten billion people were demonstrating in the streets of Aleppo? What the announcer actually said was,'more than ten thousand' -- a definition which includes ten billion. And on the 25 May 2012 at seven o'clock in the morning on Radio 3 (yes I actually got up to write it down) the news reader said that 'more than two out of three beaches in the UK are free from pollution.' Now, let's think about that. Without entering into a discussion on existentialism you have to admit that you cannot have half a beach. A beach is either a beach or it isn't. So more than two beaches has to be, in their parlance, at least three. So all the beaches in the UK are free from pollution but not only that, it could be four out of three beaches that are clean. So some things which are not beaches have to become beaches in order to be judged as unpolluted.
    More or Less did not come back to me on my enquiry which was disappointing but I suppose it was probably no more than I could have expected. Or was it less than I did not expect?
    Martin (famous author)


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