Photo credit: Fran Monks
The COVID-19 global pandemic has thrown the world into chaos and plunged us all into a sea of incomprehensible numbers. These have been shocking, frightening and humbling. Perhaps, as never before, humans around the world have listened out for the daily stats – hanging on their every digit and trying to predict the direction of travel. Are they numbers we can trust? What do they really mean? And how can they help us in our hour of need?
While at times, it seems impossible to navigate this tide of figures – where every number represents a life – there has been a steady voice, calmly and quietly probing the data, checking the facts, interrogating the sources and asking how can the statistics best serve us and show us the reality of a situation that moves in bewildering ways.
Tim Harford, presenter of BBC Radio 4's More or Less, FT journalist, author of 'How to Make the World Add Up' and associate member of Nuffield College, Oxford, shares his golden rules for finding the truth in data.
Listen to Tim Harford in conversation with Ruth Abrahams, recorded at the start of October, 2020. How can the data help us in our current crisis?
Tim Harford delivers an Oxford Mathematics Online Public Lecture: 'Tim Harford - How to Make the World Add up' on Thursday 8 October 2020. Details here.