More or Less was an idea born of the sense that numbers were the principal language of public argument. And yet there were few places where it was thought necessary to step back and think - in the way we often step back to think about language - about the way we use figures: what they really measure, what kind of truth, if any, they capture.
Yet no politician, no economist, and in recent years no doctor, teacher, chief constable or any number of others, has been able to make a case or answer one without regaling you with numbers.
Open the pages of any newspaper and you will see risks of this, targets for that, new spending and new cuts, arguments about productivity, performance indicators, measurements, statistics and quantification of every kind.
And so was born More or Less, initially with six programmes on BBC Radio 4 and now a permanent part of the schedule with two series annually, one in the summer, one in winter.
Since January 2005 it has been produced in association with The Open University.
Coming up in this new series, Tim Harford finds out how so-called 'excess' deaths are calculated, and whether they're the best measure of hospital standards.
Apparently it’s a fact that if there’s one thing that’s worse for you than drinking, scoffing bacon sandwiches and smoking 80 unfiltered cigarettes a day, it’s being left-handed. Left-handers die on average several years earlier than right-handers. Or do they? Tim gets to the bottom of a sinister statistic.
Technological advances mean more and more data on us, our health, our preferences and how we live our lives is available than ever before. ‘Big data’ as it’s called, is a boon for researchers, businesses and government, but concern about privacy is also growing. Tim Harford explores whether it is true that it is impossible to anonymise large datasets, and what the options are.