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Counting Cod

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I'm a great fan of More or Less, the programme which investigates numbers in the news. It goes out on BBC Radio 4 at various times through the year in a half hourly format but they also do a ten minute show on the World Service. Both are available as a podcast.

This week's was that the Daily Telegraph claimed that there were "Just 100 cod left in the North Sea"1. It turned out they were following up a report in the Sunday Times which said there were 100 "adult" cod in the North Sea.

Be that as it may the actual figures are, which were the ones the Sunday Times reporters had seen but then wrongly interpreted, are:

Adult cod:21,000,000
Total cod:436,900,000

Now that's a pretty impressive error in both cases from the original figure of 100! The More of Less team thought it was probably a record for the programme.

If you want to hear the whole podcast, which explains a lot more about the figures, including how the Sunday Times reporters probably screwed up on their definition of "adult", then you can listen below or wander over here to subscribe to the podcast. It's well worth it.

  1. You'll see it's been corrected at the bottom to state the 21,000,000 figure.

Tags: press Written 02/10/12

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