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The Politics of Large Numbers: A History of Statistical Reasoning 
by Alain Desrosières, translated by Camille Naish.
Harvard, 368 pp., £27.95, October 1998, 0 674 68932 1
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... Is the Gross Domestic Product real? How about the unemployment rate? Or the population of the United Kingdom? These are entities that hover between the realms of the invented and the discovered. On the one hand, they are creatures of classification and calculation, of conventions of coding, modelling and sampling. It is the artifice of definition that makes them cohere – or unravel ...

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