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Making It CountStatistics and Statecraft in the Early People’s Republic of China$
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Arunabh Ghosh

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691179476

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691179476.001.0001

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A “Great Leap” in Statistics

A “Great Leap” in Statistics

(p.249) 8 A “Great Leap” in Statistics
Making It Count

Arunabh Ghosh

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses an “on-the-spot meeting” in the northern city of Baoding in the summer of 1958, which launched statistics in China down an altogether different path. During the ensuing months, the tussle between socialist statistics and its probabilistic alternatives was largely overwhelmed by Maoist mass science. In statistics this meant a rebadging and valorization of typical sampling, which was now explained as Mao Zedong's synthesis of Marxist–Leninist theory with the practice of revolution in China. Mao's 1927 Report on an Investigation of the Peasant Movement in Hunan became the foundational text for this “revolutionary” method. It is this notion of mass science, with its antiexpert and antiprofessional credos, that has come to dominate our understanding of much of the Mao era.

Keywords:   Mao Zedong, Maoist mass science, Chinese statistics, socialist statistics, mass science, Baoding, revolution

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