Tony Ortega published Karin Pouw's letter to Guy Adams of The Independent newspaper in Village Voice. This is my comments on one of the questions asked by Adams.
Article:http://blogs.villagevoice.com/runninsca ... odgson.php
PDF of letter:http://media.villagevoice.com/7773055.0.pdf
12) How many members does the Church have? I have seen reports to the effect that you claim eight million worldwide. However City University of New York, which carries out a well-regarded regular survey of American religious affiliations, estimates that you have 55,000 members in the US (a figure which is itself within its survey’s margin of error).***Unfortunately these are out of date figures. The Church currently claims over ten million members, and the latest ARIS figure for Scientology (2008) is 25,000 +/- 106% (sic).
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ ... 0s0075.xls
Church membership is estimated to be in the millions, with approximately a third of those members in the United States.*** A third? It used to be a half, with a third in Europe. Why doesn't she give the actual figure? Other spokespersons often do so.
The survey you cite is incorrect.*** This is a serious allegation, for which Ms Pouw offers no evidence.
Our membership numbers reflect what is on our mailing lists and other lists maintained in Church files around the world. The survey for which you refer gives the “number of self-identifying adherents,” which is not how we identify Scientologists.*** Using a different method for determining something from everyone else just means they will ignore you! Religious demographers use 'adherents' for an obvious reason, that organisations do not agree about who is or is not a 'true believer'.
As to the source of the survey, with no disrespect,
(1) they don’t have the records, we do;*** The records are irrelevant, and also unpublished.
(2) their survey and numbers are incorrect;***Again, an unexplained accusation.
(3) Trinity College has limited the result of this survey with respect to newer religions and does not break out the new religions individually for the very reason that the sampling is inadequate. Moreover, Dr. Barry Kosmin of Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., one of the two authors of the ARIS (American Religious Identification Survey) study, has himself said that the extrapolated statistics are subject to a wide margin of error when it comes to new and smaller religions and advises reporters of this caveat.*** So do I! However, the ERROR is accurate. Ms Pouw is confused between this and the earlier 2001 ARIS survey:
He specifically emphasizes the large margin of error in the sampling for Scientology, and has specifically said, “There may be many more Scientologists than the actual numbers indicate.” (We would add that is an understatement, viewed against the facts.)*** Ms Pouw has no facts - she has no other Survey results.
The methods used for the survey include a small sampling of people, with results then extrapolated out to estimate a national average. It may work for the older and much larger religions (Christianity, Judaism) and is entirely inaccurate for newer, smaller religions.*** Correct, except that 'entirely' is not the case.
Had they taken a sampling in areas of large concentration of Scientologists, their figures would have been grossly inaccurate in the other direction. By way of example, a survey conducted in Clearwater, then extrapolated out as a national average would indicate one in every 5 Americans is a Scientologist. That obviously is not the case.** This is an old and silly argument. Local variations are one factor that pollsters take into account; if they did not do so polls would be less accurate. Suggesting that reputable experts have missed the bleeding obvious is just dumb.
The authors are aware of this inaccuracy in their survey and thus declined to break down the individual new religions and where this was done on a government website, the result was revised and withdrawn.***Oh no it wasn't! The raw data is still there:
http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/ ... 0s0075.xls
The authors have themselves said they can’t stop the media from misrepresenting what the survey means.*** True, and they all do. So do you people! <sigh>
Unfortunately they are correct with respect to that statement. Each time the ARIS figures have been used by the media, it’s been in a biased attempt to somehow insinuate the Church is “shrinking.”*** Not by me. It is however more likely than not shrinking. A correct quote would to give a MAXIMUM figure, of 50,000. That IS accurate assuming the methodology for the survey is correct.
The fact is the Church is experiencing its greatest growth ever, and by a long way. In terms of size, the Church has doubled since 2005.
The opening of new Church buildings during this period are just one example of this growth, which is manifest.*** The new buildings are all replacements for old buildings. The total number of Church branches is shrinking, according to the Church's own data:
That fact alone, as well as the number of Scientologists in attendance, demonstrates how off-the-wall the survey numbers are (not to mention how false any allegation is that insinuates the Church is experiencing other than explosive growth).
You will not find the result you report on the Trinity College website, you will see the survey results were corrected on other sites to not include the newer religions individually as they cannot support the accuracy of the survey.
Thus we ask you to not cite to this inaccurate survey as the information was withdrawn as inaccurate. We request you not repeat the falsehoods promulgated by other media outlets.*** Throughout Ms Pouw confuses statistical error with methodological error. They are not the same thing. To say "the error was 4%" does not mean that the pollsters made any mistakes!