VIDEO: Whitestock Crowd Estimate of 87,000 Explained

Share calculated that about 87,000 people (give or take 9,000) attended Glenn Blech's SPFathon, Whitestock.

It was the only scientific estimate made of the number of people at the rally.

Conservatives, including Blech, said it was more like half a million.

This from the people who count votes the same way they count heads.

Curt Westergard is the president of AirPhotosLive, the group that came up with that crazy 87K number. He has some pretty impressive clients. He provides aerial imaging for "the U.S. border patrol, the Department of Homeland Security, companies building skyscrapers, and cell phone companies trying to decide where to build their towers, and others."

Blech relies on his belief in geese formations.

To calculate attendance at the Beck rally, used what is called a surveillance aerostat balloon to take pictures from both above the event and closer to the ground. In the video above, which was provided by the company, you can see some of the images used to come up with a figure.


"We took a lot of shots under the trees and higher up by just changing the balloon altitude," he said. "So what might have been a negative with an airplane and certainly a negative with a satellite was a very strong position with a balloon."

Thorough, huh?

I can hear all the Whitestockers protesting now: "Oh sure, but they probably took the images at the time when attendance was at its lowest."


The photos were taken at noon, which Beck's representatives suggested would be the peak of the event...

Blech's reps suggested that, so it must be true. This is one time I'll trust them.

Westergard partnered up with Dr. Steven Doig of the University of Arizona, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist and crowd estimate expert.

Doig estimated that there were 80,000 people at the "Restoring Honor" rally, while estimated that there were 87,000 people, a statistically insignificant different since the margin of error was 9,000. CBS News elected to use the higher estimate.

So at best, 96,000 people attended, not quite meeting the minimum Blech requirement of 100,000.  It really doesn't matter, though. I've been listening to a number of people who backed up my original assertion that, if you see a gigantic structure and a lot of media, huge TV screens, and loudspeakers smack dab in the middle of a public space, it's more likely than not you'll hang around to see what's happening.

Oh, and then there's that little matter of there being about 80,000 in the area on any given day anyway, per those journalists who frequent the place.

Size really doesn't matter... or so I'm told.

There is even more, and it is well worth the read.