Do you ever have one of those moments when you're reading the newspaper, and you feel like a reporter is just pulling a number out of the air? The way that reporters staunchly suggested without a study that there were three million homeless Americans in the 1980s?
The Washington Post gave me that impression with its Monday story on Latinos converting to Islam. How common is it, and who's done a study? The Post warns "precise numbers" aren't available, so it makes what sounds to me like an over-guess:
Across the nation, thousands of Latino immigrants are redefining themselves through Islam, including a few hundred in the Washington region, according to national Islamic groups and community leaders. Precise numbers are not available, but estimates range from 40,000 to 70,000.
Whose estimates? I grew additionally skeptical when I discovered that the low estimate (40,000) was also provided to the Christian Science Monitor by the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA). MSNBC.com added the Council for American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) as estimating 40,000. Reporters are often reluctant to accept estimates from self-interested parties, but apparently not in this case.