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Alternative Spirituality and Religion Review

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published on July 28, 2015

Guillaume Roucoux
DOI: 10.5840/asrr201572712

Anti-cult (Out)Numbering
An Examination of Polls Commissioned by MIVILUDES from IPSOS (2010–2011)

This article does a scientific and critical examination of three polls commissioned by the Interministerial Mission for Monitoring and Fighting Cultic Drifts (MIVILUDES) to the national firm IPSOS, between 2010 and 2011. Since numbers are a frequently-used weapon from both sides of the “war against cults,” this article analyzes the “anti-cult arithmetic” through a particular case. First, it explores IPSOS’s methodology. Second, it wonders about MIVILUDES’s presupposed expectations and the relevance of its technical terminology towards the respondents. Third, it shows that most of the polls’ results invalidate the Mission’s urgent call to protect French citizens from cults. Additionally, still third, it points out the Mission expects to build its own existence upon the results by outnumbering them and by rephrasing the polls. Finally, this article offers a conceptualization of outnumbering, which is a frequent rhetorical tool regarding cults in general.

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