How many people are occupying Wall Street? Does anyone know? It would seem that somehow, somewhere there would be a reliable estimate of the crowd size, but I can’t seem to find an exact number anywhere.

It is not a huge deal, but considering that the protesters claim to be 99% of the American people, I think it is fair to try to come up with some estimate of how many of them there are.

NYT’s Nate Silver seems to have done a pretty decent job of estimating how many there are in New York, as well as nationwide:

Where possible, I used estimates provided by reporters or public safety officials rather than the protesters themselves as they are less subject to exaggeration. In some cases, there were multiple estimates of the size of the protest in a given city — they ranged, for instance, from about 5,000 to 15,000 for the New York protests — in which case I used the median estimate.

[…]

based on the median estimates for the cities, I arrived at an overall total of about 70,000 protesters who were documented as having been active on Saturday throughout the United States.

This is very probably an underestimate — there were some protests that were noted in news accounts but without any firm estimates of crowd size. But I’m fairly certain that I captured most of the larger protests. The true overall figure might have been somewhere on the order of 100,000 protesters.

OK, so there are about 15,000 in New York (all of whom cannot fit into Zuccotti park), but let’s be liberal go with the highest possible figure of 100,000 protesters.

What is that in terms of percent? The United States population is 312,441,000, so Occupy Wall Street is less than a third of one percent.

0.032006042740869475, to be exact.

Their claim of 99% seems either a bit high or a bit arrogant. Or both.

Perhaps it’s just rhetorical. Nothing that there’s anything wrong with being rhetorical. It just annoys me to see it passed off as moral.

MORE: I join George F. Will in wishing the demonstrators a long life and ample publicity.

AND MORE: As M. Simon pointed out, the figure is less than one thirtieth of one percent.

And not only is one thirtieth of one percent less than a third of one percent, but if we factor in the margin of error, the protesters might just number in the negative!

Aren’t statistics wonderful?