The Truth About Scientology



Analysis - Advance Magazine Statistics

TAS : Analysis - Advance Magazine Statistics

About this Analysis

This analysis covers includes all completions that have appeared in Advance! Magazine (US edition only) from 1994, when Advance started printing them, through the middle of 2003, when I did the analysis.

The Preliminary Advance Stats Analysis page has a partial analysis of completion statistics from 1999, 2001, and 2002.

Many, many people have contributed to the statistics project by sending in tallies, completions lists, or old magazines. The contribution page tells more about how you can help. I thank all those who have contributed so far!

You can access all the raw data from the main Advance page.

You can also download a text file of tallies for each service (using a somewhat standardized list of service names) in each issue of Advance, with subtotals by year.

Complete Stats Analysis - Advance! Magazine

Here's some commentary on completions stats from Advance! magazine.

The highlights:

  • AOLA's completion stats are UP, both recently and over the past ten years
  • OT Preps are up, after a slump (discussed on ars); OT V completions are up
  • Clear and Sunshine Rundown completions are up and down; so, more or less holding steady
  • examining ALL Advance completions lists (minus 1), fewer than 3000 individuals have been listed
  • since Advance! only started listing completions in 1994, we can't tell how current stats compare to the boom years of the 80s

The Data

This analysis is based on completions lists from Advance! magazine, currently the magazine of AOLA (the Advanced Organization of Los Angeles), formerly the magazine of the Advanced Orgs (there are several worldwide). (There are other Advance! magazines published in other countries. These lists were taken from the Los Angeles version only. Where I refer to Advance below, please remember that I am talking only about the LA Advance. Other countries' Advance lists will be posted and analyzed as I get them.)

The raw data is available at the main Advance page.

Advance! magazine has been published since the early 1970s. However, completion lists did not start appearing until issue 121, published in 1994. Issue 123 does not list completions.

The lack of completions lists from the 1970s and 1980s leaves us with a very incomplete picture of AOLA's long-term statistics. The long-term tally of Flag completions from Source show that Flag completions peaked in the late 1980s and never recovered. This is likely to be true for AOLA as well; Clear attests reported in the Auditor also peaked in the 1980s, making it seem likely that this was a trend that held true for Scientology throughout the US and possibly the world.

The data is imperfect in other ways. It's unclear whether it includes completions by staff members; it may be inconsistent, including them sometimes but not other times. In addition, the data collection is rather sloppy - there are numerous duplicate entries, names are frequently misspelled, and the names of services are not always standardized. Since I have not removed the duplicate entries, these stats are, in fact, slightly inflated. In addition, some individuals are "retreading" old levels - people who have attested to upper OT levels are re-attesting to Clear and lower OT levels, and people are redoing OT Eligibility. Needless to say, when this happens, it does not indicate that Scientology is growing (although it probably represents additional income to Scientology).

On the whole, though, I believe the data gives us a much clearer picture of AOLA than pure speculation and guesswork. I find it most interesting to know that fewer than 3000 individuals have EVER been listed in Advance completion lists.

AOLA's OT Stats Are Up

The data speaks for itself here; while annual total completion tallies have gone up and down over the years, the total for 2002 was way up, and AOLA looks to be on track for another upstat year.

Total Completions by Year:


(2003 is, of course, only half over, as of this writing.)

Based on discussions I've had with Scientologists and conversations I've read on a.r.s., I believe OT Preps, OT III, and OT V are among the most important items to watch - OT V partially because it can be so expensive, often requiring many intensives to complete.

Here are the respective stats by year:

OT PREPS554088496971579211186
OT III5118605247686669208119
OT V1032254535045404913298

(The OT V completions include both OT V and New OT V Audited NOTs.)

Note that AOLA was downstat for years on OT V completions and has only recently recovered.

OT Eligibility is often redone by Scientologists who pause on their way through the upper levels. One individual was listed as doing OT Eligibility five times (far enough apart in time that he appeared to be redoing the service rather than duplicate entries).

OT ELIGIBILITY5113928910313469143164 105

AOLA's Clear And Sunshine Rundown Stats Are Not Up

Clear and Sunshine Rundown completions may not be as good of an indicator for an Advanced Org like AOLA, since Clear can be done at many local orgs. However, it could indicate that AOLA is not serving as many newer members as in the past, but instead is primarily serving long-time members.

SUNSHINE RD1643631276343314226

If AOLA can keep up the trend for 2003, they may manage to beat the all-time (AOLA) record number of Clear attests from 1999.

Discontinued Services

AOLA has not listed any completions for the following service from 2000-present, although completions were listed in the 1990s:

  • Academy Levels 0-IV
  • ARC Straightwire
  • Class IV, V, VI, VII, or VIII courses or internships (except 2 Class VIII Course completions in 2003)
  • Clear Certainty Rundown
  • False Purpose Rundown
  • Grades 0-IV (except 1 each Grade I and IV in 2000)
  • Hubbard Qualified Scientologist course
  • Keeping Scientology Working course
  • Method One Co-Audit Course
  • Objectives Auditing
  • OEC
  • Pro Metering Course
  • Pro TRs course or Pro Upper Indoc TR Course
  • PTS/SP Rundown or Detection Course
  • Purification Rundown
  • Student Hat Course
  • Study Certainty Course
  • Success through Communication Course

Fewer Than 3000 Individuals

My database of Advance completions contains 9101 entries. (Each entry is one individual completing one service in one issue of Advance.)

The simplest name search (exact matches) shows that these 9101 entries were attributed to 3216 individuals - there are just over 3200 individual names in the database.

However, many of these are slight variations on the same name: Al Parades and Al Paredes, or Alex Kreis and Alex Kries. A simple algorithm to remove probable duplicates (matching the first and last letters of the first and last names: AlPs for Al Parades) finds only 2603 unique names. However, that algorithm sometimes misidentifies pairs as duplicates when they're not. (Were there someone named Amil Peres, it would erroneously match Al Parades.) My best guess - without personally inspecting each pair - is that the total number of individuals is approximately 2800. I am therefore confident in my conservative estimate that there are fewer than 3000 individuals in the list.

In addition, there are 463 exact duplicate entries (same service name with the exact same spelling), or 237 extraneous entries; using the probable duplicate algorithm and actually checking each duplicate found raises the number to 534 actual duplicate entries, for 273 extraneous entries (some are actually triplicates). Some of these duplicates are retreads, and some are truly duplicates. As I refine my database, I will probably revise the data to exclude the duplicates. For now, the data is slightly inflated.

Additional Discussion

So, there you have it. I'm sure sharper eyes and more knowledgeable minds than mine will find lots of interesting observations.

I think it's worth reviewing the EXCELLENT thread at Google as well as other commentary on Scientology stat trends. As Warrior has pointed out in a different thread, just because completion stats appear to be up, it doesn't mean overall stats are up. How's the GI? How's the Bodies in the Shop? How's the New Starts? Only a few Scientology executives know the answers to those questions.

I'd like to thank Warrior for all his invaluable thoughts about completions stats and trends in general, and Cerridwen, Lulu Belle, ladayla, and Deomorto for their excellent and thought-provoking contributions to the earlier discussion of these stats in August 2002 (URL above).

I also extend huge thanks to Cerridwen, who has contributed so much data to the database, and all those kind souls who have made data from magazines available to me. You know who you are (even if I don't!).

All comments, suggestions, corrections, and whatnot gratefully received.

Especially, of course, the whatnot.

Additional Discussions on alt.religion.scientology

There's a news group devoted to discussing Scientology. While it has an enormous amount of bickering and useless (and often inaccurate) data, there is also a lot of really good information.

Here are some useful discussions about Advance! magazine and its statistics. (I have snipped parts of the discussion. You can read the complete discussions via Google.)

This page was last updated on September 15, 2003 by Kristi Wachter.