The first trick of asking questions is to determine if your question is a good one. . . It was John Kenneth Galbraith... who coined the phrase "conventional wisdom." . . .the conventional wisdom in Galbraith's view must be simple, convenient, comfortable, and comforting--though not necessarily true. It would be silly to argue that the conventional wisdom is never true. But noticing where the conventional wisdom may be false--noticing, perhaps, the contrails of sloppy or self-interested thinking--is a nice place to start asking questions (p. 90).
Levitt uses as an example Mitch Snyder the homeless advocate. He reported in 1980 that there were 3 million homeless Americans, and furthermore, 45 homeless people die each second (meaning 1.4 billion dead homeless each year. The total US population then was about 225 million). Later on, Synder admitted he made it up, because he didn't want reporters to go away without a number.
Reference: Becker, G. S, & Becker, G. N. (1997). "How the homeless crisis was hyped," in the Economics of Life. New York: Crown, 2000, pp. 60-69.
This is what is so intriguing to me about today; blogging and the internet can catch a lot of mispeak: honest mistakes and intentional mistakes.