I spoke at the University Commons retirement community about the Red State, Blue State book–a great audience, it was lots of fun. Anyway, in the talk, around the time I told them Pauline Kael’s non-quote and Michael Barone’s actual quote, I had the occasion to mention that I tell my students that, in any research project, you need to answer the following four questions:
1. What’s your evidence?
2. How does this fit in with what else you know?
3. What have you found beyond what people thought before?
4. How did all those smart people who came before get things wrong?
(Item 4 is the topic of chapter 3 of our book.)