Statistical Rigor at NBC's 'Dateline'

May 22nd, 2006 3:40 PM has a problem with Alberto Gonzales saying: "It has been estimated that, at any given time, 50,000 predators are on the Internet prowling for children."

Where did it come from? NBC's "Dateline" used it in their reporting of online predators. What's the problem? The source of that number is about as tangible as the black smoke on the TV show "Lost."

Hansen’s source, according to the “Dateline” report: unnamed “law enforcement officials.” Asked who those law enforcement officials were, Hansen told Legal Times that “this is a number that was widely used in law enforcement circles,” though he couldn’t specify by whom or where... “Was it just a WAG — a wild-assed-guess?” he says. “It could have been.”