Disproving a Fact Checker - Ask Abe

Below I present a smug fact check from USA Today. This one is actually quite comical when seen in light of their absolute assurance that they know everything. Ask Abe has fact checked USA Today and found them wanting. They should be openly mocked and forced to curtsy in the presence of their betters. Here is their article:

Fact check: Fake warning falsely claims hawks can carry away small pets

The claim: Hawks are out in force; pets 12 pounds and under are in 'real danger'

A viral Facebook post claims that park rangers and veterinarian offices have warned owners of small pets of trouble in the air. 

"Park rangers and vet offices are putting out warnings. This year the hawks seem out in force," reads a now deleted post  by the page Mentone News & Information. "The pets that are in real danger are ones who are 12 pounds and under. These are the pets that hawks can swoop down and grab."

The top of the image reads, "HAWK WARNING" in large red bold letters and the page captioned the image, "Keep a(n) eye on your small pet's!" 

Upon being contacted by USA TODAY, Mentone News & Information deleted the warning and said that a source should have been included in the post. 

However, the same post has already been reshared by Facebook pages Jamie's Animal Rescue on March 16 and Hardin County Humane Society in a March 14 post with over 12,000 shares.

"This is no joke! Predator birds such as Hawks and owls are in full force right now. Most of their 'diet' did not survive the freeze , so they are out hunting more than usual and desperate for food," Jamie's Animal Rescue wrote. "They don’t care if it’s domesticated or wild. It all tastes the same to them"

The posts do not specify a location or veterinarian office that sent out the alleged warning. Hardin County Humane Society said they had no comment. USA TODAY reached out to Jamie's Animal Rescue for comment. 

I have to interject here, the Humane Society has vets that work for them, they are recognized as animal experts. Is this fact checker really that dim? This journalist is telling us they know more about animals than the Humane Society.

No evidence of warning

It is unclear where the post originated, however, the earliest version of the post dates back to the Humane Society of the Tennessee Valley in November 2015.

The image was shared to Animals Matter's Hamlethub, and the warning reads that hawks are out in force "off the east coast," which has been colored out in the social media versions of the post. ...

How much weight can a hawk carry? 

It is false to claim that a hawk can carry away a 12-pound dog; experts say a hawk cannot carry more than its own weight. 

Ahh, you see what they did here? They created a fake straw-man to tear down and ignored the original assertion. The original post never said that hawks could "carry away a 12-pound dog", it said, "The pets that are in real danger are ones who are 12 pounds and under. These are the pets that hawks can swoop down and grab." Did it say fly away with it? Grabbing is not flying, these are two different things. Maybe they should do a dictionary check instead of a fact check! The meaning seems obvious enough to me: Hawks can grab and stab with their nasty talons, and then they can stay put and have a snack: they don't have to carry their food to a different location to eat. Sometimes I dine in at McDonalds, and other times I get take out.

Plus, the weight given was a range from 1-12 pounds: 12 was the upper threshold mentioned. Is the fact checker saying that a hawk can't fly away with a 5 pound pet?

Dr. Jason Weckstein, associate curator of ornithology at the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University, told CBS Philadelphia: "If you have chickens you may be worried a little bit" but "you don’t have to be worried about dogs and cats.”

Hmm. A country boy like myself has seen 10 pound chickens. I'm just saying ...

Hawks Aloft writes on its frequently asked questions page that "there are many urban myths about hawks or owls attacking and carrying off cats and dogs.  Neither hawks OR owls can carry off more than their own weight." 

However, it is still recommended that animals less than 15 pounds be supervised at all times when outdoors because of other predators including owls, coyotes and hawks. ...

Whatttttt?????!!! Did they really just say that!! If your animal is safe if it's less than 15 pounds, why is it suddenly recommended to be protected from predators?? The insinuation is that those predators could attack and kill your dog or cat.  And the 15 pounds mentioned is more than the 12 pounds that was originally being fact checked! I'm dumbfounded by this. 

And furthermore, which predators do they explicitly mention that could be a danger to this dog that's just shy of 15 pounds? Well, they say "owls and hawks", in complete contradiction to their own friggin article. This reads more like satire than a fact check!! 

And now they present their verdict:

Our rating: False

And now for your viewing entertainment, here is a video of a hawk killing a cat and flying away with it. Thank you fact checkers for lowering our collective IQs.




USA Today fact check found Here.