Even with an ocean of knowledge at their fingertips, people will believe anything. I found people credibly tossing this photo around on FB.
Behold the “Rainbow Owl”.
The Rainbow Owl is a rare species of owl found in hardwood forests in the western United States and parts of China. Long coveted for its colorful plumage, the Rainbow Owl was nearly hunted to extinction in the early 20th century. However, due to conservation efforts, recent years have seen a significant population increase, particularly in northwestern Montana[...]
[...]A leading Rainbow Owl research team from the University of Montana in Missoula has earned the nickname “The Disco Squad” for their creative use of disco music in the field. “People think it’s crazy, but we are about twice as likely to encounter owls in the field if we bring along a portable stereo,” says Herman Roark, a doctoral student working with the Disco Squad, “And they are most responsive to disco. So far, we have had the most success with ‘The Hustle.’”
Now I am no ornithologist, but I have a casual interest in owls and gee, I just think I would have seen this before if it was real. But, if I left it at that and called it crap, I would have been committing a logical fallacy: the argument from incredulity (or personal ignorance).
Good thing for me it’s not too hard to google “rainbow owl.” Of course the first thing to come up was this snopes article. Guess what? It’s FAKE! No shock. Nor am I particularly clever for suspecting it as a fake, because it was pretty obvious. The big surprise is that quite a few people on fb seemed to be taken in by it.
I hate misinformation, but I can’t put too much blame on the pranksters who made this. The disco stuff is hilarious. Snopes doesn’t say anything about where it originated, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a satire piece somewhere.
But people on FB were passing it around as fact. Just another bad mark on our scientific literacy report card.