Hawk-Naming Scandal Hits the New York Times


The New York Times has been very much involved in the life and times of the red-tailed hawks at Washington Square Park (a watch sadly marred by the recent death of poor Violet, mother hawk to Pip). Meanwhile, Bobby, father hawk, man-about-town, already has a new woman in his life. In order to incorporate the winged newcomer into the fold, the New York Times offered up a question to the hawk-adoring public. They wanted us to name Bobby’s lady friend, and gave the choice of “Rosie” or “Noelle,” allowing people to vote for one, and only one, once.

At first all was normal, with Rosie ahead by about twice the number of votes. Maybe it’s just a better name. But then…something went haywire!

At one point on Tuesday afternoon, Noelle received 365 votes in a row.

We watched them come in. Every three or four seconds, as if someone were going click, click, click.

They got an actuary to weigh in on whether this was even possible, and he said, pretty much, no, but in a more fancy-sounding actuarial way. They calculated the odds:

They are somewhere in the vicinity of 1 in 75,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,

Alas, the only conclusion to be had is that there was cheating, real, old-timey hawk-name-ballot-box-stuffing, in the New York Times-averse. Or that some bot got its hands on a script. Or that the hawk really wants to be named “Noelle” and has an iPad up in the nest, and is devoted to her cause.

Regardless of the truth to any of that, one must ask oneself, Is the naming of a baby hawk via an online selection method implemented by an established city newspaper not sacred?

The Times has declared the election invalid, and is offering up a new, more fail-safe electoral method.

We declare hawk people weird. We also vote “Rosie.”

Massive Vote Fraud Nullifies Hawk-Name Contest [NYT]