A few days back, a prominent French scientist named Etienne Klein posted a picture on Twitter with the caption, “Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us. She was taken by the JWST. This level of detail… A new world is revealed day after day.”
Photo de Proxima du Centaure, l’étoile la plus proche du Soleil, située à 4,2 année-lumière de nous.— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022
Elle a été prise par le JWST.
Ce niveau de détails… Un nouveau monde se dévoile jour après jour. pic.twitter.com/88UBbHDQ7Z
He claimed that the picture was taken from a James Webb Space Telescope, and like most of the things on the internet, this image also went viral with over 20,000 likes and 2,000 retweets. But, in reality, it was just a really good quality picture of a… wait for it… chorizo! And some users rightly pointed so.
He later admitted that the image is indeed that of a sausage. “Well, when it’s time for the aperitif, cognitive biases seem to have a field day… Beware, then, of them. According to contemporary cosmology, no object belonging to Spanish charcuterie exists anywhere but on Earth.”
Au vu de certains commentaires, je me sens obligé de préciser que ce tweet montrant un prétendu cliché de Proxima du Centaure relevait d’une forme d’amusement. Apprenons à nous méfier des arguments d’autorité autant que de l’éloquence spontanée de certaines images….— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022
He also added, “In view of some comments, I feel compelled to clarify that this tweet showing an alleged snapshot of Proxima Centauri was a form of amusement. Let us learn to be wary of arguments from authority as much as of the spontaneous eloquence of certain images.”
Klein, who is the director of France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission apologised and took to Twitter to clarify that it was, in fact, a picture of a chorizo. He said, “I come to apologize to those whom my hoax, which was in no way original, may have shocked. I simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own.”
Je viens présenter mes excuses à ceux que mon canular, qui n’avait rien d’original, a pu choquer. Il voulait simplement inciter à la prudence vis-à-vis des images qui semblent éloquentes par elles-mêmes.— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) August 3, 2022
La blague d’un scientifique https://t.co/wHiJWxscxq #Astronomie via @LePoint
Twitter, of course, wasn’t happy about this and blamed him for even plagiarising Twitter jokes.
One user wrote, “Etienne Klein even plagiarizes Twitter jokes.”
Etienne Klein plagie même les blagues twitter https://t.co/sQBzlKJe24— Sehdi Skunt (@SehdiSkunt) July 31, 2022
Another said he should have at least given the credit when using someone else’s joke.
Ça fait pas de mal de créditer quand on reprend une blague.https://t.co/9o5He8nb3V— Tuzi (@EsfrNaoki) July 31, 2022
Another said, being a scientist he should be vary of sharing false information.
Venant d’un directeur de recherche scientifique, c’est assez déplacé de partager ce type de chose sans préciser dès le 1er tweet qu’il s’agit d’une fausse information lorsqu’on sait la vitesse à laquelle peut être diffusée une fausse information. 🙂— Alexis (@alexis2000m) July 31, 2022
Misinformation is dangerous, we believe in almost everything we are told and we don’t have doubts when a scientist provide information. And to have played like this makes you loose credibility. Shame— Aaron (@Aaron74350383) August 5, 2022
Some favoured the scientist saying a joke should be taken as a joke.
Ha ha. Anybody should be able to tell that’s not a star. People on the internet are too uptight. Everyone should be able to enjoy a joke. Well done Etienne for being in a position of authority but still having a sense of humour. : )— Mat Hill (@Anduril42) August 5, 2022
This picture was from Reddit four years ago. Being Italian, I recognized it as pepperoni then. I’m amazed and humored that so many people thought it was a star. It made me hungry. 😀 pic.twitter.com/eLaLgkcqG3— David J. Mike (@dgmike1) August 6, 2022
Well, considering everything, the next time you see something on the internet, take it with a grain of salt.
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