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It wasn’t a star but… A slice of chorizo: the cliché of a French scientist sows confusion on Twitter – France



It wasn't a star but… A slice of chorizo: the cliché of a French scientist sows confusion on Twitter - France



French scientist Etienne Klein has apologized on Twitter for a hoax passing off a slice of chorizo ​​as a snapshot of the star Proxima Centauri, a move that was meant to ‘encourage caution’ over the fake images circulating on social networks.

“I come to present my apologies to those whom my hoax, which had nothing original, could shock. He simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent by themselves, ”tienne Klein, physicist and philosopher of science, tweeted on Wednesday.

A slice of chorizo ​​at Proxima Centauri

On Sunday, the scientist posted a photo of a slice of chorizo ​​against a black background, claiming it was an image of the closest star to the Sun, taken with the brand new James Webb Space Telescope ( JWST).

“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, ”commented Étienne Klein above the photo in a tweet.

The hoax has grown

His publication, revealed by the online media HuffPost, has had some success on social networks, with 1,334 retweets, 10,000 “likes”. And deceived many people. “I was surprised by how big it got: I thought the image was going to be immediately detected as fake. And when I saw that a great BFMTV journalist was ecstatic, and that he risked spreading it, I told him it was a joke. He took it with a lot of humor,” Etienne Klein told AFP.

“I then apologized because obviously some people have the impression of having been taken for chitterlings, which is not the case at all”, pleaded the researcher, also producer of the program “Science en questions” on France Culture. The image of the slice of chorizo ​​is a recurring hoax, used in particular a few years ago to make people believe in the dark side of the Moon.

“A hoax says our ability to be fooled”

“The hoax is an old tradition among physicists,” said the 64-year-old scientist, research director at the Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). As he explained on Twitter, his gesture echoes the Sokal affair, named after an American physicist who published a hoax article in a peer-reviewed journal in 1996.

“A hoax has an educational virtue. It says our ability to be duped, questions our relationship to sources… We saw during the covid that certain isolated scientists could publish untruths without being contradicted”, added Étienne Klein. And wondering that his fake image was “much more ‘liked'” than the real photos of James Webb he had previously shared on Twitter.



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