The social experience of the scientist who passed a piece of salami to the star Proxima Centauri

And so this time Drops Collectively, on Twitter. With the difference in this case that the fake news was for a good purpose, no one was hurt and maybe someone learned their lesson. The story began a few days ago, Sunday, July 31, when the French physicist and philosopher of science Etienne Klein Posted in Twitter profile Picture of a circular object in different shades of red on a black background. The scientist, who is also the director of the Commission for Atomic Energy and Energy Alternatives (CEA), accompanied the photo by announcing that it would be a new take on exceptional beauty by Proxima Centauri (the closest star to the solar system, 4.2 light-years from Earth) was collected from James Webb Space Telescopewhich has been talked about a lot From mid July onwards after posting New Detailed Pictures Universe. And all of this, of course, instantly generated a wave of amazed wonder And amazement, as only images collected from space can do it.

It is a pity that the photo posted this time was not original at all. As Klein himself wrote via a self-response to his own tweet, the picture framed in the picture was nothing short of amazing star disc than Proxima Centauri, but it’s more grounded slice of salamiTo be precise, a spicy Iberian chorizo. However, in the meantime, the tweet had already spread all over the world, and had reached such popularity (first on social media and then in the media) that it became an image of Proxima chorizo At least at the time of writing this article. Google’s first result Using as a search key Proxima Centauri.

Scientific superficiality or the influence of power?

Even if the image of salami at a glance has many similarities to the way we imagine a photographed star might appear, in fact it is enough to look a little closer to notice that something is wrong. very sharp edges But at the same time rather abnormal And the brighter areas that have been perfectly rounded to begin with. But also, on a theoretical level, the strangeness of having a new image of the star which is all things considered our neighbor Using the telescope it was designed for Look much further into spaceOr, go back in time if you prefer. In short, at least for people who are more passionate and knowledgeable about the topic, some Doubt In terms of authenticity, it would have been more than legit.

To literally make the content viral, on the other hand, many factors contributed, of a completely different kind compared to the alleged content. Scientific illiteracy. First of all, the origin is from a verified Twitter account, with nearly 100k followers and that is Official profile For a scientist who is highly respected and appreciated in France and abroad. Besides this power effect there is also time factor, because it is no coincidence that the joke came in the weeks when there was a lot of talk about the James Webb Telescope, and soon every new image became very popular. Finally what is clear Wanting to re-shareAnd who also claimed some important figures among the victims of this joke.

Open discussion of this issue

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Although the episode itself might be described as Transformation summer, case Humor world (as Klein later described it) or as an entirely negligible fact (or if anything only concerned France), the case actually opened in the following days a debate that extended from social networks to international media. Try Klein first self-disclosure The trick is opaque writing “When it’s time for an aperitif, cognitive biases destroy the crazy joy”and then He had to make it clear in a clearer and more educational way (Always on Twitter), then converted to apologies Toward all the people who protested because they felt cheated, they finally tried Take a lesson from him A call to be careful and cultivate cash spiritbe wary of news only because it is shown online or reported by someone trusted, etc.

However, in a broader sense, some open questions remain. For example, at the end of this small but important story, theformative effect than showing how easy it is to fall victim to fake news or – vice versa – It will continue to circulate online The trick, given that there are more people affected by the viral spread of fake content than subsequent detection? Or is it suitable for such a great person Fame, clarity and authority, including institutional Adopt these technologies violent To educate people, with the danger of generating gods qui pro quo And destroy your credibility? But above all, with a little Augustan lightness, what are the others Cured meat Can it be used to simulate images of space objects?

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Maggie Benson

"Bacon trailblazer. Certified coffee maven. Zombie lover. Tv specialist. Freelance communicator."

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