French Physicist Étienne Klein, director of France’s Alternative Energy and Atomic Energy Commission, is apologizing this week after he played a little trick on the internet with a picture of a a chorizo that he first claimed was the Earth’s closest star, Proxima Centauri.
“Photo of Proxima Centauri, the closest star to the Sun, located 4.2 light years from us,” Klein’s tweet read (translated from French). “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.
Elle a été prise par le JWST.
Ce niveau de détails… Un nouveau monde se dévoile jour après jour. pic.twitter.com/88UBbHDQ7Z
— Etienne KLEIN (@EtienneKlein) July 31, 2022
It’s just a prank, bro
Of course, to any normal human being with a sense of humor, you can tell that this was a simple joke by Klein, who later explained after carrying the prank through to one more tweet.
“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.”
While he might not outright say it here, he’s telling us that it was a joke. And most of those who commented on the photo knew it was a joke. But the perpetually offended internet was having none of it.
This is your name you mock. If you were just a random people might have not believe you. You abused your power imo, and proved nothing other than you can’t be trusted.
— Donnie Leroy (@lerizzle) August 9, 2022
Personally, I think it was hilarious. Not so much the original joke, but the fact that so many people got so angry about being duped by a slice of sausage.
Another interesting part of this story is the fact that this photo tweeted by Klein was not even an original creation. Jan Castenmiller first posted this photo back on July 27, 2018, and others have posted it as recently as the week before Klein’s post. So the joke’s been around a while.
Still, Klein did apologize for the prank. “I come to present my apologies to those whom my hoax, which had nothing original about it, may have shocked. He simply wanted to urge caution with images that seem eloquent on their own. A scientist’s joke.”
And now I’m hungry.
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Never apologize to the outrage mob. Just don’t.