The Dark Side of ChorizoGate

So ChorizoGate continues…

The story has now made it into numerous newspapers, from the Daily Star to The Times, and even got coverage on CNN News and the RTÉ website. More exciting still, it’s in Physics World!

In every single one of the stories I’ve seen, the image, together with the JWST connection, is attributed to Étienne Klein who is apparently very well known in France as a popularizer of science in the French language. Because he writes and broadcasts in French he is not so well known outside France. Until recently that is!

To be honest I’m quite relieved to have avoided the media notoriety surrounding ChorizoGate, especially as it means I’ve avoided being on the front page of the Daily Star! Dr Klein is welcome to the publicity, though perhaps it might backfire on him…

Since Thursday, when I posted my piece on the background to ChorizoGate, I’ve been contacted by a significant number of people (some in private and some in public, on social media) with stories about the “French scientist” who spread the above image on Twitter. Some of these are rather worrying.

In particular, in 2016, Étienne Klein was involved in a scandal in which he was shown to have plagiarized some of the material in one of his popular books. This is mentioned only briefly on his wikipedia page, but there are articles about his plagiarism here and here (in French). This story accords with many of the public and private comments I’ve seen about his habitual plagiarism. In other words, he has form. A lot of it, even if only a fraction of what I’ve been told is true.

Étienne Klein’s appropriation of a silly joke is of no consequence, but I couldn’t help wondering how someone who would do that might behave with things that actually matter. Now I think I know the answer, and it’s worrying.


11 Responses to “The Dark Side of ChorizoGate”

  1. Perhaps of no consequence, but you really should get the credit for this and ‘set the record straight’….

  2. Wyn Evans Says:

    ChorizoGate itself is relatively important (though of course the record should be set straight).

    And I am all in favour of Sausages in astronomy.

    But, the phenomenon of a more famous & well-connected scientist claiming or receiving all the credit is very common.

    As is pertinently remarked in Schneider et al’s “Gravitational Lensing on the matter of Chwolson Rings, “In research, the biggest cat gets all the cream.”

    Or all the chorizo …

    • telescoper Says:

      Is there an update on the Gaia Sausage after the latest data release?

      Also I think you meant “unimportant” in your first sentence.

  3. […] A blog about the Universe, and all that surrounds it « The Dark Side of ChorizoGate […]

  4. […] sogar in Deutschland ein Thema war) und wurde wiederum hier geklaut … worüber seither mehr (Update) oder weniger (mehr) sinnvoll auf der ganzen Welt geschrieben […]

  5. Regarding the actual source of the chorizo image TinEye and GoogleLens have led me to as the most likely candidate: several other versions posted on 27 July 2018 were apparently cropped from this image file. The fate of the actual sausage remains TBD, though …

  6. […] everything has two sides, even an innocent slice of sausage. Soon I came across a blog,The Dark Side of ChorizoGate, by theoretical astrophysicist Peter Coles. He had tweeted the exact same photo the day before […]

  7. […] En este mes de agosto estamos de vacaciones en el podcast Coffee Break: Señal y Ruido (se están emitiendo reposiciones de episodios). Estoy seguro de que mencionaríamos esta broma viral en el programa y echaríamos unas risas. Aunque no lo creas, echo de menos esas risas. Como en septiembre todo el mundo se habrá olvidado de esta broma, y sin que sirva de precedente, quiero dejar constancia aquí. Si estás interesado en leer (una versión sesgada de esta historia memética) te recomiendo Peter Coles, «ChorizoGate: an Accidental Hoax,» In The Dark, 03 Aug 2022; Peter Coles, «The Dark Side of ChorizoGate,» In The Dark, 08 Aug 2022. […]

  8. Étienne Klein is currently the guest stat of a show on France Inter, #1 French public ratio, but I did not notice the chorizo being mentioned so far…

  9. […] the most popular post of the year wasn’t either of the two about Chorizogate  (here or here) but an old one I wrote in 2012 about the Shell House Raid which came back to life because of a […]

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