Academic Brands Elon Musk a Space Karen for His Misinformed Tweets

As Space Karen started trending, a Photoshop battle ensued: this is Space Karen Elon Musk 1 photo
Photo: Twitter / Dan Hett
Space Karen is trending and, believe it or not, it’s a moniker attributed to Tesla CEO Elon Musk, following his big Twitter reveal on Friday that he may or may not have Covid-19.
At the end of last week, Musk took to his Twitter to reveal he’d been feeling symptoms of a light cold, so he got tested. He took four separate rapid antigen tests, with two of them coming back negative and two positive. This prompted him to declare that “something bogus” was happening, alluding the sharp increase in numbers in the U.S. and across the world that were thus attributed to false positives.

Musk followed that initial tweet by saying he would also be getting two PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests in the following hours, but would have to wait 12 hours for the results. It’s that initial tweet that got him tagged as Space Karen.

Emma Bell is a postdoctoral researcher who specializes in bioinformatics, analyzing biological data, directly responsible for getting Space Karen trending. “What’s bogus is that Space Karen didn’t read up on the test before complaining to his millions of followers,” Bell wrote in a reply to Musk’s “bogus” tweet.

Bell wasn’t the only one to point out to Musk that rapid antigen tests put speed over accuracy, which is why they’re never used for a diagnosis and require backing by a PCR test. In fact, in the hours that followed, Musk engaged in an open discussion with academics on these tests, clearly willing to understand how he could have gotten those conflicting results, when the tests were applied on the same day.

Bell too points out the inaccuracy of rapid antigen tests, even writing in a lengthier piece on Medium that they’re only able to determine the infection at the peak of the viral load. On either side of the peak viral load, false negatives are more likely to occur, which is what probably happened to Musk.

A Karen, for those who aren’t familiar with the term, is the umbrella term for the stereotype of the white entitled woman with a bone to pick and the willingness to use her privilege to get her way. Karen is famous for her Kate Gosselin-inspired haircut, a “Let me speak to your manager” propensity, or itchy fingers in dialing 911 when there is no real danger or emergency.

Viral monikers aside, Musk is doing well. On Sunday, as the SpaceX Falcon rocket was getting ready for launch, for the historic first-full fledged taxi flight for NASA, he told followers that he was doing fine, conceding that he most likely had Covid, with symptoms of a mild cold.

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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