After Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, tweeted that “something extremely bogus” was going on with rapid COVID-19 tests, one biologist just wasn’t having it. Dr. Emma Bell (@emmabell42), an expert in epigenetics, explained that the likely reason behind his varying results is that rapid antigen tests can only detect a high level of infection. It’s not that they’re ineffective, it’s that they serve a slightly different purpose—to quickly identify the most contagious people so as to limit the spread of infection. Bell ended her tweet by blasting Musk as “Space Karen” for his failure to appropriately research the test, its purpose, and how it works before calling “bogus” in front of his millions of followers.

space karen

In which Elon Musk’s poor COVID-science fluency leads an epigeneticist to call him “Space Karen.”


The internet responded to Musk’s new nickname with absolute glee, with Twitter user @EmergMedDr begging everyone to come together and make it stick.

I am on my knees begging every citizen of Planet Earth to start calling Elon Musk, Space Karen.  Come on, we can do this.  Space Karen #SpaceKaren #notelonmusk

Nicknaming Elon Musk as Space Karen is the kind of high quality twitter content I log in for. Great way to start the week with a mucg needed chuckle.

The academic who called Elon Musk ‘Space Karen’ won Monday for me.



Some people decided to bring up Musk’s previous bad takes on the coronavirus, such as the time all the way back in March when he insisted it would all be over by April.

"We've heard "Space Karen"'s theories about #COVID19 before. Back in March this was  @elonmusk 's prediction about the likely trajectory for the infections: screenshot of Musk's March tweet "Based on current trends, probably close to zero new cases in US too by end of April" and the reply by Pope of Muskanity "With or without closure, social distancing, widespread testing, travel restrictions, and carrying masks my liege?"

"Space Karen’s genius prediction." screenshot of Musk's March tweet "Based on current trends, probably close to zero new cases in US too by end of April"

"Space Karen upset over Covid testing efficacy.   & also Space Karen upset over COVID restrictions in May. & also Space Karen upset with covid shut downs  & also Space Karen filing lawsuit in California and moving out of state to Texas. (Stomp foot) Ultimately catching covid" screenshots of the tweets referenced


Others went right to memes.

"New profile pic- xoxo, Space Karen" image of Elon Musk against a starburst with the Karen haircut, looking off to the side. A smaller version of the same image facing the other way in front.

"Space Karen would like to speak to the manager of COVID" Woman yelling at cat meme with Musk's face on the yelling woman and a covid virus where the cat would be

"The opportunity to make a Space Karen was too tempting #SpaceKaren #ElonMusk" Image of Elon Musk with Karen hair in a space suit with a Space Karen logo and the lettering I'd like to speak to the manager of California layered over it


And enough people combined them with “President Karen” memes ripping on Donald Trump that it started a trend.

"Political Karen Handshake Space Karen                 Zero braincell" The President Karen meme next to the Elon Musk Karen against the starburst meme

"Move over Space Karen! Political Karen is crying again!" image of Trump with Karen hair and earrings and the caption "I want to speak to the polls manager"

*First Published: Nov 16, 2020, 1:41 pm

Siobhan Ball

Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and

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