Article: "slight changes in Tau Ceti's motion through space suggest that the star may be responding to gravitational tugs from five planets that are only about two to seven times as massive as Earth"
After reading article: "I was wrong, there wasn't even a confirmed planet involved."
The only way to figure out whether star has any planets around is to measure and interpret periodical gravitational vibrations.
Apologies for being a pedant
The details in the article came down to they were pulling signal out from deep within noise in a way that other planet finders were skeptical of: "They're really digging deep into the noise here. The community is going to find it hard to accept planet discoveries from signals so deeply embedded in noise."
Even the researchers themselves are quoted as saying they don't consider anything here proven, they are just seeing if anyone else wants to have a go at finding further confirmation or disproof: "We felt that the best thing to do was to put the result out there and see if somebody can either independently confirm it or shoot it down."
The researchers themselves have not made the claim of finding an earth like planet around Tau Ceti at all. It's not been established or accepted by experts in the field that there are planets around this sun, what their orbits are, their composition, or that they are "earth-like" in a way that any non-specialist reader would interpret "earth-like". Even the authors don't make those claims. Maybe someday those things will be confirmed or disproved. Today is not that day.
The journalist is aware of this too. At the end of the article he says "If the planets exist...", acknowledging it is not established at all, before then engaging in fanciful speculation that is unlikely to appear in a reputable science news source with a competent editor: "That may just explain why no one from Tau Ceti has ever contacted beings as primitive as us."
It's saying that there MIGHT be some planets orbiting that star, but there's so much noise in the data that it's likely just noise and nothing else.
The scientists took a lot of measurements over a long period, and carefully tried to remove as much noise as possible. After this, they think the remaining perturbation can be explained by a system of smallish planets. One of those planets looks like it could support life in a similar way to how Earth supports life.
There is a chance this perturbation is just noise, but the authors obviously think that the planetary system hypothesis is strong enough to ask the community for collaborating or contradictory data.
The title could have hedged its bets by adding 'might be' or similar terminology, but I honestly don't think that adds much to the conversation.
I was going to include the famous "title ending in '?'" rule of thumb, but missed the fact that the actual article and the title here differ. The actual title is of course "Another Earth Just 12 Light-Years Away?" which makes much more sense given the content.
The submitted title, I thus agree, is linkbaity.
Fortunately, I think the last bit of annoying 70's alien phenomena will be past on December 22nd. Then we can all put to rest any question there might have been that we were visited by ancient astronauts.
Good luck with that.
Such a trip might require a fusion power source though.