South Asia

  • Spotting unsound science in Pakistan

    Pervez Hoodbhoy


Astonishing science claims abound in the media. A self-taught engineer in Swat claims he can "fix Pakistan’s energy problem in three years" by splitting water to produce electricity.

In 2011, a Fellow of the Royal Society from Pakistan published an article saying that the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Programme experiment in Alaska caused floods and earthquakes in Pakistan.

A recent PhD thesis, titled 'A quantitative study on chromotherapy', guided by a 'meritorious professor' from the Higher Education Commission (HEC) and publication paid for by the HEC, elicited criticism from two Nobel prize winners for showing lack of understanding of the fundamentals of physics

Two top Pakistani scientists, Samar Mubarakmand and A. Q. Khan, neither of who is a mining engineer, meanwhile, have locked horns on whether coal from the Thar desert can be gasified underground in a commercially viable way

Mubarakmand believes the gasification project will turn Pakistan into a coal superpower.

But Khan says But Khan says the project is doomed to fail, and advses giving the Thar coal project to Shenhua Group of China.

This controversy cannot be resolved without transparency, data, and an independent evaluation by experts familiar with mining, chemistry, soil mechanics, and hydrology. Because none exist in Pakistan, perforce such experts should be sought in Australia, China, or elsewhere.

Common sense says that a detailed, independent feasibility plan is the very first step in a mega project.

Link to full article in the Express Tribune