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Hoodbhoy’s response

Published Oct 27, 2015 08:04am


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LUMS has officially responded (Oct 24) to my article of Oct 2 with two assertions, both of which are wrong, needlessly personal, and indicative of the strong anti-science and anti-intellectual currents within that university.

First, it has upheld the claim of the LUMS biology department chairman that reciting or listening to certain holy verses “can control genes and metabolites” and his suggestion that reading such verses could cure terminally ill patients in hospitals.

Modern medicine, by this reasoning, is irrelevant. However, we see that everywhere in the world, including Pakistan, people are living 15-20 years longer. This is not because people are listening more often to Beethoven or reciting prayers but because of antibiotics and vaccines.

LUMS has also defended its famous science-bashing humanities professor who openly ridiculed Albert Einstein and Robert Millikan, both physics Nobel Prize winners, and said I had not given the context of the “philosophical debate”. Let me clarify that there was no debate. I had heard this professor at a lecture where he admitted to knowing no physics but he still fiercely condemned the work of the two great scientists using arguments that were illogical and steeped in ignorance.

Finally, I do not understand how LUMS can deny that it has received USAID funding when its official webpage: acknowledges receipt of $10 million from USAID in 1989. LUMS SSE is, of course, a part of LUMS and hence just as much a beneficiary. There is nothing wrong with this, but one just wishes that LUMS someday recovers its lost sense of balance and ceases its violent assaults against reason and science.

Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy

Published in Dawn, October 27th, 2015

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Comments (29) Closed

citizen Oct 27, 2015 08:30am

Well said sir. The main problem, you can wake a person pretending sleeping !

sikander aqeel ansari Oct 27, 2015 12:38pm

Dr. Hoodbhoy has been trying to wake up the dead! Sir, it is futile to argue with the people overwhelmed by superstitions. Unfortunately, the whole of Pakistan has been taken over by those who don't believe in reason and logic. LUMS biology department chairman who says that reciting or listening to certain holy verses “can control genes and metabolites” and who has suggested that reading such verses could cure terminally ill patients in hospitals, may be asked to launch a campaign to shut down all the hospitals in Pakistan. He should, at least try to cure the victims of yesterday's tremor.

Asad Oct 27, 2015 02:13pm

It is painful to see that Institutes like LUMS are losing their reason...

Shakoor Alam Oct 27, 2015 03:47pm

A really sane voice, listen it please.

syed muhammad ali Oct 27, 2015 04:52pm

Respectfully Sir, I am very disappointed from your views and how you insulted my institute and if you say that lums was a beneficiary of USAID, then don't forget that you were also the part of that lums and that SSE. You should have thought that too. But I don't believe in such arguments I just wanted to say that yes sound can stimulate the neurons as the light is blocked by the opaque tissues. I can provide you the link also and certainly I cant win from you as you have more knowledge but please use this for scientific research.. Not for insulting institutions.. And for your kind information here I the link Plus I have respect for you as i have seen you debating with the extremists in lums. I hope its not a personal attack for you.

s.khan Oct 27, 2015 08:41pm

Anti-science comments emanating from LUMS are shocking. Science is based on experiment and evidence and is subjected to scrutiny by others. Religion is a belief system and is more concerned with conduct of life-individual and social- and relations with GOD. Religions can't explain physical, biological and geological phenomenon. These are domain of science. The two are separate. Mixing the two is to create confusion and a great disservice to the students,

Pasha Oct 27, 2015 10:55pm

@syed muhammad ali ...dont be emotional...try to understand ..its arguments between the world respected scientists and non sense local teacher... Prof. hoodbhoy represents the only few intellectuals in pakistan...unfortunately ur LUMS dont have any more.. sorry mate.

SK Oct 27, 2015 11:03pm

It is sad to see such anti science

approach taken by the university. No society can progress without applying logic and objective approach to its problems. I feel sad for Pakistan.

Javed I. Kaiser Oct 28, 2015 01:54am

what a reply .

Hasan Oct 28, 2015 04:09am

LUMS: Where ignorance is expensive.

Gondal Oct 28, 2015 05:25am

i think stress in the major relieve during citing or yoga, and that can cure anything, my be the things bio prof want to elaborate

SUNIL Oct 28, 2015 05:32am

According to general system theory every thing is connected to every thing else and mutually influence each other.

From this point of view what LUMS say may not be absolutely untruth. The only question is whether the effect size is statistically significant and hence recommended.

FJ Oct 28, 2015 06:34am

@syed muhammad ali ... In the article, the revered professor has clearly told that there is nothing wrong with taking USAID. However, it is utterly wrong to deny that such aid was ever taken by LUMS.

Emran J. Khan Oct 28, 2015 09:12am

No matter how expensive walls u build, if u build them in an ignorant society, its useless. People claiming jinns cud be used for energy problems and quranic verses to cure diseases is a result of lack of scientific education nothing but.

Jan Nisar Oct 28, 2015 10:52am

I do not agree with what Dr. Hoodbhoy writes on nuclear issues since I am a strongly pro-bomb Pakistani like most, but I must admit that he has thoroughly exposed the nonsense that goes on in LUMS. As someone commented, this must be the most expensive place in Pakistan for purchasing ignorance. Are there really teachers there who are defending jinns and kooky ideas of prayers curing cancer? I was still hoping that Dr. Hoodbhoy was exaggerating but the LUMS response left me hopeless. And that too from Faiz Ahmad Faiz's grandson.

Sher Ghazi Oct 28, 2015 11:12am


On the 4th of April 1989, the USAID grant for $10 million, to be utilized by the Lahore University of Management Sciences for campus construction, was signed jointly by Syed Babar Ali and the US Ambassador

Dr. Waseem Azhar appointed as the second Dean

Dr. Salman Shah appointed as Associate Dean of the Executive Development Centre (EDC)

June 29th 1989 the first Convocation for the class of '88 and '89 held with President Ghulam Ishaq Khan as the Keynote Speaker

Bilal Oct 28, 2015 12:47pm

Why not teach these theories in religious subjects ? who decides what is science and what is religion ?

Hassan Oct 28, 2015 01:13pm

Hear, hear! Dr. Hoodbhoy for President!

Swag Oct 28, 2015 01:17pm

@Bilal There is no 'who', but there is a 'what': Evidence.

Mahboob Mohsin Oct 28, 2015 01:39pm

A panel discussion with guests Dr. Pervez Hoodhboy and Dr. Basit Bilal Koshul is now due than ever.

Umer Pervaiz Oct 28, 2015 02:35pm

Very respectfully Sir, I think LUMS should press charges for defamation. It is the one institution that inculcates and structurally reinforces free speech and debate. It is the one place that allows preachers on both sides of the spectrum to express their views openly in so far as it concerns academia. However, when someone from an ivory tower blurs the public/private divide to the extent of calling other esteemed academics (much like him/her self) jokers and whatnot, while publicly mudslinging the institution itself, the punitive action should be firm. Whether the knowledge vs faith debate can be settled at all, set aside by academia alone, ought to be more than a particular individual's decision.

Hassan S. Oct 28, 2015 05:11pm

Being a student and keen observer of LUMS, my feeling is that the issues are rooted in decisions taken by the top management of how LUMS is to be administered.

It may seem attractive to allow decentralized decision making where each associate has freedom to act within bounds of his domain, providing some objective justification for the actions if called for.

This system is great for running a factory, where production figures can be counted. But a university may become a reflection of the same society it intends to mentor. In Pakistan the great institutions are run by strong personalities. As yet, LUMS is not.

If the Vice Chancelor can be empowered and selected for strong leadership, who has the authority to act of himself even over trivialities without worrying about the boards and the deans and HODs, then the university can be steered more easily.

At present it seems an unwieldy commercial enterprise trying to sell an education, much like nestle selling bottled drinking water.

Faizan Oct 28, 2015 09:05pm

Even if we assume what Dr. Hoodbhoy is saying is true, is it fair to paint the whole university with a certain colour because of the actions or words of some individuals. Nothing is black and white.

Affan Javed Oct 28, 2015 11:57pm

LUMS should just extend an invite to Mr. Hoodboy for live debate for the continued learning of students. This media bashing is childish and is not achieving anything concrete results except forming blanket misrepresented opinions about an institution which is not at all what this article makes it appear to be. Mr. Hoodboy is or wasn't the only proponent of 'logical' reason & rationality at LUMS. LUMS has a very strong faculty with plurality in their views and opinions who has often disagreed but respectfully. This argument should principally be conducted within the space of the university itself. Also Dawn should verify facts and make an effort to present news, not propaganda. There is no reason to bash the entire university based on one anecdote, which is being presented in absence of the right to reply. A good news article at least makes an effort to investigate and present what other side's case is...

Shabana Oct 29, 2015 12:53am

Those who are saying that it is wrong to paint the whole university with the same brush because of the views of a few individuals should really ask LUMS administration why they officially adopted and defended the non-scientific positions of those individuals, instead of blaming Hoodbhoy. It is LUMS who officially owned up those positions and therefore it is LUMS administration that is responsible for the blemish on the university.

Khan Oct 29, 2015 02:32am

Prof. Hoodbhoy has raised a critical question that been discussed since Centuries. I don't trust the claim from LUMS. How they concluded in lab that verses effects gene expression and metabolomics however, it can't be completely nullify. Words can manipulate mood, increase blood pressure and headache. All these changes are not possible without molecular changes. Prof. Hoodbhoy often critic to humiliate others. Criticism should be constructive based on scientific logics.

Munir Oct 29, 2015 11:27pm


So by this logic, if our PM says something, maybe internationally, which puts Pakistan in a bad light, would that mean each individual of Pakistan is to be blamed because our administration owned up to something. I am disgusted by such arguments coming from sensible and educated people, which I assume you to be. And I am not even affiliated with LUMS in any way. Just trying to defend what I feel is right.

JUNAID Oct 30, 2015 01:39am

@Munir LUMS administration represents LUMS. If they stand by this ridiculous notion that genes can be affected by verses then this is the official position of LUMS until faculty comes forward and disowns it. LUMS has given its official position, faculty needs to distance itself from it otherwise they are accepting this utterly ridiculous notion.

M Hussain Abbas Oct 30, 2015 03:21pm

Respectfully sir, Try to dive into spiritual world before outrightly rejecting the Quranic verses. Science deals with matter and can never cure spiritual or emotional problems. There are people in this world who are declared as incurable by science but they are content even then. Nobody should ever say to discontinue science or close all hospitals because it would then negate another Quranic verse which says ' man gets what he strives for.' Hence both fields are very strong in their domains so we must try to quench our thirst from both fields.