Phonies. The human species is full of them. I don’t hate or abhor them really. I just feel sorry for them that they have to put up with their own bullshit and live such hollow existence. They can be pretty amusing too sometimes.
A couple of weeks ago I stumbled upon the Wikipedia entry of Manahel Thabet (which has now been deleted, though you can still find a 2012 version of it in the Internet Archive, or view a more recent cache of it on WikiWand ). Basically, it was a poorly-written essay on the glorious achievements of a woman who was allegedly an economist, a scientist, and a consultant all together with Ph.Ds in both financial engineering and “quantum mathematics”. The achievements include having successfully predicted the 2008 financial crisis (she was quoted as saying “my formula cannot be wrong”) and, more recently, having developed a formula to “measure distances in space in the absence of light” which had supposedly taken the world by storm. All claims made in the Wikipedia entry were supported by either news articles from questionable sources such as gulfnews.com, arabianbusiness.com, and even Forbes Middle East (I’m not joking. Apparently, it is bribable.) or crappy websites like World Genius Directory, iqsociety.org and kauzala.com.
Interestingly enough, the Wikipedia page also featured an awkward photo of her, in high definition, trying the hardest she could to give out the most superficial appearance to encapsulate the concept of intelligence, that is if it can be encapsulated such superficially.
It gave me a good laugh when I looked into what are supposedly academic papers written by the self-proclaimed scholar. And a thought struck me. Wouldn’t it be nice if the word bullshit shows up when her name is Googled? For that there is some SEO to do. So I posted a question on Skeptics StackExchange: “Did Manahel Thabet develop a groundbreaking formula to measure distance in space without the use of light?”. Here is an extract:
So I went on looking for the papers she published. I was particularly interested in the methodology she devised for measuring distance which involves a “350 pages” formula. Here is an article on gulfnews.com about how the formula “takes world by storm” (but not about the formula itself).
And I found this paper.
Measuring Distances in Space by Manahel A. R. Thabet
American Educational Research Association (AERA)
Abstract: Determining distances in space is a technical phenomenon; astronomers are trying to come up with a correct way to do it. It is not easy for most of us to imagine the truly immense scale of the universe. “Scale,” in this case, refers to the size of an object compared with its surroundings or another object (McGaugh). Distances in the space are vast from one celestial body to another; for instance, it takes a light signal 10.5 years to travel to the nearest star that has planets (Bonnet, 1992). The fact that light travels 30000 times faster than any fastest rockets renders human beings unable to reach to some planets even if they traveled their entire lifetime.
To determine space distance, several methods with different variations are used or have been proposed. These methods, unfortunately, have faults. In this research, I clearly explain several of these methods and their faults and errors. We will also observe the universe as being three-dimensional and flat as explained in Euclidean: Euclidean means that all the geometry and lines (that are taught in mathematics and physics) properties applies. Measuring distance from earth to celestial bodies like star, sun and moon help astronauts to determine the size of the universe; also it helps to estimate the age of universe. Therefore it is important to use correct methods in estimating space distance.
This appears to be more of an article for layman audiences. It brought up the standard candle approach for measuring cosmological distances (page 18) without discussing it extensively. And the expanding photosphere method (EPM) was not even mentioned. It does not seem to be the paper I was looking for. But this was all I could find after numerous Google searches.
I could find neither the allegedly groundbreaking formula, nor any solid evidence that it actually exists.
Arabianbusiness.com ranked her as the 15th most powerful Arab woman in 2015. But is it true that she wrote a “350 pages” formula to measures distance in space without the use of light? If so, where is it published and how can one find it?
It managed to gain quite some interest and more people got into the investigation of whether she is a fraud. I then submitted the post to the following subreddits: /internetbullshit , /skeptic, /quityourbullshit, and also cross-posted it in the subreddit /IsItBullshit. A few weeks later, the subreddit [/IsItBullshit] and Skeptics SE posts both made their way to the first page of the Google search results, in the shadow of the Wikiepdia entry which had been labeled “blatant hoax” and erased from existence.
Fun fact: I just tweeted this article and mentioned her (@manahelthabet), who currently has 50k followers, in my tweet, I believe she is going to block me, similar to what happened to the guy who asked her about the supposedly ground-breaking paper on Twitter.
Update: Yup, I’m blocked.
Simply tweet this article and mention @manahelthabet if you’d like to be blocked too :D