The Muslim fly studies are back!

Stop me if you’ve heard this before…oh wait. If you’ve read this blog before you’ve encountered this phenomenon in the past. There is a strange cottage industry among Muslim fanatics to demonstrate the infallibility of Mohammed by testing one of his weirder claims. This one:

Over a thousand years ago Prophet Mohammed (Peace Be Upon Him) said “if a fly falls down on your vessel, drown it then remove it, for one of its wings has the ailment and other has the cure” narrated by Al-Bokhari. In this study 4 flies of (Musca domestica) species were collected to investigate the antibacterial and antifungal activity of their wings. The obtained result showed that all media cultivated with right wing extract were free of bacterial and fungal growth however the bacterial and fungal growth for the left wing were observed. It could be concluded that the right fly wing is considered as new revolution of antibiotic recommended for further researches to find more antibiotics from right fly wing.

That’s from an article with the ungrammatical title, Microbiological Studies on Fly Wings(Musca domestica) Where Disease and Treat. I guess the World Journal of Medical Sciences does not exercise any editorial oversight at all, and their review process is a bit of a joke. The paper itself is incredibly bad, of a quality that would earn a failing grade if it were presented as a middle school science fair project. I mean, seriously — here’s the entirety of the results section (with a bit of the introduction and methods).

Pic. (1), (2) and (3) illustrated that there were no bacterial or fungal growth in test tubes containing the right fly wing extract however there were microbial growth in 4 test tubes for left wings extract indicated by turbidity which had been confirmed by microscopical examination, the slides for the right wings extract were free for the presence of any microbe although the slides for the left ones showed presence of both bacteria (cocci and bacilli) and fungi (hyphea)

That’s it. That’s all. Do you believe any of it? It’s not just the lack of believable data, but the introduction is full of obvious nonsense.

Entomologist latest research, certify that there is very little difference between a human and a fly-heart where biggest similarity is that both have heart disease as a result of getting older. Studied flies in order to produce cardiac medications

I know what both a fly heart and a human heart look like — and no, the only similarity is in some of the molecules that initiate differentiation.

I guess the only thing we can learn here is that the World Journal of Medical Sciences is not a trustworthy source. It’s a dumping ground for bad science and is nothing but a tool for incompetent pseudoscientists to pad their résumé.


  1. birgerjohansson says

    The koran and hadith are chock-full of scientific impossibilities, just like all other holy scriptures.

    These days I try to cut down mentioning islamic stupidities on Swedish-language blogs, both because it is such a low-hanging fruit, and because other commenters think I am an islamophobe.
    I am not phobic of any iron-age religion.
    I am phobic of the stuff religious people might do when listening to criminally ignorant clerics. Like stoning people once a rumor spreads that they have insulted islam.
    – Did you get to the part where the sun sets every evening in a spring? Or the part where the dome of the sky is held up by invisible pillars?

  2. astringer says

    Hmmm, also not convinced; the paper does not distinguish between lead-uranuim(III) hydride and lead-uranium(IV) hydride in the p.Muhammad.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    For the benefit of Jewish readers, did you know that jews venerate the prophet Uzair (Ezra) the way the Christians venerate Jesus?
    Also, the Christian trinity is Father, Son and the Virgin Mary. As the koran correctly states.

    But the koran also correctly predicts astronomical facts. In the last days the sun will rise in the west.
    Unfortunately the change In rotation (from + 450 m per second at the equator to 450 m/second In the opposite direction) might have negative consequences, but the koran does not mention it so I assume we will be fine.
    Seriously, just as I bring up talking serpents when Jehowa’s Witnesses knock at the door, so I am determined to counter muslim arguments with their own scriptures.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    If we are talking about biology I have some questions about the scorpion-horse-locusts mentioned in Revelations.
    Clearly they have a more effective way of aquiring oxygen than bok lungs. But are they endothermal or exothermal ?
    Are the eyes made according to vertebrate or arthropod body plans? There are so many questions.

  5. wzrd1 says

    So, lemme see if I have their experiment right.
    With a sample size of 4, goal of proving antimicrobial effects and pathogenic contamination, they took the 4 samples wings, laterally selected, immersed them into sweet agar and decided that a single tube heart is precisely the same as a four chambered heart. I assume hemolymph is the same as blood, more hand wave?
    Shouldn’t one be using blood agar or even tissue cell based agar as a pathogen’s growth medium?
    Shouldn’t there be a proposed mechanism of selection for the magical sterility of one side’s wing over the contaminated side?
    What were the growth conditions for the culture? Refrigerator for the right and incubator for the left?
    Circling back to that heart thing, so my stomach and heart are the same?

    astringer @4, understandable confusion. Plutonium Mohammad has absolutely no lead or uranium content whatsoever.
    I know, I know, I really should’ve resisted, but couldn’t.
    I’ll just get my shemag…

  6. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd1 @ 7
    I am at a disadvantage since I have no training in biology.
    But in physics, I feel confident to say the powers of Plutonium Muhammed are underrated. Did you know that if he flies very fast around the Earth with his flying carpet, he can go back in time, just like Superman in the 1977 film?

  7. larpar says

    Time to start human trials. Find a bunch (4 should be enough) of people with heart disease and start feeding them fly wings.

  8. wzrd1 says

    birgerjohansson @ 8, yeah, did the same flying on flatulinium propulsion. Gotta watch the orbit though, otherwise mass concentrations give you a really bumpy ride.

  9. says

    I can go worse than that. A conference where there were some excellent student research papers presented along with a keynote address by a guest speaker and professor of biology at a Muddle Eastern university who claimed that the Qur’an predicted the existence of chlorophyll complete with an explanation of photosynthesis and the Calvin Cycle. The sole evidence for this was that a verse stated that plants were green.

  10. birgerjohansson says

    Garydargan # 12
    So….the koran practically predicted the existence of rubisco?

  11. KG says

    other commenters think I am an islamophobe – birgerjohansson@3

    Good heavens! How on earth could they possibly have got that idea? Could it possibly have anything to do with the fact that you criticise “islamic stupidities” far more than those of any other religious group, and often OT?

  12. wzrd1 says

    Ah, but can anyone name any particular religion or religious group that has a shortage on stupid, utterly wrong ideas?

  13. birgerjohansson says

    Wzrd1 @ 16
    The animists at least do not invest a lot of thought in constructing weird theologies. They rarely have magic underwear and they never knock on my door to interest me in tree spirit worship (the mongols were a “problematic” bunch but have given up warfare).
    BTW hinduism has a big thing about their traditional medicine that sounds a lot like pseudoscience. Now that Modi is encouraging them we might eventually get ‘medical’ input from them, too.
    KG @ 15
    A car attack in central Stockholm had a non-trivial effect on my view of the malign effects of stupid belief systems, especially those that have not yet undergone an ‘age of enlightenment’, not on a global scale.

    But muslims that live safely in secular countries are working on developing their religion beyond sterile traditionalism.

    I would recommend you watch the podcasts by -for instance- mufti Abu Laith, a very nice fellow (who incidentally has been physically attacked by traditionalists).
    And he shares my disdain for the more stupid hadiths. This would get him killed in some countries. But I assume my comments are a greater danger to him than the men who broke into his home…

  14. indianajones says

    See I wouldn’t mind this so much if it was conducted in good faith. If the idea of this was to disprove the hypothesis about germs on fly wings and they actually tried to do that. And better yet if those results then appropriately challenged and modified their religious faith or theology or whatever.

    I am reminded of the Templeton study on intercessory prayer. That didn’t modify any beliefs in any meaningful way but AFAIK the actual study itself was rigorous and stuff.

  15. says

    They could at least have taken some proper pictures. That supposed growth in #4 looks an awful lot like a light reflection and why doesn’t the similar reflection in #5 count? Also if you’re going to make a claim about turbidity, why on earth wouldn’t you measure it? Any lab relevant for this work should have a spectrophotometer and it takes like a minute.

  16. birgerjohansson says

    This muslim scholar is worth a hundred ‘fly study’ dudes.
    When given intellectual freedom, people will converge on reason.
    This is one hour long and has the ubiquitous koran quotes in arabic but you quickly get the gist.

  17. wzrd1 says

    birgerjohansson @ 17, yeah, but there are so many Hadiths to follow, all “The True Hadiths”. After all, people misheard God once and they decided he wanted religion with lots and lots of sects.
    No, he saw the fun and said “sex”. ;)
    My Muslim friend double over laughing with that one.

    indianajones @ 18, yeah, the problem is, it’s an impossible thing to prove correctly, if one is going for sterility of one or both wings. For one, microorganisms are ubiquitous, so they’re on pretty much everything. But, to complicate matters, as I mentioned above, the culture medium is important and some organisms remain even today unculturable.
    Hence, a study not even worth the electrons moved about to record it.

  18. nomdeplume says

    The lack of education in religious countries strikes again. What on earth do muslims imagine was the point of the fly wing anecdote? And why on earth do they imagine it could be true? And what would be the purpose of a “god” creating fly wings with such properties? And does it apply to all fly species? Genera? Families? And how on earth would these properties be maintained in an individual fly? And why do none of the believers see this as evidence that their religious leader was both ignorant and irrational?

  19. says

    birgerjohansson@17 & nomdeplume@22. It is a problem of education but not entirely the way you think. The fly hadith might be genuine in that the experts have reliably traced it back to Mohammed but that only means he said it. It doesn’t mean its correct. There is another hadith where the prophet saw a farmer pollinating his date palms. He aske the farmer why he was doing it that way and not another. The farmer took the question as a suggestion and followed the prophet’s “advice”. The result was a crop failure. The response from the prophet was that he was just asking a question, not stating holy writ and that on matters such as pollinating date palms he was not the one to listen to. He was probably narrating some cultural superstition about the fly. Many of his companions were smart enough to ask if his statements were revelation or his own opinion and acted accordingly. Sadly many of today’s muslims lack that skill.

  20. wzrd1 says

    Well, there’s also the hadith of killing off geckos as noxious creatures, which then allowed pest insects to proliferate…
    And oddly, is ignored today. Apparently, not being overrun with bugs is thought to be better than being rid of geckos per hadith.

  21. StevoR says

    @ ^ wzrd1 : Right now, as I’ve mentioned in previous comments, we’re facing an issue of far too few insects not too many. Well, generally speaking anyhow. The so-called insect apocalypse :

    Of course Geckos are cool critters and needed ecologically too. All metaphrical strands in the allegorical (right word?) yet also very real web of life.

    @1. Matt G : “Oh, to be a fly on the wall at one of their lab meetings!”

    Given what they are doing to flies here, I’m not so sure about that!

  22. wzrd1 says

    Maybe a cockroach on the lab wall? Your wings will remain safe and no geckos will eat you.

  23. birgerjohansson says

    According to the koran, some animals can talk. Maybe we should just ask the flies.