Sunday, June 6, 2010

Francisco M. Fernández on Ji-Huan He

A commenter here recently praised Ji-Huan He's "several methods in vibrations". One such recent contribution is Zhong-Fu Ren and Ji-Huan He, A simple approach to nonlinear oscillators, Physics Letters A (PLA), Volume 373, Issue 41, 5 October 2009, Pages 3749-3752.

Francisco M. Fernández, about whom we have written approvingly before, had an exasperating encounter with a reviewer for PLA. He told me "Recently I submitted a comment suggesting that a paper [referring to the paper above] by Ren and He on classical anharmonic oscillators was garbage and it was rejected." The editor said:

Journal title: Physics Letters A
Corresponding author: Dr. Francisco Marcelo Fernández
Article title: Comment on "A simple approach to nonlinear oscillators" [Phys. Lett. A 373 (2009) 3749]
Manuscript number: PLA-D-09-02939

Dear Dr. Fernández,
We urge you to contact the authors of this article before you submit a comment for publication. This approach is probably going to be much more productive for all concerned.

I am going to reject the manuscript for now, but if after speaking directly with the authors you've come to an agreement that this manuscript should be published then you can resubmit.

Kind regards,
[name omitted]

Fernández then tried a more collegial approach -- politely improving the Ren and He results instead of ridiculing them. (The PDF can be seen at the bottom of this post, as well as a PDF of the Ren and He paper.) That also resulted in a rejection from PLA. Here is the comment of referee number one:

It is not clear what is achieved here. It is difficult to see what was achieved in the paper [bottom of this post] by Ren and He, which was apparently published by your journal [PLA]. Are these methods not just some rewrite of one of the many to be found in Nayfeh and the many other more recent text books?

If this is really a new and exciting method, then the author should be trying to sell his idea to experts in perturbation, asymptotics, etc, so why not a more standard applied mathematics journal?

I really don't think this is the correct platform for this type of article (and would have said the same for the Ren and He article, if asked).

For Physics Letters A, I can only recommend REJECTION.

Fernández is understandably fed up with PLA. "As you see, He can publish anything he likes and nobody else is allowed to contribute an opinion" he tells me. El Naschie Watch hopes to obtain and blog more of Fernández's criticism of He's papers.

Shrink points to this amusing thread on whose consensus is that Physics Letters A is a fringe journal.

View this on Scribd

View this on Scribd

Posts about Ji-Huan He:

Posts about Francisco M. Fernández:

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  1. The level of physics letter journal of Elseiver has declined in the last few years. You can find many garbage has been published there.

    Here is another example for a paper of this garbage class
    On complex adaptive systems and terrorism
    Physics Letters A, Volume 337, Issues 1-2, 28 March 2005, Pages 127-129
    E. Ahmed, A.S. Elgazzar, A.S. Hegazi
    Surprisingly enough you will find these authors had publication in CSF.

    The abstract of the paper

    Complex adaptive systems (CAS) are ubiquitous in nature. They are basic in social sciences. An overview of CAS is given with emphasize on the occurrence of bad side effects to seemingly “wise” decisions. Hence application to terrorism is given. Some conclusions on how to deal with this phenomena are proposed.


    Terrorism is an important phenomena that deserves to be studied using all possible approaches. Here we use complex adaptive systems (CAS) [1] to study it. We use some aspects of CAS and present some conclusions about terrorism. One of our main conclusions is that total eradication of terrorism is highly unlikely. It is more feasible to localize it.
    In Section 2 CAS are reviewed. Terrorism is then defined. Then we apply CAS to terrorism using game theory with mistakes [2] and [3]. Some comments are given on the work of Galam et al. [4] and [5] S. Galam and A. Mauger, Phys. Rev. E 53 (1996), p. 2177S.[5] who uses percolation theory [6] to study terrorism. In Section 3 some general conclusions on CAS are presented then used to give several proposals on handling terrorism.

    The interesting part is the conclusion, here just some part of it
    Now how can these ideas help in proposing strategies in the war against terror?

    We propose the following:

    (1) Terrorism should be studied as a whole. Security solutions alone cannot be successful since it does not affect pc. In fact excessive force may increase d. This agrees with many observations. Changing d is possible through combined political, economic and social in addition to security actions.

    (2) Total eradication of terror is almost impossible. Sato–Crutchfield game shows that every possible strategy will be used. Thus containment and not eradication is the feasible goal.

    (3) Memory effects should be taken into considerations hence do not expect quick solutions.

    (4) Target interference to affect terror networks may be more effective than an all out one.

    (5) Expect side effects and some failures.

    (6) CAS are open and distributed [19] systems hence take into consideration the effect of a decision on related people.

    According to me this couldn't be a physics paper, it might be published but not in physics journal.

  2. Zahy, I agree with you completely. That's not a physics paper. It could have been submitted to a geopolitical journal but even then I wouldn't fancy its chances. The paper is similar to Ji-Huan He's "Fatalness of Virus" paper which I wrote about: That should have been submitted to an infectious diseases journal, but again I wouldn't fancy its chances.

  3. Yes, even "aether" theories contradicting relativity can be found in PLA. This journal is considered by many a fringe/crackpot journal, see, e.g.:

  4. Updated with further details including the full paper by Ren and He.

  5. It would appear that according to the argument from the "amusing thread from the less-than-authoritative physics forum" Phys. Rev. Lett. (PRL) is also a fringe journal. After all, they have published a paper by He ( that required not only an erratum by He ( but also an independent comment pointing out the mistakes ( Additionally, PRL has published a paper contradicting the Big Bang Theory (

    It follows from the irrefutable logic that "something said on an internet forum must be true" that PRL, like PLA, is a fringe physics journal, right guys?

    While I completely agree that He is a crackpot who has never had an original idea, the overzealousness of the author and commenters on this blog is sometimes quite disturbing.

  6. Anonymous July 30, 2010 9:30 PM, that is an amusing and well-put point. Maybe I'll even write it up as a blog post, I don't know. Yes, we can be overzealous at times. When a blog is as monomaniacal as this one, it's almost inevitable. In the interest of full disclosure, do you want to admit that you have some connection (e.g., publications or editorship) with PLA?

    Also, to be fair, really is an "amusing thread from the less-than-authoritative physics forum" calling PLA a fringe/crackpot journal. But the "amusing thread from the less-than-authoritative physics forum" calling PRL a fringe/crackpot journal is this very thread, and you yourself are the only source of that characterization.

  7. One should be careful to call PRL (physical review letters) a fringe/crackpot journal, since its among the most respected journals in physics. Many Nobel-prize winning papers, were published here.


  8. Exactly.

    My point was that one should be careful calling ANY journal fringe/crackpot based on cherry picking 1 or 2 questionable articles out of hundreds that are published by the journal in year. My *sarcastic* post was meant to highlight the absurdity of the logic presented in the physicsforum thread. There are papers by Nobel prize winners in PLA too -- off the top of my head, P.-G. de Gennes on renormalization group approaches in condensed matter. But you see the guiding light of physics, PRL, is also capable of the same lapse in peer-review that leads to He's articles being published.

    Given He's uncanny ability at deception and social engineering, it appears he is capable of publishing a wrong paper anywhere. So his paper together with 1 or 2 other questionable/controversial ones is not equivalent to the situation at a real fringe/crackpot journal like C, S & F (to be precise, C, S & F after around 2000 or so when the floodgates opened).

    Full disclosure: I have published in PLA before, and I am very unhappy about their recent lapse in editorial leadership. They should have published Fernandez's comments on He's nonsense. However, to be fair, PLA withdrew 1 of 2 papers questioned by the physicsforum thread and the other has a comment/reply attached to it. Sounds pretty fair rather than fringe. How many El Naschie papers were withdrawn from the true fringe - C, S & F?

  9. Ok, good points and fair comments, you guys.

  10. One can check the following

    From: PRL Editors
    Date: Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 6:16 PM
    Subject: Reinvigorating PRL Standards
    To: me

    Dear Dr. ---,
    We at Physical Review Letters always look for ways to do better at our core mission, which is to provide the physics community with accounts of crucial research in a convenient format. PRL at present publishes about 80 Letters per week, and we Editors, and many readers of PRL, have concluded that these cannot all discuss crucial research, and that it is too large a number to be convenient. This view is also held by our editorial board and by others, as we know from a wide range of exchanges with our colleagues................

    That even in PRL they are trying to improve their standard.

  11. As long as we're admiring PRL and rehabilitating PLA, let's remember that CSF has swept out the old editorial board in its entirety, changed their scope, and even gone to a two-column format. They could conceivably become a non-joke, I suppose, if people send them papers. I don't think it's been published since the makeover.

  12. Anonymous,

    it's not our (my, to be exact) claim that PLA is a crackpot journal; we only point to an opinion expressed in a forum which can be hardly seen as the solely truth, as far as I'm concerned. Nevertheless, I think that far more than 1 or 2 crackpot papers have been published by PLA. The most famous is Van Flandern's "The speed of gravity — What the experiments say" which is considered to be utterly wrong by any serious astronomer/physicist. In contrast to He's article, van Flandern's article was readily disproved by a comment and an article afterward. Well, I guess that refuting general relativity is far worse than the questioned validity of an obscure perturbation method and I imagine that the author of the comment was not urged to contact Van Flandern for the sake of productiveness.

  13. By the way, has someone looked at this chaos solitons and fractals publication?:


    Golden mean energy equals highest atomic electron orbital energy

    Author: Leonard J. Malinowski

    Editor: Communicated by: Prof. G. Iovane. Available online 13 May 2009.

    Apparently, there are many more crackpots who publish this golden mean twaddle. And furthermore, G. Iovane accepts such nonsense articles....

  14. Nice example of crackpottery, Anonymous. I wish I had the whole paper. Iovane both accepts and writes dreadful papers, but I have not gotten around to him, being busy with He and Rössler.

  15. A reader has provided the Leonard J. Malinowski PDF! I'll do a blog post on it soon.

  16. Hi Jason,

    Len Malinowski is my friend. He is a chemist in Pennsylvania whom I have also never met. CS&F originally rejected his submission, but they suggested that he should correspond with "the great American physicist, Dr. Ray Munroe" (funny huh - no one else addresses me that way - I think too many think I'm a maverick or a goof). I liked Len's fundamental idea (which is based on Scale Invariance and Scale Relativity) but didn't like the overall presentation - it was almost information overload. I gave my recommendations for improvements to both Len and CS&F, and they decided to publish his ideas in a raw, unedited, form. I can honestly say that some peer review did take place.

    Len has a website at if you want more detail on his ideas. The downfall of El Naschie as CS&F Editor affected the publication of Len's ideas - many papers had been accepted by CS&F but will probably never make publication.

    By the way, I'm working on a paper that should reinforce these ideas of Scale Invariance. Is it crackpottery just because someone doesn't understand it?

    Have Fun!

  17. Excellent information, Ray. Thank you. I'm glad you're still lurking.