Post Publication: Interview with Dr. Ariel Fernandez on a Nature Paper Controversy (Ten more minutes added on 12/2)

As a glance at his CV reveals, Dr. Ariel Fernandez (阿列尔·费尔南德斯), the discoverer of the dehydron (脱水元), is a very creative physical chemist and mathematician, a key player in the recent biotechnology transformation. His research has been heralded in auspicious terms, as illustrated for example in this review published in Scientific American. The breadth of research accomplishments of Ariel Fernandez, ranging from abstract algebra to drug design is breathtaking and probably unheard of in science (see a linked version of his publication record). In his ResearcherID page, Thomson/Reuters estimated that Ariel Fernandez has published 485 professional articles, book chapters included. His innovative drug designs were enthusiastically received by eminent doctors such as Thomas Force (Vanderbilt University) and were also reported in laudatory terms, as shown for example in this review by legendary Harvard oncologist George Demetri. Quoting Dr. Demetri:

“The first generation of kinase-inhibitory drugs such as imatinib and sunitinib have already provided patients with life-saving therapeutic options, and with tools such as those described by Fernández et al., the future certainly looks bright for constructing ever-better agents that can be combined safely and effectively to manage, and eventually cure, many forms of human cancer”.

In a recent collaboration with eminent cardiologist Richard L. Moss, Dr. Ariel Fernandez came up with a potential treatment of heart failure by disrupting a myosin association with a myosin-regulatory protein, a novel invention recently awarded the US patent 9,051,387. You may find descriptions of this invention at: US Patent and Trademark Office page, Espacenet page, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Ariel Fernandez Consultancy,, Ariel Fernandez’s professional page.

Ariel Fernandez 

In spite of this stellar career and in spite of his efforts to fight cancer and heart failure, Dr. Ariel Fernandez is not impervious to slander. In the new era of post publication peer review, where anybody says whatever they like without even revealing his identity or his credentials, Dr. Ariel Fernandez has been the target of libel. In this note, Dr. Ariel Fernandez reflects on post-publication peer review in light of a recent attack by journalist Ivan Oransky, the self-proclaimed champion of scientific transparency, who has been recently named Science’s Garbage Man (Muellsammler der Wissenschaft) by the Swiss Radio and Television. In his post, Oransky mentions a Note that Nature Editors appended as Addendum to a Nature paper by Ariel Fernandez.

oransky fernandez
The source of the picture on the left is this article at Yale Medicince.

WM: Thank you doctor for agreeing to talk to us on such short notice. What was your reaction to the recent post by Ivan Oransky (and Adam Marcus) published in their blog in regards to your Nature paper?

Ariel Fernandez: It is hard for me to understand the motivation for such posts by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus and for some of the comments in their blog. The story is thin on reality. It reads like an attack. These people seem angry (they surely sound angry) and probably think they will get some credit for doing what they do. Meanwhile, the science establishment is not taking the needed leadership in regards to post-publication assessment and in regards to fixing the peer review system.

WM: Why do you think Oransky dislikes you?

Ariel Fernandez: I don’t think our paths ever crossed, I don’t even know him. I heard he is a doctor, and that he is smart. There are many wonderful things that a smart doctor can do, what Oransky is doing is not one of them.

WM: Can you tell us what are the news exactly?

Ariel Fernandez: The Addendum published by the Nature Editors on my paper [Ariel Fernandez, Nature 474, pages 502-5 (2011)] exposes a controversy between the two authors of the paper, former author Michael Lynch and me. This is hardly a news item. Lynch and I have a disagreement on the data and what it means. The Nature addendum is appended to the paper at the url:

I posted my own tutorial on the Nature paper, including the code, raw data and statistical analysis in compliance with the open data mandate. Anybody interested can help clarify the matter if he/she so choses.

WM: How did this problem originate?

Ariel Fernandez: As I recall, in November of 2011, a Joshua Cherry, a sort of contractor (?) at NIH/NCBI first contacted me indicating that he wanted to reproduce my data in the Nature paper. After exchanging dozens of mails, I offered him a tutorial, because I realized he had little or no background in biophysics. He rejected my tutorial and from then on began challenging my papers. Now, why would a person with no background in my field decide to challenge my papers is a mystery to me. This fellow Joshua Cherry is behind the attacks on my work and my person. He seems somewhat obsessed (?) with me for some reason. Now, from what I can see, Cherry has authored some reasonable papers on population dynamics, yet he invests heavily on the downfall of someone working in a field he knows nothing about?

WM: That is odd.

Ariel Fernandez: The most important lesson to be drawn from this incident requires that we all take the high ground and ask ourselves: How should post-publication peer review be conducted? I believe there is only one way which has been the way of science for centuries: If anyone feels the need to challenge a published paper, the person should send the comments to the journal where the original work was published, request that his/her comments be subject to peer review and if they pass peer review, the objections should be published side by side with the response by the original author for everybody to examine and draw conclusions. The rest, including Oransky’s blog, is just noise.

WM: Doctor, I heard rumors that you and I are the same person.

Ariel Fernandez: Well, let’s see. You surely sound quite different from me and I don’t have any Chinese ancestry to speak of…

WM: Thank you doctor, have a good evening.

Ten more minutes on the phone with Dr. Ariel Fernandez (12/2/2014)


WM: Did you read the comments at the blog run by Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus?

Ariel Fernandez: I read a bunch, then it got too silly with the Meng-Fernandez duality and I took my dog for a walk. It made me sad that these people cannot seem to be able to take the high ground on the broad issues at stake.

WM: Yes, they seem to dwell on whether I am a real person or whether you are actually me, or dual realities, or God knows what. Totally immaterial, like asking whether the characters in Plato’s dialogues are real or fake and take away merit if the latter were the case (I prepared that one beforehand, by the way). So, what are the issues at stake?

Ariel Fernandez: As I see it, the only thing worth focusing on is the failure of the peer review system. If the system were water- tight, there would be no need for PPPR [post publication peer review], of course. There are core issues worth focusing on: lobbying, editor courtship, fake reviewers, and cronyism in the peer review system.

WM: Well, so what do we do then?

Ariel Fernandez: Many journals are simply too amateurish to lead in this crisis, and the absence of leadership in times of crisis, often leads to bad things as we all know too well. Opportunists take over, as history has shown time and again. A leadership void has been created concurrently with the peer review crisis and, quite opportunistically, the blog by Ivan Oransky and the other fellow fills in that void. It is a bad thing but it has managed to parasite over the space available, fits right in there. Tragically, everybody watches in complete stupor while these people run the agenda.

WM: OK, so what do we (you and me) do?

Ariel Fernandez: Well, we keep it up. We help them realize that there is a loftier pursuit than indulging in the trigger-happy nonsense of the blog. We try to educate the bloggers and commenters because we believe that there is a higher ground and that they can truly contribute. Oransky, for one, is possibly a very smart person and could do plenty of good.

WM: And the lofty pursuit is…

Ariel Fernandez: Help the establishment fix the peer review system by showing concrete failures of peer review and how we can learn from the mistakes to make improvements, how we can introduce better ways to safeguard the integrity of reported work with concrete working examples while fighting the problems alluded to previously. Above all, ensure that if and when PPPR becomes an absolute necessity, it is subject to the standards that science has upheld for centuries, since professional journals came into existence. In this pursuit there is no room for Ivan Oransky or the other fellow, or the commenters, unless they choose to get serious about fixing the system and stop being silly. Vulgarization of career mistakes and tragic turns of fortune is not going to get them anywhere (except in the eyes of the angry mob of losers in science who invest in the downfall of the winners). They need to help device clever ways to deal with and combat scientific corruption at its root.

WM: My pleasure again doctor, enjoy the rest of the day.


Ariel Fernandez and Michael Lynch (2011) Nature 474, 502-505

Disclaimer by Ariel Fernandez

Ariel Fernandez complete CV updated May 18, 2015

Ariel Fernandez featured in Baidu Encyclopedia (Mandarin)

Books by Ariel Fernandez

Ariel Fernandez at ResearchGate

Curriculum Vitae for Ariel Fernandez

The Peer Review Crisis by Ariel Fernandez

Rice University Faculty Catalogue

Ariel Fernandez Consultancy

Transformative Concepts for Drug Design: Target Wrapping, Book by Ariel Fernandez, Springer, 2010

Ariel Fernandez Professional Website

Biomedical Research by Ariel Fernandez, NIH

20 thoughts on “Post Publication: Interview with Dr. Ariel Fernandez on a Nature Paper Controversy (Ten more minutes added on 12/2)

  1. “The most important lesson to be drawn from this incident requires that we all take the high ground and ask ourselves: How should post-publication peer review be conducted? I believe there is only one way which has been the way of science for centuries: If anyone feels the need to challenge a published paper, the person should send the comments to the journal where the original work was published, request that his/her comments be subject to peer review and if they pass peer review, the objections should be published side by side with the response by the original author for everybody to examine and draw conclusions. The rest, inlcuding Oransky’s blog, is just noise.”

    Sadly, no. This already existed, and just gave peer reviewed journals with impact factors, reputations, and egos to protect the power to censor out all criticism, including legitimate criticism.

    Case #1:
    This person found a seriously flawed paper and wrote a paper criticizing it. Peer reviewed journals rejected the criticism paper or delayed its publication for years. One even stated outright that it would not publish corrections!

    Case #2: A good friend of mine who is a physicist saw a paper in PNAS. The paper contained undeniable invention of data, falsification of meteorological parameters, wrong use of standard deviation, logical fallacies, and even a few outright lies. He wrote a paper criticizing it to PNAS. The editor flat out refused to publish it.

    Oransky’s blog is a necessary evil to counter the real evil that is traditional peer review. Doctor, heal thyself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Are you sure your good friend was right? Maybe PNAS had good reasons not to publish your friend. Case 1: How do you know the person who criticize the paper was right or that his objections were really worth publishing? You see, peer review is flawed, but is all we got. Oransky’s blog is unregulated hence any loser can say whatever he/she wants! The net result is a bunch of angry people writing nonsense without restraint.


      1. Sadly, I am certain that my good friend was right. In the case of the invention of data, I was able to check the publicly available original data, and conclude that he was right. The invention of data occurred in a figure of minimum temperature data since January 1 of a specific year. In the original data, the minimum temperature thermometer broke after 70 days since January 1, and was not replaced. Yet the figure in the PNAS paper included data beyond 70 days. The paper also lied about wind speed not being recorded, a fact I was able to confirm through the writings of the person recording the wind speed, and the paper misrepresented the minimum speed of a gale, which is Beaufort force 8, or ~62-74 km/h. The paper cut the minimum speed for a gale by half in order to prove the observer’s observed gale length right.

        Sadly, PNAS does have good reasons to not publish my friend: they have their reputation to protect, as knowledge that they let such a bad paper through would reflect badly on them. There is also ego; “there is no way we could let such a bad paper through, therefore criticism papers are wrong”. Then there is the almighty impact factor and the need to preserve it.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. The previous link is to a self-published article that extols the virtues of homeopathy and UFOlogy, to name only a few, and characterizes these beliefs as examples of a “suppressed science”. May I ask whether your approval of this comment signifies your identification of these positions as scientific ? Since this blog is focused on scientific transparency and retractions I consider the question relevant to the issues covered here. Thanks

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Surely not. I only said it was relevant to the issues at stake. I didn’t say I identify with the commenter position. RW is very far from the realm of real scientific discussion as these curiosities may be.


      2. Unfortunately I don’t see the relevance. In fact given that Mr Walker’s protagonist is the “scientific establishment”, any corollary with this blog would inevitably equivalence Retraction Watch with said establishment – hardly what I perceive as your intent. This situation of strange bedfellows is often what happens when the dictum of “my enemies enemy is my friend” is allowed to overwhelm one’s natural – in this case scientific – sensibilities.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I think you may be right, EFH. I concede that equating Retraction Watch with those curiosities debases our intent. In fact, those curiosities do far less harm to science that RW does. Allowing anybody, however uninformed, to say whatever they wish and encouraging debate fuelled by angry people seeking notoriety is doing nothing but a disservice to science.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. An interview between Meishi Weng and Ivan Oransky, or an interview between Ariel Fernandez and Ivan Oransky, moderated by Meishi Weng, would be very useful to clarify all three individuals’ positions.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Self-plagiarism: the unattributed use of one’s owns words, thoughts, or ideas in a source to an earlier source that uses the same material. Could this be the case of Oransky’s “recycled” or “semi-recycled” presentations given at different “academic” locations to propel Retraction Watch’s image?
    Compare, for example, these two presentations, 3 years apart:
    #1 (the original): CrossRef 2011 Annual Meeting (Nov. 15, 2011)

    #2 (the self-plagiarized and manipulated): Rutgers School of Communication and Information (posted on Oct. 21, 2014):

    (Keyword, in this case, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly – I wonder, did he attribute his title to the original movie source?)

    How much “slide” (i.e., text and context) recycling does Oransky do? After all, he does tend to ask, on his blog, how much textual recycling that scientists do, so surely scientists should hold him up to the same level of scrutiny? Has anyone analyzed all of his “presentations” as “guest speaker” over the past 4 years?

    Interesting, any commercial conflict of interests here, especially in meetings like the CrossRef conference? For example, what perks, fees and benefits does Oransky and RW receive from industry players? Why are such lack of COIs not specified on RW?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I went through the CV and publications of Ariel Fernandez. You may find them at these urls:
    His publication record is stellar. Where is the evidence or hard proof of wrongdoing? What are the nobodies from Retraction Watch talking about? All they have is hearsay nonsense. This is defamation! Dr. Fernandez, you need to get a court order to subpoena the correspondence with the journals and sue for what is worth.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. And who is Clare Francis [the pseudonym for the person who attacks Ariel Fernandez and other scientists in journals and institutions in the name of scientific transparency], anyway? Sounds like he and science retraction blogger Ivan Oransky have way too many things in common: same vested interests, feeding on each other, both started at the same time in 2010, same writing style, Oransky hastily reports Francis’ anonymous attacks, celebrates every one of Francis’ “victories”, etc.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The sheer breadth and depth of Ariel Fernandez’s contributions makes him a genius or something very close to that. Am I wrong? Contrast one of his early contributions entitled “Center Manifold Theory of the Adiabatic Elimination Method” (Statistical Physics+Dynamical Systems?) at:

    with his latest work on Biotechnology described in the recent post:

    and these biotech innovations with his four theorems in abstract algebra dating back three decades:

    I simply can’t imagine anybody covering so much knowledge.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dear correspondent “”,
    Pursuant to our rules and bylaws, we do not publish comments sent anonymously.
    Thanks for your cooperation.


    1. Incidentally, “” is of course Joshua L. Cherry, the NCBI/NIH contractor obsessed with Ariel Fernandez.


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