Retraction Watch

Tracking retractions as a window into the scientific process

Controversial chemtrails paper flagged by journal

with 8 comments

Frontiers in Public HealthA journal has published an expression of concern (EOC) for a 2016 paper providing evidence for a long-standing conspiracy theory about the dangers of cloud trails from jet planes.

A similar paper by the same author was retracted last year by another journal.

Both papers focused on the “chemtrails” emitted from jet planes, which conspiracy theorists have long believed contain toxic coal fly ash rather than harmless ice crystals, as the government claims. According to a press release about the 2016 paper, released by author J. Marvin Herndon, a geophysicist and “independent researcher” at the Transdyne Corporation in San Diego, California, the paper presents evidence the chemtrails contain coal fly ash, linked to a number of health problems.

But many people disagree with the findings — Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado, Denver, criticized the paper on his blog.

Here’s the EOC, published today by Frontiers in Public Health:

An expression of concern on

Human and Environmental Dangers Posed by Ongoing Global Tropospheric Aerosolized Particulates for Weather Modification

by Herndon, J.M. (2016). Front. Public Health 4:139. doi: 10.3389/fpubh.2016.00139

With this notice, Frontiers states its awareness of several complaints and serious allegations surrounding the article “Human and Environmental Dangers Posed by Ongoing Global Tropospheric Aerosolized Particulates for Weather Modification” published on 30 June 2016. Our Chief Editors, Joav Merrick and Anwar Huq, will direct an investigation in full accordance with our complaints procedures. The situation will be updated as soon as the investigation is complete.

In the paper, published June 30, the author writes:

The ability of coal fly ash to release heavy metals and radioactive elements upon exposure to body moisture has potentially grave human health implications including cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, respiratory diseases, reduced male fertility, and stroke. 

He concludes:

The time has come for the scientific community and especially the environmental science and public health communities to understand that a multiplicity of toxic substances is being sprayed into the air breathed by people in many parts of the world and that it will adversely affect virtually all life on Earth.

On his blog, Beall points out that the new study is a similar to the one retracted by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (a journal published by MDPI) in 2015. The retraction notice for that paper cites some errors with the science, and notes that the “language of the paper is often not sufficiently scientifically objective:”

Beall added Frontiers to his list of possibly predatory publishers in 2015.

A Frontiers spokesperson referred us to the EOC.

Herndon rejected his previous retraction, writing in 2015:

…there is no demonstrated legitimate basis for MDPI AG to have retracted said article; MDPI AG should promptly republish it with the author’s corrections…

We’ve reached out to Herndon, and will update the post with anything else we learn.

Update 7/18/16 11:50 a.m. ET: Please see an update on this post.

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Written by Dalmeet Singh Chawla

July 15th, 2016 at 12:35 pm

Comments
  • James Bancroft July 15, 2016 at 12:41 pm

    how in the world did coal fly ash get in JP-5???

  • herr doktor bimler July 15, 2016 at 5:09 pm

    I don’t know if “controversial” is the right word — it implies two sides of an argument.

  • herr doktor bimler July 15, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    From the Frontiers office:

    Article came to our attention within hours of publication. Statement of concern will be issued. Followed by full investigation.

    If they were concerned within hours of the June 30 publication, why did it take two weeks, until Jeffrey’s blogpost, to announce that concern?

  • Oswald Heger July 18, 2016 at 8:40 am

    The paper has been retracted (even if the retraction notice couldn’t be much more inconspicuous).

  • Conrad Seitz MD July 18, 2016 at 3:22 pm

    The “evidence” for the presence of coal fly ash presented in this paper is that the ratios of certain elements found in the samples collected from rainwater is somewhat similar to the ratios of those elements found in leachate from coal fly ash. This logical leap is the foundation for the author’s claim; there is no actual “coal fly ash” found in samples. This is like saying that humans are the same as bacteria because we both have DNA.
    I tried to read the paper but could not get past the photographs of contrails/chemtrails. I didn’t see the retraction notice that Oswald Heger mentions; it must be very inconspicuous. Most of the paper appears to consist of long soliloquies about the dangers of coal fly ash, and very little about the actual evidence that the author presents. Nowhere is there an explanation of how element ratios logically leads to the inference that there is coal fly ash being sprayed, probably because there is no logic involved– just damning by juxtaposition.
    This paper would never have seen the light of day if it were not for a “possibly predatory” publisher. The “peer review” of this paper must have consisted of cashing the author’s check. How is this in any way science?

  • Mark Pawelek September 25, 2016 at 6:25 am

    (1) Earlier this year, the researcher published in INDJSRT, which some have called a potential ‘predatory’ journal. PDF: http://www.nuclearplanet.com/indjsrt.pdf

    (2) Coal fly ash, CFA, could be emitted into the atmosphere from coal burning power plants. In recent years, coal was the fastest growing new electricity generation source. Coal burning power plants are supposed to have filters fitted to remove CFA from emissions. Yet this equipment could be by-passed to save money. Not necessarily nefariously. E.g. If the filters break or don’t work perfectly the plant might continue running because people need electricity. So there are plausible alternative sources for atmospheric CFA.

    (3) CFA is, of course, used ubiquitously for many jobs. Nearly ½ million tonnes of it are made each year by a 1 GWe coal plant. It’s often used to make building material.

    • Marco September 25, 2016 at 9:41 am

      You forget (4)

      (4) There is no evidence it *is* CFA the author found, since he did not test any alternative hypotheses.

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