back to article Cubans launching sonic attacks on US embassy? Not what we're hearing, say medical boffins

Sonic attacks supposedly launched back in 2016 by dastardly Cubans on innocent US diplomats in Havana may well be psychosomatic rather than the result of technology aimed at the embassy. A paper by researchers from the US and New Zealand casts doubt on the definition of so-called "Havana Syndrome" as a new illness, proposing …

  1. elDog

    Mass hysteria. I'd say that this is what is happening in the Orange Goon's head

    And he wants to infect the rest of His Royal Staff to the same. (Staff is not a reference to a stiff rod in this case.)

    Given the constant projection of evil on everyone else and that the evil is usually centered on the Goon and it's (R)epuglicon party, I'm guessing that he just released more top-secret information about what the US is actually working on.

    Also, didn't I read something recently about other scientists describing the symptoms as coming from some air borne common pathogen?

    1. Bite my finger

      Re: Mass hysteria. I'd say that this is what is happening in the Orange Goon's head

      > "Also, didn't I read something recently about other scientists describing the symptoms as coming from some air borne common pathogen?"

      I'd guess you threw in that ordinary question to come off less like the fanatic partisan hater you appear to be.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    opportunity missed

    The CIA should have sent an ultra secret crew to the embassy with an "experimental countermeasure". Sugar pill, Doritos bag over the skull, maybe a pair of Beats headphones (shhh, they're disguised as Beats headphones, they're really an active anti-infrasonic countermeasure). Get a handful of staff in a super secure area of the embassy and let them know that they're part of the countermeasures test group. Make them swear to keep it secret, because we want the Cubans to think their weapon is working.

    Hmmm, maybe they did that, the took the gag so far that they even had some medical researchers write a paper saying that the whole thing was psych..bgddhngvf

    <NO CARRIER>

    1. Bite my finger

      Re: opportunity missed

      Oh dear, looks like they got him with their brown note projector...

    2. BillG
      Megaphone

      Experimenting with Low Frequencies

      Some of us future engineering types, in our youth, noticed that if a car was traveling at the right speed with the window(s) opened just so, the occupants would be pummeled with pulsing sound waves that caused intense confusion and extreme discomfort. In my beater I had to be doing a tad shy of 60 mph and both front windows rolled down (yes kids, "rolled" down) about 3/4 the way.

      Playing around in high school shop class we created some similar pulses using some frequency generators and a pair of crappy stereo bass speakers. I remember the two speaker frequencies had to be the same but out of phase.

      Even as we experienced this it was tough to localize where the effect was in the body. It could be the chest cavity, or just behind the ears. One guy said he felt it in his shoulder blades. But it was intensely uncomfortable to stand between those speakers.

      1. quxinot Silver badge

        Re: Experimenting with Low Frequencies

        For loud bass sonic exposure, go to a dragstrip when there is a supercharged ('blown') nitromethane class running--either Funny Car or Top Fuel. There are louder man-made things in the world, but it's a very, very short list.

        It feels as if the sound grabs you by the air in your lungs and gives you a good shaking. Engineering sorts and people who like interesting experiences should definitely go and see the show.

      2. -bat.

        Re: Experimenting with Low Frequencies

        Interesting that you had to have both windows down. I get this effect in my current car, but only if I have the window down on one side but not the other. I assume its producing a (very low) note in the same was as blowing across the top of a milk bottle does. Having both windows down equally on each side stops the effect (but can then cause complaints of 'too windy' from the children ;-) )

      3. Struggling to find a different name
        Alert

        Re: Experimenting with Low Frequencies

        Standing at the end of a runway as Concorde takes off over your head (looking straight up the exhaust of four Olympus 593 engines on afterburner) probably has a similar effect.

        It happened to me one day many years ago: I was crossing the BAC airfield at Filton when one of the production aircraft was taking off (not on its maiden flight, as those were well controlled affairs and all local traffic was stopped well in advance). On this day, a routine flight, motorised traffic was stopped from crossing the end of the runway once an aircraft was rolling. I was the only person there, walking across when the warning siren sounded and barriers came down; I looked up to see if anything was coming in to land, and then along to see if anything was taking off. I saw Concorde, head on, coming over the slight rise in the runway. I was halfway across and there was no way I could run fast enough to get clear so I stood still (even Usain Bolt couldn't outrun Concorde on take-off)!

        The pilot must have seen me there in my white lab coat; no extra risk as he'd be off the ground well before reaching me (else he'd also be flying through a chain link fence and end up on the A38 trunk road). The noise from those engines was something I'll always remember - felt more than heard; surprisingly, my hearing wasn't affected (neither short or long term).

  3. gecho

    Tinnitus

    Claim there is a sonic attack and everyone suddenly notices their tinnitus.

    1. Bite my finger

      Re: Tinnitus

      Cicadas ARE a sonic weapon. A few hours of exposure to that sound in a jail-like enclosure might easily cause the more delicately balanced among us to succumb to thoughts of assault by hidden enemies. Even fears of Voodoo would not be unthinkable.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Re: Tinnitus

        Yes, having endured cicadas whose racket make it almost painful to windows in ‘good’ years, I can agree.

        1. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change

          Re: Tinnitus

          You've 'ad it easy. Cicadas may be loud when they're in the trees all around you, but they're positive bliss compared to a neighbour who regularly inflicts a stereo on you!

  4. jason_derp

    Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

    I seem to remember reading that some of these folks had brain scans done and they showed signs of damage. Was this damage from previous issues, was it a misdiagnosis, or did they actually psychosomatically cause the damage to themselves? I don't really have any opinion going one way or another as there seems to be so much conflicting information, but I think the question of "why did brain scans show damage?" is a fairly significant one that somebody should be working on.

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

      Brain scans are inherently unreliable

      Neural Correlates of Interspecies Perspective Taking in the Post-Mortem Atlantic Salmon

      1. Carpet Deal 'em Bronze badge

        Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

        The scans for brain damage look at the physical structure; fMRI being pseudoscience or not isn't connected.

      2. ibmalone Silver badge

        Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

        That paper is not about unreliability in brain scans, it's about unreliability in doing your statistics badly. It was a fun illustration of the need to use multiple comparisons correction when doing mass univariate statistics. That's something that had been around for years when they did that work, however because it reduces your power, people had either not been doing it, or taken to inventing home-brewed "correction" which wasn't worthy of the name (such as using some arbitrary lower p threshold and arbitrary cluster sizes to establish 'significance').

        The problem in a nutshell: outcome of experiments is based on statistical comparisons, standard hypothesis testing. In investigations where you wish to know where something is occurring that means statistical comparisons between images. As usual in hypothesis testing you consider the probability of the measured result given the hypothesis of no difference or effect between groups. However, with images, such as MRI, but also PET, SPECT, you're making that group comparison for each voxel in the image. There are lots of these, while your p values are calculated for single independent comparisons, https://xkcd.com/882/ sets in. With a vengeance https://twitter.com/ibmalone/status/1168847805584224256 To counter that you take your original per-voxel p-values and (equivalently) apply a stricter threshold or adjust them for multiple comparison (reduce them) and apply your original threshold. But what's the appropriate correction? Bonferroni correction says you should divide the p-values by the number of independent comparisons, but the more you do this the more statistical power you use, and adjacent voxels aren't independent, so just using the number of voxels over-corrects.

        Rules of thumb:

        PET and fMRI, look for p<0.05 family wise error correction voxelwise. FWE p<0.05 on cluster sizes can also be used, but cluster forming thresholds should be less than p<0.001 if so (based on Eklund et al. 2016 https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1602413113 established false positive rates by using randomised null data), permutation testing preferred.

        Volumetric voxel-based-morphometry (VBM), only voxelwise FWE p<0.05. Cluster based results should not be used. Ashburner and Friston 2000, https://doi.org/10.1006/nimg.2000.0582 afraid this one isn't open access, but here's the relevant bit from the "Testing the rate of false positives using randomization" section, "Approximately 5 significant clusters would be expected from the 100 SPMs if the smoothness was stationary. Eighteen significant clusters were found when the total amount of gray matter was not modeled as a confound,and 14 significant clusters were obtained when it was. These tests confirmed that the voxel-based extent statistic should not be used in VBM." (As in the quote, the reason is non-stationary smoothness, which is exactly what it sounds like, cluster size inference assumes the smoothness of the signal is constant across the image, which works for fMRI, but not for VBM / non-linear registration.)

        In general permutation testing is a pretty good alternative to the parametric methods, and can be done in an FWE manner without the assumptions that parametric methods need. Much harder computationally though, and can't necessarily be applied to more complicated experimental designs. Open access and fairly accessible review by Nichols that I was previously unaware of: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroimage.2012.04.014

        There are alternatives to FWE, such as False Data Rate. While FWE attempts to control the overall probability of false positives, FDR, as the name suggests, controls the rate, the expected proportion of your significant results that are false positives (remember, we're talking about per-voxel comparisons). It provides more statistical power (i.e. reduces false negatives), but people can be wary of it, because it doesn't give you the same 'guarantee' of significance (which of course is not a guarantee anyway).

        And so the JAMA paper on these embassy workers: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/fullarticle/2738552 secondary analyses not multiple comparisons corrected, so ignore. Primary analyses, they did a number of these, one being whole brain volume. Whole brain volume is not a statistical image comparison, it's comparing a single number from each image, which on its own does not have the multiple comparisons issue discussed above. Multiple comparisons reappears though if you compare more things... they do, and use FDR correction on their primary outcomes. What do they find? Significantly smaller white matter volume, but not significantly smaller grey matter volume, and it actually trends in the other direction. Sex is controlled for, just as well as the control group has slightly higher proportion males to females than patient group. For the rest, they pretty much throw the kitchen sink at it, and some of those differences are probably real. Some of the subjects had head injury histories (former military?), they claim that excluding these did not change the results, however while they show some of this in the supplementary (one of the longest I've seen), they don't show it for the white matter volume change. Conclusions? "Significantly lower functional connectivity was observed in the auditory and visuospatial networks in patients compared with controls." You don't have to believe a sonic weapon was involved to believe there are differences here; we're looking at a cohort that reported some phenomenon and comparing to a control group(s), you could equally believe that the volume difference (and connectivity differences) might be associated with suffering long term anxiety, or with a higher vulnerability to mass hysteria or hallucination, or with insecticide exposure as suggested by other posters.

        1. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

          Correction: FDR = False Discovery Rate (not False Data Rate, not sure where that appeared from!).

        2. ibmalone Silver badge

          Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

          Correction #2: "To counter that you take your original per-voxel p-values and (equivalently) apply a stricter threshold or adjust them for multiple comparison (reduce them) and apply your original threshold." - obviously when adjusting p-values it's increasing them that's equivalent to applying a stricter (lower) threshold.

    2. Imhotep

      Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

      And another tech site reported on yet another study that the damage was actually from insecticide used around the grounds of both the American and Canadian embassies.

      I find it hard to believe that the Canadians, who reported the same symptoms, regarded themselves as being in a stressful cold war.

      1. thames

        Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

        Yes, Canada never bought into the "high tech sonic weapon" story, regarding it as fantasy. As noted in the PS, current Canadian detailed medical investigation points to over use of fumigants to kill mosquitoes in the embassy building and diplomatic staff residences. The fumigants were also detected in the bodies of people affected by the symptoms. The insecticide fumigants are based on on neurotoxins, and so have a direct effect on the nervous system, including the brain.

        At the time fumigants were being used excessively due to panic over Zika virus, which was spreading throughout South America. As a result, embassies were having their diplomatic buildings sprayed as much as five times more frequently than is normal. I suspect the Americans were doing the same in their embassy buildings.

        Canadian researchers also feel that any psychological effects of tension or pressure would have played at best a minor role in the effects seen.

        Any "mass hysteria" that is involved in this seems to be affecting people in Washington who seem to think the Cubans have some unimaginably advanced new high tech weapon and are testing it out on multiple embassies in Havana before presumably using it to engage in world conquest.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

          But Cuba is a terrifying military threat if you believe America's reaction to the place for the last 60 years

          1. Mark 85 Silver badge

            Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

            Well sure. It has a reputation for being Russia's rocket/missile base.

            1. Any other name

              Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

              Well sure. It has a reputation for being Russia's rocket/missile base.

              Which, ironically, probably would have never happened if the US were sensible enough not to support and promote a little ostensibly independent invasion of Cuba, which pushed Castro - who was up to that point quite open to coming to some sensible arrangement with the US - directly into the Soviet arms.

              However, that was a fairly long time ago; at this point and for many years the most infamous foreign military base located in Cuba - against Cubans' express will, may I add - is most certainly not Russian.

            2. phuzz Silver badge

              Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

              And yet somehow Turkey never got the same reputation for serving as the US's missile base, because when the US tells the story of the Cuban Missile Crisis, they always leave out the pertinent information that the Soviets were basing missiles in Cuba as a direct reaction to the US placing their own Jupiter missiles in Turkey, within range of Moscow.

              Of course, the US keeps nukes in Turkey to this day.

          2. BananaPeal

            Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

            erp. american attitude towards cuba is mediated by the group of republican ex-cubans in miami. these people fled the commuism and see themselves as true capitalists. obama opening relations was big change in policy now that republicans are in charge this group of anti-castros now has the president's ear again. nothing to do with military threat since 1970.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

            [anon] "But Cuba is a terrifying military threat if you believe America's reaction to the place for the last 60 years"

            With Cuba's military tens of thousands of soldiers for:

            - fighting & killing in their own revolution, 15k-17k on a relatively small island

            - fighting & killing people in Angola, resulting in 500k dead

            - fighting & killing people in Nicaragua for Sandinista's, resulting in 30k-50k dead & 150k exiles

            - fighting & killing people in Bolivia (1966-67), where number of Cuban belligerents rivals Bolivians!

            - fighting & killing people in Zaire (1977-78), with 70k estimated murdered

            - hundreds of "intelligence" officers to Grenada, resulting is countless tortured & imprisoned

            - beating, maiming, and killing Venezuelans, by the thousands, death toll not yet complete

            The Communists are not called Red Communists, for nothing... socialists red with blood of many.

        2. -v(o.o)v-

          Re: Were previous medical reports wrong?

          Later news articles said the "same" "symptoms" and fears of a sonic weapon were found in China also.

          Look it up.

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    Cicadas can drive you nuts with the noise they make all night in the hot weather but I don't think they are a secret weapon.

    Psychosomatic huh?

    Prodigy's song could have been written just for this.

    Breathe the pressure

    Come play my game, I'll test ya

    Psychosomatic, addict, insane

    Breathe the pressure

    Come play my game, I'll test ya

    Psychosomatic, addict, insane

    Come play my game

    Inhale, inhale, you're the victim

    Come play my game

    Exhale, exhale, exhale

  6. chivo243 Silver badge

    Read this a while back

    Says that they were exposed to pesticides...

    https://psychcentral.com/news/2019/10/05/pesticides-may-be-linked-to-havana-syndrome/150802.html

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Read this a while back

      The use of "may" in the very link means "it's not that at all, but let's jump on the clickbait bandwagon"

    2. macjules Silver badge

      Re: Read this a while back

      Pesticides in this case presumably being “Rum and Havana cigars”?

  7. Notas Badoff

    Ask a doctor...

    Ask your friends if they have ever had a doctor tell them "It's all in your head." At least half, maybe more than 3/4 will say yes and then go on at length about the inappropriate 'diagnosis' and injustice of it all.

    For me it was "you're depressed"; nearly 8 years later it was "that simple test for that metabolic condition you explained to us about came up positive. Congratulations!" For one friend it was "you're exagerating. Why?" After laparoscopic operations on both knees, she walked to top of Mont St. Michel. For another it was a premature birth followed immediately by hysterectomy after she complained for months about problems. For a neighbor's child: "oh it's just a sprain and the kid is making too much of it." Arm was broken in 3 places.

    So the docs can't find anything specific? They have more patients than patience? No bother, you're mental! We have pills for that...

    1. CountCadaver Bronze badge

      Re: Ask a doctor...

      What was the metabolic condition if you don't mind me asking....

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Ask a doctor...

      Your anecdotal stories are incredibly unrelated to the article. Did the whole building have similar symptoms as yours? Did all your friend's neighbours suffer from the knees and then got an operation? The key difference, and it's not a small one, is the number of people impacted by similar symptoms.

      Also, doctors saying that "it's in your head" does not mean doctors saying "it's not real", that's pop culture. Psychosomatic symptoms are real, and treated in the best way they can by doctors. It's just not something you can pour antibiotics on.

      1. Symon Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: Ask a doctor...

        Doctor:- You've got hypochondria.

        Patient:- Not that as well...

  8. Toastan Buttar

    In the event of sonic attack on your embassy

    Use your wheels, it is what they are for.

    Think only of yourself.

    1. vogon00

      Re: In the event of sonic attack on your embassy

      Upvote for the Hawkwind reference.

      Fortunately, I don't need to take the metal limbs option.

      Remember, it is essential to bring all bodies to orgasm simultaneously.

      1. Imhotep

        Re: In the event of sonic attack on your embassy

        "Remember, it is essential to bring all bodies to orgasm simultaneously."

        1) Everyone, time to synchronize our watches.

        2) I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out.

  9. _LC_ Bronze badge
    Happy

    Stating the obvious

    Nonetheless, I'm glad when people do so.

  10. martinusher Silver badge

    It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

    They were looking for an excuse to return Cuba to full sanctions mode and they found one. The story spun to the American public was just proof that most of us are entirely gullible and primed to believe anything Cold War like, no matter how fantastic.

    Now map that to "Russia's controlling our elections" and the like......or "spy chip in motherboard"....or 'Huawei's a national security threat"......you name it, we swallow it.

    1. Bite my finger

      Re: It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

      I don't know. I'd take the mass hysteria over your conspiracy theory. You seem kinda biased and unreliable.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

        Maybe the conspiracy theories are the reason for the mass hysteria? For decades, the Russians have been our enemy and now suddenly, they're are friends. For decades, the Cubans have been our enemies but they still are. Go figure... it's all nuts.

        1. Bite my finger

          Re: It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

          For decades the Russians have been friends with the Left, but that's not "us." Now suddenly the Left is calling the Russians nogoodniks, obviously because Hillary and then the rest of the Democrats tried to connect Trump to them in a treasonous way.

          It was easy for them to abandon their old friends now, since the Russians gave up communism a while back.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

        There's no conspiracy mentioned here. Only a convenient excuse for an administration that was looking for one. The fact is that they jumped on it without a shred of evidence.

        And seriously, the number of politicians and media jumping on it is crazy.

        FFS, what would be the Cubans reasons to do that? They're not insane and hell-bent on being crushed by their neighbour. They don't need more problems with their economy, The embargo is strong enough that they can point to the Americans if needed. Not a single scenario has been proposed that's not out of some crappy jingoistic TV series.

    2. Imhotep

      Re: It didn't stop the Trump administration reimposing sanctions and a travel ban

      "spy chip in motherboard"

      Bloomberg has continued to put out some strange stories that can't be verified, and then continues to stand by their discredited reporting. They really should look at hiring some new reporters.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        Actually, they should look at replacing their editors, and probably their management as well.

        A news publication that stands by a false story they cannot substantiate should be shut down, pure and simple.

        1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

          Shut down or shot down?

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          That would shut down the entire MSM, based on their reporting of the Russian Collusion hoax then !

  11. TheGhostDeejay

    I have no idea

    As to whether this was a real thing or not.

    But whatever caused this problem, at least it wasn't caused by those never to be damned enough vuvuzelas, or please God no, bagpipes. I used to live next door to a really nice couple. Who liked to play bagpipe music LOUD. On the other hand, maybe that was preferable to the awful noise that my son likes to listen to, also loud!

    Cheers… Ishy

    1. Imhotep

      Re: I have no idea

      I used to have neighbors that would pound on the wall and scream at all hours of the night. I would just try to ignore it and quietly continue practicing on my bagpipes.

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        Re: I have no idea

        Well, you had to drown out the pounding somehow, right? Nothing like have rude neighbors pounding on the walls.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I have no idea

        You're no gentleman!

        A gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes but doesn't

    2. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: I have no idea

      "please God no, bagpipes"

      I shouldn't say this as a Scot, I'm likely to be excommunicated, exiled, or discombobulated, but I loathe public pipes. I much prefer the gentler, quieter Northumberland pipes.

      That being admitted, funk. African Americans seem to have made them work.

      Parliament- The Silent Boatman

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CK8KPh167g

      (Thanks to Northumbria for the Unthanks. We always preferred you to Cumbria. Any time you feel like getting together, well, Scotland is here, arms open]

      Rachel Unthank & The Winterset - Blue Bleezin' Blind Drunk (live at Abbey Road)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHN4XTQKf2k

      My local pub is the Blue Blazer,

      1. CAPS LOCK Silver badge

        The Unthank sisters?

        Here they are doing, of all things, prog masterpiece Starless:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MTEqXH9dB2g

        Enjoy!

  12. the Jim bloke Silver badge
    Black Helicopters

    more like cognitive dissonance

    after being referred to as innocent USA diplomats.

    Its a phrase that makes my head spin, and I wouldnt know half of what they get up to...

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "we thought it was some Soviet activity outside the gate"

    This reminds me of a news documentary film I watched a few months ago.

    A small lake community in California with many living on houseboats had an influx of new wealthy housboat renters after property levels grew above $200,000.

    At certain times of the year a low yet deafening hum could be heard and the new yuppy residents were having none of it.

    The lakes newest wealthy residents even tried to legislate the offensive noises away from their new floating homes,

    When laws failed to quell the noise a team of biologists finally found the source... vibrating genitals of the resident toadfish during mating season.

    https://archives.nbclearn.com/portal/site/k-12/flatview?cuecard=40085

    (The linked archive does not do the story justice. I'm sure the original video of the story is on YouTube somewhere)

  14. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Congratulations on England for coming second in the Rubgy World Cup

    Some of you will read that as an attack, some of you will ignore it, some of you will be googling 'rugby'. More football players though.

    "Football is not just a simple game. It is also a weapon of the revolution."

    https://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/2393299/Football-Diary-Only-one-Che-Guevara.html

    1. cookieMonster

      Re: Congratulations on England for coming second in the Rubgy World Cup

      Football : 90 minutes of pretending you're hurt.

      Rugby : 80 minutes of pretending you're not.

    2. herman Silver badge

      Re: Congratulations on England for coming second in the Rubgy World Cup

      Well, after the first England player was knocked out cold, his team mates tried their best to avoid getting caught with the ball...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        Re: Congratulations on England for coming second in the Rubgy World Cup

        I blame Boris for jinxing it with his message to the England team

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Football is nothing but beastly fury and extreme violence, whereof proceedeth hurt; and consequently rancour and malice do remain with them that be wounded."

    Sir Thomas Elyot, English Diplomat, in 1531

    So indeed fit for revolution...

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Science" ?

    Sounds more like a coverup than Science. The probability of multiple persons experiencing the same pschosomatic symptons at the same time in the same place are essentially none. There is most likely a comon external cause which a Scientist would investigate without bias or jumping to an unsupported accusatory conclusion.

    Assuming the unknown cause was an intentional act, we ought to be able to agree that the perpetrator conducted a malicious attack, and we ought to think about what the acceptable limits are for the unknown cause, to restrict it's weaponisation.

    1. David Shaw

      Re: "Science" ?

      I've always thought that it could have been a similar directed energy attack, a few kilowatts carrier at a microwave frequency to power another "Thèremin Thing"

      if the microwave carrier interacts with another microwave carrier, you can have audio/sonic, due 'rusty bolt mixing' but there's also the https://i.blackhat.com/us-18/Wed-August-8/us-18-Guri-AirGap.pdf [pdf 5MB] considers Air-gap/faraday-cage room with cute plastic table & chairs, data jumping techniques ‘covert channels’ badBIOS, Fansmitters, high power infrasound, ultrasound, hypersound.

      IIRC there was a described very high power piezo device transducer to get energy into a spooky diplomatic closed chamber & return data, or simply power bugs, but I seem to remember that was developed by "the good guys"

      surely all spooky premises are continuously monitored from DC to light (and beyond) for any coherent/incoherent energy emanation?

    2. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: "Science" ?

      The probability of multiple persons experiencing the same pschosomatic symptons at the same time in the same place are essentially none.

      Unfortunately, you are wrong. Humans are social/tribal/pack creatures, and the phenomena of mass psychosomatic symptoms is well known and frequently documented.

    3. batfink Silver badge

      Re: "Science" ?

      Assuming the unknown cause was an intentional act

      Why would we make that assumption? There is no evidence to support it.

  17. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Audio is easy.

    If a sonic attack was suspected, it would be simple to detect. The projector would also have to be out in the open in direct line of sight (sound). I'm sure "somebody" at the embassy would have a high resolution camera and a long telephoto lens.

    Given that Cuba is third world, whatever they use to kill critters isn't going to be on the UN approved list. It will also work a treat. I'll side with Occam here and place my bets on insecticide fumes being the likely culprit. Lesson learned and going forward, embassies need to be cautious about any sort of *cide being sprayed. Politically, Cuba has to dislike the US, but the population certainly doesn't mind US currency. Tourism is big business there so sans a fanatic leader being propped up by another nation-state, I doubt that they would go any further than the usual barking about how the world is so unfair to them. "Oh, you want to take a photo of my classic car?, that will be $5 cash, thank you very much."

    1. batfink Silver badge

      Re: Audio is easy.

      When visiting Cuba a couple of years ago I was interested to meet quite a few murricans there as tourists, and $US are quite welcome there.

      Apparently it's a massive PITA for USAians to visit Cuba, because of the restrictions imposed on them by their own government. There are only a few "legitimate" reasons for which you're allowed to go to Cuba, and you have to keep all of your documents/receipts/tickets/etc for 7 years afterwards in case they want to question you about it, as obviously you're some kind of subversive (and they accuse the Cubans of oppressing their own people!). So, most of the murrican tourists simply fly to Canada first, fly to Cuba from there, and never bother telling their own government they've been.

      Yes, you can ask the Cuban immigration people nicely and they won't stamp your passport.

      1. MachDiamond Silver badge

        Re: Audio is easy.

        "Yes, you can ask the Cuban immigration people nicely and they won't stamp your passport."

        The default is they won't stamp your passport and you get there via a flight from some country like Mexico. If you like, they will stamp a separate piece of paper you can keep with you as proof of proper entry and a souvenir. Just don't keep it in your passport or the ink might transfer.

  18. Claverhouse Silver badge
    Mushroom

    Were it really a sonic weapon, how did they ensure only foreign diplomatic staff would be affected ?

  19. Boring Bob

    Climate change

    You can add the climate emergency to the mass hysteria list. A new world science based on computer models programmed for free by post grads who know nothing about computer science using data that has to be massaged before it can be used. Any form of conclusion relies on data 100s of years old (short-term changes are meaningless) most of which does not exist and must be filtered and modified for "good" data - so much for controlled experiments.

    Before the climate crisis no one was interested in climate science now 18 year olds want to study it in order to save the world. So most of these scientists who are filtering data and creating the computer models are climate change believers on a crusade to save the earth.

    All you need to add is the population on mass simply repeating what everyone else is saying and calling that "understanding science" and some grown men crying because a penguin doesn't have to suffer as cold a winter as usual and you have all the ingredients of mass hysteria

  20. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    I'll leave this here...

    The Calculus Affair

  21. Rich 2 Silver badge

    2016????

    This sounds very much like something that was claimed to be going on waaaay back in the 80s? 70s? Might not have been Cuba though - can't remember

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