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

Cold water poured on mystery Cold War death-ray fears

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 that it is simply a case of mass hysteria.

Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist from Botany College, Auckland, and Robert Baloh, a neurologist from the University of California, make a strong case that the syndrome is not the result of mysterious sonic rays but a psychosomatic condition.

They outline the long history of mass hysteria dating back to witch and demon fever in the Middle Ages to more modern fears engendered by wind farms, microwave ovens, or Wi-Fi signals.

The researchers ask whether it is more likely that embassy staff were attacked by a previously unknown and still undiscovered weapon or that they fell ill due to a stress-induced condition. They said embassy staff were living in extremely stressful conditions, under surveillance and engaged in a new cold war.

The researchers noted that the reported symptoms reflected those of shell shock recorded in the First World War, including use of the phrase "concussion-like symptoms".

The US accused Cuba of using an unknown weapon to target its embassy in Havana and claimed 24 of its staff had been injured in mysterious circumstances.

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US yanks staff from Cuban embassy over sonic death ray fears

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Despite FBI investigations, it was never able to explain what the death-ray was, although it was widely reported to be some sort of sonic weapon. The US expelled Cuban embassy staff and recalled about half of its diplomats in September 2017 in response.

AP News released a recording of what they claimed was the noise weapon, although Cuban officials dismissed it as the sound of cicadas.

Trump has restricted flights to Cuba and reimposed sanctions lifted during a warming of relations under President Obama. The US embassy only reopened in Havana in 2015.

The paper, "Challenging the diagnosis of 'Havana Syndrome' as a novel clinical entity", is in the latest issue of the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.

The researchers are critical of the four previous studies of Havana Syndrome and accuse them of promoting exotic explanations instead of looking for answers "grounded in the prosaic and known science". ®

PS: A Canadian study reckons a neurotoxin may have been the cause for Havana Syndrome.

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