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-   -   Merged: US may close Cuba Embassy over 'health attacks' (http://www.internationalskeptics.com/forums/showthread.php?t=323098)

Dabop 8th July 2018 05:51 AM

And considering it is in the trump admin- I immediately considering its an attack of the unicorns- or maybe its an attack of the rainbow ponies-

both of which president chump would consider true...(and far more likely)

(says a lot about the way the 'rest of the world' considers your 'chimp in chief' these days)

I really am of the opinion that this was an early chump in charge attack on Obama, nothing more

It was in the early days of the trumpff administrations after all, when we all expected 'some' sanity in the white house

Now of course we all know better- there is no sanity in the white house, just a delusional old man who appeals to the racist/sexist/ anyist elements of the USA

dann 8th July 2018 06:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dabop (Post 12354240)
In the last week alone I have suffered ALL of the symptoms...


I'm sorry, but I left out the whole list of symptoms mentioned in the Australian link:

Quote:

Since the phenomenon was first documented in Cuba in 2016, US diplomats have reported symptoms including headaches, nausea, vertigo and temporary hearing loss, with tests of some suggesting physical changes to the brain's white-matter tracts, which allow parts of the brain to communicate.
US embassy 'sonic attack' cases 'the placebo effect in reverse', mass hysteria expert says (ABC News, July 2, 2018)

I hope that you didn't suffer all of them, especially not the "physical changes to the brain's white-matter tracts," which, by the way, are very hard to diagnose without an autopsy! :)

I already quoted the list of most common symptoms (Wikipedia) in a much earlier post, but I think it's probably time to do so again in case you spot somebody down under looking suspiciously Cuban!

dann 8th July 2018 06:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dabop (Post 12354247)
... just a delusional old man who appeals to the racist/sexist/ anyist elements of the USA


You should not dismiss the possibility that he himself may have been the unfortunate victim of a Cuban attack that caused "physical changes to the brain's white-matter tracts, which allow parts of the brain to communicate." :)

dann 8th July 2018 07:04 AM

And the warning from the State Department has already been crowned with success. There’s a new victim of the 'attacks' on U.S. citizens in Guangzhou:

Quote:

A U.S. private citizen who visited China has reported symptoms like those of U.S. diplomats afflicted with a mysterious illness in Havana and Guangzhou, a U.S. State Department official said on Thursday.
U.S. private citizen cites mystery illness symptoms after China visit (Reuters/MSN.com, July 7, 2018)

dann 8th July 2018 10:59 AM

The alleged cognitive impairments of the US diplomats
 
The Guardian quotes a letter in The Journal of Neurology, July 2018, Volume 265, Issue 7, pp 1706-1707, by Sergio Della Sala and Robert D. McIntosh: Cognitive impairments that everybody has
The letter in The Journal of Neurology is behind a pay wall, but the article in The Guardian isn't. However, I'm afraid to quote too much so this will have to do. I link to the whole article.
Sergio Della Sala and Robert McIntosh are neuroscientists at the University of Edinburgh, and they criticize the study by the doctors at the University of Pennsylvania published in the Journal of the American Medical Association as "seriously flawed" when it claims the idea of concussion in people who didn't receive any blows to the head:

Quote:

... much of the evidence the doctors used to propose a new concussion-like syndrome came from six diplomats who each took 37 cognitive tests. The tests looked at visual and auditory attention, working memory, language, reasoning, movement and other cognitive abilities.
In their report, the US doctors reveal that all six embassy staff who had the full battery of tests had some brain impairment or another. But Della Sala and McIntosh say anybody who took the tests would have been classed as impaired.
They point out that it is standard practice with cognitive tests to measure people’s performance against others in the population. Often, a person has to score in the bottom 5% to be considered impaired. But the US doctors set the threshold at 40%, meaning that by definition, four in 10 who take the test will be “impaired”.
Della Sala and McIntosh ran a simulation that looked at the probability of passing all 37 tests when the threshold for failure was set so high. “The chances that somebody will be without an impairment is zero,” Della Sala said. “We ran the simulation 1,000 times, and never, ever is there one single individual who appears to be normal. They are all classed as impaired.
He added: “I’m not denying that they may have discovered a new syndrome, but the point is that the evidence they have provided is nonscientific. The paper is faulty. Even if the results are preliminary, a threshold that verges on half the population is unheard of. I cannot see how any reviewer could have looked at the data and said they are fine. This is not a little thing. It is a threshold unknown in science or clinical practice.”
In their Journal of Neurology paper, the scientists conclude: “With the criteria used, the neuropsychological symptoms of the proposed new syndrome have a worrying lack of specificity: everybody is affected.
Cuba calls on US and Canada to investigate ’sonic attack’ claims (The Guardian, May 29, 2018)

dann 14th July 2018 09:57 PM

There still ain't nobody here but us crickets ...
 
... and a couple of cicadas:

Quote:

But once evidence that the incidents might not be confined to Cuba emerged with the Guangzhou case, U.S. officials reviewed other health complaints, including one of the child of an American couple posted to another consulate in China, according to officials. That also turned out to be negative, although a State Department medical team is still in China visiting all U.S. diplomatic missions there to conduct screenings of employees and family members who ask for them.
As of late last week, nearly 200 have taken the offer up to date, although only a handful — less than a dozen — have been evacuated to the U.S. for further review by neurological experts at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
What's that sound? Singapore scare highlights US concern (Life Magazine US, July 1, 2018)

Quote:

Kenneth Merten, the acting principal deputy assistant secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs, told lawmakers that U.S. investigators continue to examine the source of health problems for 26 Americans.
"We don’t know who is responsible and we don’t know what is responsible for this," Merten said during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing.
He added that the investigation is "still very much evolving."
(…)
Reps. Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) — the Foreign Affairs Committee chairman and ranking member, respectively — said they planned to meet with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan on Wednesday afternoon and would discuss the health incidents with him.
State Dept: No answers in sonic attacks in Cuba, China (The Hill, July 11, 2018)

Quote:

Branstad said he is “very concerned” about reports of unexplained ailments that have afflicted American diplomats in China. Reports have suggested those health problems are similar to ailments reported with American staff at the U.S. Embassy in Havana.
U.S. State Department officials last month said the agency was evacuating some Americans from Guangzhou for further health screenings. That followed the initial evacuation of a government employee who had reported hearing strange noises in his apartment and was exhibiting symptoms of brain injury.
Branstad said he had been evaluated but noted that “in my case, it was no problem.” He said 22 government employees had been sent to the University of Pennsylvania for additional medical review.
“We’ve had one confirmed case that is comparable to Havana,” said Branstad, adding that “it’s got to do with noise that is similar to cicadas is what we’ve been hearing. They have several theories but have never determined yet exactly what’s caused it.”
Branstad urges farmers to 'take the long view' in U.S.-China trade dispute (The Gazette, July 14, 2018)

dann 14th July 2018 11:33 PM

"The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has joined the investigation"
 
Quote:

The move to add the CDC to the probe comes as frustrated congressional leaders, including House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif., and Democratic counterpart Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., have called on the State Department to enlist the health organization's aid and send it to Havana to help the investigation.

“Why has the CDC not yet been deployed to Cuba?” Engel said Wednesday. “It certainly seems to me we should if we want to get to the bottom of this. I don’t understand why that hasn’t happened.”
Royce said he and Engel will meet Wednesday with Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, who leads the task force, to discuss the issue further.
CDC joins investigation into ‘sonic attacks’ in Cuba and China (McClatchy DC Bureau, July 11, 2018)

The irony!
AAAS-Cuba partnership in health diplomacy celebrated in U.S. release of 'MEDICC Review' special edition (American Association for the Advancement of Science, July 6, 2018)

dann 15th July 2018 03:32 AM

An article in The American Ethnologist (Wikipedia) describes how the mass-psychogenic-illness case at the Le Roy was stopped when the girls were prevented from access to the social media:

Quote:

Just a few weeks after the so-called mystery illness was introduced to the public, news stories about Le Roy came to an abrupt halt. From the beginning, the two leading neurologists associated with the Le Roy cases, Dr. Laszlo Mechtler and Dr. Jennifer McVige, had provided therapy that included strong prohibitions on “texting and friending” (Eakin 2012). When the number of students affected rose from 12 to 19 after the case went national, neurologists issued a statement that media coverage exacerbated the girls’ symptoms and, through social media mimicry, might create new victims among an already impressionable population. Indeed, Dr. Mechtler overtly blamed the media for the “continued hysteria” and urged parents to “take away the social media and segregate [children] from friends who may be afflicted” (Owens 2012aa). The local media took these warnings seriously.
Buffalo NBC affiliate WGRZ, for instance, publicly announced that “if not showing the teens and their tics will help, then we’re in.. . .We’ve decided to do this because the doctors say it is best for the kids in this situation” (2012c).
Without support from local news stations, the national media were unable to sustain interest in the case.
Mass hysteria in Le Roy New York: How brain experts materialized truth and outscienced environmental enquiry (Researchgate/American Ethnologist, Nov. 2015)

However, it also points out the willingness of the media to readily believe the experts rather than the victims in this particular case was due to the low status of the girls:

Quote:

The neurologists’ expertise was magnified bystate administrators and journalists whose audiences were already primed to accept it by media valorizations of brain science and popular ideas regarding the behavior of teenage girls. As the case unfolded, parents and afflicted teenagers who contested this expertise became framed as demonstrating small-town ignorance of contemporary psychiatry (Dominus 2012; WGRZ 2012a).
We argue that the diagnosis of mass psychogenic illness prevailed because it served both a professional need to revalidate psychiatry as clinical neurology and a media investment in the popularization of “brain science.” Both of these projects relied on and reinforced gender, age, and class stereotypes and protected powerful political and economic interests by diverting attention away from questions of responsibility and legal liability. In addition, the diagnosis appealed to the very human hope for a cure. But it also prevailed because the opposing discourse was weak: Toxic layering not only complicates causality but also, by its nature, generates audience fatigue, becoming banal.

Quote:

They chose to treat patients afflicted with flailing limbs, stutters, and seizures with what they understood to be the best of modern Western medicine: abstention from social media, prescription sedatives and antidepressants, and individualized counseling sessions to help release the stress of everyday life in rural America.
The process of discovery that the community, local scientists, and media engaged in over the Le Roy health problems suggests that the U.S. public is hesitant to pursue explanations based on industrial toxicity. This insight begs for a larger examination of environmental inquiry in late capitalism. The ready dismissal of known local toxins at the school building and in the community points to broader public fatigue regarding the resolution of toxic harm, whether with respect to causality, remediation, treatment, or liability. Brain science, packaged in brilliant colors for media consumption, serves up a much simpler and more immediate explanation than a thesis alleging toxic causation in a multiply toxic landscape.

Unlike the case of the high-status ”trained diplomats,” whose symptoms are not as readily dismissed – in particular when the cause is hypothesized to be a hostile commie attack instead of ordinary ”industrial toxicity”.

Quote:

Originally Posted by theprestige (Post 11997896)
Mass hysteria among trained diplomats is unlikely.


dann 21st July 2018 11:08 PM

The spiritual awakening of U.S. diplomats in Havana and Guangzhou?
 
Well, it isn’t less plausible than the health-attack idea:

Quote:

Some felt vibrations, and heard sounds — loud ringing or a high-pitch chirping similar to crickets or cicadas. Others heard the grinding noise. Some victims awoke with ringing in their ears and fumbled for their alarm clocks, only to discover the ringing stopped when they moved away from their beds.

The attacks seemed to come at night. Several victims reported they came in minute-long bursts.

Yet others heard nothing, felt nothing. Later, their symptoms came.
OP (quotatation from the NYT in the OP, Sep. 17, 2017)

Quote:

Have you ever gone through a time where you hear vibrations in your ear? Or perhaps a buzzing sound with high pitched frequency? If you have, did you ever question yourself about why you are witnessing such experiences, or what they might mean? It is a concerning matter, and you would want to know why such things happen to you! The ringing in ears spiritual awakening is a sign off from the Divine signaling a greater change in life. However, on the other hand, it may mean that you have a serious medical condition too. So, what it is real?
A SIGN OF SPIRITUAL AWAKENING OR A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION? (Blog of the Angels, June 29, 2018)

steenkh 23rd July 2018 02:53 AM

"The ringing in ears spiritual awakening is a sign off from the Divine signaling a greater change in life."
Apparently, I have been touched by the divine tinnitus for years! :D

dann 23rd July 2018 04:05 AM

Me too! And I wouldn't have the time for all the great changes in my life that the ringing is supposed to signal. Unless he's actually serious and not just lacking in linguistic proficiency when he writes about the deity signing off. In my case the deity signed off several decades ago …

dann 12th August 2018 04:49 AM

Quote:

As of Sunday 12 August 2018, all world travel advisories – except the White House – consider Cuba safe and suggest travelers merely exercise normal preparation and planning measures when visiting Cuba.
Donald Trump is the only world leader who imposes prohibitions and warnings on travel to Cuba upon his people.
No other nation supports Trump’s “sonic attack” travel warning against Cuba. No scientist or doctor believes the alleged “sonic attacks” are possible, indeed most consider the story to be science fiction, and many doubt the claimed events ever took place.
Cuba travel safety and warnings (Cuba Explorer, Aug. 12, 2018)

I would add one word to the last sentence, though: "No serious scientist or doctor believes the alleged “sonic attacks” are possible, ..."

dann 23rd August 2018 06:28 AM

Quote:

Three senior State Department officials made an unannounced trip to Havana, Cuba, amid new concerns "attacks" injuring 26 U.S. government personnel and their families may be continuing.
Acting Assistant Secretary of Western Hemisphere Affairs Francisco Palmieri, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Management William Todd, and Assistant Secretary for Diplomatic Security Michael Evanoff traveled to Havana "to visit embassy personnel in light of new health attacks against U.S. diplomats at Embassy Havana," a State Department spokesperson told CBS News.
They left Cuba Tuesday afternoon.
Top State officials visit Cuba, probe new health ”attacks” (CBS, July 24, 2018)

I haven't been able to find out if they discovered anything, but I notice that, unlike CBS News, they insist on calling the alleged attacks "health attacks" without the quotation marks.

Checkmite 23rd August 2018 03:16 PM

As it has been over a year now, I'm getting the feeling that this surely must be the longest-enduring case of "mass hysteria" in our times. All of the most popular-known cases I've been able to find seem to have durations measuring days, or weeks at most.

dann 23rd August 2018 10:09 PM

Well, not if you consider it to be more than one case: Havana and Guangzhou (not counting Uzbekistan and Singapore).
As SkepticGinger can probably tell you, the sick-building syndrome is alive and well to this very day - but not in the same building.

However, what keeps the U.S. embassy syndrome alive is probably the way it's handled by U.S. politicians:

Quote:

Response to outbreaks
Timothy F. Jones, of the Tennessee Department of Health, recommends the following action be taken in the case of an outbreak:
• Attempt to separate persons with illness associated with the outbreak.
• Promptly perform physical examination and basic laboratory testing sufficient to exclude serious acute illness.
• Monitor and provide oxygen as necessary for hyperventilation.
Minimize unnecessary exposure to medical procedures, emergency personnel, media or other potential anxiety-stimulating situations.
• Notify public health authorities of apparent outbreak.
Openly communicate with physicians caring for other patients.
• Promptly communicate results of laboratory and environmental testing to patients.
• While maintaining confidentiality, explain that other people are experiencing similar symptoms and improving without complications.
Remind patients that rumors and reports of "suspected causes" are not equivalent to confirmed results.
• Acknowledge that symptoms experienced by the patient are real.
Explain potential contribution of anxiety to the patient's symptoms.
Reassure patient that long-term sequelae from current illness are not expected.
As appropriate, reassure patient that thorough clinical, epidemiologic and environmental investigations have identified no toxic cause for the outbreak or reason for further concern.
Some responses by authorities to MPI are not appropriate. Intense media coverage seems to exacerbate outbreaks. Once it is determined that the illness is psychogenic, it should not be given credence by authorities. For example, in the Singapore factory case study, calling in a medicine man to perform an exorcism seemed to perpetuate the outbreak.
Mass psycogenic illness: Response to outbreaks (Wikipedia)

Remember that so far nothing whatsoever seems to indicate that any kind of attack has taken place: No motive, no weapon, no residue of toxins. And even when the favourite hypothesis, the "sonic attack" is completely and utterly debunked, U.S. politicians are still adamant that the various symptoms must have been caused by a an attack. Why?! The only thing that keeps this thing going is the insistence of U.S. politicians that it's an actual thing. Much like all the alleged crimes committed by "Crooked Hillary", the "Deep State" etc.

dann 26th August 2018 12:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12405343)
As it has been over a year now, I'm getting the feeling that this surely must be the longest-enduring case of "mass hysteria" in our times. All of the most popular-known cases I've been able to find seem to have durations measuring days, or weeks at most.


I don't know why this case didn't immediately occur to me since I've already mentioned it in this thread as one of the most recent cases of mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness in my own country:

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ekstra Bladet
Tre år efter det landsdækkende vaccine-stop bliver unge piger igen vaccineret mod livmoderhalskræft. Ligeledes er pigernes voldsomme symptomer pludselig forsvundet.
(…)
I 2015 fik HPV-centeret på OUH 330 henvendelser fra piger med bivirkninger. I 2017 fik Niels Fisker blot fem.
- Fire af dem kunne jeg afvise med det samme, den femte fik en tid, men valgte selv at aflyse. Så jeg har ikke tilset nogle i 2017 med mulige bivirkninger fra vaccinen, siger overlægen.
(...)
- De symptomer, pigerne oplevede, er symptomer, vi altid har kendt til, men som vi aldrig har kunnet give en årsag på. Der har aldrig været en sammenhæng mellem symptomerne og vaccinen.
- Blandt andet oplever mange andre piger de samme slags symptomer som de vaccinerede piger, selvom de ikke selv har fået vaccinen, siger Niels Fisker.
Hvorfor så mange i 2015 gav HPV-vaccinen skylden for deres pludselige hovedpiner, træthed og hukommelsestab, skyldes ifølge overlægen, at det er tilstande, lægerne ikke har kunnet finde en årsag på.
Pludselig forsvandt pigerne med HPV-bivirkninger: Det var en social epidemi (Ekstra Bladet, Feb. 5, 2018)


My translation:

Quote:

Three years after the nation-wide vaccine stop, young girls are again vaccinated against cervical cancer. Likewise, the extreme symptoms of the girls have suddenly disappeared.
(…)
In 2015, the HPV Center at Odense University Hospital (OUH) was contacted by 330 girls who reported side effects. In 2017, there were only five.
- In four of the cases, I could immediately deny (that they were due to HPV vaccination), the fifth one got an appointment (to be examined), but she chose to cancel it. So I haven't seen anybody with possible side effects from the vaccine, the chief physician says.
(...)
- The symptoms experienced by the girls are symptoms that we have always known about but have never been able to say what causes them. The symptoms and the vaccine were never connected.
For instance, many other girls have the same kind of symptoms as the (HPV) vaccinated girls even though they never had the vaccine, says Niels Fisker.
According to the doctor, the reason why so many girls in 2015 blamed the HPV vaccine for their their sudden headaches, fatigue and memory loss is that there are conditions whose causes the doctors haven't been able to find.
Suddenly the girl with HPV side effects disappeared: It was a social epidemic

Those stupid Danish MDs! When they are confronted with conditions that they are unable to explain, they should have done what any responsible doctor in the USA would do:
Blame the bloody Cubans!

dann 28th August 2018 11:18 PM

Mass hysteria at the U.S. embassy in Havana and the U.S. consulate in Guangzhou
 
Quote:

In April 2017, the embassy clued in all members of its diplomatic corps and advised people to sleep in the middle of a room, away from windows.
"Everybody was in a frenzy about it," says a second U.S. diplomat who was stationed in Havana at the time with young children. "We had a big window in the front of the house. It was a horrible feeling. We just thought, ‘Oh my God, we're in harm's way,’" she says. "You start to feel paranoid."
(...)
The Department of State dispatched Hoffer and University of Miami physical therapist James Buskirk to Havana in April 2017 to perform tests on several dozen of the remaining personnel. "A lot of people at the embassy wanted reassurance they weren't affected," Buskirk says. None had experienced symptoms, and they all scored normally on the tests.
(...)
People's state of mind determined whether they developed symptoms, the first diplomat asserts. "I don't know anybody who at one point thought we were under no risk and then subsequently decided that they were a victim."
Sonic attack or mass paranoia? New evidence stokes debate over diplomats’ mysterious illness (Sciencemag.org, June 20, 2018)

I already quoted this in post 435, but I think it becomes much more interesting when viewed on the background of the initial reactions to the alleged sonic attacks:

Quote:

Originally Posted by theprestige (Post 11997896)
Mass hysteria among trained diplomats is unlikely.


In this context, it is also interesting to see what Vox wrote in June, 2018:

Quote:

And for mass hysteria, it would mean other US diplomats in China feared so much about what happened to their colleagues that they’ve effectively worried themselves sick.
It’s unclear if victims told each other what they were experiencing, and if that made others feel that they had similar symptoms.
What’s happening to US diplomats in Cuba and China? (Vox, June 8, 2018)

Yes, that is indeed what it would mean, isn't it?

dann 1st September 2018 07:51 AM

From Science Alert:

Quote:

"Once you say there's been an attack, you can't back up," general director of the Cuban Neuroscience Centre, Mitchell Joseph Valdés-Sosa, told The Verge earlier in the month.
"Would they be willing to recognise that they've made a mistake? They've got themselves into a corner, and they don't know how to pull out."
What if there never was any attack? (Science Alert, July 3, 2018)

dann 1st September 2018 07:54 AM

Letters in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) "raising concerns"
 
Quote:

In February, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study by University of Pennsylvania researchers that attempted to understand what could have caused these symptoms. It didn’t deliver a conclusive answer, and now the same journal has published four letters by 10 scientists raising concerns about the first medical study’s accuracy. It’s just the latest chapter in what has already been a bizarre saga.

In the letters published on Tuesday, scientists noted that the original study improperly interpreted some cognitive test results and failed to conduct important tests on hearing and balance.
(…)
Back in February, Frank Bures unpacked the science behind mass hysteria for Slate, arguing that humans have historically been susceptible to the phenomenon, even if we often fail to recognize it. In that article, Bartholomew noted that the conditions in Cuba were ripe for a case of mass hysteria: “This is a small, close-knit community in a foreign country that has a history of being hostile to the United States. That is a classic setup for an outbreak of mass psychogenic illness.”
What Caused Cuba’s Sonic Attacks? We still don’t know, but scientists are debating it within the pages of the JAMA. (Slate, Aug. 14, 2018)

Quote:

The letters also challenged the idea that a disorder or mass psychogenic illness is somehow less real or more the fault of the individuals involved than, say, a concussion. “Although diagnostic caution is warranted, functional neurological disorders are common genuine disorders that can affect anyone,” wrote Jon Stone and Alan Carson of Edinburgh and Stoyan Popkirov of Bochum, adding, “including hardworking diplomatic staff.”
(…)
In a response published in JAMA immediately below the letters, the University of Pennsylvania team defended its work, writing that the chronic symptoms they found “are entirely different” from those seen in mass psychogenic disorders. They also said they “must continue to withhold certain sensitive information,” although they do not say why and do admit the US State Department cleared the study as a public health matter.
Scientists Are Still Fighting Over What Made US Diplomats In Cuba Ill - The Journal of the American Medical Association published letters today critical of a study it published six months ago claiming that US diplomats in Cuba had suffered brain injuries.] (Buzzfeed News, Aug. 14, 2018)

Link to the actual letters and the response in JAMA, Aug. 14, 2018. You have to scroll down quite a bit before you find them on the page:
Quote:

Neurological Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba
Robert Emerson Bartholomew, MA, MA, PhD
JAMA. 2018;320(6):602. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8702

Neurological Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba
Jon Stone, PhD; Stoyan Popkirov, MD; Alan J. Carson, MD
JAMA. 2018;320(6):602-603. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8706

Neurological Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba
Robert D. Shura, PsyD; Jason A. Kacmarski, PhD; Holly M. Miskey, PhD
JAMA. 2018;320(6):603. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8698

Neurological Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba
Gerard J. Gianoli, MD; James S. Soileau, MD; P. Ashley Wackym, MD
JAMA. 2018;320(6):603-604. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8713

Neurological Symptoms in US Government Personnel in Cuba—Reply
Stephen Hampton, MD; Randel L. Swanson II, DO, PhD; Douglas H. Smith, MD
JAMA. 2018;320(6):604-605. doi:10.1001/jama.2018.8737
JAMA, August 14, 2018, Vol 320, No. 6, Pages 519-612

dann 2nd September 2018 01:26 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12405343)
As it has been over a year now, I'm getting the feeling that this surely must be the longest-enduring case of "mass hysteria" in our times. All of the most popular-known cases I've been able to find seem to have durations measuring days, or weeks at most.


I don't have access to the full text of all the letters mentioned in the post above this one, but the letter from Jon Stone, PhD, Stoyan Popkirov, MD, and Alan J. Carson, MD, says:

Quote:

Functional disorders are typically persistent and commonly coexist with, or are triggered by, minor pathophysiological or psychophysiological processes. In many functional neurological disorders, initial sensory discomfort together with anxiety and heightened attention trigger maladaptive processes that lead to persistent symptoms. For example, persistent postural perceptual dizziness usually has a vestibular trigger. Acoustic shock, described in professional telephone operators, is triggered by an unexpected loud noise and includes persistent ear pain, headache, tinnitus, dizziness, imbalance, noise sensitivity, and anxiety at similar frequencies to the Cuban cohort. Long duration suggests nothing about etiology.
Jon Stone, PhD, Stoyan Popkirov, MD, and Alan J. Carson, MD (JAMA)

And in another letter Robert E. Bartholomew writes:

Quote:

They also dismiss mass psychogenic illness because there was nor rapid onset and recovery. However, the second most common type of mass psychogenic illness begins slowly and persists for months or years and often features neurological symptoms.
Robert Emerson Bartholomew, MA, MA, PhD (JAMA)

Checkmite 2nd September 2018 01:19 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12414126)
I don't have access to the full text of all the letters mentioned in the post above this one, but the letter from Jon Stone, PhD, Stoyan Popkirov, MD, and Alan J. Carson, MD, says:




And in another letter Robert E. Bartholomew writes:

I did not intend to refer to the length of time in which sufferers suffer. Syndrome longevity aside, my understanding was that most of the sufferers' symptoms ended when or soon after they left Cuba, although I will concede it's been long enough since I read any of the original articles that I may be mistaken about that impression.

I was talking more about the persistence of the focus; the idea that completely new victims are apparently continuing to fall prey to the hysteria many months later. Your typical "laughing mania" for instance gripped several students within a short amount of time; and in those students the symptoms lasted however long they lasted, but new never-before-affected students did not start catching the mania again the next school year....or even later in the same school year. The Pont-Saint-Esprit incident is another more specific case IIRC; very localized in time, as far as onset of symptoms goes - although IIRC some of those people remained "crazy" for the rest of their lives.

dann 2nd September 2018 06:47 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12414470)
The Pont-Saint-Esprit incident is another more specific case IIRC; very localized in time, as far as onset of symptoms goes - although IIRC some of those people remained "crazy" for the rest of their lives.


You mean this one?
Pont-Saint-Esprit poisoning: Did the CIA spread LSD? (BBC, Aug. 23, 2010)
Did the CIA early dose a French village with LSD? (The Atlantic, 2010)
1951 Pont-Saint-Esprit mass poisoning (Wikipedia)
Affaire du pain maudit (French Wikipedia)

You are right that the case seems to be very different from the Embassy attack accusations in Cuba (Wikipedia), but nobody seems to think that it was a case of mass hysteria or mass psychogenic illness. (And the CIA hypothesis seems to be a conspiracy theory.) See the five hypotheses in the article in French Wikipedia above and the provisional conclusion:
Quote:

Cependant, pour des chercheurs au laboratoire de toxicologie de l'INRA, Isabelle Oswald et Olivier Puel, qui étudient les mycotoxines, les « symptômes des habitants de Pont-Saint-Esprit, hallucinations et signes de vasoconstriction, font penser à une crise d'ergotisme ».
French Wikipedia

dann 2nd September 2018 07:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12414470)
I was talking more about the persistence of the focus; the idea that completely new victims are apparently continuing to fall prey to the hysteria many months later. Your typical "laughing mania" for instance gripped several students within a short amount of time; and in those students the symptoms lasted however long they lasted, but new never-before-affected students did not start catching the mania again the next school year....or even later in the same school year.


You are right. Some cases of mass psychogenic illness are characterized by a sudden outbreak and don't last very long. Others, however, do go on and on, and new victims fall prey to them day after day, sometimes for decades. I've already mentioned the recent HPV-vaccine scare in Denmark, but another illustrative example is Wi-Fi syndrome or electromagnetic hypersensitivity:
The Nocebo Effect: How We Worry Ourselves Sick (The New Yorker, Mar. 29, 2013)
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (Wikipedia)
A very recent case: Mystery illness in US consulate due to non-ionizing radiation? (ISF, June 9, 2018)

By the way, the HPV-vaccine scare in Denmark and the sonic-attack scare in Havana have one thing in common: Both the media and some politicians encourage(d) the alleged victims to believe that they are/were the victims of something real, not just a scare.

dann 2nd September 2018 07:56 PM

And speaking of electromagnetic hypersensitivity: Now we're back with the "microwave weapons" ... just as unsubstantiated as the first time.
Microwaves suspected in 'sonic attacks' on US diplomats in Cuba and China, scientists say (CNN, Sep. 2, 2018)
Microwaves suspected in attacks on US diplomats in Cuba and China (CNN - Youtube, Sep. 2, 2018)
”Some sort of mysterious beam of energy (...) It seems to fit the scenario …”
Yeah, right!

ETA:
Microwave Weapons Are Prime Suspect in Ills of U.S. Embassy Workers (NYT, Sep. 1, 2018)
Microwave weapons suspected in US embassy ailments – report (The Guardian, Sep. 2, 2018)
Microwave weapon now strongly suspected in mystery attacks on US diplomats in China, Cuba (News com.au, Sep. 3, 2018)

dann 2nd September 2018 08:30 PM

And Robert Bartholomew has already commented on the micowave theory:

Quote:

The State Department’s mishandling this case is a recipe for what I call ‘The Sonic Attack Scare’ (or if you like, ‘The Microwave Panic’) spreading even further. The U.S. has nearly 300 physical embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world with thousands of employees, everywhere from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, all with staff who are now on the lookout for strange sounds and vague feelings of illness. This is a classic mass hysteria setup. The groundwork has been laid for future "attacks" via mass suggestion. As a result, this saga seems destined to continue with no end in sight.
Weak Evidence for Microwave Radiation in U.S. Embassy (Psychology Today, Sep. 2, 2018)

Great article, as always.

steenkh 3rd September 2018 01:00 AM

How long will it take before they arrest those embassy workers that do not get ill? surely they must be the moles who have planted the devices that trigger the symptoms?

dann 3rd September 2018 02:53 AM

In his latest article in Psychology Today, Bartholomew writes:

Quote:

Not long ago, the prestigious science journal Nature published an article by Sharon Weinberger reviewing the progress in the development of microwave weapons. Titled, “Microwave Weapons: Wasted Energy,” it concluded that “Despite 50 years of research on high-powered microwaves, the U.S. military has yet to produce a usable weapon.” Ouch! A piece of advice: Stick with mainstream science and the known, before speculating about exotic, far-fetched explanations, and the unknown.

From Sharon Weinberger’s article in Nature (Sep. 12, 2012) about a demonstration of the US American microwave weapon in Quantico, Virginia:

Quote:

However, the day of the test was cold and rainy. The water droplets in the air did what moisture always does: they absorbed the microwaves. And when some of the reporters volunteered to expose themselves to the attenuated beam, they found that on such a raw day, the warmth was very pleasant.
A demonstration of the system on a sunny day this March proved more successful. But that hasn't changed a fundamental reality for the Pentagon's only acknowledged, fully developed high-power microwave (HPM) weapon: no one seems to want it. Although the Active Denial System works (mostly) as advertised, its massive size, energy consumption and technical complexity make it effectively unusable on the battlefield.

dann 3rd September 2018 03:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by steenkh (Post 12414915)
How long will it take before they arrest those embassy workers that do not get ill? surely they must be the moles who have planted the devices that trigger the symptoms?


I think that's probably the reason why the Science article (June 20, 2018) mentioned and quoted in post 435 keeps some of its sources anonymous, referring to them in this way: ”says a second U.S. diplomat (…) The second diplomat echoes that experience”.

To use one of Trump's favourite words: It’s a ******* disgrace.

dann 3rd September 2018 08:24 AM

Woo-woo or Voodoo?
 
It's interesting to read what Wikipedia can tell us about the so-called Microwave auditory effect (Frey effect):

Quote:

Experts, such as Kenneth Foster, a University of Pennsylvania bioengineering professor who published research on the microwave auditory effect in 1974, have discounted the effectiveness of the proposed device. Foster said that because of human biophysics, the device "would kill you well before you were bothered by the noise". According to former professor at the University of Washington Bill Guy, ”There’s a misunderstanding by the public and even some scientists about this auditory effect," and "there couldn’t possibly be a hazard from the sound, because the heat would get you first".
Microwave auditory effect: Electronic warfare (Wikipedia)

And with this, we've returned to my old thread title: Alien Attack? Mass Hysteria? Conspiracy?

Quote:

Numerous individuals suffering from auditory hallucinations, delusional disorders or other mental illness have claimed that government agents use forms of mind control technologies based on microwave signals to transmit sounds and thoughts into their heads as a form of electronic harassment, referring to the technology as "voice to skull" or "V2K".
There are extensive online support networks and numerous websites maintained by people fearing mind control. California psychiatrist Alan Drucker has identified evidence of delusional disorders on many of these websites and other psychologists are divided over whether such sites reinforce mental troubles or act as a form of group social support.
Microwave auditory effect: Conspiracy theories (Wikipedia)

Since the perpetrators of the alleged attacks appear to have tried to turn the US American diplomats into some kind of mindless zombies, I think that we should consider a new conspiracy theory:
It was neither the Cubans, the Russians nor the Chinese!
It must have been the Haitians!

YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE


ETA: ‘Mind control’ experiences on the internet: Implications for the psychiatric diagnosis of delusions

Checkmite 3rd September 2018 12:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12414727)
You mean this one?
Pont-Saint-Esprit poisoning: Did the CIA spread LSD? (BBC, Aug. 23, 2010)
Did the CIA early dose a French village with LSD? (The Atlantic, 2010)
1951 Pont-Saint-Esprit mass poisoning (Wikipedia)
Affaire du pain maudit (French Wikipedia)

You are right that the case seems to be very different from the Embassy attack accusations in Cuba (Wikipedia), but nobody seems to think that it was a case of mass hysteria or mass psychogenic illness. (And the CIA hypothesis seems to be a conspiracy theory.) See the five hypotheses in the article in French Wikipedia above and the provisional conclusion:

I had originally planned to apologize and thank for the correction, as I had been under the impression somehow that it was a case of mass hysteria. However, reading the article you linked me to, it doesn't seem like mass hysteria can actually be ruled out. Because these "five hypotheses" are in fact hypotheses, not findings. They are:

1. Ergot mold in the rye used to make bread that the afflicted people ate
2. Methyl-mercury dicyandiamide, a fungicide used to protect the flour before baking, surviving into baked bread
3. Mycotoxin produced by fungi in grain storage towers, transferred through to final bread products
4. Some kind of chemical (a lubricant?) transferred to flour from machines used during the whitening process
5. LSD planted by the CIA because....no, just no

It sounds to me like all of these are problematic, for various highly crucial reasons - namely that none of those chemicals was ever actually found in the bread, flour, or grain. (in fairness, 3 is a newer hypothesis developed long after the incident, and 2 has been disproven by more recent unrelated chemical research). You will note, this is the same as the primary argument against the Cuba case, which is that no electronic signals or chemical toxins have actually been found that would support some kind of external attack on the sufferers.

So what we essentially have here is various proposals for what might have happened. But what did happen is not known, and it could easily have been a case of mass psychogenic illness.

Checkmite 3rd September 2018 12:33 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12414772)
You are right. Some cases of mass psychogenic illness are characterized by a sudden outbreak and don't last very long. Others, however, do go on and on, and new victims fall prey to them day after day, sometimes for decades. I've already mentioned the recent HPV-vaccine scare in Denmark, but another illustrative example is Wi-Fi syndrome or electromagnetic hypersensitivity:
The Nocebo Effect: How We Worry Ourselves Sick (The New Yorker, Mar. 29, 2013)
Electromagnetic hypersensitivity (Wikipedia)

To my knowledge, "Wi-Fi syndrome" and claims of electromagnetic hypersensitivity, much like claims of "wind turbine syndrome", cannot qualify as "mass psychogenic illness" because they are noticeably missing the "mass" part. Only isolated "cases" of these "syndromes" ever appear in any one place. I'm not willing to concede that, say, 25 cases of the same illness can be called mass hysteria if each one of those 25 people lives in a different city scattered across the globe or even just a country the size of the US. At best, these are cases of hypochondria that share the same references. As opposed to mass psychogenic illness were it seems the most important trigger is seeing other people around oneself becoming afflicted, leading to one's own infliction.

dann 3rd September 2018 01:41 PM

It doesn't really matter what you concede to call it. Mass hysteria used to be very localized, say a school, a monastery, a factory or a village. Nowadays you have internet communities. The HPV-vaccine scare in Denmark was spread in discussion groups on the internet, not at school. For the same reason that you now use to deny the existence of mass hysteria "if each one of those 25 people lives in a different city scattered across the globe," a Danish MD, Jesper Mehlsen, refused to believe that the girls could have heard rumors about the (alleged, imaginary) dangers of the vaccine since they came from all over the country. However, the social media is how rumors are spread these days. To insist that the only way to spread rumors is the old-fashioned way by word of mouth is just plain ignorant. "seeing other people around oneself becoming afflicted" is how this used to happen from the Middle Ages until the late 1990s, probably, but it's no longer how it's done today.
Consequently, the way to contain the scares is also different from what it used to be. You might as well insist that ordinary infectious diseases are still spread the way they were when Columbus was alive as if planes hadn't been invented and now contribute to the spreading of disease.

dann 3rd September 2018 02:43 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12415321)
I had originally planned to apologize and thank for the correction, as I had been under the impression somehow that it was a case of mass hysteria. However, reading the article you linked me to, it doesn't seem like mass hysteria can actually be ruled out. Because these "five hypotheses" are in fact hypotheses, not findings. They are:


Yes, of course they are hypotheses, which is why I called them hypotheses. The tools of scientific research have developed quite a bit since 1951 so maybe it would would be possible to detect mold, methyl-mercury dicyandiamide, mycotoxins, LSD or other chemicals nowadays that they couldn't back then. I don't know if there are any bodies that they could exhume and take samples from.
I notice that your argument is that since we are talking about hypotheses it is perfectly alright to assume that the cause was mass psychogenic illness even though nothing really suggests that it was the case. I also notice that even though the four hypotheses are merely hypotheses, you still feel absolutely sure that it couldn't possibly be the fifth hypothesis ...

Quote:

1. Ergot mold in the rye used to make bread that the afflicted people ate
2. Methyl-mercury dicyandiamide, a fungicide used to protect the flour before baking, surviving into baked bread
3. Mycotoxin produced by fungi in grain storage towers, transferred through to final bread products
4. Some kind of chemical (a lubricant?) transferred to flour from machines used during the whitening process
5. LSD planted by the CIA because....no, just no

I notice that, despite the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, despite the CIA's Project MKUltra, despite the CIA's fake vaccination campaign, and despite the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments, you are perfectly willing to blame the Cubans for attacks even though nothing whatsoever seems to indicate that any attacks took place, but "LSD planted by the CIA because....no, just no".

Quote:

It sounds to me like all of these are problematic, for various highly crucial reasons - namely that none of those chemicals was ever actually found in the bread, flour, or grain. (in fairness, 3 is a newer hypothesis developed long after the incident, and 2 has been disproven by more recent unrelated chemical research). You will note, this is the same as the primary argument against the Cuba case, which is that no electronic signals or chemical toxins have actually been found that would support some kind of external attack on the sufferers.

Yes, I do note that you say that "this is the same as the primary argument against the Cuba case," but I also note that you reject one hypothesis (the CIA in France), but seem to be convinced about the other (an actual attack agains U.S. diplomats in Havana and Guangzhou).

And if you take a closer look at the third hypothesis, it has this going for it:
Quote:

In 2002, according to the work of Régis Delaigue, the affair of the cursed bread of Pont-Saint-Esprit is still unclear.
However, for researchers at INRA's toxicology laboratory, Isabelle Oswald and Olivier Puel, who study mycotoxins, the "symptoms of the inhabitants of Pont-Saint-Esprit, hallucinations and signs of vasoconstriction, are reminiscent of a seizure of ergotism." (Google translated from French Wikipedia)
Vasoconstriction doesn't seem to be one of the typical sign of mass psychogenic illness! Neither do hallucinations to the extent of people actually killing themselves.

Quote:

So what we essentially have here is various proposals for what might have happened. But what did happen is not known, and it could easily have been a case of mass psychogenic illness.

No, it couldn't "easily" have been any such thing ... unlike the embassy attack accusations in Cuba where actually nothing whatsoever (apart from the title) suggests that it was anything other than mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness.
Why do you think that mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness isn't one of the hypotheses mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the 1951 Pont-Saint-Espirt mass poisoning?!

Checkmite 4th September 2018 12:32 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
I notice that your argument is that since we are talking about hypotheses it is perfectly alright to assume that the cause was mass psychogenic illness even though nothing really suggests that it was the case.

That the presenting symptoms were psychogenic in nature, and that it happened to a mass of people, are two facts which are highly suggestive of mass psychogenic illness.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
I also notice that even though the four hypotheses are merely hypotheses, you still feel absolutely sure that it couldn't possibly be the fifth hypothesis ...

There is literally nothing that exists to connect the CIA with this incident.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
I notice that, despite the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, despite the CIA's Project MKUltra, despite the CIA's fake vaccination campaign, and despite the Edgewood Arsenal human experiments, you are perfectly willing to blame the Cubans for attacks even though nothing whatsoever seems to indicate that any attacks took place, but "LSD planted by the CIA because....no, just no".

Important points:

1. Even when I was convinced of the plausibility of an electronic or chemical/biological attack against the diplomats in Cuba, I never blamed Cubans for those attacks.

2. Two of your examples weren't conducted by the CIA and the third involved general deception, not any kind of medical experimentation. The remainder, which was begun years after the incident in France, required sequestration and continual monitoring of vic...err, test subjects. There is nothing to suggest the CIA ever even considered an experiment involving poisoning a foreign country's food supply and keeping tabs on the results via second-hand sources.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
Yes, I do note that you say that "this is the same as the primary argument against the Cuba case," but I also note that you reject one hypothesis (the CIA in France), but seem to be convinced about the other (an actual attack agains U.S. diplomats in Havana and Guangzhou).

I don't believe I've said anything about Guangzhou. Of Cuba, on the other hand, I've been convinced that the sound some reportedly heard and recorded was crickets, not a sonic weapon.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
And if you take a closer look at the third hypothesis, it has this going for it:


Vasoconstriction doesn't seem to be one of the typical sign of mass psychogenic illness! Neither do hallucinations to the extent of people actually killing themselves.


That seems to be something the first hypothesis has going for it; but nevertheless, the quote does not give any information about the prevalence of vasoconstriction in sufferers of MPI. Since notably adrenalin, along with countless other substances that can be produced by the body itself or introduced by outside sources (caffeine, for instance), is a vasoconstrictor, one would expect to see signs of vasoconstriction in any person who has been excited or has been engaging in physical exertion.

Mass suicide does not seem to feature as an outcome of ergot poisoning either, outside this lone supposed instance!


Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
Why do you think that mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness isn't one of the hypotheses mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the 1951 Pont-Saint-Espirt mass poisoning?!

For the same reason the US government refuses to consider mass hysteria as a hypothesis for what has happened in Cuba perhaps?

dann 4th September 2018 05:03 AM

You annoy the hell out of me, Checkmite, and mainly because you don't even make an effort!
You come up with the example of the Pont-Saint-Esprit bread poisoning tragedy without even remembering what it was all about, and when I provide you with links, you don't even spend a little time considering what you could learn from the case if you studied it just a little. Instead, you stick to your false memory (or is it a case of the Mandela effect, maybe?) and insist that it might still have been a case of mass psychogenic illness even though it never was. And the worst thing is that you don't even consider why the hell nobody else seems to have come to the same conclusion, ever! You may imagine yourself a genius for coming up with your false memory, but shouldn't it make you at least a little suspicious of your favourite explanation that no expert has ever had the same 'idea'?!

I've had to waste more of my valuable time debunking yet another awkward attempt of yours to render the U.S. American accusations against Cuba probable.


Let me begin with a couple of the quotations that you didn't waste your time finding and reading when you came up with the harebrained explanation for the Pont-Saint-Esprit case as mass psychogenic illness:

Quote:

What became a national disaster began on Aug. 16, 1951, when the inhabitants of the small town of Pont-Saint-Esprit in the Gard region of southern France were suddenly stricken by frightful hallucinations of being consumed by fire or giant plants or horrid beasts.
A worker tried to drown himself because his belly was being eaten by snakes. A 60-year-old grandmother threw herself against the wall and broke three ribs. A man saw his heart escaping through his feet and beseeched a doctor to put it back in place. Many were taken to the local asylum in strait jackets. There was no treatment, no cure and only one possible explanation: something in the bread baked the night of Aug. 15-16 had caused the calamity.
(…)
more than 300 people afflicted, 7 to 10 dead, 46 detained in asylums, and many unable ever to hold jobs or lead normal lives.
(…)
The local baker most, if not solely, responsible was declared to be Roch Briand, who had unwittingly used contaminated flour.
France’s unsolved mystery of the poisoned bread (NYT, July 23, 2008)

Quote:

This more recent commentary suggests that in fact the poisoning was most likely caused by Aspergillus fumigatusand its toxins (originally suggested by Moreau in 1982) - particularly because the mill that produced the infected flour was reported to have been flooded earlier in the same year - providing excellent conditions for fungal growth withing the flour or stored grain.
Pont-Saint-Esprit Mass Poisoning, August 1951 (Aspergillus, Fri, 09/07/2012)

Why do you think that every hypothesis except yours (and maybe the CIA one) has bread (cursed, poisoned, molded or otherwise contaminated) in it?

How do you think that they ruled out pollution of air or water, for instance?

I'll let you think about that for a while and give you a chance to come up with the correct answer before I return.

dann 4th September 2018 06:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12415766)
Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415456)
Why do you think that mass hysteria/mass psychogenic illness isn't one of the hypotheses mentioned in the Wikipedia article about the 1951 Pont-Saint-Espirt mass poisoning?!

For the same reason the US government refuses to consider mass hysteria as a hypothesis for what has happened in Cuba perhaps?


No, I refuse to believe that stubborn revanchism and chauvinism is the reason in your case.

dann 4th September 2018 10:15 PM

One of these is in Norwegian, sorry, but run it through google translate and you will probably get the gist of it:

Quote:

But what had caused the modern-day plague that engulfed this single obscure French village? It soon became clear that all the victims had eaten bread made by a specific baker, M. Roche Briand.
Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back to the Boulangerie (Emergency Medicine News, May 2006, Vol. 28, issue 5 – p. 9)

Quote:

Det store spørsmålet både innbyggerne og hele nasjonen stilte seg sommeren 1951 var hva galskapen i den franske landsbyen skyldtes. Hva var årsaken til det skrekkelige massehysteriet som skapte overskrifter verden over?
Svaret lå hos en lokal baker ved navn Roch Briand.

Natten før den 16. august, da galskapen begynte, hadde Briand ubevisst bakt brød som inneholdt giftig mel.[/hilite] Melet i det nybakte brødet førte til en ekstrem form for matforgiftning som var som snytt ut av nesen på middelalderens fantasirike skildringer av sinnsforvirrelser og byers galskap.
Landsby gikk amok (abc nyheter (Norwegian), Feb. 22, 2009)

Unfortunately, the Norwegian article uses the word "massehysteriet" (= mass hysteria, obviously), but it obviously does so incorrectly. However, that a lay person uses the word about a situation where a major number of people are hallucinating and running amok is forgivable.

Back in 1951, they seem to have done the old-fashioned but nevertheless scientific approach to tracing the origins of a disease: What did the victims seem to have in common?! It's what you still do today, meticulously, when you want to find the source of food poisoning, in particular when people start to die. A fairly recent case: (Wikipedia)
That is the reason why all hypotheses focus on the bread, that is the reason why it's referred to as the case of "cursed bread", and that is the reason why mass hysteria wasn't suspected. (Apart from the fact that the hallucinations went far beyond anything you've seen in modern cases of mass hysteria. And the hallucinations were wildly different unlike the mere delusions that the victims of mass hysteria tend to have.)

Meticulous analysis was what they did in Pont-Saint-Esprit, France, but what was never done in Havana, Cuba. Instead, they immediately jumped to the conclusion that some kind of supersonic weapon must have caused the 'disease' even though the 'victims' had absolutely nothing in common. They didn't even all hear the crickets, but that didn't matter. And it still doesn't matter now that they've come up with the idea that another science-fiction weapon, the microwave gun (whatever!) must have harmed the 'diplomats'!
And your newspapers report this inane nonsense even though they ought to be a little careful now that they had the opportunity to learn from the pathetic and unsuccessful first version, the sonic one.

I don't know if you have a personal stake in this - I don't usually find your posts as gullible as the ones in this thread - but I look forward to your next version ...

dann 4th September 2018 10:29 PM

By the way, I've ordered a copy of the book The Day of St. Anthony's Fire. May I suggest that you do, too?
I would have preferred a Kindle version, but it doesn't exist, apparently. (It's from 1968.)
The writer may have been the one who came of with the LSD hypothesis (probably not so far out in 1968!), but a lot of his research appears to have been rational:

Quote:

... the clients of M. Briand, a prosperous and responsible baker, fell ill after eating the second baking on a hot July day. They suffered, according to the author, from all the symptoms of historical ergotism, not seen since 1816 and most commonly associated with the Middle Ages. Victims experienced the euphorie beate, characterized by unsuitable high spirits and sleeplessness, followed by l'eclosion brutale, the ""savage breaking out""--hallucinations and a mad desire to leap from the nearest window. Five died. Briand and others had complained of the greyish, oily flour allotted to them by the powerful Union Meuriere. It was traced to the mill of M. Maillet ...
Review: THE DAY OF ST. ANTHONY'S FIRE (Kirkus Review, Aug. 1, 1968)

dann 5th September 2018 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Checkmite (Post 12415766)
That the presenting symptoms were psychogenic in nature, and that it happened to a mass of people, are two facts which are highly suggestive of mass psychogenic illness.


They weren't psychogenic in nature. You confuse psychogenic with hallucinogenic.
And you confuse mass poisoning with mass psychogenic illness, which is no surprise since you also confulse mass psychogenic illness with attack with a concealed weapon ...

Quote:

There is literally nothing that exists to connect the CIA with this incident.

No, there probably isn't. But there's also literally nothing that exists to connect the allegedly damaged health of the U.S. diplomats in Havana and Guangzhou with attacks of any kind - except the people who insist that it's caused by attacks - you being one of them.

Quote:

Important points:

1. Even when I was convinced of the plausibility of an electronic or chemical/biological attack against the diplomats in Cuba, I never blamed Cubans for those attacks.

And now that you're convinced of the plausibility of a microwave attack instead, nothing much has changed: The USA still blame the Cubans - either of being the perpetrators of the non-existent attack or of failing to protect the 'victims' from it.
You may have given up on the idea of crickets = sonic attacks, which makes it ludicrous to insist that any kind of attack took place.
At least the crickets had one thing going for them: They make an awful racket, and some (not all) of the diplomats appear to have heard them. But at least they were actually there.

Quote:

2. Two of your examples weren't conducted by the CIA and the third involved general deception, not any kind of medical experimentation. The remainder, which was begun years after the incident in France, required sequestration and continual monitoring of vic...err, test subjects. There is nothing to suggest the CIA ever even considered an experiment involving poisoning a foreign country's food supply and keeping tabs on the results via second-hand sources.

There may be nothing to suggest that the CIA considered poisoning French bread, but we all know that it's a very clandestine agency, so I really don't see why you dismiss this conspiracy theory when you are so fond of the other one.

Quote:

I don't believe I've said anything about Guangzhou. Of Cuba, on the other hand, I've been convinced that the sound some reportedly heard and recorded was crickets, not a sonic weapon.

Then it's about time that you do, 'cause the U.S. government seems to think that they'e the same thing.

Quote:

That seems to be something the first hypothesis has going for it; but nevertheless, the quote does not give any information about the prevalence of vasoconstriction in sufferers of MPI. Since notably adrenalin, along with countless other substances that can be produced by the body itself or introduced by outside sources (caffeine, for instance), is a vasoconstrictor, one would expect to see signs of vasoconstriction in any person who has been excited or has been engaging in physical exertion.

In the case of the contaminated bread in France, vasoconstriction appears to have been at an extremely unhealthy level - beyond the usual level off coffee-drinking Frenchmen or athletes. Otherwise, it would hardly have been reported in the context. Ergotism: Gangrenous.

Quote:

Mass suicide does not seem to feature as an outcome of ergot poisoning either, outside this lone supposed instance!

No, and there's also a big difference between mass suicide and mass psychogenic illness. However, that a couple of people kill themselves in an outbreak of severe hallucinations caused by food poisoning is to be expected. (Apparently five people died; it doesn't say that they all died from committing sucide.

Quote:

For the same reason the US government refuses to consider mass hysteria as a hypothesis for what has happened in Cuba perhaps?

I already answered that one:
Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415933)
No, I refuse to believe that stubborn revanchism and chauvinism is the reason in your case.


Checkmite 5th September 2018 11:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415866)
You annoy the hell out of me, Checkmite, and mainly because you don't even make an effort!
You come up with the example of the Pont-Saint-Esprit bread poisoning tragedy without even remembering what it was all about, and when I provide you with links, you don't even spend a little time considering what you could learn from the case if you studied it just a little. Instead, you stick to your false memory (or is it a case of the Mandela effect, maybe?) and insist that it might still have been a case of mass psychogenic illness even though it never was. And the worst thing is that you don't even consider why the hell nobody else seems to have come to the same conclusion, ever!

I did, you simply missed it (the first time; you appear to have found it later).


Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415866)
Let me begin with a couple of the quotations that you didn't waste your time finding and reading when you came up with the harebrained explanation for the Pont-Saint-Esprit case as mass psychogenic illness:


Your highlighted quote is the chosen words of the newspaper article's author, who is in turn quoting no one when he states that there is "no other explanation". Alas, he was a year too early to hear about and opine on the credibility of the secret-CIA-experiment theory.

However, further down you give two different sources giving a total of five deaths, whilst this newspaper article seems to double the death count by a factor of 2. This is another problem with this incident, where much like an instance of woo, subsequent tellings have exaggerated the facts. I've seen articles on websites describing "the entire town" as having gone insane and trying to kill themselves, which clearly isn't the case.


Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415866)
Why do you think that every hypothesis except yours (and maybe the CIA one) has bread (cursed, poisoned, molded or otherwise contaminated) in it?

Because bread was the only (or the first) link between the victims that the investigators were willing to consider?

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415866)
How do you think that they ruled out pollution of air or water, for instance?

I'll let you think about that for a while and give you a chance to come up with the correct answer before I return.

I'm not so sure they did formally rule those things out; at least, I haven't seen an article describing any research being done in that area. In fact, while you're making a great big deal out of the fact that the possibility mass hysteria in specific was never apparently invoked by the investigators, I'm coming up empty when it comes to finding any solid information that they ever actually investigated literally ANYthing else besides the "contaminated bread" angle. They may have dismissed those other things, but I don't see any actually enumerated reasons why, which is the reason we have to sit here and speculate under the assumption they actually did their due diligence when it came to these other possibilities, an assumption which I'm not sure is supported.

Nevertheless, fine, let's speculate. They didn't consider air or water pollution because there were people in the area who were not affected, that must've been breathing the same air and drinking the same water. But this reason unfortunately also makes the ergot poisoning conclusion problematic - I can't find a nailed-down statement that everybody who ate that baker's bread that night actually got sick. Further, it's established that the baker got his "contaminated" batch of flour from a government distribution silo, which many bakers in the area also got flour from, and yet nobody else, anywhere else, ever got sick from contaminated bread in this manner around that time, an eventuality that is excruciatingly unlikely even from a purely statistical standpoint. The mechanical process of producing flour would seem to make it quite impossible for ergot mold in quantities toxic enough to drive people suicidally insane could go through the flour-making process and yet every single trace make it into a single bag of flour.

None of the sources I've found describing this incident even bother to try and explain that glaring problem; they blip right over it.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12415933)
No, I refuse to believe that stubborn revanchism and chauvinism is the reason in your case.

Well admittedly, those weren't the reasons I was thinking of. Foremost on my mind is the fact that nobody likes to "admit" being the victim of mass hysteria, particularly when the results are so dramatic. And I wouldn't be so quick to dismiss chauvinism in that case either, because authorities and investigators might be just as prejudiced against even considering such an explanation for something that afflicted their countrymen.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
They weren't psychogenic in nature. You confuse psychogenic with hallucinogenic.

Perhaps you're right; but in the context of this discussion, it occurs to me that asserting the symptoms were hallucinogenic rather than psychogenic, or vice-versa, is question-begging. Hallucinations must be self-reported, just like all psychosomatic symptoms must be. Claims of amnesia suffer the same problems for the same reason.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
And you confuse mass poisoning with mass psychogenic illness,

This on the other hand is quite explicit question-begging.



Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
No, there probably isn't. But there's also literally nothing that exists to connect the allegedly damaged health of the U.S. diplomats in Havana and Guangzhou with attacks of any kind - except the people who insist that it's caused by attacks - you being one of them.

I'm entertaining the notion; and pointing out things I find interesting which might at face value support that notion. Yes, clearly this is irritating to you; for that I apologize. However, I've been far from insistent, even from the very beginning, and my position has changed more than once in this thread. In your frustration you're starting to treat me increasingly unfairly with statements like this.


Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
And now that you're convinced of the plausibility of a microwave attack instead

Don't be absurd. I've never said anything remotely like this; the only person who's invoked "microwave attacks" in this thread is you just a few posts ago, with justified ridicule.


Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
There may be nothing to suggest that the CIA considered poisoning French bread, but we all know that it's a very clandestine agency, so I really don't see why you dismiss this conspiracy theory when you are so fond of the other one.

And we all know that certain countries (or, well, one certain country) have attacked the health and well-being, and in some cases the actual lives, of individuals it sees as problematic or hostile (including American diplomatic staff) in the past using varied methods and there is ample evidence that they continue to do so, as recently this year in the UK. It is not the notion of "an attack against diplomats" itself which makes the Cuba allegations less-than-credible.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
In the case of the contaminated bread in France, vasoconstriction appears to have been at an extremely unhealthy level - beyond the usual level off coffee-drinking Frenchmen or athletes. Otherwise, it would hardly have been reported in the context.

That's an assumption you're willing to make that I am not, necessarily. I'd like to hear more about what specifically was observed in the afflicted patients that is being characterized as signs of "an extremely unhealthy level of vasoconstriction". For instance, I would certainly hope they're not creatively re-interpreting things being shouted by patients in a psychotic hallucinatory state as if they were symptoms being reported by a calm and lucid person.

Quote:

Originally Posted by dann (Post 12417001)
However, that a couple of people kill themselves in an outbreak of severe hallucinations caused by food poisoning is to be expected.

Obviously not, since this is the only reported case of it ever happening, so far as I'm aware. I've been reading that page a couple of times now presuming there was another given instance of suicide in connection with ergotism in it but I must be missing it.


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