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Tags crickets , Cuba conspiracies , Cuba incidents , havana syndrome , mass hysteria , sonic weapons , US-Cuba relations

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Old 8th October 2021, 12:17 PM   #1001
dann
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Quote:
In response to a report by the news magazine Der Spiegel, Berlin police said they had since August been investigating an "alleged sonic weapon attack on employees of the U.S. Embassy," but declined to provide further information.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Berlin declined to comment on any specific incident but said a U.S. investigation was ongoing into cases worldwide.
Berlin police investigating 'Havana syndrome' cases at U.S. Embassy (Reuters, Oct 8, 2021)

So now the 'attacks' have become sonic again ...

Quote:
President Joe Biden on Friday signed into law long-delayed legislation to provide support to victims of the mysterious "Havana syndrome," a strange confluence of symptoms that have sickened diplomats, spies and service members around the globe.
"I was pleased to sign the HAVANA Act into law to ensure we are doing our utmost to provide for U.S. Government personnel who have experienced anomalous health incidents," Biden said in a statement that notably referred to the episodes as "incidents" rather than "attacks," as top Senate Intelligence Committee lawmakers have done.
(...)
The bipartisan HAVANA Act — or Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act — passed both the Senate and the House unanimously.
(...)
The difficulty of diagnosing individual cases of Havana syndrome has also remained a fraught exercise for the CIA. Because the array of symptoms that victims report is so inconsistent, and because intelligence and military officials are still struggling to understand what technology is at work, diagnosing the cases remains an inexact science -- frustrating some victims.
Biden signs bill that will give victims of mysterious 'Havana syndrome' better medical care (CNN, Oct 8, 2021)

US-Botschaft in Berlin: Berliner LKA ermittelt wegen Havanna-Syndrom bei US-Diplomaten (N-TV.de, Oct 8, 2021)
U.S. embassy in Berlin: The Berlin Crime Investigation police is investigating the Havana Syndrome in U.S. diplomats
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 9th October 2021, 12:08 AM   #1002
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Quote:
Police in Berlin say they are investigating after staff at the US embassy reported experiencing symptoms of the so-called Havana syndrome.
The probe into an alleged "sonic weapon attack on employees of the US Embassy" began in August, police said.
More than 200 US officials have reported suffering from the illness since 2016.
On Friday President Biden vowed to find out "the cause and who is responsible" for the syndrome.
Those affected say they experienced a sudden onset of pressure sensations inside their heads, and of hearing strange buzzing sounds coming from a particular direction. Others have complained of dizziness, nausea and fatigue, among other symptoms.
Havana syndrome: Berlin police probe cases at US embassy (BBC, Oct 9, 2021)

I can see why they have returned to describing it as sonic in nature rather than as microwaves:

Quote:
The microwave auditory effect, also known as the microwave hearing effect or the Frey effect, consists of the human perception of audible clicks, or even speech, induced by pulsed or modulated radio frequencies. The communications are generated directly inside the human head without the need of any receiving electronic device. The effect was first reported by persons working in the vicinity of radar transponders during World War II. In 1961, the American neuroscientist Allan H. Frey studied this phenomenon and was the first to publish information on the nature of the microwave auditory effect. The cause is thought to be thermoelastic expansion of portions of the auditory apparatus, although competing theories explain the results of holographic interferometry tests differently.
Microwave auditory effect (Wikipedia)

Sounds (or the impression of sounds) "generated directly inside the human head" can't also be heard as "coming from a particular direction."

At this point, I imagine that any kind of unusual (= "strange") sound is enough to set off a (panic) attack. I assume that the "sudden onset of pressure sensations inside their heads" is caused by the fear of being attacked and not the other way round.
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"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 9th October 2021, 03:16 AM   #1003
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https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-58852437

Quote:
Police in Berlin say they are investigating after staff at the US embassy reported experiencing symptoms of the so-called Havana syndrome.
The probe into an "alleged sonic weapon attack on employees of the US Embassy" began in August, police said.
Quote:
On Friday President Biden vowed to find out "the cause and who is responsible" for the syndrome.
Quote:
Mr Biden's statement came as he signed a bill pledging better healthcare and increased financial support for victims.
But he characterised the condition as "anomalous health incidents" rather than saying it was the result of attacks.
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Old 9th October 2021, 03:42 AM   #1004
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See the post above yours.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 9th October 2021, 04:17 AM   #1005
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Germany investigates possible ‘Havana Syndrome’ sonic attack on U.S. Embassy staff (WP, Oct 9, 2021)

Some of the comments are grotesque:
Quote:
Quote:
No evidence against Moscow has been made public, however, and Russia has denied involvement in the incidents.
It’s Russia. The US needs to respond with a covert action of equal force, then see what happens.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 9th October 2021, 07:33 AM   #1006
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Quote:
Berlin police said they had since August been investigating an “alleged sonic weapon attack on employees of the U.S. Embassy,” but declined to provide further information.
'Havana syndrome' cases at U.S. Embassy in Berlin investigated by German police (NBC News, Oct 9, 2021)

Having police in foreign countries investigate the cases may be the best way to confront Mr. Burns's interest in a biassed, predetermined outcome. It didn't help at all when Cuba tried to make the USA see reason, and it also didn't help when USA's own FBI and JASON group came up with the same answer as the Cuban investigators, but if Germany and Austria, the allies of the USA, also find that mass psychogenic illness is the most (at this point: only!) likely explanation, it will not look good for the attempts to claim that the 'syndrome' is the result of an attack.

Quote:
In July, Austria said it was working with U.S. authorities to get to the bottom of a spate of suspected cases among U.S. diplomats in Vienna.
German police probe Havana syndrome cases at U.S. embassy in Berlin (Oct 8, 2021)

Since the 'incidents' in Vienna took place three months ago (or more?!), it doesn't seem likely that the Austrian investigators have found any smoking microwave guns or the alleged Russian culprits. But the 'resignaton' of Pamela Spratlen as senior advisor in the Havana Syndrome response task force and the removal of the chief of the CIA station in Vienna make it apparent that it is no easy job to confront those who are adamant that the diplomats and CIA agents were the victims of actual attacks. However, support from foreign investigators may do the trick.


ETA: But Politico has this:
Quote:
The U.S. government’s investigation into the mysterious illnesses impacting American personnel overseas and at home is turning up new evidence that the symptoms are the result of directed-energy attacks, according to five lawmakers and officials briefed on the matter.
Behind closed doors, lawmakers are also growing increasingly confident that Russia or another hostile foreign government is behind the suspected attacks, based on regular briefings from administration officials — although there is still no smoking gun linking the incidents to Moscow.
(Politico, Oct 8, 2021)
However, the rest of the article doesn't give the impression that there is any kind of smoking gun in spite of claims that "the latest information ... has disproved the skeptics":

Quote:
But members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, who are receiving weekly updates from the intelligence community on the status of the investigation, said the latest information they’ve received has disproved the skeptics — and in public statements, those lawmakers are increasingly referring to the incidents as directed-energy attacks.
“I think that’s quackery,” Rubio said of those who have argued that the symptoms are psychosomatic. “I’d invite them to explain that to the now-dozens of people who have suffered documented brain injuries that in many cases have made them incapable of ever working again.”

But
1) Brain injuries are not evidence of attacks.
2) Independent researcher have not had access to those alleged "now-dozens of peoplewho have suffered documented brain injuries."

I recommend reading the whole thing - before rereading the article by Robert Baloh, post 979, and the interview with Robert Bartholomew, post 977, both of whom are probably the kind of experts who are dismissed foreign agents, according to Rubio:

Quote:
The Florida Republican also suggested that some of the skeptics, many of whom have written op-eds recently, are “influence agents that are being paid and or encouraged to write these on behalf of those — foreign government or whatever — that don’t want this to be discussed out there and want to cast doubt about it.”

And I guess that at this point, Pamela Spratlen and the former chief of the CIA station in Vienna are also suspected of being agents of influence working for Russia ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 9th October 2021, 11:52 AM   #1007
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An excellent recapitulation of the arguments for and against the explanations for the 'Havana Syndrome'. For more details, you will have to go to other sources, but the basics are presented in this article, which is particularly suited for skeptics who have not been following this thread:

Quote:
Diplomats in Cuba fell ill. Some suspected a secret weapon. Five years later, a more benign explanation remains.
Havana Syndrome or a Case for Eliminating the Implausible (McGill University, Office for Science and Society - Separating Sense from Nonsense, Oct 9, 2021)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 9th October 2021, 04:38 PM   #1008
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
An excellent recapitulation of the arguments for and against the explanations for the 'Havana Syndrome'. For more details, you will have to go to other sources, but the basics are presented in this article, which is particularly suited for skeptics who have not been following this thread:

Thanks for that. Just what I was looking for.

I like how it discusses the JAMA paper and data.
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Old 9th October 2021, 07:33 PM   #1009
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
An excellent recapitulation of the arguments for and against the explanations for the 'Havana Syndrome'. For more details, you will have to go to other sources, but the basics are presented in this article, which is particularly suited for skeptics who have not been following this thread:
I subscribe to the McGill newsletter and saw the headline but had not got around to reading the article yet (it's Thanksgiving Weekend in Canada).

They always do a good job on this sort of topic. The back issues are worth checking out.
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Old 10th October 2021, 12:06 AM   #1010
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I didn't know about the McGill newsletter, and I also hadn't heard about Jonathan Jarry, the author of the article, but now I have read a couple of his articles, mainly the Covid-related ones, and he is a great science communicator. He reminds me of Ben Goldacre.
In the context of the 'Havana Syndrome', it probably doesn't hurt that "Jonathan Jarry is a biological scientist who once worked for the U.S. Armed Forces."
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 10th October 2021, 03:06 AM   #1011
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Quote:
Meanwhile, the C.I.A. Director, William Burns, is convinced that Russia is behind the “attack.”
However, the internet’s wry amusement with the mysterious unfolding of events is worth a different look by itself. Nobody seems to be taking this seriously except the supposed grown-ups in the room. The theories surrounding the illness carry an air of a bad parody of a science fiction story. But this is real life, which makes it all the more confusing. Are we supposed to take this seriously? At least the Cold War experiments had an element of dark intrigue because they involved innocents. Mass mind control experiments by the C.I.A was a thing that happened, and real lives were affected. Here, however, it appears that the tables have been turned on the C.I.A. Whatever the actual cause maybe — if any at all — it is unlikely that people will empathize any time soon.
What’s With the Mysterious ‘Havana Syndrome’ Affecting U.S. Diplomats? (The Swaddle, Sep 24, 2021)

I don't think that the internet has reached any kind of consensus that could be described as "wry amusement". For instance, many people seem to take the paranoia of guys like Marco Rubio seriously. And I have no idea what this is supposed to be:

Quote:
The long-term prognosis for those affected varies. This appears related to both the type of device used to incur the effects and the duration of exposure.
Havana Syndrome': A Real and Present Danger — A breakdown of the who, what, when, why, and how (MedPageToday, Oct 5, 2021)

The type of device used?! Tell us more about those devices!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 10th October 2021, 08:25 AM   #1012
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Quote:
“The story of Havana Syndrome looks to me like a textbook case of mass psychogenic illness,” Dr Baloh said.
“It started from a single undercover agent in Cuba – a person in what I imagine is a very stressful situation. This person had real symptoms but blamed them on something mysterious – the strange sound he heard.
“He then told his colleagues at the embassy, and the idea spread. With the help of the media and medical community, the idea solidified and spread around the world. It checks all the boxes.”
The new theory for bizarre neurological illness impacting US diplomats (New.com.au, Oct 8, 2021)

A lot of things are being kept secret, but based on what we know about it, it does indeed seem to check most of the boxes.
Mass psychogenic illness (Wikipedia)
Hysterical contagion (Wikipedia)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 11th October 2021, 03:53 AM   #1013
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On Sep 27, in post 970, I linked to Fair Observer's new article Surprise, the Havana Syndrome Is Back in the News (Sep 27, 2021) + five others. Since then, I have noticed that when I do a Google search for "Havana Syndrome" in general, articles like these tend to have disappeared again. (And I do so very often!) Google's search algorithm may be the reason why I did not discover this new article until today:

Quote:
JASON published its report in November 2018, during Donald Trump’s presidency. In March 2019, the Department of Defense shockingly informed JASON’s members that their services were no longer required. Is there a relationship between the two events? Does that explain why the report remained secret until BuzzFeed’s revelation last week? (Buzzfeed got the report by putting through a Freedom of Information Act request, something the journalists at The Times and The Post following the story apparently never thought of doing.)
Is the Havana Syndrome a Psychogenic Illusion? (Fair Observer, Oct 4, 2021)

It is extremely annoying that Google lets you find those uninformed articles and op-eds from NYT and WP, which simply repeat the wild accusations, microwave-attack lies and conspiracy theories of the U.S. government, while hiding investigative articles from BuzzFeed News, Fair Observer, McGill's University and many others unless you happen to pick the right search words.
Adding the names of some of the researchers critical of the 'Havana Syndrome' conspiracy theory sometimes does the trick; Baloh and Bartholomew, for instance, or Douglas Fields although the latter hasn't published much about this theme recently. But sometimes I only discover articles like these because other investigative articles link to them. The latest article from Fair Observer links to this one from Gizmodo based mainly on the BuzzFeed News article about the JASON report:

Quote:
The report was completed in 2018 by JASON, a shadowy science advisory group that works with multiple branches of the government, including the Pentagon, which has become increasingly concerned about the mystery illness striking members in its ranks. That agency also recently joined the ranks of the individual task forces investigating potential ties between nausea, headaches, and dizziness that diplomats were feeling with a potential microwave weapon. And after years of experts in the field pointing out how scientifically and logistically impossible a weapon like this would be, it seems like the fed’s own advisory committee agrees.
“No plausible single source of energy (neither radio/microwaves nor sonic) can produce both the recorded audio/video signals and the reported medical effects,” the JASON report noted. “We believe the recorded sounds are mechanical or biological in origin, rather than electronic.”
Leaked U.S. Docs Say Microwave Weapons Not Behind Mysterious 'Havana Syndrome' (Gizmodo, Sep 30, 2021)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 11th October 2021, 06:13 AM   #1014
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Mass hysteria in Le Roy, New York

Quote:
Teenage schoolgirls in Le Roy, New York, captured the attention of the U.S. public in 2011 and 2012 when they developed acute motor and vocal tics. Dramatic images of the girls’ involuntary movements were briefly seen on national news and social media before clinical neurologists diagnosed the girls with “mass psychogenic illness” and required their retreat from media as part of the cure.
Mass hysteria in Le Roy, New York: How brain experts materialized truth and outscienced environmental inquiry (American Ethiologist, 2015)
- - - -

This argument has been refuted several times already, also in this thread, but I see it repeated again and again in the comments sections after articles about 'Havana Syndrome':

- But these people have real brain damage or impaired hearing, so their symptoms can't be faked, i.e. it can't be mass psychogenic illness!

However, the discovery of a few cases of actual illness doesn't rule out that mass psychotic illness caused the majority of cases.

Quote:
Interestingly, with this mental-health theory, the first few cases really had a medical explanation, but the other cases only had a mental-health explanation. As I mentioned, the New York Department of Health indicated that mass psychogenic illness was responsible for what was observed. They noted that three of first cases in the first cluster of cases, which were the only cases they discussed, had pre-existing medical conditions associated with tic disorders. One of these three actually had Tourette's syndrome, so this of course is consistent with the conversion disorder theory: You have certain individuals that have a medical explanation for their symptoms and other individuals whose symptoms are explained by a conversion disorder. There are no common exposures or evidence of infectious etiology across all twelve cases. And the word etiology has to do with causation, so if something is etiological to a disorder, it caused the disorder.
Mass Hysteria in Le Roy, New York? | Mass Psychogenic Illness (Dr. Todd Grande on YouTube, Dec. 9, 2019)
(In the video, Todd Grande mentions that he is not a medical doctor!)

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I AGREE

Notice that this is consistent with what Robert Bartholomew said in the Australian interview transcribed in post 977:
Quote:
And people say to me, they say, 'You don't know what you are talking about: concussion-like symptoms, white matter tract changes, brain damage! That can't possibly be mass psychogenic illness!'

But that's not what happened. The white matter tract changes never happened!
In December of 2017, information was leaked to the media that doctors examining a number of Havana Syndrome patients had discovered the significant white matter tract changes to their brains. This was big news, and for the next year, there was headlines about doctors finding brain anomalies in many of the diplomats. And then nearly a year later, in early 2018, the study came out, and in 21 patients only three had white matter tract changes. Two were mild, one was moderate.

If you walk down the streets of Melbourne or Sidney today and randomly pick 21 people, that's exactly what you would expect to find because white matter tract changes are common in everything from migraines to depression, to normal aging. So the claims of white matter tract changes are a myth as were the claims of brain damage. There was reports leaked that they had brain damage. When the studies came out, they were inconclusive.

And lastly, you have the study of hearing loss: In 2018, the results of a forthcoming study of 25 U.S. diplomats were leaked to the media. It was plain that about a third of the patients had hearing loss. This was reported for months and months and months in 2018. Once again the headlines: 'Diplomats suffering from hearing loss.' But when the study was published that December of 2018, they found that only two of the subjects had hearing loss. And both of them had hearing loss before they went to Cuba. And what had happened was: When they were interviewed, the subjects had expressed disbelief that they had hearing loss, but when they were given a standard hearing test, the others returned normal results.
Serious illness or mass hysteria? Havana Syndrome continues to be investigated (ABC News, Sep 26, 2021)

More here:
Mass Hysteria in Le Roy New York: How brain experts materialized truth and outscienced environmental inquiry (2015) (Research Gate, November 2015)
The Curious Case Of Teen Tics In Le Roy, N.Y. (NPR, March 10, 2012)
What Happened to the Girls in Le Roy (NYT, March 11, 2012)


ETA: Two more things:
1) There was a second 'cluster' of cases after the first one. That the first cases of the 'Havana Syndrome' has spread from the first local cluster has been used as an argument against the mass-psychogenic-disorder explanation.
2) The Le Roy case puts the 'Havana Syndrome' into perspective: It is much easier for some people to believe that low-status school girls come down with MPD. It is a very different matter, when high-status diplomats and CIA agents are affected. The objection appeared in this thread only a couple of minutes after the OP:
Originally Posted by theprestige View Post
Alien Attack? Mass Hysteria? Conspiracy?
You offer three choices:
Alien attack is absurd. Mass hysteria among trained diplomats is unlikely. So it's probably conspiracy rather than either of the other two.
At the time, we didn't yet know that half of the cases were CIA agents.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 11th October 2021, 10:28 AM   #1015
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This is not at all reassuring!

Quote:
It is unclear whether the results of the latest government study, overseen by the Director of National Intelligence and the CIA, will ever become public.

“In this space, much like in the cyber realm and in other spaces, you’re not always dealing with certainties — and even when you are dealing with certainties, you’re not always able to make public why you’re certain about what you’re certain about,” Schiff said.

“But none of those things prevent you from responding,” Schiff added. “If we do find that these are deliberate attacks on our personnel, then the consequences need to be very, very severe.”
Convinced ‘Havana syndrome’ is real, Biden team issues sharper guidance for U.S. personnel (McClatchy DC, Oct 5, 2021)

This sounds like:
We are not dealing with certainties, and even if we were, we'd probably not tell you.
But that doesn't stop us from ... let's call it 'responding' ... if we decide that we are dealing with deliberate attacks in spite of all uncertainties.
And if we hadn't already decided that we are, why would we call it the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act of 2021, or the HAVANA Act?!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 11th October 2021, 01:35 PM   #1016
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
This is not at all reassuring!




This sounds like:
We are not dealing with certainties, and even if we were, we'd probably not tell you.
But that doesn't stop us from ... let's call it 'responding' ... if we decide that we are dealing with deliberate attacks in spite of all uncertainties.
And if we hadn't already decided that we are, why would we call it the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act of 2021, or the HAVANA Act?!
Ah. CUBA -- Covered Under Beastly Actions.
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Old 11th October 2021, 11:24 PM   #1017
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New article by Robert Bartholomew:
Quote:
Have foreign agents been committing nefarious deeds, targeting dozens of American and Canadian diplomats and their families with an energy weapon, or is Havana Syndrome a social panic aided by sensational journalism, dubious science, and social media conspiracy theories? The contents of a U.S. Government investigation into “Havana Syndrome” released under the Freedom of Information Act, concluded that mass psychogenic illness likely played a major role.
This story is a good example of what can happen when politics is mixed with science.
Havana Syndrome Hysteria and the Great Wild Goose Chase (Skeptic, Oct 9, 2021)

7 comments so far!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 12th October 2021, 03:57 AM   #1018
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One of the comments

Quote:
As a long-serving U.S. diplomat who has not been affected but who has witnessed the patriotism, work ethic and resiliency of my peers under periods of tremendous personal and professional strain, I have NO reason to doubt their experience. This article, by an academic who studies mass hysteria instead of medicine or physics, should be taken for what it’s worth. No doubt my response is worthy of psychoanalysis, Dr. Bartholomew, but I find it a particularly insulting smear worthy only of a Kremlin hack.
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Old 12th October 2021, 07:23 AM   #1019
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The replies to the comment are good! The comment itself is just a long version of one of the first comments in this thread, which I mentioned in post 1014.
With very few exceptions, the skeptic community has been amazing in this case. Sometimes I just love skeptics!
At this point, 10 comments.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 12th October 2021, 08:50 AM   #1020
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Apropos:
The Skeptics Society Forum doesn't seem to be very active, but there's this new thread beginning with a link to the recent McGill article:Havana Syndrome
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 13th October 2021, 10:49 PM   #1021
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Quote:
US officials are investigating possible cases of Havana syndrome illness in Colombia, days before a visit by the Secretary of State, US media say.
(...)
The news comes ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's scheduled travel to Bogota next week.
In August, Vice-President Kamala Harris delayed travel to Vietnam after two US officials were medically evacuated from the country after falling ill.
Havana syndrome reported at US embassy in Colombia (BBC, Oct 13, 2021)

I can imagine that it is particularly stressful to be a CIA agent or an embassy employee in the weeks before the arrival of vice-presidents or US secretaries of state. The article doesn't say anything about perpetrators. Will they be the usual suspects or the drug cartels this time?

Quote:
At least five US families associated with the embassy in Colombia have come down with symptoms linked with the mysterious affliction, which include headaches, nausea and possible brain damage, the Wall Street Journal reported.
(...)
The US embassy in Bogota, one of the largest in the world, includes a strong contingent of agents working in both intelligence and counter-narcotics operations, in addition to career diplomats and personnel.
Colombia to leave ‘Havana Syndrome’ embassy probe to US (AlJazeera, Oct 13, 2021)

Colombia aware of ‘Havana Syndrome’ cases reported at U.S. Embassy in Bogotá (WP, Oct 13, 2021)
Cases of 'Havana Syndrome' Reported at U.S. Embassy in Colombia (NYT, Oct 13, 2021)
US officials reported Havana syndrome symptoms in Colombia (CNN, Oct 13, 2021)
US diplomats hit by new Havana Syndrome attack (The Times, Oct 14, 2021)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 13th October 2021, 11:14 PM   #1022
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Correlation is not causation, but the correlation is there, obviously:

Quote:
U.S. officials say once the government began urging employees to report any possible symptoms, the number of reported cases increased significantly. But they caution that not everyone who has come forward falls under the Havana Syndrome cohort.
'Seized by some invisible hand': What it feels like to have Havana Syndrome (NBC News, Oct 13, 2021)

Quote:
Diplomats Kate Husband, Doug Ferguson and Tina Onufer were among the first victims of “Havana Syndrome,” a still-unexplained phenomenon, while working at the U.S. embassy in Cuba. They tell NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell about the health challenges they face and the impact on their careers. More than 200 Americans around the world, mostly diplomats and spies, report feeling a similar set of neurological and other symptoms.
Early Victims of ‘Havana Syndrome’ Speak Out About Ongoing Health Struggles (NBC News on YouTube, Oct 14, 2021)
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

Quote:
NBC's Andrea Mitchell talks to survivors of Havana Syndrome, who describe the excruciating pain they've endured.
What it's like to have Havana Syndrome: It's like you've aged 25 years at once (CNBC on YouTube, Oct 14, 2021)
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

Quote:
Five years after symptoms have come to be known as Havana Syndrome, there have been more than 200 cases around the world, mostly targeting U.S. diplomats. Three of the original Havana victims spoke out, describing the painful symptoms that have caused brain damage, and cut short many promising careers.
Original Victims Of Havana Syndrome Reveal Identifies, Describe ‘Painful Symptoms’ (MSNBC on YouTube, Oct 14, 2021)
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
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 14th October 2021, 03:31 AM   #1023
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
Correlation is not causation, but the correlation is there, obviously:

Quote:
U.S. officials say once the government began urging employees to report any possible symptoms, the number of reported cases increased significantly. But they caution that not everyone who has come forward falls under the Havana Syndrome cohort.
'Seized by some invisible hand': What it feels like to have Havana Syndrome (NBC News, Oct 13, 2021)

The video accompanying the NBC article is interesting:

Quote:
Journalist: In the winter of 2016, diplomats Kate Husband and Doug Ferguson were working at the U.S. embassy in Havana, Cuba. Their nights at home interrupted by a piercing noise coming form the backyard.
Ferguson: I'll just play it for you so you can hear it.
(Plays recording of sound on cell phone)
Husband: It was a lot worse.
Husband: It was persistent. Kind of at the same level all the time. Very, very loud. It's nothing you could sit with.
Journalist:Kate, did anyone else in your neighborhood have this experience at their homes?
Husband:Yeah, on our right was another embassy family. And then the people on our left, across the street from us, were both Canadian embassy families. And in the end, all four households were diagnosed.

To me, the recording sounds just like the AP recording, i.e. crickets. It is interesting that the diplomats still seem to think that it is something else, in spite of the JASON report and reports from independent researchers saying that it corresponds to the sound of crickets.

Quote:
In a nearby neighborhood, Tina Onufer, who worked with Kate and Doug at the embassy, was washing dishes one night in March of 2017.
Onufer: The kids were upstairs playing, and I was standing at the kitchen window, and all of a sudden, I felt like I was being struck with something.
Journalist: What was it like?
Onufer: It was gripping. It was like I had been seized by some invisible hand and I couldn't move.
Journalist: Tina, Kate and Doug didn't know it then, but they were among the first victim of a still unexplained phenomenon that has come to be known as Havana Syndrome with more than 200 Americans around the world, mostly U.S. diplomats and spies, reporting neurological and other symptoms.

There is no doubt that it must have been unpleasant, but I don't see how experiences like these can be turned into attacks with any kind of weapon:

Quote:
A doctor said "it's like you aged 20 years all at once," said Kate Husband, diagnosed with a brain injury "related to a directional phenomenon exposure.

Where does "directional" enter into it? Unless it's a reference to "a piercing noise coming from the backyard," I don't see what's supposed to be directional about it. If any of the patients exhibit entry and/or exit wounds, I am pretty sure that they would have shown them to us in the video ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 14th October 2021, 07:20 AM   #1024
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Interview with Michael Wilner, a senior national security and White House correspondent for McClatchy, from "Wednesday’s episode of What Next": Is Someone Brain-Zapping American Operatives?, but "edited and condensed for clarity."

Quote:
You’ve spoken to people who’ve had symptoms. How do they describe what it feels like?
The problem is that the physiological symptoms are different for every person. One person I spoke with collapsed with pain in the head and said they were very nauseous. It was really the sudden onset of it, with no clear explanation, that flagged for them that this was an unusual phenomenon.
(...)
I wonder if the turning point was when people who worked in the White House started experiencing something that sounded very much like what had happened in Cuba.
Within the White House, they couldn’t really avoid the topic. One national security official was walking to his car out of the White House compound, collapsed due to the sudden onset of heat and pressure in the head, and had to get care immediately. There was another case in the suburbs of Washington with an individual U.S. government official who was walking their dog, and both the dog and the official had sudden pressure symptoms in their heads.
Are Russians Using Microwaves to Attack Americans? (Slate, Oct 13, 2021)


Who the hell was the expert on this case, Cesar Millan??!!!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 14th October 2021, 12:28 PM   #1025
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Quote:
A bipartisan group of senators is urging Secretary of State Antony Blinken to take immediate action in response to proliferating reports of "Havana Syndrome," calling cases of the mysterious neurological condition that has sickened hundreds of U.S. officers "a significant, unmitigated threat to our national security," in a letter sent Wednesday.
(...)
"We are extremely alarmed that reports of these incidents continue to grow. It is clear that this threat continues to target U.S. diplomats and related personnel, and reflects a significant, unmitigated threat to our national security," the lawmakers wrote. "We believe this threat deserves the highest level of attention from the State Department, and remain concerned that the State Department is not treating this crisis with the requisite senior-level attention that it requires."
(...)
The stream of new reports has prompted concerns, however, that an undeterred adversary may be targeting American officers in increasingly brazen ways. Many lawmakers with access to classified intelligence are convinced they are attacks, which is the term used in Wednesday's letter.
Lawmakers pressure secretary of state to act on "crisis" posed by "Havana syndrome" as cases mount (CBS News, Oct 14, 2021)

Quote:
The lawmakers -- led by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, ranking Republican member Jim Risch, and Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen -- said they "are extremely alarmed that reports of these incidents continue to grow."
(...)
"Further, while there has been progress, we continue to hear concerns that the Department is not sufficiently communicating with or responding to diplomats who have been injured from these attacks," they wrote. "We are also concerned that the Department is insufficiently engaged in interagency efforts to find the cause of these attacks, identify those responsible, and develop a plan to hold them accountable."
(...)
The letter was also signed by Sens. Marco Rubio, R-Florida; Ben Cardin, D-Maryland; Chris Coons, D-Delaware; Bill Hagerty, R-Tennessee; Tim Kaine, D-Virginia; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Cory Booker, D-New Jersey; and Mitt Romney, R-Utah.
Senators call on Blinken to appoint someone to lead efforts to address 'Havana syndrome' (CNN, Oct 14, 2021)

So now the lawmakers have put pressure on Burns & Blinken to accommodate the wishes of syndrome-suffering diplomats and CIA agents by putting somebody in charge of the 'investigation' who doesn't let themselves be misled by science and instead comes up with the smoking WMA as an excuse to go to war against the responsible ... crickets??? ... and hold them accountable!
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 15th October 2021, 12:21 AM   #1026
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The author of the new article Nation Must Come Together to Tackle Havana Syndrome, Dr. James Giordano, is professor of neurology at Georgetown University Medical Center, executive director of the Institute for Biodefense Research in Washington D.C., an advisor to the Defense Department and NATO, and he has bee working on the 'Havana Syndrome' from the very beginning, i.e. since 2017. In 2018, he was one of three experts who concluded that the incident with "25 cases of government employees" at the U.S. embassy in Cuba who got 'Havana Syndrome' ...
Quote:
... was a widescale use of electronics to carry out a so-called neuro-weapon attack. Neuro-weapons are an emerging, but little understood threat that is compounded by the ease in which they can be purchased on the internet.
EXCLUSIVE: Doctors Reveal Details of Neuro-Weapon Attacks in Havana (National Defense, Sep 6, 2018)

The three experts advised the Pentagon in Sep 2018:
Quote:
The Pentagon has taken notice of the event and Giordano and the two other team members will be briefing the J3, joint chiefs of staff, on Sept. 7.

And unlike the conclusions in the Nov 2018 report from the JASON group, which was dissolved by the Trump administration in 2019 and whose report was kept secret until it was made public very recently by means of the Freedom of Information Act, Giordano's hypothesis of a neuro-weapon attack is obviously in favor with the U.S. establishment, be it under Trump or under Biden.

The title of the new article is interesting: Nation Must Come Together to Tackle Havana Syndrome. The idea of the nation coming together is very much in vogue right now because of the obvious disagreements between Trump Republicans and more or less the rest of the political spectrum. So what Giordano is trying to accomplish with his article is a consensus among researchers: They must back up his idea that 'Havana Syndrome' constitutes an attack on the USA by a foreign adversary. His article can be interpreted as a warning that dissent will no longer be tolerated. Doubting the idea that the U.S. diplomats and spies in Havana were the victims of a hostile attack is to be considered an attempt to tear the nation apart.

In the new article, he writes about psychogenic illness in the context of the 'Havana Syndrome':

Quote:
... conjecture that these signs and symptoms may represent some form of psychogenic illness — in other words, a type of mass hysteria — were also disproven in light of evidence regarding the time sequence and occurrence of events.
Viewpoint: Nation Must Come Together to Tackle Havana Syndrome (National Defense, Oct 15, 2021)

No, they were not disproven. In fact, the article from 2018 delivers support for the "conjecture" without being aware of it because it is used as conjecture for the idea that 'Havana Syndrome' constitutes an attack:

Quote:
He (Dr. Michael Hoffer, director of the Vestibular and Balance Program at the University of Miami’s Department of Otolaryngology) also had the opportunity to see where the incidents occurred. “I literally looked and walked at the places that were hit,” he said.
Most of the victims also worked in a particular part of the embassy, he added. “They were really good at targeting,” he said of those who carried out the attacks. The homes were clustered in certain neighborhoods where diplomats reside, he added.
“People were hit from all branches of the State Department, but certain branches were hit more than others,” he said.
Of course, you can assume that people working together and also living "clustered" together are hit by mysterious rays because an even more mysterious actor, "they", are "good at targeting". But this is also how a case of mass psychogenic illness evolves, beginning in a close-knit group. Yesterday, the NBC interview with some of the 'Havana Syndrome' sufferers revealed that people in one of those clusters all heard, and obviously discussed, the same cricket sounds!

It is interesting that talk of lasers appears in both articles. In the NS article from 2018:
Quote:
Balaban said there was another possible method: pulsed lasers. “Near infrared lasers penetrate pretty far into the head,” he said.
And in the article today:
Quote:
Additional information further suggested the possibility of a laser component, which could be used for targeting or to yoke electromagnetic or sonic energy to increase the effectiveness — and effects — in targeted individuals.

And even more interesting: After first claiming that it is mere "conjecture" to assume that 'Havana Syndrome' is mass psychogenic illness, Giordano reintroduces mass psychogenic illness as "ripple effects of both the actual events and spreading miscommunication and misinformation," but this time as the shrewd result of an actual attack by a devious enemy:

Quote:
The ripple effects of both the actual events and spreading miscommunication and misinformation — some intentional and others merely due to ambiguity in reporting — can create a growing number of the “worried well” and in this way generate a mass psychogenic effect within the population. Such an effect is often desirable in that it produces “the fog of engagement” whereby it becomes difficult and costly to commit the resources, services, time and finances to evaluate each and all of those cases that may be suspected to be truly representative of the syndrome.
Viewpoint: Nation Must Come Together to Tackle Havana Syndrome (National Defense, Oct 15, 2021)

It is peculiar that Giordano now seems to recognize that the current hysteria and fear of attacks from a clandestine enemy may actually result in mass psychogenic illness. And yet, he is adamant that the hysteria witnessed by level-headed embassy employees in Havana at the time cannot have been the cause of the 'Havana Syndrome'.

Could it be that Giordano is beginning to realize that the current worldwide hysteria is a case of mass psychogenic illness? But at the same time, he is trying to forbid any conclusion that the original case in Havana was what set it all in motion - with him and his colleagues as the zealous enablers.

It will be interesting to watch him try to distinguish between, on the one hand, the cases of 'Havana Syndrome' that are mass psychogenic illness and, on the other hand, "those cases that may be suspected to be truly representative of the syndrome." He may now be up against the flood of diplomats and spies who demand to be taken seriously when they complain about having been attacked but without living up to whatever criteria he and his colleagues will have to come up with for being truly representative of the syndrome.

The ones who aren't recognized as truly representative may even come to see him as somebody who is trying to prevent the nation from coming together to tackle Havana Syndrome ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 15th October 2021, 01:40 AM   #1027
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The article about the film Moving Target Shadow Detection (2021) is very ... artistic, but not uninteresting. For instance, I don't remember hearing about the CIA 'ghost' recordings in the context of the 'Havana Syndrome', but it was an actual thing during the Vietnam War:
Quote:
U.S. engineers spent weeks recording eerie sounds and altered voices, which pretended to be killed Viet Cong, for use in the operation, with the intended purpose of instilling a sense of turmoil within the enemy, the desired result being for the soldier to flee his position. The tape, dubbed Ghost Tape Number Ten, was played on loudspeakers outside U.S. bases.[2] Helicopters were also deployed at times to broadcast recordings[3] in which the pre-recorded voices called on their "descendants" in the Viet Cong to defect and cease fighting.
Operation Wandering Soul (Vietnam War) (Wikipedia)

But back to the new film:
Quote:
Following reports that the sound of the weapon resembles chirping crickets, Tieu’s narrative unfurls from the perspective of an insect, enabling her to translate the confusion surrounding the Havana syndrome into the visual language of the film itself. ‘Insects see and move so differently from humans,’ Tieu explains. ‘I want to create something where the wall of the hotel room becomes a landscape, since most insects fly in such a way that the wall is equally the floor.’ As in earlier films such as No Gods, No Masters (2017), which explores the CIA’s use of sound recordings of ‘ghosts’ to intimidate superstitious Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War (1955–75), Tieu is planning on appropriating surveillance techniques like thermal imaging and drone footage, with the aim, she says, of turning the tools of the military and intelligence services against themselves. ‘As I argued in No Gods, No Masters, the inventors of these devices are as haunted by their creations as the people they’re supposed to affect.’
Sung Tieu On Havana Syndrome (Frieze, Oct 14, 2021)

I don't know what diplomats or CIA agents may have thought of the installation last year: Sung Tieu: In Cold Print (Nottingham Contemporary, Sat 8 Feb – Mon 31 Aug).
In Cold Print (CoBoSocial, Aug 13, 2020):"Sung Tieu Takes Aim at Imperialist Giants in her first UK Institutional Exhibition"
But I imagine that the mere sight of a laser pointer or the sound of lovelorn crickets will be enough to scare the wits out them nowadays.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 15th October 2021, 06:32 PM   #1028
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Keep the updates coming, dann.
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Old 15th October 2021, 11:17 PM   #1029
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The first half is an introduction to the 'Havana Syndrome', the second half is an interview with "Stanford medical researcher David Relman. He headed the National Academy of Sciences' investigation into the so-called Havana syndrome."
Quote:
RELMAN: Well, there's still a lot of missing information and lack of molecular understanding of how this might occur. But we looked at a variety of reports in the open source literature. We looked at a number of studies that have been done looking at small animals that have been subjected to microwave radiation as well as cells in isolation. And we found circumstantial evidence that suggested that this form of microwave radiation in pulsed form might set up a certain form of pressure wave within the head that would then reverberate and cause damage to cells and pathways where normal neurotransmitters are communicating. And we believe, although we can't show with direct evidence, that this phenomenon could account for at least some of the clinical features that we heard about and read about.

MCCAMMON: And, Dr. Relman, we should note that the State Department still considers your team's conclusions from the report to be a hypothesis. How confident are you that microwaves are what's behind these symptoms?

RELMAN: We were not confident. And I have to be clear. We view this as plausible, but, again, we didn't have any direct evidence that this could explain the entire story for sure or even parts of it.
New cases of 'Havana Syndrome' grow as cause remains a mystery - Transcript (NPR, Oct 15, 2021)

Relman's many reservations - there are more in the transcript! - are interesting: He isn't even confident that the 'Havana Syndrome' is caused by microwaves, but he believes that it is plausible that microwaves could be used and have an effect like that.

But in the meantime, the lawmakers handling the 'Havana Syndrome' right now have already moved beyond the question of whether microwaves could have this effect or not. They are convinced that they are dealing with attacks and that the culprit, i.e. Russia, needs to be punished.

Quote:
Susan Collins It is pretty clear that this is either a device or a weapon that uses pulsed radio frequencies or directed microwave energy. And it is very real, but unfortunately we still do not know who the adversary who is wielding this device or weapon is. Part of the HAVANA Act calls for a whole of government approach in order to identify not only the weapon but also the adversary. And that is really important.
(...)
Susan Collins talking about the CIA operative accompanying CIA's Mr. Burns on his trip to India:
This individual is a very tough individual, who is used to being in dangerous situations, but [hilite]it was an absolutely devastating attack[hilite]. And he (Burns) has always been a believer from day one, but I think seeing this happen to a member of his own staff has only strengthened his determination to get to the bottom of these incidences.
[Interviewer] Senator Shaheen, now it has appeared all over the world, every continent except Antarctica, isn't it clear that this had to be, uh, whether it's a device or a weapon from a global power? And there aren't that many that have this technology, could have this technology.
Jeanne Shaheen: I think there is no question about that. And again, the National Academy of Sciences report over a year ago suggested that that was the cause of the attacks. (...) And again, we need to get to the bottom of who's responsible. We know there are several states that have this kind of technology, and each of us, I would guess, have our own suspicions about who's responsible, but we need to find this out and address it because the longer it goes on the more people who are going to be affected.
Interviewer: Well, presumably you are talking about Russia.
Jeanne Shaheen: Well, Russia certainly is one the countries that were suggested by the National Academy of Sciences report and by others. We know they've had the technology, probably longer than anybody, probably even longer than the USA. And figuring out who else has it and whether they have the global reach to do these kinds of attacks is another piece of what we've got to look into.
Collins: 'Blinken Was Very Slow To Meet With' Havana Syndrome Victims (MSNBC, Oct 15, 2021)
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I AGREE

It is worth remembering the preface to the NAS report, which puts Relman's much more cautious words in the first quotation into perspective:

Quote:
The committee is left with a number of concerns. First, even though it was not in a position to assess or comment on how these DOS cases arose, such as a possible source of directed, pulsed RF energy and the exact circumstances of the putative exposures, the mere consideration of such a scenario raises grave concerns about a world with disinhibited malevolent actors and new tools for causing harm to others, as if the U.S. government does not have its hands full already with naturally occurring threats.

In other words: 'Even though we don't really know what the hell is happening, our paranoia is reason enough for us to stress what we can imagine might be happening.'
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 16th October 2021, 03:23 AM   #1030
dann
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Another podcast and transcript, from earlier this year, Feb 3, but very interesting. For the most part, the people being interviewed are not scientists but journalists, i.e. people who have read the reports and interviewed some of the people involved, and now describe what they have learned since the beginning in 2016-17, describing their own everyday experiences similar to things like conversion disorder.

Quote:
In late 2016, staff at the American Embassy in Havana began hearing strange noises and experiencing a range of odd symptoms: headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears. Suspicion arose that they had been targets of a secret weapon. In the years since, doctors, scientists, journalists, and government officials have tried—with limited success—to get to the bottom of the illness that came to be known as Havana syndrome. On Episode 24 of The Politics of Everything, hosts Laura Marsh and Alex Pareene talk to four people who have followed the story closely: Jack Hitt, who covered it for Vanity Fair; Tim Weiner, author of The Folly and the Glory: America, Russia, and Political Warfare 1945–2020; Adam Gaffney, a physician; and the journalist Natalie Shure. What was the diplomatic context in which Havana syndrome appeared? How have Republicans, Democrats, and the foreign policy establishment exploited the secret weapon theory? And is there a likelier explanation for the mysterious syndrome?
The Case of the Sick Spies - Has Russia been zapping American embassies with a secret weapon? (The New Republic, Feb 3, 2021) - 43 min. Available on other platforms

Transcript: The Unsolved Mystery of Havana Syndrome (The New Republic, Feb 3, 2021)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 16th October 2021, 09:23 AM   #1031
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The Sleeping Beauties

These quotations are not from articles or book reviews about the 'Havana Syndrome' but mention it in the context of other examples of mass psychogenic illness in Suzanne O'Sullivan's book The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness (GoodReads):

Quote:
In August, The New York Times reported that the C.I.A.’s leading theory involves microwave energy beams and Russian agents.

O’Sullivan isn’t buying it. She devotes a chapter to the syndrome, methodically demolishing the sonic weapon theory as well as clinical papers that purport to document victims’ brain injuries. At the same time, she chronicles the fraught history of recent U.S.-Cuban relations, and the furor of hyperbolic statements about the disorder given by doctors and amplified by politicians. Hers is a risky move, an armchair analysis made, as she admits, without access to actual patients or classified intelligence. But here, as elsewhere in her book, O’Sullivan’s logic is, well, infectious.

“Havana syndrome was a powerful sociopolitical wave,” she points out. “Many people were caught up in it, including U.S. Embassy staff, politicians and doctors.” She goes on: “I cannot imagine how hard it would have been to resist developing symptoms in that setting, and how difficult it would have been to accept a mass psychogenic explanation with all the ‘experts’ disparaging it so.” Who’s to say Havana syndrome won’t yet turn out to be another striking instance of science “making up people”?
Can a Coma Be Contagious? (NYT, Sep 23, 2021)

Quote:
In “The Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories of Mystery Illness,” O’Sullivan invites readers to move beyond the Western concept of disease as a failure of individual biology. She crisscrosses the globe to investigate “culture-bound” syndromes that occur mostly within specific communities. Besides uppgivenhetssyndrom, O’Sullivan delves into poorly understood conditions like “grisi siknis” — hallucinations and convulsions that occur among the Miskito people of coastal Honduras and Nicaragua — and Havana syndrome, a pattern of dizziness and hearing impairment that first appeared five years ago among foreign diplomats stationed in Cuba. But “The Sleeping Beauties” is about something more fundamental: how humans unconsciously express their struggles in physical ways those around them will understand.
Book Review: The ‘Mystery’ Illnesses Informed by Culture (Undark, Oct 8, 2021)

Quote:
Telling patients that community-driven expectations play into disease symptoms tends not to go over well, however. They feel as if doctors are telling them they're making themselves sick, so they often go to great lengths to deny their symptoms have social origins. When O'Sullivan visited Sweden, a doctor there hoped she would supply a biological explanation for uppgivenhetssyndrom, just as some of her patients clamored to be told they had a "real" disease like epilepsy. Finding "an objective change on a blood test or scan," O'Sullivan writes, "allows others to believe in the suffering." But a search for such evidence might not be necessary, she thinks, if most doctors took cultural and social drivers of illness more seriously.
The "mystery" illness informed by culture (Salon, Oct 14, 2021)

Quote:
Interestingly, MPIs tend to be rejected as an explanation for symptoms in adults, especially men, but caricatured as “just” mass hysteria when they are observed in women and girls.
(...)
More controversially, she suggests that MPIs have a purpose. “Psychosomatic and functional disorders break the rules of every other medical problem because, for all the harm they do, they are sometimes indispensable,” she writes. In Nicaragua, she asks a local: “Do you have any thoughts about why young girls are more likely to be affected by grisi siknis?” He replies: “I don’t know … but I think maybe the girls are weak and grisi siknis makes them strong.” By making social problems visible on the body, O’Sullivan believes, these conditions allow voiceless people to tell their stories and to make themselves heard. Perhaps this eloquent and convincing book will be the start of making people in authority listen, make change and help.
The Sleeping Beauties by Suzanne O’Sullivan review – 21st century health mysteries (The Guardian, April 14, 2021)

It doesn't seem to have had much impact on "people in authority" so far ...
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 16th October 2021, 09:36 AM   #1032
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In post 1029, I forgot to mention that the MSNBC interviewer at one point (3:32) says that "... more than 50 percent of these victims are CIA officers, CIA personnel, overseas and in 200 cases reported around the world."
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 16th October 2021, 06:09 PM   #1033
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Originally Posted by dann View Post
An excellent recapitulation of the arguments for and against the explanations for the 'Havana Syndrome'. For more details, you will have to go to other sources, but the basics are presented in this article, which is particularly suited for skeptics who have not been following this thread:
Thanks for that link. It is hard to understand that this "magical" weapon exists as described after all these years of incidents reported and nothing able to be explained by scientists from the most advanced nation on earth (I mean the US, in case of sceptics). Surely they have a zillion sensors in embassies everywhere by now.

The potential downsides of being discovered, even in nations like Germany, if this existed would far outweigh the benefits which even now are hard to see. What Russia does with Facebook posts has far better results than making some diplomats sick, if they are doing that.

I am going to categories this with immaculate conception for now.
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Old 16th October 2021, 10:27 PM   #1034
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Never underestimate the power of vanity.
Many politicians will wage wars or let thousands or hundreds of thousands of people die in pandemics rather than lose face. Some researchers will, too.
The noble art ...

And never underestimate the power of patriotism.
Many ordinary people will follow those leaders even when it is obvious that they may die doing so.
The measles of human kind ...

My hope in the human race rests on those who stand up to them.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 17th October 2021, 12:39 PM   #1035
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Man, the kind of stories you can write when you have nothing but a paranoid imagination, and then base those stories on other people's stories about imaginary weapons and imaginary enemies!

Take a sentence like this one and notice how many times the words alleged, appear and seem are used:

Quote:
The fact that alleged weapons and attacks appear to target not just random US diplomatic personnel, but rather key facilities just prior to key visits by officials - and also appear to target the CIA - means the adversaries seem to have knowledge of the layout of US diplomatic posts and also about who is based on them and when.
'Havana Syndrome' attacks reveal US adversaries may have dangerous intel (The Jerusalem Post, Oct 17, 2021)

And they aren't even used enough, in my opinion! I would recommend adding at least one more alleged to the sentence: "... means the alleged adversaries seem to have knowledge of ..." But imaginary would be a better word than alleged.
I would also recommend removing "The fact" from the beginning of the sentence since it only serves to confuse both reader and writer into thinking that this is somehow still connected to reality.

Considering the role that stress plays in mass psychogenic illness, it also isn't strange at all that many of these cases happen immediately before or during top level U.S. officials' visits to one of these destinations: Harris in Vietnam, CIA Burns in India and Blinken in Bogotá. It must be a very stressful time for people responsible for their safety, and it doesn't make it less stressful that they have just been warned to be on the lookout for invisible enemies with invisible weapons firing invisible pulsated energy beams while also meticulously monitoring themselves for equally invisible symptoms.

Maybe I should have used alleged or imaginary a couple of times in that sentence, but I think you already get the idea.


The writer of this article is already confused enough as it is, for instance when writing a couple of lines that mostly consist of nothing but connected quotations from NBC News:

Quote:
"Tina Onufer and two of her former colleagues in Havana, a married couple named Kate Husband and Doug Ferguson, spoke to NBC News about their experiences after getting permission from the State Department. They want the world to know that what happened to them in Havana caused real suffering and documentable injuries, and that those who insist that this must be a case of mass psychosis are wrong," NBC wrote.
"The way the doctor boiled it down for me... he said, 'Well, it's like you aged, you know, 20, 25 years all at once,'" Husband told NBC. He was diagnosed with "acquired brain injury related to a directional phenomenon exposure."
Yes, I know! It is a little confusing this day and age with gay marriages and LGBTQ+ and all that, but it is pretty clear that if Ferguson's wife is called Husband, Husband's husband is called Ferguson. It isn't more difficult than that. Kate is not a he, in spite of her name. Doug is.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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Old 17th October 2021, 01:53 PM   #1036
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Short article by Robert Bartholomew in Psychology Today. This quotation is from the paragraph The Myth of Brain Damage about the JAMA study:

Quote:
The study found brain anomalies in the patients. However, this is not the same as brain damage, but it was widely reported as such. In fact, the same study admitted that the anomalies were not so significant that they could not rule out the possibility they were caused by individual variation (Ragini et al., 2019). Furthermore, similar anomalies have been elicited from exposure to long-term stress, which is what embassy personnel were experiencing after rumors spread that they were being targeted for sonic attacks using a secret weapon. Also, 12 of the patients had histories of concussions, compared to zero in a healthy control group. This alone could explain the differences between the two groups (Baloh & Bartholomew 2020).
Evidence Mounts that Mass Suggestion Caused "Havana Syndrome" (Psychology Today, Oct 11, 2021)
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old 17th October 2021, 04:17 PM   #1037
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"Man, the kind of stories you can write when you have nothing but a paranoid imagination, and then base those stories on other people's stories about imaginary weapons and imaginary enemies!

Take a sentence like this one and notice how many times the words alleged, appear and seem are used:"

Who are you replying to?
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Old 17th October 2021, 09:56 PM   #1038
dann
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Nobody. I don't think the journalist at The Jerusalem Post reads this thread.
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx
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Old Yesterday, 09:48 AM   #1039
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Quote:
Price said State Department leaders have taken a number of important steps to tackle the issue. Among them: working to ensure those who report symptoms get medical care and launching a pilot program to to collect "pre-incident" baseline health information. The latter step will give medical officials comparison data if those individuals are later subject to an "anomalous health incident," he said.

"We have sent teams of security engineers and occupational safety experts to conduct surveys and inspections of locations where these incidents have been reported," he added. "We have made improvements in terms of our training so ... our employees know how to respond should they become subject to one of these."
Havana Syndrome: Why Congress and diplomats are upset with US response (USA Today, Oct 18, 2021)

Critics of the attack idea, be it based on sonics or microwaves, have often pointed out that the alleged changes in people's brains are difficult to establish with only with access to only after data.

This article is mainly interesting because it shows that Marc Polymeropoulos, the alleged victim of an attack in Moscow, has become the one person that the media goes to for information because the identity of the vast majority of cases are kept secret:
Quote:
A 2018 FBI report on the Havana embassy victims declared their conditions psychologically-driven, most likely due to stress. That "undermined" the efforts of those stricken, including Polymeropoulos, to get U.S. intelligence to take seriously Havana syndrome and the national security threat it posed, said Entous*.
Havana syndrome sees uptick in cases, concerns, and questions (Phys.Org, Oct 11, 2021)
*Entous is "Adam Entous, staff writer at The New Yorker."
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"Stupidity renders itself invisible by assuming very large proportions. Completely unreasonable claims are irrefutable. Ni-en-leh pointed out that a philosopher might get into trouble by claiming that two times two makes five, but he does not risk much by claiming that two times two makes shoe polish." B. Brecht
"The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions." K. Marx

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