Scientists criticize microwave theory of “Havana syndrome”


Miami Herald / Tribune News Service via Getty Images

US embassy workers in Havana leave the building on September 29, 2017, after the State Department announced that it was withdrawing all non-essential personnel from the embassy.

The microwave attack is the “most plausible” explanation for the outbreak of mysterious injuries that dozens of US diplomats reported in Cuba three years ago, according to a long-awaited study published at the end of the week.

But the scientists who collaborated on National Academies of Sciences ReportCommissioned by the US State Department, he says the findings regarding potential microwave attacks are far from conclusive. Meanwhile, outside experts on microwaves and the mysterious “Havana Syndrome” dismiss it as implausible. One scientist called it “science fiction.”

“In many ways, what we’re saying is that the US government needs to take this matter in a thoughtful and comprehensive manner,” said committee chair David Relman, an infectious disease expert at Stanford. “What is needed is an all-out government effort not only to study what happened, but to anticipate what the future holds.”

The State Department praised the release, saying in a statement released to BuzzFeed News that the report “can add to data and analysis that may help us reach a final conclusion about what happened.”

The statement added, “Among a number of conclusions, the report indicates that the” set of signs and symptoms “is consistent with the effects of pulsed radiofrequency energy. We note that the term” consistent with “is a technical term in medicine and science that allows plausibility but does not specify the cause.

Nearly 35 diplomats reported the mysterious casualties that began in late 2016, tarnishing US diplomatic ties with Cuba for most of the Trump administration.

In 2017, the State Department first announced its concerns about US embassy personnel in Havana who reported hearing loud noises and then experiencing symptoms including earache, headache, and head pressure. Early news reports suggested this was caused by vocal weapons, leading to deafness, inner ear damage, and concussion-like syndrome for brain damage – all rejected in the new NAS report – and described by Rex Tillerson, the then State Department chief,Health attacksOn diplomats and their families.

Other theories have been circulating suggesting that mysterious illnesses were the cause Cricket Sounds Provoking mass hysteria or Russian spies somehow attack the diplomats. In 2019, the State Department asked NAS to review diseases with the limited information available with a focus on providing advice on how to collect medical information for any future groups of cases. The committee met three times in the past year, and listened to the medical teams that treated or examined some of the injured patients; It also reviewed reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health and heard testimonies from eight patients in closed sessions.

But the report said that the committee had been hobbled by a lack of information on the people involved, due to medical security and privacy laws. The medical examination data provided was not comprehensive enough, as it was collected to help treat patients rather than investigate outbreaks.

“We had no information about the individuals, including who was affected first, who was affected later, and what their connections are,” said committee member Jeffrey Stubb, professor of psychiatry at Mayo Clinic. Given these limitations, the commission focused on the acute and immediate symptoms reported among diplomats in Havana – loud voices, pressure, vibrations, ear pain, and headaches – as the most discerning and informative about possible explanations. The committee also excluded recent reports of similar injuries in Canadian tourists and US diplomats in China.

“There are real gaps in the information,” said Stubb. “Even if we had all the security clearances to see everything about everyone, there would be information gaps.”

Committee members told BuzzFeed News that these same limits have restricted what scientists can say are plausible explanations for the injuries. The theory that the mysterious disease was caused by an infectious disease, such as the Zika virus, was considered “extremely unlikely” – and a more recent explanation that the outbreak was caused by pesticide poisoning was identified as “unlikely”, although scientists indicated that there were no blood samples from Patients to rule it out completely.

“Even if we had all the security clearances to see everything about everyone, there would be information gaps.”

Scientists have also considered a third theory that group mental illness is the cause. In this scenario, a set of acute symptoms is followed by greater numbers of chronic conditions – particularly persistent dizziness, difficulty thinking, insomnia, and headaches – reflecting previous outbreaks of infections spread through social infection. However, without data on individuals and their contacts for charting social media networks, Stubb said, the commission was unable to come to a specific conclusion. “The most difficult setting aside is psychological and social interpretation,” Relman said.

This left a final theory that the illnesses were caused by a “directed radio-frequency energy attack”. Based on a real phenomenon called the “Fry Effect,” in which pulsed microwave beams directed at a person’s ears can produce clicking sounds that only the target person can hear, the panel suggested that the “Fry effect” was the “most reasonable” of the explanations considered.

“It’s a bit dramatic. But first and foremost, something really important and real happened to these people.” We looked at potential mechanisms and found that one of them was more reasonable than the others and fully consistent with some of the more distinct clinical findings.

The report concluded that a microwave attack could cause a compensatory balance and subsequently dizzy syndrome, accompanied by depression caused by their injuries. Stubb said chronic injuries often have psychological aspects that should not be ignored as true symptoms.

Some of the report’s most important findings were its recommendations to the State Department on how to thoroughly investigate any future groups, with experts from many disciplines rather than just doctors familiar with brain injuries. “Whatever happens, we cannot let it happen again,” said Stubb.

However, experts in both microwaves and group psychology were highly critical of the report’s conclusions.

“The report does not provide a coherent argument as to why microwaves are involved,” said Kenneth Foster, a bioengineer at the University of Pennsylvania, who first described the mechanism behind the Fry effect. In 1974. He said the effect required very high energy levels to produce sounds that were barely audible, and were not known to cause injuries. “Someone might have had trouble moving a big microwave truck to make employees hear ‘clicks’,” he said, “but there are simpler ways to bother people than that.”

“This is not science but science fiction,” said Robert Balloh, a neurologist at UCLA. Havana Syndrome: Group Psychiatric Illness and the True Story Behind the Embassy Mystery and Hysteria. Ballo said that only news reports, which the committee had not considered, paint a picture of illnesses spreading among patients in ways that closely resemble outbreaks of group psychology in the past. “There is a lot of misunderstanding that these symptoms are real,” he added. “People are already infected, even among doctors.”

“This is not science, but science fiction.”

Neuroscientist Mitchell Joseph Valdes Sousa of the Cuban Neuroscience Center said the report was a step in the right direction because it nullified the most brutal theories of sound weapons and brain damage. The results are similar to A. 2018 Report of the Cuban Academy of Sciences, Co-authored by Sosa, who suggested that early infections among a few are likely to be spread by group psychology to more people throughout the wider diplomatic community. “We don’t agree with the detection of the radio pulses, of course,” Sousa said, “but this is the first time that US experts have acknowledged that the psychological effects may be significant.”

He noted that hotels and Cuban neighborhoods where microwave attacks were supposed to have occurred are in crowded and open spaces, making it unlikely that such a small group would be affected or that the attacks might go unnoticed.

Sosa added that the Cuban Academy of Sciences has already contacted the commission to provide its surveys of neighborhoods near where the injuries were reported. However, it is said that the convening of the commission does not allow for consultations with Cubans.

Old Dominion University biological engineer Andrei Pakhomov said none of the panelists appeared to have much experience with the biological effects of microwave ovens, which might explain their willingness to reasonably consider a fry-like effect, which he said was skeptical based on four decades of research. In the region. “There are many reports of biological effects from radio frequency domains, but there are no reliable reports.”

despite of I mentioned doubts Of the Russian spies who were somehow dependent on Soviet-era research to make such a weapon, Pakhomov, a Russian immigrant, said the field now does not exist in Russia.

He said, “I know all the people there who could have done something in this area.” “They are all retired or out of science.”

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