Havana Syndrome: "Sonic Attacks" at the US Embassy in Cuba - Mass Hysteria?

Rory

Senior Member.
Long article on the BBC about this today:

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-58396698

Concludes:

 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Article:
President Biden signed into a law on Wednesday [Oct 6] a bill to improve support for U.S. officials who have suffered brain injuries from the mysterious health ailment known as "Havana Syndrome."
The HAVANA Act, the Helping American Victims Afflicted by Neurological Attacks Act was passed unanimously by Congress, in a rare instance of broad bipartisanship.

Article:
“Havana Syndrome” is the term given to an unknown illness that surfaced among more than 40 U.S. Embassy staff in Havana, Cuba, beginning in 2016. Since then, dozens more U.S. diplomats and members of the intelligence community have suffered symptoms that a study by the National Academy of Sciences found are consistent with the effects of directed, pulsed, radiofrequency energy.
Symptoms have included severe headaches, dizziness, tinnitus, visual and hearing problems, vertigo, and cognitive difficulties, and many affected personnel continue to suffer from health problems years after the attacks.

Article:
The bill, according to the group of senators, would address a hole in the Federal Employees Compensation Act, which currently provides compensation for federal employees who suffer “the loss or loss of use of a part of the body” but excluded parts like the brain and the heart.
The U.S. has been looking into the cause of Havana Syndrome since individuals overseas began to report instances of vomiting, headaches and loss of balance related to their time overseas. But just last Saturday, a report published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine concluded that the symptoms experienced by many of these government officials are consistent with the effects of directed microwave energy. The study, first reported by NBC News, was kept secret by the State Department for months until a bi-partisan group of senators demanded to see it.
While the study stops short of naming exactly what or who could be behind the attacks, the report gave weight to the claims made by the more than 40 State Department and government employees who say they’ve been affected.
[...]
In 2017 and 2018, U.S. workers evacuated from Cuba and China were brought to the University of Pennsylvania for treatment and evaluation, as the U.S. and top doctors struggled to identify what had happened to the individuals.
The State Department said at the time it was covering medical bills for those medevaced from Cuba or China for up to a year, even if they were ultimately determined not to be cases. But some of the individuals treated there told NBC News that they struggled to determine who was paying medical and travel bills, and raised concerns about whether they were being given full access to their own medical records.


(The NAS report is attached to post #73 in this thread.)
 
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jarlrmai

Senior Member
Does anyone else think this story is weird from a reaction point of view, it's not being treated with the reaction I feel would be warranted to the reality of an unknown foreign power using (apparently not available to the US) high tech weaponry seemingly without any operational issues against US government officials in multiple locations across the world, including apparently US mainland cities.

I understand the bill to help the victims 1st is a good response from a pragmatic people 1st view, but it will likely further reinforce the 'reality' of the weapon theory but surely the longer this goes on without them finding any physical evidence of the weapons the more it's going to strain credulity and cast the US intelligence services in a bad light either way (unfindable/unstoppable weapons/non-existent weapons.)
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Does anyone else think this story is weird from a reaction point of view, it's not being treated with the reaction I feel would be warranted to the reality of an unknown foreign power using (apparently not available to the US) high tech weaponry seemingly without any operational issues against US government officials in multiple locations across the world, including apparently US mainland cities
The "foreign powers" suspected are not ones where the US can afford to apply the "bomb first, find (no) evidence later" approach.

Or maybe the spooks suspect it's caused by their own transmitters (for secret communications) in those embassies, who knows?
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
It appears Buzzfeed obtained the report (attached); I've excerpted their article on it (unmarked elisions!).
Article:
The “most likely source” of the mysterious “Havana syndrome” are crickets, according to a declassified US State Department report.
The JASON Group, an independent organisation of scientists that has advised the US government since the Cold War, had carried out a study in 2018 that pointed to crickets as the source of the mysterious syndrome.
The report, obtained by BuzzFeed News via a Freedom of Information Act request, was originally classified as “secret.” It concluded that the sounds accompanying at least eight of the original 21 Havana syndrome incidents were “most likely” caused by insects. That same scientific review also judged it “highly unlikely” that microwaves or ultrasound beams — now widely proposed by US government officials to explain the injuries — were involved in the incidents. And though the report didn’t definitively conclude what caused the injuries themselves, it found that “psychogenic” mass psychology effects may have played a role.

“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 concluded. “We believe the recorded sounds are mechanical or biological in origin, rather than electronic. The most likely source is the Indies short-tailed cricket.”
The report’s findings fly in the face of a medical report commissioned by the State Department and published by a National Academies of Sciences panel last year, which found that microwaves were the “most plausible” cause of the symptoms. That panel was not provided with the JASON report as part of its assessment, the NAS told BuzzFeed News.
The team was given eight recordings of incidents linked to injuries and performed an extensive analysis of two cellphone video recordings from one patient. After extensive comparison with recordings of various insect species, they concluded with “high confidence” that the sounds in that case came from a particularly loud species of cricket, Anurogryllis celerinictus. (Two academic researchers who ran a similar analysis in 2019 using a recording provided by the Associated Press also concluded that the sound was caused by crickets.) The JASON scientists offered another “low confidence” theory that the sounds could have been caused by a nearby concrete vibrating machine with worn bearings.
The review ruled out pulsed microwaves and ultrasound as culprits, in part because the Wi-Fi and other electronics in the house where the noises were first recorded worked fine during the incident. And by calculating the power required for such attacks, they concluded that the noises didn’t correspond to ones generated by microwave or ultrasound frequencies.
But the JASON scientists left open the possibility of some other nefarious attack. “It cannot be ruled out that while the perceived sounds, while not harmful, are introduced by an adversary as deception so as to mask an entirely unrelated mode of causing illness,” the report concludes in its executive summary.
 

Attachments

  • jason-report-2018-havana-syndrome.pdf
    8.9 MB · Views: 8

Mendel

Senior Member.
From the JASON report:
My takeaway:
- the recorded noises were crickets
- there wasn't any sort of attack
- some of these people have neurological damage
- but they might have had it before being posted to Cuba
- or it could be psychogenic
 

David Coulter

Senior Member.
I did some web searching on microwave "weapons" and it seems that they need to be very large to produce a directed signal. Since EMR energy dissipates at 1/r^2 a single small microwave transmitter would have to be very close the the victim. A focusable high energy system requires multiple separated transmitters or a phased array system (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EL/M-2080_Green_Pine, which has been considered for defensive use to burn out missile electronics). They also require a lot of supporting electronics and trained technicians - not a good idea for a clandestine operation. How long would it take for a Russian microwave technician getting corporal's pay to sell out for a healthy bounty from the West?

I also have two problems with the microwave theory: victims do not report any sensation of heat and victims do not report damage to personal electronics. In defense applications these "weapons" are designed to fry anything with an antenna yet there are no reports that victims have their mobiles affected.

I am not arguing that there is nothing to the reports, I just think the microwave theory is implausible. If Western governments thought it was plausible, why don't they fit overseas staff with small microwave detectors that trigger on microwave events over the normal background? I think focussed ultrasonic acoustics are simpler and don't require any supporting infrastructure. All you need is transducers and a focusable paraboloid. Something the size of an umbrella would probably be effective. Occam's Razor approach - microwaves, complicated requiring sophisticated gear and trained personnel - ultrasonic, simple build it in your shed.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I agree with the above post and will add one more thing. Microwave radiation is non-ionizing. How is non-ionizing radiation supposed to cause damage to living tissue? The only way it could break molecular bonds is if your tissue were literally cooking; like a pizza in a microwave oven. You would notice.

Anyone who has passed high school physics knows this. So how is this microwave notion getting passed through a supposedly scientific study?
 

David Coulter

Senior Member.
I guess a simple test would be to hold one of those fountain mist generators/transducers to your head and see what happens. I think I will leave the safety and outcome to the Metabunk Chief Experimenter ... Mick?
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
I lived in Tucson for many years which has a distinctive cricket season. Took me a while to figure it out as crickets indoors make a very electronic sound.
You're probably talking about cicadas. When I was a kid I thought the noise was coming from the electric lines along desert roads or the electric lines in residential neighborhoods; because that's where I heard them.

The weirdest thing about cicada noise is the peculiar ventriloquism. You can't decide where the sound is coming from, even if it's coming from a single bug. If there are several cicadas the effect is even weirder. It's as if the air were homogenously permeated with sound. Sound; like fog in San Francisco.

I don't think I've ever heard Indies short tailed crickets in real life. I just now did hear recordings of them here:

https://orthsoc.org/sina/492a.htm

If their sound has the same peculiar cicada ventriloquism, I can sympathize with the spooked reaction a person might have who is hearing it for the first time.
 
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David Coulter

Senior Member.
You're probably talking about cicadas. When I was a kid I thought the noise was coming from the electric lines along desert roads or the electric lines in residential neighborhoods; because that's where I heard them.

The weirdest thing about cicada noise is the peculiar ventriloquism. You can't decide where the sound is coming from, even if it's coming from a single bug. If there are several cicadas the effect is even weirder. It's as if the air were homogenously permeated with sound. Sound; like fog in San Francisco.

I don't think I've ever heard Indies short tailed crickets in real life. I just now did hear recordings of them here:

https://orthsoc.org/sina/492a.htm

If their sound has the same peculiar cicada ventriloquism, I can sympathize with the spooked reaction a person might have who is hearing it for the first time.
I stand corrected - they were cicadas. But we did capture them and put them in a Chinese cricket cage - supposed to bring good luck.

I went mad the first time I heard them. As you say, you can't localize the source. After several nights I found him or her in the back of a kitchen cabinet behind the pots and pans. I worked in a geophysics R&D department in Tucson at the time and was ready to ask the instrument lab to build something to localize the sound!

Cicadas and crickets are not alone. We were in a country house in Normandy quite a few years back and when I walked to one window at night a distinct electronic chirping started. Walk away, it stopped. After searching for alarm electronics I went outside and found a tiny frog below the window. He alerted whenever my shadow was cast from the window. Gotta love nature - electronic alarm sounds by natural selection!
 

David Coulter

Senior Member.
On looking through your
You're probably talking about cicadas. When I was a kid I thought the noise was coming from the electric lines along desert roads or the electric lines in residential neighborhoods; because that's where I heard them.

The weirdest thing about cicada noise is the peculiar ventriloquism. You can't decide where the sound is coming from, even if it's coming from a single bug. If there are several cicadas the effect is even weirder. It's as if the air were homogenously permeated with sound. Sound; like fog in San Francisco.

I don't think I've ever heard Indies short tailed crickets in real life. I just now did hear recordings of them here:

https://orthsoc.org/sina/492a.htm

If their sound has the same peculiar cicada ventriloquism, I can sympathize with the spooked reaction a person might have who is hearing it for the first time.
On looking (and listening) that link I think they were crickets. Southern Arizona seems to have many species but the Arizona Cricket looks and sounds familiar.
 

Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
The first test is: whether by day or by night. Cicadas in the SW U.S. sound off during the day and crickets are heard at night.

Cicadas are massively louder. And I've never heard, or heard tell of, a cicada indoors - while crickets can be either in or outdoors.

House crickets, the species you're most likely to have around your neighborhood, chirp.

Cicadas buzz.

I think this is important because I think many people reading the article are imagining the chirping sound of a house cricket rather than the buzz of the Indies short tail cricket.


Crickets are a prime target for extermination in Las Vegas (and other desert towns) for a roundabout reason. If you let them go, they become prime black widow spider food. BWS webs are low and crickets jump up into them. When I first moved to Vegas, the apartment complex was crawlingly infested with both species. The webs were continuous along the base of every outdoor wall. There was such population pressure that you'd find wandering female black widows inside your apartment, which is a very unusual behavior.
 
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Z.W. Wolf

Senior Member.
https://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2019/01/sound-haunted-diplomats-cuba-crickets/579637/

...one of the first diplomats to hear the noise was tantalizingly close to the right answer. As reported by ProPublica, he blamed cicadas (which are not crickets, but do also sing). “Cicadas don’t sound like that,” his neighbor reportedly said. “It’s too mechanical-sounding.” But the Indies short-tailed cricket is no ordinary singing insect. It has the fastest pulse-repetition rate of any cricket in the Caribbean or North America. Have a listen. It sounds pretty mechanical!

The cricket story reminds me of a very similar saga: the Sausalito hum. Back in the 1980s, just across the bay from San Francisco, the people of Sausalito were kept awake by a loud, rumbling hum, which reverberated through the walls of their expensive houseboats. Some thought it was effluent being pumped from a sewage pipe. Others blamed a cable recently laid by an electric company. Yet others suspected Russian submarines.

But John McCosker from the California Academy of Sciences eventually showed that the hum was the love song of the male plainfin midshipman—a type of toadfish. These fish attract females by vibrating their swim bladder, the same organ that keeps them afloat, to produce an extremely loud noise that sounds more like a foghorn than a fish. When many males sing en masse, the ruckus can be heard on land, in Sausalito, Seattle, Southampton, and everywhere else that toadfish are found.
 

gargamel

Member
The weirdest thing about cicada noise is the peculiar ventriloquism. You can't decide where the sound is coming from, even if it's coming from a single bug. If there are several cicadas the effect is even weirder. It's as if the air were homogenously permeated with sound. Sound; like fog in San Francisco.

This, IMO, holds true for almost all insects fond of making noises. It's super difficult to locate them based on the sound alone, because of the high frequencies, the way the sound just kind of "fills the air" so to speak.

Here in Scandinavia actual crickets are rare. I've encountered two species only - the European house cricket (small thing, chirping rather quietly, ie akin to the classic movie sound effect) and the mole cricket, exceedingly rare here in Sweden these days, but with a more drawn-out and otherworldly sound.

But that's crickets. Their close relatives, katydids on the other hand are everywhere here, and the green katydid (Tettigonia virdissima) fills the air with its "song" from July to September all over the place. Its song is really bright, I'd say the bulk of it is in the 6000-10000Hz region, with peak frequencies going up towards 20000Hz, so older folks typically don't even hear them. They keep it going for minutes at a time.

I reckon there's a fair amount of Brits and other europeans hereabouts, so surely you've heard them too. Perhaps some lucky guys have even heard the (to my knowledge) only northern European cicada, Cicadetta montana. Tiny little thing compared to the rather large north American ditto, but with a distinct sound. Been looking for them, but to date I haven't found em.
 
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