Cuban Science Panel Blames ‘Psychogenic Disorder’

A committee of twenty Cuban scientists tasked with examining the claims has found no evidence to support that an acoustical attack took place. After a nine-month study, the panel reported on December 5, 2017, that the U.S. diplomats likely suffered a “collective psychogenic disorder,” not any deliberate “health attack.” For some details, see Science magazine reporter Richard Stone’s report from Havana, “Stressful Conditions, Not ‘Sonic Weapon’ Sickened U.S Diplomats, Cuba Panel Asserts” in the December 8 Science and online on http://www.sciencemag.org/news/2017/12/stressful-conditions-not-sonic-weapon-sickened-us-diplomats-cuba-panel-asserts.

A photo of the Cuban government’s committee investigating the claims of an acoustical attack, sent to our author Robert Bartholomew by a panel member. Photo credit: Dionisio Zaldivar Perez.

The panel, convened in March 2017, includes Cuban neurologists, physicians, physicists, and psychologists. Unfortunately, while the Committee has criticized the U.S. government for a lack of transparency, it too has declined to share medical data and records citing privacy concerns.

My request for any records of their investigation has been denied. However, both governments could easily clear up claims of a cover-up by releasing redacted medical records and other documents related to their investigations, including the findings (or lack thereof) from the FBI.

In my contact with Committee members, I found that although they are well-intentioned, they view the episode through a Cold War lens and are highly suspicious of the Trump administration. Conversely, that same administration is suspicious of the Cuban government and has blamed them for being involved. This case will never be officially resolved to the satisfaction of either government, unless both sides exhibit transparency.

While the most likely explanation for this strange affair lies with tinnitus, buzzing insects such as crickets, social paranoia, and mass suggestion, the scare continues because of a sense of mutual distrust. Social psychologists have long known that situations of perceived importance, ambiguity and anxiety breed rumors and conspiracy theories. This is exactly what is happening with the proliferation of exotic theories involving secret government weapons and sonic ray guns.

Shakespeare once wrote: “Or in the night, imagining some fear, How easy is a bush supposed a bear!” Perhaps this should be updated to read: “How easy is a cricket or cicada supposed a sonic attack!”


A committee of twenty Cuban scientists tasked with examining the claims has found no evidence to support that an acoustical attack took place. After a nine-month study, the panel reported on December 5, 2017, that the U.S. diplomats likely suffered a “collective psychogenic disorder,” not any deliberate “health attack.” For some details, see Science magazine …

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