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Mon Feb 19, 2018, 07:38 PM

Major New Study on "Sonic Attack" is Alarmingly Inaccurate

Report is badly flawed—how can they get it so wrong?
Posted Feb 16, 2018

The physicians treating the 21 or 24 patients involved in the so-called ‘sonic attack’ on staff at the US Embassy in Cuba have released their preliminary findings in one of the world’s top medical journals.

The study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association and was published on February 15, 2018. While the authors claim that all 21 suffered concussion-like symptoms, their study is highly descriptive, remarkably vague, and makes claims that are not supported by the data. To their credit, the JAMA editors published an accompanying editorial by Neurologists Dr. Christopher Muth and Steven Lewis, and the separate commentary by medical reporter Rita Rubin. Both are very cautious and highlight serious criticisms of the study’s claims. The study is inconclusive at best; all of the symptoms have plausible alternative explanations.

Please do not write comments telling me I don’t know what I am talking about because "white matter tract" changes and "concussion-like symptoms" cannot cause "mass hysteria". Read the articles first (they are available online). For instance, claims of "white matter tract" changes and "concussion-like symptoms" are very much open to alternative interpretations. The evidence is far from clear-cut.

There are a host of problems with this study, not the least of which is their dismissal of the possibility of mass psychogenic illness. This is Psychological Medicine 101, and they got it badly wrong. The authors of the study demonstrate an alarming lack of understanding of this literature. For instance, they eliminate psychogenic illness, in part because the patients were keen to return to work, and hence were not malingering. This word comes from the French malinger, and refers to the feigning of illness or injury to avoid work or responsibility. It is not appropriate in this instance. They also eliminated this possibility because there was no rapid onset and recovery. Some types of mass psychogenic illness begin slowly and persist for months or years. Curiously enough, these tend to be characterized by neurological symptoms that often appear puzzling.


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Reply Major New Study on "Sonic Attack" is Alarmingly Inaccurate (Original post)
Judi Lynn Feb 2018 OP
Igel Feb 2018 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Mon Feb 19, 2018, 08:44 PM

1. This appears to be a political issue.

Not sure why, since the only claims I've seen that it's a Cuban attack on US diplomatic personnel are from left-of-center sources attributed to the US government (or very right-wing sources making that particular claim).

It's almost as though it couldn't have happened, because if it happened on Cuban soil (or what was it, Turkmen or Kirgiz soil) it must be with the collusion if not at the behest of the soil's sovereign government.

In this case, the author has a couple of dogs in the fight, both on the same side.

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