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Sun Aug 26, 2018, 01:16 AM

Cuban 'acoustic attack' report on US diplomats flawed, say neurologists

Tests stating staff suffered brain damage were ‘misinterpreted’ and ruled out other explanations such as mass psychogenic illness

Ian Sample Science editor
Tue 14 Aug 2018 11.00 EDT

Claims that US diplomats suffered mysterious brain injuries after being targeted with a secret weapon in Cuba have been challenged by neurologists and other brain specialists.

A medical report commissioned by the US government, published in March, found that staff at the US embassy in Havana suffered concussion-like brain damage after hearing strange noises in homes and hotels, but doctors from the US, the UK and Germany have contested the conclusions.

In four separate letters to the Journal of the American Medical Association, which published the original medical study, groups of doctors specialising in neurology, neuropsychiatry and neuropsychology described what they believed were major flaws in the study.

Among the criticisms, published on Tuesday, are that the University of Pennsylvania team which assessed the diplomats misinterpreted test results, overlooked common disorders that might have made the workers feel sick, or dismissed psychological explanations for their symptoms. Doctors at the University of Pennsylvania defended their report in a formal response in the journal, but the specialists told the Guardian they stood by their criticisms.


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Reply Cuban 'acoustic attack' report on US diplomats flawed, say neurologists (Original post)
Judi Lynn Aug 2018 OP
Judi Lynn Aug 2018 #1

Response to Judi Lynn (Original post)

Sun Aug 26, 2018, 01:21 AM

1. Scientists Are Still Fighting Over What Made US Diplomats In Cuba Ill

The Journal of the American Medical Association published letters today critical of a study it published six months ago claiming that US diplomats in Cuba had suffered brain injuries.

Emily Tamkin
BuzzFeed News Reporter

Reporting From
Washington, DC

Posted on August 14, 2018, at 11:01 a.m. ET

Ten scientists have published letters in the Journal of the American Medical Association criticizing the first medical review of the US diplomats in Cuba who were reportedly targets of a “sonic attack.”

In letters published by JAMA on Tuesday, the scientists complained that the authors of a February study in the journal failed to include “mass hysteria” as one of the possible causes of the symptoms that the diplomats reported. Such “mass psychological outbreaks” usually take place in high-stress environments, and all involved begin exhibiting the similar, real physical symptoms.

The critics also said the study’s authors did not include information on whether the diplomats had known one another, and included no testing on hearing and balance — even though “a presumed sonic weapon attack would affect the inner ear more preferentially than any other part of the body, including the brain.” The inner ear is critical to balance.

The letters are the latest broadside in what has become a contentious scientific battle that has raged since the Trump administration first used the reports of “sonic attacks” on diplomats in Cuba to justify withdrawing diplomats from the island, expelling Cuban diplomats from Washington, cutting back on contacts between the United States and Cuba, and advising US citizens not to travel to the island.


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