Blame mosquitoes, not sonic weapons
September 23, 2019 5:49 PM   Subscribe

Canadian researchers have hypothesised that the mysterious "sonic attacks" at the US embassy in Cuba (previously) were actually symptoms of repeated, low-dose exposure to neurotoxins found in insecticides. The reason for this exposure? Increased fumigation to stop the spread of the Zika virus. The full research report.
posted by Athanassiel (16 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
 
This makes an awful lot of sense.
posted by saturday_morning at 5:50 PM on September 23, 2019 [8 favorites]


ooooooooooooooooh

I see.

Yup that does.
posted by ipsative at 5:52 PM on September 23, 2019


Mind you, that annoying whine when a mozzie is in the same room with you at night counts as a sonic weapon if you ask me.
posted by Athanassiel at 6:24 PM on September 23, 2019 [16 favorites]


If true, isn't the real story that everyone in Havana has been repeatedly dosed with neurotoxins?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 6:54 PM on September 23, 2019 [25 favorites]


It's plausible that places like embassies were actually fumigated more than most local areas.

But there are also instances of tourists getting ill and dying in resorts due to pesticide use near HVAC intakes for their rooms, so there may be hundreds or thousands of less notable Havanaites with similar brain damage.
posted by tclark at 7:06 PM on September 23, 2019 [11 favorites]


That's what I guessed in a thread here a couple of years ago:
Zika is being transmitted in Cuba, but at much lower rates than in any neighboring country, and Cuba has attained this enviable status by very heavy use of pesticides.

And of course it would be embarrassing to Cuba, and bad for the highly anticipated tourist trade if a member of the American diplomatic mission were to come down with it, so perhaps what we're seeing in our diplomats are symptoms of insecticide exposure.
posted by jamjam at 11:32 PM on October 1, 2017
But then a very high ranking, very Anti-American Cuban Intelligence officer — a son of Castro, IIRC — was removed from office right after, and I wondered whether there might be more to it.
posted by jamjam at 7:18 PM on September 23, 2019 [20 favorites]


And how many different foreign countries were accused of hatching dastardly plots against the embassy staff by our ever-vigilant media?
posted by a certain Sysoi Pafnut'evich at 8:05 PM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]


Media: "There is no definitive cause, but experts suspect a new kind of weapon."

Y'all: "OMG, Russian super weapons!"

Media: "There is no definitive cause, but experts suspect over-zealous mosquito spraying."

Y'all: "OMG, the media was so dumb and wrong and alarmist!"
posted by Skwirl at 8:27 PM on September 23, 2019 [5 favorites]


Yeah, good call jamjam and also fshgrl in the earlier thread when the reigning consensus seemed to be mass hysteria - which never made much sense to me, given the verifiable differences in people's brains before and after their stints in Cuba. Not that sonic weapons ever made sense to me either!

I appreciated the quote from one of the researchers: "Part of the diagnostic of mass hysteria is that there is no underlying other medical cause that can be found. And we [found] underlying medical evidence." Although I imagine this is not a massive amount of consolation to those people who now have permanent (?) brain injuries, at least it is some vindication that they were not just making shit up.
posted by Athanassiel at 8:40 PM on September 23, 2019 [4 favorites]


Y'all: "OMG, Russian super weapons!"

One behavior I've now adopted is to put percentages on how likely I think something is. Partly it stems from this CIA essay about how estimative words can have unacceptable levels of ambiguity. Percentages are still hard to intuitively understand but we can try our best.

If I think it's a 5% chance that the harm was intended, do I "believe" this? Is it a serious possibility? Should I raise it as a serious possibility with the potential that I may come across as thinking it's more likely than I actually do? Should the -news media- do this?

I thought the probability was about at that level in the last thread (though sonic weapons didn't make up much of that). But when an interesting possibility comes up, I am not going to talk about it in strict word count accordance to its probability.

Maybe I should?
posted by solarion at 8:51 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Wasn't there some case of some "dastardly" group of hotels in some tropical place where multiple were getting sick and people thought it was deliberate poisoning but it was pest fumigation after-effects?

I mean, I can see how this might have also happened in Cuba. It doesn't really explain the testimony of those affected, but perhaps they were just high.
posted by hippybear at 9:48 PM on September 23, 2019


So this is about the third or fourth time they've discovered the cause?
posted by blue shadows at 10:14 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Likely not the last.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]


Wouldn't be the first time debugging drove someone mad.
posted by benzenedream at 10:43 PM on September 23, 2019 [17 favorites]


But there are also instances of tourists getting ill and dying in resorts due to pesticide use near HVAC intakes for their rooms, so there may be hundreds or thousands of less notable Havanaites with similar brain damage.

and

Wasn't there some case of some "dastardly" group of hotels in some tropical place where multiple were getting sick and people thought it was deliberate poisoning but it was pest fumigation after-effects?

These comments are likely referring to the recent tourist deaths in the Dominican Republic.
posted by msbrauer at 5:39 AM on September 24, 2019 [6 favorites]


There was also a post here some time ago about a similar case, in Thailand I think or in that region, can't look for it right now.
posted by blue shadows at 2:55 PM on September 24, 2019


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