Just when it seemed like it had reached its limit, the story of a group of U.S. diplomats who allegedly fell ill in Cuba became even less credible this week.
The United States now considers microwave waves to be the “main suspects” of symptoms reported by members of its Embassy staff in Havana.
In less than two years, there has been a shift from “acoustic attacks” to viruses and from concussions to now microwave waves.
On Saturday, September 1,The New York Times published an article entitled, ‘Microwave weapons are the main suspects of the disease among U.S. Embassy officials.’
Douglas Smith, director of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania, told the newspaper that those allegedly affected suffered brain injuries and microwaves are suspected by the researchers.
Smith’s reflections receive great attention, as he is one of the authors who helped write the article on the outbreak of the mysterious disease in Cuba in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
However, last February’s JAMA report makes no mention of microwaves, a type of wave very present in modern life.
Mobile phones and ovens for heating food are among the many pieces of equipment that use microwaves.
“No unfounded theory will stand up to public and scientific scrutiny for long, and it will crumble by itself, as it has done so far.” Carlos Fernandez de Cossío, general director of the U.S. Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told Granma newspaper about Washington’s latest attempt to justify its actions.
“What has been demonstrated is what scientists from Cuba, the United States and other countries maintain and what the government of the island have been saying from the beginning, that is the existence of attacks is false and that the U.S. government knows it perfectly well, because it has had multiple ways to prove it,” he added.
Fernández de Cossío said that “the use of the term attack entails a deliberate political manipulation that complies with a predetermined agenda and harms both countries”.
For his part, Mitchel Valdés-Sosa, director general of the Cuban Neuroscience Center and member of the Cuban Committee of Experts that was established to study the U.S. claims, pointed out that it is striking that this story comes just as questions grow, in the United States and internationally, about the article in JAMA magazine that first established the alleged brain damage.
“First, they were sonic weapons, now microwaves. What’s next, kryptonite?” said the researcher in an interview with CNN.
According to the Cuban scientist, even this microwave hypothesis, is based on the idea that all diplomats are sick or are suffering the effects of a single external agent. “That is questionable.
Valdés-Sosa maintains that if one looks carefully at the medical evidence presented so far, although it is very scarce, it is clear that there is no conclusive evidence and the variety of symptoms presented may respond to multiple causes outside of Cuba, such as hypertension or previous traumas.
Regarding the possibility that microwaves could cause the kind of effects that the New York Times maintains, Valdés-Sosa is not convinced either.
“This is a very speculative kind of literature, very X-type or conspiracy theories that states that microwaves have been used to harm health,” he said. “Even U.S. agencies don’t accept it as valid.
Doubts increase if one considers the conditions described by the U.S. State Department in which the incidents allegedly occurred.
“It is not possible to direct a source of energy to affect a person in a closed room and leave the others intact in places where the walls are also very thick,” said Valdés-Sosa.
“We think it’s a propaganda scheme and there’s no solid evidence to support it,” he concluded of the New York Times writing.
Robert Bartholomew, a medical sociologist at Botany Downs Secondary College in New Zealand, agrees with his Cuban colleague.
In a recent article, Bartholomew criticizes JAMA’s text for including phrases such as “we must continue to withhold sensitive information” and “despite the preliminary nature of the data.”
Whenever scientists ask to keep information to themselves and trust them, a red flag is triggered, he said.
The JAMA study, he added, is full of flaws and assertions with no data to support it. “The fact that they started the article by pointing out that its aim was to describe the neurological manifestations that happened to exposure from an unknown energy source tells us everything we need to know.
This statement demonstrates a lack of scientific rigor from the outset.
Regarding the new theory of microwaves, Bartholomew also discards it.
“The problem with this hypothesis is that it would require a massive transmitter and the target would have to be very close to the antenna. This is simply not feasible,” he said.
“The United States has more than 300 physical embassies, consulates and diplomatic missions around the world, with thousands of employees, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. All of them are now on the lookout for vague signs of disease related to sound”.
The State Department’s mishandling of this case is a recipe for what the scientist calls “The scare of acoustic attacks” (or “microwave panic”).
This is a classic scenario of mass hysteria, he said. “The ground has been prepared for future attacks by way of mass suggestion. As a result, this saga seems destined to continue without an end in sight.
From Dominio Cuba, Translated: Alicia Jrapko y Bill Hackwell