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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 23.4 > Reports of Mysterious Attacks on U.S. Diplomats Continue

Reports of Mysterious Attacks on U.S. Diplomats Continue

Separating Fact from Fiction

IT IS THE CASE THAT JUST WON’T GO AWAY. CONTROVERSY continues to swirl around the cause of several outbreaks of mysterious ailments among American diplomatic staff that are widely believed to be from an acoustical weapon. The story first broke in August 2017, when the State Department announced that since late 2016, 22 employees of the American Embassy in Havana, Cuba, had been stricken. Before long, two more victims came forward. Since we first reported on this episode (Skeptic, 2018,Vol. 23, No. 1), a 25th staffer has been added to the casualty list. Most victims reported hearing strange sounds accompanying their symptoms that were variously described as buzzing, humming, and grinding. Complaints included fatigue, dizziness and difficulty concentrating, confusion, headaches, nausea, and more alarming, changes to the white matter tracts of the brain and concussion-like symptoms.

Throughout 2017, dozens of American citizens have reported that over the past few years, they had experienced similar symptoms after hearing strange sounds while spending time in one of the two Cuban hotels where many of the attacks allegedly occurred. They claimed that in September 2017, an officer attached to the American embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, reported that he and his wife had experienced similar symptoms after hearing strange noises. By mid-2018, the State Department dispatched a medical team to China after announcing that several diplomatic staff there had fallen ill after hearing similar sounds.

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About Skeptic

WHY IS THERE SOMETHING RATHER THAN NOTHING? COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Health Freedom, Right to Try, and Informed Consent, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: Do You Have Traits or Are You a Type? by Carol Tavris • SPECIAL SECTION ON TACTICS FOR DISCUSSING CONTENTIOUS ISSUES Personhood and Abortion Rights: How Science Might Inform this Contentious Issue, by Gary Whittenberger • How to Teach Evolution to Religious Students, by Surat Parvatam • The Arguments for Creationism and the Arguments for Evolution: A Study in Contrasts, by Ralph M. Barnes • Meeting Our “Enemies” Where They Are: The Advantage of Understanding Your Adversary’s Arguments, by Andrew Cooper-Sansone ARTICLES The Grandest of Questions Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing? by Michael Shermer • Reports of Mysterious Attacks on U.S. Diplomats Continue: Separating Fact from Fiction by Robert E. Bartholomew • The God Damners: The Now Not-so-New Atheism by Michael Cohen • Quackery in America: An Inglorious and Ongoing History, by Morton Tavel, M.D. • What Is It like to Be a Human? by Colin McGinn REVIEWS Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress • The Equations of Life: How Physics Shapes Evolution • The Human Instinct: How We Evolved to Have Reason, Consciousness, and Free Will • SCAM: So-Called Alternative Medicine • Skin in the Game: Hidden Asymmetries in Daily Life • The Biological Mind: How Brain, Body, and Environment Collaborate to Make Us Who We Are JUNIOR SKEPTIC Secrets of the Ouija Board, by Daniel Loxton