Tuesday, February 8, 2022

The Havana Syndrome

Environmental & Science Education, STEM, Nature of Science

Ed Hessler

Sabine Hossenfelder of BackReaction has a new video and read on "the three best explanations for The Havana Syndrome."

This is how she opens this little bit longer than usual explanation and discussion.

In late 2016, United States diplomats working in Cuba began reporting health problems: persistent headaches, vertigo, blurred vision. They were dizzy. They heard sounds coming from nowhere. The affected diplomats were questioned and examined by doctors but the symptoms didn’t fit any known disease. They called it the “Havana Symptom”.

More cases were later reported from China and Russia, Germany and Austria, even from near the White House. A CIA agent in Moscow was allegedly so badly affected that he had to retire. And just a few weeks ago another case made headlines: a CIA officer fell ill during a visit to India. What explanations have doctors put forward for those incidents? What could the Havana Syndrome be? That’s what we’ll talk about today.

And this is how she leaves it.

(T)his) is a really difficult story and no one presently has a good explanation for what has happened. Most importantly I think we must keep in mind that there could actually be a number of different reasons for why those people fell ill. While it seems unlikely that the first cases in Cuba spread by mass hysteria, the cases in China only began after those in Cuba had made headlines, so that’s an entirely different situation.

Well, not quite, the end. She raises a few of the prominent ideas that have become part and/or parts of conspiracy theories about which she says she doesn't "have any insights." We humans have a talent and liking for them, these easy explanations. However, most often presented with little, if any, evidence.

She mentions she welcomes comments, especially about the latter, I'll remind you that they are no longer possible on the blog but are if you subscribe to her series. She said that between developing and presenting these, she no longer had the time to pay attention to comments on her blog. 

Fair enough. 

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