More on the Alleged Sonic Attacks in Cuba

Via the NYT:  A ‘Sonic Attack’ on Diplomats in Cuba? These Scientists Doubt It.

According to the State Department, nearly two dozen diplomats at the American Embassy in Havana have been stricken with a variety of mysterious medical symptoms, including hearing loss and cognitive difficulties.


Experts in acoustics, however, say that’s a theory more appropriate to a James Bond movie.

The piece details the skepticism.

FILED UNDER: Latin America, US Politics, World Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. gVOR08 says:

    From the beginning, this thing has smelled awfully convenient for an administration that wants to screw up relations with Cuba.

  2. @gVOR08: In fairness, the Trump admi has been working with the Cubans in this and it hasn’t used this as a reason to worsen relations.

  3. Gustopher says:

    I assume this is a virus, which includes mild tinnitus as a possible symptom. Spread person to person, or person to mosquito to person, so it would cluster. The mild brain damage is more likely to cause sounds than be caused by sound.

    We have no recordings of this alleged sonic weapon — and we would be trying to record it, and the Trump administration would be proclaiming that it has evidence — so the sound waves probably don’t exist.

    It has also affected the Canadian diplomats, which makes one wonder why Cuba is attacking Canada…

    The reports of diplomats affected hearing sounds are generally while they were sleeping, which likely rules out a fancy surveillance system with side effects — the Cubans would be spying on the diplomats when they were awake, unless someone just likes to watch diplomats sleep (“Look at the capitalist pig sleep, he looks so peaceful, so innocent”)

  4. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: In fairness, there is so much news that you may have missed this:

    The US has expelled a bunch of Cuban diplomats over this.

  5. @Gustopher: I did miss that story-thanks.

    I will say that given the way I have expected the Trump administration to behave, they have been more reserved that I would have feared, even with the story you cited.

    I was fearful of using the sonic business as a basis to reverse all of the Obama strides forward.

  6. Gustopher says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: they are not immediately blaming the Cuban government for attacking our diplomats and spies, merely for failing to keep them safe, which is surprisingly measured. And there have been tourists staying at the same hotels that have reported symptoms, so there’s a travel advisory.

    I’m not sure what evidence I would need to believe the sonic attack theory — it’s a little out there, and the Trump administration isn’t exactly trustworthy in all matters. On the other hand, it’s such a wacky claim that I kind of assume there is something that at least suggests it, since how would they come up with it otherwise?

    It’s like deciding that a pizza shop has a child sex trafficking ring, or that Wal-Mart closures are a prelude to a military dictatorship, or that Obama forged his birth records… never mind. I’m going to stick to not giving them any benefit of the doubt.