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Scientists and international experts’ views on the alleged acoustic attacks

Robin O. Cleveland, professor of engineering science at the University of Oxford. Regarding the acoustic incidents reported by American diplomats in Havana told “The Guardian” on August 25th, that: “it is a little harder for me to believe people suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, the sound would have to enter the brain tissue itself, but if you’ve ever had an ultrasound scan you’ll know they put gel on. If there’s even a tiny bit of air between the sound and your body it doesn’t get through.”

Seth Horowitz, neuroscientist and author of the book “The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind,” regarding the acoustic incidents told “Bussiness Insider” that: “There isn’t an acoustic phenomenon in the world that would cause those type of symptoms,” Horowitz explained that no known inaudible — and seemingly undetectable — device could have the properties attributed to these suspected sonic weapons. Likewise, he noted that “without more evidence of these weapons this incident should be considered a nonstory and that other possible explanations for these medical problems should be considered”.

Jun Qin, is an acoustic engineer at Southern Illinois University, who graduated from Duke University in North Carolina. Qin told The New York Times that: “Ultrasound cannot travel a long distance (…) The further the sound goes, the weaker it gets. (…) A smaller emitter placed even more closely, perhaps in someone’s pillow, might do the trick. (…) I believe those people got something that hurt them, but it could be something in the environment”. He is a member of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department of the Southern Illinois University. His research interest are digital instrumentation and sensors, acoustics and noise induced hearing loss (NIHL), data acquisition and analysis, medical system development, therapeutic ultrasound, and haptics.

Jay Salpekar: neurologist with 24 year of experience and director of the Neurobehavior Program at the Childrens National Medical Center in Washington. Assured BuzzFeed News that: “stress is the main cause of conversion disorder, better known as the neurological symptoms related to an unknown neurological affection, producing symptoms like weakness, paralysis and loss of vision and hearing”.

Collen G. Le Prell: audiologist and professor of hearing science and head of the doctoral audiology program at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is one of the lead researchers in the area of hearing loss prevention. She is the president elect of the National Hearing Conservation Association. Dr. Le Prell received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota at Morris and her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Michigan.

Le Prell was quoted by Peter Eisner, journalist of Newsweek magazine, in an article related to the alleged acoustic attacks against American diplomats in Cuba. The researcher said:  “[Audiologists] are all scratching our heads about what the cause could be, none of us have a good explanation. She also added that; “the sudden onset of hearing loss without an audible source, is “very unusual.” Le Prell explained it is known that sound that is not audible can have effects on the ear and on general health, however, the literature does not provide any examples of a sudden change of hearing from non-audible sounds.”

Nandini Iyer, research audiologist with the Air Force Research Laboratory regarding the acoustic incidents explained to The Verge that; “There’s not that much evidence about how ultrasonic or infrasonic sounds impact human health.”

Nandini Iyer works in the laboratory since 2008 and previously spent a year working as a research scientist for General Dynamics. Among her specialties are cognitive psychology and human perception. She has conducted research related to hearing perception.

John Oghalai, hearing expert, Chair of the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Southern California, regarding the acoustic incidents said to the website The Verge“It sounds very appealing and interesting, but I find it hard to believe that there actually is such a device.”

He explained that for a sound weapon to cause hearing loss one has to actually hear it.  He added that a much more likely explanation for the symptoms is some kind of chemical exposure.

John Oghalai, has over 20 years of experience as a physician and specializes in otolaryngology as well as in neurotology. He graduated from Wisconsin University.

James Jauchem, biologist and retired scientist who previously investigated the biological effects of acoustic energy for the Air Force Research Laboratory, regarding the acoustic incidents explained to the website The Verge  that. “Obviously, we don’t know what any of the investigators have in terms of narrowing it down to say that it’s an acoustic weapon, I’d be highly skeptical of the reports.” He added, “It would be difficult to come up with any way to produce a weapon that causes the effects declared and animal experiments have concluded that infrasonic weapons are impractical.

James Jauchem, has a bachelors ‘degree in Biology and a PhD in Psychology. He currently works at Forensic Pathophysiology, LLC. Among his areas of expertise are acoustics and infrasound. He has participated in research studies involving NASA’s Johnson Space Center and the U.S. Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine. Dr. Jauchem is frequently called on to serve as experts witness in trial related to his area of expertise. He has published over 230 research publications, including over 110 peer-reviewed items (over 75 of those as sole or first author).  He retired from U.S. Air Force civil service in September 2014, where he started working in 2005. There he conducted research on the physiological effects of radio frequencies and acoustic energy. He can be contacted through the company “LexVisio”, which offers Experts and Legal Services.

Joseph Pompei, former MIT researcher and psychoacoustics expert. AP published an article quoting this expert´s criteria on the alleged acoustic attacks: “Brain damage and concussions, it’s not possible… Somebody would have to submerge their head into a pool lined with very powerful ultrasound transducers.”

Andrew Oxenham, psychologist of the University of Minnesota’s Auditory Perception and Cognition Laboratory. BuzzFeed News published an article regarding the alleged acoustic attacks were this expert commented: “I can’t think of any way that the illness and hearing loss are related to sound, there is no way for an acoustic device to cause hearing damage using inaudible sounds.”

“Can’t stimulate the inner ear in a way that would cause damage, the only way that could happen is via distortion, which would then make the sound clearly audible,” as well as “very loud.” In terms of infrasound, he said: “The size of loudspeakers needed to generate infrasound like that would be hard to hide.”

 Andrew J. Oxenham is a professor at McKnight University in the Psychology and Otorhinolaryngology Departments, where he runs the Auditory Perception and Cognition Laboratory.

James Pennebaker, social psychologist of the University of Texas in Austin. He gave BuzzFeed News his opinion on Mass hysteria associated to the acoustic incidents in Havana: “they take place in high-stress environments where people frequently communicate nonverbally, and they trigger symptoms that are cultural signals for illness, nausea, headache, and dizziness among Westerners…all of that raises the possibility of an initial illness kicking off an outbreak of psychogenic cases in the high-stress environment of the US embassy as the US resumed formal diplomatic relations with the island nation.”

Dr. Pennebaker is the Director of the Psychology Department in the University of Texas, Austin. He is an author an editor of 9 books and approximately 250 articles. He has received several awards and prizes, among them the Regents Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts.

Toby Heys, leader of Manchester Metropolitan University’s Future Technologies research center. Told New Scientist magazine “it is possible for something emitting infrasound — vibrations at a frequency below what humans can hear — to cause hearing loss, but that would require large subwoofers”.

He is currently the lead researcher at “Enlight”; member of the sonic research unit AUDINT and member of the Audio Culture Research Unit at Kingston University in London.


Timothy Leighton, British professor of ultrasonics and underwater acoustics at University of Southampton, told The Guardianthat: “If you want to produce a tight beam of energy that you can point at someone, ultrasound is the one to go for, and if you want to put a lot of power into it so you could produce a beam that could go through windows, it starts to look more like a suitcase, however, in order to generate hearing loss at 50 meters away, you’d be looking at a car-sized device.” On the other hand, he suggested that before promoting the theory related to the diplomats being victims of an acoustic attack, more likely possibilities that could cause the described symptoms should be ruled out.

Timothy Leighton is the founder and president of the Network for Anti-Microbial Resistance and Infection Prevention (NAMRIP) and the Health Effects of Ultrasound in Air (HEFUA). He is also a lead researcher in several investigations related to the development of medical devices, radars, sonar and industrial equipment using ultrasound. He has received 7 medals and 5 international awards from different scientific organizations.

Robert Bartholomew, New Zealand sociologist, author of Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behavior, told BuzzFeed News:  “Until we know more, the possibility of mass hysteria is certainly in play… it is very possible that this cluster is psychogenic in nature, as most of the symptoms are headaches and dizziness, while the most serious case is described as ‘mild traumatic brain injury’, whatever the hell that means, and could be entirely unrelated.”

Dr. Robert Bartholomew is a medical sociologist who has published more than 60 articles in different magazines. He has worked as a journalist in several radio stations in New York, serving as news director twice, he is a former Schenectady WGY correspondent, one of the biggest radio stations in the US.

He has a PhD in sociology and a master’s degree also in sociology of the New York State University in Albany.


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  1. Samuel Girgis MD Oto

    I have had the pleasure and honor of perticipting in medical exchange activities serving the Cuban peoples Ear Nose, and Throat needs with the Cuban ENT doctors for over 15 years. Through each and every viisit we felt and amazing sense of friendship, comradery and a strong sense of family. I heard about the news media reports of possible acoustic attacks in Havana through a fried before leaving for Havana for the Sinus course.
    Knowing the area well, I could not visualize or imagine how this could possibly occur. Upon arrival in Havana, I asked my otology colleagues if they saw any patients with evidence of disease, damage, or pathology, and their response was negative. The otology department at the Calixto Garcia are the ear experts closest to the site of the area of the incident mentioned.
    I feel strongly in continuing the help our wonderful and talented Cuban ENT colleages in any way possible for them to continue to serve the wonderful people of Cuba.

  2. Antonio Paz, M.D. / President of the Cuban ENT Society

    Dear Professor Girgis, we appreciate your comment. The Expert Committee have thoroughly analyzed this situation, considering the insufficient information provided by the U.S. government, without counting on objective proofs and without the possibility of performing examinations on patients. Nevertheless, we have considered all possibilities. We have not found any evidence of an acoustic attack. We would appreciate a lot the establishment of a scientific collaboration mechanism in order to keep on investigating this situation. We are certain that we need to keep on with the scientific collaboration between both countries. It is also important to continue holding events such as that one in which you are taking part. It would be important to get to know the opinion of some of your colleagues.

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