Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Mass hysteria is alive and well

'On October 13, 2017 the Associated Press released an eerie recording of a mysterious sound that was said to have been part of a “sonic attack” on American diplomats in Cuba. In August, State Department officials reported that several personnel at the Havana Embassy had been sickened by an unidentified acoustical weapon. The number of those affected in the sporadic, ongoing attacks is now at least two dozen. Several Canadian diplomats have reported similar health complaints. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, difficulty concentrating and remembering, insomnia, tinnitus, confusion, vertigo, hearing loss and “mild brain trauma.” Conspiracy theories abound with talk of secret military weapons from a foreign power or rogue agents, possibly Russian. But delve deeper, and the government’s claims begin to unravel. 
'For starters, there is no concrete evidence of an attack. Experts agree that what is being reported is not consistent with how sonic weaponry works. A leading figure in the field of psychoacoustics, former MIT researcher Joseph Pompei, is adamant that the State Department’s claims violate the laws of physics. “Brain damage and concussions, it’s not possible,” he said, noting that to produce such an effect “Somebody would have to submerge their head into a pool lined with very powerful ultrasound transducers.”'

It's all happened before:
"The panic played on the innate fears of many people in their beds at home at night: a prowler in the dark, unseen, with a terrible weapon. They were rendered paralyzed, helpless; unconscious and unaware; unable to call for help. It was Mattoon, Illinois, in the autumn of 1944. A number of residents reported waking in the middle of the night to a strange, sickly odor; experiencing various symptoms, including paralysis; and in some cases, seeing a prowler pumping some kind of gas into their house through an open window. The Mad Gasser of Mattoon was never caught, his victims never clearly diagnosed, his motives never revealed. Indeed, his very existence was never even proven. Some say it was merely mass hysteria, or some other skeptical claim."

But this mass delusion is my all-time favorite:
"Koro is a culture-specific syndrome delusional disorder in which an individual has an overpowering belief that one's genitalia are retracting and will disappear, despite the lack of any true longstanding changes to the genitals. Koro is also known as shrinking penis, and it is listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The syndrome occurs worldwide, and mass hysteria of genital-shrinkage anxiety has a history in Africa, Asia, and Europe. In the United States and Europe, the syndrome is commonly known as genital retraction syndrome."