Havana Syndrome, energy weapons, and Lazarian migraines
Updated: Nov 14, 2021
Mick West has recently interviewed Dr. Robert Bartholomew, an expert in mass psychogenic illness and an Honorary Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. I highly recommend watching this interview to get a clear and scientific perspective on the craze surrounding so-called "Havana Syndrome", reputed by many to be the result of microwave or acoustic harassment by the Cuban/Russian/Chinese governments against US personnel stationed overseas but actually the result of a collective stress response:
(the cricket in the caption for this video alludes to the clicking sounds that US personnel in Cuba reported hearing - which were in fact the sounds of crickets and cicadas, but that were being misinterpreted as the manifestations of nefarious targeting by hostile government agencies)
Interestingly, the supposed use of directed energy weapons against human targets has long been a staple of UFO lore, too (as has, correctly, mass hysteria). These are some instances:
-- French ufologist and Robert Bigelow associate Jacques Vallée has suggested that microwave and "psychotronic" (apparently, according to one of his books, a Soviet term for mind-control apparatus using directed energy) weapons have been used during UFO incidents by governments and/or by the interdimensional beings he thinks could be at the heart of the "UFO phenomenon". These beings or agents purportedly induce beliefs and mental states in targeted individuals. Vallée has alluded to the Rendlesham Forest incident as a possible venue for the use of such weapons as part of a psychological warfare exercise, and claims that the CIA induced alien abduction experiences in Latin America during the Cold War. He has produced no documentary evidence for this, despite claiming to have come into possession of corroborating documents. Jason Colavito's article that I've linked to doesn't mention microwave or other directed energy devices in the context of the CIA narrative (I'll have to look into this a bit more and report back about what exactly Vallée thinks or claims to think about how the CIA was supposedly staging alien abductions), but microwaves are a favored explanation that Vallée has repeatedly espoused in similar contexts, as in this 1986 interview with Jeffrey Mishlove (allusions to high energy levels and then microwaves start at 2:48):
Vallée has developed something he calls the "Control System hypothesis" for UFOs, in which mysterious agents hailing from another dimension or universe have influenced human perceptions throughout history by evoking symbols that resonate with themes relating to our collective anxieties and aspirations (according to him, these inter-dimensional beings, or "ultra-terrestrials" as they're often called in UFO lore, may be using microwaves to induce beliefs about space aliens in our current Space Age as a way to nudge human civilization toward the stars or ask questions about our place in the cosmos). Vallée is skeptical about the interplanetary extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) for UFOs; rather, in his view, it's that ultra-terrestrials are making us think that ETs are visiting us. In his 1990 paper "Five Arguments Against the Extraterrestrial Origin of Unidentified Flying Objects", he makes a number of cogent, well-reasoned arguments against the ETH. However, and ironically, this has only pushed him further and further into woo-land on the topic of UFOs. The ultra-terrestrial hypothesis suffers from being, among other things, superfluous, given what we know of human psychology and the susceptibility of testimony to confabulation, embellishment and other forms of distortion.
-- Paul Bennewitz (1927-2003), an engineer and businessman who lived next to Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico and who became famous within UFO lore for his claims about alien messages emanating from the base and his involvement in the Dulce Base mythos, became convinced that aliens were emitting microwaves into his brain in order to control him. He insisted that meetings be conducted in secure or at least less easy to target rooms and buildings, and wrote some long, rambling requests to his associates to only conduct business with him on the UFO topic at locations where the aliens couldn't harass him with these emissions.
-- Some supporters of Bob Lazar have claimed, in various YouTube comment sections, that his ridiculous 2019 interview on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast was targeted by government agents to induce forgetfulness in him when he feigned a "migraine" after being asked a question (I'll have to find the time-stamp for this "migraine"; I don't want to trawl through the entire interview for it. If anyone knows the time-stamp, please let me know). This tidbit highlights at least two troubling elements of "ufology": a willingness to invent extravagant stories in the furtherance of a grand narrative involving conspiratorial players and extraterrestrials (often imagined to be in cahoots with one another), and a willingness to excuse one's gurus and thought-leaders and to eschew scrutiny and accountability when it comes to these gurus and thought-leaders, but to demand full "disclosure" and transparency from the government. People who are committed to a certain narrative will often fish for any excuse when they are confronted with insincere or clearly problematic behavior by those who feed them the narrative, and in fact will turn this around and use it as further "proof" that the narrative-spewer is a "victim". When parsimony and facts don't matter to someone and they are confronted with disconfirming instances to their preferred story, the only direction for them to go is that of further radicalization.
According to Bartholomew, the scientific literature suggests that microwave and acoustic weapons are of questionable utility (as he notes: if they worked as well as the Havana Syndrome exponents claim, the US would have surely used them in Afghanistan) and are certainly ill-suited to targeting specific individuals ensconced within multi-room buildings (on that note, why did Lazar report a migraine while Rogan and Corbell remained unaffected, despite sitting literally within a couple of meters from him?). Vallee's claims about the CIA inducing Latin American victims to experience terrifying abductions by space aliens remain uncorroborated with documentation, though the Cold War context of these purported events make such machinations (albeit using methods other than psychotronic devices) by the CIA at least conceivable, especially given the agency's involvement mind-control experimentation during its MKULTRA years and more recently with experimental interrogation techniques as part of the Global War on Terror. Bennewitz's claims about being targeted by aliens cannot be credited and lack corroboration of any sort, though there is no reason to doubt the sincerity of his beliefs and the seriousness and tragic circumstances of his psychological breakdown. Lazar's fans, needless to say, have produced no evidence that his "migraine" on Rogan's podcast was distinguishable from a gimmick used by a bullshit artist to buy himself time when asked a question that threw him off. Luckily, Lazar had his helper Jeremy Corbell on hand - both to assure him that the audience would understand and forgive his "migraine" and, for all intents and purposes, to soak up abuse from Lazar's fan base who find the film producer irritating but Lazar "awesome" and "legit" (it doesn't seem to occur to these people to ask why, if Lazar is so awesome and legit, he would need to associate with someone like Corbell in the first place. I suspect there may also be a scapegoat element to the level of disdain that Corbell has received in YouTube comment sections. By absolving themselves of Corbell, Lazar's fans can continue to believe that Lazar is a "serious scientist" who "wants the truth", and that his association with Corbell only "hurts" him).