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Whoa this is some crazy shit right here! was it ergotism or just mercury poisoning? you have to remember that during 1951 the CIA was absolutely obsessed about LSD and every staff member was unwittingly dosed by another staff member like it was some sort of practical joke. But what this has to do with france is beyond my comprehension. Jivesucka (talk) 15:44, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

The LSD connection is what has brought me to this page. On the French Yahoo! page, there is an apparently retired CIA and SOD (special operations depart.) agent that talks about how a covert operation led by the US was aimed at mass controlling the minds of the people in this village. The choice of this village, rather than one in the US, is of course the fact that it was under the local "control" of a socialist (who had been elected through sufferage, obviously.) --DragonFly31 (talk) 09:14, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

Found this recent article on stumble claiming evidence of a CIA involvement:

Maybe someone with the skills could integrate it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:07, 13 March 2010 (UTC)

Someone removed the long diatribe from that book that claimed that the CIA did it. GOOD. That needs to STAY deleted, as that is pure speculation, and does not belong per Wikipedia rules (original research, pure speculation, etc.) Joeylawn (talk) 18:32, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Summa Technologiae[edit]

It is interesting to note that this psychidelic french incident or something very similar is described in great detail in the book "Hayfever", an 1974 techno crime-story by Stanislaw Lem, the noted polish sci-fi author. One must wonder if he was aware of the rumors? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 13:56, 15 March 2010 (UTC)

Enough with the Albarelli crap[edit]

This guy has zero credibility. Voltaire Network is the exact opposite of a reliable source. TrineDay is the exact opposite of a serious publisher of investigative work. Albarelli's work has been ridiculed by experts although, yes, he managed to run a pretty slick promotion campaign for his book. No serious researcher agrees with Albarelli and in fact Kaplan had a hard time discussing these theories without giggling. Albarelli claims that "according to US media" Mangoux created a fuss over this. Oh yeah? What US media was that? He claims that John G. Fuller reached similar conclusions. Oh yeah? No he did not. This is typical conspiracy bullcrap and has no place here. Pichpich (talk) 02:26, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

You are mistaken about John G. Fuller. After the 1968 publication of his book, his views continued to evolve. He first concluded that the poisonings had been intentional, then that LSD was involved. Apostle12 (talk) 03:20, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
Says Albarelli of course... For a complete destruction of Albarelli, see [1]. Pichpich (talk) 03:25, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I read the article you linked to and it doesn't in the least discredit Albarelli. You saying that it amounts to "complete destruction of Albarelli" doesn't make it so.Apostle12 (talk) 03:46, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
There's not a single credible expert backing up Albarelli. This is exactly what due weight is about. Albarelli's claims are contradicted by basic clinical observations, his story about Mangoux is undocumented, his contention that uncontrolled experiments were the norm is supported by a) the circular argument that this is what happened in Pont St-Esprit incident and b) his ludicrous and unsupported NYC subway claim. As for the SPAN = bridge = Pont = Voilà!, it's the prototypical conspiracy theory "evidence". Pichpich (talk) 14:07, 18 April 2010 (UTC)
I've added the support for the "ludicrous" subway claim. It was later conducted with simulants in the NYC subway and National airport. The test was repeated in Boston Subway in 2012. The cited Hersh book, written 1967 supports uncontrolled tests on page 141.Johnvr4 (talk) 14:01, 6 February 2013 (UTC)

Too much weight given to Steven Kaplan[edit]

I don't mind a balance but most of Kaplan's opinions in the article are expressed as they relate to Albarelli's opinion rather that the incident itself and these opinions need citations if they need to be included at all. Johnvr4 (talk) 13:46, 6 February 2013 (UTC)


The grid with the population is unnecessary. The current population and notes on any unusual spikes or drops in population are all that really matter. It looks as if someone found the information and thought they'd dump it here.PacificBoy 22:13, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

I quite agree. Martinevans123 (talk) 23:49, 19 February 2012 (UTC)

Undue weight to alternative poisoning theories[edit]

The section on the mass poisoning in Pont-Saint-Esprit has 1 sentence devoted to the current scientific consensus cause, ergot poisoning: "The first hypothesis at the time was that the mass poisoning was an outbreak of ergotism." The subsequent eight paragraphs are devoted to absurd theories about mercury poisoning, nitrogen trichloride poisoning, and CIA-spiked LSD poisoning. Let's review the facts as laid out in the 25,000 word scientific report on the incident:

  • There was no kidney damage as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • There were no sore gums, loosening of teeth, ashen color to the mouth, or strong metallic taste as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • There were no renal lesions as is typical in mercury poisoning
  • No effective quantity of mineral poison was detected in bread and flour samples
  • Ergot and unknown alkaloids were discovered and confirmed in bread samples
  • Observed symptoms were typical of extreme cases of ergot poisoning: convulsions, diarrhea, psychotic delusions and hallucinations, and gangrene.
  • Both the mill and the baker admitted to using poor quality rye.

Ergot poisoning is accepted as the cause of the Pont-Saint-Esprit epidemic by the vast majority of academic sources (including very recent ones). We don't need to devote several paragraphs to absurd pet theories used to sell books and newspapers. Even Steven Kaplan's theory should not be given much weight as he is a historian, not a scientist, and no one else has agreed with him yet (that I've been able to find). For a non-sensational analysis of the events and subsequent scientific investigation see John G. Fuller's The Day of St. Anthony's Fire. Kaldari (talk) 00:03, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

I've edited out some of the material related to the mercury poisoning theory, as this is the least supported of the alternatives. Kaldari (talk) 00:26, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I'm glad somebody brought it up again. When I did two years ago, I was not as careful in my choice of words (see the "Enough with the Albarelli crap" section) and was told that the CIA theory made sense since Albarelli had published a book on it and since, you know, the CIA is really evil. In any case I gave up the fight two years ago but I still strongly support getting rid of this nonsense. In particular, the following sentences
Kaplan claimed that [...] Project MKULTRA would have had little interest in conducting uncontrolled experiments. Kaplan's critics counter that uncontrolled experiments were the norm under the CIA's MKULTRA program.
It's clear from context that Kaplan is talking about scientific control. It would make no sense for the CIA or anyone interested in the effects of LSD to create an experiment whose result they cannot directly measure. No scientist on earth is stupid enough to set up an experiment with no way of getting the outcome data. Now the second sentence is talking about uncontrolled experiments in the sense of "unsupervised" or "unauthorized". Yes the CIA did test LSD and many other drugs on people who were unaware of the fact. That's illegal, immoral, unacceptable and so on but it's still a controlled experiment: you give the guinea pig the drug, you document the result. Pichpich (talk) 05:54, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
Sorry Pichpich, I couldn't agree with your assessment two years ago, and I can't agree with it now. You must not be aware of the vast array of experiments the CIA performed with LSD and other drugs, the results of which they were unable to directly measure. Prominent CIA officials admitted that the MKULTRA program was poorly conceived, poorly executed, and "uncontrolled"--and, no, they did not mean "unsupervised" or "unauthorized." These were NOT "controlled experiments," and you seem not even to be aware that "controlled" in this context refers to maintaining control groups; the CIA maintained no control groups during any of the LSD experiments. The sentence you have called into question needs to stay.
You seem also to be unaware that federal agencies conducted numerous experiments in populated areas that resemble Pont-Saint-Esprit. Of particular note was the well-documented release of large quantities of a bacterium (Serratia marcescens ) over the San Francisco Bay Area in 1950. This bacterium was used as a simulant for biological warfare testing, and it was released in a populated area "just to see what might happen." At least one man died from a urinary tract infection caused by the specific strain used in the test, many others were sickened, and cases of pneumonia increased throughout the Bay Area. This remarkably careless, plenty-stupid-enough experiment was conducted not quite a year before the Pont-Saint-Esprit incident. Frank Olsen, the CIA asset who died under questionable circumstances after Pont-Saint-Esprit, was a specialist in aerosolized delivery of biological warfare weapons, and there is evidence he was in Pont-Saint-Esprit in August 1951 when the poisoning incident occurred. Coincidence?...Albarelli may not be far off track.
It is not up to us to censor the various theories and viewpoints about what happened at Pont-Saint-Esprit. Albarelli presents one of these viewpoints, and it deserves thorough presentation in this article. Please let our readers decide for themeselves. Apostle12 (talk) 10:15, 11 November 2012 (UTC)
I think it is ok as presented as a theory and someone else research on the subject. the article needs more support for the other theories. Expand the rest of it for proper weighting rather than removing what is there and screwing up theory "weighting". There is no mention of circumstantial evidence such as MKDELTA which was the over seas MKULTRA no mention of the actual CIA LSD projects or the studies on dissemination concerning LSD and water supplies or aerosols. My issue is the degree of impairment with the agent allegedly emanating from contaminated bread. LSD does not last three days (unless ingested for two of the days). BZ lasts three days.Johnvr4 (talk) 17:44, 6 January 2013 (UTC)
Good points, and you are correct that under normal circumstances at normal doses LSD trips do not last three days, though having difficulty speaking has been known to persist after LSD ingestion. Hard to say what might have occurred among a group of people with no knowledge of what was happening to them, some of whom might have ingested massive doses. Not sure what "BZ" refers to; can you clarify please. Apostle12 (talk) 17:41, 7 January 2013 (UTC)
A point was how 'far out' could you get from ergot and would a victim still be having trouble for three days or even in someone who came into contact with a victim such as the doctor who had difficulty speaking. To me it suggests a persistent agent. The article spends too much time in relation to what it wasn't (mercury)- I agree on that point but where are the confirmatory other symptoms of Ergotism (they are listed). I'm not a Dr or "expert" on drugs. BZ was only a speculation on a 3 day persistent agent since it was invented by Hoffman-LaRoche in 1951 and became a standard agent in the early sixties yet had never has a large scale field test. I am familiar with a lot of the testing both known and "unknown" see Operation Red Hat which is still very much a work in progress. There has to be plausible deniability before a test of this nature could be considered. To me that is what the ergot explanation sounds like and another reason it would be the explanation endorsed by "experts". My opinion is that this was very likely a large scale field test of a hallucinogenic deleriant agent whether LSD, BZ or something else being studied where the control and reporting would be from the health department, law enforcement, medical, or mental health fields- which it was. It caused a the widespread breakdown in the ability of people to function normally- in this case, as a normal member of society but the effect might be the same in anyone it was used on such as an enemy soldier or politician. There are other rumors of a test of testing on the enemy but that is another story. This does not use some of the real agent names but you'll get the idea of what was what (talk) 21:35, 9 January 2013 (UTC)

What do you think this is and does it relate at all to this incident: Potentially Embarrassing Activities in France or in Areas Outside France Which Are Controlled by France (Document Partially Declassified) (talk) 15:56, 29 January 2013 (UTC)

An interesting piece, especially since it was signed by national security adviser McGeorge Bundy. However I believe the document was authored too long after the fact to be directly relevent to the PSE incident. One thing I am curious about: Did DeGaulle's rather precipitous decision to kick American military bases out of France have anything to do with his knowledge that we might have been using his nation as an experimental playground? Apostle12 (talk) 20:56, 17 February 2013 (UTC)