Extraordinary claims. Ordinary investigations.

Panic! It’s the War of the Worlds!


Click the “Play” button above to listen to the full historic transmission of Orson Welles’ “War of the Worlds, on Halloween 1938. You can also read the script here.

Interestingly, the famous ensuing panic was also largely fictional. Though millions listened to the broadcast and a significant fraction of them were genuinely frightened, very few of them actually took action. Sociologist Robert Bartholomew has a nice article about the Martian panic.

But real panic would happen with later radio dramatizations of the play. In Chile, 1944, provincial military troops prepared for the invasion. And in Ecuador, 1949, the local version of the prank resulted in 15 deaths. The panicked mob, upon realizing there were no Martians, turned against fellow Earthlings at the radio station.

Think it couldn’t happen again? Think again, and read more about Alternative 3, which incidentally just hit the DVD.

[via magonia]

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  1. […] It was Terra Spain itself that was behind it all, with the excuse of “rendering a homage to Orson Welles’ ‘War of the Worlds’ in its 71st anniversary”. In the video above which is the punch line, a little green Martian […]

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