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Old 10-12-2021, 05:41 AM
 
Location: New York Area
24,896 posts, read 10,235,082 times
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The Infamous "War of the Worlds" Radio Broadcast Was a Magnificent Fluke.


This article details a radio broadcast, in the pre-Internet, pre-television era. Orson Welles, a 23 year old actor, concocted a radio broadcast that sounded alarmingly like a real news story. It opened with realistic-sounding, boring statements of news, and then segued into a story about a Martian invasion of the New Jersey shore. This was broadcast the day before Halloween, 1938. The result was unbridled panic. According to this article people began driving in all directions, trying to escape. My Dad, who was 13 at the time, remembered this vividly, and used it to teach me that people can believe anything. I used it as an example in U.S. Governments Have Always Lied; At Least from 20th Century On of why governments sometimes lie about situations over which they really have very little control.

Who else has heard of this broadcast or similar "fake news" intended not to lie but to entertain?
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Old 10-12-2021, 08:48 AM
 
Location: San Diego CA
7,204 posts, read 5,016,513 times
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This was a radio adaption of a science fiction book by HG Wells. It was modified and formatted from the original book to appear as an actual series of news broadcasts about a Martian invasion of earth. And as radio was a primary source of information for the public it was widely believed.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:01 AM
 
Location: Virginia
7,737 posts, read 4,065,041 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbgusa View Post
The Infamous "War of the Worlds" Radio Broadcast Was a Magnificent Fluke.


This article details a radio broadcast, in the pre-Internet, pre-television era. Orson Welles, a 23 year old actor, concocted a radio broadcast that sounded alarmingly like a real news story. It opened with realistic-sounding, boring statements of news, and then segued into a story about a Martian invasion of the New Jersey shore. This was broadcast the day before Halloween, 1938. The result was unbridled panic. According to this article people began driving in all directions, trying to escape. My Dad, who was 13 at the time, remembered this vividly, and used it to teach me that people can believe anything. I used it as an example in U.S. Governments Have Always Lied; At Least from 20th Century On of why governments sometimes lie about situations over which they really have very little control.

Who else has heard of this broadcast or similar "fake news" intended not to lie but to entertain?
The broadcast had absolutely nothing to do with "government" lying. Welles was a creative genius whose timing and use of the radio was perfect for his broadcast. I know that my own mother was terrified by the broadcast, although she didn't begin driving anywhere to escape the "threat". People of this era with so many sources of information readily available simply don't realize how heavily people of that time relied on the radio for their information and entertainment. The drama and intensity of Welles' broadcast made it very difficult to distinguish fact from fiction , particularly for more rural and unschooled listeners.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:05 AM
Status: "Let's go Brandon!" (set 12 days ago)
 
Location: Howard County, Maryland
11,422 posts, read 6,288,910 times
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They've made several movie versions of this. The one I'm thinking of, I think it's the one that came out in the 1950s. I distinctly remember a scene where a priest was going to smash out his church's stained glass windows, reasoning that he'd rather destroy them himself than see the aliens do it. (Another priest managed to talk him out of it.)

This might be one of the most (in)famous instances of a knowingly fake story presented as true, but it's not the only one. The Blair Witch Project was purported to be true, but it was nothing but fiction.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:07 AM
 
25,087 posts, read 15,910,919 times
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The Myth and the Marketing Lesson Behind The Infamous War of the Worlds Radio Broadcast


Quote:
The idea that people thought the show was real was more marketing than reality. Only 2 percent of radio listeners surveyed that night were tuned into Orson Welles’ show. No listeners surveyed confused it for a news broadcast. The station announced that the show was a fictional take on Wells’ story four different times.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:23 AM
 
14,550 posts, read 21,193,054 times
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The broadcast is well known, at least to us growing up in the 70s.

I can't think of anything similar today except maybe, from time to time, The Onion publishes these fake funny satire new reports that are framed so realistically that they sometimes get picked up in social media as true reports. I've seen it here a few times then we have to explain to the poster "no, that's meant as a joke".

Never underestimate the power of social media to spread rumours and untruths.
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Old 10-12-2021, 09:59 AM
 
826 posts, read 683,828 times
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I think it has been shown that the massive hysteria is an urban myth. I never heard anyone who was alive at the time even mention any such thing.
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Old 10-12-2021, 11:17 AM
 
12,207 posts, read 11,505,032 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jbgusa View Post
The Infamous "War of the Worlds" Radio Broadcast Was a Magnificent Fluke.


This article details a radio broadcast, in the pre-Internet, pre-television era. Orson Welles, a 23 year old actor, concocted a radio broadcast that sounded alarmingly like a real news story. It opened with realistic-sounding, boring statements of news, and then segued into a story about a Martian invasion of the New Jersey shore. This was broadcast the day before Halloween, 1938. The result was unbridled panic. According to this article people began driving in all directions, trying to escape. My Dad, who was 13 at the time, remembered this vividly, and used it to teach me that people can believe anything. I used it as an example in U.S. Governments Have Always Lied; At Least from 20th Century On of why governments sometimes lie about situations over which they really have very little control.

Who else has heard of this broadcast or similar "fake news" intended not to lie but to entertain?
I've listened to it several times over the years. Someone even made a movie out of the reaction that some people had to it. The network had to announce over and over again that it was just fiction. A number of people literally grabbed their guns and ran for the hills.

I heard someone one time claim the "world situation" may have had something to do with the panic. Some were already seeing the danger in Hitler and sensing a war was coming by late 1938. Its also a study in ignorance and we had plenty of uneducated, ignorant citizens in the 1930's.
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Old 10-12-2021, 12:40 PM
 
Location: Staten Island
1,298 posts, read 422,289 times
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For those of you who haven't heard the 1938 Broadcast -

https://archive.org/download/Mercury...e%20Worlds.mp3
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Old 10-12-2021, 12:44 PM
 
Location: New York Area
24,896 posts, read 10,235,082 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by deb100 View Post
I think it has been shown that the massive hysteria is an urban myth. I never heard anyone who was alive at the time even mention any such thing.
My father was born in 1925 and lived in Cedarhurst, New York. He recounted the story to me around 1970 or 1971. He was certainly aware of the hysteria. I don't remember if he told me if his family panicked, but I doubt they did. Others in the neighborhood did, though.
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