A Historical Halloween & Skepticism Lesson: The 1938 “War of the Worlds” Broadcast by Orson Welles
Posted by mattusmaximus on October 31, 2010
Every Halloween, when I’m not having fun at a party or handing out candy to trick-or-treaters, I like to take some time to listen to the 1938 radio broadcast of “War of the Worlds” by Orson Welles. I do this for two reasons: 1) it’s a great story – full of suspense & the appropriate amount of spookiness for the season, and 2) it’s a wonderful lesson in skepticism. In fact, it is perhaps the first, best example of a widespread media hoax (however intentional or unintentional it may have been) with ensuing mass hysteria that we have in the United States, because so many people tuned in and took the story of the Martian invasion of Earth literally. Invaders from Mars? It was no wonder there was a panic!
Having said that, I’d like to share with you two things: the original “War of the Worlds” broadcast, and an excellent article by Joe Nickell on the various truths & myths concerning this event. Enjoy!