Monday, November 04, 2013

War of the Worlds


War of the Worlds was an episode of a radio series directed and narrated by Orson Welles which aired on October 30, 1938. The first 2/3 of the 62-minute broadcast were presented as a series of simulated news bulletins, which suggested that an actual alien invasion by Martians was currently in progress. 

This event is something we've all heard about. Millions of people tuned into this show which caused a mass hysteria all over the country. A recent PBS documentary on the event claimed that “upwards of a million people, [were] convinced, if only briefly, that the United States was being laid waste by alien invaders”. NPR's latest episode of its show Radiolab opened with the claim that “The United States experienced a kind of mass hysteria that we’ve never seen before." 

There should be nothing new or surprising to anyone about this claim, we all have heard it and likely accepted it as a fact of history. 

But as Michael Soclow has written for Slate this week, "There’s only one problem: The supposed panic was so tiny as to be practically immeasurable on the night of the broadcast. Despite repeated assertions to the contrary in the PBS and NPR programs, almost nobody was fooled by Welles’ broadcast."

Following this article Radiolab added this correction to their show notes: "In this program, we referred twice to the fact that 12 million people heard the "The War of the Worlds" broadcast when it was first aired in 1938. However, no one knows for sure how many people were listening."

Soclow goes on to say that the legend grew exponentially in 1940 and gained acceptance when "an esteemed academic solidified the myth in the public mind. Relying heavily on a skewed report compiled six weeks after the broadcast by the American Institute of Public Opinion, The Invasion From Mars, by Princeton’s Hadley Cantril, estimated that about 1 million people were “frightened” by War of the Worlds."

Here is a case where most people have come to believe that millions of people heard, panicked, and were filled with terror throughout the country for a short time but this never actually happened. What does this say about the Sinai Proof if anything?

This was a show which very few people listened to and therefor no country wide panic occurred and yet only two years later someone wrote that 1,000,000 people heard it and panicked. How did this claim gain acceptance? Didn't the people of 1940 say this only happened two years ago and we didnt see this happen? And didn't the children of the 1940s and 50s say our parents never told us this happened to them so how can this be true? But that didn't happen, by 2013 NPR can claim that 12,000,0000 witnessed Welles' show and  panicked because of it. Anyone who heard the Radiolab episode before NPR made the correction likely believes now that 12 million people witnessed the radio show live on radio, despite the fact their grandparents were alive then and they never told their families about it. 

Is the main factor in the acceptance of this myth that people later than 1940 came across the claim in a book that 1,000,000 heard War of the Worlds live on radio and had no reason to doubt it? If they wanted some verification, there were certainly people who gave it, like at CBS who had a vested interest in this myth being propagated. (See Soclow's article about how media in general has benefited from perpetuating this false history). 

Could a book claiming mass revelation before 3,000,000 people have come to be accepted the same way. The book is written after the supposed event, the people did not witness it themselves so they ask the priests and scholars about this claim. "My grandfather never told me about this, but the story claims our ancestors were there, did this really happen?" And the priests (CBS) would have of course said yes. There are likely a myriad of other scenarios over different times spans and places that we can come up with to compare Sinai to War of the Worlds. 

The primary take away is that a mass revelation was claimed and despite the lack of familial tradition the myth was accepted. 

Text here Search for more information about ###

No comments: