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Invasion From Mars: The Anatomy of Panic

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posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 10:20 AM
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In 1938 Orson Wells spooked the American nation with his classic War of the Worlds broadcast. A psychology study of the event makes me wonder if we could be hoodwinked again.

On October 28, 1938 many Americans believed they were being invaded by Martians. This was the result of a Halloween stunt orchestrated by Orson Wells in which he adapted H. G. Wells' 'War of the Worlds' to the radio and broadcast the play as though it was actually happening.

It is estimated that of the 6 million people who heard the broadcast, fully 1.7 million thought it was the news, not a play, while a further 1.2 million were frightened. A few even bought train tickets or drove off in the opposite direction to New York, the supposed epicentre of the alien invasion.

For Professor Howard Cantril of Princeton University and colleagues, this provided the perfect opportunity to investigate the anatomy of panic (Cantril, Gaudet & Herzog, 1940). Shortly after the event he interviewed 135 people in New Jersey to try and understand how they had reacted and what might have affected how they reacted.

Broadly he found people could be categorised in four ways:
• Those who rejected the Martian story from internal evidence. E.g. people questioned the story's claim that military units had arrived as rapidly as reported.
• Those who checked up on the story and found it was false. E.g. they turned to another radio station and found no panicking voices.
• Those who unsuccessfully checked the story.
• Those who made no attempt to check the story.

The most surprising category of people are those who failed to check the broadcast. Cantril found that those who fell into this category were also those who were most fearful.

Probably the most interesting results from the research were the stories people told about how they interpreted the invasion. One very religious woman saw the invasion as divine retribution against what she believed was a disgusting and morally corrupt society. Meanwhile, a student at Princeton University, despite his intelligence and education, was convinced it was impossible for the authority figures in the broadcast to have lied. As a result he accepted every word.

All this sparks the question of whether this trick would work again today. The temptation is to think that people are more hardened and cynical to this sort of media manipulation. We're all used to questioning the 'truth' as it is presented to us. We also have many more channels of information to go on. It's not just the radio nowadays, it's TV and the internet. Could you really ever convince a substantial group of people we were about to be invaded by some foreign power?

Surely not.

Not nowadays.

Never.

Or perhaps...

It has been suggested that War of the Worlds was a psychological warfare experiment. In the 1999 documentary, Masters of the Universe: The Secret Birth of the Federal Reserve, writer Daniel Hopsicker claims the Rockefeller Foundation funded the broadcast, studied the panic, and compiled a report available to a few. A variation has the Radio Project and the Rockefeller Foundation as conspirators. In a theatrical trailer for his film F For Fake, Welles joked about such theories, jesting that the broadcast indeed "had secret sponsors".

While Mercury Theatre had no sponsor, CBS and the Rockefeller Foundation were contracting the leading crowd psychology researchers of the time; CBS had Edward Bernays, the Rockefeller Foundation had Ivy Lee. With the involvement of Frank Stanton in the Radio Project and his position in the CBS research department, it is possible the "creative curiosity" of Orson Welles came from conversations within these business circles. A detailed documentary on these circles and the ideas behind social manipulation was made by the BBC, called The Century of the Self.

There has been continued speculation that the panic generated by War of the Worlds inspired officials to cover up unidentified flying object evidence, avoiding a similar panic. U.S. Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, the first head of UFO investigatory Project Blue Book wrote, "The [U.S. government's] UFO files are full of references to the near mass panic of October 30, 1938, when Orson Welles presented his now famous The War of the Worlds broadcast."
www.spring.org.uk...
en.wikipedia.org...(radio)

So if this was to happen tomorrow how do you think the general public would react?

I know of Project Blue Beam and all the theories that surround it, this is not a discussion of that conspiracy theory.

This is a discussion of how people would react if such a thing were to happen.

Are the public in general too savvy to fall for this?

Or are we too dependent on authority and too accepting of the media to disbelieve it?

Thanks.




posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 10:38 AM
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I think with all the information out there and constant UFO movies and stuff like that, that people probably wouldnt freak out like they did back then. Now-a-days aliens are a little more acceptable than before...or so I see it.
Sure you would have those that would still probably run for the hills but I think right now it could be a good thing. I think it would get people to think beyond themselves and see that anything really is possible.

For me I would be on my way to where they were!



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 11:18 AM
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Haha, awesome thread, my friend.

When I was 17, my GF and I were traversing a dirt road looking for a secluded spot for ...

Anyways, radio was in and out. There was only one station that was coming in. Barely....and they happened to be replaying that old broadcast.

It immediately gave me an adrenaline rush. Because the station was in and out, we could only make out bits and pieces.

But being 17, that epic battle of the "males' two brains", was won out by only enough blood to supply ONE "brain" at a time. At 17, I'm sure you know which one took control..

Anyways,I figured if it were true, we were in the woods. If not, we were still in the woods.

Of course 5 minutes later (hahaha) on the ride back to town, we searched the other radio stations for confirmation. We were just stupid kids then. But were able to browse the media and figure it out, before we started panicking.

I'm 35 now. I still remember the adrenaline rush. I don't know if it was fear, or the thought of "FINALLY I get to battle aliens." (I had written some comics on the concept in high school), and was a "hopeful" that they were coming to set us straight. haha. But, back then...we looked for more information before letting our fear or whatever take over. It was available to us. It wasn't primal fear or anything, though. I remember thinking, "well Sh*$ is gonna change...I'm ready"

Hopefully people could recognize a hoax. But....people still buy what the media feeds them. This site is dedicated to denying ignorance. It's up to the individual to find their own lines. I'd like to think we couldn't be duped.

But it appears that things are awry with plenty of in your face subjects. 911, Axis of evil, JFK, Roswell....etc.

Your questions are actually a little harder to answer than I originally thought.
huh.
I've thought myself into a corner it seems. Thanks buddy. haha.




posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 01:45 PM
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I think people would be cynical of it and not believe it because of the scientific, evidence-based society we live in. No matter what you post on the internet, on TV or in books most people will end up saying "that's fake" or at least "I don't know". And since it's already been done... The more rational amongst us would probably think... Hang on, WotW's.

But, if it actually did happen, like if aliens did invade, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would completely freak out because they're not open to the possibility, since nothing solid is available to prove the existance of ET at this stage. Afterall, if the governments DO have proof of all of this stuff, why else would they be keeping it from the general public if not for the fear of mass panic (I still reckon it'd be better just to tell us in the long run if they were hostile, but maybe another possibility for keeping this stuff secret would be that they were indeed friendly, and the fear of paniced witch-hunt scenarios for beings that don't deserve it forces the information to be kept at bay. That is a bit silly though.)

I have no idea what I'd do, I'd wanna be there seeing it happen and meeting (or if it came to the worst fighting) the aliens. But on the other hand I'm a bit of a coward, so I'd more likely be cowering in a corner somewhere!
I think I believe in aliens, coz we can't be the only planet in the Universe gifted with life, can we? But whether or not they've visited Earth is another reason. Maybe, as my dad says, they landed on a high street on a Friday night and saw people being sick and the fights going on and just thought... Stuff this.
Who knows?!


[edit on 3-9-2009 by Ayana]



posted on Sep, 3 2009 @ 01:46 PM
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I think people would be cynical of it and not believe it because of the scientific, evidence-based society we live in. No matter what you post on the internet, on TV or in books most people will end up saying "that's fake" or at least "I don't know". And since it's already been done... The more rational amongst us would probably think... Hang on, WotW's.

But, if it actually did happen, like if aliens did invade, I'm pretty sure a lot of people would completely freak out because they're not open to the possibility, since nothing solid is available to prove the existance of ET at this stage. Afterall, if the governments DO have proof of all of this stuff, why else would they be keeping it from the general public if not for the fear of mass panic (I still reckon it'd be better just to tell us in the long run if they were hostile, but maybe another possibility for keeping this stuff secret would be that they were indeed friendly, and the fear of paniced witch-hunt scenarios for beings that don't deserve it forces the information to be kept at bay. That is a bit silly though.)

I have no idea what I'd do, I'd wanna be there seeing it happen and meeting (or if it came to the worst fighting) the aliens. But on the other hand I'm a bit of a coward, so I'd more likely be cowering in a corner somewhere!
I think I believe in aliens, coz we can't be the only planet in the Universe gifted with life, can we? But whether or not they've visited Earth is another reason. Maybe, as my dad says, they landed on a high street on a Friday night and saw people being sick and the fights going on and just thought... Stuff this.
Who knows?!



P.S. Sorry about the double post, I clicked the mouse twice when I thought it wasn't posting and have no idea how to delete one! I'm new to this...

[edit on 3-9-2009 by Ayana]



posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 06:36 AM
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Thanks for your replies guys/gals, very interesting.

Oh and thanks for that,er, lovely story, Demoncreeper


Personally i think its impossible to know for sure how we would react. But it is interesting how we 'think' we might react.

For me, well im just not sure. I could quite easily see myself freaking out, not so much physically going AWOL, but in my head. It would answer 'the big question' but at the same time produce so many more questions that would drive me mad.

On the other hand, i could just as easily see myself sitting back with a nice bottle of whiskey and enjoying the show.

The second option is probably more likely to be my first instinct, because i wouldn't fully believe it until it effected me personally. Seeing isn't always believeing


Either way, i don't think i would panic. I would be excited and wary, but i don't think i would panic. But like i said, until it actually happens i will never know.

Thanks.



posted on Sep, 4 2009 @ 06:40 AM
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reply to post by LiveForever8
 


with all of the alien movies being pumped out of Hollywood in the last 5 years, the UFO documentaries on the history channel and the pope saying it's OK to believe in "little green men"; I think it's a very good possibility Liv4ever.

It appears the public is being primed for such a ruse.

[edit on 9/4/2009 by JPhish]




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