How is this in any way "gullible"? For that matter, how is it different from the SETI
Back in 1924, scientists had no reason to conclude that there could not be life on Mars. There was life on Earth; why not Mars? That these
scientists admitted that they didn't know, shows only that they were open-minded about the possibility. It does not show them to be stupid,
gullible, or otherwise foolish.
At the time, Mars was thought to be criss-crossed by large channels or "canals", which some regarded as evidence of a means of distributing water
throughout the planet. Those channels apparently turned out to be the retinal patterns in the eyes of the astronomers, but this wasn't recognized at
the time. The best information at the time was that there were these huge "canals". The builders might still be there. We couldn't see any
cities or individuals, but perhaps we could detect some of their radio emissions. This was entirely reasonable, and good science.
The War of the Worlds debacle, too, doesn't indicate any gullibility. What happened was that the radio station in question aired a dramatization of
H.G. Wells's story. While they announced rthis at the beginning of the show, those who turned in later had no idea.
Imagine if you turn on the TV and see a news report that is talking about some disaster. Unknown to you, it's just a drama. If they keep presenting
it as news, you're going to believe it. The radio dramatization started out as just an interruption with "breaking news", which mentioned flashes
of light on Mars. Then it mentioned some sort of objects coming to Earth, and so on. All very low-key, returning to the previous programming. Only
after these things opened did the "news" take over. If you weren't exactly paying attention in the beginning, you might easily wind up scared out
of your wits about an invasion.
It's easy to laugh now; back then, it seemed quite real to people, and reasonably so. The radio was their main source of live news, just as TV and
Internet are for us. Back then, people didn't have the luxury of seeking other news sources to double-check. They were lucky to get in a few
stations. They couldn't do much fact-checking. So the "invasion" passed as real news for a lot of people.