Orson Welles

Essential Pittsburgh
3:49 pm
Wed October 30, 2013

The Science of Fear & the 1938 War of the Worlds Broadcast

This sculpture by Michael Condron in Surrey, England was inspired by The War of the Worlds
Credit WarofDreams / Wikipedia

Seventy-five years ago today, a salivating, tentacled Martian slithered out of a deep hole in the ground of a New Jersey farm. 

Today, we know that this alien did not really incinerate the people of Grover’s Mill with its heat-rays. But after the 1938 War of the Worlds radio broadcast on CBS, many believed the country was under attack. The result was said to be mass hysteria.

The following day Orson Welles, the narrator and director of the broadcast, apologized to angry listeners, stating that it was not real, but a hoax. Some 12 million people listened in but to this day we are not sure how many actually believed it was true.

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