The ‘Alien Invasion’ Radio Broadcast: Would it Terrify Listeners today as it did 82 years ago?

On October 30, 1938, actor Orson Welles terrified radio listeners when he announced that Martians were invading New Jersey. His announcement horrified listeners who believed the world was under attack by hostile aliens. But the “news” was fake. Recently the Pentagon released UFO videos depicting objects in the sky. However, the videos did not elicit the same reaction as the “fake” alien invasion story 82 years ago.

The current population is more informed with extensive research conducted on extraterrestrial life that such news would not have them petrified. The general understanding is that Mars does not harbor an advanced alien civilization with lethal weapons and spacecraft. Even though the public is still fascinated with extraterrestrials, if Welles was to make his announcement today that strange creatures were invading the Earth, the reaction would be different. The millennials’ typical response would be to capture “the invasion” on their smartphones and share with friends on social media.

In 1938, an actor posed as a news anchor and interrupted a scheduled music performance. With a threatening tone, he described to the audience telescope observations of three explosions on Mars. He then brought in a reporter from the scene in Gover’s Mill, a town next to Princeton, New Jersey. The performance also included eyewitnesses who stated that they had seen Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and strange creatures shooting an ultramodern heat ray that has killed several people.

Although the program was interrupted by reminders that it was not real, many people tuned in believed the alien invasion was real. Later, newspapers reported how the fake alien invasion had caused a lot of panic among the people. The next day the Daily News was full of accounts of how many listeners ran from their homes in New York and New Jersey with their faces covered with towels to shield themselves from the gas that the invader was said to be emitting.

At the time, space scientists were already aware of the fact that Mars was not capable of harboring a thriving civilization. According to experts, an alien attack of military proportion would require intelligent and technically advanced extraterrestrials. Also, an unbelievable number of variables would have to happen for the invasion to occur.

It is believed that the first encounter would be through discovering microbes from other worlds that are likely to be common in all the cosmos as opposed to intelligent organisms. In the current day and age, an announcement on finding extraterrestrial microbes is likely to attract the interest of many rather than cause panic. However, another school of thought believes that an encounter with intelligent extraterrestrial communications cannot be ruled out.

Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute (SETI) based in California scans the skies to detect any signals emanating from any form of intelligent life. The institute scans for radio signals that could be directed towards the Earth, and they are confident that as their equipment becomes more sophisticated, they are likely to find something. When they do, you can bet that the announcement will not be horrifying as it was 82 years ago! 


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