The power of persuasion is a mighty thing. To be able to bend opinion and make people believe what one is saying is a trait not everyone carries. One of the biggest examples of the power of persuasion would be the night the War of the Worlds broadcast. It sent terror and panic through American listeners on an October night in 1938.
Whether it was intended to be a Halloween scare or just a simple radio play adapted from H.G. Wells‘ novel of the same name, one thing is for sure, listeners believed every word of it.
When the broadcast begin it provided a disclaimer that the radio show was a drama. However, not all listeners caught this and thus was a catalyst to the mass confusion. Confusion was instigated by the fact that the radio network it was broadcast from, The Mercury Theatre on Air, aired their programs without commercials. So to listeners this felt like a live event.
Orson Welles is the man credited for causing fear to seep into American’s veins and paralyze them with panic. Welles was the narrator of the show. The focus of the show was that martians from outer space invaded earth and earth’s inhabitants fought to save the planet. The public’s reaction was sheer terror and the radio network received it’s share of backlash. Some people sued the network for the “mental anguish” or “personal injury” they claimed the broadcast caused. Although not all reactions were negative; some people praised the network for the quality of the program. There is even a monument erected in Grover’s Mill, New Jersey to commemorate the fictional martian landing site.
We’re coming up on the 76th anniversary this October 30th. So just remember, the power of persuasion is a mighty thing; just a mighty as a martian’s ray-gun. 🙂