A Myth of Mass Hysteria

Welles and 'War of the Worlds'
Welles and 'War of the Worlds'

In his latest blog post, W. Joseph Campbell, author of Getting It Wrong, discusses a media myth “too well-known, too entrenched in the American consciousness, ever to fall into disuse.” How could such an unsubstantiated belief take hold? Campbell explains below:


“October always brings frequent reminders about radio’s most memorable and myth-beclouded program–Orson Welles’ superb dramatization of the War of the Worlds that aired on Halloween eve 1938.

So realistic was Welles’ show, so alarming were its simulated news reports of invading Martians, that listeners by the tens of thousands—or more—were convulsed in panic and hysteria.

Fright beyond measure gripped the country that night; it was the night that panicked America. …”

Read the full post on Campbell’s blog, Media Myth Alert.