October 30 marks the 80th anniversary of Orson Welles’ radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds – a novel on Martians invading the Earth.
Welles’ infamous radio broadcast reportedly caused widespread hysteria and panic as listeners thought it was of a true event.
Newspapers the next day described reactions such as roads being jammed with fleeing people, some panic-stricken hiding in cellars, and there was even a report of a listener dying from a heart attack.
Why is this incident relevant today? Because, 80 years on, most still believe those news reports to be true even though there was no actual widespread panic. And this has relevance to the ongoing debate about fake news and how we should tackle it.
… Norman Vasu and Benjamin Ang are Senior Fellows at the Centre of Excellence for National Security, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, Nanyang Technological University.
Last updated on 30/10/2018