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The War of the Worlds: A Study on the Psychology of Panic

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The War of the worlds is one of the most iconic pieces of literature ever written within the world today. It is a prized possession, a book that gave many different people across the planet inspiration to do their own similar brand of artwork through their own style of books and feature films.

Generally for the plot's sake, with its setting and style, people would place the story of "The War of the Worlds" within the category of horror, an apocalyptic reality in which an un-named narrator explores what has become of England as an extra terrestrial form of life from Mars come's to invade the planet with deadly assault.

To specific people, it could be quite frightening, but at the same time adrenaline pumping. But, with it's highly unlikely, science fiction tone of elements; It all sounds nothing more than mere science fiction, doesn't it? In the end, that's what some people would hope for, but sadly this is not exactly the case for others.

Within the year 1938, Radio show host Orson Welles aired a live re-enactment of the events that occurred within the novel "The War of the Worlds", but this time, instead of the location being England, the location was changed to the United States. Just like any other show host out in the world today, Orson welle's and his crew from the Mercury Theatre group were only making another episode to their classic anthology series of live, broadcasted drama's to their usual time slot on the air. What Welle's had thought to be just a simple new radio episode, was a heart pounding panic attack that was placed upon Americans everywhere.

A passage from our reading, "Long before the broadcast had ended, people all over the United States were praying, crying, fleeing frantically to escape death from the Martians. Some ran to rescue loved ones. Others telephoned farewells or warnings, hurried to inform neighbors, sought information from newspapers or radio stations, at least six million people heard the broadcast. At least a million of them were frightened or disturbed."

Not everybody was frightened by what was happening. There were still specific groups of people who had believed that the invasion was just another radio show episode. Those specific groups of people clearly understood that nothing like that would ever happen, but so many other's were merely petrified by the belief that aliens truly invaded. Why is this though? How is it that so many people would believe something that is so out of this world, but yet believe every word coming out of the radio? Well, let's take a look.

To start off, if we were to look over what was said within the original broadcast, you would notice the realism behind the speech given within the episode. Everything about it seemed so real. Take the music that was used as an example.

In the beginning of the broadcast, music was played normally, equivalent of today's standards of Television commercials. A type of jazz styled music used between two different kinds of programs, but as the broadcast continued to become darker, and darker as the story unfolded, the music would last slower and slower to the point the people over at the radio station would stop playing the usual music all together to broadcast the show with no interruptions.

Military intelligence had a key role into realism behind the broadcast as well. Within the radio show, the announcer would take you live to a supposedly real military broadcasting system where the military would explain it's side of the story and how they are handling the situation with armed force, only to be easily defeated by the opposing aliens.

Further analysis could put survivor accounts into the picture as well as detailed descriptions of what the aliens had been using to vanquish the human race. This quote from the reading supports this quite well. " I can give you no authoritative information either as the their nature, their origin, or their purposes here on earth. Of their destructive instrument-For want of a better term, I shall refer to the mysterious weapon as a heat-ray. It's edge far in advance of our own. It is my guess that in a chamber of practically absolute no conductivity. This intense heat they project in a parallel beam against any mirror of unknown composition, much as the mirror of a lighthouse projects a beam of light."

You have Pierson explaining how he survived from Grovers Mill. And besides that, you also have to take into account that they have the secretary of the Interior speaking during the broadcast as well. "The bewilderment of the listener is shared by the eyewitness. When the scientist is himself puzzled, the layman recognizes the extraordinary intelligence of the strange creatures. No explanation

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