The War of the Worlds

On the night of October 30th 1938 tens of thousands of Americans listening to the radio were convinced that they were being invaded by Martians. Orson Welles and the Mercury Theatre’s production of War of the Worlds caused panic.

By clever juxtaposition of the commonplace and cuts to ‘newsflashes about strange eruptions of gas from Mars and mysterious objects landing in Grover’s Mill the play drew people into a convincing story about interstellar invaders.

In a 70th year anniversary edition WYNC Radio Lab’s presented an hour long program analysing the hows and whys of that broadcast. It’s brilliantly done and fascinating listening.

If you are interested in NLP or Hypnotherapy it is a classic example of the skillful use of many processes and ideas familiar to NLPers including Model of the World, pacing and leading, state elicitation, trance induction and more. The program demonstrates the same skill in examining the program as the original broadcast did itself.

The War of the Worlds was an excellent example of how to manipulate public feelings, but you might think that was 70 years ago surely no one could pull it off again. After creating panic very well in 1938, a radio broadcast in Quito, Equador in 1949 created a similar panic much too well with horrific results (but you will have to listen to the program to find out about that).

Then again a variation on a theme in Buffalo, NY in the USA in 1968 pulled off a similar stunt using the same pattern as Orson Wells 30 years earlier.

The program is great and if you are interested in the business of influencing people very instructive.

It’s funny but last night I noticed through my telescope plumes of gas erupting from Mars … of course, it’s probably just a coincidence … probably …

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