My Dad used to laugh when people talk about the panic caused by Orson Wells’s dramatization of the War of the Worlds. He would listen to Mercury Theater with his Father, brother and sister. When the dramatized news flashes about the Martians landing in New Jersey, not far from where he lived, were broadcast no one thought for a moment that it was real. He told me that the poor individuals who panicked were idiots.
There is a “Cold Case” episode on TV right now that claims that there was widespread panic. According to my father, the show was not even that believable. Wells had a tendency to be overly dramatic and the broadcast was so over the top that nobody would have believed it. Only a handful of people actually panicked and they were very embarrassed when they realized the truth.
“We really thought it was the end of the world”, says a character in the TV show. That’s because you are an idiot, my father would have said.