Some things don't change in 72 years. In 1938, Orson Welles sent some poor folks into a panic with his famous "War of the Worlds" Halloween broadcast. Split into three parts, the first two segments of the H. G. Wells adaptation focused on simulated news bulletins stating that a Martian invasion had started. Since this was a "sustaining show" with no commercial breaks, it seemed quite real to many listeners. (Although these days, the number of duped listeners is in question, ranging anywhere from over a million to hundreds of thousands or less.)

Shooting forward to 2010, an April Fool's prank published in a Jordanian paper has set off an alien panic. As The Jordan Times explains, the Al Ghad paper published a fake, front-page article on April 1 stating that UFOs landed in Jafr (approximately 300km from the capital, Amman), which lit up the town, messed with communications, and "sent fearful residents streaming into the streets" as 10-foot-tall aliens visited.

According to Mayor Mohammad Mleihan, when folks read the report: "Students didn't go to school, their parents were frightened and I almost evacuated the town's 13,000 residents. People were scared that aliens would attack them." A security official even admitted that an emergency plan was almost enacted. There's no word on how the residents and officials figured out that they were duped. The Mayor is considering a lawsuit, but does admit that the paper called and apologized for the joke. Meanwhile, Al Ghad's editor Moussa Barhoumeh says: "We meant to entertain, not scare people."

Just goes to show the power of the prank. I wonder: If aliens do descend, will these folks believe it, or will they just think it's Al Ghad crying wolf again?
categories Movies, Sci-Fi