I’m pleased to announce that my sixth book, The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes, is now available.
The book is co-authored with sociologist Robert Bartholomew (who also co-authored my first book back in 2003, Hoaxes Myths, and Manias: Why We Need Critical Thinking). Bob and I also co-authored a report on the Pokemon Panic which solved the mystery and was published in the prestigious Southern Medical Journal.
The Martians Have Landed! surveys a wide breadth of social panics and scares that were fueled by the mass media, from classics like the 1938 War of the Worlds scare by Orson Welles and the Halley’s Comet panic of 1910, to recent panics like murders following Hurricane Katrina and anti-vaccination fears. Other topics include Morgellons disease; the Ghost Slasher of Taipei; radio disc jockey hoaxes; the bird flu panic; the Bat-men on the Moon hoax; shark attack panics; urban legends; the Curse of the Crying Boy paintings; e-mail virus panics, mass hysterias, and much more. In all there are nearly 40 chapters by experts around the world. Some are hoaxes; others are merely misunderstandings that got out of control. Some are now largely forgotten, while others still have a clear effect on us today and will shape society into the future.
I contributed about half the chapters, including on phantom clowns, contrails, Satanic scares, predator panics, kidney theft, and how the Puerto Rican media fueled concern over a certain blood-sucking beast you may have heard of….
Autographed copies of the book can be purchased from me at my Web site for $36 (includes free shipping), or at your local independent bookstore, or at Amazon.com and elsewhere. The cover price is $40.