The Martians Have Landed!

The Martians Have Landed! A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes

Authors: Robert E. Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford

History is replete with examples of media-created scares and panics. This book presents more than three dozen studies of media scares from the 17th century to the 21st century, including hoaxes perpetrated via newspapers, radio, television and cyberspace. From the 1835 batmen on the Moon hoax to more recent bird flu scares and Hurricane Katrina myths, this book explores hoaxes that highlight the impact of the media on our lives and its tendency to sensationalize. Most of the hoaxes covered occurred in the United States, though incidents from Europe, Asia, Africa, South America and Australia are featured as well. Several are global in scope, revealing the power global media wields.

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Section I: It Came from the Airwaves: Radio

The London Riot hoax — Radio Daze, The Martian Invasion Broadcast — The Martians return — Infamous disc jockey hoaxes — Playing with fire: nuclear scares 

Section II: It Came from the Small Screen: Television

— “This just in — ” NBC frightens viewers — “Look! up in the sky!” asteroid panic — Pokemon panics and creepy crawley scares — The “documentary” that fooled England — Hurricane Katrina mythmaking — Chicken little and the Bird Flu panic — The Russians are coming! — The video nasties scare / Peter Hassall 

Section III: It Came from Ink: Newspapers

The Batmen on the Moon Hoax — The Central Park Zoo panic — The Halley’s Comet scare of 1910 — How the press created an imaginary terrorist — The hook hoax — The ghost slasher of Taiwan — The phantom clown panic 

Section IV: It Came from Cyberspace: The Internet

Chemtrails and conspiracies — Morgellons: the first Internet disease? — Katrina evacuee myths — The e-mail virus panic / Bill Ellis 

Section V: It Came from a Friend of a Friend: Media-spread Urban Legends

Urban legends and the media — The curse of the Crying Boy / David Clarke — Photos of the gods / David Clarke 

Section VI: It Came from Everywhere

The Satanic Cult scare — Halloween panics — Stranger danger and the predator next door — The school safety panic — “Out of the water!” media shark frenzy — The great Puerto Rican chupacabra panic — YouTube, popcorn and the killer cell phones — Someone stole my kidney! organ theft scares — Killer vaccines / Felicity Goodyear-Smith and Helen Petousis-Harris