9/11 and War of the Worlds:

My 9/11 story is not as dramatic as some of those recounted in Orin's thread. But it may say something about the perils of reading too much social science research.

I was clerking for a Fifth Circuit judge in Houston at the time, and was driving to work, listening to a top 40 station that never had any news reports. The regularly scheduled programming was interrupted by a breathless announcer who said that there were reports that multiple planes had hit the World Trade Center. I was skeptical. Why? Because I was familiar with the famous Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" incident in 1938, when a radio station broadcast fictional reports of an invasion by aliens from Mars, sparking a minor panic (the public reaction is recounted in Hadley Cantril's classic book, which I had read in grad school). For some reason, I decided it was possible that the top 40 station was trying to boost ratings by repeating a version of Welles' stunt. The scenario of multiple airliners crashing into the World Trade Center seemed almost as implausible as an alien invasion. And this station had never broadcast any other news during the weeks I had been listening to it. I decided to withhold judgment until I could check the news on the internet when I got to the office. When I arrived and found that CNN.com couldn't be accessed, I realized that the reports were true.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. 9/11 and War of the Worlds:
  2. Where Were You on 9/11/01?: