The Martians Have Landed!: A History of Media-Driven Panics and Hoaxes Paperback – 30 Nov 2011
|New from||Used from|
- Choose from over 13,000 locations across the UK
- Prime members get unlimited deliveries at no additional cost
- Find your preferred location and add it to your address book
- Dispatch to this address when you check out
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
About the Author
Bartholomew has taught sociology in Australia at James Cook and Flinders Universities.
Benjamin Radford is a writer, investigator, and columnist for Discovery News. He is the author of eight books, most recently Mysterious New Mexico: Miracles, Magic, and Monsters in the Land of Enchantment and Tracking the Chupacabra: The Vampire Beast in Fact, Fiction, and Folklore, both published by the University of New Mexico Press. Radford lives in Corrales, New Mexico.
Top Customer Reviews
But the authors should have checked their facts. In the chapter of the 1938 Orson Welles' broadcast they repeat stories of "a woman" running into a church and another "woman" caught trying to commit suicide. Both have long been dismissed as false reports from a NYT article the next day. Yet the authors cite them as legit. After all, if they were real why didn't they appear in local papers and why no names of the people or of the alleged church? Citations can be made of repetitions of this article but repat doesn't verify.
In their chapter on asteroid scares, they tell us the "United States government has contingency plans" to deal with asteroids. Really? This doesn't have a citation. So where did it come from? Have they been watching too many bad sci-fi films? Or if they have information about this, then why not cite it rather than leave just an unsubstantiated statement?
If they're going to examine hoxes, they need to do a better job than "well, he/she said" journalism.
The chapters are short and succinct and you can dip in and out of the book as you like. Recommended.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Comets will be the death of mankind!
Vaccinations are destroying our children!
Animals have escaped from the Central Park Zoo!
Batmen are on the moon!
Terrorist! There's a terrorist! And his name is ... Pokemon?
To help set the record straight, Robert E. Bartholomew and Benjamin Radford have written THE MARTIANS HAVE LANDED!: A HISTORY OF MEDIA-DRIVEN PANICS AND HOAXES, and much like the tales they impart, it's a doosie!
To be fair, their book isn't an indictment of media. Rather, it's a case study after case study amply demonstrating how easy media exaggerations or their misrepresentations begin, perpetuate, and affect the masses. There's plenty of blame to spread around, as their examples are broken into sections involved radio, television, newspapers, and the internet. Also, there are two additional sections - urban legends and "It Came from Everywhere", an assortment of panics not necessarily attributable to any single media source - that further explore the cause and effect of deliberate or unintentional deceptions.
Many of their examples are fairly short and succinct (some chapters are only a few pages), and that's thankfully because the misinformation was identified and "corrected" rather quickly. Also, as can sadly be the case with some of these events being fairly lost to history, there may be very little research or citations available; some of this deals in the repeating of rumor, and when you get your information from "the brother of a gal who worked with the sister of a guy who knew someone in my father's office" ... well, I think you get the picture. Take those with a grain of salt, as I think even the authors intended, especially given their subject matter.
But other examples? Shocking! In fact, the book comes with a healthy notes and bibliography section provided by the authors. While some of these events have already been exposed as the frauds they were elsewhere, their inclusion here comes as a healthy reminder for every media participant to check their facts twice.
What I found a bit disappointing is that the authors seem to have written their book with some political blinders on, ignoring some rather obvious distortions perpetrated by so many in the mainstream media. Also, the authors are very light on what could've been endless criticism of celebrities within the media elite who, for long periods of time, may have "shucked" books for authors who were later found out to be frauds; while some of these occasions may not have fueled panics of any type, they certainly created hoaxes surrounding those areas where the "authors" presented themselves as "experts" when it was ultimately learned they clearly were not. However, it's important to keep in mind that Bartholomew and Radford's book is about misinformation in the media and not, per se, media bias.
Clearly, this is precisely the kind of subject matter ripe for additional inclusions in future volumes. Every year, the unsuspecting masses are doubtlessly treated to yet another `scare' by various mediums relentless to survive in a consumer-driven economy. Newspapers need subscribers to survive just as television programs require viewers, so it's safe to conclude that the onslaught will likely never end. That isn't a bad thing necessarily; rather, it's great cause for all of us to do as the authors have done ... keep our eyes, ears and brains focused on reality, and, as grandma always used to say, don't believe everything you hear.
In the interests of fairness, I'm pleased to disclose that the fine folks at McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers provided me with a press copy of the book for the purposes of completing this review.
One excellent chapter focuses on the Orson Welles "War of the Worlds" broadcast and debunks the stories of terrified Americans dying from heart attacks, as well as scrutinizing psychologist Hadley Cantril's theory of "mass panic" (and noting it was based on interviews with only 135 people, hardly a reliable sample). The chapter on the Vaccine myths is also compelling, as it traces how poorly constructed research (one study involved only 12 children), journalists who did not understand science, and internet sites trying to promote an anti-vaccine agenda all contributed to the dissemination of inaccurate "facts" about the spurious link between vaccination and autism. Some of the information in this book is not new, and it can be found if one has time to search through a number of books and databases; but the authors provide a great service to teachers of media literacy and critical thinking by offering them a handy compendium with all of the information in one place. "The Martians Have Landed" is a useful addition to anyone's library or home collection, and it is also a book that students will find both readable and informative.
Best part?! GREAT writing around historical media driven topics that everyone is always curious about.
Would recommend this to anyone who loves digging into quirky historical events!
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Business, Finance & Law > Management > Management Skills > Communication & Presentation
- Books > Reference > Writing > Journalism
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Communication Studies > Media & Communication Industries > Press & Journalism
- Books > Society, Politics & Philosophy > Social Sciences > Communication Studies > Media Studies