April Fool’s joke gone wrong: radio announcers suspended for science prank

Maybe if more Americans knew about science, two radio announcers from Florida wouldn’t have been fired—and wouldn’t be facing felony charges—for an April Fool prank.  According to ZME Science:

Florida country radio morning-show hosts Val St. John and Scott Fish are currently serving indefinite suspensions and possibly criminal charges for what can only be described as a successful April Fools. They told their listeners that “dihydrogen monoxide” was coming out of the taps throughout the Fort Myers area – as I’m sure you all know, dihydrogen monoxide, or H2O is nothing but water.

As it turns out, their readers unwittingly panicked so much that Lee County utility officials had to issue a county-wide statement calming the fears of chemistry impaired Floridians.

. . . now authorities are trying to prove the DJs are guilty of a felony; they may have pushed it a little too far.

Note the supposedly “superfluous” explanation that dihydrogen monoxide is water.  There’s even a diagram for befuddled readers:

molecue

The locals see this as a serious issue; as author Mihai Andrei notes,

But apparently, calling water by its scientific name is a false water quality issue, blamed by both the authorities and the general public. A poll conducted on GatorCountry asked if the 2 should return to radio, and 78 percent of the answers were ‘Never‘. Sheesh… I just hope all these people would sit down, get a big cup, infuse some Camellia sinensis in dihydrogen monoxide, grab a graphite based writing implement and a chemistry manual, and thoroughly read it and take notes.

This reminds me of a watered-down version of Orson Welles’s famous “War of the Worlds” hoax in 1938, when his company broadcast a radio show about an invasion of Earth by Martians, a show so realistic, with simulated news bulletins, that it caused a panic throughout the U.S. My dad heard it live, and said that people were running amok in the streets of Uniontown, Pennsylvania, convinced that an alien invasion was imminent.

Welles didn’t suffer any punishment for  this except a slap on the wrist from CBS. Times have obviously changed!

The miscreant radio jocks, Val St. John and Scott Fish

The miscreant radio jocks, Val St. John and Scott Fish

I need some hydroxyethane.

h/t: Ant

106 Comments

  1. Derek
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    A sad commentary on science education, but it appears that there were no charges and the perpetrators were back at work after a couple of days – see http://www.theatlanticwire.com/entertainment/2013/04/florida-dj-indefinite-suspension-didnt-last-very-long/63837/.

  2. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the official IPUAC name “ethanol”?

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      From Wikipedia:

      Other names:

      Absolute alcohol
      Alcohol
      Drinking alcohol
      Ethyl alcohol
      Ethyl hydrate
      Ethyl hydroxide
      Ethylic alcohol
      Ethylol
      Grain alcohol
      Hydroxyethane
      Methylcarbinol

      There’s usually a number of ways to name a chemical that conform to IPUAC conventions.

      • Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:07 pm | Permalink

        I don’t think “Ethyl alcohol” agrees with IPUAC convenions. And certainly “Absolute alcohol”, “grain alcohol”, “drinking alcohol” and just plain “alcohol” are rather far from IUPAC conventions. As wikipedia notes (and as far as I remember, as my undergrad and high-school orgchem texts noted)

        Ethanol is the systematic name defined by the IUPAC nomenclature of organic chemistry for a molecule with two carbon atoms (prefix “eth-”), having a single bond between them (suffix “-ane”), and an attached -OH group (suffix “-ol”).”

        So yes, the official IUPAC name is ethanol. The other names are common/trade/unofficial names. But, of course, the joke in the original post stands irrespective of what the official IUPAC name is.

      • sponge bob
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

        Here are even more names:
        Johnnie Walker
        Wild Turkey
        Beefeater
        Everclear…

    • Pete UK
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      Ethan-1-ol, to be extremely pedantic.

      • Posted April 9, 2013 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        To be even more extremely pedantic, “ethanol” is actually correct, because the IUPAC rules stipulate that position numbers for functional groups should be dropped if there cannot be any ambiguity about there position. No such ambiguity is possible for methanol and ethanol.

        • Alex
          Posted April 10, 2013 at 12:31 am | Permalink

          In other words, what stops you from calling it Ethan-2-ol
          :)

          • Pete UK
            Posted April 10, 2013 at 12:54 am | Permalink

            To be even more bloatedly and extremely pedantic, and in defence, I said I was being pedantic, not correct ;-)

        • Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:22 am | Permalink

          And while we are all being pedantic, I should point out that I misspelled “their” as “there” in my post above. (I used to think that on account of not being a native English speaker, I ought to be immune to this particular error.)

    • Nat
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 4:05 pm | Permalink

      Ethanol has 2 carbons in it.

    • madscientist
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:12 pm | Permalink

      The IUPAC scheme has numerous inconsistencies (but no one has come up with better suggestions yet) and there may be a number of names which are accepted; however, I suspect “hydroxyethane” is actually discouraged by the IUPAC rules even though the name can be formed using the IUPAC rules.

      • Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:01 am | Permalink

        As I recall, hydroxyethane would be unsystematic because it would suggest that:

        (1) The -OH is a hydroxl radical or ion, which in alcohols it is not much of one (though it can under go acid-base reactions, IIRC)
        (2) The -OH is somehow more electropositive than the rest, which is wrong.

        Of course, as my father (an organic chemist) always reminds me, even IUPAC names are very very cumbersome beyond a few carbons atoms – think of naming a drug or a biological product – one can’t realistically use it. I suppose this is why proteins and such have yet another system of naming.

  3. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    §

  4. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:15 pm | Permalink

    They were lucky it wasn’t hydoxyl acid coming out of the taps!

  5. Joe
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    according to the CDC dihydrogen monoxide is responsibile for about 10 deaths a day, on average.

    • michaelbusch
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

      And inhalation of even small amounts can be fatal.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:18 am | Permalink

        I was going to make that comment. I’d be willing to bet that ingestion of excessive quantities of dihydrogen oxide has killed more people over the years than every other chemical substance put together.

        • Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:25 am | Permalink

          Actually, that statement is probably true in more ways than one. A lot of heat-stroke related deaths in hot and dry climates are due to water poisoning.

          • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
            Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:30 am | Permalink

            Even deaths in local children games. Turns out there is a subculture who has found out that consuming too much too fast makes you nauseous and induces vomiting, but are ignorant of the dangers, so they have started to use it as game of dare.

            Results so far is one girl dead of cerebral edema, despite rapid hospitalization.

            • Dominic
              Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:12 am | Permalink

              Candidates for the Darwin Awards… sadly

  6. E.A. Blair
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    This was an old joke when I was in high school forty years ago, and my father (a chemical engineer) told me it was an old joke handed down from upperclassmen to freshmen when he was working on his masters’ degree in 1938.

    • gruebait
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

      For decades, I have kept a one gallon jug in the kitchen, with a skull-and-bones label reading “Caution! Dihydrogen monoxide contaminated with Nitrate.”

      It’s used water from the aquarium; I water the houseplants with it.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:41 am | Permalink

        I thought aquarium water should be treated like hazardous waste due to the many potential zoonoses from especially fish? “Wear gloves, dispose of used water” et cetera.

      • Kevin
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 8:40 am | Permalink

        Ewww. You water the house plants with fish poo?

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted April 10, 2013 at 9:14 am | Permalink

          Is that any worse than a farmer using manure?

  7. Jiten
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    Hydroxyethane- made with hops,grapes or rye?

    • madscientist
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

      As a philosopher may respond: yes.

      • Torbjörn Larsson, OM
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 3:43 am | Permalink

        And a theologian: “Hell, yes!”?

  8. darrelle
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    I am not sure what is more pathetic. That this caused such a panic among the listeners, or that the authorities would try to press charges against the DJs. I weep for my society.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

      I wonder how many senators and representatives would be alarmed and outraged if informed of the threat of DHMO and demand an immediate investigation and ask Homeland Security to take action?

      • Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

        “In February 2011, during the campaign of the Finnish parliamentary election, a voting advice application asked the candidates whether the availability of “hydric acid also known as dihydrogen monoxide” should be restricted. 49% of the candidates answered on behalf of the restriction.” — Wikipedia

        /@

        • Kiwi Dave
          Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:38 pm | Permalink

          With so much frozen dihydrogen monoxide around in Finland in February, restricting it probably has considerable appeal.

      • Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        From Wikipedia:

        “In 2001 a staffer in New Zealand Green Party MP Sue Kedgley’s office responded to a request for support for a campaign to ban dihydrogen monoxide by saying she was “absolutely supportive of the campaign to ban this toxic substance”. This was criticised in press releases by the National Party, one of whose MPs fell for the very same hoax six years later.”

    • Greg Fitzgerald
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

      While I also bemoan the public’s unfamiliarity with basic chemistry, I am nevertheless supportive of the authorities’ decision to punish the DJs. In an ideal world, this prank would have caused the listeners to become modestly alarmed, and then feel so embarrassed by their ignorance that they’d be inspired to become more educated and rational. Notice that this is the same reasoning used by internet trolls who say deliberately inflammatory things, then claim that they were, in fact, doing a public service by making people less sensitive to criticism. In both cases, there are safer and more effective alternatives for achieving your goals.

      In reality, the DJs should have realized that their prank could cause a panic and undermine public safety. Furthermore, I think that it’s a little arrogant for those of us who are scientifically literate to laugh at the people who panicked after hearing this broadcast. I’m a biologist, and I’m sure many of us would fall for a prank where the broadcaster said something like, “THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO ENERGY FROM NUCLEAR PLANTS!” (where the joke is that anyone who looks at a nuclear plant is being hit by its reflected photons).

      • darrelle
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        I may be more optomistic than you. I understand your basic premise just fine and even agree with it given certain circumstances. The certain circumstances is where I disagree with you wholeheartedly. I don’t think it is reasonble to expect that the DJs should have known that their prank could cause panic or undermine public safety.

        I don’t think your internet troll analogy fits this incident very well either. Trolls may be rude but that is not and should not be criminalized. And the reasoning is all yours, I don’t agree with it at all in this particular, or even general, case.

      • gluonspring
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps in the days before the internet I could have a modicum of sympathy for the ignorant public. Not now. Anyone who was the slightest concerned about their tap water could have typed in “dihydrogen monoxide” (or even a gross misspelling of it) and Google would have informed them instantly that it’s water and a harmless prank.

        Ignorance is one thing. Willful refusal to take any responsibility for yourself is another.

        • Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, I agree. Pathetic when we consider all the other things on the net that go viral.

        • Dave
          Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

          Well, that idea could backfire. I searched on “dihydrogen monoxide” and this is the first hit: http://www.dhmo.org/. The chemically uninformed will not be comforted.

          • gluonspring
            Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:20 pm | Permalink

            True, it could backfire, especially among those whose browsers only display one Google hit.

          • zendruid1
            Posted April 9, 2013 at 11:55 pm | Permalink

            “The chemically uninformed will not be comforted.”

            Especially if they click on the Klein bottle ad in the middle of the page….

            • HaggisForBrains
              Posted April 10, 2013 at 2:13 am | Permalink

              Yes I had a good laugh at that, especially the tagline “where yesterday’s future is here today”.

    • Peter Beattie
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t you know that there is no such thing?

  9. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:26 pm | Permalink

    wow, stupid floridians who also evidently have no access to the internet. Yeesh.

    • Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Is the water floridated?

      /@

    • Suri
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Yep, google anyone?

    • gluonspring
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

      Ah, yes, my point exactly. Without the internet the public might have had a gripe. You can’t expect average people to know everything. Given the near ubiquity of the internet, however, they are just being lazy and they deserve to be ridiculed for their willful ignorance.

  10. Marcus Downes
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Here’s the MSDS sheet

  11. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    Cue the sprinkler rainbow conspiracy lady.

    • Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      It’s part of the government’s plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids. At least prodominantly.

    • John K.
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

      How have I never heard of her before? Completely hilarious!

      • truthspeaker
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

        Also sad, it came out after the video was uploaded that she has a severe mental illness.

        • Dave
          Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

          Are you being serious or is abject ignorance now considered a mental illness?

        • John K.
          Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:47 am | Permalink

          Oh, important context there. Makes the YouTube video a bit unethical.

          The end result is still quite funny, even if the circumstances surrounding it are not.

  12. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    This is nothing like Welles’ radio stunt. St. John and Fish told only the unalloyed truth.

    Like Darelle, I find this pretty upsetting. Not only are very many people ignorant and lazy to the point of not knowing or bothering to look up what H2O is, but the authorities have concluded the appropriate response is not “hey, idiots, go learn something already”, but “thou shalt not upset the low-brow masses with scary science jargon”.

  13. Wildhog
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    The key is that it was done on a country music station, where people are ignorant and damn proud of it.

  14. Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

    Stonyground:
    Sorry, but I thought that the Orson Wells War of the Worlds story was a bit of an urban Myth. My understanding was that a handfull of idiots kicked off, and this was exaggerated to create the story of mass panic which was then repeated by people who were rather too keen to believe it.

    As for the dihydrogen monoxide hoax, I believe that this has been done already on a bunch of green activists who, on being informed about all the different ways in which the stuff can kill you, fell over themselves to sign a petition to have the stuff banned.

  15. Gary Graham
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    Just the constituents a Marco Rubio can work with!

  16. Nom de Plume
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Eh, sorry to not join in the pile-on, but as a layperson I’m not sure I’d immediately recognize what dihydrogen monoxide was either. It’s been decades since high school chemistry, and it’s not an expression I use on a daily basis. There are limits to what a science education can do if you’re not immersed in it.

    • moarscienceplz
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The real question is what would you have done if you had heard the “announcement”.

      I’m dying to know what form the “panic” took. Did people refuse to drink water in a manner that was dangerous to themselves or others? What would that look like?

    • gluonspring
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

      I bet if you were concerned you’d look it up on the internet, though, right? Not knowing things is fine. No one knows everything, or remembers everything they once knew. I don’t fault anyone for not recognizing that term. I do fault people who can’t be bothered to type it into Google and see what it is.

    • Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

      I agree with Gluonspring.

      Part of being a responsible adult is being able to recognize things you don’t know and admit you don’t know them.

      Assuming or pretending you know things you don’t leads to all sorts of horrible places, as I’m sure goes without saying at a blobsite like this…

  17. AR.
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

    Too many people are aware of dihydrogen monoxide or DHMO. I prefer the less common term “Hydrogen Hydroxide”.

    • NoAstronomer
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

      Oxygen dihydride?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:27 am | Permalink

      Hydrogen hydroxide is my preference too.

      Any chemists on this site? Which is the most correct term?

      (Or how about hydroxylic acid?)

      • Posted April 10, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

        I’m not a chemist, but the IUPAC name for water is … water. (This was explicitly taught in the general chemistry course I did years ago, so I suppose it could be stale.)

        There are exceptions to the rules for clarity’s sake. Water and ammonia are two I remember.

        However, if one wanted to follow the subordinate rules, “dihydrogen monoxide” I believe is what you’d get to. The electropositive element(s) come first, so oxygen dihydride is wrong, since in water hydrogen is +1 oxydation state. (Compare with, say, LiH, where one does say lithium hydride, because of the -1 OS.)

  18. Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been a fan of hydrogen hydroxide for years now. Hydrohydroxic acid?

    sean s.

  19. Mary Canada
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

    OH the hysteria! Get me a break. People are actually admitting the prank offended their ignorance? WTF

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

      If you OH the hysteria is that Hysteria Hydroxide?

      • Mary Canada
        Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

        Ssshhhh….we don’t want to start an all-out war or create a police state!

  20. W.Benson
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

    The novel “War of the Worlds” was written in 1898 by H. G. Wells (he also wrote the Time Machine and other early science fiction). Herbert George Wells studied biology with Thomas Henry Huxley and has woven Darwinian themes into his fiction.

  21. Sunny
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    But the religious love their “blessed” dihydrogen monoxide.

  22. Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:13 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Microbegeek and commented:
    Isn’t it amazing how little you need to panic the masses? If it would be up to me, those two would get their jobs back, maybe even a raise, for a great April Fool’s prank. But I’d be happy if quote: people would sit down, get a big cup, infuse some Camilla sinensis in dihydrogen monoxide…..calm the **** down and free those two of all charges against them!

  23. Posted April 9, 2013 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    Meanwhile Wolf Blitzer did an hour long special last night: Nuclear Crisis in North Korea. Not at all alarmist. Big red letters, breaking news alerts- the whole package.
    Fox news sometimes puts a terror alert chart at the bottom of the screen during various shows.
    Various politicians/websites/commentators warn of the imminent takeover of the American justice system by proponents of Sharia law.
    No charges against any of them.

  24. arizonajones
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:06 pm | Permalink

    The fact that the two DJs were fired is outrageous. Next they’ll be accused of exposing their epidermis to children.

  25. tombesson
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    Reminds me of when, then, president Ronald Reagan was accused of being a flaming heterosexual. I think the news got a similar reaction.

  26. bric
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:47 pm | Permalink

    At least some people are taking this threat seriously!
    http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/ban-dihydrogen-oxide.html

  27. Dave
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    Holy dihydrogen monoxide Batman!

    • Dave
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, meant to reply to 21 Sunny.

  28. Ryan S
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the (very old) Dr Who where the doctor asks someone for Sodium Chloride to fend off some slug like creature.

  29. Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Did they steal this from an episode of Penn and Teller’s Bullshit?

  30. Curt Cameron
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:54 pm | Permalink

    People, people – don’t panic. You can trust what the DHMO Industry Advisory Board says about this benign chemical.

    DHMO is safe when used properly, and it even occurs naturally.

    • Curt Cameron
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

      Link didn’t work the first time:

      You can trust what the DHMO Industry Advisory Board says about this benign chemical.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:32 am | Permalink

        Not so benign. It is extremely addictive, probably the most addictive substance consumed by humans. Try kicking the DHMO habit and going cold turkey and you’ll experience horrific withdrawal symptoms and die babbling within three days.

  31. neil
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    If you really want to scare those folks, tell them that they not only have dihydrogen monoxide coming from their taps, they’ve got bibliophiles lurking in their libraries.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 9, 2013 at 9:47 pm | Permalink

      Ten days ago that would have had Ray Comfort quaking in his boots!

      Don’t forget to tell them there are thespians on TV right in their own homes every night.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

        And pediatricians in their hospitals and pedagogues in their schools!

        Won’t somebody please think of the children?

        • Jonathan Wallace
          Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:15 am | Permalink

          You jest but when the Murdoch newspaper the News of the World (now defunct) ran a campaign in UK to publish the addresses of convicted paedophiles it did lead to at least one instance of vigilantes attacking the home of a paediatrician!

  32. stoicatheist
    Posted April 9, 2013 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    “Welles didn’t suffer any punishment” Well morons are now more politically correct and litigious and easily hurt and “offended”.

    Welcome to ‘GENERATION LAST’

  33. Posted April 9, 2013 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    I find it absurd that they would punish someone for saying water is coming out of the taps. The real problem is that the listeners didn’t know what they meant. You shouldn’t punish someone because someone else was ignorant.

    The dihydrogen monoxide jokes are so old and, I certainly thought, well-publicised that it’s even more ridiculous that people fell for it, especially on April Fools. Personally I try avoid most media on that day.

  34. David Duncan
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:13 am | Permalink

    “Welles didn’t suffer any punishment for  this except a slap on the wrist from CBS. Times have obviously changed!”

    I believe that it was announced before the broadcast, at the end, and several times in between that it was fiction. Therefore Welles should not have been punished.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 1:43 am | Permalink

      One comment I read was that the funniest part of the affair was Orson Welles apologising for the whole thing and valiantly keeping a straight face.

      I can’t tell if that’s so or not:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSXiUMKAvxk

  35. Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:36 am | Permalink

    The panic over the broadcast, as has been said in previosu comments, is over stated:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-15470903

    However, it is interesting that Daddy Coyne saw panic from the braodcast.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted April 10, 2013 at 8:49 am | Permalink

      What is this “braodcast” you mention in your previosu comment?

      If you read the original post, you will see that the panic was a “version” of the panic, related by the writer’s father.

      I once asked my own father if he had heard the broadcast or had heard about any panics. He wasn’t a listener – working in Canada at the time – but that he heard from home that there were a number of people who came out and were looking skyward and asking neighbors if they’d heard “the news”. He wouldn’t have believed it even if he had been listening; in 1939, he hadn’t yet come to the realization that the Sun was a star.

      Many news outlets of the time were just as sensationalistic and publicity-seeking as Fux News is today. I imagine that the Welles broadcast was the “Obama Is The Muslim Antichrist” of its day.

  36. Jonathan Wallace
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 4:51 am | Permalink

    There was a consumer advice programme on TV in Britain. The presenter, who was doing an item on chemical food additives, brandished a jar of pickles and exclaimed “look! this one contains something called acetic acid!”.

  37. Newish Gnu
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:37 am | Permalink

    I can’t see how putting an illustration of Mickey Mouse into a Florida newspaper is going to help the local readership understand that the DJs were talking about water.

  38. William
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 7:49 am | Permalink

    What the problem is is people trust the media way to much. I don’t think that prankers should face any charges but if a person dose not know about something and trusts their source of news,then when then they panic most people do not think right, in fact not at all. They have not been trained right to think for themselves.

  39. Sheila B
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    I guess one of the pranksters is now a Fish out of water……

  40. Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    This is really about embarrassment. Ignorant people have been exposed as ignorant and they are embarrassed about it. Instead of putting down their latest issue of guns and ammo and cracking open a science book, they blame others for the crime of being more informed.

  41. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted April 10, 2013 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

    Well actually, he’s gone off air. Kinda implies they threw him back in the water.

    Maybe we could say it’s a case of Turf and Surf.


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