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UFO Files: Revisited asks: When did we become obsessed with aliens?

Newspaper cuttings from the day after Orson Wells broadcast HG Wells The War of the Worlds on radio
Newspaper cuttings after The War of the Worlds broadcast

This episode of UFO Files: Revisited takes a look at when the general public first started to become interested in aliens and UFOs.

Humans have always sought to explain things they don’t understand with mythology or even religion. From the Roman god Vulcan working his anvil inside volcanos to sun gods like the ancient Egyptian’s Amun or the Irish sun goddess Étaín. What is striking is just how similar many of these gods are to our more modern description of aliens.

As our own understanding of the world has increased through science, our reliance on religion and mythology to explain the world around us has waned, but we have shifted our focus to the things that still lie beyond our understanding.

Questions like are we the only intelligent life in the galaxy or universe have led to all sort of speculation and fiction, even some hysteria about alien invasions.

In October 1938 Orson Welles broadcast a radio show featuring HG Wells’ novel The War of the Worlds and the press reported that mass panic ensued. This was grossly exaggerated but what the stories did do is fire up the wider population’s interest in aliens and space.

However, even before this broadcast publications like Weird Tales ran short stories on scary green men and UFOs coming to Earth to wreak havoc. Writers like H.P. Lovecraft also wrote extensively about the vastness of space and what ancient entities or races might be waiting out there in the blackness.

UFO Files: Revisited airs on Fridays at 10:03 PM on History. 

James has worked for Monsters and Critics since it started back in 2003. He oversees the business and technical side of things. You can contact... read more
James Wray

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