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Jordanian Mayor Angry Over "Alien Invasion" Prank 217

Posted by samzenpus
from the war-of-the-worlds dept.
krou writes "Jordanian mayor Mohammed Mleihan has taken a dim view of local newspaper Al-Ghad's April Fools prank, which saw a front page story claiming that 'flying saucers flown by 3m (10ft) creatures had landed in the desert town of Jafr.' The paper claimed that communication networks had gone down, and people were fleeing the area. The mayor called the local security authorities, who combed the area, but they were unable to find any evidence of the aliens. Mr Mleihan is now considering suing because of the distress it caused to residents: 'Students didn't go to school, their parents were frightened and I almost evacuated the town's 13,000 residents. People were scared that aliens would attack them.'" I guess they've never heard of Orson Welles in Jordan.

*

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Jordanian Mayor Angry Over "Alien Invasion" Prank

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  • by Psychotic_Wrath (693928) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:15AM (#31748462)
    The mayor is a retard!
    • by v1 (525388) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:36AM (#31748796) Homepage Journal

      The mayor called the local security authorities, who combed the area

      So... the mayor set aside common sense, skipped the whole "why don't we call the newspaper and see what their source for this story is?" and called in the marines? AND the local law enforcement ALSO failed their reality check, made no attempt to talk sense into the mayor, and headed out on their alien snipe hunt?

      I say the whole group got what they deserved. The only reason the mayer is lawyering up is in retribution for a whole henhouse full of egg on his face.

      • by cpghost (719344) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:00PM (#31749162) Homepage

        The mayor called the local security authorities, who combed the area

        Colonel Sandurz: Are we being too literal?
        Dark Helmet: No you fool, we're following orders. We were told to comb the desert so we're combing it.

      • by westlake (615356)

        So... the mayor set aside common sense, skipped the whole "why don't we call the newspaper and see what their source for this story is?" and called in the marines? AND the local law enforcement ALSO failed their reality check, made no attempt to talk sense into the mayor, and headed out on their alien snipe hunt?

        You've made at least two assumptions here:

        That the hoax - the snipe hunt - is part of Jordanian culture.

        That in a violent and volitile region like the mideast the right decision for the mayor is NO

    • by keeboo (724305)
      Newsflash: April Fools' Day is not an universal celebration.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:16AM (#31748474)

    1. Jordanians (and possibly, by extension, all Arabs) have a hilarious sense of humor.

    2. Politicians EVERYWHERE are absolute morons

    • Arabs do in fact have a marvelous sense of humor, see Anthony Bourdain's excellent No Reservations episode where he travels to Saudi on the invitation of a viewer, Danya Alhamrani, who sent in an idea for him to go there last year and accompanied him. I think the trip was as much a surprise to me as well as to him.
  • Best prank ever (Score:3, Interesting)

    by e2d2 (115622) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:16AM (#31748476)

    This has to go down as one of the best ever. If they evacuated it would've been insane. This teaches you to be skeptical of "truths" handed to you on a platter by the media.

    I tell you what though - they'd never try this in Saudi Arabia. They'd end up executed for sorcery.

    • by Scutter (18425) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:21AM (#31748536) Journal

      they'd never try this in Saudi Arabia. They'd end up executed for sorcery.

      Since it was a UFO prank, wouldn't the charge be saucery?

    • by Shakrai (717556)

      They'd end up executed for sorcery.

      Strange village guy: But she's a witch!
      Mal: Yeah, but she's our witch.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Bakkster (1529253)

      This teaches you to be skeptical of "truths" handed to you on a platter by the media.

      Though, we're not talking about reporting on "truths" that are partisan spin. We're talking about a front page report about a disaster/national security issue. You know, the kind of thing where taking the time to investigate it on your own could be costly, and that you expect has little room for intentionally misleading reporting.

      In any case, it's poor form to publish a prank story implying people were in imminent danger, especially in a country like Jordan, which according to TFA is not known for pranks

      • because you know, when the aliens to invade, I am sure the first priority is to set a frontpage, insert some nice ads, print it, distribute it...

        At least the Orson Welles scare was over the bloody radio.

        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          because you know, when the aliens to invade, I am sure the first priority is to set a frontpage, insert some nice ads, print it, distribute it...

          At least the Orson Welles scare was over the bloody radio.

          In both this instance and the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, neither was from the point of view that the aliens were in charge of the media. Both are the media 'reporting' on an ongoing alien invasion in a backwater hick town, so I'm not sure how this is relevent.

      • Yes it was a front page report, but it was reported on 1st of April. And it was a report about aliens. I mean come on! 1st April and aliens report? Would you seriously believe it?
        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          It would be reasonable to assume that Jordan doesn't have the same cultural trappings that we do. Would you, without looking it up, know when you woke up that it was the first day of Ramadan? Is it that hard to expect that this non-Western nation without a tradition of practical jokes would have people who don't wake up on April 1st with a stronger sense of skepticism than usual?

      • by e2d2 (115622)

        Well it's your right to be angry. But maybe you should just relax man. Here toke on this [passing joint]

      • e're talking about a front page report about a disaster/national security issue.

        Because when I read - the next morning - about how aliens came in and took over the town the night before no matter what I see when I look out the window, I'm totally gonna call in the marines.

    • Re:Best prank ever (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:59AM (#31749158) Journal
      When you are in a region close to warring countries, how are you expected to react when an unidentified force lands and disembark ? The mayor reaction was quite sane : aerial unidentified vehicles, possibly military, were signaled to have landed by what was supposed to be a trusted channel. Doing this kind of prank in an unstable region is like shouting "fire !" with no specific reason in the middle of a crowd. It creates apparently stupid reactions but that are perfectly logical in the context of the decision maker.

      Imagine a prank in the 1960 that would say that strange cigar shaped rockets were coming toward the USA. Would you blame all the sheeplish people who would rush for the shelters ?
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by nospam007 (722110) *

        "Imagine a prank in the 1960 that would say that strange cigar shaped rockets were coming toward the USA. Would you blame all the sheeplish people who would rush for the shelters ?"

        Yes, since they already were on the run 22 years earlier.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_of_the_Worlds_(radio) [wikipedia.org]

      • aerial unidentified vehicles, possibly military, were signaled to have landed

        If the summary is correct, the article also said that the vehicles were piloted by 3-meter-tall creatures. I know there's a lot of cultural hatred amongst various groups in that part of the world, but I don't think a report about a military invasion by a neighboring country would go quite that far.

      • by causality (777677)

        When you are in a region close to warring countries, how are you expected to react when an unidentified force lands and disembark ? The mayor reaction was quite sane : aerial unidentified vehicles, possibly military, were signaled to have landed by what was supposed to be a trusted channel. Doing this kind of prank in an unstable region is like shouting "fire !" with no specific reason in the middle of a crowd. It creates apparently stupid reactions but that are perfectly logical in the context of the decis

      • Here's the problem, though. The News media may be a trusted channel - but the very fact that civil authorities (first responders, military, etc) were not notifying the mayor of the situation should have immediately raised red flags everywhere. No notice from the police, for example, indicates that either a) the police have been wiped out, or b) there is nothing to report.
      • No kidding. These kinds of pranks can be DANGEROUS. [nytimes.com]
        On August 31st, 2005 in Baghdad, there was a large crowd of Shiites on a pilgrimage crossing a crowded bridge. Someone somewhere on the bridge said something about suicide bombers, and this sparked a horrible panic which turned into a stampede. Over 950 people died from being crushed, suffocated or drowning after jumping or falling into the Tigris. This probably wasn't a prank. It could have been malicious, or maybe there are words that rhyme with suicide
  • You’re an idiot and everyone knows it... but if you sue them, by golly, you’ll show them who’s boss and you won’t look like a buffoon any longer.

    Except... you will.

  • So he'd be happy if aliens were actually invading?
  • by greggman (102198) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:21AM (#31748540) Homepage

    When some radio station you normally trust starts reporting a hoax it takes a while to figure out it's a hoax. It's happened several times.

    http://www.wnyc.org/shows/radiolab/episodes/2005/06/29

    • How had he never heard of War of the Worlds?
      I mean it's a cultural thing at this point.

      At the very least you'd think someone around him would have laughed and let him in on the joke.

      If they'd reported that terrorists had attacked, a foreign military or some other remotely plausible threat sure but aliens???

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by nomadic (141991)
        I mean it's a cultural thing at this point.

        In Jordan?
        • by Bakkster (1529253)

          Obviously, Hungry Hobo would never be tricked by a story out of One Thousand and One Nights.

      • by sznupi (719324)

        It's a cultural thing in your culture.

        But, for example, what notable can you say, from the top of your head, about "Captain Abu Raed" film?

      • by westlake (615356)

        How had he never heard of War of the Worlds? I mean it's a cultural thing at this point

        Your culture. Not his.

    • by JWSmythe (446288)

      Nothing like that would ever happen. People are too smart to believe everything they hear or read. I read so on the Intertubenetweb.

          [/sarcasm]

    • Common sense, not so common actually.

  • Why do we have to change the rules just because some idiots are finding brand new unforeseen ways to be stupid?

  • by Pojut (1027544)

    Stop fueling my silent rage [wikipedia.org].

    Oh, and apparently this [livingwithanerd.com] no longer applies exclusively to the USA...slightly modified, of course.

    • by Molochi (555357)

      Silent rage...

      Hey, I did my part to meme-ify 131.

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=131 [urbandictionary.com]

      But apparently, my sentiments were in the minority. Hell only 25 people have even voted on the entry so I guess it's not really a part of most people's concerns one way or the other.

      Though it didn't catch on, I glad there's at least a wikipedia page about it.

  • by VShael (62735) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:25AM (#31748612) Journal

    The urban legend that sprang up, about ignorant people believing that the radio broadcast of War of the worlds was real, is one of the most pervasive and believed myths in modern times.

    It was fuelled by the newspapers and magazines of the era, who didn't like radio much and were keen to portray it in a bad light.

    As anyone who has heard the broadcast knows, the show was frequently interrupted by voice overs telling you that you were listening to a dramatisation.

    No doubt though, there will be those on slashdot who will also continue to perpetuate this legend as historical fact.

    • by gblackwo (1087063)
      citation please.
      • by VShael (62735) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:36AM (#31748802) Journal

        Sure...

        "Later studies suggested this panic was less widespread than newspapers suggested. During this period, many newspapers were concerned that radio, a new medium, would render the press obsolete. In addition, this was a time of yellow journalism, and as a result, journalists took this opportunity to demonstrate the dangers of broadcast by embellishing the story, and the panic that ensued, greatly." see Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future By Stanley J. Baran, Dennis K. Davis

        Robert E. Bartholomew suggests that hundreds of thousands were frightened in some way, but notes that evidence of people taking action based on this fear is "scant" and "anecdotal".
        See - Bartholomew, Robert E. (2001). Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics: A Study of Mass Psychogenic Illness and Social Delusion. Jefferson, North Carolina: Macfarland & Company. pp. 217ff.. ISBN 0-7864-0997-5.

        And for a slightly more amusing take on the myth :
        http://www.cracked.com/article_18487_6-ridiculous-history-myths-you-probably-think-are-true_p2.html [cracked.com]

        That enough citations for you?

        • by Aladrin (926209)

          A later study, which had no actual evidence and just supposes a lot of things, is supposed to contradict writings from the same timeframe as the event?

          No, you'll have to cite better than that.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by mea37 (1201159)

          Well, let's see...

          You said that it was a "myth" that people believed the War of the Worlds broadcasts were real, and implied that nobody hearing them could possibly believe that.

          Your citation only says that some reports of fear were overstated by newspapers with an agenda, and yet it acknowledges that "hundreds of thousands were frightened" (compared to a U.S. population of about 130M at the time).

          Nope, not enough citation for your claim.

          • by bugi (8479)

            Of course they were frightened. It was a horror story.

            Their initial shock however wore off as soon as they heard one of those frequent interruptions stating it was a radio play.

        • See - Bartholomew, Robert E. (2001). Little Green Men, Meowing Nuns and Head-Hunting Panics: A Study of Mass Psychogenic Illness and Social Delusion. Jefferson, North Carolina: Macfarland & Company. pp. 217ff.. ISBN 0-7864-0997-5.

          Please post more citations on Meowing Nuns. I, like, need them for a research project or something . . .

          . . . or is this just Hentai stuff, and not real nuns?

        • by Kidbro (80868)

          Big Media trying to badmouth a new information distribution medium because they can't control it and fear becoming obsolete?

          Man, things were pretty bleak back then, good thing nothing like that happens these days....

        • pfft, it's not credible until I see a wikipedia link...
        • by causality (777677)

          In addition, this was a time of yellow journalism

          They say that as though today were not. The practice has become more sophisticated and better able to mislead without actually making demonstrably false statements, mostly by framing, omission of inconvenient facts, and repetition. But that's the only difference I see between the journalism of then and most journalism that happens today.

      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        There's an interesting write up here [museumofhoaxes.com].

        It doesn't fully back what he was saying, but does suggest that the media did play up the response to the show more than actually happened. Oh, imagine that. :)

        What he says seems to come from the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org], which cite this book [amazon.com] and this book [amazon.com]. Both books were published over 60 years after the events happened. Actual evidence shows that people did evacuate, or at least gather in Gover's Mill. There were many calls placed in to th

    • by smooth wombat (796938) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:37AM (#31748828) Homepage Journal
      As anyone who has heard the broadcast knows, the show was frequently interrupted by voice overs telling you that you were listening to a dramatisation.

      Not quite. Up until last year, my parents had a record (33) of the entire broadcast. There were only three times the announcement was made that this was a dramatisation(sic) and not real. Had someone come in at any other time, they would not have known it wasn't real.

      I should have saved the record from the yard sale, but I debated what I would do with it in the ensuing decades other than holding on to it as a curious memento of the broadcast.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by medv4380 (1604309)
        It also ran without any commercial breaks which also made it seem more genuine to the people who tuned in late. The exaggerated level of panic is the only thing that was an urban legend.
      • Yeah, I heard an original copy once as well, and while it was dated, it had all the hallmarks of journalism from its period. I can see easily how people tuning in at the wrong moment might have thought it was the real thing. -There were segments where the reporter was doing the whole, "I don't know if anybody is still receiving this, but. . ." thing with explosions and ray guns sounding off all around him. Keeping in mind also that the jury hadn't even been assembled, let alone come to any decisions rega

    • Knowing some from that generation, do remember that not everyone heard the opening disclaimer, and that some of them didn't stay glued to their radios to hear the latter ones.
      • by JWSmythe (446288)

        If you turned on the radio, and heard that there was an alien invasion, nuclear attack, or whatever, would you really stay at home listening to the radio?

        You know, if heard on a major radio station that ICBM's had been launched towards the US, and it was from a reliable source and sounded authentic, I probably wouldn't be hanging around in a metro area either. Of course now we have other methods for fact checking. I could (oh my gosh) go to any number of news sites, or check broadcast TV,

    • by srobert (4099)

      Sure, it's anecdotal but, when I was a kid in the 70's, my uncle told me about the night of that broadcast. He was at a gas station that night in Indianapolis. Cars began coming in large numbers and a line developed. Some people were genuinely frightened. They were filling up with gas and advising everyone else there to "get out of the city because Martians were coming". They were completely serious. My uncle and his friends thought the whole thing was likely some Halloween stunt. But they also laughed at

  • by PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:42AM (#31748896)

    Well, if the US ever finds a reason to go to war with Jordan, all they need to do is to carpet bomb the place with old copies of "The Weekly World News http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weekly_World_News [wikipedia.org] ."

    The Jordanians will be to dazed to put up a fight.

  • by k8to (9046) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @11:58AM (#31749142) Homepage

    What does Citizen Kane have to do with it? Perhaps you meant H.G. Wells?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      H.G. Wells wrote the War of the Worlds.

      Orson Wells did the radio play.

    • Run! He'll eat us all!

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by jabelli (1144769)

      H. G. Wells wrote War of the Worlds, set in England. Orson Wells directed an episode of Mercury Theatre on the Air that was an adaptation of the story, set in New Jersey. Nobody ever thought the novel was a factual account. There were some people who thought the radio episode was actual news reporting and panicked.

      • Re:Orson wells, WTF? (Score:4, Informative)

        by FiloEleven (602040) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:41PM (#31750786)

        This is correct, except it's spelled "Welles."

        There are also a number of very good reason why people thought the radio episode was actual news reporting, outlined in this Radiolab episode [wnyc.org].

        There was a disclaimer at the beginning of the broadcast, which most people missed. There was a (fictitious) musical act "scheduled" for the show. The music was first interrupted to bring "breaking news" of "explosions seen on Mars." The next interruption reported that the explosions were rockets leaving the surface of mars, and a third said they were heading towards earth. Every time a report was finished, the music returned, leaving people to wonder. Every time there was another interruption, the whole thing gained more credibility.

        Then they brought in actors portraying astronomers, government officials, and others, all of this offered up with the seriousness of the Hindenburg coverage--which Welles listed as one of his inspirations. One of the freakier parts that gave me chills even knowing it was fake is an on-scene reporter at the landing site. He sees something come out of the spacecraft, and it attacks the soldiers in front of him (with requisite gunfire and other sound effects). The reporter is emotionally distraught but still trying to report when suddenly---silence, he is cut off in mid-sentence. There's a good five or ten seconds of silence, which is almost unheard of on radio even today.

        Welles knew what he was doing. He knew that War of the Worlds presented as originally told would be stale and get no listeners. He wanted to trick people, though he originally denied it, in order to teach them not to believe everything they see or hear from mass media. The lesson has obviously not been learned--people have pulled the same stunt successfully at least 3 times, discussed on Radiolab along with the occasionally disastrous results, and this makes a fourth.

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      What does Citizen Kane have to do with it? Perhaps you meant H.G. Wells?

      I'm wondering why this is informative... it should be funny.

  • by corbettw (214229) <corbettw&yahoo,com> on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:00PM (#31749168) Journal

    You might want to stay off the Internet every April 1. It can be a little confusing (and annoying).

  • I remember studying the horrors of the Eugenics movement but I have to say... everyone of those people... might do us some good to keep dumb people from having too many kids who will also grow up to fear alien invasions from flying saucers...

    Score +1 for the Idiocracy again... So far this week we are at a record of 33 points for the idiocracy and it's only Tuesday...

    I mean even if there were aliens attacking, LOOK UP and if the skies are clear... no aliens in flying saucers. It's not like he reported INVISI

    • by billcopc (196330)

      I dunno man, I wouldn't mind watching "OW my balls!" once in a while, just to see idiots getting hurt, that is.

  • Wow, how culturally sensitive of you.

    I guess you've never heard of Abdelsalam al-Majali. (Sure, I'll wait while you look it up...)
  • Legend (Score:3, Funny)

    by BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @12:17PM (#31749452) Homepage Journal
    Slashdot, let this be a lesson to you. If your April Fool's day jokes earn you an intervention by authorities, get children out of school for a day, and result in a possible lawsuit against your organization by an official political body, then you are doing it right.

    Anything less just falls short.
  • In the cold, jaundice glare of reality, the following scenario would most likely occur. The Aliens would go about their business doing what they came here to do. Mayor Mohammed, may, be contacted by the Aliens. But as sure as the sun comes up the morning, Government representatives from all over this planet would be approaching, very quickly, to the landing site. The optimal solution to consider is getting places for the diplomats to stay. Worst case scenario is that it won't matter. Best case scenari
  • They are just trying to cover up the fact that aliens really did land in that desert. You shouldn't trust everything the media says.

  • And they say we're ignorant of their culture?

    At least we have self-righteous idiot leaders in common.

  • Radio Lab [radiolab.org] did a great radio story about 3 different iterations of the War of the Worlds broadcast - Welles' version, one in Central America and one in upstate New York in the 70's.

    Check it out [wnyc.org].

  • by FiloEleven (602040) on Tuesday April 06, 2010 @01:10PM (#31750206)

    I heard a Radiolab episode [wnyc.org] all about War of the Worlds, the original broadcast and repeat performances all over the world. "From Santiago, Chile to Buffalo, New York to a particularly disastrous evening in Quito, Ecuador." This doesn't surprise me in the least, and it wouldn't be any more surprising if it happened in Kansas or California. The backlash has been worse than the threat of lawsuits--several employees of the news agency in Quito were killed when people realized they'd been tricked and stormed the news building, setting fire to it with them inside.

    Welles' point, explained by him in an audio clip during the show, was to get people to realize that they can't automatically believe what they hear on the radio or any form of mass media. It's a lesson that never sank in, which is what makes it possible to continue pulling these stunts.

  • So it took about one day for the gullible Jordanians who initially believed the reports of aliens to gather evidence, refute those claims, and adjust their beliefs accordingly. Yet initial expression of the Islamic religion occurred about 14 centuries ago and they still believe in an imaginary being which controls events on earth. Why is that? Why such selective application of empiricism and reason?

    • by H0p313ss (811249)

      So it took about one day for the gullible Jordanians who initially believed the reports of aliens to gather evidence, refute those claims, and adjust their beliefs accordingly. Yet initial expression of the Islamic religion occurred about 14 centuries ago and they still believe in an imaginary being which controls events on earth. Why is that? Why such selective application of empiricism and reason?

      Well Christianity has a 600 odd year lead on them and Judaism have another thousand so I'd be careful about casting the first stone on that particular issue.

  • Sure this time it turned out to be a joke but just imagine if it was for instance a US special ops mission. Most of the people in Jordan beyond the capital live in remote mountaneous regions and have never seen anything more sophisticated than a goat so a US helicopter could be mistaken for an alien spacecraft. I've heard stories that during the 1967 war many Jordanian hersmen thought the God came down from the sky in fiery chariot! Most Arabs are also pretty short (about 120 cm) so a Westerner may appear u
  • Ok, let's see if I've got this right.

    On April 1st a newspaper (which was probably printed the prior day or night, and obviously written before that point) had a story that the town was being invaded by giant aliens.
    There is a nearby military base.
    Nobody could see anything wrong, hear any explosions, see any smoke columns, or any other signs of problems.
    Not one person was running through the streets in charred rags yelling about an apocalypse.
    There were no radio, TV, or phone reports from any government agen

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