Navy was ordered to listen for Martians in 1924

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Ever wonder how everybody could be so gullible back in 1938 that they'd so easily fall for Orson Welles' Halloween hoax, and buy into the fact that the U.S. was really in the middle of a Martian invasion? Well, the hip historians over at Letters of Note have uncovered a document from a dozen years earlier that proves just how ready the country was to believe in intelligent life on the Red Planet in the early part of the last century.

Turns out that during the 1924 Mars opposition—when Mars would be closer to Earth than it had been since 1804—the secretary of the Navy sent a telegram to all naval stations asking them to "COOPERATE ASTRONOMERS WHO BELIEVE POSSIBLE THAT MARS MAY ATTEMPT COMMUNICATION BY RADIO WAVES WITH THIS PLANET WHILE THEY ARE NEAR TOGETHER."

The result of the three-day exercise? Nothing but static. Which means there weren't any Martians back then after all.

Or maybe it's just that once they got a good look at us, they decided—why bother?