September 4, 2003

Time Travellin' Fool

When you like weird things and have weird friends, people send you cool stuff. Chuck sent along a link to "John Titor" is the assumed name of a fellow who posted to a number of discussion forums (USENET, I think) circa 2000. He claimed to be from 30+ years in the future and had travelled back in time via a time machine.

The amazing thing about Titor is how well he answered questions. He obviously had a well-thought-out world in his head, or at least thought pretty quick to answer questions in a way that did not conflict. My guess is that his skill leaned more to the latter: the ability to lie well so as not to trip yourself up. THe best liars can induce in themselves a delusional state which helps them remain consistent. When they answer questions, as Titor did, they are careful to construct fantasies in which their stories cannot be verified and cannot be denied.

A quick example: He cannot make definite predictions about the future because his presence here has already changed this timeline. There is no way to argue with that. Questions about stock market tips were turned back on the asker. He asks what this fixation on money says about us. He also asks why he should help someone who asks for an easy stock tip when it means that someone else who has done hard work researching a stock will get less of the money because of his actions.

I've read through a lot of what he said, and none of it would compel me to believe he really was a time traveller (of course). However, it was interesting from a different perspective. It's just plain weird, and it is instructive in how to fend off questions. This guy would make a great politician.

I researched a little and found some people online claiming that John Titor had been revealed as a hoax. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any elaboration or support for the unmasking of John Titor. I'd be interested if anyone has further information to share.

Posted by James at September 4, 2003 11:12 AM
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