The John Titor Time Traveler Phenomenon
By James Donahue
We have been stalling on this story because we strongly suspect it was a hoax that captured the attention
of a lot of the early users of the Internet, before people began recognizing the ways the web can and has been used to deliver
volumes of fallacious information.
Between November 2, 2000 and March 21, 2001, a person identifying himself as John Titor posted on
a public forum, and even made an appearance on Coast-to-Coast night talk radio with Art Bell. He claimed he was a time traveler
from the year 2036 and had just stopped off in our time line for a while.
Titor claimed he was an American soldier from 2036, based in Tampa, Florida. He said he was assigned
to a government time-travel project and sent back to the year 1975 to retrieve an old IBM 5100 computer needed to "debug"
some legacy computer programs of his own time. He said he stopped in the year 2000 to visit his family and collect pictures
lost in a civil war, that he said would happen in 2015.
It should go without saying that Titor gained a following, especially after his Coast-to-Coast radio
interview, which led to the creation of The John Titor Foundation, a for-profit Limited Liability Corporation, which published
the book John Titor: A Time Traveler’s Tale, which is a bound copy of all of his message board posts.
Titor excited his followers with predictions of coming events and a description of the time traveling
machine he used to arrive here. He made a few predictions that came true, but his followers were quick to ignore the events
in history that he missed, which included the 911 attacks on the World Trade Center.
In spite of this, there has been a strange band of serious researchers who have been on the trail
of John Titor ever since he disappeared in 2001.
As one writer explained it, "the Titor legend persists, in part, because no one ever claimed to be
behind it. It’s the Zeigarnik effect, when something’s not wrapped up, it preoccupies our memory. No one has claimed
Titor, so the story continues."
Also, people want to believe that time travel is possible. And if it is possible, why would we not
meet time travelers from the future stopping off at our time for a visit?
A major problem with the Titor prophecies is that he was totally wrong about major world events. For
example, he predicted a civil war starting in the United States in 2005 and ending when Russia launches a nuclear strike against
major U.S. cities, China and Europe in 2015. Russia ended up as America's largest trading partner and he said the Capitol
of the United States is moved to Omaha.
He predicted a change in the Constitution after the war. America will have five presidents who serve
different term periods.
Titor said he was one of seven time travelers from the future and they were using different time machines.
Their purpose in time travel was to study the past in an effort to shape similarities into the future, following the war.
He also said a major effort was underway in 2036 to repair the environment.