John Titor and the Election of 2004

In late 2000 a man calling himself John Titor began posting messages on internet discussion boards, claiming that he was a time traveler from the year 2036 (his time travel machine was a 1967 Chevrolet). His mission had been to journey back to the year 1975 and make contact with his grandfather, who was a member of the engineering team developing the IBM 5100, but somehow he ended up in 2000 instead. The tale of John Titor is pretty familiar internet lore by now, and I'm surprised that I've only made brief references to him before (though I have posted more about other time travelers). Anyway, to make a long story short, John Titor, during the few months he spent posting messages on the internet (he 'traveled back to the future' in March 2001), made a number of specific predictions about the future. In a nutshell, here they are:

2004: Civil unrest develops around the US Presidential election.
2005: An American civil war begins in earnest: "I would describe it as having a Waco type event every month that steadily gets worse. The conflict will consume everyone in the US by 2012 and end in 2015 with a very short WWIII."
2015: Russia launches a nuclear strike against the major cities in the United States. A world war proceeds that kills nearly three billion people
2034: First time machine built by GE
2036: Titor travels back in time to acquire the IBM 5100

Mr. Dark, on LiveJournal, does a good job of debunking much of the illogic in Titor's vision of the future. However, he also points out that we have arrived at the first stage of Titor's predictions: the 2004 election that is supposed to cause unrest that eventually flares up into civil war. Mr. Dark notes:

"it's been a week and no civil war has broken out, and only the most fringe elements of the left wing still dispute the outcome of the election, do you think we can officially declare the John Titor tale a hoax?  Without this lynchpin, the story falls apart completely.  If there is no 'civil unrest' over a 'disputed election in 2004', then there is no civil war.  No civil war, no nuclear war.  No nuclear war, no need to return to the past for some near-ancient IBM PC to solve some otherwise-unsolvable problem."

The creepy thing, however, is that this election has produced an incredible amount of bitterness and division. Witness all the maps of the New United States that people are sharing via the internet. But are we on the verge of a civil war? I don't think so. So it looks like Mr. Dark is right. John Titor is definitely a hoax (was this ever really in doubt?). Though we'll know with even more certainty at the end of next year when the all-out civil war has never materialized.


Posted on Fri Nov 12, 2004


I don't think it is actually fair to say that this election, in particular, has caused "an incredible amount of bitterness and division." Opinions differed on the candidates and people are more coarse in their language today than in some periods of history, but both the 1996 re-election of Clinton and the 2000 election of Bush produced more "division" (neither won a majority of the vote), both were polarizing and both resulted in a following period in which the party out of power challenged the legitimacy of the president. And, as you say, nobody but a few wackos (and editorial-page pundits, I'd add) challenges the outcome of this last election. Most of us, whether happy or unhappy with the outcome, recognize that the election is over and the people have spoken, and we're getting on with our lives in the way Americans usually do rather than dwelling on the past as is so common in other, less stable, areas of the world.

I'd reserve "incredible division" to describe an atmosphere of frequent mass protests, counterdemonstrations or -- see election of 1860 -- political dissolution.
Posted by Sam  in  Delaware  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  01:38 PM
I'm sure it depends on who you hang out with, who forwards you email, etc., but in my experience I can't remember anywhere near this level of anger (and depression) in the Democrat community at the result of an election, even going back to the Reagan years. That's why I'd still say this election has produced an incredible amount of bitterness. There was probably more division in the 60s, but that seemed to cut along a generational divide. Today, as you look at the red vs. blue states the division seems vaguely sectional: urban vs. rural. But yeah, people are getting on with their lives. They're not flooding out into the streets in mass protest.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  02:46 PM
Uh, Alex, are you saying that the fact that the guy's election prediction wasn't altogether accurate proves his time travel claim is a hoax? I'm not sure I follow you there.
How about this: I claim that I never traveled back in time. I also made some inaccurate predictions about the 2004 election. Therefore, my claim not to have traveled through time is a hoax and therefore time travel is real.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  03:55 PM
Big Gary, it's my turn not to totally follow you. Yeah, it makes sense to me that if Titor claimed to be from the future and said that certain events were going to happen, but then they never did happen on the dates he specified, that this would cast doubt on his claim to be from the future.

Now as for your proof that time travel is real. Of course it's real. We're all traveling forwards through time, one second at a time (except for certain portions of the population who seem to be moving backwards towards the middle ages).
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  04:12 PM
I, too, don't consider this to be division in the country, but rather a bunch of whining that is a direct result of the whole 'victim mentality' that the Democratic Party has bred starting during the Clinton administration.

People need to grow up, get over it, and they will. It's funny that in 2000, everyone made a big deal over the lack of a popular vote majority. Now that Bush has a strong margin of victory in that popular vote, it is suddenly no longer an issue of importance to the Democrats.

I'm not a super huge Bush fan by any means, but I certainly identify more closely with the Reps than with the whining Dems.

Let's move on!
Posted by coit  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  04:41 PM
I guess the point I was trying to make was that:
1. Being wrong about one thing doesn't automatically prove you're wrong/lying about something else. Maybe the time-travel guy just has a bad memory for dates. Maybe the civil unrest just hasn't started yet.
2. It seems to me that the fact that jumping back and forth in time (in any other way than traveling forward 60 seconds per minute) completely defies logic should be a better reason to doubt its reality than the credibility or lack of credibility of people who say they've done it.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  04:47 PM
coit, call me a whiner if you want (just don't call me a name-caller), but almost 51% doesn't look like much of a landslide to me.
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  04:49 PM
Gary, who said landslide?

However, since you mention it, he did get 3 million more votes than Kerry, including the fact that Kerry beat Bush by over 2 million votes in NY/CA.

Beyond that, you are making my point by your desire to keep hasing it out, and trying to discredit the fact that he won the popular vote. Presumably, had he won the pop vote in 2000, this wouldn't have been an issue, now that he's won the pop vote, you make it about a lack of a landslide.

As I said, let's move on.
Posted by coit  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  05:00 PM
Thanks for the tip, Big Gary. When I travel back in time, I will be sure to take a history book so that I can keep my dates straight. How embarassing to just forget!
Posted by zsa zsa  in  Jesusland  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  05:05 PM
coit: "hasing it out"?
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  06:37 PM

John Titor... oh, this kills me. My timeline for an old GURPS campaign keeps showing up in forums about this stuff, so I figured I'd say hi.
Posted by Andrew Benton  in  Austin, TX  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  07:51 PM
Yeah, Titor is a nut.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Fri Nov 12, 2004  at  11:21 PM
Everyone knows you can only travel back in time in a Delorean!
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Sun Nov 14, 2004  at  08:30 AM
Is the civil war starting on this message board?
Posted by Peter  on  Sun Nov 14, 2004  at  08:29 PM
If time travel was possible
we'd all have it now!

imagine time travel is invented in 2034 as per above
someone buys one, likes it and goes back in time to patent it for themselves first, in 2033 say.

And so on until the cavemen have them.

I can almost imagine a race to get further back in time first and win the patent.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  12:49 AM
It's it obvious (to me at least) that because John Titor made all sorts of postings on the internet after he traveled back in time he altered the timeline and (perhaps inadvertently) averted the election "civil unrest" around the election and ultimately the civil war. This then led directly to the failure of GE to invent (or at least market) their time machine, and therefor no other time travelers have appeared.

Posted by John.  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  09:19 AM

But time travel in of itself isn't exactly an
innovative idea.

H.G. Wells I think published the idea in 1895 and I doubt the idea was new then.

Assuming the technology to build such a machine doesn't exist (originally) until 2034, the fact that GE can build one then means others can do so too.
Sooner or later and given it might be 2000, 3000, 4000 years later another time machine would be invented.
If it's ever possible to build, we would have it now.

The technology might not exist now, but it would (exist now) if time travel could ever go in a backwards direction.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  02:26 PM
Hmm, isn't a little egotistical to think that people who could travel anywhere in the past or future would want to come visit us?
Posted by Big Gary C  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Mon Nov 15, 2004  at  06:31 PM
I can't speak about time travel, but I'm surprised that (and curious about) there would be people who aren't aware of/deny the degree of anger concerning Bush's administration, or are not aware of some very legitimate concerns about the (reported) vote tally.
As for the great degree of anger and distrust, I can't speak for any "fringe" groups, but I can speak about the rage and anger that has slowly been building among ordinary, working class people, as our jobs are being downsized, outsourced, etc. We, as a group, are obviously worker harder and longer, and falling further behind. That's not because we're "maxed out" on credit cards, but because we've lost health insurance,have no job security, and wages have steadily falloen behind the cost of basic needs.
Add this to a war that doesn't make sense. Sure, it was a strike against Iraq, which bombed the WTC...except that Iraq didn't do it. Then the war was a hunt for those weapons of mass destruction...which weren't there. OK, but we had to get Saddam. So we got him, but the war rages on. Oh, that's right, we're going after those hotbeds of terrorists: presumably, there are groups of terrorists sitting around somewhere, just waiting to be killed, perhaps being so helpful as to put signs outside their houses announcing "Terrorists live here". Sure.
All of this is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of the distrust, anger and resentment that has been growing among those hopelessly ordinary in cities, small towns and rural areas.
Don't believe it? Just take some time, come into the factories, stores and restaraunts where these people work, and listen. Listen to the whole cross-section of ages, political affiliations, religious beliefs, and you are going to hear distrust at best, and more often, anger/rage.
Posted by Dianka Fabian  in  Wisconsin  on  Wed Nov 17, 2004  at  12:57 AM
Gee, that's quite a whine you have there. Once again, you reinforce my point exactly.
Posted by coit  on  Wed Nov 17, 2004  at  01:06 AM
There will always be disagreement over elections
and even those who vote for a person won't like everything they do

No leader can make everyone happy
and when an election offers (as they envariably do) two people both of whom you'd hate to have lead you it becomes a choice of who you hate the least.

As I see it both had things going for them and both had things against them. Socio-economics and policies aside, it's what you see and what you ignore that in the end dictates who you vote for.

As for Civil unrest, I think most people have got over it and are trying to get on with their lives.

There will always be disagreements of course, thats what politics is about and that why you get a chance to voice your opinion on a national level every four years.

And if thats not enough, be happy that Bush can't be voted in for a third term.
Posted by Sharruma  on  Wed Nov 17, 2004  at  03:42 AM
Of course, if John Titor had actually been a time traveller, wouldn't it have been easy for him to have made an additional comment concerning 911? He says something along the lines that drug busts stop around the time the police stop responding to 911 calls. If he had been legitimate, a simple statement such as 911 will become important as time goes on could have been made without "spilling the beans". Even if he had been born in 1998, the WTC event would have been part of his education...
Posted by Evan  in  USA  on  Thu Nov 18, 2004  at  11:16 AM
I read some of the comments on his 'life' in 2015...and he mentioned he became a soldier. If the world was in strife before 2015, he may not have had a traditional education. OR, it may not have been taught to elementary age children, and by the time he was at an age where school would have taught it...he was a soldier. (BTW, I don't believe him, I'm just playing Devil's Advocate.)
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Nov 18, 2004  at  11:23 AM
(2015 may not be the correct date, but it's something like that...I'm trying to remember w/o checking the site.)
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Thu Nov 18, 2004  at  11:23 AM
I personally dont believe it, but... does anyone find it strange that the Ukraine just held their national election - complete with "civil unrest" and seems to be on the verge of a civil war? Sure its far fetched, but...
Posted by Oogie  in  Cananananada  on  Thu Nov 25, 2004  at  08:18 AM
Titor must have misspoke and meant to say the Ukraine instead of the USA....

Maybe he was from the Ukrainian goverment and did not want to tell us.

Can't believe that some people actually believe this.
Posted by Steve  on  Sat Nov 27, 2004  at  07:26 PM
I suppose we'll soon see whether or not the "predictions" he made came true. What I find funny is the nice "deus ex machina" he wrote into the tale to preserve his credibility in the absence of any corroboration on this front. Mainly the talk about divergence and timelines. The lack of a civil war (or failure of any of his prophecies) can be explained away as a "divergence" or as something that is just not going to happen on our timeline, whether from normal deviation or our being forewarned against it. Not direct proof "against" it, but suspiciously convenient.

The bottom line: given the ease of creating a hoax on the internet, anyone trying to maintain a shred of real skepticism HAS to take that into account. In the absence of any incontrovertible proof for or against something, then the easiest explanation is likely the best. Have we seen many certifiable internet hoaxes? Yes. Have we seen many certifiable time travelers? No. Therefore any belief in the latter bears the greater burden of proof. If we can only speak on likelihoods, then the greater likelihood is that this is all a very well-organized hoax.

All evidence brought forward thus far can be easily replicated with spare radio parts, graphics programs, word processors and a reasonably through knowledge of theoretical physics. This doesn't PROVE it's a hoax, not directly. But considering the relative ease of creating such a hoax, it does sweet F.A. for proving its truth.
Posted by Tom Paine  in  earth  on  Thu Dec 09, 2004  at  08:12 AM
Posting from July 21, 2005 ... still no civil unrest, no civil war, no "Waco-type" events happening every month. Most of the prognostications by the leftists who latched on to Titor's story as a way of making political hay are standing around with nothing to do, now, and looking rather silly. Oh, I'm willing to wait until 2008 -- when all Americans finally realized that we were in a Civil War -- to proclaim Titor's statements false, but from today -- mid 2005 -- it doesn't look like Titor was telling the truth.
Posted by Gregory  in  texas  on  Thu Jul 21, 2005  at  03:38 AM
Well I don't know if anyone else here has read all of the Titor posts but he actually said there would be a 6 year long civil war in England too. Since the bombs in London there have been hundreds of reported attacks on mosques and citizens. Today there was a news item about a kebab shop being burned down and I saw a National Front sticker on a local phonebox yesterday saying 'No mosques, no muslims' etc, which I've never ever seen before. And I'm pretty observant. And I always use that phonebox.

Not to mention that the innocent Brazilian guy getting shot 7 times in the head and once in the shoulder smells awfully like a Waco type event to me, if you take that to mean the police fucking up.

Civil unrest? Maybe not in America but it could be here if it doesn't calm down soon...

Posted by Mark  on  Tue Jul 26, 2005  at  06:34 PM
I'm a linguist analyst, and I find strange that Titor communicates in a way a person would in the year 2000. Someone from 2036, with a 'time machine', would have associated technology to go with it, and things would just be different. People don't realize how much we take for granted, and someone from 2036 would speak taking certain things for granted. His prose is just not believable, though his words might spark debates.
Posted by Scotty  in  West Coast  on  Sun Jul 31, 2005  at  01:46 AM
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