Tuesday, 10 February 2015

hindsight bias or temporal paradox

Back in late 2000, a man calling himself John Titor, claiming to be a time-traveler from the year 2036, began appearing in chat-rooms and on-line forums, presenting the world with a litany of the terrible things to come—which certainly seems to violate the popular understanding about causality but sometimes the timeline and canon is disdained for lesser things. Though we are living in a sort of post-skeptical world where most agree that perpetuating future-fraud would be quickly smacked down and the internet is not a hiding-place, I still feel a little cheated for not knowing about this fantastically fun and possibly didactic anecdote. Though Titor’s stop in the year 2000 was just a detour, an authorized-delay, after accomplishing his main mission of retrieving a piece of legacy hardware from a quarter of a century earlier, which was reportedly had the needed fix to inoculate computer systems of his time against a fatal programming bug that had ravaged the contemporary technological landscape, he did make a nostalgic appearance online to entertain questions and issue some dire warnings—one being that one ought to avoid eating beef since, owing to the decades’ long incubation period, mad-cow disease would not present in the human population until Titor’s day and age.
Another, more timely announcement—which most have seemed dismissibly distant back then but probably inversely interesting since the internet was new and fresh and we were innocent and curious about what it might mean to have the world shrink through the sharing of ideas and experiences rather than finding that that shrinkage can also lead to things like compartmentalization and ennui that there’s less unique about us than we’d like to admit (Titor, if there’s even an internet for humans in the future, could have been prescient about that too I suppose)—was that there would be an atomic exchange between the US and Russia in the year 2015 that would be known as World War III.  These pronouncements are quite different than the predictions of Nostradamus, not vague by design but maybe a little evasive, and not just because they claim the authority of experience but also in that if anything does not unfold as Titor said (like the civil wars that were to occur in 2006 and 2012 that was to split the United States up into five separate countries), it still cannot be refuted as wrong, since his time-travel affected the future, as planned. The engagement ended abruptly after four months, and though there has not, I think, been a continual following—bits and pieces of this strange story resurface now and again and spark a resurgence that’s not only in the dismantling and maybe the desire to find resolution, since those interrupted mysteries are the ones that haunt.