Do you remember in Back to the Future, Part II, when Old Biff travels back in time and gives his younger self a sports almanac? A book that gives Young Biff knowledge of future sporting victories and allows him to make a fortune? Looks like a similar thing has happened in real life…
In my last time travel-themed article, I explored the possibility that time travellers might be among us. Have I just stumbled upon more evidence of this?
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine sent me the above newspaper clipping. An article about an alleged time traveller called Andrew Carlssin, who had skipped a court appearance and disappeared. In brief, the story goes that on January 28th 2003, Andrew Carlssin was arrested and detained for insider trading. Over a two-week period, he had invested in businesses and made an unprecedented $350 million from just $800 worth of investment. The allegation was that he must have had illegal inside information; no one’s that lucky.
But when investigators questioned him, trying to find out his sources, he offered an alternative explanation for his knowledge of the stock market. He claimed to have travelled back in time from 2256 armed with knowledge of future stocks. Suffice it to say, investigators didn’t believe him. But then, shortly after his release on bail, he disappeared and could not be traced. Did he go ‘back to the future’?
My initial reading of the article was that this man must’ve been a fruit loop. But what makes the article more intriguing is that apparently Carlssin correctly predicted the exact date of the US invasion of Iraq, and that no record of him existed before 2002.
Interesting? Yes. Compelling? Yes. Convincing? Well, not yet.
I obviously had to do some more probing into this rather fantastical story. And a quick Google search of “Andrew Carlssin” revealed the truth.
The story’s origin: The Weekly World News
The first article about Carlssin and the follow-up article in the above clipping originated in a newspaper called the Weekly World News, published in the US between 1979 and 2007. Wikipedia describes the Weekly World News as a “largely fictional news tabloid” which posted “outlandish cover stories” and had a satirical approach to news.
Their, urm, ‘news’ included stories about an extraterrestrial who advised politicians like President Bush and had an affair with Hillary Clinton. Revelations that Saddam Hussein’s arsenal of WMDs included giant slingshots and dinosaurs. A story about a surgeon who reattached a pair of Siamese twins when they failed to pay their medical bill for the separation procedure. And look at some of these corkers…
The Andrew Carlssin time travel story seems almost reasonable by comparison.
Problem was, sometimes reputable news publications got hold of their stories and reprinted them without making it clear that they were coming from a fictional newspaper. This is what happened with the Andrew Carlssin story, which was re-reported by Yahoo! and subsequently by other publications, who believed it was actual news. Hence it became an urban legend.
It’s similar to what happened with the time travelling hit and run urban legend that I talked about in the last article. Rudolph Fentz, the man who inadvertently travelled forwards in time from 1876 to 1950, originated in a short story by Jack Finney called I’m Scared. The tale was re-printed later as though it was real.
But – unlike the Carlssin story, which most people agree is a hoax – the Rudolph Fentz tale remains somewhat unclear. Apparently researchers have discovered an article about the Rudolph Fentz incident, which was published before the I’m Scared short story. Others claim to have discovered evidence proving the existence of the real Rudolph Fentz…
Could it be that both the Fentz and Carlssin cases are being branded myths and hoaxes to cover up the truth? That time travellers really are among us?
Next Wednesday: Since the festive season is upon us, I’m looking at ten Christmas conspiracy theories over a two-part article. Stay tuned!