Quick! Think about all your favorite movies that feature time travel. There’s the old classic, Back to the Future, where Marty McFly gets weird with his mom.
There’s the cult classic, Donnie Darko, where either wormholes exist or Donnie Darko is having a psychotic episode.
There’s The Time Traveler’s Wife, which we haven’t seen and probably never will because it got a 38 percent on Rotten Tomatoes but maybe would watch if it were released on Netflix because the trailer reveals an interesting subtext about emotionally unavailable men.
After none of these movies did you probably think to yourself, “Yep! That does it. I definitely believe in time travel now.” And that’s reasonable. Despite our fascination with the topic, and despite, as Scientific American puts it, “tentative support for time travel’s feasibility—at least from a mathematical perspective,” time travel as of 2017 is impossible.
Or is it? According to the internet, where certainly no truth has ever been fabricated, there are some photos that show time travelers (or some other strangely anachronistic elements), thus proving the existence of time travel. Scroll on for images that look so mismatched with the time they were taken that at least some people on the internet have come to believe the impossible.
Pictures That Look Like Famous Folks
Meet Marshall Twitchell. Look familiar?
Now, here’s Conan O’Brien, who is a comedian, a television host, and a television producer—oh, and he’s also a time traveler, so say some people on the internet.
According to PBS, Twitchell, a Union veteran, was a representative of the Freedmen’s Bureau who “travel[ed] South to enforce post-Civil War order and protect former slaves.” But we know where else he travelled: the present!
Conan O’Brien isn’t the only celeb suspected by the internet of finding success through shady means (like time travel). Nicholas Cage also appears to have succeeded this way, and he, too, decided to make a pit stop at the Civil War.
Similarly, this photo published by The New York Public Library featuring the “Harlem Loiterers” image taken by street photographer Sid Grossman in 1939 almost certainly proves the veracity of time travel.
Seriously, the dude front and center is obviously Jay-Z.
The Cape Scott Time Traveler
According to more people on the internet, another piece of time travel evidence begins with a story of a couple going into a bookstore. They find a book called The Cape Scott Story that was published in 1974 but contains images from 1917.
One of those images looked about right until they zoomed in to one particular dude who stands out from all the rest. He’s referred to as “a surfer looking man,” because in his T-shirt, shorts, and long haircut, he looks more like a grunge kid from the ’90s.
However, as one goodreads.com commenter notes: “In the comments to the article, someone mentioned that t-shirts were around then and that they made it into the common lexicon soon after that date (it appeared in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary in the 1920s). This Article says they were worn by U.S. Navy sailors as early as 1913.”
The Time-Traveling Hipster
This photograph is a particular favorite among the time travel believers, because it very clearly shows a time-traveling hipster. The image, taken in 1941 at the reopening of the South Fork Bridge in Canada, was made public in 2004 as part of the Canadian Barlorne-Pioneer Museum’s exhibit “Their Past Lives Here.”
In 2010, the museum went digital, putting the collection of photos online, and the internet spotted this sore thumb immediately, coming to the most logical conclusion through rational discourse, as internet users are wont to do: time travel.
The fact-checking website Snopes, unfortunately, is not convinced, writing that, “The idea that the man in the photograph is a time traveler hinges on three items he is seen wearing or holding that appear to be of too modern a vintage for the 1940s: a logo t-shirt, a small portable camera, and wrap-around sunglasses.”
Snopes then goes on to destroy, point by point, each of the assumptions about these items, showing that they would have all been “readily available” in 1941. They conclude that “it is more plausible that the photograph shows a man of his time with unusual fashion sense rather than a time traveler.”
Hm, okay. Bummer.
Keeping with the theme that all or most time travelers are devil-may-care young white men with hip aesthetics, there are these dudes on skateboards who look pretty out of place.
Cracked posted a photo of this handsome unconventional gent with the caption, “This hipster will tell you he was skateboarding before skateboarding was cool. He’s right this time: this is New York City in 1965.”
And Gizmodo is similarly fascinated by a LIFE photograph archive of skateboarding in the 1960s that features one dude who looked, at least to Gizmodo writer Casey Chan, “a little off.”
Chan writes: “What is it about this guy? The jeans he’s wearing looks more like it’s raw selvedge denim, a trend that didn’t really take off until the aughts. His back pocket looks like it could be holding a beanie, one that he was wearing like a lazy noodle over his head. His shirt? I have one just like it. Scruff on his face? A growing hipster. Shades? Unpossibly modern. The only thing that screams (more like whisper) 1960 is his dress shoes. Other than that, we have a time traveler folks!”
Time-Traveling Finance Bro
As the story goes, in 2003, a 44-year-old named Andrew Carlssin was arrested for insider trading. His defense? His success wasn’t illegal, but simply a perk of being a time traveler and all of the knowledge that comes with it.
(Note that this picture is the same as the one with the time-traveling hipster mentioned above. Nothing odd about that, at all.)
Apparently, Carlssin was then bailed out by some “unidentified benefactor” for $1 million before disappearing mysteriously right in time for the court hearing.
As Snopes reports: “All one need know about this article is that it originated with the Weekly World News, an entertainment tabloid devoted to inventing fantastically fictitious stories while keeping its tongue firmly embedded in its cheek to a depth not measurable by any instrument known to man. Unfortunately, Yahoo!, a primary news source for many people on the Internet, reprinted some Weekly World News articles in its TV News section under a heading of ‘Entertainment News & Gossip,’ a title that didn’t convey a strong ‘bogus’ warning to readers who didn’t notice the original source was the Weekly World News (or didn’t know what the Weekly World News was).”
People With Cell Phone Cameras
A common theme in the time travel proof conversation is technology appearing in times before it existed. Reportedly, there have been many instances of cell phones appearing in media before cell phones existed.
There’s this video footage of what appears to be someone using a cell phone camera at a 1995 Mike Tyson fight…
But it’s not a cell phone—instead, as Snopes points out, it “also resembles any one of a number of handheld cameras that were in fact widely available in 1995.”
There’s this photo of Marilyn Monroe explored by hard news source The Richest. “…[T]he woman behind her got all of the attention after this picture hit the internet streets,” writes Jim Russo. “The woman can be seen holding a device that appears to be a modern-day phone or digital camera. Whatever it is, she seems to be taking a picture of Monroe with technology that shouldn’t have existed in this time period.”
Russo did not appear to Google this image even a single time, however, since what would have come up was an article from PetaPixel about Hungarian photographer and retoucher Flóra Borsi, who created the photo series, titled—yup—“Time Travel,” wherein she Photoshopped herself into various historical images.
Woman Talking On A Cell Phone In A Charlie Chaplin Film
More cell phone sightings! This time, it’s someone who looks to be talking on a cell phone. The footage is from a clip that appeared as bonus material on a DVD of Charlie Chaplin’s 1928 film The Circus.
Seems like 2010 must have been a magical year for time travel conspiracy theorists: not only was this the year that the internet received access to The Time-Traveling Hipster image courtesy of Barlorne-Pioneer Museum’s choice to digitize, but it also was gifted this footage.
“Never mind the obvious questions about non-existent satellites and cell towers back in the jazz age,” Bill Demain writes for Mental Floss. Of course.
Deflatingly, Demain points out that “[t]he device was most likely an early hearing aid.” Mental Floss then directs us to this YouTube video of “Chaplin’s Time Traveler Analyzed.” “Many people are claiming it to be a hearing aid,” writes the video’s poster. “In 1924 Siemens made a compact, pocket sized carbon microphone/amplifier device.”
The Guy Running For President Who Claimed To Be A Time Traveler
Here’s a weird thing you may not have known: someone who ran for president in 2016 also claimed to have successfully traveled through time. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Donald Trump, though Lord knows his “alternative facts” parallel this kind of claim’s bogus factor.
The candidate was Andrew Basiago, a practicing lawyer and an advocate of single-payer healthcare who also claims to have been part of a secret U.S. government program as a child that landed him in this 1863 photo of Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Oh yeah, and he says he teleported to Mars with a young Barack Obama.
“His platform consists of 100 proposals that range from forcing the government to disclose secret time travel technologies and putting bigfoot on the endangered species list, to pardoning Edward Snowden and investing $100 billion in infrastructure and programming for Native Americans,” Motherboard reported.
Basiago intends to run again 2020 despite the fact that people, on the whole, tended to think of Basiago as an unreliable candidate. This is most likely in no small part because of his insistence that he traveled through time. But, guys, who really knows? What is “time,” anyway? Maybe we’re all living in the Matrix!