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…
One of the most popular ‘real-life time travel’ stories that continues to pop up all over the internet is that of Andrew Carlssin.
It started on 25th February 2003, when the Weekly World News printed an article titled “Time-Traveler Busted for Insider Trading”. It said that a 44-year-old man named Andrew Carlssin had been arrested and detained for insider trading. Over a two-week period, he had made an unprecedented $350 million from just $800 worth of investment, every trade capitalising on “unexpected business developments”. 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, erm, alternative explanation for his streak of luck. He had come back in time from 2256 armed with knowledge of future stocks, and although he had planned to make his wins look natural, he got carried away.
He just wanted to go back to his “time craft”
Suffice it to say, investigators didn’t believe him. Carlssin then said he would divulge the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and the cure for AIDS in a bid for leniency.
He said that all he wanted was to be allowed to return to his “time craft” – refusing to reveal its location or how it worked out of fear it may “fall into the wrong hands”.
This bizarre story was reprinted in Yahoo! on 19th March 2003, and the story spread to other news outlets from there.
Then, on 29th April 2003, Weekly World News published a follow-up article written by Mike Foster, saying that shortly after Carlssin’s release on bail, he disappeared and could not be traced. Did he return to his time craft and go ‘back to the future’? The article added that Carlssin had correctly predicted the exact date of the US invasion of Iraq while in custody, and that no record of him existed before 2002.
A Weekly World News hoax
The irony of Weekly World News saying that no record of Andrew Carlssin existed before 2002 is that no record of Andrew Carlssin exists, period. Because he’s not real. He’s a fictional character like Harry Potter, Mickey Mouse, Santa Claus, and Jesus Christ. (WHAT? How dare I say Santa’s not real? Oh, alright, since it’s nearly Christmas. He’s real.)
I mean, look at the two Weekly World News articles themselves. They have photos of Andrew Carlssin – and they’re of two different men.
So what’s going on, you ask? Are Weekly World News fucking with us? Erm, yeah. They are. Because that’s what they do. At the time of writing, their top story is about burgers containing demons being transferred into people when they chow down. They also have regular stories about aliens, a half-human, half-bat mutant called Bat Boy who once had an affair with Hillary Clinton, and headless human cloning operations, like in this tweet.
In honor of #WorldPhotographyDay we salute the intrepid photojournalism of our #WeeklyWorldNews #photographers – with this example of Mike Foster's photo that rocked the globe when we exposed secret and shocking cloning operations utilizing a headless human body part "farm" pic.twitter.com/RPpWHvKTvM— WEEKLY WORLD NEWS (@weeklyworldnews) August 19, 2019
And of course, intrepid headless body photographer Mike Foster is the same “journalist” who purportedly wrote the second Andrew Carlssin article.
Weekly World News articles are drawn from a number of different sources and some are fictitious or satirical. Weekly World News uses invented names in some stories, except in cases where public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental. The reader should suspend disbelief for the sake of enjoyment. No mutants or aliens were harmed in the making of this website.
The fact that Yahoo!, a primary news source for many internet users at the time, went and reprinted this story is the reason Andrew Carlssin still floats about the ether like a real person. However, there’s a clue even there. Yahoo! printed it in their “Entertainment” section.
The thing is, as we know from the past couple of years and all the garbage that gets posted on social media about Covid and vaccines and 5G, people see headlines and immediately believe them. No effort to corroborate, check the source, establish the context. The same people who believe 5G causes Covid would probably see “News Reporter Eaten Alive By 80-Ft Dinosaur”, an example of a past headline in the Weekly World News, and believe that too.
How the Andrew Carlssin urban legend came to be is pretty similar to the tale of the time travel hit and run that also continues to circulate. Rudolph Fentz, a man who inadvertently travelled forwards in time from 1876 to 1950, originated in a short story by Jack Finney called I’m Scared. But what happened to him in the story was later re-printed as though it was real.
Of course, there are still people who say that both Andrew Carlssin and Rudolph Fentz were real. Just this year, a TikToker called Santiago (@ivyonpss) shot a video telling the story of Andrew Carlssin. He said that, although the story had been disregarded for originating on a satirical news site, years later it was found that “someone had made a lot of stock in 2003 but there is no known bio on said individual”. Naturally, Santiago doesn’t provide any evidence for this claim, so who knows?
Similarly, researchers apparently discovered an article about the Rudolph Fentz incident published before the I’m Scared short story, along with evidence proving the existence of the real Rudolph Fentz… Although I can’t verify these ‘revelations’, they inspired me to include Rudolph Fentz as a character in my own short story, which features in the Million Eyes: Extra Time collection. In that story, Rudolph Fentz is real and the Jack Finney I’m Scared short story is part of a cover-up 😉
I guess as to whether time travellers really are among us, the jury’s still out…