The Instigator
Con (against)
2 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
8 Points

Is time travel really worth it?

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2011 Category: Entertainment
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,333 times Debate No: 15336
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)




There are some time-traveling realities Doc Brown didn't warn us about.
I will argue that time travel, overall, is a terrible experience and isn't as great as it seems.

First round is acceptance.

Thank you.


Hello DOB, I accept your debate.

I am BillBonJovi and like sci-fi a lot and I've always been very interested in time travel, so I am looking forward to this debate.

I Thank you for making this debate DOB and now you can start your argument…
Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for the debate BillBonJovi.

Contention 1: You Die Faster

To borrow from Professor Rufus of Bill and Ted University, "No matter what you do, no matter where you go, that clock, the clock in San Dimas is always running."

So you get in your DeLorean and you leave 1985 to go on an adventure in the past. Say it takes you six months to accomplish your goal (ie, nearly making out with your mom) and when you're done, you go back to your own time. Maybe you go back to the very moment you left.

But you are six months older. There's no way around it. The time machine can't adjust your age backward--if it did, it would be altering your brain at the same time, wiping out the memories of what you experienced. No matter how many rejuvenation clinics from the future you visit, you will always age along your own timeline just as certainly as Marty did throughout Back to the Future.

Contention 2: Language

So you've got an HG Wells-esque time machine, which, if two separate movies are any indication, means you'll be able to fling yourself 800,000 years into the future. Think of all you'll have to learn by talking to the locals! Don't worry, they all speak perfect English, with only a slight accent. Language is pretty much the same, everywhere, forever, right?

Wrong.Hollywood has mislead us, friends. Even though English is one of the most common languages on Earth, it gives you a splash-range of only a few centuries when it comes to linguistically "safe" places to travel. This is because the phonology of most languages is ever-changing, and it goes way beyond throwing in some "thee's" and "thou's" and referring to women as "my lady."

No matter where you go, you'll have to speak both period and possibly even regional dialect to avoid coming off as a spy, a rival neighbor, a hillbilly or a crazy person who may or may not be possessed by the devil.

Contention 3: You don't exist.
Let's say you're not just traveling as a tourist. Maybe you've got one of those time machines where it's a one-way trip, like if you're Kyle Reese and you just defeated the Terminator, only without dying this time. So, what next?

Well, probably a lifetime working menial jobs for less than minimum-wage, if you're lucky. If you're not lucky, you're probably a very low-rent whore because now you're not only penniless and hungry, but you have nothing to confirm your identity. You're an adult with no ID, no Social Security number and no birth certificate. You also have no friends, family or references. You have no paperwork that any self-respecting institution would require you to have before even considering passing over your job application. Furthermore, you would have no way to even get any of these things, because each one of them requires the other to achieve, sort of like the power ups in Super Metroid.

This is not a minor problem. In every civilization ever, a weird-talking, penniless stranger with nothing to vouch for who he is means he's insane, a fugitive, a vagrant or all three. In short, you are going to be living life as an illegal alien.

I'll pause and see what my opponent has to say.


I thank my opponent for the quick response and now onto my Round 2...

Rebuttal to “Contention 1: You Die Faster”:

I think Con failed to explain the importance of that fact in enough detail. Dying faster is an inaccurate argument because the time traveller has not exactly wasted months of their life when he/she has just spent them somewhere more interesting. For example I haven’t wasted six months sitting at home; I have spent them at Disney land which is far more enjoyable.

What I’m trying to say is... if the time traveller is willing to time travel for personal interests then the time traveller may consider that to be a worthwhile sacrifice of a time span of their life, because it’s not everyday people get the ability to time travel.

It’s true that the time machine can't adjust the time traveller’s age backwards, but why would the time traveller need to worry about that?

If the time traveller needs to go in time and accomplice a goal then due to the fact that he/she is willing to go into the past for it, then it must be for a reason of great importance (more important than losing a few months of their life). For example If the time traveller needs to time travel to save the world then that is well worth sacrificing a time span of their life.

Rebuttal to “Contention 2: Language”:

Con made a logical argument but of course we all have to remember that future generations will be more advanced in technology.

Hollywood has not entirely misled us, in many science fiction series a device known as a ‘Universal translator’ is used to understand different languages. A universal translator is a device common to many science fiction works, especially in Star trek. [1]

The universal translator works by performing several functions. One function is to intercept the nerve signals of spoken language that is heard by the person using it and blocks the brain from registering them. [1][2]

It also scans brain wave energy received not from the user but from those being translated, created while composing a sentence. The universal translator absorbs all unconscious mental frequencies from this brain wave energy and then excretes into the mind of its user a telepathic matrix formed by combining the conscious thought frequencies with nerve signals picked up from the speech centres of the brain which has supplied them, leading to instant language translation. So what the user's ears hear and what their brain thinks it heard are two different things. [1][2]

The speech patterns they actually hear decode the brain wave matrix which has been fed into their mind by the universal translator. Thus the universal translator effectively allows someone to read the minds of people who are talking to them. [1][2]

The final function of the universal translator is to actually serve as a brain wave modification device. It alters brain waves in the user's visual recognition region of the brain so that they see the people being translated forming words of the user's native language with their mouths. Otherwise the user would see a mismatch between the lip movements others make and the translated words. [1][2]

Overall the main point is that if all humans in the future will have a different natural language, they will use a universal translator to understand different languages (or at least something similar). If someone time travels to the future then the humans of that that time will give that someone a universal translator so they can understand each other. And the universal translator should anyway be programmed with languages of the past for historic values.

Rebuttal to “Contention 3: You don't exist”:

In every society you need documents and ID and just in every society there will be those that will be able to create fake documents and ID.

Therefore the time traveller might need to lay low for a while build up a power base and then move to obtaining fake documents to procure official ones, so therefore once a set of official documents have been obtained then real official documents can also be obtained eliminating the need for the fake documents in the first place. [3]

It doesn’t matter how advanced a society may be because the Pirates and plagiarisers of the society will always learn to advance as well and reproduce forged documents and ID. The time traveller will just have to seek them out.

Also in relation to Con’s fact about needing power ups like in Super Metroid, well if you require something like that then there must be a starting point to get on the way to getting the next part. Everything starts somewhere otherwise you would not be able to advance to the next level. The Pirates and plagiarisers can help alter the time traveller with the starting point. You must start with something to get to the next level.

I end my second round here...

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, BillBonJovi.

Contention 1: �You Die Faster

"For example If the time traveller needs to time travel to save the world then that is well worth sacrificing a time span of their life."

If this world-ending event already occurred, how would anybody time travel as there would be nobody left? And if it's in the future, we couldn't possibly know about the event.

Look, when you get to the core of it, traveling through time is pretty much a deal with the Devil. Yes, it will enable you to save John Connor and get to Muggle Studies on time, but it will shave several months to several years off your life depending on how much you abuse it. These are precious moments from your twilight years that you will never get back: one last weekend with your wife, your granddaughter's graduation....

In short, when you've managed to hit age 89 in seven years and you're lying on your deathbed, will it really have been worth seeing everything time had to offer just to miss out on your own life? Sure, things may suck now, but you have no idea what it's going to be like in the future. By rewriting it all, you may just end up missing out on your own God-authored happy ending.

Contention 2: Language
Very presumptuous to assume they'll just have one, if any, lying around. Let's say they do have an universal translator of sorts. Surely �the user �couldn't read the foreign �language of that particular time? That's a problem.

What about the distant past? Differing �language completely eliminates any contact. No universal translators back then.�

Contention 3: You don't exist.

Can't pay for forged documents, as you have no money. Do you think these pirates and plagiarists, obviously of moral character, will provide you with these things free of charge? If they can even understand you, that is? Not everyone will have an universal translator(if they even exist). I'll elaborate more in...

Contention 4: You're Broke.

Congratulations, that little Ocarina of Time you bought on eBay actually worked! Your plan to return to New York in June of 1938 and snag as many copies of Action Comics #1 as you can carry seems to be going swimmingly.

But as it turns out, you are totally screwed the second you pocket your time traveling pan flute. Unless you had the tremendous foresight to stop by a coin-collector before you left, all the money in your pocket is officially bogus. Not only do your dollar bills look ridiculous, but that surly-looking guy at the newsstand is pretty pissed over those Roosevelt dimes you keep trying to push on him. You sure as hell can't take your fakey toy future money to a bank to exchange it for real money. Your little business venture into the past could end up putting you in Sing Sing for counterfeiting (on the plus side, all the inmates will be uproariously entertained by your time travel story).

Ah, but that's just yet another reason to travel into the future instead! It's the magic of compound interest, baby! You know, put some change in the bank and then go a thousand years into the future to collect your riches. Well assuming your financial institution even still exists that far down the road (and given the current state of the nation, this seems highly unlikely). Hell, that's assuming that the country still exists. Or the currency.
After all, the U.S. Dollar only goes back 220 years, the Japanese Yen 140. Go a thousand years in the future and people could be trading bottled monkey farts.

Contention 5:
The Future is a Blind Leap

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: One thing time travel movies never address is the fact that the Earth moves. Your time machine can't just move forward in time, it has to be able to travel through space with perfect precision. After all, you have to account for the fact that the planet is flying through space at 70 thousand miles an hour, and you've got to know exactly where it's going to be at the exact moment you arrive in the future. Oh, also the planet is spinning really fast.

But let's just assume that Doc Brown and the Terminators and all the other time machine inventors figured out a way around that. Even that doesn't account for the fact that the landscape is ever-changing.

A city was a forest 400 years ago. So you leave from a nice, open valley and arrive embedded inside several million tons of concrete for a new dam they built decades after you died.
Of course, even that is the optimistic view. Unlike going back in time, where any decent history book can serve as a travel guide, visiting the future means you have to prepare yourself for any of Earth's potential mass extinctions, world wars and malevolent dictators.

Even if there's no worldwide disaster, who can vouch for the particular spot you're standing? Hiroshima was a pretty nice city for 350 straight years until somebody dropped a gigantic bomb on it.

Even if you show up and things look fine at a glance, who knows if your race/ethnicity/hair color won't make you part of a persecuted minority in that time period? Trust me, ethnic cleansing is one thing that never goes out of style on planet Earth. And 500 years from now, Iowa could be the new Darfur. So who knows what horrors Doc Brown's magical flying train would have found at the end of Back to the Future III?


I thank my opponent for his response in Round 3, now onto my Round 3...

Second Rebuttal to “Contention 1: You Die Faster”:

The world-ending event I was talking about was just a typical example for me to explain my case. I think Con missed the point about what I was talking about, what I was saying was that time travel can help prevent a horrible incident that happened that the time travel wants to change. Con has not properly understood my argument.

Also you may not don’t die faster; everyone has a set amount of time to live i.e. 100 years or 60. How do we know that by time travelling to the future there isn’t a cure for death? And even know there are not theories on how to do it or even a process to slow it down? At least if you take that chance you may find that in the end you live longer than you were naturally supposed to?

Out of interest for theory of dying faster, you could consider relativity. The faster you move the slower time is for you, to time travel backwards you would have to move faster than the speed of light (technically an impossibility) but if relativity is to believed and you move and this superluminal speed then time would actually move slower extending life, and the possibility of it making you younger also exists. [1]

Second Rebuttal to “Contention 2: Language”:

It’s logical to assume a universal translator will be invented in the future; we have translators now in the likes of the United Nations but of course are nowhere as efficient as the fantasy star trek ones in our current time. Do remember that technology always catches on a translator of such will exist in the future.

Anyway all languages are derived from a single source, your caveman drawings became pictograms which you may not understand the exact meaning but you could get a general idea. [2]

Latin obviously is the main source of language French, German, English, Italian, it all comes from Latin origins there is no reason that it will follow this trend while languages change you should still be able to understand them to some extent but if language is a barrier in time travel then so is travelling to another country. We might not understand them at first but an understanding can be achieved with a certain amount of intelligence. This is something that can easily be expected from future generations. [2]

Ultimately you can at least just travel 200-300 years in the future and you will be fine for the language.
As for time travelling to the distant past it’s true that there were no universal translators back then, but the fact that time traveller is willing to go into the past, then the time traveller should prepare himself/herself with foreign or ancient language dictionaries. In today world we have methods and material a time traveller can use to understand languages of the past, the time traveller would be expected to prepare himself.

Ultimately the time traveller can like learn Latin or ancient Egyptian or anything else beforehand if he/she wants to travel to those time periods.

Personally I think the main thing is if you’re smart enough to invent or use a time travelling machine you should be smart enough to invent or use some advanced translator but personally I would be working more along the lines that you don’t need to have any understanding of a language to communicate with people, this grows with time obviously English don’t know how to speak French but they would soon learn spending several months in their society.

Speech is barrier and like all it is overcome with time and patience.

Second Rebuttal to “Contention 3: You don't exist” and first Rebuttal to "Contention 4: You're Broke":

I will rebut these two arguments together. It’s true that you can't pay for forged documents, as you have no money, so that is why the time traveller must bring something of value to their time destination. All you need to do if you want money in the past or future is take an antique from modern days and then patent it in that reality.

The time traveller could use their money to buy a very expensive antique and take it into the future which then it could be worth millions. So then the pirates and plagiarists will happy to supply the time traveller with the fake documents he/she requires. The time traveller can sell the item or trade the item either way this is a perfect way to counter a lack of money when going to another time.

Ultimately gold, precious metals or old artefacts can be used to sell as valuable centuries-old antiques. Money is not a problem if you think wisely. [3]

It might be unethical but to be fair currency is not always set in stone. Diamonds and gold can be used as a sort of currency in just about any civilization past or present. Just buy Diamonds and gold in the modern world and currency should not be much of a problem where ever you time travel to. [3]

Even bring a bag load of spices like pepper or even salt if you’re going to the past, because those things were really valuable back then, but very cheap in today’s world. [3]

Alternatively you can actually tell people you’re travelling in the future, make it a big publicity thing and in the future people might be waiting for your arrival with respect and honor.

First Rebuttal to Contention 5: The Future is a Blind Leap:

Yes the future is a blind leap, sadly you can’t exactly say what will be there in hundred years time, were there was once maybe forests there are now cities or were there was once cities, there is but land that is laid on top of them the whole planet is in a shift.

BUT... who ever said you have to travel on earth?

There are billions of miles of empty space that will never see so much of a glitter of stardust that can be used to time travel in, the universe is constantly expanding so this space is only ever getting bigger and so if a freak accident was to occur that you ended up inside a comet then the chances are at least a trillion to one... and maybe bigger...

I think I should also argue that there is no reason to believe that the object has to be stationary or not assuming it can’t be moved an institute that could be set up for leaps into the future. In theory the institute will still be there far into the future, but equally spacecraft could be outfitted with the device so that you could in theory jump to a point in the future were you will still be in earth orbit but have travelled 1000 years into the future.

"The Future is a Blind Leap" - that is true but alternatively you could find some kind of a super computer or professional person to calculate the exact location where the earth is in the future or something, and then make sure you arrive somewhere in the atmosphere, then maybe bring a parachute and parachute yourself down, that way you wont time travel and merge with a mountain or something, there are so many different ways to do it.

Conclusion of debate:

In this debate I explained that time travel is not a terrible experience as long as you think your plan and strategy out wisely. Overall I successfully rebutted all of my opponent’s arguments; I did not require the burden of proof, just good logical possibilities and evidence which I provided. My opponent however has not provided any proof or evidence at all for his arguments. Therefore I urge a Pro vote...

Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Cliff.Stamp 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: Con could not maintain the BoP against Pro, however his style was well paced and entertaining to read so 2/3.
Vote Placed by GeorgeCarlinWorshipper 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Pro's arguments were stronger and more sensible, and Pro did a better job of refuting. Pro also used sources, while Con did not.