Mandela Effect (A comprehensive guide)

This guide covers what Mandela effect is, the origin and examples of Mandela’s effects has been included to clarify the concept more.

Has it ever happened to you that you thought something is a particular way but finding out that you have remembered it all wrong?

If so, it seems as if you have been through the Mandela Effect phenomena.

This form of collective misremembering of common events or details first emerged in 2010, when countless people on the internet falsely remembered that Nelson Mandela was dead.

It was widely believed that during the 1980s he had died in prison.

In fact, Mandela was released in 1990 and passed away in 2013, despite claims from some people that they remember clips of his funeral on television.

In order to explain this collective misremembering, paranormal consultant Fiona Broome coined the term “Mandela Effect,” and after that, all other examples began to surface up all over the Internet.

What is the Mandela Effect?

It refers to a situation where something did not actually happen but a large group of people believes it did. In order to better understand this phenomenon, it is important to shed some light on some famous examples and their potential explanations.

A situation where an individual’s actions are affected by the people around him is called Bystander effect. It’s not the same as Mandela effect but explains how people influence the other persons actions and belief.

Origins

The title “Mandela effect” began when Fiona Broome first invented it in 2009 after she posted on a website describing her discovery of the phenomena.

Broome spoke to other people at a meeting about how she remembered the tragedy happening in the 1980s, the tragedy of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s death in the jail of South Africa.

When in fact, he passed away in 2013 and not in a prison in the 1980s.

When she started talking about her memories in front of other people, she came to the realization that she wasn’t alone.

Others remembered seeing the coverage of his death on news as well as his widow’s speech.

Broome was shocked that when it never happened, how such a large mass of people could remember in such detail the same identical event.

She was encouraged by her book publisher to start a website that discusses related incidents and she called it the Mandela Effect.

Examples of the Mandela Effect

Nelson Mandela’s story is not the only example of a false group memory of this type.

As the Mandela Effect’s concept grew along with the website of Broome, other groups of false memories started to emerge.

Following are the few examples of such incidents:

Luke, I Am Your Father

You probably remember that Darth Vader uttering the famous line: “Luke, I’m your father,” when you saw Star World Wars: Episode V – The Empire’s Strikes back. So, it might be shocking that the expression really was, “No. I am your father.”

Most people remember the line being the former than the original one.

Henry VIII Eating a Turkey Leg

Most people remember that there is a painting of Henry VIII in which he is eating a turkey leg when in reality, there has been never such a painting.

However, similar cartoons have been created.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

The line from the famous Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is remembered as “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”

When instead, it actually begins with the phrase “Magic mirror on the wall”. 

Oscar Meyer

For a long time, there was controversy over the spelling Mayer of the famous hot dogs brand, Oscar Mayer Weiners.

A lot of people remember the brand being spelled as ‘Meyer’ rather than its correct spelling ‘Mayer’.

Location of New Zealand

On the map, New Zealand is located in the southeast of Australia.

However, there are people in a community who claim that they remember it being northeast.

Berenstein Bears

The Berenstain Bears, a popular book series for children could not escape the influence of Mandela.

Some people report that the name Berenstein Bears is remembered which is spelt with an “e” instead of an “a”.

This situation and misremembering is similar to the Oscar Mayer issue and suggests, as some people believe, a cognitive underlying reason for the Mandela Effect rather than parallel realities.

Shazaam

The collective memory of a film called Shazaam that featured the actor or comedian Sinbad in the 1990s is one of the most well-known examples of the Mandela Effect.

However, in reality, there is no such film, although in the minds of many people there was a movie for kids called Kazaam and some other coincidences that could help explain how this film was created or remembered.

Explanations

Alternate Realities

A hypothesis on the basis of the Mandela effect originates from quantum physics and relates to the concept that alternate timelines or universes take place and blend with our timeline rather than one timeline of events.

By principle, this would result in groups of people sharing the same experiences as there is a shift between these different realities because of the alteration in the timeline.

If you think this sounds a bit unrealistic, you’re not alone.

Sadly, the notion of alternative realities is unfalsifiable, so there is no way to really disprove the lack of these other dimensions.

This is why such a far-fetched theory among the Mandela effect communities continues to gain attraction.

No one can prove that it is not true, and hence, it cannot be discounted completely.

The thrill of a bit of mystery in daily life, for some people, is also likely to come into play.

False Memories

False memories are included in a more possible explanation for the Mandela effect.

Without discussing what is meant by false memories, explaining it with an example of the Mandela effect will help clarify how faulty the memory can be and how it will contribute to the phenomena that are being explained.

In schools, many Americans heard and learned that Alexander Hamilton was the one who is known as founding father of the United States of America, but that he was not a president.

Nevertheless, most people mistakenly believe that Hamilton was a president upon asking about the U.S. presidents. Why?

If we consider a simple explanation of neuroscience, the brain part where the names of all presidents of the United States are stored has the memory of the name of Alexander Hamilton.

Engram is the name given to the means by which traces of memory are stored, and schema is the name given to the framework in which similar memories are associated.

So when people try to remember Hamilton, it sets off the nerves in close connection with each other, pulling the memories that contain names of presidents with it. While this is an oversimplified description, the basic process is illustrated.

It points to the possibility that memory issues are the reason for the Mandela effect, not alternative realities.

There are probably a number of memory-related subtopics that could also play a role in this phenomenon.

Memory-Related Concepts

Concepts related to memory that might explain the Mandela effect are following

Post-event information: Information that one learns after an event may alter the memory of that event.

This includes subtle information about the event and helps explain why testimony from the eyewitness can be unreliable.

Priming: Priming refers to factors that occur before an event that affects the memory and recollection of an event.

Studies have shown, for instance, that suggestions made by a researcher impact the memory of participants.

Other names for priming are presupposition and suggestibility.

When you ask how short a person is, for example, it affects the responses of people differently than if you were to ask how tall a person is.

If you’re saying “Have you seen the black car?” instead of “Have you seen a black car?” you’re making a suggestion that affects how people react.

In this way, your existing memories are affected by misinformation.

Memories are, in fact, fragile bits of information accumulated in the brain that can be changed over time.

Although our memories are meant to be reliable, this is not necessarily the case.

Confabulation: Confabulation means the brain filling the gaps in memories so that they would make more sense.

It is not a fabrication, but just a misunderstanding of things that never happened. With an increase in age, confabulation tends to rise.

Role of the Internet

The role of the Internet should not be underestimated in influencing the memories of large groups of people.

It is probably no coincidence that in this digital age, consideration of the Mandela effect has grown.

The internet is an effective way to spread information and has the ability to spread misunderstandings and falsehoods to gain popularity that comes with this sharing of knowledge.

Then people start to create communities based on these falsehoods, and what was once in the imagination begins to appear factual.

In reality, in a recent large study published in Science of over 100,000 news stories debated on Twitter that had been questioned over a 10-year period, it has been shown that each time about 70 per cent of hoaxes and myths have prevailed over the reality.

This was not either the product of propaganda or bots, but real checking accounts were responsible for spreading false information.

As each person chimes in with their own perception or recollection of an incident, such false memories could affect other people’s memories, coloring them in the same way so that they recall them in the same way.

Unpacking the Mandela Effect

Now that the Mandela effect’s philosophical foundations have been explained, let’s go back and look at one of the cases and see if we can explain how it happened.

Of example, Sinbad acted in other movies in the 1990s and featured in a film poster for the film Houseguest emerging out of a mailbox, this felt like an idea that could justify the association with the film Shazam.

Sinbad even showed up for an event he organized in the 1990s dressed as a genie.

Once one person mentioned the film Shazaam, possibly on the internet, it changed other people’s memories trying to remember the films Sinbad made in the 1990s.

Online communities helped in spreading this information until it seems to be factual.

This explanation is supported by evidence that repeatedly and persistently remembering something builds confidence in memory, even if it becomes more inaccurate.

Despite reasonable evidence that it is more plausible to be interpreted in terms of human memory fallibility than some type of parallel universes at work, the Mandela effect appears to be hotly debated.

As more Mandela effect’s events continue to occur, further research and study work can shed light on the causes.

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Conclusion

Mandela effect is explained as something which hasn’t actually happen in the way that a large group of people remembers.

Different theories have been put forward to explain such a phenomenon including the concepts of alternate dimension and faulty memories.

More research is required to better understand the causes of Mandela effects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you think it is a conspiracy?

We are no conspiracy theory experts but no, it did not originate as a part of or with intention of any conspiracy but over the period of time, this topic has been manipulated for political or social gain.

What causes the Mandela effect?

There is no definite answer to this question.

As explained in the article above, there are many theories regarding what might be causing this phenomenon but the absolute cause is unknown.

Is ‘Hello, Claire’ from Silence of the lambs movie an example of Mandela effect?

Yes, as the original dialogue was ‘good morning’, people recall it being ‘Hello, Claire’ proves that it is an example of the Mandela effect.

Should false memories be considered as flaws?

Not exactly, psychologists have researched and studied these concepts and have come to the conclusion that filling gaps in memories or altering past experiences is actually a part of the survival mechanism.

Please use the comment section below if you have any questions.

References

Very Well Mind

The Conversation

Wikipedia

Recommended Readings

Alternate: The Mandela Effect (9781539447238): Jay Wheeler: Books

Shattered Reality The Mandela Effect, Rob Shelsky

The Mandela Effect: Everything is Changing: Stasha Eriksen: 9781521784921

The Great Deception of the Mandela Effect (9781545573655): Lewis Stanek: Books

Alternate II: Searching for Answers to the Mandela Effect (Volume 2)

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