What Does the Mandela Effect Mean?

The Mandela Effect has recently been the topic of memes and intense internet debate. Some claim the phenomenon is nothing more than false memory, others say it’s proof of an alternate reality/ multiverse and glitches within it. It’s a breeding ground for conspiracy theory carrying the name of one of the world’s biggest leaders for peace, Nelson Mandela because it kind of started with him. We’re getting a little meta today, prepare yourselves.

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Nelson Mandela

An alarming amount of people believed Nelson Mandela died during his 80’s prison sentence. However, the South African philanthropist and political leader became President of South Africa after his sentence, his death wasn’t until 2013. Basically, the misconception surpasses just thinking or something wrong. Some people believe they remember hearing reports and news information about him dying in prison. One example is, Fiona Broome, a self-proclaimed “paranormal consultant”. On her website named after the Mandela Effect, she notes,

“I thought I remembered it clearly, complete with news clips of his funeral, the mourning in South Africa, some rioting in cities and the heartfelt speech by his widow…Then, I found out he was still alive.”

The recollection of something that did not happen and recalling something happened differently from the way it did is the trademark of the Mandela Effect. She is not the first person to have experienced this. Nor is this the only situation people express false memories over.

Common Mandela Effect Examples

  • The Berenstain Bears: A popular children’s book series. I remember reading this book series as a child, and unfortunately, like many others, I thought it was spelled The Berenstein Bears. I always chalked it up to being a child and how common and easily misremembering events between childhood and adulthood can occur.
  • Froot Loops debate: The Kellog’s cereal is branded as “Froot Loops,” the Mandela Effect of this is people swearing that it was “Fruit Loops”. The conspiracy theorists seem to go the hardest over this one. Users on Reddit claim things along the lines of “this is how we know we are in a parallel universe, I swear I ate Fruit Loops as a kid”. Personally, I can’t relate to this one. I had to sweeten my plain, Walmart-brand Cheerio equivalent cereal with honey. Check out this other interesting Reddit thread here, for your amusement.
  • Oscar Mayer: Oscar Mayer is yet another creepy one. Some think it was spelled “Oscar Meyer”. Honestly, I’m not sure if this one should count as a Mandela Effect example. Why? Well People have always been confused about this brand because the pronunciation of their brand is completely different from how it looks.
  • Kazaam: The 1996 movie Kazaam starring Shaquille O’Neal about a genie freed after thousands of years of captivity ad grants a kid named Max wishes. The misinformation here is that a number of people swear that there was a movie entitled “Shazaam” staring comedian Sinbad in the 1990s, however there was not.
  • Star Wars: The blockbuster Star Wars shocked audiences when Darth Vader tells Luke that he is his father. While the line is most often quoted, “Luke, I am your father”, it’s delivered as “No, I am your father”. Similarly, the Queen in Snow White is believed to say, “Mirror, mirror on the wall” when she actually says “magic mirror on the wall.”

Another example is the way people often confused words like the, and, a in lyrics. On a larger and much more problematic scale, other Mandela Effect enthusiasts claim New Zealand used to be in a different place on the map, the number of states in the United States wasn’t fifty, and some even claiming that in their parallel reality where 9/11 was actually on a different date. Some of these examples of the Mandela effect are humorous and others are just completely bizarre. It’s definitely possible to end up in the wormhole about it. But, definitely worth knowing about (to spot the crazies.)

Mandela Effect Symptoms

Thankfully, professionals from psychologists to scientists have weighed in on this topic. The causes of the Mandela effect are just as interesting as the symptoms themselves. Steve Ramirez, a Harvard neuroscientist who has studied how real and false memories develop inside the brain, offers some sound logic. He explains that the hippocampus helps us to store memory of an event, feelings surrounding the event, as well as environmental factors. This part of the brain helps us imagine the future, which means we have the ability to imagine things that haven’t happened. However, confabulation does happen commonly. Further, since we each experience life from individual bases of experience and feeling, it isn’t very easy to have “objective” memories of the past. The brain uses the information it knows from experiences to piece together memories from a past event. Hence, in Ramirez’s words, “Every memory is a kind of almost mild false memory”.

I told you it would get meta. So yes, that is all of the mind-trippy things I have for you today! Time for you to this topic. Have you heard of this before? Do you believe it?

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What do you think?

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