The Mandela Effect is when a group of people have a common memory that seems to be different from what they remember. To better understand this unusual occurrence, it can be helpful to consider its historical roots, certain well-known applications, as well as some plausible interpretations.
The Mandela Effect’s genesis
Fiona Broome initially used the term “Mandela Effect” in 2009 when she started a website to document her observations of the phenomenon. At a seminar, Broome was sharing her memories of the tragic death of former South African president Nelson Mandela in a South African prison in the 1980s with other attendees.
Nelson Mandela, however, passed away in 2013, not in a prison in the 1980s. Broome discovered that she was not alone when she started to share her recollections with others. Others recalled seeing TV coverage of his passing and hearing his widow speak.
Broome was astounded that so many people could recall the same exact incident in such detail even if it never took place. She started her website to talk about what she named the Mandela Effect and other occurrences like it after being encouraged by her book publisher.
There are other instances of group memory being challenged by current information. Other group false memories started to surface as Broome’s website and the Mandela Effect concept grew.
Here’s a quick list of some:
Eating a Turkey Leg: Henry VIII
Although no such artwork has ever existed, several people have memories of Henry VIII eating a turkey leg in a painting. However, comparable art has been produced.
Luke, I Am Your Father.
You undoubtedly recall Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I am your father,” if you watched Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back.
The exact sentence was, “No, I am your father,” which may surprise you to learn. The former rather than the latter is how most people remember the line.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all? is a famous quote from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The line currently is the phrase “Magic mirror on the wall,” which may surprise you.
The spelling of Oscar Mayer weiners, a well-known brand of hot dogs, has generated some debate. Some claim to remember the company’s name is spelled “Meyer” rather than “Mayer” (the current correct spelling).
The “Berenstain Bears” children’s book series is not exempt from the Mandela effect. Many claim to recall the name as the Berenstein Bears (spelled with an “e” instead of an “a”).
This is comparable to the Oscar Mayer problem and suggests that there may be a cognitive explanation for the Mandela Effect rather than parallel universes, as some people think.
The collective memory of the 1990s comedy “Shazaam” starring actor/comedian Sinbad is one of the best-known instances of the Mandela Effect.
In reality, there is no such film, but there was a kid’s film by the name of Kazaam, and there were some other coincidences that might help to explain how this film came to be produced (or recalled) in many people’s minds.
Many people claim to recall the Pokémon character Pikachu as having a tail with a black tip. The character has actually always had a distinct yellow tail.
Even though Mickey Mouse is arguably the most well-known cartoon character in the world, people frequently have the wrong idea of Disney’s renowned mouse in their minds. People frequently claim that the character is wearing suspenders even if he is not.
Why Does the Mandela Effect Happen?
So why would this outcome even occur? Let’s explore some possibilities people have hypothesized:
False memories are a plausible explanation for the Mandela effect.
To further appreciate how memory might be flawed, let’s look at an example of the Mandela effect before we analyze what is meant by false memories, which may lead to the phenomenon that we are describing.
Alexander Hamilton: Who was he? He was a founding father of the United States of America, yet most Americans learned in school that he was not its first president. However, a lot of people wrongly think that Hamilton was a president when asked about American presidents. Why?
According to a straightforward neuroscience theory, the memory of Alexander Hamilton is kept in the same region of the brain as the recollections of past US presidents. The term “engram” refers to the method used to preserve memory traces, and the term “schema” refers to the framework used to group together comparable memories.
As a result, when people try to remember Hamilton, this activates the neurons that are closely connected to one another and brings the memory of the president with it. (Though this oversimplified explanation exemplifies the overall procedure, it is oversimplified.)
Memories that are recalled imperfectly are impacted to the point where they may later turn out to be false. In this sense, memory is not perfect or reliable.
Confabulation is the process by which your brain makes sense of your memories by filling in the blanks that are present in them. This isn’t lying; rather, it’s remembering things from the past. With aging, confabulation frequently gets worse.
Post-Event Information that Is False
Your memory of an event may change as a result of new information you discover after the fact. This offers event-specific details and aids in illuminating why eyewitness evidence isn’t always trustworthy.
The term “priming” refers to the conditions that influence how we perceive an event before it ever occurs. Priming, which is also known as suggestibility and presumption, is the distinction between asking how tall a person is versus how short they are. Instead of asking”…a yellow bus?”, ask “Did you see the yellow bus?” to provide a subliminal suggestion that affects response and memory.
In essence, memories are perishable pieces of information that are stored in the brain and are subject to gradual modification. While we often take for granted that our recollections are reliable, this isn’t always the case.
One hypothesis for the cause of the Mandela effect is based on quantum physics and suggests that there may be several timelines of events happening simultaneously, interacting with one another.
The timeline has been altered as we switch between these several worlds, which theoretically lead to groups of people sharing the same experiences.
If this seems implausible, you are not alone. Sadly, the existence of parallel universes cannot be disproven because the theory of alternate realities is unfalsifiable.
This explains why such a hypothesis keeps spreading among communities interested in the Mandela effect. You cannot rule out the possibility of it since you cannot demonstrate that it is not real. For many people, the thrill of a little mystery in regular life probably also plays a role.
The Effect of the Internet
It is important to recognize the influence that the internet has on people’s collective memory. It’s likely not a coincidence that awareness of the Mandela effect has increased in the modern era.
The internet is a tremendous tool for disseminating information, but with this strength also comes the opportunity for misconceptions and lies to proliferate. Then, societies founded on these lies start to form, and what was previously just in people’s heads starts to appear to be true.
In fact, a thorough analysis of over 100,000 news stories shared on Twitter over the course of ten years revealed that hoaxes and rumors consistently outperformed the truth by roughly 70%.
Genuine verified accounts of real people were in charge of disseminating misleading information at a significantly higher pace than the truth; this wasn’t the work of manipulation or bots either.
This idea of how quickly misleading information travels online can aid in explaining the Mandela effect.
As each person shares their own experience or recollection of an event, those false memories may influence others’ memories, causing them to perceive the events in a similar light.
For instance, Sinbad did star in other motion pictures during the 1990s and may be seen emerging from a mailbox in the movie poster for “Houseguest” (this looked similar to a genie, which could explain the association with the movie “Shazaam”). In the 1990s, Sinbad also donned a genie costume at a party he hosted.
People’s attempts to recall the movies Sinbad produced in the 1990s were affected when one person brought up the film “Shazaam” (presumably on the internet). This information was propagated around online communities until it seemed to be true.
Evidence that continually recalling something increases confidence in the memory, even if it becomes increasingly erroneous with time, lends credence to this view. As more and more people gave false information, it bolstered other people’s belief that they were right by being added to their memories as facts.
As a result
Despite compelling data that suggests the Mandela effect is more likely to be explained by the frailty of human memory rather than by the existence of parallel worlds, the Mandela effect is still a topic of intense discussion.
Of course, we are not fully informed. Perhaps greater investigation into the causes will reveal the causes as more instances of the Mandela effect are discovered.
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