Mandela effect is a suspicious phenomenon that occurred first after the death of Nelson Mandela in 2013. This happens when a community collectively remembers an incident in a particular way, when it happened differently in reality. When the news of Nelson Mandela’s death spread, some people claimed that they thought he had died in prison a few years back. Some even claimed that they remembered news clippings and television reports on the same. This event got its name when Fiona Broome, a self-identified “paranormal consultant,” detailed how she remembered clear details of the political leader’s death, such as a heartfelt speech from Mandela’s widow.
Many think that this is an effect of confabulation or honest lying, where people create details not with the intention to deceive or misguide people, but with the intention to fill gaps in their own memory. People generally assume what could be the likely sequence of events and assume those details that are actually fabricated, as the truth. Sometimes, this maybe an alteration in the memory because of the input of the internet or other conversations on the issue. The major concern with the Mandela Effect is that this leads to spread of fake news and false details that most people of the society end up believing.
The Mandela Effect contributes to false news and the internet can contribute to it by spreading the information. A few notable examples of the same are:
- The car crash which happened in 1997 had Princess Diana in it but the simulation video is often mistaken for the real footage.
- Some people consider “Berenstein Bears” as a family of lovable bears. Actually, they’re the “Berenstain Bears.” There’s an “a” instead of “e”.
- Jif is a popular brand of peanut butter, but many people remember the brand’s label as Jiffy.
- Many people think the logo for the Warner Brothers’ cartoons was spelled “Looney Toons”. In reality, it’s “Looney Tunes.”
- Many people who quote this famous line in “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” say, “Luke, I am your father. There is no “Luke” at all.
- There is a mistaken belief that Uncle Pennybags (Monopoly man) wears a monocle.
- Some think that product title “KitKat” contains a hyphen (“Kit-Kat”), while in reality it isn’t hyphenated.
Some psychologists describe it to be an effect of mis remembered details that are recollected again and again in the society such that it is considered to be the truth, while some suggest it to be a result of the human tendency to believe what others are suggesting as the truth. It is observed that people tend to make up the inconsistent items in their memory. Most tend to twist and turn minute details subconsciously to make them more understandable.
While some of these theories sound plausible, some conspiracy theorists believe differently. Their interpretation of this phenomenon lends the effect its suspicious character. Some invoke quantum mechanics and believe in the existence of a parallel universe. Big Think once said, “Broome invokes quantum mechanics, seeing the collective false memories from a ‘multiverse’ perspective. She and others may be having shared memories from parallel realities.”
Dr. John Paul Garrison, a clinical and forensic psychologist, described this effect in an interview:
“I suspect that some memories are spontaneously created when we read certain Mandela Effect news,” wrote Garrison. “However, once that new memory is in there, it might seem like it has been there forever.”
While more research by the quantum physicists may prove differently, the theories put forward by the psychologists seem more plausible. Even though, some believe this theory to be a proof of the existence of an alternate universe, most like to believe that this theory proves that the human memory is imperfect.