The Mandela Effect: What you thought you remember is wrong

The Mandela Effect
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In a recent memory study, 76% of adults failed to recall information accurately

The Origins Of The Mandela Effect

  • Coined in 2009 by paranormal expert Fiona Broome
    • Originally referred to misremembering Nelson Mandela passing away in 1980
    • Many others shared the same memory, even though his actual death was in 2013
    • Broome started a website to discuss the Mandela Effect in greater detail
  • Today, the Mandela Effect is recognized as an umbrella term
    • Definition: The psychological phenomena where a large group of people misremembers a specific detail or event

Recent studies suggest that up to 1 in 2 people may not be able to tell false memories from real

Examples Of The Mandela Effect

  • Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood
    • Many people remember the lyrics as “it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”
    • The actual lyric is “it’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood”
  • Rich Uncle Pennybags aka “the Monopoly Man”
    • Many believe the illustrated character had a monocle
    • The branded character has never been illustrated that way
  • Star Wars
    • Many remember “Luke, I am your father”
    • The actual quote is “No, I am your father”
  • The Berenstain Bears
    • Many believed the spelling was ‘Berenstein’
    • The actual spelling is ‘Berenstain’
  • Publishers Clearing House
    • Many believe Ed McMahon was a spokesperson for Publishers Clearing House
    • He was actually a spokesperson for American Family Publishers
  • Jif Peanut Butter
    • Many believe the brand name is ‘Jiffy’
    • The actual brand name is ‘Jif’

Lies and rumors are 70% more likely to win out over factual information

Some claim the Mandela effect is evidence for the “Many Worlds” Interpretation of quantum
mechanics or even evidence of a government conspiracy

Possible Causes Of The Mandela Effect

  • The most accurate explanation stems from psychology
    • Asch conformity
      • Conforming to a certain view in order to align with a group
    • False memories
      • The creation of a memory that didn’t happen
      • Often associated with Deese-Roediger-McDermott (DRM) task paradigm, which is a procedure in cognitive psychology used to study false memory in humans
    • Source-memory errors
      • When someone forgets the true source of a memory
    • Imagination inflation
      • The tendency to believe or imagine that something is real
    • Misinformation effect
      • Memory alteration based on learnings or experiences
    • Priming
      • Exposure to stimulus that influences a certain response to other stimuli
    • Confabulations
      • Theorizing stories without hard evidence, often unintentionally

The advent of the internet, technology, and deepfakes has led many to wonder if the Mandela Effect is becoming more common

How Global Psychologists Weigh Into The Mandela Effect

  • Linda Levine, Memory Psychologist at University of California
    • “Once we’ve updated memories, we don’t remember that we’ve done that. We have the illusion that we remember things as they happened. It’s legitimately worrisome.”
  • Aaron Bonner-Jackson, Neuropsychologist at Cleveland Clinic for Brain Health
    • “Memory is not necessarily a carbon copy of reality. Memory is influenced by different biases, perceptions, preconceptions and expectations. In more serious cases, I think the biggest thing would be to try and confirm for yourself rather than take someone’s word for it.”
  • Tim Hollins, Professor of Experimental Psychology at University of Plymouth
    • “It is relatively easy to explain how many people could come to the same errors of memory, even if entirely independently. For instance, many appear to be ‘gist memories’ adapted to fit people’s existing beliefs or knowledge.”

30% of people could be convinced of experiencing a false autobiographical event

Avoiding The Mandela Effect In Your Own Life

  • Fact checking
    • Get your news from a wide variety of sources
  • Create documentation
    • Write down memories or events as they occur
  • Critically analyze
    • Guard your memories instead of conforming to group opinion
  • Acknowledge limitations
    • Understand that anyone could experience the Mandela Effect

As an emerging memory science, the Mandela Effect leaves much to be explored about the
human mind

It’s not just you, the Mandela effect is here to stay

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