by: Hayden Mitchell
We have all had moments of forgetfulness. Moments where we are certain of something happening or being a certain way, but it is not. What happens when a mass of people have the same memory of something, but that something is not real? There is a term for this mass memory misconception: the Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect is a term coined by self-described “paranorma consultant” Fiona Broome (Emery 1). The Mandela Effect is believed by Broome and her followers to be when “memories [are] out of sync with recorded history occur because our minds get entangled with alternate universes” (Ludden 2). There are many instances of the Mandela Effect which have baffled and intrigued millions.
The name Mandela Effect comes from the death of Nelson Mandela, the first noted mass memory mistake. Multitudes of people specifically remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in 1991. The book English Alive states that Nelson Mandela died on July 23, 1991. This book was published on October 1, 1991, years before the now documented death in 2013 (Heugh 54). More than likely, information such as this would not be published incorrectly. This could be a coincidence or a misprint, but it does seem a little odd.
The most popular and common instance of the Mandela Effect that has generated the most online buzz is of a beloved children’s book and television series characters know to the world as the Barenstain Bears (Emery 3). The Berenstain Bears was an extremely popular children’s series, encompassing over 100 books and TV episodes. With this being such a vast and renowned series, many people read and enjoyed it, but did they all read the name wrong the entire time? Many of the people who enjoyed this series remember the title as the Berenstein Bears with an ‘e’ towards the end. I personally enjoyed this series regularly, and I remember it as Berenstein Bears. However, if a person were to look back on these books, the title would say Berenstain Bears with an ‘a’ towards the end. How can so many have misread the title of such a beloved book? It seems impossible.
The next example of the Mandela Effect involves another beloved children’s character, a silly monkey named Curious George. Curious George was and still is a favorite among children around the world, but did we all fabricate a tail onto his body? Curious George, if a person were to look at him now, is a cute, cartoon monkey… with no tail. Many people remember Curious George with a tail. Youtube star, Shane Dawson, recalls owning a Curious George stuffed animal and swinging it by its tail (“Conspiracy Theory”) ,but when he Googled ‘Curious George’, he found the same stuffed animal but without a tail.
One of my favorite examples of the Mandela Effect is from my favorite childhood movie: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Most of my peers have seen this movie, and we all remember the famous scene where the Wicked Witch speaks to her enchanted mirror. Most people remember the Wicked Witch saying, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” I remember it like that, but looking back on the clip, the Wicked Witch says, “Magic mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” (La Verne). As an avid Disney fan, I have seen this movie more times than I can count, but I do not remember the famous line as “Magic mirror…” until now. It could be summed up to childhood whimsy and misconceptions, but it seems strange, does it not?
There is a popular air freshener brand many people in the United States use. Many people remember this air freshener being named Febreeze, but all of those people are incorrect. If a person were to go to the store and pick up a bottle of this air freshener, the label would say Febreze with one ‘e’. I brought this up to many people, including the administration at my school, and everyone remembers it as ‘Febreeze’. This phenomenon could be accounted for by the pronunciation of Febreze, but how is it so many people specifically remember the labels and commercials spelling it as ‘Febreeze’?
Everyone who has heard of the Mandela Effect speculates whether or not it is real, and that is exactly what this is: speculation. Nothing I have said in this paper has been proven or disproven, it is all theories and personal accounts from people who believe they have experienced the Mandela Effect.
The Mandela Effect is something that confuses millions. We are made up of a collection of memories, and it is hard for us to believe these memories could be wrong. There is some ‘proof’ of the Mandela Effect out there, but whether one chooses to believe it or not is up to him. There are strange things in this universe we have yet to explain, so maybe there is a possibility of alternate universes. Maybe there are shifts in the time-space-continuum, or maybe humans are simply flawed creatures. Maybe our brains make up things without us realizing, and we choose to believe it. No matter the case, the Mandela Effect is an extremely interesting topic. Maybe one day, we will find out the truth.
“Conspiracy Theory- The Mandela Effect.” YouTube, uploaded by Shane Dawson, 30 Aug. 2016, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_3l8idr9QFE. Accessed 18 Oct. 2016.
Emery, David. “The Mandela Effect.” snopes.com, 7 July 2016, http://www.snopes.com/2016/07/24/ the-mandela-effect/. Accessed 4 Oct. 2016.
Heugh, Kathleen, and Anita Kennet. English Alive 1990, writings from High Schools in Southern
Africa. Claremont: Western Cape Branch of the South African Council for English Education,1991.
La Verne, Lucille, performer. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Disney, 1937.
Ludden, David, Ph.D. “Ben Carson and the Mandela Effect.” Psychology Today, 9 Nov. 2015, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/talking-apes/201511/ben-carson-and-the-mandela-effect Accessed 4 Oct. 2016.