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What is the Mandela Effect? How It Works

mandela effect

Concept of leadership, compliance or obedience. Rubber ducks or ducklings in a row.

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where a large group of people have a shared false memory of an event or fact. The term was coined by author Fiona Broome in 2010, after a group of people remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, when in fact he was released from prison in 1990 and died in 2013.

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The Mandela Effect is often explained as a result of collective false memory, which can be caused by a variety of factors, such as the influence of social media, the power of suggestion, and the brain’s tendency to fill in gaps in memory with information from other sources.

The phenomenon of the Mandela Effect is often used to illustrate how our memory can be fallible and that people can have a shared false memory, but it’s also been used to support conspiracy theories of parallel universes, time travel, and other supernatural explanations. However, there is no scientific evidence to support such theories.

It is important to note that the phenomenon is not exclusive to the Nelson Mandela case, people have reported false memories of other events, facts, and even fictional characters, and the term “Mandela Effect” is often used as a catch-all term for such cases.

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.

Origins of the Mandela Effect

Fiona Broome initially used the term “Mandela Effect” in 2009 when she started a website to document her observations of the phenomena. 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.

The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by author Fiona Broome in 2010. She was attending a science fiction convention when she discovered that many people there remembered Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. However, Nelson Mandela was actually released from prison in 1990 and died in 2013.

Broome was struck by the fact that so many people could have the same false memory and began to research the phenomenon. She found that many other people also remembered Mandela dying in prison and coined the term “Mandela Effect” to describe this phenomenon of a shared false memory.

The origins of the phenomenon itself are not entirely clear and it is likely that multiple factors contribute to it. Factors that have been suggested include:

  1. Misinformation: People may have encountered incorrect information in the past and their brain may have incorporated it into their memory.
  2. Confirmation bias: People may have selectively remembered information that confirms their existing beliefs or biases.
  3. The power of suggestion: People may be influenced by the opinions or memories of others, leading to the creation of false memories.
  4. The brain’s tendency to fill in gaps in memory: When people don’t have a clear memory of an event, they may fill in the gaps with information from other sources, leading to false memories.
  5. The effects of social media and the internet: With the ease of access to information and the ability to share it, misinformation and false memories can be spread more easily.

It is also possible that multiple factors interact to contribute to the phenomenon of the Mandela Effect. However, it is important to note that the phenomenon is not exclusively linked to Nelson Mandela, and it is a term that is used for a wide range of shared false memories.

Examples of the Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where a large group of people have a shared false memory of an event or fact. Some examples of the Mandela Effect include:

  1. Nelson Mandela death: Many people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, while in reality he was released in 1990 and died in 2013.
  2. The Berenstain Bears: Many people remember the children’s book series being spelled “Berenstein Bears”, when in reality it is spelled “Berenstain Bears”.
  3. The Monopoly Man’s Monocle: Many people remember the Monopoly Man, also known as Rich Uncle Pennybags, having a monocle, when in reality he never had one.
  4. The colors of the “Sex and the City” logo: Some people remember the “Sex and the City” logo being pink and brown, when it is actually purple and white.
  5. The number of states in the United States: Some people remember the United States having 51 states, when it actually has 50.
  6. The logo of ‘The flintstones’: Some people remember the logo of the animated series “The Flintstones” having the word “The” in the logo, when it actually didn’t.
  7. The title of the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” : Some people remember the title of the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” being “The Miracle on 34th Street”, when it actually is “Miracle on 34th Street”.
  8. The Death of Charles Manson: Some people remember Charles Manson, the notorious cult leader, dying in prison in the 1970s, when in reality he died in 2017.

Final Words

The Mandela effect describes widely held false memories that a sizable population or a group of people believe. Although they could be safe, they might also promote political or conspiratorial objectives.

Memory is not a precise account of past occurrences. With time, experience, and priming, it can alter. It’s possible that something didn’t actually happen if all a person has to go on is their memory to prove it happened.

The dissemination of false information and conspiracies can be slowed down by independent verification of memories, particularly those with significant social or political ramifications.

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