Updated: Aug 20, 2019
Memory is a very strange thing that can easily be manipulated. Eyewitness testimony is thought to be the weakest of evidence, because people have bias, their own perspective. Often people will remember the same event differently. That is not the case with the Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where millions of people will share the same memory, yet the memory is completely false. It's a very strange thing indeed, you might think something like this rare, but it is not. You may even be surprised that you the reader, might also share a popular false memory.
The phenomenon of false memory is not anything new. It was originally investigated by psychologists like Pierre Janet and Sigmund Freud. But it wasn't until recent times when Fiona Broome, who is a paranormal researcher, coined the term "Mandela Effect". She was talking to friends about how she had an explicit memory of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the late 1980's. The memory for her was so vivid. She even remembered watching television coverage of his funeral. After revealing this false memory, many more came forward with the same false memory. It would soon grow to be millions, and it didn't end with Nelson Mandela. There would be more and more shared false memories on a wide array of topics. Popular culture, movies and television, historical events, the spelling of words, geography. Nothing was safe. Fiona Broome started the website mandelaeffect.com in 2009, and by 2016 it was a viral internet sensation.
So let's dig in. I'm going to start with some of the pop culture ones before I work my way up to the strange historical incidents. One of the most popular Mandela Effects is of a well known children's book. The one about a family of bears. This is the one that really got the Mandela Effect to go viral, as it affected millions. This was one I myself had remembered wrong. I even had a memory where I pronounced the name of this children's book wrong and my teacher had corrected me. I had pronounced it with a long "I" like "Frankenstein" and my teacher had corrected me and said, "It's pronounced STEEN". The children's book I speak of is "The Berenstain Bears" yet millions of people distinctly remember it as "The Berenstein Bears". I think it's very possible that I was just taught wrong, and many like me are just remembering it wrong. There other ones like in the TV show "I Love Lucy" millions of people remember Ricky saying. "You've got some esplaining to do." Yet this was never said, he never said it and it's a false memory. There are many many more like "Beam me up Scotty" or "Luke, I'm your father." Both things were never said. Another very popular one is about the actor Sinbad. Many people remember him starring in a movie about a genie called "Shazaam". The movie never existed
It is very possible that because these were things that are often repeated in popular culture, either in parody or satire, that our faulty brains just clung on to false memories and accepted that they really happened. The one that really gets me is the one about Ed McMahon. I distinctly remember him working for "Publishing Clearing House" and in the commercials he would knock on the doors of the winner and hand them a giant check. Not only did those commercials never exist, but Ed Mcmahon never worked for, and was a spokesman for "Publishing Clearing House".
Those are all fun to think about, but the historical ones are where things start to get scary. Many people remember being taught that 9/11 was the first attack on the American mainland since the civil war, but this is not true. During World War II, The state of Oregon was bombed by Japan. Also in World War I, the Germans bombed the Statue of Liberty. Millions of people don't remember being taught this, but maybe that is just a reflection of how bad our education system is. There are many more, like with JFK, millions of people remember there only being a total of four people in the vehicle with him when he was shot. His wife sitting next to him, the Governor sitting shotgun, and the Secret Service agent driving. In reality there were six people in the vehicle. Another Mandela Effect had to do with the moon landing. Millions of people remember us only going to the moon once, and that we never went back. In reality we have gone a total of six times. Millions of people also have a false memory of Al Capone dying in prison. in reality he was released from prison in 1939, lived another eight years a free man, then died in 1947, in his mansion surrounded by loved ones.
So what is going on here? There are many conspiracy theories, and they are pretty wild. The most popular one is that the government has been secretly time traveling. According to this theory they started out changing small things, like the "Berenstain Bears" and lines in popular movies, to test how it would affect the public. Then worked their way to changing historical events, like Charles Lindbergh's baby never being found, to now being found.
Another popular theory is that there are many different universes, where there are millions of different versions of ourselves, living out life, and some things happen a little differently in each universe. According to this theory either we are remembering things from our other selves, or that somehow many universes have for some reason collided into one and we have memories from our old universe.
There are two other theories out there. One is that maybe it's a government psyop/experiment to see how far they can change our perception and memories by erasing and changing things on the internet. The last one is a religious one that where it's thought to be a sign that the end of the world is near, and that the Mandela Effect is a fulfillment of a prophecy that is described in scripture.
What do I think is happening? It's fun to think that there is something going on like time travel. It's scary to think that it is a sign that the end is near. And who knows maybe there is something going on that is bigger than us behind the scenes. What I do know is that memories are very malleable. Our brains are very susceptible to suggestion. It's the way we are wired, the way we evolved to survive, and fill in the blanks on things we didn't think were important to our survival. I've seen it done to people under hypnosis. I've seen people confess to crimes they never commited. I've seen witnesses in a court of law point to someone as being the perpetrator of a crime, yet years later DNA evidence proved that same person to be innocent. I think we are most likely just remembering things wrong, but you never know.