Why The “Mandela Effect” is Bullshit

There has been this whole recent phenomenon people are raving about called “The Mandela Effect”. If you’ve never heard of it, it’s named after Nelson Mandela and it basically has to do with some illogical multiverse theory which doesn’t take into account that human memory is a really fragile thing and easily manipulated. Yeah, because that’s all the Mandela effect is, people not realizing that memory is easily tampered with and can be very open to suggestion.

The reason it’s named after Nelson Mandela is that not too long ago there were people who were claiming that they could have sworn that Mandela died sometime earlier than he actually had. They were insistent they saw news articles and things about it so when he actually did die, they swore that they were from some alternate universe or something happened like a “glitch in the matrix” type thing. Not having personally experienced any memory of his death either time, as I can’t recall when he actually died (but I know he didn’t die when these people thought and I’m too lazy to look it up) I will talk about something I do remember.

The Berenstein Bears debacle.  A few years back there was a Reddit thread about a parallel universe theory, or conspiracy, whatever. It stated that everyone remembered the Berenstein Bears books as being spelled in that way. Except, it wasn’t, originally it was the Berenstain Bears. Someone had found an old book where it was spelled that way. Then that prompted people to call them a liar and freak out and question life, the universe, and everything. Except, there are a thousand good psychological reasons for not remembering the name of these books.

For one, we were kids, so for all we know at some point it was pronounced STIEN instead of STAIN. Also, Stain attached to that word could potentially make it difficult for a child to pronounce, there’s also the whole issue of the font choice which if read by kids could be mistakenly read as an E instead of an A since it’s in cursive. Going back to this interview it has even been mentioned by a family member that his whole life there has been problems with people, for some reason, pronouncing and spelling it that way. Probably because people are more used to the ending Stein than Stain. The point is that things like this do happen and it’s not any result of parallel universe anything.

Memories aren’t exact records of events. Instead, memories are reconstructed in many different ways after events happen, which means they can be distorted by several factors. These factors include schemas, source amnesia, the misinformation effect, the hindsight bias, the overconfidence effect, and confabulation. (Source)

Here’s the thing, there have been plenty of studies done on memory over the years. I remember reading one study (and I’m so sorry I cannot seem to find the source again but I don’t doubt it) where they took a group of adults who had visited Disneyworld in their Childhood. They told these people that they met certain characters they didn’t meet while they were there, and these people just believed it. There were very few people who were adamant that they didn’t meet the characters that the testers were trying to convince them they met.

Basically, as I understand it, but this is a long and technobabble-filled article about the storage process of memories, every time you remember a memory you are creating a new memory of the same memory. Obviously some people are better at retaining some meories than other people. Obviously some memories are far stronger and easier to remember than others (such as a traumatic event). Except, even those memories can be easily manipulated or distorted. It’s why, for a while, we had a bunch of adults who thought they had been molested when that never turned out to be the case because of crooked psychiatrists planting that idea in their head.

The Mandela Effect isn’t a conspiracy, it doesn’t prove a parallel universe, and it’s just straight up not fucking real. End of story. Just because you totally clearly and truly remember a thing that totally and really happened, like other people totally do, doesn’t mean it did. It pretty much means you are just subjected to pop culture and a hive mind of people who agreed on something and didn’t really speak it allowed verbally. That’s it. With the internet, now, everyone can share every dumb idea and memory they have. Will there eventually be inaccuracies? Sure, but that doesn’t really prove anything other than what we already know, which is that memory is extremely faulty, especially when you keep going further and further back as you age.



One comment

  1. I think its the sheer number of ppl that have the ~same~ “incorrect” memories that makes this harder to just accept the idea that it all has to do w memory distortion. I realize that is a thing for sure… And can affect ppl’s recollection.. But when such large numbers “remember” the same ‘wrong” details about something…. Then probabilistically… The memory distortion theory holds less clout as an overall hypothesis. 🤔


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