We live in a statistical reality in which nothing is certain. This is not a statement expounding the complexities of modern life or even life itself. It is simply a fact of nature that we are the result of untold, truly random, quantum level occurrences that crystallize into the world we see right now, in this moment which in turn gets messily stored into our brains as memory. Memory itself, to contract it with the memory in your computer, is a perpetually evolving imprint of a sensory experience you had once in your life. The very act of remembering something alters that memory slightly, consolidating information memetically so that it can be recalled more easily at a later time. Sometimes, these memories get consolidated with similar memories to form entirely fictitious parts of our lives that form the bedrock of our psyche. The Mandela Effect is one of many ideas that are the center of an ever-growing repertoire of theories, based in statistically unlikely occurrences, so it’s worth taking a look.
What is the Mandela Effect?
According to Snopes:
The Mandela Effect is a collective misremembering of a fact or event. Various theories have been proposed to explain what causes it, some more sensible than others.
The origin of the name of the effect is based on the fact that many people, who were alive at the time, remember Nelson Mandela having died in prison in South Africa during the 1980s. Nelson Mandela did not die in prison in the 1980s. He died a free man in 2013. It was first noticed by Fiona Broome, a “paranormal consultant”.
There are several other examples of the same type of collective misremembering and some of them are very popular. One that has proven very popular is that Billy Graham died and his funeral was televised on TV during the Clinton administration. Another great example is that many, many people seem to think there are 52 states in the United States rather than the real number, 50.
Here are a few other examples:
Oscar Mayer is the most popular brand of hot dogs in the US. Many people report remembering it spelled as Meyer rather than the correct spelling, Mayer
The Monopoly Man does not actually wear a monocle, contrary to what many people remember.
Of all of the Mandela Effect examples, one stands out in the sheer scope of discussion and conjecture it generated. You may remember a family cartoon from the 60s and 70s. The show is about a family of bears, the Berenstain Bears. That’s right, not the Berenstein Bears, the Berenstain Bears. When this particular example of the Mandela Effect hit Reddit, people dove very, very far down the cosmological rabbit hole. The theories range from time travel to parallel universes to the Simulation Hypothesis.
What’s Going On Here?
There is one curious feature about these phenomena. If we try to sub-classify the various examples, we notice that several of them involve misspellings. Because we experience many of these brands or personalities at a developmental age, it would make sense that we would simplify the memories of these spellings by remembering them spelled closer to the way we remember them pronounced. We do not say “Oscar MAY-er”. We say “Oscar MY-er”. The common pronunciation of the Berenstain Bears has a similar issue. In both cases, we prefer the more Germanic spelling because it is more common. In the case of misremembering a death, it gets more fuzzy. The level of detail associated with the collective memory of the deaths of Nelson Mandela, Billy Graham and even Neil Armstrong (Was it 2012 or 2013?) are very elaborate and extremely pervasive. I am not saying that it’s parallel universes, time travel, artifacts of some elaborate computational device which is, at this very moment, rendering our reality in real time or evidence that we are collectively constructing our reality through pools of consensus opinions but I am also not saying it’s not. Similar to the concept of synchronicity, it is a very hard perspective to shake. Follow us as we take a deep dive into some of the elaborate examples of this curious concept.