The Mandela Effect
Posted on March 9, 2018
I’m a product of the 1980’s. The 80’s were rife with extreme product placement, and most cartoons of the time were no longer bound by the rules of the FCC – per President Ronald Reagan’s involvement in dismantling them and allowing advertising to run amok. So, growing up during that time – we 80’s kids grew to look at and memorize corporate logos, the minute details of characters and their costumes from television programming or from things like comic books (Spider-Man’s black symbiote costume VS his standard red and blue costume, for example), and – at least in my case – to become visual sticklers. What I mean by this is that these corporate logos and products became so ingrained in our memories that we feel almost intimate with them. McDonald’s, to some of us, may as well be an uncle or aunt we rarely see but always hear mom or dad discussing.
It’s a strange metaphor, I know, but in my opinion – these corporate entities shaped us – or at least helped to, and became beloved parts of our formative years. So – when I talk about this phenomenon (which is supernatural in nature to some) – called The Mandela Effect – it’s important to understand the generations who are experiencing it, as most of the ME’s (Short for Mandela Effect) involve misspellings, slight variations, and totally different logos for well-known companies. This is particularly troublesome because – while the human mind, and memory, is capable of melding and re-shaping memories, it’s usually specific to individual people and what they’ve experienced personally – and not, as far as I understand, large swathes of the population all experiencing the same distinct memory of the same distinct thing without being prodded on a case-by-case basis.
Now – to those who don’t know – the Mandela Effect was named after Nelson Mandela, and was coined by Fiona Broome – after thousands of people across the world came together, all seemingly collectively remembering the death of Nelson Mandela in prison in the 1980’s. Obviously, Nelson Mandela actually died in December, 2013, but a rather large section of the population distinctly remembers, with very specific details – his funeral and some sort of book deal being haggled and argued over with his widow. These are all very specific memories, and while I do concede that it’s very possible to have lots of issues remembering correct spellings of brand names, and trouble remembering specific logos – a large public event like the death of a figure like Nelson Mandela is one of those things I feel is very unlikely to fall under the power of suggestion. In fact, with the amount of people telling these folks that they’re wrong about Mandela’s death in the 80’s VS 2013 – you would think that most of them would just move on and understand that undoubtedly, Mandela died more recently. But instead, these same individuals carry on and are convinced they witnessed his funeral events personally, or that they learned about it in school or from television or from the papers. Some even think that he died at another point – in 1991. Is that just a large swath of people refusing to believe that they could be wrong? Maybe. Probably. But, to them – if you believe that – then you are the crazy one.
I have to tell you – I do not remember a time when I heard about Nelson Mandela’s death. Growing up, I was never particularly interested in the outside world, the real world. I turned to things like Thundercats, and Star Wars, and video games. I grew up in poverty and hardship and so I clung to any sort of escapism that I could in order to stay sane. So, to me, a figure like Nelson Mandela was just one more talking head in a sea of talking heads I avoided on the television. Why watch old people talking about stuff I didn’t care about when I could watch Luke Skywalker attack Jabba’s barge on Tatooine? For me, this particular ME didn’t have much of an actual effect.
No, for me – what set me on this whirlwind exploration of The Mandela Effect and all its insane theories was the Berenstein Bears. Oops. My apologies. It’s actually the BerenSTAIN Bears.
When I first heard people arguing about whether it was “Stain” or “Stein” – I immediately dismissed the “Stainers”. I grew up with the Berenstein Bears, and I even had the book pictured above. I am a visual person, and a word person – and something like Berenstain VS Berenstein is something I would have given serious thought to when examining the cover, as I did over and over again through the course of my childhood. I remember this particular book cover because, growing up in poverty – I was jealous and delighted at the depictions of food that Brother Bear and Sister Bear were eating. I looked over, ruminated over, and even re-drew here and there the bear family. As someone learning to read, and someone who also distinctly remembers overcoming the differences between “Onion” and “Union” – I would definitely have picked up on “Stain” VS “Stein”. However, I realize that this is only anecdotal evidence, so almost anyone who looks at this will just assume that, as a child, I just always heard people say “Stein” or that my brain would just naturally assume it was “Stein” – since it’s more common to see that variation. But I know me, I know my limitations and tendencies when it comes to words, to images, and I also am the only one who knows my memory is actually quite good when it comes to small details. That is all unquantifiable, however, and so I will just have to tell you that my memories of Berenstein Bears was met with this new, apparently “correct” variation of the name – and as such, it sent me scurrying to the internet to defend my memories via Google where I was met by lots of other people who remembered “Stein” and not “Stain.” I was not alone, and not even CLOSE to alone. There were thousands of people, all with the same adamant memories.
What a stupid thing to get so upset about. Why even worry about it at all? Because it doesn’t stop there. In fact, there is a growing list of “changes” to popular culture. Movie lines, public events, names, and even entire movies. The nature of the Mandela Effect means that it’s impossible to really prove any of this stuff, because nobody “really” knows what’s going on – even IF something is actually going on. And because the phenomenon seems to have effected only physical things, and not certain people’s memories – means that the phenomenon is intangible. So, to the people who aren’t experiencing these memories – proof will always fall on physical evidence, which can’t be provided due to the nature of the Mandela Effect. Thus is born a cycle of naysayers discussing poor memory or mass suggestion or even the influence of pop culture on already-established items. And on the other side, there are lots of theories flying around – one of the most popular seeming to be that different realities are blending into each other, erasing physical traces of said events but not removing memories of the events from individuals. Those who don’t experience the memories are supposedly either in denial or from another “dimension”. Obviously, when it comes to other dimensions, it’s easier to believe that people just suck at remembering things. However, there exist many scientific theories involving simulations or alternate realities. These are just theories, obviously, but are usually supported by well-known scientists like Stephen Hawking and Neil deGrasse Tyson.
So, you may ask, what are some of the best, most telling situations where the Mandela Effect might truly be at play? Misspellings and logos are one thing, but what are some truly weird occurrences that many people are all experiencing, what memories are so strong collectively that it would be hard to pinpoint why so many might be so adamant about what they remember? I’ll get into a couple of the ones that hit home for me the most.
Recently, one of the most convincing ME phenomena I’ve experienced was from Queen’s song “We Are The Champions”. The song I remember – and it’s not the live version everyone will inevitably point to (I know that one ends with the phrase I’ll be discussing) – ends with “…of the wooooooooooooorld” in a much softer tone. Many people will automatically begin to sing this last bit – but in the “real” song, it just cuts off after the anti-climactic “WE ARE THE CHAMPIOOOOOOOONS…..”. This is exhibited by the popular music-oriented show host James Corden in one of his Carpool Karaoke bits. In the car are George Clooney, Julia Roberts, and even Gwen Stefani – and they all look confused and anxious that the end bit never happens. “That’s rough,” says Clooney. Check out the video.
Now – if even Gwen Stefani, who participates in the music business – and James Corden, who is a very outspoken music enthusiast and musician himself – have the same sort of memories as I do, and as thousands of others do – that’s a bit different than a mass-suggestion event. It’s not that anyone was suggesting anything at all. They were all waiting, because they knew it was supposed to come. Nobody was influencing any of them outside of the interior of the car, and still – they all waited for the same exact phrase – even with the differences in age of the participants. And another thing – I highly doubt that any of them have ever heard about the Mandela Effect. Chalk it up to whatever you wish, but mass suggestions seems very unlikely. And it’s also unlikely that Queen would have left out this seemingly-perfect addition to their song if they had any credible musical talent (which they do, obviously).
Sometimes, we misremember movie lines. Much of the time, this has to do with the English language and all its intricacies, and it may even just boil down to context within the dialogue if you’re repeating it to someone. There is one much-talked about Mandela Effect which states that many people remember the line from Star Wars as “Luke, I am your father.” This is one of those ME’s that I really just think is people misremembering. In context, if you shouted out “NO! I AM YOUR FATHER!” – people wouldn’t automatically assume it was a Star Wars quote. But, if you replace “No” with “Luke” – suddenly, you have a functional movie reference you can pull out any time you wish.
However – there is a really famous movie line uttered by Morpheus in the movie The Matrix. We all remember it, because a meme was spawned from it as soon as people began making memes, though the line was uttered by people far before the meme was created.
Not once in the entire Matrix trilogy does Morpheus utter the phrase “What if I told you that everything you know is a lie?”
I was actually angry when someone told me this. I saw The Matrix over ten times in theaters alone, and I owned it on VHS, on DVD, and now on Blu-Ray. And there are a slew of movie quotes out there that were either never said, or said differently. But this one takes the cake for me.
And while we’re on the subject of movies, sometimes entire movie scenes are reportedly changed by the Mandela Effect. While there are some that could POSSIBLY be the result of people not paying attention or things like that (C-3PO’s silver leg in the original Star Wars movie trilogy, for example), some are downright bizarre – and there is one in particular that stands out.
If you are a fan of James Bond films, then you may remember Moonraker. In the movie, the villain character “Jaws” crashes into a building and as he sort of shakes off the dust, a young buxom woman named “Dolly” comes to his aid. The two stare at each other for a moment, and then Jaws smiles. We see his mouth gleam in the sunlight – because of his metal teeth. Then, Dolly begins to smile – and they immediately fall in love and walk off together, hand in hand. The reason this scene stuck out to people is because it was funny – because Dolly had braces. So the fact that Jaws’ mouth had a bunch of metal in it meant that the two of them, despite the obvious size difference – were a match made in heaven.
But that scene never happened. At least not that way. Dolly’s teeth are perfectly straight and white. And so, for no reason – the two of them fall in love. She is not bothered at all by his metal teeth and they just smile at each other for no apparent reason.
And you might think that many people just sort of “filled in” that detail. But why? And why would there exist other references to the original scene with the braces if it didn’t happen?
And, the final stop in movie territory is an ENTIRE MOVIE that apparently never existed. This one is one I feel really confused about because I swear I not only saw this film, but that I remember it distinctly as being different than other movies that were similar at the time, and thinking it was weird that they were releasing so many similar movies.
This image is not an image from a real movie called Shazaam, starring Sinbad. It’s an image from a parody Sinbad made to sort of make fun of people who think he was in a genie movie in the 1990’s called Shazaam. There WAS another movie at the time, starring Shaquille O’Neal, and that was called Kazaam. And it was terrible.
But let me be perfectly clear – I actually remember Kazaam as a separate film entirely from “Shazaam” – and I also know the difference between Shaquille O’Neal and Sindbad. You can’t really mistake the two of them unless you have that disorder in which you cannot distinguish separate faces. And I’m not the only one. People discuss “Shazaam” at great length – and, once again – as with many ME’s, how do so many different people in all walks of life believe that they’ve seen this film when it doesn’t exist?
Artwork is something that many people can interpret differently. Some of it is subjective. Take for example the famed Mona Lisa. When I was growing up, I was always made aware of the complexities of Mona Lisa’s smile in history class or art class. I always thought she had a sort of stern countenance, but nowadays she seems as if she’s smiling.
To me, I believe this could be a matter of how we interpret things as a child or from person to person, versus how others interpret things. Maybe as a child, she looks like she’s angrier than she is, but then as an adult she seems to be possibly keeping back a fit of laughter. Who knows? What I DO know, however – is that many people seem to remember a specific painting of Henry VIII – one in which he is famously holding a leg or joint of meat in his hand and there is a goblet in front of him.
But that painting never existed, at least in this dimension.
The painting in question is similar (or “was” similar, I guess – since it’s not real) to the Holbein painting that is largely regarded as the most famous portrait of Henry VIII. This is the image (or at least basically what it looks like).
Now, people usually counter this by saying lots of things – namely that it could be confused with another painting, or we just looked at it incorrectly, etc. But there exists a basis, at least for people thinking that a painting like this could have existed. In many instances, pop culture seems to reference this same image. So where was this image originally seen if not in the original painting in question?
Now, whether you believe this painting existed or not – those of us that do believe it existed are pretty creeped out right now.
Now, the date of Nelson Mandela’s death is pretty well-known. And even though some people are adamant that Mandela died in the 1980’s or even 1990’s – most of us understand that it’s possible (and most probable) that they either wrongly remember the date or that they transposed him in their minds in place of some other person on television. However, some things have less to do with dates and more to do with the outcome of certain events.
I remember a time when I was fascinated by the television show Unsolved Mysteries. Robert Stack, the host of the show, would guide the viewer through several actual (at the time) unsolved mysteries. The show sort of spurred on a thirst in me for other unsolved mysteries and crimes of the day, and I eventually landed on what I thought up until now was still an unsolved mystery – the disappearance of the Lindbergh baby.
Now, what I learned when I heard about this case is that the Lindbergh baby was never found. It was a mystery in the same vein as Jimmy Hoffa’s body. Endless “jokes” were made about his disappearance, and often – people claimed to be the long-lost child. However, it was brought to my attention that in all actual reality – the Lindbergh baby WAS found. Dead. And a man thought to be his killer was executed by electrocution for the crime.
I was so confused and I have a few very pertinent (I think) questions.
- If the Lindbergh baby WAS found, then why was the case still such a fascination to people? I mean, sure – a child was murdered, but the killer was brought to justice. Surely, the details would be relegated to a footnote in history. The only reason people might remember it is due to the nature of the case’s fame in its day, sort of like Lizzie Borden’s trial, to a lesser extent. There have been worse cases of murder and kidnapping in recent history – so why, then, would people still talk about the Lindbergh baby? The only explanation in my mind would be if he was never found.
- Why would anyone claim that THEY were the Lindbergh baby if he were found, much less murdered?
- Why would there be numerous references to the missing Lindbergh baby in pop culture?
Regardless of where you stand on this one – you have to admit that it’s weird that people make the mistake of thinking he’s never been found. To me, the Lindbergh Baby has always been in the same headspace as Amelia Earheart. And not just due to the time period.
Human anatomy is something I wouldn’t leave to the layman to tell me about. I bet that most of us couldn’t distinguish the internal organs of our bodies from lumps of fat or other weird things if we were presented images of them. I am definitely not an expert in human anatomy.
But surely, there are things we were all taught in school, in health class, or saw on television that informed us of basic elements of our bodies and their infrastructure? Surely, we could all point to where our hearts are in our chests? Surely, we could explain where to find our own kidneys? Surely, we could all draw a basically-accurate depiction of a human skull or skeleton?
Probably not, or at least according to how many people think incorrect things about their own bodies.
So most of the differences in the two skeletons are pretty obvious at first glance. Our bodies apparently have bones behind the eye sockets and weird holes in our faces (?!?!). We apparently have floating ribs (?!?!), our kidneys are somewhere inside our ribcages (?!?!?!) and our hearts are on the inside of the middle of our chest and not somewhere on the left side (?!?!), our livers are FUCKING MASSIVE (?!?!?!) and lots of other stuff.
Now, again – this is something that I feel most people aren’t an expert in in the first place and I am obviously very susceptible to fallibility on this, but I had to include it because I never ever would have guessed my kidneys were up in my chest cavity. I always thought they were in my lower back. Again, many of us are super-confused by these things. How do so many of us not know our own bodies in this age of Web MD and access to virtually any information at all through the internet? These are only a few examples of purported Mandela Effect changes to human anatomy and physiology.
That’s right, even geography is seemingly touched by the Mandela Effect. I wasn’t going to include this category, and sort of chalk it up to possible false memories in the same vein as misspellings (because, let’s face it – most of us suck at geography, especially in the United States). However, there are enough odd discrepancies that I felt I needed to actually talk about it.
Some of the weirdest examples of the Mandela Effect at work include entire continents that are misplaced, as well as entire continents and countries not being where they are “supposed” to be.
We all know where South America is, right? If you had asked me this question a few months ago, I would have told you that it was basically directly underneath us, like so.
Well, apparently I would be wrong – because this map is not accurate. South America is actually not really directly underneath the United States. It’s further off to the east. Also notice how Australia is further north in the real image.
And, if that weren’t enough – some folks remember some sort of land mass to the west of Australia – which obviously doesn’t exist on either maps, but can be seen on a globe in the film “Dazed And Confused“.
Obviously, we can’t see that land mass in any other map. And just to be sure, here’s a satellite image of the same area.
Fiona Broome has compiled a list of the “best” instances of “alt geography” on her SITE. So the fun doesn’t stop here, but I really thought these images were interesting in their own right.
So have we all merged with an alternate dimension? Is our life just a big simulation and is there a glitch in the matrix? Probably not. But it’s fun to speculate and it’s an interesting conversation piece. Unfortunately, as I said above – the nature of the Mandela Effect phenomenon means that it likely can never be proven or disproven. So until we get something really solid – there’s no way either side in this conversation will come out the winner.