Has it ever happened to you that you remember a certain thing in a certain way and you can swear your life on it only to discover you have remembered it wrong? If yes then you have already experienced the Mandela effect.
Mandela Effect Definition:
The Mandela effect is a phenomenon in which it is observed that a large number of people remember an important event incorrectly or sometimes even talk about remembering an event which might not have occurred in reality. The term was coined by Fiona Broome. She is a paranormal researcher, who at a conference in 2010 noticed that people have a collectively false memory regarding the death of Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa. People have imagined him to be dead in prison in the 1980s. That would not have been the case as he was released from prison in 1990 and was alive even in 2010 when the conference was held. He finally died in 2013. But people had such a strong belief that they even claimed to have seen his funeral clips on TV.
There have been other such instances too. Like people said that C-3PO from Star Wars was gold, but that was not possible as one of his legs is silver. The other Mandela Effect example is what the Queen says in Snow White. People can swear that she used to say “Mirror, mirror on the wall”, but actually the phrase was “magic mirror on the wall”.
The Science Behind It
Psychologists have explained this process on the basis of memory and social effects. The false memory means mistakenly remembering things which has never taken place and also damage of existing memories. The phenomenon in which brain weaves false or misinterpreted memories is known as confabulation. It is studied that this phenomenon is common in everyday life.
False memory can occur due to a number of reasons and also in various ways. Suppose when we are learning terms which are very closely related, let’s say ‘bed’ and ‘pillow’. Did you just imagine ‘sleep’ in your mind? So two related words might bring up a false recognition which was not mentioned in the first place.
Sometimes people even cannot distinguish between an imagined event and a real one. Jim Coan who is a psychology professor in US tried and experiment called “Lost In The Mall.” In this experiment, Coan narrated short stories to his family members about some specific childhood events. He made up an event about his brother getting lost in a shopping mall. Surprisingly Coan’s brother believed the event and also added some details of his own to the story. This experiment was carried out on others too and it was seen that 25% of the candidates failed to realise which event is false.
The Nelson Mandela effect makes people believe any frequently reported or shown events, which might not have at all happened. With the internet coming in the equation, the process of reinforcing any false news has become easier. So this effect is the cause of many errors in memory and also social misinformation. It is good that most of the inaccuracies that have taken place over the years are trivial.