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The Mandela Effect Phenomenon

Updated: Jan 29

Written by Ardil Ulucay

Chapter I, What is, The Mandela Effect?

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where a significant number of people collectively remember an event differently or recall something that never happened. Coined by Fiona Broome, a paranormal researcher, the term emerged when she and others at a 2010 conference incorrectly believed Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s. Mandela was, in fact, released in 1990 and was alive during the conference. This discrepancy challenges assumptions about the reliability of shared memories. Psychologists attribute the Mandela Effect to factors like social influences and the reconstructive nature of memory. It provides insights into the complexities of human cognition and the malleable nature of collective consciousness. The phenomenon urges reflection on the fallibility of memory and the dynamic interplay between individual recollections and shared beliefs [2].

Chapter II, Causes of Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect, a curious phenomenon where collective memories diverge from actual events, has prompted much speculation about its causes. While not entirely understood, several factors contribute to this intriguing distortion.

False memories, as explained by Dr. Schiff, a neuroscientist, play a pivotal role. Memories are inherently fallible, and subject to distortion during recall. Research indicates that misrepresentations in working, short-term, and long-term memory contribute to this phenomenon. Suggestions from others and exposure to misinformation can also shape our memories, demonstrating the malleable nature of human recollection.

Memory alteration with each recall is a natural process. Our brains subtly reshape memories over time based on individual experiences, contributing to minor changes in recollection. The power of imagination further complicates matters; vividly imagining an event can embed it into our memory, blurring the line between fiction and reality.

Confabulation, a neuropsychiatric disorder, is another potential cause. In this condition, the brain unintentionally creates false memories, and individuals genuinely believe in their accuracy. Confabulation can range from exaggerating real events to filling informational gaps or fabricating entirely new memories. Certain conditions, such as brain injury, bipolar disorder, dementia, or Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome, increase susceptibility to confabulation.

The Internet and social media amplify the Mandela Effect. Misinformation spreads swiftly online, influencing shared false memories. Research indicates that people are more likely to remember misinformation aligning with preexisting beliefs, and repetition reinforces these inaccuracies. Social media platforms, with their rapid dissemination of information, contribute to the formation of collective misrepresentations.

An unconventional theory ties the Mandela Effect to quantum physics and alternate realities. Some propose that our interconnected minds exist within a unified field, where multiple expressions of reality coexist simultaneously. However, this idea remains largely speculative and lacks empirical support [1 , 3].

Chapter III, Famous Examples of the Mandela Effect

The Mandela Effect casts a fascinating light on collective memory, and it's not limited to just a few instances. Take the classic children's book character, Curious George – many wrongly remember him having a tail, when, in reality, he's tailless. Similarly, the Berenstain Bears are a source of Mandela Effect confusion. Numerous individuals insist on recalling the family name as Berenstein, aligning it with the authors, though the correct name is Berenstain.

Venturing into the realm of animated nostalgia, the misremembering extends to the iconic Pikachu from Pokémon. A significant number of fans insist Pikachu had a black-tipped tail, but the electrifying Pokémon's tail has consistently been yellow, free of any dark accents. This exemplifies how even the most beloved and widely recognized characters are not immune to the quirks of collective memory.

In the domain of cinema, "Star Wars" provides fertile ground for the Mandela Effect. The famous line from Darth Vader, "Luke, I am your father," is a staple of pop culture misquotation. In reality, the line is slightly different, with Darth Vader saying, "No, I am your father." The subtle discrepancy showcases how small alterations in memory can significantly impact our recollections of iconic moments.

Shifting gears to music, the chart-topping hit "We Will Rock You" by Queen harbors a Mandela Effect twist. While many vividly remember the lyrics including "kicking your can all over the place," the actual lyrics do not feature this particular phrase. It's a prime example of how the communal memory of lyrics can diverge from the factual words.

Expanding the examination, we encounter a vivid Mandela Effect surrounding the popular snack, Kit Kat. A considerable number of consumers recall a hyphen between "Kit" and "Kat" in the brand name. However, a closer inspection reveals that the brand has never employed a hyphen, prompting intriguing questions about the origin and spread of such collective misconceptions [4 , 3].


  1. Miate, L. (2022). Great Northern war. World History Encyclopedia.

  2. Second Northern War. (2022, July 20). Encyclopedia Britannica.\


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