Nelson Mandela, leader of the South African anti-apartheid movement and Nobel Peace Prize laureate died in December 2013. However, there are many people who believe that this is not the case, that this very important person has actually disappeared in the 80 years. No, this time it's not about complex mysterious conspiracies. It is simply one of the best known cases of false collective memories, a phenomenon known precisely as Mandela effect.
Bears, lightsabers and lamp genes
The development of memories inexistent it is one of the most interesting and studied fields in the field of social psychology. In fact, it can happen that our memory plays some 'tricks' on us and gives life to concepts that never actually occurred. So it happens that, for one reason or another, many people remember the images of the funeral of Nelson Mandela on television, following his death in prison in the 80s. Although in reality it didn't happen that way at all.
Although the best known case is (and the one that the "paranormal consultant" Fiona Broome chose to give the name to the phenomenon), that of the ex-President of South Africa it is not the only case, rather. There are pages and pages on the web that collect many cases in which the so-called Mandela effect occurs. A well-known one concerns the children's literary series dedicated to the Berenstain Bears. In fact, many people remember the name of the protagonist family transcribed in a different way. According to these it would always be Berenstein and not Berenstain.
Another very curious case concerns Shazaam, a hypothetical film about a genie of the lamp, starring the American comedian Sinbad. Many people remember seeing this film or at least its commercial. The reality however is that this project it never existed.
Equally interesting are the examples that come from the world of Star Wars. Do you remember, for example, the iconic line from The Empire Strikes Back? Darth Vader he looks at the young Jedi protagonist and tells him: “Luke, I'm your father!“. There, remember badly, because the joke is "No, I'm your father". And while you still think about it, we reveal another secret: C-3PO isn't all golden, but it has a silver-colored right leg.
The scientific causes of the Mandela effect
One could go on and on to list examples where the Mandela effect somehow occurs (Is it Looney Tunes or Looney Toons? Does the Monopoly mascot have a monocle or not? And so on…) but incredible as it may seem, the explanation is relatively simple. In fact, for science there are several reasons whereby this kind of false memories can develop.
The concept behind it is that our brains tend to fill in any memory gaps with plausible ideas. This means that even if we don't remember everything in detail, we can easily reconstruct it. Normally this process works great and is of great help, but sometimes something goes wrong and then the Mandela effect is triggered.
Let's take the case of Shazaam. According to scholars, this collective false memory arises from one series of events that actually happened: Sinbad was a genie of the lamp for a TV show, he has the right look, there is a film similar to the one imagined which is called Kazaam (whose protagonist, however, is Shaquille O'Neal) and so on. More than one person therefore may have linked all these independent data, but reconstructing an erroneous image.
Everything is even more effective when it is triggered by one tendentious question, an often relevant element in the Mandela effect: "Do you remember Shazaam, the film with Sinbad who plays the genie of the lamp?". By introducing some elements of the answer you want to get into the question, the birth of is even more stimulated bogus memories.
In other cases, the influence comes from outside. The joke of Darth Vader for example, it has appeared in many other films and TV series besides Star Wars. It may have been necessary to insert it often contextualize it mostly, substituting “Luke” for “No“. By repeating it so much, however, it has cemented itself into our popular culture in this way, giving rise to another false memory.
What if the Mandela effect hides something more?
The fascination of this phenomenon has struck many and thus a series of alternative theory which suggest a paranormal cause. Hypotheses without a real scientific foundation that go beyond the official explanation, as simple as it is not very exciting. For this reason, the most imaginative have begun to imagine that the Mandela effect is one testimony of alternative universes.
So Nelson Mandela would really be died in prison in the 80s, but in another timeline, which merged with the one we are in now. Whoever has that specific memory then comes from another universe and it is still adapting. Alternatively, there are those who think that these fake memories arise from "glitches in the Matrix", errors of the great virtual simulation we live in, just like in the sisters' film. Wachowski of 1999.
Perhaps the idea that most captures the attention, however, is that of retcon. This term indicates a rewriting of the past, a common practice in the field of rather long comic or cinematographic sagas. The hypothesis is that therefore theMandela effect they are actually memories of a past that existed but that someone or something has changed, leaving only these ghost memories as a trace. If you want to see "how deep is the White Rabbit's lair", take a look at the community of Reddit dedicated to this hypothesis ...
These ideas are not cited here for question the scientific evidence, rather. However, they are very fun to explore, letting your imagination run wild by imagining complex explanations of this phenomenon. After all, they are nothing more than testimonials of how fascinating the Mandela effect is...
And you? Have you ever experienced false memories of this kind?
Star Wars 1/12 C-3PO
- Star Wars 1/12 C-3PO