The Mandela Effect

Derren Brown proved that when giving a gift to someone, he could trick that someone into thinking they wanted a bike all along, when they actually wanted a leather jacket. (It was Simon Pegg actually, ; or as part of a Derren vs Celebrities video: ). He did this with the power of suggestion, using dozens of subliminal cues to trick his mind into thinking hard about bicycles while Derren was preparing to reveal a gift that was to come. The person’s mind was already in the realm of “what’s the gift” and “what would I like it to be” so as the subliminal cues were getting him to think about bicycles, his brain made the subliminal connections and rewrote his mental story to include the bike. When he asked what that person wanted, he said “a bicycle”.  Sure enough when he opened the box it was a bicycle.  But he went further because that person had written down their desired gift a few days earlier in a signed envelope that he kept on his person (in his wallet) since he sealed it.  The envelope said “leather jacket”, proving Derren has just altered his memory.

Why do I bring this up?  Because some people posit that memories can’t be wrong, especially when they’re strong memories.

According to Snopes ( ): “The Mandela Effect is a collective misremembering of a fact or event. … The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by self-described “paranormal consultant” Fiona Broome, who has written on her web site that she first became aware of the phenomenon after discovering that she shared a particular false memory — that South African human rights activist and president Nelson Mandela died in prison during the 1980s (he actually died in 2013) — with many other people. Then she began noticing other examples.”

The Mendella effect is the idea that we remember facts differently than they are AND the supposition that our memory is correct and the facts have somehow been modified by some paranormal agent. This paranormal activity is proven by the fact that multiple people have the same (incorrect) memory. Like the fact that so many people remember Nelson Mendella dying in the 1980’s, except he didn’t. How could so many people have the same incorrect memory if it didn’t happen that way? The universe must be mutable.

To assume human memories are like computer memory is completely non-realistic. We all know that… Or do we? I’m all too aware that my memory is constantly morphing. I noticed once as a preteen that I had distinct visual images of my old home – before I was 4, but upon seeing a photo album of the house again for the first time years, I noticed that my memories of my old home exactly matched these photos. PLUS, I had no memories of that home in addition to those seen in that photo album (except possibly one). I realized then that my brain had taken visual cues and created memories from them. I knew I couldn’t trust my brain anymore, and perhaps, that’s why I always second guess myself and seriously consider that I could be remembering wrong — especially when someone is more adamant about it than I am. It’s why I like to write down my train of thought when I write a report, or an email, not just the conclusions because I know that if I later tried to recall WHY something happened I could easily make up a memory to fit my conclusion.

I later learned about possible reasons for Deja Vu. That Deja Vu is the memory part of your brain registering the moment before the cognitive part of the brain interprets it; or possibly it’s the chemical reaction associated with memory recognition without the actual memory. Deja Vu usually is associated with a weird third person feeling, a sense of watching my body take actions instead of that sense of performing the actions myself, implying to me some brain chemical imbalance. So it’s either purely chemical or a brain sequencing failure. Either way, a memory is never more accurate than a piece of paper.

I’ll go further.  I’ve had instances where I’m recounting something that happened to me, and suddenly I can’t remember the next part. I get nervous about the next memory that comes to mind. I can never be 100% sure that the memory is accurate — especially if I know the outcome. That is, I have a gap in recollection and I know my brain can either recall an accurate memory or fill in the gap with a memory that matches my assumptions for why it happened.  In fact, I notice that I’ve told a few stories a handful of times, and because it’s farther apart each time I tell it, I remember less of the story, but I know bits and pieces. I’ve gotten into some situations with people who were there who remember different colors of objects or different versions of my story (usually quantities and sequences) from the previous time I told it. In those instances, I’m never really sure if I’m right — although I can usually gauge the strength of the memory and push back with my conviction. But because I HAVE caught myself creating memories of things I’ve done when I haven’t done them (probably because I’m thinking about the things I have to do at work when I snooze in the morning), I know it IS possible that I’m creating memories of things I wish I had done (in some cases) or memories of things I had-to-have done (in most) without actually remembering doing them.

So why would ANYONE believe their memory is superior to facts? to evidence? Because they don’t take an effort to estimate the chances of remembering the correct spelling of Berenstain Bears (it’s Berenstein Bears, right?) when you learned it as a child; which is probably well below 50/50 since we’re all extremely used to seeing the -ein letters together versus the rare but correct spelling with -ain.  And in the most frequent cases: Because they don’t consider that their friends probably recall certain events from a common incorrect story teller, which in many situations could have been they themselves!

Or maybe the universe is mutable and someone or something is going around changing the facts. Maybe it proves parallel timelines and that changes to our past by time travelers may create butterfly effect changes to some events in our current reality, but none significant enough to affect all events. And … I guess because consciousness is independent of our physical reality… WE have the correct memories?

Yeah, that sounds right. The Mendela effect proves it!


P.S. I don’t really think anyone seriously considers this proof of the paranormal, but that it is probably a conflation of an interesting observation with paranormal extremists and/or trolls on the internet.

P.P.S. Don’t forget to watch the Derren Brown video(s) above.  if the link goes dead, search Derren Brown Simon Pegg.

This entry was posted in Articles. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.