The Mandela Effect

Alternate Universes?

Image taken from the Berenstain Bears Wiki on Wikia.

Image taken from the Berenstain Bears Wiki on Wikia.

Leigh Duncan, Mustang Reporter

It’s a name we’ve all heard, whether when dozing off in history class, or in the Walmart parking lot: Nelson Mandela. While many Millenials are not even aware of what exactly Mandela did, many Gen-Xers recall his passing in the 80’s. Many will talk about the news clips from the funeral, remembering the event crystal clear, and factual. The thing is, Mandela didn’t die in the 80’s.  He died of a respiratory infection in 2013.

Which begs the question- what in the world is going on? Some people believe something else is at work here; specifically, a parallel universe. The internet has recently lost it’s collective sanity over this; dubbed “the Mandela Effect”, the theory suggests that those who remember his death in prison have accidentally slipped into this universe, from another where Mandela did die in prison in the 80’s. However, many, including our own dear Mr. Jacob Simmons (who teaches AP Psychology at MCHS), would probably refer to this as a simple error in memory; misprocessed information. So which is it?

Obviously, the more logical readers would take Simmons’ side here. After all, it’s just one incident, right? Wrong.  This isn’t the only example of this mysterious incident of a mass false-memory. Remember the “Berenstein Bears” books we all read in Kindergarten? They’re actually the “Berenstain Bears”. And who could forget Snow White’s infamous line “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” All of us, apparently. It’s actually “Magic mirror on the wall”. Chic-fil-a is, and always has been, Chick-fil-a. And Darth Vader didn’t say, “Luke, I am your father”… he said, “No, I am your father”. Die-hard conspiracists will argue, “if it’s not an alternate universe we’re remembering, how do so many people remember these things incorrectly?”

I’ve come to the rescue with an answer (actually, three). Some suggest it has to do with cognitive dissonance; if you don’t speak “brain”, that basically means that we don’t like to be proven wrong. There’s also confirmation bias. The fact that other people agree that there are alternate universes and that the Mandela Effect confirms this, makes others start to develop additional false memories, subconsciously, and in masses. Another, less popular theory is it’s all just false memory; however, false memories generally occur as a reaction to a stressful, traumatic event. It’s the brain’s way of protecting itself from what really happened. I wouldn’t call Star Wars a stressful or traumatic event.

The bottom line here is that the Mandela Effect is a real thing- these people truly remember these things as told above. But, it’s probably not the result of sci-fi parallel universes. It’s more than likely a result of neurocognitive dysfunction. Who knows, though- maybe in the alternate universe where it was “Berenstein”, David Bowie is running for president, and Trump died in January. It’s certainly an interesting thought.