Mandela Effect – False Memory or Shift in the Multiverse?

Have you ever come to realize that something you’ve always believed to have been true is actually false, like a verse in a song or the spelling of a name or product?

There’s a popular theory going around the Internet that when these realizations happen, it’s not because your memory is off, but that it’s the universe instead.  Every once in a while there are these shifts in the universe where alternate versions are split apart or combined with one another, creating these situations where people seem to have incorrect memories of past events.

The Mandela Effect is the term given to this alleged shifting and realigning of the universe, or rather, this plane of existence in the universe.  The multiverse theory argues that there are an infinite number of universes out there, all stacked next to each other.  Each time a decision is made, then a new universe is created for the opposite side of the decision.  This pattern goes on infinitely until the end of time.

What the Mandela Effect argues is that every once in a while these universes merge with each other, and people who may have been living in one universe are suddenly living in an alternate universe, a nearly identical universe where everything is almost exactly the same except for a minor detail that gives away the shift.  Nobody can feel the shift, nor does anybody know exactly when it takes place.  All people can do is take a look at their current world and see if anything is “off” or just not right according to their memory.

Nelson Mandela

The Mandela Effect is named after Nelson Mandela, a member of the African National Congress who was arrested for being a terrorist back in 1962, he was released from prison in 1990, and then he became president of South Africa in 1994.

According to some people, it was impossible for Nelson Mandela to have become president as they are positive that they remember seeing news stories about how Mandela actually died in prison.  How can somebody who had allegedly died later become the president of a country?

Enter the Mandela Effect.

In one universe Nelson Mandela died in prison.  His death was widely publicized and announced in news organizations around the world.  However, our universe conflicts with that story.  In this universe Mandela did not die in prison.  He was later released and ultimately elected as South Africa’s president.

So which version is correct?

That depends on who you ask.

The problem is that there’s absolutely no physical evidence to support the claim that Mandela died in prison in an alternate universe, and that his death was announced around the world.  It’s not like you can reach into a different universe and pull any evidence back into this world.  The only way that people can argue the “Mandela died in prison” argument is with their memory of hearing about it on the news.

That’s it.

It’s one thing to use a person’s memory to provide exact details when there is no other evidence.  *IF* somebody has that detailed of a memory, then it’s possible to use it and make a compelling argument.  But the problem is that when people are questioned as to *when* or *how* Mandela allegedly died in prison, nobody seems to know.  It’s just a generic “He died in prison a while ago” type of statement with no other details.

I just wonder how well known Nelson Mandela was to the average American in the 1970s and 80s.  I was still in elementary school when he was released from prison, and I honestly don’t remember seeing or hearing about him in the new prior to that point.  Of course, I was only nine years old, and the news wasn’t one of my main interests at that point in time.

It wouldn’t surprise me if people knew about Mandela from the anti-apartheid marches and demonstrations going on around the world, pressuring the South Africa government to change its ways.  Although he was in prison, Mandela was still a leader of the ANC, and government figures spoke to him about the demonstrations.  Mandela did had some serious health problems in the early 1980s, and that was probably in the news as well.

In this case, it’s very likely that people remember hearing about Mandela’s health problems, and then just assuming that he died, especially since those issues occurred when he was in his late 60s and still in prison.  Remember that there was no Internet back in those days, and if you didn’t hear about a story in the newspaper or on TV, then that was really it for your sources of information.

But did he die in prison?  Certainly not in this universe.  And that’s the fact that we stick to today.

Let’s take a look at a few more popular claims of the Mandela Effect.


This bear family has been a popular series of children’s books since the early 1960s, and I read them frequently as a kid in the 1980s.  They were wholesome books and a great way to practice reading.

Berenstain Bears on the Moon

Everything seemed to be fine until this tweet by George Takei sent people scrambling for answers.

I’ll admit that this caught me off guard.

I always thought that the family was spelled as Berenstein with an “E” and not an “A.”  It’s easy to glance at the name on the book and mentally switch the two letters, resulting in the incorrect version.  At a glance, Berenstain looked Germanic in its name, and we know that “stein” is a popular German word.  It’s very easy to mentally connect the two and result in the incorrect version of “Berenstein,” even at such a young age like many of us were when first reading those books.

So if your mind has been focused on the incorrect version from the beginning, and you never corrected yourself, then years later you’ll still believe that the incorrect version is still the correct one.  For me, I never had to say the name of the bears out loud, or even write it down on paper.  I would always glance at the name and always have “Berenstein” in my mind.  Naturally, I still believed that was the correct version years later.

It still doesn’t look right when seeing the bears’ name as Berenstain.  I have little doubt that it’s always been that way and that I’ve been wrong for all of these years.  That wouldn’t be the first time that my version of reality has been incorrect.

Berenstain Bears Mandela Effect conspiracy

Proof of a conspiracy, or sloppy mistakes?

A thing to take note is that it appears that the Berenstain Bears has evolved into a conspiracy, as mentioned in Takei’s tweet.  People have scoured the Internet and found evidence and references to Berenstain actually being spelled “Berenstein” in the past, allegedly proving that there was a change in the universe.  Before you jump on the conspiracy bandwagon, there are a few important things to take note of first.

1 – It’s very likely that people made typos and misspelled the name of the bears in the past.  This is a very simple and easy mistake to make.  It’s no different than people making mistakes today with their spelling and grammar, and having those mistakes published for the world to view.  These problems happen all the time.

2 – In today’s age of digital photo editing, it’s relatively simple for people to alter images.  If somebody wants to push a conspiracy or an agenda, it’s easy to create “evidence” to further that cause.  Sadly, for this reason alone you need to be very skeptical of any images that seem suspicious or too good to be true.

3 – If two universes are merged, can physical evidence be passed from one universe to the next?  As far as I know, that cannot happen.  It’s suspicious enough of people claiming to have alternate memories and insisting that they were originally part of a different universe, but yet here they are with us in this universe.

Just because it’s on the Internet doesn’t mean that it’s true.

Is there really a conspiracy involving an alternate version of the Berenstain Bears?  Probably not.  It’s rather interesting though that so many people, myself included, have believed the name to have been spelled differently after all these years.


Remember how Leonardo DiCaprio was so proud to have finally won the Best Actor Academy Award for his role in 2015’s The Revenant?

He’s been an increasingly powerful actor over the past ten years, and there’s been more and more talk about when he would not only be nominated for the award, but to win it as well.  That finally happened with The Revenant.

Titanic (1997) – movie poster

According to a lot of people, that wasn’t DiCaprio’s first time winning an Oscar.  A large number of people believe that he won the award back in 1997 for his role in Titanic, an epic love story / disaster film that not only won big with Academy Awards, but it’s still one of the most profitable films in history.  Therefore his award for The Revenant would have been his second win for Best Actor, and not his first.

Those people who insist on his win for Titanic must be from a different universe as he wasn’t even nominated for Best Actor in this universe.  He was just an actor who played a popular role in a huge movie, but he didn’t win an Academy Award for his performance.  Just as Arnold Schwarzenegger was never nominated for an Oscar for his role in Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

It’s pretty common for actors to play popular roles in huge movies, and to never even be considered for the top acting awards.  Look at the Marvel and Harry Potter films.  Almost all of them were highly successful in the theaters, they have/had great actors and characters, but none of the top players received an Academy Award for their work.


There’s a Mandela Effect conspiracy involving South America?

Yep.  I picked South America for this example, but New Zealand works as well.  It’s not a conspiracy against the people living there or anything, but rather *where* these places are physically located on a map or a globe.

Ask most people here in the U.S. where South America is located, and they’ll tell you that it’s directly underneath North America.  You basically travel south out of Mexico, cross over the Panama Canal, and there’s the bulk of South America located directly south of the continental U.S.

But that’s not accurate.

What many people do not realize is that the brunt of South America is actually southeast of the U.S.  This “geographic conspiracy” came to light last year during the 2016 Olympic Games hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I believe that the true cause of this problem is from our education system.  I don’t know if this is still true today, but we used to have World Geography classes back in middle and high school.  Those classes would focus on different continents and countries throughout the course of the school year, and you’d learn geographic features as well as a brief history of the people who lived there.  The classes would also cover major wars and battles as well.

South America was normally discussed at some point in those World Geography classes.  One thing I noticed was that although the class would go into detail about that region, we never learned anything about the relationship between North and South America.  All of the focus would be on the South American countries.  There was never any talk about the bigger picture and how that region is connected with our part of the world.

When you’re focused on a region and you don’t see the big picture, it’s easy to have a distorted view of the world. You may end up learning a lot about the South American countries and their features, but as far as where it’s really located on a globe, it’s simply, “south of the U.S.”

Here in the U.S., it was common to learn much more about the relationship between countries and locations across the northern Atlantic Ocean.  After all, that’s where most of our American history comes from.  It’s mainly from the European explorers and settlers who conquered this land and ultimately developed it into an independent country.  It’s very understandable to learn more about the northern Atlantic Ocean rather than the southern part, including South America.  The vast majority of our history is from the northern half of the ocean.

With all of that into consideration, it’s easy to see people’s confusion regarding South America’s true location in relation to the U.S.  There’s no conspiracy here — just a lack of education.


How many people out there can not only name all five orbiters to have reached Earth orbit, but also the order in which they were built and used for launches?

Space Shuttle Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour.

I can do that because I’ve always been a fanatic for aviation and space flight, ever since I was a little kid.  Without hesitating, I can also name where in the U.S. you can currently find the Atlantis, Discovery, Endeavour, and also the Enterprise and Pathfinder.  It’s trivial these days, but it still matters to me.  That’s one of my passions.

Not surprisingly, there are Mandela Effect conspiracies involving the Shuttles as well.

A lot of people seem to have conflicting memories as to when the Challenger disaster occurred (January 28, 1986, FYI).  People will argue all day that the incident occurred in a different year as they have tied that memory to being in a specific location on a specific day when they heard about the disaster (or watched it live on TV), and it was not in 1986.  You cannot convince them otherwise.

For me, it was 1986.  I was in kindergarten, and at the end of the day, the school’s principal announced the disaster to the school over the intercom system.  The entire school held a brief moment of silence for the victims.  I remember smiling and being happy, not because of the disaster, but because people were talking about the Space Shuttle.  I was too young to realize that the Shuttle was destroyed and the astronauts on board it were killed that day.

Other people are also convinced that astronaut Sally Ride was killed in the Challenger’s explosion (technically the Shuttle didn’t explode, but that’s an article for another time), and not more recently in 2012.  Funny, but I distinctively remember seeing (and hearing) Sally Ride as a space flight and Shuttle expert commentator for some of those later launches before the Space Shuttle program officially ended.  How could she have been allegedly killed on the Challenger only to later be in the media as a commentator?

For the casual observer, the connection is easy.  Sally Ride was a big name in the early 1980s as she was the first American female to go into space.  She flew on two of Shuttle missions (coincidentally, both of her flights were on the Challenger).  The Shuttle could also carry eight astronauts on each flight.  The Challenger’s final mission was famous for having an “average” person on board as a passenger — a female teacher named Christa McAuliffe.  It stands to reason that Sally Ride was also on that flight, right?

Look at the facts:

  • Sally Ride was a famous female astronaut at that time.
  • She was known for flying on the Challenger.
  • The final Challenger flight was highly publicized and famous for carrying a female school teacher.
  • There were actually TWO females on the final Challenger flight.
  • Sally Ride left NASA a year later and “disappeared” from media’s attention for a very long time.

Therefore, according to a lot of casual observers, Sally Ride was the second female and, thus, killed in the Challenger disaster.  Those same people were surprised to hear about her “real” death in 2012.

That’s just how easy it is to convince yourself of a false reality.


There are probably a hundred more examples of people claiming that the Mandela Effect is real (just start searching the Internet), as the listing just seems to keep going on and on, and people keep adding theories to more theories.

My biggest problem with the Mandela Effect is that it’s so easy to dismiss probably 95% of the claims on ignorance, a lack of paying attention, or just poor memory skills.  This is especially true when people try to make claims over perceived “glitches” in history for topics they normally don’t care about, such as Sally Ride being killed on the Challenger’s final flight.

As it was mentioned earlier, claims for the Mandela Effect are based on memory.  Memories are notorious for being false to some degree.  I had an Intro to Psychology teacher (a grad student with a loopy personality) who was 100% positive that none of our parents could remember exactly where they were when they heard about Kennedy being assassinated.  She was also convinced that thirty years from now, none of us in her class would accurately remember where we were when we heard about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Memories fade over time.  Memories can also be compromised based on our beliefs or later introduction of additional information.  And memories can also be changed based on a person’s ego.

Can I claim the Mandela Effect on something that has been deliberately changed, but it still might exist somewhere today?

If so, then look at the South Park episode “Trapper Keeper” from season 4.  At the very end of the episode the Trapper Keeper is destroyed and the robot from the future, BSM-471 (a.k.a. “Bill Cosby”), fades out of existence.  In the original version of the episode, he screams in agony and cries about it being painful and hurting, to which Kyle replies, “Huh, that’s a bitch.”  It’s a sinister yet comedic ending that went well with South Park’s style.

However, that ending was changed before the season 4 DVDs were released.  Instead of being in pain and crying from agony, BSM-471 is joyous in the fact that he’s fading away.

I’m sure that there are still some low-resolution copies of the original episode still floating around the Internet.  I used to have a bunch of them on an older computer, but those have since been lost.  Somebody out there still must have the original ending to that episode.

But twenty years from now, when it’s even more unlikely to find a copy, can I claim the Mandela Effect on that episode of the show?

Or does it not work that way?

Perhaps the real question we should as first is, Does the Mandela Effect really matter?

You could look at it and say that the past is in the past.  Either you remember these events correctly, or you don’t.  If you discover that something in the past seems to be incorrect, does that really affect your life at this moment?

For some people it might make them look closer at the world around them, and to be more aware of their surroundings.  Others might use it to question reality itself.  And other people just won’t care in the end, especially if this phenomena known as the Mandela Effect is out of our control.

But what if the Mandela Effect is real?

That leads to the question of, Why does the Mandela Effect occur?  Is this a natural realigning of universes, and some people are basically caught in the crossfire and have memories of an alternate reality?  Or is this somehow controlled by human beings or a higher life form?

Is the Mandela Effect the result of people experimenting directly or indirectly with time travel, creating changes in the past and then monitoring people’s reactions during this current point in time?

Is our existence nothing more than being part of a simulation created by another being?  Am I really alive?

One question just leads to another.  Depending on the questions are answered, that may be a path that society itself cannot handle at this point in time.

As far as the Mandela Effect, *if* it’s proven to be true, I’d like to believe that there’s more to it than people doing memory challenges and making generic claims that reality keeps unexpectedly changing around us.

Right now it’s way too easy to dismiss almost all claims of the Mandela Effect on poor memories and just plain ignorance.  I like theories about the multiverse (like how it was presented in Michael Crichton’s book Timeline).  Perhaps one day science will be able to prove that alternate universes are not only true, but we’ll be able to access them as well.