Remember that time you were absolutely certain Curious George had a tail only to learn he never had one? Or the time you learned that the animated adventures of Bugs Bunny and his pals were called “Looney Tunes” rather than “Looney Toons”? If you’re just figuring these things out now and have no idea what to do with yourself, don’t worry: you’re not losing your mind.
When one woman realized that her memories of the past didn’t synch up with reality, she immediately set out to discover if there were any others that felt the same. Amazingly, there were, and together these truth seekers uncovered a never-before-seen phenomenon that may prove our universe is more complex than we imagined.
A self-described paranormal expert, Fiona Broome has experienced her fair share of unexplainable phenomena over the years. Spirits, shades, and other ghostly entities are among the many otherworldly beings she’s claimed to have come across since the early 1980s.
But perhaps Fiona’s strangest experience came in 2009, when she was invited to speak at Atlanta’s annual sci-fi/fantasy convention, Dragon Con. While sitting in the convention’s green room, Fiona struck up a conversation with the other speakers and discovered an usual similarity among the group.
Apparently, they all seemed to clearly remember former South African president Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s and the widespread media coverage of his funeral that followed. In reality, Mandela was released from prison in 1990 and died 23 years later in 2013.
Most of the speakers wrote it off as mere coincidence, each of them believing they’d fallen victim to the same widely circulated bit of misinformation. Fiona, however, wasn’t convinced — in her experience, there were no such thing as coincidences.
On the advice of one of her editors, Fiona created a site dedicated to this newfound phenomenon, an experience she coined the “Mandela Effect.” Almost immediately, online users began chiming in to share their thoughts on the subject.
At first, the conversations were light, with some drawing parallels between the Mandela Effect and various works of science fiction. Soon, however, users began coming forward with their own accounts of the phenomenon, including memories of Mandela’s death nearly identical to Fiona’s.
Eventually, the discussion expanded beyond Mandela’s death, with many users finding they had identical memories of things that never existed, as well as those of an alternate historical timeline. So many shared false memories of oddly specific, niche topics.
While talk of the Mandela Effect was primarily contained within Fiona’s website for the first few years, it grew beyond the site in 2015. Upon the online community’s realization that the Berenstein Bears children’s books were actually spelt “Berenstain,” the Mandela Effect quickly became a viral sensation.
Since then, hundreds of Mandela Effect-related discussions have popped up online with some truly mind-bending revelations. For example, instead of saying “Mirror, mirror on the wall…” the Evil Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs actually says “Magic mirror on the wall…”
What about Darth Vader’s most famous line in Star Wars? While most people would insist that he tells Luke Skywalker, “Luke, I am your father,” he actually doesn’t say “Luke” at all.
The Mandela Effect has also been observed in the spelling of brand names. Is it “Febreeze” or “Febreze”? “Fruit Loops” or “Froot Loops”? “Sketchers” or “Skechers”? In every case, the latter spelling is correct.
Even colors have fallen victim to the Mandela Effect. While some people are adamant that the color chartreuse is a maroonish-red or reddish-magenta, it’s actually somewhere between yellow and green.
As this phenomenon continues to puzzle the online community, many have asked if there’s any real basis for why we experience the Mandela Effect. According to Fiona, the explanation is even more bizarre than the phenomenon itself.
In Fiona’s words, “The Mandela Effect is what happens when someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality.” She posits that from time to time, alternate realities overlap and take us along for the ride, bringing us into a world just slightly different from our own without us realizing.
From a scientific standpoint, the concept of a “multiverse” containing universes parallel to our own is one scientists generally tend to avoid, as we currently lack the means of determining the plausibility of such a claim. Still, being that the Multiverse Theory can’t be proved or disproved, there’s still a chance that alternate dimensions may be out there.