The Mandela Effect could be the phenomenon that proves the existence of the “Multiverse”. Our memory is an amazing and strange thing at the same time. We already know a lot about how memory works, but there are also many unknowns.
An understudied phenomenon — and one that underlies the so-called “Mandela Effect” — is the phenomenon of false memories that seem so true and real that those who experience them simply refuse to believe otherwise.
What is the Mandela Effect?
The term Mandela Effect is the creation of paranormal researcher, writer, and consultant Fiona Broome. She first used the term in 2010 at a conference where several participants told her they were convinced Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s.
In reality, Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa for one term between 1994 and 1999. Nelson Mandela died in 2013.
Broome was intrigued that so many people, who had never met before, had such a different recollection of events that happened.
The Mandela effect refers to a situation where a significant number of individuals strongly believe in a phenomenon that in reality never happened. It is not known how and why these “false memories” occur and why they manifest en masse, but there are a few theories.
Some theories suggest that false memories are based on incomplete or partial recollections, a phenomenon similar to the wireless telephone effect, in which information transmitted successively from one individual to another arrives completely distorted at its last recipient.
Other theories suggest that the Mandela Effect is clear evidence of the existence of parallel universes or the Multiverse, two different concepts which could generate such false memories.
The idea of parallel universes is based on a concept of quantum physics that tells us that every event that has happened, is happening, or is going to happen in our universe can create parallel timelines; and all these timelines sometimes “mix” with our reality.
In conclusion, people who experience so-called false memories are individuals whose memory has been affected by the separation of alternate realities.
The Theory of the Multiverse
The multiverse (also known as metaverse, omniverse, or meta-universe) consists of a hypothetical grouping of multiple universes.
Together, these universes integrate all that exists: all of cosmic space, time, matter, energy, and all governing physical laws. The universes inside the Multiverse are called parallel universes.
The idea of parallel universes was not only advanced in science fiction literature, but this concept was also proposed in fields such as physics, mathematics, cosmology, astronomy, religion, music, literature, and philosophy.
The term Multiverse was used for the first time in 1985 by the American philosopher and psychologist William James (1842–1910) but in a different context.
Considered the father of American psychology, William James studied medicine at Harvard, but never practiced the medical profession. Instead, he turned to philosophy and psychology.
Later, in 1952, the Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger (1887–1961) advanced the idea of the Multiverse as we know it today during a conference where he stated that according to his equations and calculations, there are multiple histories, not in the sense of alternative histories, but in the sense of histories that happen simultaneously.
Schrödinger was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1933 and is considered one of the fathers of quantum physics. Schrödinger was a professor of theoretical physics in Dublin, Berlin, and Graz and is the founder of wave mechanics, whose fundamental equation bears his name.
In 1963, Michael Moorcock used the term Multiverse in the SF novel The Sundered Worlds.
Currently, some physicists believe that the idea of the “Multiverse” is not a legitimate one and should not be pursued further because the study of such a concept could erode the public’s trust in the scientific community.
Others consider the concept to be more of a philosophical one, as it cannot be proven false. Disproving a theory based on scientific experiments and mathematical calculations is one of the most commonly used scientific methods.
Thus, Paul Steinhardt (a theoretical physicist of American origin whose main research is in cosmology and condensed matter physics) argued that no experiment or mathematical calculation can prove the falsity of the Multiverse theory, as long as the theory is based on the existence of an infinite number of possibilities, including that of a universe where the Multiverse does not exist.
Consequently, such a theory has no scientific foundations.
The Mandela effect — the strangest examples
Controversies surrounding the Mandela Effect quickly became known, especially due to their media coverage online and among fans of science fiction or the paranormal. Here are some of the most interesting examples.
Sex and the City or Sex in the City?
A prime example is the title of the series Sex and the City (trans. “All about sex”), a series that aired between 1998 and 2004 and which had Sarah Jessica Parker, Kim Cattrall, Kristin Davis, and Cynthia Nixon in the main roles.
Although the series aired worldwide for six seasons, many fans are still convinced that the title of the series is Sex in the City. In reality, the correct version is Sex and the City.
We Are the Champions
We Are the Champions, the song sung by Freddie Mercury, is one of the most famous songs of all time, with millions of fans humming the well-known lyrics over the years. However, many fans are convinced that the song ends with the line “No time for losers, ’cause we are the champions of the world!”.
In reality, the words “of the world” are no longer present in the last verse. The song ended with “‘cause we are the champions”, which sparked outrage among fans who could not understand how they could misremember one of the artist’s signature songs.
With or without monocle?
Here’s a question for our readers: How do you remember the famous Monopoly character, with or without the monocle? The funny character, whose name is Rich Uncle Pennybags, is depicted as an old man with a mustache wearing a tailcoat, bow tie, and hat.
Rich Uncle Pennybags never had a monocle, even though many Monopoly fans remember him as such.
The Pikachu phenomenon
The cute Pikachu from the Pokemon series is also a “victim” of the Mandela Effect. Surprisingly or not, Pikachu’s tail does not have a black tip, although many fans of the character remember it that way. In reality, Pikachu’s tail is entirely yellow.
Controversies of the Star Wars series
The well-known Star Wars film series is the subject of two controversies that have been attributed to the Mandela phenomenon. The first such controversy is related to the robot C-3PO, one of the characters that appears constantly in the original trilogy.
Thus, many fans seem to believe that C-3PO would be all gold. In reality, the robot has a silver leg, a detail that escaped even some of the most die-hard Star Wars fans.
The second controversy is related to a famous line from the film. How many of us remember Darth Vader saying, “Luke, I am your father”? In reality, this replica does not exist. Darth Vader says “No, I am your father”.
The Lindbergh case
On March 1, 1932, Charles Augustus Lindbergh Jr., the 20-month-old son of aviator Charles Lindbergh, was kidnapped from his upstairs room at the famous aviator’s home in East Amwell, New Jersey, United States.
The case was highly publicized at the time, and many still remember the Lindbergh case as one of the great unsolved forensic mysteries today.
A simple internet search will turn up dozens of articles talking about the abduction of the Lindbergh baby and how it was never found.
In reality, the Lindbergh case is closed, the child’s lifeless body was discovered on May 12, 1932, by a truck driver named Orville Wilson.
The murderer, identified as Richard Hauptmann, was arrested, tried, and executed in the electric chair on April 3, 1936.
The Mandela Effect — A possible scientific explanation
One explanation for the Mandala Effect could be False Memory Syndrome (FMS). In psychology, false memory is defined as the phenomenon by which a person remembers an event that did not happen or remembers an event in a different way than it happened.
The False Memory Syndrome was researched, for the first time, by two pioneers of psychology: Pierre Janet (May 30, 1859 — February 24, 1947) and Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 — September 23, 1939).
Sigmund Freud is the founder of psychoanalysis, a branch of psychology that many claimed would have no future. However, psychoanalysis was popularized by Freud’s studies.
Fascinated by the individual’s ability to remember events, but also by the particularities of memory in general, Sigmund Freud intensively studied how memory could be used or manipulated. According to several contemporary scientists, Freud’s research is still used today, including in the study of false memories.
Pierre Janet was a French-born neurologist who made a significant contribution to the study of human memory. Pierre contributed to the understanding of false memories through his theories of dissociation and “information extraction” through hypnosis.
The first official studies
In 1975, Elizabeth Loftus and John Palmer designed an experiment to demonstrate the effects of vocabulary on false memory. The experiment included two separate trials.
For the first test, 45 participants were selected and randomly shown several video clips of a car hitting a guardrail at speeds of 32 km/h, 48 km/h, and 64 km/h.
In the end, the participants were asked to fill out a form and answer the question “What was the approximate speed of the car when it hit the guardrail?”
The question was the same for all 45 participants, but the wording differed. The verb that described the collision varied, the verb “struck” being replaced by “collided,” “struck,” or “smashed.”
All participants estimated that the car hit the guardrail at a speed between 56 km/h and 64 km/h. However, if speed had been the main comparison factor, then some study participants should have estimated slower speeds in the videos where the car was moving much more slowly.
Instead, the way the question was worded was the main factor influencing how people estimated the car’s speed.
For the second test, another footage of a similar event was used, but this time the 150 test takers were given a slightly different questionnaire, including the final question.
1. The first group was asked “What was the approximate speed of the car when it hit the guardrail?”
2. The second group was asked “What was the approximate speed of the car when it hit the guardrail?”
3. The third group was asked “Did you notice any shards of glass or broken windows when the car crashed into the parapet?”
Surprisingly, almost all participants in the third group answered “Yes,” even though the shards of glass were not visible in the clip.
The researchers concluded that the way a question is formulated can contribute decisively to the formation of false memories.
Similar results were obtained in other similar experiments that used video clips of sports events, advertising spots, or reconstructions of historical events.
What is the connection between these science experiments and the Mandela Effect?
Experiments prove that the way an event is presented (through news channels, social networks, or newspaper articles) can have a decisive effect on the formation of false memories.