What is the Mandela effect?
It is known as the Mandela effect to a phenomenon by which people share a memory of an event that never happened. In other words, the Mandela effect occurs when a group remembers a fictitious event as true.
The expression Mandela effect was popularized in 2009 by the South African Fiona Broome. On her blog, Broome recounted that she shared with others the memory that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in 1980, and that his funeral had been broadcast on television. However, she was shocked herself when Nelson Mandela was released in 1990.
According to psychology, the human brain has the ability to modify memories over time. Memory is built of linked chunks, which can be misleading in information processing.
True memories are interfered with by new information received from the environment (acts of communication), by the belief system and by the imagination, which is responsible for coherently connecting the fragments. Memory, therefore, does not discriminate the quality of the memory (whether it is real or fictitious).
In fact, this quality of individual memory is related to cryptomnesia, which occurs when a person truly believes that they have invented something that, in fact, was already invented. How to explain the collective phenomenon?
There are other theories to explain this effect. Among them we can mention the external induction of memories. Another widespread theory, although less accepted, is the parallel universes hypothesis. Let's see.
The external induction of memories maintains that people are exposed to the induction of information through social actors (individual, institutional or corporate). Hypnosis and media outreach are one example.
When there is a gap in the information that does not allow to connect what is known with what is observed, the brain tries to solve it, while memory, unable to distinguish true and untrue memories, stores the information.
Thus, the acts of communication collaborate in the construction of coherent collective memories, since in addition, all false or true beliefs are anchored in a common cultural imaginary.
In the external induction of memories, misinformation plays an important role. However, the Mandela effect is not necessarily related to conspiracy theory. The determining factor is the way the brain has to organize information and construct meaning.
The theory of parallel universes is the explanation that Broome maintains. His hypothesis is based on quantum physics, according to which there would be parallel planes in the universe, in which the human being would have the ability to participate. Hence, different people may have the same memories or similar memories of episodes that never happened.
Examples of the Mandela effect
On the web you can find repeated references that exemplify the Mandela effect. It is a series of memories that have become conventionalized, but that distort a part or all of reality. Namely:
1. The man in front of the tank in Tiananmen. In 1989, during the famous Tiananmen Square protests in China, a man stood in front of tanks to avoid their advance. Many people have since reported having memories of the man being run over. However, in the world-famous video, it is noted that such an overrun never occurred.
2. The sanctification of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Mother Teresa of Calcutta was canonized in 2016 during the pontificate of Francis. However, when this was announced, many people were surprised, as they shared the memory that his canonization had occurred during the pontificate of John Paul II.
3. What color is C3PO from Star Wars? Most of us remember it gold, but in reality, C3PO has a silver leg.
4. A Mr. Monopoly with a monocle. Many remember Mr. Monopoly, a character from the popular Hasbro game, as a rich man with a monocle. However, the beloved imaginary mogul has never had it.