What is the Mandela effect?

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What is the Mandela effect?

The Mandela effect is a phenomenon where people believe that certain events happened, however, in reality those events never occurred. There are several examples of the Mandela effect in our everyday lives, which we will discuss in further detail in this article. The Mandela effect was first observed when a woman claimed that former South African leader Nelson Mandela had passed away in 1980. Several people agreed with the woman’s claims but they turned out to be a false memory. In reality, Nelson Mandela passed away in 2013 even though several people agreed with this woman who stated that Mandela passed away decades earlier. This is just one example of a false memory that’s widely believed but turns out to be nothing more than a false claim. 

When this woman found out that Nelson Mandela had actually passed away years later than she had originally believed, she was surprised at how many people agreed with her. This woman, named Fiona Broome, dubbed this phenomenon the Mandela Effect because she related her own experience with remembering Nelson Mandela’s death to a concept that happened to be more widely experienced than she first thought. Additionally, members of the scientific community were quite surprised at what happened with this event and started to wonder what caused the Mandela effect to occur in the first place. 

According to the scientific community, one theory believes that we lose a certain amount of our capacity to remember certain events over time. Since we cannot recall what has happened ourselves, it’s likely that we will believe events that didn’t actually happen took place as an unconscious way of compensating for our lack of memory. The Mandela effect can also be caused by events that did happen but the way in which they happened may not be accurate. An event may have occurred, but you might have been distracted while it was taking place and therefore don’t remember all of the pieces of the event. These misconceptions occur in the form of false memories. Having gaps in memory often lead to the Mandela effect. This can make it very difficult for people to differentiate between what is real and what is not real. 

However, the Mandela effect is certainly a real phenomenon. Many people experience the Mandela effect on a daily basis and assume that it is a real process. If they didn’t, then they would go through life thinking that some of the events that happened in our world are imaginary.

There are several examples of the Mandela effect in popular culture, age old sayings and brand names that advertise products. You might have even experienced the Mandela effect in some of these examples without realizing that what you heard might not be true. Here are some examples of the Mandela effect in our world:

King Henry Eating A Turkey Leg 

Most people will say that they remember a painting of King Henry eating a turkey leg. In reality, no painting of King Henry eating a turkey leg exists. This image has been depicted in a variety of cartoons, internet graphics and websites but the painting itself does not exist. 

Luke, I am your father

In Star Wars Episode Five: The Empire Strikes Back, there is a line of dialogue where most people believe that Darth Vader said “Luke, I am your father.” However, the line that Darth Vader actually says is “No, I am your father.” This misquote is one of the most commonly made mistakes among film lovers and Star Wars fans alike. Most people have memories of the first line as opposed to the line that is actually in the script. 

Mirror, Mirror on the wall

In the Disney Movie Snow White, many moviegoers remember the line of the villain as saying “Mirror, Mirror on the wall.” However, the line that’s spoken in the movie is actually “Magic Mirror on the wall.” Similar to the quote in Star Wars, most people remember the first line instead of the second line being spoken in the movie. People have assumed that the first line was the correct line for ages when in reality they did not know the correct piece of dialogue.

Oscar Meyer

A large quantity of people used to believe that the hot dog brand Oscar Mayer was spelled Meyer instead of Mayer. They say that they remember it as the brand is spelled Meyer. However, in recent years, the company had a commercial come out where Oscar Meyer spells its full name, which is “O-S-C-A-R M-E-Y-E-R.” The next time that you’re at the supermarket, look for a package of Oscar Meyer products to confirm that the brand in fact spells its last name in that way. 

New Zealand’s location:

According to the flags of New Zealand and Australia, New Zealand is located to the southeast of Australia. However, several people state that they believe that New Zealand is located to the northeast of Australia. If you look at a map, you will see that New Zealand is in fact located to the southeast of Australia. i

Berenstain Bears

Many people claim that the Berenstain Bears books were spelled with three Es instead of two Es and one A at the end of the first word. This example is very similar to the phenomenon that occurred with the Oscar Meyer Brand. This example shows that, without looking at the cover of the book, many people believe that the spelling of Berenstain was quite different from its actual spelling. 


This is the most famous example of the Mandela effect. Several people believed that in the year 1990, there was a movie that was released called Shazam. However, the movie that actually released [in 1996] was called Kazaam. No one is sure exactly where the idea for the hypothetical movie Shazam came from, but it appears that this was merely a mixup with a movie that didn’t come out until six years later. 

How is the Mandela effect so prevalent in popular culture? Below, we’ll examine a few reasons why we are so prone to the Mandela effect and what actually happens as a result of these perceived events: 

Alternate realities

Some people believe that we often confuse our alternate realities with our actual realities. This concept stems from the idea of quantum physics. People have memories that they develop over the course of their lives but sometimes those memories don’t match what has actually happened. The concept of the alternate reality, however, does require more research and is therefore not a widely phenomenon because it lacks concrete scientific evidence.

False memories

The idea of false memories is more widely accepted than that of alternate realities because false memories occur fairly frequently. It is possible that people could believe events that never occurred and still believe what they experienced for the rest of their lives. This concept shows that memory is fleeting in a lot of situations. When we remember something, either it actually happened or we reach a point in our lives where we believed that an event happened (even if it did not). 

The Internet

With the rise of modern technology, the internet has become one of the fastest ways to deliver both accurate and false information. With respect to the latter, we often believe a lot of the content that we read on the internet, even if it lacks credible sources. If something is spread widely on the internet, people are more likely to believe that it actually happened as opposed to questioning whether or not the event took place. 

In short, the Mandela Effect is real and it is very common in the modern world. Our job is to distinguish between what actually happened and what is part of our imagination. Once we can determine which events actually occurred, then we will be able to sift out false memories from our minds.

FAQs on the Mandela Effect:

  1. How do I know if I am experiencing the Mandela Effect?
    1. In the moment, it is difficult to know if you are actually experiencing the Mandela effect. If more people around you believe that what happened is true, then it might be near impossible to distinguish what is happening versus what you believe has happened. It’s important to be aware of the event and what evidence you have to back it up.
  2. How can I prevent myself from falling prey to the Mandela Effect?
    1. One way that you can keep yourself from falling prey to the Mandela effect is to make sure that you have evidence to back it up. Do you have credible news sources or human accounts to confirm your memory? If not, then it’s possible that what happened may not be true. 

Interested in Learning More? Check out these books on the Mandela Effect:


  • Bakkila, B. (2020, March 19). What is The Mandela Effect? Retrieved from https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/life/entertainment/g28438966/mandela-effect-examples/
  • 10 Examples of the Mandela Effect. (2019, July 9). Retrieved from https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/585887/mandela-effect-examples

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