The Mandela Effect Are they Mad or Has Reality Changed Altering the Timeline

The Mandela Effect Are they Mad or Has Reality Changed  Altering the Timeline

Image result for list of the mandela effect

The Mandela Effect is a collective misremembering of a fact or event. Various theories have been proposed to explain what causes it, some more sensible than others.

I owe the credit or this article to Heather Wade from Midnight in the Desert 

Now for some time like most people I know deep in out consciousness we know something has changed from when we were children the lessons we learned Values right from wrong and respect for our fellow human seems in this new world to not really exist.

When in the past would we have ever conceived this modern world to be so cold that many prefer to connect with others on social media instead of the real world. 

I for one believe we are living in a different reality than I grew up in what about you ?

Amira S.

Im 11 and i remember in elementary school a couple years ago reading the bearenstein bears but if anyone looks at a book now it says bearenstain. This effect is based on the theory that some one or some people went back in time and changed something that changed the future. Another example: in the movie sleeping beauty everyone remembers “mirror, mirror on the wall” right? Wrong. If you look back and watch the movie now it says “magic mirror on the wall” creepy right? This is one of the few conspiracy theories that i actually 100% believe in.


Both quotes, “Mirror Mirror on the wall” and “Magic Mirror on the wall” are actually correct. In the original Brother’s Grimm tales it was translated as “Mirror, Mirror on the wall”. Disney just took a different take on it. The reason that “Mirror Mirror” is so common is because of how it was translated in the original story.

Adam Cunningham

I hate to spoil the Mandela part of the Mandela effect, but I very clearly remember his death in the news three years ago. I also remember the tsunami of news coverage when he was released from prison 25 years ago or so. And then I remember his being elected president of South Africa and serving for several years after his release. In fact, the media followed Mandela very closely ever since the fall of apartheid; even after his death, there was an odd fascination with his unstable and disturbed wife, Winnie.

I haven’t clicked the links above, but these “false memories” seem to me to be very easily, and prosaically, explained – the human brain tends not to record reality. On a comment above, where the poster discusses engaging in meditation, I read “mediation” at first because I work with law firms and see that word a lot. This is not evidence of a parallel universe or a glitch in the matrix. It is evidence that my brain was trained to see things a certain way.

Our memories of reality usually bend to comport with our existing world view. When we see a Jewish name, for example, like “Berenstain,” it is quite understandable that we would read the first part of the name and our brains will then fill in the rest with what we already know: Many, many Jewish names end in “stein,” but very few end in “stain.” The explanation that the Berenstains themselves have for this anomalous spelling is very understandable.

When any major event takes place – particularly in the era before everyone had their own camera in their pockets – eyewitnesses are notorious for having “seen” different versions of what happened. In fact, in court, eyewitness testimony is incredibly unreliable. We see what comports with our very limited version of reality.

The fact that this happens en masse speaks more to the commonality of our limitations and prejudices as humans than an alternate universe. Alternate universes may, in fact exist, but this banal, and quite common, mental lapse is not proof of it.

Mandela Effect Introduction

The Mandela Effect is a term for where a group of people all mis-remember the same detail, event or physicality. It is named after the instance in which a large group of people all shared the same memory that Nelson Mandela died prior to his actual 2013 death, usually some time in the 1980’s. The effect exploded in popularity on the internet when a peculiar example popped up where a majority of people seemed to have recalled the Berenstain Bears books as being spelled as “Berenstein” or some other variation, differing from the actual spelling.

The effect is somewhat different from a false memory as it effects large groups of people, seemingly without many connections and without the same emotional factors present. It also seems stronger and harder to escape the feeling that it’s simply a mis-remembering of a detail, which is why people are so adamant with claims of their memories. As such, it’s often been hinted at that the Mandela Effect is closely related to cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds beliefs, ideas, or values and is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

Many Mandela Effects are usually trivial details about an oddly specific set of categories. These include things such as the how and when of celebrity deaths, misspellings (usually replaced or removed letters), placement of geographical locations, quotations within media, or alternate imagery.

It is also related to misconceptions in general, although, again is differentiated due to the obscure nature and odd feelings resulting from learning the reality. The solutions, explanations and reasons for the misconceptions are also cryptic and often misrepresented or unknown altogether.

The aim of this site is unique amongst the current offerings online to attempt to dissect the possible causes and solutions for this perplexing phenomenon with a scientific, rational approach. If you’ve come to read about merging of universes, alternate timelines, and time travel then you are in the wrong place. It is of my opinion that the Mandela Effect is a real thing; however, steeped in the realm of sociology and psychology and not science fiction.

Most popular alternate memories

51 or 52 United States — (Not Puerto Rico, which is a territory, or DC, which is a district.)

Berenstain Bears or Berenstein Bears – Which do you recall? (Still one of the most popular topics at this website.)

Billy Graham’s funeral on TV. As of January 2016, he’s still alive.

Challenger shuttle explosion date? 1984, 1985, or 1986? Winter or another time of year? (Per Wikipedia, it was 28 Jan 1986.) Also, alternate memories about theColumbia.

Colors – Chartreuse and more – Many people recall chartreuse as a pink or reddish color. It’s actually yellow-green.

Curious George – Tail or no tail? (He’s never had a tail.)  This is part of my article about dual memories.

Ghost Hunters TV show — Some remember the earliest show name as TAPS, notGhost Hunters. (Yes, we know the real-life team is called TAPS, and some of their gear has always said that.)

Henry VIII portrait with a turkey leg in his hand — Many people clearly recall seeing it in history books, but there’s no record of it, now.

Jif or Jiffy Peanut Butter – Jif peanut butter was never called “Jiffy,” in this timestream. (Not confused with Skippy brand, either.)

Lindbergh baby – Never found? In this timestream, the 20-month old baby wasfound 12 May 1932.

Mother Teresa – A saint before 2016? Several recall her canonization in the 1990s. They also recall her name spelled “Theresa.”

Nelson Mandela’s death in prison, long before his actual death (in this timestream) on 5 December 2013.

New Zealand’s location, relative to Australia.

Red/blue – Pepsi logo changes, Chevron logo changes, and other color swaps… are they markers, cues, or signs to watch for?

September 22nd or 23rd? – Some people recall events shifting from one of these dates to another.  (The reaction to this article — on- and off-site — has been disproportionate to its apparent minor importance.)

Sky – Changes in the sun, moon, stars, planets and their moons, constellation configurations and placement, and the color of the sky in general.

Tiananmen Square – Memories of a young man being run over by a tank. (Might be Mandela Effect issue or simple media manipulation.)


Bold links will take you to articles on this website. All other links will take you off-site.

More celebrities

Agatha Christie – Never found after her 1926 disappearance? (In this timestream, she turned up 10 days later, but never explained. Ref: ) [Comments link 1link 2link 3.]

Barbara or Barbra Streisand? In this reality, it’s Barbra. (“Barbara” is a common typo, but doesn’t explain all the alternate memories. Many people listed the alternative “Barbara” as one of several memories they have. Individual comment links include this, this, this, and this.)

Betty White – Alive, well, and still feisty at age 93 in March 2015. Some recall her passing.

Brian Dennehy – Alive and well, per Wikipedia, but a few of us have other memories.

Charles Schulz or Schultz? (Creator of Peanuts comics and TV shows including Charlie Brown, Lucy, Snoopy, etc.) The correct spelling in this timestream is Schulz. ( )

Charles Spencer, 9th Earl Spencer – Several people have (privately) reported a memory of his recent death. Wikipedia says still alive.

Coen brothers or Cohen brothers? – American film producers & screenwriters.Note: Different from producers John Cohen (“Ice Age,” “Despicable Me,” etc.), Rob Cohen (“The Mummy,” “The Fast and the Furious,” etc.), and Charles S. Cohen (“Frozen River.”) Not the musicians, either. Comment link.

David Soul – As of October 2015, he’s still alive, healthy, and starring in new productions.

Dick Clark’s death… at least two of them. (Per Wikipedia, he died in April 2012.)

Dick Van Patten – Died prior to his June 2015 death in this timestream?

Dom DeLuise’s death.  He died in 2009, but that’s not the only memory people have. 10 related comments, some at Comments 2.

Don Rickles – Still alive in Oct 2015 (per Wikipedia) although some recall his earlier demise.

Ernest Borgnine, death reported years before it happened in 2012.

Forrest J. Ackerman – Died in 2008 in this timeline (per Wikipedia), but others recall alternate, earlier death dates.

Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) – Died in 2003, or later?

Freddie Prinze — Several memories, mostly related to Freddie, Junior, and Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a child born around 2003 or 2004.

Hal Holbrook – Born 1925, and still alive in January 2015. His late wife, Dixie Carter, passed away in 2010. Several remember Mr. Holbrook’s own death &  memorials prior to 2010.

Helen Thomas (1920 – 2013), former White House reporter  – Some recall an alternate date when she passed.

Henry Ford – Died from cerebral hemorrhage or something else?

Houston family (Whitney’s) – Conflicting memories about her children, after Whitney’s death, but before Bobbi Kristina’s 2015 tragic death.

Jack Palance — An earlier death date than what’s in the current timestream.

Jayne Meadows Allen — Died 2015 or much earlier? (She was an actress, and widow of comedian Steve Allen.)

Jerry Lewis – Remembered death late in 2013 or early 2014. Still alive in Oct 2014. (Different from Jerry Lee Lewis, the colorful singer/songwriter.)

Jim Henson – Died of complications from a strep infection, or from cancer?  (In this timestream, initially reported as walking pneumonia. See )

Jimmy Swaggart — Report dead, but still alive as of July 2012.

John Denver’s death — When and where? In this reality, 12 Oct 1997 near Monterrey Bay, California.

John Lennon — Date of death is 8 Dec 1980, but some have clear memories of a different date.

John Lennon & Yoko Ono – The location of 1969 “bed-in for peace.”  (If you remember this, note the location before checking Wikipedia for the details.)

Jon Bon Jovi – Some recall a startling, mid-1990s lifestyle announcement.

Kathie Lee Gifford or Kathy Lee Gifford? In this reality, it’s always been “Kathie.”

Katy Perry – Memories of her using the name Kate, not Katy.

Leonard DiCaprio – Won an Oscar before 2016? Some recall earlier nominations and awards, as well as his 2016 acceptance speech, but years earlier.

Li Qi – Chinese comedian with a reported death, still alive in early 2014.

Louie Anderson –  Alive and well now, but his death (and therefore cancellation of his TV show) at some point in the past. (Not confused with John Candy and other comedians.)

Muhammad Ali – 2009 death? Still alive (early 2015) per Wikipedia.

Neil Armstrong died in 2013, not 2012?  Also, some are sure he made a ‘Mr. Gorsky’ reference during his lunar voyage. (Latter debunked in this timestream by Snopes, but does anyone actually recall hearing it?)

Patrick Swayze, his full recovery reported after his tragic death in this reality.

Peter Fonda – He’s still alive. (Not confusing him with his dad, actor Henry Fonda, who died in 1982.)

Peter Townsend or Peter Townshend — Spelling change? (One is a singer-songwriter for The Who. The other is an American drummer.)

Reba McIntyre or Reba McEntire? – Decide how you remember it before visitingher official website or Wikipedia to see the real spelling.

Richard Chamberlain – Did not die in the 1990s. Still alive (as of Oct 2015), and – related memory – James Franciscus was not his brother.

Robert Crumb — Death reported, 1990s. Still alive (July 2015). Artist responsible for Fritz the Cat and the iconic Keep on Truckin’ graphic, etc.

Robert Stack — Earlier death reports.

Rod Serling or Rod Sterling? Some recall the latter spelling, not as a typo.

Rodney King – Some have alternate memories of his death, including one during the infamous incident in 1991.

Shirley Temple — Some recall her death long prior to 10 Feb 2014.

Sinbad – Did he ever play a genie in a major movie? Did he ever play a genie, full stop?

Terry Pratchett – According to some, he died shortly after the announcement of his illness (2013), instead of March 2015.

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett – Divorced ~10 years ago? (2015: Still listed as a happy couple. He divorced a previous wife in 1995.)

William Daniels (actor) – Did not die in the early 2000s. Still alive (<- Wikipedia link) in early 2015.

Yogi Berra (athlete) – Died 22 Sep 2015, but some recall an earlier death.

More events… when and where?

9/11 – Did it happen on 9/11, as most people remember, or on 9/10, as some recall?

Thanksgiving (USA) – The third or the fourth Thursday in November? (Since 1941, it’s always on the fourth Thursday.)

Weather – Hurricane Katrina: April or August 2005, or another year altogether?

Writers’ strike in Hollywood – 2007-2008 or some other year (21st century only)?

More geography

Geography — Locations and sizes of New Zealand.  Locations of Australia, Honduras, Japan, Manchuria, and more.

Adam’s Bridge (also Ram Setu, Rama Setu, Setubandhanam, and other names) – Some recall it fully above sea level in the mid-late 20th century, while historical records (in this timestream) say it was partially submerged — due to a cyclone — in the late 15th century.  (ref: )

Alaska – Coastline radically different.

Arctica – Hasn’t existed for a very long time.

Japan – Where do you recall it, in relation to China?

Korea – N. Korea borders Russia? That’s what maps show.

Madagascar – Location and general geography. Not just a map issue.

Mongolia – Part of China or a separate country? And where is/was it?

Sri Lanka location, due south of India, not southeast. (Also see ancient maps atthis article about geography changes, in general.)

Wales – East or west of England and Scotland? (It’s west. From London, take the M25 west to the M4, and follow the M4 into Wales.)

More media (TV, films, books, magazines)

Big (the movie) – Alternate ending. (Not confused with 13 Going on 30.)

The Candidate, or The Campaign — One movie, one and a remake, two movies, or now three… and did the title change? (Solved, maybe: See the related HuffPost page. Compare the article title and the inset video clip title.)

Carmen Sandiego (“Where in the World Is…”) – Some recall a yellow trench coat, long before the red one. Comment link.

Cinderella – Some recall an alternate central character or characters.

Cruella DeVille or De Vil? – It’s the latter, in this Disney’s 101 Dalmatians movie reference. [See comment.]

Different Strokes or Diff’rent Strokes? – It’s the latter, though many recall otherwise and some TV listings support that.

Duggars – Was the show (briefly) “21 Kids and Counting”?

Forrest Gump – Was the most famous line “Life IS like a box of chocolates…” or “Life WAS like a box of chocolates…”?  In this reality, it’s the latter. (However, both lines were used in connection with the movie, so this isn’t necessarily a Mandela Effect.)

Fred Rogers’ song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” – Some recall “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” In this reality, it’s “It’s a beautiful day in thisneighborhood.”? (See and

Gremlins character  (movie) – Spike or Stripe?  The only reliable sources say it was always Stripe, not Spike.

Hand gestures in movies – Do you recall different hand gestures in movies? For example, a more elaborate hand gesture by Antonio Banderas, with a candle, inInterview with the Vampire?  See the YouTube clip from the movie, around the 2:03 point. I’m looking for very specific descriptions of the alternate gesture.

Independence Day (movie) — Characters now missing from a major scene? (This has been reported privately, twice, and we’re looking for confirmation from others.)

Interview with a Vampire, or Interview with the Vampire – Actually, both titles were used on published book, in this reality. So, this isn’t a clear Mandela Effect issue.

It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and related topics – Did the Great Pumpkin appear near the end of the holiday special, or was it just Snoopy’s shadow? Was the cartoonist Charles Schultz or Charles Schulz? (In both cases, it was the latter in this reality.)

Jurassic Park – Original movie: Some recall a now-missing scene.

Justice League – Check the characters you’re remembering and see if one is missing.

K-PAX (movie) – Starred Kevin Spacey or Nicholas Cage? (In this timestream, it’s Spacey.)

Looney Tunes or Looney Toons? – Several conflicting memories.

Married with Children – Some recall one character played by two different actors.

M.A.S.H. (TV series) – Some recall the in-series death of Walter “Radar” O’Reilly. However, that wasn’t part of the story in this timestream.

Mirror, Mirror – In “Snow White,” did the evil queen say “Mirror, mirror…” or “Magic mirror…”? (In Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the Queen says, “Magic mirror.”)

Mystery Science Theater — Variations of the numbers following show name (mostly 2000 or 3000, but a few recall 4000).

Sex and the City – Some are sure it was “Sex in the City” when it first aired.

Star Trek memories, including: Chakotay character killed, then returns — several episodes later — without much explanation. (I’ve talked about this — in person —  with Robert Beltran, who played the character. He’s sure that version was never written or filmed.)

Star Wars – Was the iconic line “Luke, I am your father” or “No, I am your father”? Also a missing scene. (Not just “deleted.”)

Terminator (and other movie) variations, “remembered” before the deleted scenes were available on DVD. Alternate late scenes and endings reported, as well.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit? (movie) – Different ending after initial release? Different title?

X-Men – Some reports of alternate abilities for Professor X.

Movies remembered before they were released

The following movies have been “remembered” by people, months or yearsbefore each movie was actually released. When each person saw the film he or she reported, it was like deja vu. (Year noted is when the film was released in thisreality.)

Flushed Away (2006)

More news reports

Twins… that aren’t – Reports of people who look exactly like someone’s twin (not just “somewhat like”) but aren’t actually twins. Different from doppelgangers, and more like the same physical design appearing again. Two alternates temporarily in the same reality…? (See this comment and thread for more.)

Whitey Bulger — Alleged Boston (MA, USA) gangster, did not die in 2013, in this reality. He’s still alive (as of August 2014).

More politics and political leaders

Abraham Lincoln – Alternate death. Alternate death date of son, Tad, as well.

Fidel Castro – Still alive (per Wikipedia in early 2016), but some recall a 2011 death.

Martin Luther King, Jr. — Shot with a handgun, at close range, or another cause of death?

Muammar Gaddafi — Some death memories from years before he was killed (in this timestream), and a couple of memories of him fleeing his country.

Mussolini – Looks different in recent historical photos. Not just different photos from what are in older news articles and textbooks, but a different man.

Osama bin Laden – Death reported in 2001 in the Middle East and elsewhere, with obituaries.

Ronald Reagan — Varying memories about when he was president, and when and how he died.

More pop culture

Brian Williams’ memories – A high-profile example of Mandela Effect, a blunder, or something else?

Gaming – Alternate Versions…? Several reports related to different games, online and off.

Life cereal commercial (1970s) – Did Mikey like everything, eat everything (or “eats anything”), or hate everything? (In this reality, it was “he hates everything.”) See Comment thread.

Music – lyrics, tracks, videos, and more – All music-related topics are discussed at this article.

Sara Lee products slogan/jingle – Some recall “Nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee,” (1960s’ commercial: ) but others recall it as “Nobody does it like Sara Lee.” And, they’re clear that they didn’t just mis-hear it.

Volvo car symbol (the badge/icon/logo on the car)… Some recall a major change.

Spelling (names)

Berenstein – Berenstain (Bears books, etc.)
Dettol – Dettox (cleaning products)
Febreeze – Febreze
Fruit Loops – Froot Loops (breakfast cereal)
Jiffy – Jif (peanut butter)
Kathy Lee Gifford – Kathie Lee Gifford (entertainer)
Kate Perry – Katy Perry (entertainer)
Liason – Liaison
Looney Tunes or Looney Toons
MacDonald’s – McDonald’s (restaurant)
Oscar Meyer or Oscar Mayer? – Processed meat products’ brand name. (See comments.)
Pete Townsend – Pete Townshend (drummer for The Who)
Reba McIntyre – Reba McEntire (entertainer)
Sketchers – Skechers (footwear brand name – It’s Skechers in this reality.)
Western Sizzler – Western Sizzlin – Name in this timestream is Western Sizzlin (ref: ). Even FB pages lists Western Sizzler (ref: ).

(In every case, the latter spelling is correct in this reality.)

More spelling (dictionary)

Definitely or definately? Apparently, it’s the most misspelled word in the English language, but where did “definately” come from and why do people remember being taught that spelling in school…?

Dilemma or dilemna? A lot of people seem to recall the latter (the version with an N), but — in this timestream — it looks like that was never the correct spelling.

Other topics

Disney theme parks

Disney World – Some people remember entering the Magic Kingdom through the castle. A second, alternate memory: Everything else matched the current timestream, but the castle was much closer to the end of Main Street. (At Disney World, not Disneyland.)

Disney World – Some people recall taking a monorail from the Orlando airport directly to the Disney World property. The Orlando airport has a train, not a monorail, and it doesn’t take people to Disney World.

Disney World – A separate theme park in the Orlando (Florida) area. Maybe intended as a beta test site for attraction concepts? It’s not an abandoned park or project, and it’s much smaller (in acreage) than the main WDW property.  Two main areas: (1) The theme park, and (2) one crescent-shaped building with shops and restaurants, plus one larger hotel on the other side of it. Generally, the theme park attractions are multi-level. (Note: Notconfused with Universal Studios’ theme parks.)

Mars – No moons or two moons?

Segway – Available in beta around 1996? (No. The company was started in 1999, and the product was in pre-production, limited release in 2002. Ref.)


Mirrors, and Alice in Wonderland – Do some mirrors access a different reality?

What SNOPS has to say on this

Human memory is a peculiar thing, at once astonishing in its scope and power and dismaying in its fallibility. There’s much we don’t know about how memory works, but suffice it to say it isn’t perfect. Particularly vexing is the phenomenon of false memories, erroneous or unconsciously fabricated recollections of past events that feel so real and true that people who experience them refuse to accept evidence to the contrary.

Psychologists call the phenomenon confabulation. The term is used clinically to refer to memory defects experienced by patients with brain damage, and also to describe everyday phenomena like embellishing the truth when recounting events and inventing facts on the fly to fill in gaps in memory. We’ve all done these things at one time or another, though we’re rarely conscious of it when we do.

When Did Nelson Mandela Die?

One type of memory glitch that has generated a lot of Internet buzz in recent years is called the “Mandela Effect.” In simplest terms, the Mandela Effect is an instance of collective misremembering. Examples include lines from famous movies that everyone gets wrong (e.g., Humphrey Bogart’s saying “Play it again, Sam” in Casablanca), erroneous dates and numbers (apparently many people answer “52” when asked how many states there are in the U.S.), and historical misconceptions (are you among those who recall learning in school that cotton gin inventor Eli Whitney was black?).

The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by self-described “paranormal consultant” Fiona Broome, who has written on her web site that she first became aware of the phenomenon after discovering that she shared a particular false memory — that South African human rights activist and president Nelson Mandela died in prison during the 1980s (he actually died in 2013) — with many other people. Then she began noticing other examples:

One of the most recent and prevalent is the death of Billy Graham.  Though some claim that people are confusing that with Mr. Graham’s retirement, or perhaps the televised funeral of Mr. Graham’s wife, those who clearly remember the events disagree heartily.

Many people recall a painted portrait of Henry VIII holding a turkey leg in one hand.

It’s among my memories, too. It was a classic painting of Henry VIII, in the Holbein style (at right), but Henry is shown enjoying a hearty meal.  I recall something that looked like a turkey leg in one hand. (I thought it was his left hand — on the right side of the canvas — but I may be wrong.)

… Apparently, the “turkey leg” portrait doesn’t exist. It never did… not in this timestream, anyway.

Do you recall the fast food chain as McDonald’s or MacDonald’s?

This is an especially odd alternate memory, since the “golden arches” are such a familiar symbol, most Americans can describe the brand icon, Ronald McDonald, without having to look him up, online, and so on.

History in this reality: The original restaurant was started in 1940 by Dick and “Mac” McDonald. The restaurant was always McDonald’s.

“These aren’t simple errors in memory,” Broome observed (rightly or wrongly).  “They exceed the normal range of forgetfulness. Even stranger, other people seem to have identical memories.

The Berenstain/Berenstein Bears

No single example of the Mandela Effect has generated more online buzz than that of the children’s book series and animated TV show The Berenstain Bears. Quite a few people who grew up with the series, it turns out, remember the title being The Berenstein Bears, with the name ending in “ein” instead of “ain” (with some even going to go so far as to maintain that the fictional bears’ surname was changed along the way to make it “less Jewish”):

A page on Broome’s web site cites a number of testimonials:

I too clearly remember it as ‘Berenstein’ even though I never read the books. Why would anyone change that? Seems irrelevant.

Does anyone remember the Berenstein Bears? I do. Although somewhere along the line the name has changed to the Berenstain Bears. No record of “stein” which is definitely how it was when i was younger. No question about it.

I would like to say that I VERY CLEARLY remember “Berenstain Bears” being Berenstein Bears. I very specifically remember it being pronounced “STEIN” on the show.

Didn’t it used to be the Berenstein Bears? Now, suddenly it’s the Berenstain bears? Is this some sort of anti-semitic cover-up? Or have those of us who grew up in the 1980’s been misinformed, misread, and mispronounced?

Clearly, something of interest is going on here, but what? How to explain the fact that many different people can share the same false memory? This, unfortunately, is where much of the Internet discussion on the topic veers into woo-woo territory.

Parallel Universes and Virtual Realities

One theory based on principles of quantum mechanics holds that people who experience the Mandela Effect may have “slid” between parallel realities (à la the science fiction TV series Sliders). After growing up in a universe where it was “Berenstein” Bears, for example, some people one day woke up to find themselves in an alternate universe with “Berenstain” Bears.

Another theory posits that unbeknownst to ourselves, we all exist within something resembling a “holodeck” (a device in the world of the Star Trek series that creates a virtual reality experience for recreational purposes). On this model, apparent memory glitches are actually software glitches that cause inconsistencies in our perception of reality. Can you prove this isn’t the case?

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this sort of speculation — it’s fun, in fact — but it yields no practical explanation or testable hypotheses. Nor is it necessary. We don’t have to conduct thought experiments about the ultimate nature of reality to explain why we misremember things — or even why we misremember some of the same things the same way.

The Glitch Is in Your Memory, Not the Matrix

A leading psychological theory holds that memory is constructive, not reproductive — i.e., the brain builds memories out of various bits and pieces of information on the fly as opposed to playing them back like a recording. Memories aren’t pure. They can be distorted by any number of factors, including bias, association, imagination, and peer pressure.

Getting back to the Berenstain vs. Berenstein quandary, one explanation for the variant spelling is that names ending in “stein” are far more common than those ending in “stain.” People’s recollections are distorted by prior associations and expectations.

Why do some people remember Nelson Mandela dying 30 years before he did? Perhaps it’s simply a case of two isolated bits of knowledge — that Nelson Mandela spent a long time in prison and that he’s dead — being pieced together into a false memory in the absence of an actual recollection of the announcement of his death.

Memory is fallible — have we said this enough?  The list of psychological and social factors that can disrupt and distort recollection is very long indeed. It’s to these we should look first for an explanation of the Mandela Effect.

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