Have you heard of the mysterious "Mandela Effect"?

Have you heard of the mysterious "Mandela Effect"?

Last update: 25 March, 2018

You feel like you’ve heard of something before… but could it be the Mandela Effect? This interesting phenomenon is a distortion of memory that makes a group of people “remember” something that didn’t actually happen. But… what does this slip of the mind have to do with the man who said that “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”?

It’s actually much simpler than it seems. The Mandela Effect is so named because even though the great South African leader died at home from a respiratory infection, a good number of people remember that it differently. In fact, they describe — in detail — his death long before the date of his actual death in Robben Island prison.


The origin of the Mandela effect

Paranormal researcher Fiona Broome was among the first to coin this name. That’s because this woman believed fervently that Mandela had died years before the true date, 2013. In fact, she could say with complete certainty that she even remembered the details of the funeral.


A woman with a headache, sad.
To Broome’s great surprise, she discovered that her vivid memories of Mandela’s death were totally false. And later, when investigating the case, she found she wasn’t alone. In fact, there were numerous people who happened to think something similar. Although Nelson Mandela’s death isn’t the only event we see this peculiar effect in, it’s the best known. Hence the name.


What produces the Mandela Effect?

Attempts have been made to explain the phenomenon. In fact, it has sparked great debate and quite a wide variety of theories. However, despite looking in psychology and even in the quantum universe for answers, no one has come up with a reason that convinces everyone. Theories include:

  • Multiverse theory. Believe it or not, some believe that alternative realities are created by overlapping different time lines. That’s how we remember events that didn’t happen in our reality.
  • Quantum theory. Here, believers think that the effect is produced by the displacement of human consciousness by alternate universes. It makes us feel disoriented due to the dissociation between the memory and what actually happened. Some even believe that it’s due to the activity of the Large Hadron Collider, in its famous particle collider.
  • Information manipulation theory. Then others believe that manipulative governmental experiments are to blame. When it comes to conspiracy theories, imagination and paranoia play a big role.


The Mandela effect: puppet strings in a person's head.
  • Psychological theory. From a psychological point of view, the Mandela effect could come from a memory failure causing malfunction and distortion. Fragments taken from true memories of other events or unconsciously manufactured memories fill in. This theory is related to conspiracies. It is found in people with dementia, amnesia, people who suffered severe trauma, etc.
  • Construction hypothesis. Another theory explaining the phenomenon has to do with hypnotic or suggestive processes. They have the power to make people invent or change their memories, as demonstrated by psychologist Elizabeth Loftus.
  • Cryptomnesia theory. This explains that a memory can be experienced vividly when its origin is confusing. Thus, we make information that we’ve read, heard or seen our own, like we were the ones who experienced it.

More cases of the Mandela Effect

As you can see, it’s hard to explain the Mandela effect, and even science itself doesn’t agree on it. What we do know is that the death of Nelson Mandela is not the only “victim” of this phenomenon.

It also happened with the young man from Tiananmen Square in China in 1989 who stood in front of the tanks. Many believe he was hit by a tank, when that didn’t actually happen. The same thing happened with the beatification of Teresa of Calcutta and Mohamed Ali’s  death — before it actually happened.

The Mandela Effect is quite peculiar and hard to explain. Has it ever happened to you? It’s not all that uncommon. Could it be an alternative self in a parallel universe playing tricks on us?

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.