Theories Explaining the Mandela Affect

Theories Explaining the Mandela Affect

The term, ‘Mandela effect,’ was coined by Fiona Broome in 2009. The Mandela effect refers to a collective misremembering of an event or a situation by a large group of individuals. In simple words, Mandela effect takes place when a majority of people believe that an event took place, when in reality, it did not.

This phenomena was initially observed in 2009 by Fiona Broome, who encountered a collective misapprehension regarding the time period of Nelson Mandela’s death. In the conference, Ms. Broome discussed the tragedy of African president Nelson Mandela’s death in a South African prison in the 1980s. However, Nelson Mandela did not pass away until 2013.

Upon realization, Broome communicated with others regarding this memory and learned that she wasn’t alone in believing this false statement. In her discussions, she concluded that a vast majority of the people were able to recall Nelson Mandela’s death reporting on the news, as well as his final speech, where he was seated at the window. (Remember, Nelson Mandela was still alive at this time!)

This provoked her interest in the subject, which led her to creating a website which elucidated on the principles of the Mandela effect.

Common Cases of the Mandela Effect

Looney tunes:

The famous TV cartoon “Looney Tunes” was actually spelled with a “u” (tunes) rather than “oo” (toons).


Even the commonly used household product names can be recalled inaccurately, as evident by the febereze- febreeze spelling difference.

Mirror mirror on the wall

When the story of Snow white and the seven dwarfs is retold, majority of the population remembers the iconic line to be, “mirror mirror on the wall,” instead of the original dialogue which was, “Magic mirror on the wall.”

Luke, I am your father

Similar to the previous example, most people remember the famous Star Wars line as, “Luke, I am your father.” In the episode, Darth Vader actually stated, “No, I am your father.”


When asked to spell the brand “Skechers” most people add a “t” in between.

Monopoly Man with a Monocle

Most individuals are unable to comprehend the idea of seeing the monopoly man without a monocle. However, in reality, the monopoly man never had a monocle to begin with.

Pikachu and his tail

When a group of artists, including super fans of the show, are asked to draw the famous Pikachu, they tend to add a slight shading in the tail. In the original series, Pikachu has no shading on his tail.

Kit Kat

This delicious delicacy does not include a hyphen between “kit” and “kat”. From the beginning of time, Kit Kat has always been written with a space in between.

Life is like a box of chocolates

This dialogue from the popular movie, Foresst Gump, made its way to many people’s Instagram captions. However, the original dialogue from the movie was, “Life was like a box of chocolate.”

Run, you fools!

Gandalf’s famous line from Lord of the rings is also a part of the Mandela Effect. In the movie, Gandalf said, “Fly, you fools!”

After reading the aforementioned examples, you must be questioning everything you have ever believed in. In order to explore more about the Mandela Effect, the following theories have been offered.

Theories behind the Mandela Effect

The concept of alternate realities

One explanation presented for the Mandela effect is the theory of alternate realities. This notion stems from the arena of quantum physics which believes that there are multiple universes, similar to this one.

This theory is built on the foundation that instead of a single timeline being followed, there are multiple alternative realities or universes present, which may combine their courses from time to time.

To explain the Mandela Effect, the theory explains that a wide majority of individuals may have a same recollection of false memories as they might have experienced that situation in another reality. However, as the realities may have merged or combined, the event/ situation is perceived to never have taken place.

While this theory may seem to belong to the Marvel or DC universe, it is still not entirely ruled out. This form of quantum physics is falsifiable. This suggests that as there has been no evidence to counter it, the theory can still be deemed true.

Despite having little evidence to support this perspective, this theory is amongst the most popular explanations regarding the Mandela effect. The reason for this may just be the biased hopeful stance of the community who wish for the existence of multiple realities.

With multiple realities present, individuals can easily hire dissertation help in all universes!

The notion of false memories

The idea that the personal experiences cannot always be considered reliable has been present since the time of Aristotle and Plato. This concept also applied to the fact that the human memory is not 100% accurate at all times.

The neuro-scientific explanation of false memories suggest that similar memories in the brain are stored together, which creates links and association to build a schema. Thus, when an event is recalled, the memories get mixed together and a false concept is brought back to the conscious retention state.

As these memories may be stored in a similar manner in a majority of the individual’s brains, the Mandela effect can occur frequently.

Taking the example of the monopoly man, it can be perceived that due to the resemblance between images of the monopoly man and Mr. Peanut, people have built an association between these two cartoon images. Thus, these individuals can’t fathom the idea of seeing the monopoly man without his monocle.

Following from this, it can be suggested that the events recalled through the memory should not be trusted entirely.  Further explanations devised from studying memory has given birth to various concepts which discuss the role of memory in explaining the Mandela effect.


Confabulation occurs when there are certain durations of memory missing from the conscious mind. To fill in those gaps, the brain creates its own version of the story in order to make sense and fill the gaps. This problem with memory occurs more frequently with age.

In Mandela effect, the confabulation which occurs, occurs on a collective level. Taking the example of the original Mandela effect, it can be concluded that the process of confabulation took place which ultimately made the public think that Nelson Mandela has passed away.

People only believed that the Nelson Mandela had passed away in the 1980’s as that was the dominant news that came out concerning him, as Nelson Mandela was released from prison during that period. As the information about his life after prison was missing or not stressed enough on the mainstream media, the process of confabulation took place on a collective level.

Post-event information

Post-event information has the ability to cloud one’s judgment of the way they remember certain things. Being provided with new information, after the event has already occurred can make the person remember the event in a different manner.


Opposite to the concept of post-event information, the process of priming can hinder one’s ability to remember the event/situation accurately, without letting their predispositions affect their judgment.

Priming, or being provided with information before the event, can influence the way one sees or perceives the event.  For instance, when a person is asked, “Did you love the movie?”  Their answer would differ from the case in which they were asked, “How did you feel about the movie?”

Priming influences recall by allowing the previously suggested facts to unconsciously affect the mannerism in which the information is perceived. As a result, the information fetched from the memory may not be reliable.

Considering this, the role of memory in the Mandela effect is pretty evident. Personal experiences are always vulnerable to experiencing change, which can ultimately make them unreliable.

The influence of the digital age

The frequency and use of the internet has directly influenced the rate at which the Mandela effect has been growing.

On web-based platforms, it has become relatively easy to pass on faulty, unreliable information to millions of followers in a short span of time. People who swear by the opinions of experts instantly believe everything they see, without checking facts for themselves. This leads to the false spread of misinformation, which ultimately the reality of those individuals.

An example of this can be the multiple groups on the internet social media platforms created by the members of the ‘flat earth society.’ Without any scientific evidence present, these individuals firmly believe that the world is flat as a result of mob mentality.


The memories created or formed through the Mandel effect grow in strength over time. When a person believes something for a longer duration, their faith in that particular belief being the absolute truth increases.

Hence, the Mandela effect is an extremely powerful phenomena, which is still not understood properly on a holistic level.  Either the Mandela effect is caused by the falsification of memories, the concept of alternate realities, or due to the spread of false information in the digital age, its role in changing perceptions should not be underestimated.