Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Mandela Effect: Real-Life Alternate History

Do you remember the cute family of bears that appeared in children’s books and on their own television show in the 80’s, usually teaching their audience moral lessons. The Berenstein Bears, right? A growing number of people believe we as a population somehow slipped through a glitch in the matrix into a parallel dimension, with small changes to reality being apparent.  One such change is the cute family of bears, whom current history shows were called the BerenSTAIN Bears.  I know one letter isn’t that much of a difference, but in this case it completely changes the pronunciation of the name.  Growing up my brother and I were Berenstain Bear fans, regularly watching the cartoon, and owning several books.  I even had the little action figures and the house they lived in.  I was an avid reader, and cannot imagine how I read all those books and never noticed I, along with everyone I knew, was pronouncing the name wrong.  

Seems The Simpsons folks remember Berenstein Bears as well

This mispronunciation was brought to my attention by my brother, who learned of it while reading about the Mandela Effect.  Have you ever heard a news report of some public figure’s death, only to think, ‘hmmm, I thought they had died years ago,’? Online forums on sites such as Reddit.com are filled with comments from users who were bewildered to learn of Nelson Mandela’s passing in 2013, because they clearly remembered him dying while he was imprisoned in South Africa decades ago. Some fringe believers assert that our timestream has somehow blended into another, perhaps of a parallel dimension similar to our own, resulting in the occasional glitch where histories don’t match up.  

Mandela in prison

Another oft cited example of the phenomena is the outcome of the ‘Tank Man’ incident in Tiananmen Square, China.  The iconic photo below is known the world over, but what happened to the brave guy who stood up to the tanks? The answer from the timestream that I’m familiar with is that no one actually knows what happened to him, but that he walked away from the standoff.  It seems, however, that a large number of people recall seeing video footage of the tanks rolling over the protestor and killing him gruesomely.  The graphic images made for vivid memories for those who swear they saw the footage.

The phenomena referred to as the Mandela Effect was a theory brought forth by writer Fiona Broome. Discussing her memory of Mandela dying decades ago with others backstage at DragonCon, Broome realized she was not alone in those memories.  Her website features discussions on numerous examples of real-life alternate histories. 

I’m sure by now you’ve thought, ‘these people just remembered these things wrong.’  The human memory is a tricky thing, with complex chemical processes involved in storing information in the brain.  It is odd, however, that so many people have the exact same ‘false memories.’ We could almost chalk the whole Mandela Effect theory up to tinfoil hat enthusiasts having a little fun, if it wasn’t for the Berenstain Bear thing.  I’m positive the books I read were Berenstein, and that glitch makes me wonder if somehow these people who remember historic events differently may have experienced some sort of timeslip.  

Most of us believe Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in 1968 outside a hotel in Memphis, TN.  Part of the population may have caught a glimpse of a parallel world with an alternate timeline, because they remember him being shot by a handgun at close range.  King was actually killed by a sniper shot by James Earl Ray, or so they would have us believe (another conspiracy for another blog). 

The Mandela Effect is not limited to historical events.  There are many people who remember being taught to spell the word ‘dilemma’ with a N: dilemna.  ‘Definitely’ is another such word, with many folks remembering an A in the middle, ‘Definately,' and ‘Parmesan’ as ‘Parmesean’ (which includes me).  

As a matter of fact, all areas of memory are subject to the Mandela Effect.  When I heard ‘chartreuse’ a dark maroon color came to mind.  Imagine my surprise when I found out it is actually a bright neon green.  It seems I wasn’t alone in thinking of a maroon color, as many users commented on a thread about the subject.  Some neighsayers wanted to point to word association, saying we were confusing chartreuse with chardonnay, which is a deep red, but I can attest that wasn’t the case.  Then there is the paradox argument of how do we know colors look the same to other people, but that’s a whole other tangent.  

Maroon and actual Chartreuse

There are entire websites dedicated to humorous misunderstood song lyrics; a lot of people think Jimi Hendrix said, “Excuse me while I kiss this guy,” in "Purple Haze."  That’s not the case with Outkast’s “Ms. Jackson.”  While reading about the Mandela Effect I learned the song says, “I apologize a trillion times.”  I remember jamming out to this song back in college and singing “I apologize a THOUSAND times.”  Apparently so did many others reddit users.  It would seem that sometime since the song was on the Top 40 charts, a timeslip occurred or we meshed with another parallel reality where Andre 3000 and Big Boi apologized a trillion times.  I had to go back and listen to this song to believe they didn’t say a thousand times, like I remembered. 

This phenomena is also known as the “Alive Again Effect,” with people clearly remembering the deaths of people, to find out later they are alive or learn years later they have actually died (again?).  There are people who remember Henry Winkler passing away while Happy Days was still being filmed and the show dealing with the loss of the Fonz.  Neil Armstrong, Jane Goodall, Ed Asner, and Mohammed Ali are among those still living that many people have memories of reports of their deaths. Some people remember the televised funeral of the Reverend Billy Graham, although he’s still among us today.   A lot of people were shocked to learn of the death of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, because they were sure he had already been dead for years.  The same was true with Bea Arthur, Walter Cronkite, Jack Palance, and Larry Hagman.  Instead of remembering a false death, it seems that several people remember Patrick Swayze making a full recovery in 2009 after battling cancer.  In our current timestream, he passed away. 

A strange example of the Mandela Effect we found on forums is a large number of people who remember the Syfy show Ghost Hunters originally being called TAPS.  The acronym TAPS is the name of the group featured on the show, The Atlantic Paranormal Society.  All evidence (in this timestream) says the show was never called TAPS, although one user even recalled the lead investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson having a conversation during an early episode about the name change.

The pop star we know as Katy Perry seems to have chosen the stage name Kate Perry in an alternate dimension, that some people must have slipped into.  Forum users were visibly shocked to learn that early in her career Katy didn’t use the name Kate, as they clearly remember reading and hearing.

A very large number of people recall a portrait of Henry VIII in textbooks and on documentaries, featuring him holding a turkey leg in his hand.  Skeptics argue they have confused the well-known portrait below with a caricature in an early cartoon, but believers do not accept that.  There does seem to be something clutched in his hand, but it’s obviously not the turkey leg that I, too, recall seeing.

Another aspect of the Mandela Effect has more geographical implications on different timestreams.  The locations and size of Scotland and Wells are remembered differently than they appear on our current maps.  New Zealand is also often remembered as having a significantly different location. 

Is the Mandela Effect simply a lot of false memories getting together on the internet, or something more? String Theory, with its multiverses, could explain how one reality could slip into another. Actually, String Theory and M-Theory could possibly explain away every paranormal event ever described, but that’s another blog as well (or perhaps a book one day).  If the universe is vibrating, perhaps examples of the Mandela Effect are some kind of cosmic feedback.  We would write all these examples and the many others out there off as false memories, if it weren’t for the Berenstain Bears.  I was always big on spelling and grammar, and I am sure I would have noticed the difference at some point.  If you have experienced any of these types of memories, or have your own examples, please let us know!

Links of Interest: 

Buzzfeed article on Mandela Effect with a lot of examples