How to understand what the Mandela effect is

In recent decades, there have been many phenomena associated with a distorted perception of information. One of them is the Mandela effect. We tell what it is, how it manifests itself and whether it can be resisted
What is the Mandela effect
The Mandela effect is when many people believe that some event has happened, although in reality this did not happen. The term was coined by researcher Fiona Broome in 2009. She went to a conference where she talked with different people. One of the conversations turned to Nelson Mandela, a South African human rights activist who was imprisoned by the apartheid regime. Released after 27 years in prison, he became President of South Africa. Nevertheless, Broom herself and her interlocutors were sure that Mandela died in prison in the 1980s. It even seemed to many that they had seen his wife’s speech at the funeral on the news. In fact, Nelson Mandela died in 2013 surrounded by his family.

What is the Mandela effect like: examples

There are many examples of the Mandela effect, some specific to specific countries.

«Luke, I’m your father»

Remember how Darth Vader says this phrase in Star Wars. Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back»? Now, that’s not true. The villain does not address his son by his first name. Responding to his remark «you killed my father», he says: «No, I am your father.»

«I’m tired, I’m leaving»

On December 31, 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin recorded a New Year’s address to the nation, in which he announced that he was leaving his post and appointing Vladimir Putin as acting president. It seemed to many that his last words were the phrase «I’m tired, I’m leaving.» This is not true. In fact, he says the following: “I’m leaving. I did everything I could». According to Lyudmila Starostova, Candidate of Philosophical Sciences, an employee of the Museum of the First President of Russia, the reason is simple: “It seemed to many that the president looked tired during his televised address.”

Mr. Monopoly’s monocle

Remember the cover of the popular Monopoly game series. It depicts a capitalist with a mustache, a cane and a top hat that looks like it’s straight out of a Soviet caricature. Does he wear a monocle? If you answered yes, then you have fallen for the Mandela effect. In fact, the mascot of the game, whose name is Mr. Monopoly, has excellent eyesight.


The name of this bar is written together, not hyphenated. Many argue that this way of writing is an innovation, but in fact this is the only correct option.

New Zealand

Where is this island nation located? Many are sure that it is located in the Pacific Ocean northeast or even north of Australia, although the correct option is southeast of this country.

Henry VIII with turkey

Many believe that there is a portrait of the English King Henry VIII, in which he bites into the shin of a turkey. Such a picture never existed, but the effect could be spurred by cartoons that played up a similar image.

Why the Mandela effect occurs

There are many theories that explain the emergence of collective false memories.

Parallel universes

One of the most unusual explanations for the Mandela effect comes from the hypothesis that there are many parallel universes that interact with each other. Hypothetically, people can move from one reality to another. This causes them to retain memories from different universes.
For example, in universe #A12, Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s, and in universe #B34, he died at home in 2013. At the same time, people who lived in A12 and are now in B34 will stick to the version that happened to them in A12. Because of this, they will have memories that will be considered false in B34. Sounds like something from the realm of science fiction, and so far it is — scientists have not found evidence for the existence of the multiverse.

False memories

Daniel Schacter, a psychologist and professor at Harvard University, emphasizes: “Memories are psychological combinations of emotional reactions, visual and auditory perception. They only reflect our attitude towards what happened and are not reliable records of what happened.

When blank spots form in memories due to the fact that the brain does not have all the information about the event, it independently thinks out the missing fragments based on associations and existing experience. This process is known as confabulation. “People don’t like uncertainty because it creates fear and stress,” says Christopher Dwyer, a psychologist and lecturer at Shannon University of Technology in Ireland.

Influence of the Internet

The Mandela effect has become known in the digital age, when computers and the Internet have firmly entered everyday life. Spreading information has become much easier, which has increased the popularity of various false concepts. Scientists analyzed the discussions under 100 thousand news on Twitter and came to the following conclusion: fakes and rumors defeat the truth in 70% of cases. Such informational chaos can enhance the Mandela effect.

What to do when the Mandela effect occurs

It is extremely difficult to recognize a false memory in oneself. The fact that it appeared, it will be possible to find out only after the fact. The only possible way to protect yourself from its occurrence is to always double-check any facts, and especially those that seem suspicious, and think critically — to doubt the incoming information and your beliefs.

And if you decide to check the truth of your memories with the help of another person, pay attention to how you formulate the question. People often tend to go along with what they are told without hesitation, so if you ask, «Is it true that Mandela died in prison?», the chances are high that you will hear an affirmative answer. To get the interlocutor to answer more thoughtfully, it is better to ask an open question: «How did Mandela die?»