There has been a lot of talk in recent times of the possibility of other realities and dimensions existing beside our own, all around us, yet mostly unobserved and lying beyond our ability to perceive them. In these alternate realities there are theorized to be other versions of ourselves or the world we think know so well, and for the most part they seem to remain beyond ours, existing separately. However, what if the boundaries between us are more malleable than we know? What if we can not only shift between them, but have already done so in large numbers, at the whim of some tide between dimensional realms that we cannot possibly fathom? By some accounts, this could be happening now as we speak.
One of the more bizarre and controversial pieces of supposed evidence put forward for the existence of alternate realities and parallel universes is a phenomenon known as the Mandela Effect, which involves a mass misremembering of the same facts or details by a large number of people. The theory has its origins in 2010 with a paranormal researcher named Fiona Broome, when she found that a fact she clearly remembered seeing on the news, that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s, was actually wrong and that he in fact was still alive at the time, indeed living until 2013, when he died from a respiratory illness at his home. This perplexed her, as she so vividly and clearly remembered his death in the 80s, and when she voiced this puzzlement online there was a deluge of others who seemed to share this memory of the same thing, claiming that they clearly recalled seeing it on the news, could envision the reports, and even that they had been taught about it at school.
Baffled, Broome went on to formulate the idea that this gap between reality and what was so strongly remembered by large groups of people who had these shared memories was perhaps caused by these people having somehow splintered off and shifted over between parallel dimensions brushing up against each other while keeping the memories of their old reality and timeline, which often did not completely line up with the way things are in the new one. Broome would go on to write numerous articles and books on the subject, until the Mandela Effect achieved its clout and place in the lexicon of the world of the weird, and it has frequently used as a possible hint at alternate realities.
As farfetched as this all may sound, it is at the least odd, and there are a formidable number of instances of the supposed Mandela Effect in action that has been amassed over the years. One of the most common examples of the Mandela Effect in action have to do with names or titles that many of us remember quite clearly, but which are not what we may recall. By far the most famous of these is the case of the beloved series of children’s books and subsequent TV shows called The Berenstain Bears. What? Do you think I misspelled that? That’s exactly the point. Millions of people distinctly remember this series being called “The Berenstein Bears,” with an “e.”
While this may seem a minor thing, the fact is that the majority of people adamantly insist on this spelling, when the series is really “The Berenstain Bears,” with an “a,” and it has always been spelled that way. Go back and check all of that memorabilia, that’s how it has always been spelled, but then why would so many people so clearly remember and insist upon the wrong spelling? That depends on who you ask. For some it is merely a false collective memory caused by various psychological factors. For others, it is evidence of memories of an alternate reality, one in which it is The Berenstein Bears. One blogger named simply “Reece” explained this fairly wild theory thus:
At some time in the last 10 years or so, reality has been tampered with and history has been retroactively changed. The bears really were called the “BerenstEin Bears” when we were growing up, but now reality has been altered such that the name of the bears has been changed post hoc. Somehow, we have all undergone a π/2 phase change in all 4 dimensions so that we moved to the stAin hexadectant, while our counterparts moved to our hexadectant (stEin). They are standing around expressing their confusion about the “Berenstein Bears” and how they all remember “Berenstain Bears” on the covers growing up. Those who remember the name as “Berenstain” are native to this “A” Universe, while those who are sure it’s “Berenstein” traveled over from the “E” Universe.
There is even purported evidence that something weird is going on with the “Berenstain Bears.” On one Reddit thread a commenter shared a photo of what was supposed to be incontrovertible proof that the name actually secretly shifted at some point. The photo shows an old and battered VHS tape that on its real label reads the maddening “Berenstain Bears,” yet a sticker placed on the side, likely by a distributing company, clearly reads “Berenstein Bears,” which is seen as evidence that the dimensional slip did not completely erase its history. There have been various other photos brought forward of old TV schedules or copies that say “Berenstein Bears,” which have been brought forward as evidence, but it all remains a mystery and plenty of people do not even recognize that spelling at all. Have we been shuffled between alternate realities at some point?
This very strange effect may be more prevalent than we know, as TV shows, movies, and books often have titles that are different than what a large portion of people distinctively remember. A very well-known and popular show was what you may know of as “Sex in the City,” only that is wrong, as it was actually called “Sex AND the City.” This mistake is so pervasive that many awards show hosts and sites have gotten it wrong, but according to the producers it has always been “Sex and the City.” The movie based on the series of vampire novels by author Anne Rice was also fondly remembered by many as “Interview With a Vampire,” but this is actually not correct, in that it is actually called “Interview with THE Vampire.” This mistake is so rampant that it has even wormed its way into Google, but the title many of you remember is wrong.
There are even titles of shows that seem to have changed, only to change back to the way they were, oddly enough. The famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon “The Flintstones” apparently inexplicably was written for some time a few years ago as “The Flinstones,” with no “T,” and many people remember being perplexed by that, but now it is back to having the “T.” What in the world is going on there? Did we all shift in and then back out of a dimension in which it is spelled “The Flinstones?”
The thing is, this is by far not even the only example of this sort of thing going on by a long shot, and cases of this in action are quite numerous. Another spelling anomaly is that the popular American cereal “Froot Loops” is widely and vividly remembered by many people as being spelled “Fruit Loops,” which is not correct, at least in this reality.There is also the eerie fact that a large number of people, me included, adamantly remember the beloved cartoon series starring Bugs Bunny and Daffy, The Looney Tunes, as being spelled “Looney Toons.”
The list goes on and on with all manner of products. Do you remember “Oscar Meyer Wieners?” If you are old enough then you probably even remember the jingle for the commercials, which even spelled out the name with the lyrics “My bologna has a first name. It’s O-S-C-A-R. My bologna has a second name it’s M-E-Y-E-R.” Many people can vividly remember exactly that. However, it was never “Oscar Meyer,” but rather “Oscar Mayer,” which sounds very weird to a large number of people.
Are you familiar with the air freshener “Febreeze?” It’s actually spelled “Febreze.” Huh? Do you know the shoe brand “Sketchers?” If you do, then you will be surprised to know that it doesn’t exist, except as “Skechers,” as it has always been known, without the “t” in the name. It goes on and on. The popular U.S. chicken fast food joint is not spelled “Chic-fil-A,” but rather “Chick-fil-A,” and always has been, which seems to really rub people the wrong way when pointed out, but it is true. Also frequently put forward is the logo for the car company Ford, which a vast number of people seem to remember differently than it actually looks, specifically they don’t recall it ever having that squiggly pig’s tail shape on the “F,” even though the logo has always looked like that. When faced with the actual logo it is often reported by these people that it looks somewhat jarringly off. There is also the fact that the poor university student’s standby was actually “Cup Noodles” and not “Cup of Noodles” as many of you may adamantly remember.
Continuing with the names of things, the popular correcting fluid that many people remember without fail is actually spelled “Wite-Out,” not “White-Out,” which is very strange, jarring, and not really intuitive since it is white, but there it is. There is also the famous chocolate candy that everyone remembers as “Kit-Kat,” to the point that many articles and posts that mention it spell it that way, but look at the actual logo and there is no dash, and there never was. As minor as it may seem, it is a disturbing revelation for people who absolutely insist that it has a dash. There is also no “Jiffy” peanut butter, but rather just “Jif” peanut butter, no matter how much you remember otherwise. Then there is the fact that the beloved game toy “Rubix Cube” is actually “Rubik’s Cube,” named after the game’s designer Rubik. Even people’s names that all of us “know” are different than what you may think. For instance, the famous Indian civil rights leader is not “Mahatma Ghandi,” as a great many people are sure they know, but rather it is “Gandhi.” Go check these so far if you don’t believe me. I’ll wait.
Are you back? Good, although you will probably have to go check again, so keep an extra tab open on your screen. Next we move on to another popular and strange type of example of the Mandela Effect, and this is that many of the movie lines, characters, and even whole movies that we know and love simply don’t exist. A famous one is that Darth Vader never does say “Luke, I am your father,” in the Star Wars film Empire Strikes Back. Instead it is actually “No, I am your father.” In the movie Forrest Gump Tom Hanks’ character never says “Life is like a box of chocolates” as you have probably been quoting all of your life, but rather “Life WAS like a box of chocolates.” This seems wrong to a large number of people.
Oh, I’m not even done with you yet. In the movie The Silence of the Lambs many of you probably profoundly remember the line from Hannibal Lecter when he says “Hello, Clarice,” yet in reality he never says that at all at any point in the film. He actually merely says “Good Morning.” Doesn’t that seem odd for such an oft-quoted line? We’re just getting started here. Do you remember the iconic scene in Steven Spielberg’s movie ET the Extra-Terrestrial when ET says, “ET phone home?” How could you not? It’s an iconic scene and line that everyone of the era knows, only he never really said that at all, but rather “ET home phone.” It doesn’t even make any sense, but I am totally serious, open your tab.
In the Disney animated movie Snow White there is no line that says “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” but it is instead “MAGIC mirror on the wall.” Yes, really. The remainder of that very famous and iconic, and very wrong, line isn’t even “Who is the fairest of them all,” as many remember, but rather “Who is the fairest one of all?” This one really drives people crazy, as there is such adamant opinion that this must be wrong, but it is indeed correct, at least in this universe. Is this getting weird yet? The very famous Kevin Costner baseball movie Field of Dreams”also has the highly quotable line “If you build it they will come,” but this was never said and it misquoted. It was actually “If you build it HE will come.” I know, right? Go check it.
There are even whole movies that people distinctly remember that don’t actually exist, such as a comedy movie about a genie called Shazaam!, starring the comedian Sinbad. There are a large number of people that remember this film and even whole scenes from it, it is burned in their mind, but the movie in fact does not exist. There are numerous other little details from pop culture that you might take for granted but remember wrong. Did you know that the famous monkey Curious George never had a tail, as you may remember? The Monopoly Man from the popular board game Monopoly also does not have a monocle, nor has he ever been depicted with one. The Pokemon character Pikachu never had a black stripe on the tip of his tail, but has rather always been all yellow, and even the iconic character C3PO isn’t as you might remember, as he is not all gold, but has rather always had one leg that was silver. How could we miss that?
Even songs are not immune to this effect. Picture the famous Queen song We Are the Champions. How does the last part of the song echo out in your mind? Is there a dramatic crescendo and “We are the champions…… of the world!” playing out? It might annoy you to know that that this is not actually in the song. There is no “of the world” in there at the end on that last line, no matter how distinctively you remember it that way, and many people do, and the song just ends. Why is that? This example of the Mandela Effect drives people bonkers, because that final “of the WORLD!” is such an iconic piece of the song, which many people sing, and yet it never existed. Again, at least not in this reality.
There are other assorted commonly cited examples of the Mandela Effect as well. A famous one concerns the “Tank Man,” a protester at the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, who features in an memorable photo defiantly standing in front of an incoming tank to block its way. While this actually did happen, the problem is that many people insist that, from the news and history classes that they remember, this man was actually run over by the tank, something which in fact did not happen. Yet these people can quite vividly recall it being in the news with footage of the whole thing and written of in textbooks that the man was actually run over and killed. The man survived, he was not run over. Minds blown.
There are even people who remember whole countries being in different places. One famous example is the nation of New Zealand. It turns out that there is a large number of people who distinctly remember it and have always known it as lying at various locations around Australia, with a popular one being that it lies to the northwest rather than to the southeast. It is so jarring and so deeply disturbing to those who notice this glitch that they have near nervous breakdowns, as happened with one Reddit commenter who said of this realization:
I’m literally sitting here in tears feeling like I’m about to have a panic attack. My entire understanding of everything has been shaken to the core. When this all came to my attention a couple days ago I go over to my sister’s room and look for this globe we’ve had for years. First place I look is for New Zealand northeast area of Australia… lo and behold, New Zealand is now southeast of Australia in the middle of nowhere. At that point it felt like I had been kicked in the stomach. I won the geography award in grade school and have a plaque that my parents still have on display, and I’m willing to scan it to prove it. Geography is something I’ve always had a keen awareness of.
These are just a few examples, but they are probably enough to instill a sense of creeping unease in many readers at this point. If none of these seem particularly odd to you, then you are probably part of the original universe and have not shifted, but what about the rest of us? The people who experience these seemingly false memories are typically often very sure of what they remember, and insist that it is real, expressing bafflement that the reality does not match up with what they so unmistakably recall. It is a nagging, incessant feeling of something off that they can’t shake. What’s more, a very large number of people experience these same memories with the same wrong details, and this has led to the spreading idea that it is evidence of mass shifts through dimensions, with the ones experiencing these anomalous memories being the travelers and those who remember correctly being the ones remaining in their home reality.
Making things even weirder is the notion that while we have these collective false memories, in another reality there are those who have the opposite incorrect memories. So for instance while we may be wondering why it is not the Berenstein Bears with an “e” as we remember, the denizens of another alternate universe are stumped as to why it is not the Berenstain Bears with an “a” instead of Berenstein Bears. Even weirder still is the idea that that this could also be indicative of someone tampering with reality itself somehow, hopping around to retroactively change things ever so slightly with their activities ad hoc while we still somehow retain the memories of reality before it was changed, driving us nuts in the process.
Of course, with such a bizarre and out-there idea as whole realities changing and being mixed up there are most certainly skeptics who say that this is all merely the result of misinformation mixed with the faulty nature of human memory and the bugs of the human brain in the first place. In other words, these are just basically memory glitches, false memories that seem to catch on with certain sections of the populace and spread. It could also be a combination of this and the power of suggestion, which was perhaps most famously demonstrated in 1978 by the psychologist Elizabeth Loftus, who found that memories can be warped and twisted, often quite dramatically, by additional misleading information or suggestion, a phenomenon she called “The Misinformation Effect.” Essentially, it shows that if one is presented with false information on a detail that someone never really noticed before, then that person may be inclined to believe it and remember it that way if it sounds convincing enough, to the point that it can totally usurp the original memory altogether.
This can all be made even worse by the phenomenon of “cognitive dissonance,” in which an individual’s refusal to accept something contradictory to the way they’d like to remember a thing or a strong, deep-set belief. These can be very beloved memories that the person is hesitant to let go of, even though they may be faulty or wrong. So for instance if someone fondly remembers the “Loony Toons,” even though that spelling is wrong, they basically create the memory of it being so, hold onto it, and thus are unwilling to believe that it could have ever possibly been a different spelling. However, why would so many people do this in the exactly the same way? Is there really some subtle reality shift going on?
So what is going on with the Mandela Effect? Is this all tricks of the mind and mental glitches that can be rationally explained away with psychological phenomena, or is it indicative of something even stranger than the human mind? Could it be a hint of other alternate realities bumping up against and entangling our own or somehow enabling travels between them? Have we experienced these reality shifts in mass numbers, being shuttled around to parallel dimensions without even realizing it? Whatever the case may be, the many supposed instances of the Mandela Effect in action are entertaining and odd nevertheless.
Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He’s written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.