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The Mandela Effect... Explanations?

mandela effect conspiracy theories psychology

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#1 jroseland

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Posted 15 February 2017 - 12:00 PM

This has got to be one of the most compelling and unsettling new conspiracy theories that has emerged in the past year. It goes like this...


Large groups of the population distinctly remember certain cultural memes one way, yet actually something different. Significant proportions of the population have false memories about mainstream cultural memes.


Some examples

Nelson Mandela died in the 1980's in prison instead of in 2013

Darth Vader did NOT say Luke, I am your father he actually said No, I am your father

Sex in the City is actually Sex and the City

Life is like a box chocolates is actually Life was like a box chocolates

The Berenstien Bears is actually The Berenstain Bears

In Field of Dreams saying If you build it, they will come is actually If you build it, he will come

Mirror, Mirror on the wall is actually Magic mirror, on the wall

Interview With a Vampire is actually Interview With the Vampire

Sally Field(s)'s Oscar acceptance speech you like me you really like me was actually You like me, right now, you like me

In the assassination of JFK there was 4 people in the car, nope it was 6 actually


There's bunch of other examples of the Mandela effects...
I encourage you to go through them and I think you'll be surprised to find that you yourself have some false memories of cultural memes, old movies and brands. It's kind of creepy.
There's bunch of Youtube videos on the topic, this is one probably the most interesting...

Human memory is infamously fallible and open to suggestion, so I don't place a lot of faith in my own memories of old movies that I wasn't really paying that much attention to anyways. For none of the examples of the Mandela effect do I have a vivid enough memory that I think I've moved to the wrong universe.

It would stand to reason that since we are all so susceptible to the same cognitive biases, large groups of people who saw the same movies, television and products would have the false memories. Baring a metaphysical explanation it's a fascinating example of just how susceptible to illusions we are in groups.


A lot of these can also be explained by companies changing their logos and branding, misquotations or by different versions of popular films, songs or books.


But there's a couple that are pretty tough to explain, notably...

The Berenstien Bears - apparently even some old photos have surfaced of it spelled the old way that many remember it.

Luke, I am your father - Even James Earl Jones remembers saying it this way, and there's several interviews of him in the 90's repeating Luke, I am your father

Sally Field(s)'s Oscar acceptance speech - Her line became such a pervasive cultural meme, you see it repeated all the time, in for example in old Simpson's episodes


The two most popular conspiracy theories for this are that...

a) Around 2010 some of us moved to an parallel universe where facts and names of things are just a little different.

b) The simulation theory - the Matrix is being hacked and changed.


Personal Mandela Effect?

If either of these metaphysical explanations were correct we would expect some more personal changes that would be equally observable

You mom's name would change (better call her and double check!)

Your childhood address would change.

You dog would come back to life.

The company you work for would change their logo without telling anyone.

We would expect there to be consistency between the people reporting global Mandela effects and personal Mandela effects. Right?


The Mandela Effect is new 

As you can see from Google Keyword trends, it's just something people have started talking about the past year



Google Keyword Trends

My analysis is - I think - consistent with the theory that it's just wide spread fake memories.

https://g.co/trends/QYMp8 - Luke, I am your father has always been more popular

https://g.co/trends/C0lJZ - Berenst__n bears

https://g.co/trends/y2dDb - Sex in/and the city

https://g.co/trends/OtgSd - Life is like a box chocolates always been more popular

https://g.co/trends/HIIgw - you like me you really like me! Always been more popular

https://g.co/trends/7D0El - Sally Fields, Sally Field

https://g.co/trends/2GGiA - If you build it, they will come has gotten more popular over time compared to the accurate quote


Google is obviously just recording what people are searching for. Google also auto corrects auto completes a lot of search keywords. However...


Statistical Anomaly 

These people on Reddit, reached a different conclusion though, Google keyword trend analysis of several popular Mandela Effect memes reveals a notable divergence around the turn of the decade, as we entered the roaring twenty-teens.


They have screenshots showing a perplexing statistical anomaly of emergence of the new memes around 2010. Which would be more consistent with the metaphysical theories. 

If it was just false memories we would expect the inaccurate memes to be consistent with the accurate ones over time since Google started recording these things in 2004. Right?

Did I do my Google keyword trend analysis wrong? Is Google complicit in the Mandela effect? Are these guys on Reddit faking their screenshots? Or did something sinister happened in 2010?



A bunch of conspiracy theorists think there's a connection to CERN's experiments with antimatter and nutty psuedo-spiritual demonic explanations. I listened to more videos and podcasts on this topic than I'd care to admit and there's very thin evidence for connection to CERN.


Historical Parallels

I know people have believed crazy things since time immemorial but can anyone else think of recent historical examples where false memes somehow snuck into people's heads?
My Theory
Around 2010 we were really reaching a tipping point in social media adoption and the long tail of online content so false memes were spread faster than ever. Around the turn of the decade we also saw the rise of blogging and journalism got a lot sloppier, a lot more more "journalists" started doing a lot less fact checking. The Mandela Effect maybe a biproduct of "Fake News". Read these books if you want to better understand this...
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Trust me, I'm Lying by Ryan Holiday


Testing the Mandela Effect
At this point it seems that it's a lot of Youtube bros, armchair psychologists, religious and wuwu types discussing the Mandela effect. I'm trying to think of how a real scientist or statistician would formulate an experiment to test it...
  • Recency - Google trends would be more insightful if Google were around back in the 70's or 80's when some of these memes originated. It would seem to me that statistical analysis of a Mandela effect that happened in the past 10 years would yield a more clear result. As you could actually see the false meme being born alongside it's twin, or not.
  • Population comparison - You'd have to test accurate memes vs false memes in multiple countries and languages. How funny would it end up being if this was just a white people thing?
  • Subject priming - I'd love to hear how an expert hypnotist (Scott Adams?) or other mentalists opinion on how to do an experiment that doesn't prime the subjects to respond one way or another.
  • Better Keyword Trend Analysis - Google trends is free to the public tool which is notoriously inaccurate. SEO guys have learned the hard way not to really trust it. We really need a different software for analyzing the accurate vs false memes.
  • Memory imaging - Perhaps in a couple of years when memory imaging technology advances we will be able to prove or disprove the Mandela effect by looking into the memories of those reporting the Mandela effect.

I think what makes this conspiracy theory so viral and compelling is that there's a malevolence implied, somebody is changing our history!


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#2 Keizo

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 06:47 PM

Collective beliefs about the shared values in society are something interesting. I haven't looked into much of what has been written and said about it, but I know that Steven Pinker has at least talked briefly about how quite often the beliefs people have about what is acceptable behavior and opinions and so forth are incorrect. I've heard some anecdotes from a friend of mine who talked about all kinds of radical ideas to people he knew, and he was quite surprised by how willing people were to listen, only in groups did he ever encounter any significant negativity and close-mindedness. This does raise some question-marks to me about how these beliefs and more broad ideas and beliefs are formed.


You might be able to find something if you search for intersubjectivity or intersubjective consensus, or for that matter more broadly delve into various people and fields having to do with how the mind works, linguistics, psychology, etc. 



#3 Keizo

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Posted 16 February 2017 - 07:03 PM

I also believe that Styxhexenhammer666 has talked a bit about his  ideas about Memes and their propagation, nothing too convoluted if I recall

Edited by Keizo, 16 February 2017 - 07:04 PM.

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