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Debunking Mandela Effect: Are We Living In A Parallel Universe?

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by Conscious Reminder

Mandela Effect Introduction

The Mandela Effect is a term for where a group of people all mis-remember the same detail, event or physicality. It is named after the instance in which a large group of people all shared the same memory that Nelson Mandela died prior to his actual 2013 death, usually some time in the 1980’s.

The effect exploded in popularity on the internet when a peculiar example popped up where a majority of people seemed to have recalled the Berenstain Bears books as being spelled as “Berenstein” or some other variation, differing from the actual spelling as presented by evidence.

The effect is somewhat different from a false memory as it effects large groups of people, seemingly without many connections and without the same emotional factors present. It also seems stronger and harder to escape the feeling that it’s simply a mis-remembering of a detail, which is why people are so adamant with claims of their memories.

As such, it’s often been hinted at that the Mandela Effect is closely related to cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance can be mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds beliefs, ideas, or values and is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Please note the use of “can be” as there is many purists that don’t accept the broader definition and scope of cognitive dissonance applying to memory versus reality.

Many Mandela Effects are usually trivial details about an oddly specific set of categories. These include things such as the how and when of celebrity deaths, misspellings (usually replaced or removed letters), placement of geographical locations, quotations within media, or alternate imagery.

It is also related to misconceptions in general, although, again is differentiated due to the obscure nature and odd feelings resulting from learning the reality. The solutions, explanations and reasons for the misconceptions are also cryptic and often misrepresented or unknown altogether.

The term it fits most with is “confabulation” which is a disturbance of memory which produces fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about the world, without the explicit or conscious intention to deceive others. People who confabulate in this way produce incorrect memories about the most trivial details (as seen with most Mandela Effects) but range up to more complex fabrications as well. They are generally extremely confident in their recollections and will typically resist any contradictory evidence.

The aim of this site is unique among the current offerings online to attempt to dissect the possible causes and solutions for this perplexing phenomenon with a scientific, rational approach. If you’ve come to read about merging of universes, alternate timelines, and time travel then you are in the wrong place (unless you have evidence of such things!). It is of my opinion that the Mandela Effect is a real thing; however, steeped in the realm of sociology and psychology and not science fiction.

Common Explanations

As a general rule, there is normally an identifiable solution and explanation to most Mandela Effects, or at least theories. These usually relate to key factors and information regarding the subject mixed with a common memory bias or other psychological effect.

This list is by no means exhaustive and may not fit certain examples at all. It’s simply to be used as a guide to why some Mandela Effects exist in the first place failing any hard explanations on a given subject.

Misinformation effect

That misinformation affects people’s reports of their own memory. I believe this to be a key factor in many Mandela Effects. Simply seeing the claim from another person may sway recollection of your own memory, especially if you lacked concrete or deep memories or connections to the subject to begin with.

Confirmation bias

The tendency to search for, interpret, or recall information in a way that confirms one’s beliefs or hypotheses. Those seeking Mandela Effects will often be more easily persuaded by other claims. And with such claims they may agree with, they will often discard any countering evidence or claims.

Misattribution of memory

When information is retained in memory but the source of the memory is forgotten. This is sometimes present in Mandela Effects where we forget where we know something from or why it’s familiar, possibly leading to incorrect attribution of the original source confounding the confusion factor.

Cryptomnesia

A form of misattribution where a memory is mistaken for imagination, because there is no subjective experience of it being a memory. Many Mandela Effects may have started out as imagination rather than real memories.

Misconceptions

Facts cannot change; however, they can be revealed to be untrue or nonfactual, thus is the case with many things throughout human history. As science and technologically progresses, so does our understanding of the world around us. Unfortunately for us, our brain is not always built to accept new ideas and new facts. People who either intentionally, or unintentionally (they do not know the new information) can also spread these misconceptions, thus perpetuating these erroneous beliefs into society. This is how misconceptions are born and at the heart of many Mandela Effects.

False memory

A false memory is the psychological phenomenon in which a person recalls a memory that did not actually occur. It’s often cited with and has a strong connotation to some type of trauma such as sexual abuse and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). While it would be quite rare for Mandela Effects to originate as false memories, it could fit in those lesser known or less believed ones as the scenario would typically be very specific to the person with the false memory. Because of the trauma involved with these cases, the subject would be quite resistant to accept any new evidence in opposition of their belief as their brain has literally implanted this idea as a counter to protect itself from mental harm, thus introducing cognitive dissonance.

Cognitive dissonance

Cognitive dissonance not an explanation per se, but rather a by-product. It is one of the main causes for so many people to be so resistant to evidence and ideas contrary to their beliefs and memory. Cognitive dissonance can be the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values. Please note the use of “can be” as there is many purists that don’t accept the broader definition and scope of cognitive dissonance applying to memory versus reality.

Confabulation

Confabulation is a disturbance of memory which produces fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories about the world, without the explicit or conscious intention to deceive others. People who confabulate in this way produce incorrect memories about the most trivial details (as seen with most Mandela Effects) but range up to more complex fabrications as well. They are generally extremely confident in their recollections and will typically resist any contradictory evidence (possibly related to cognitive dissonance in this manner).

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