5 MindBlowing examples of the Mandela Effect
The Mandela Effect refers to a situation in which a large mass of people believes that an event occurred when it did not. Looking at the origin of the Mandela effect, some famous examples, as well as some potential explanations for this strange confluence of perceptions can help to shed light on this unique phenomenon.

The term “Mandela Effect” began when it was first coined in 2009 by Fiona Broome when she published a website detailing her observance of the phenomenon. Broome was at a conference talking with other people about how she remembered the tragedy of former South African president Nelson Mandela’s death in a South African prison in the 1980s.

However, Nelson Mandela did not die in the 1980s in a prison—he passed away in 2013. As Broome began to talk to other people about her memories, she learned that she was not alone. Others remembered seeing news coverage of his death as well as a speech by his widow.

Broome was shocked that such a large mass of people could remember the same identical event in such detail when it never happened. Encouraged by her book publisher, she began a website to discuss what she called the Mandela Effect and other incidents like it.

One theory about the basis for the Mandela effect originates from quantum physics and relates to the idea that rather than one timeline of events, it is possible that alternate realities or universes are taking place and mixing with our timeline. In theory, this would result in groups of people having the same memories because the timeline has been altered as we shift between these different realities.

You aren’t alone if you think this sounds a little unrealistic. Unfortunately, the idea of alternate realities is unfalsifiable, meaning that there is no way to truly disprove that these other universes don’t exist.

This is why such a far-fetched theory continues to gain traction among the Mandela effect communities. You can’t prove it’s not real, so you can’t totally discount the possibility of it. For many people, the excitement of a bit of mystery to everyday life also likely comes into play.

A more likely explanation for the Mandela effect involves false memories. Before we consider what is meant by false memories, let’s look at an example of the Mandela effect as it will help us to understand how memory can be faulty (and may lead to the phenomenon that we are describing).

Who was Alexander Hamilton? Most Americans learned in school that he was a founding father of the United States of America but that he was not a president. However, when asked about the presidents of the United States, many people mistakenly believe that Hamilton was a president. Why?

If we consider a simple neuroscience explanation, the memory for Alexander Hamilton is encoded in an area of the brain where the memories for the presidents of the United States are stored. The means by which memory traces are stored is called the engram and the framework in which similar memories are associated with each other is called the schema.

So when people try to recall Hamilton, this sets off the neurons in close connection to each other, bringing with it the memory of the presidents. (Though this is an oversimplified explanation, it illustrates the general process.)

When memories are recalled, rather than remembered perfectly, they are influenced to the point that they can eventually become incorrect. In this way, memory is unreliable and not infallible.

The role of the internet in influencing the memories of the masses should not be underestimated. It’s probably no coincidence that consideration of the Mandela effect has grown in this digital age.

The internet is a powerful way to spread information, and with this spreading of information comes the potential for misconceptions and falsehoods to gain traction. People then begin to create communities based around these falsehoods and what was once in the imagination starts to seem factual.

In fact, in a large study of over 100,000 news stories discussed across Twitter, conducted over a period of 10 years, showed that hoaxes and rumors won out over the truth every time by about 70%.1 This wasn’t the result of manipulation or bots either—real verified accounts of real people were responsible for spreading false information.