The Mandela Effect: Why You Remember Things That Never Happened

The Mandela Effect: Why You Remember Things That Never Happened



The Mandela Effect: A Phenomenon of False Memories

Have you ever been convinced that something happened in a certain way, only to find out later that you were wrong? If so, you might have experienced the Mandela Effect, a phenomenon of false memories that affects many people around the world.

The term “Mandela Effect” was coined by Fiona Broome, a writer and researcher who discovered that she and many others had a vivid memory of Nelson Mandela, the former president of South Africa and human rights activist, dying in prison in the 1980s. However, Mandela did not die in prison; he was released in 1990 and became the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He died in 2013.



Broome was puzzled by how such a large group of people could share the same false memory. She created a website to document other examples of the Mandela Effect, such as:

  • The spelling of the brand name Oscar Mayer (many people remember it as Oscar Meyer)

  • The famous line from Star Wars: “No, I am your father” (many people remember it as “Luke, I am your father”)

  • The existence of a movie called Shazaam starring Sinbad as a genie (many people remember watching it in the 1990s, but no such movie exists)


What causes the Mandela Effect? There are several possible explanations, such as:

  • False memories: Memory is not a perfect record of what happened; it can be influenced by many factors, such as emotions, expectations, biases, and external information. Sometimes, people can form false memories that are very vivid and detailed, especially if they are exposed to misleading or suggestive information.

  • Confabulation: Confabulation is a type of false memory that occurs when people fill in the gaps in their memory with fabricated or distorted information. This can happen when people have trouble remembering something or want to make sense of an incomplete or confusing situation.


  • Internet influence: The internet can be a source of both accurate and inaccurate information. It can also amplify and spread false memories among many people who share similar beliefs or interests. For example, online forums, blogs, videos, and social media can create echo chambers where people reinforce each other’s false memories and reject contradictory evidence.


  • Cognitive biases: Cognitive biases are mental shortcuts or errors that affect how people perceive and process information. For example, confirmation bias is the tendency to seek out and accept information that confirms one’s existing beliefs and ignore or reject information that contradicts them. Another example is the availability heuristic, which is the tendency to judge the likelihood or frequency of something based on how easily it comes to mind.



The Mandela Effect is a fascinating and sometimes unsettling phenomenon that reveals how unreliable and malleable human memory can be. It also shows how social and cultural factors can shape our collective memories and beliefs. While some cases of the Mandela Effect may be harmless or amusing, others may have serious implications for our understanding of history, science, politics, and reality

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