In a place like our Universe, there exist hundreds of thousands of unsolved and unusual phenomenons. One of my recent fixations has been the Mandela Effect.

The first question that arises: What is the Mandela Effect? According to The Reader’s Digest, it can be described as having memories that don’t match with current reality and history. Fiona Broome, one of the people who coined the term and launched a website in 2009 to document the phenomenon, describes it as ‘something which happens when someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality.’

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

However, Nelson Mandela did not die in the 1980s— 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 identical details of something that never happened. Encouraged, she began her website to discuss what she called the Mandela Effect and other incidents like it.

There are a host of other topics which initiate the conversation on this effect. Some of them are:

  • The Berenstein/Berenstein Bears
  • The colour sequence on Pepsi products
  • A painting of Henry VIII holding a chicken drumstick (no such painting has ever existed. There have, however, been similar caricatures.)
  • People remembering the famous line from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as “Mirror, mirror on the wall” (it’s actually “Magic mirror on the wall”)
  • And everyone knows Darth Vader’s famous line from Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back, “Luke, I am your father.” (You might be surprised to learn, the line was actually, “No, I am your father.”)

Some chalk up this phenomenon to bad news reporting that spread, word-of-mouth or false information from sources. If we consider a simple neuro-scientific explanation, how memory traces are stored is called the engram and the framework in which similar memories are associated with each other is called the schema. When people try to recall something, it sets off the neurons in close connection to each other, bringing with it the required memory. When memories are recalled, they are influenced to the point that they can eventually become incorrect. In this way, memory is unreliable and not infallible.

However, there is one theory about the basis for the Mandela effect originating from quantum physics and relates to the idea that rather than one timeline of events, alternate realities or universes may be 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. Since this theory cannot be denied or discounted without any proof, it continues to gain a lot of traction.

With this, I thus conclude the various theories regarding the Mandela Effect and leave you to ponder on the same. Which theory is your favourite?


– Stuti, Delhi Public School, Noida



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