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Monday, December 21, 2020

Decemystery (2020) 21: The Mandela Effect


I don’t think I’ve ever seen a mystery become so prominent and prevalent as this one. Sure, there are plenty of people who have seen ghosts, Sasquatch, or UFOs, but today’s story—which on the Mandela Effect—is something significantly more unique. It’s a phenomenon which I think most of us could have experienced at least once in our life.

For those unfamiliar with the Mandela Effect, I want to give a brief rundown of it before we get into the story itself (which will be focusing more on famous examples of it rather than going over its history). It’s basically a case where someone believes something to be one thing, but it isn’t. The name comes from when former South African President Nelson Mandela died in 2013, but most swore up and down that he had died back in the 1980s.

This phenomenon has taken off a lot in the past… I’d say about decade; with the popularity of 4Chan, Reddit, and the YouTube Horror Community, a lot of people have come forward claiming that they’ve had experiences with the Mandela Effect. Though one thing that must be asked is this: how many of these experiences are truly enigmatic and how many are just cases of false memory?

With today’s Decemystery entry, we’ll be doing something different. We’ll be taking a little bit of time—not a whole lot because as is the case with Decemystery, we’re trying to keep these stories short, sweet, and fun—to take a gander at some of the most famous cases of the Mandela Effect and give them a brief rundown before rounding it out with two of the most popular theories. Then we’ll go into the theories section to echo what I just said. Why? Because here at Limitless Possibilities, the norm/professionalism is reserved for squares who have a bunch of subscribers on YouTube. So let’s get to it!

The Story

For this write-up, I went to Good Housekeeping. They had an amazing list of forty famous examples of the Mandela Effect there. While I won’t be shamelessly listing off everything they have there (nor will I put it in the order they have because I don’t want to be that shameless), I will be going over the ones that I found the most interesting and trying to expand upon them as best as I can. Still, I would like to give them all of the credit for compiling the examples. Great job, folks!

Looney Tunes Vs. Looney Toons

To start things off, there’s the example of the classic cartoon “Looney Tunes”. Many remember the show as being spelled “Looney Toons”, which makes sense given it’s a cartoon. However, it’s in fact spelled “Looney Tunes”. I would honestly chalk this up to, again, the show being a cartoon, therefore most would assume it would be spelled “Looney Toons”. Alas, many attribute it to the Mandela Effect.

51/52 States in America

I’m adding this one because it left me flabbergasted. There’s an entry in that list that states that some people remember learning there were 51 or 52 states in the US, not 50. I’m willing to chalk this up to people having really, really dreadful teachers. I mean, the United States’ education system is a catastrophic failure if you ask me.

The Berenstein Bears Vs. The Berenstain Bears

This is the most famous example of the Mandela Effect nowadays. Many remember the famous children’s series being spelled as “Berenstein” and not “Berenstain”. If you want to go down this rabbit hole though, just click here. It’ll provide you with enough entertainment for a gloomy day!

As for why this issue exists, it’s possible that it’s just a case of faulty memory. Heck, I thought it was spelled “Berenstein” for a while. It wasn’t until I was writing this that I realized it was “Berenstain”. I attribute it to my memory being absolute trash. Good going, Vertigo!

Pikachu’s Tail

As the header for this write-up showcases, many remember the iconic Pokemon having black at the end of his tail—something that I actually swore he had. Alas, it’s all yellow. This is one I can’t explain because even I was befuddled.

Sex in the City Vs. Sex and the City

This is actually one that I think is easy to explain. The Spanish translation for Sex and the City apparently comes out to being something akin to “Sex in the City”. However, I cannot remember where I read that and as such, I sadly need you to just trust me.

I digress though. This is a fairly famous example of the Mandela Effect and it’s one that I think can be chalked up to some people remembering a foreign translation. The key word there is “some”. I of course can’t apply it to everyone.

“Life is Like a Box of Chocolates”

The actual line goes, “Life was like a box of chocolates”. I honestly don’t believe this to be a case of the Mandela Effect because if you’re comparing life to something, you’d put the phrase in the present tense and not the past tense.

Curious George Has No Tail

Another very, very famous example is the popular children’s book character Curious George. The little monkey who got into a great bit of mischief, many recall him having a tail. However, in reality, he doesn’t. How exactly this happened is something I genuinely cannot explain. If I had to hazard a guess though, I’d say it’s because monkeys do have tails and by association, people thought that Curious George had one too.

Fruit of the Loom’s Cornucopia 

Many remember the logo for Fruit of the Loom as having a cornucopia in it. It’s apparently one of the most famous examples of the Mandela Effect, but I strangely hadn’t heard of it until I was writing this. Even more bizarrely, I actually thought it did have one in spite of how I care so little for clothing brands.

I Am Your Father

Many remember the legendary quote from the fifth Star Wars film—The Empire Strikes Back—as being “Luke, I am your father”. In reality, it’s simply “I am your father”.

That’s where I think I will end it. Most of these are from the first half of the list, but there are a plethora more, some of which I excluded because, well, I don’t want to plagiarize the list. So, once more, all credit goes to Good Housekeeping.

So what exactly is the truth to this bizarre phenomenon? How could so many people be remembering things incorrectly? Surely, there must be something going on, no? Well, in the eyes of believers: yes. If you go snoop around forums dedicated to the Mandela Effect, you’ll find an array of ideas—most of which involve things like overlapping Universes, converging timelines, and a plethora of other things like that. It’s certainly fantastical in nature, but even more interesting is when you get into the actual details of these theories.

Basically, Universe A and Universe B live side-by-side. Then, at some point, the two just overlap or converge and some details are left in the other Universe. It’s really weird and makes little to no sense in my peabrain.

Now, I guarantee that… I’d say at least some of you don’t buy that, so is that all we’ll really mention? No, of course not. I’m not gonna be biased with my pre-theories section for this write-up, dang it!

You see, dear reader, scientists actually picked up on the phenomenon of the Mandela Effect because of its prevalence on Internet forums and message boards; there are quite a few out there with people sharing memories they have that are actually incorrect. For the most part, the consensus with the Mandela Effect is that it’s a collective false memory; people hear about something being something it isn’t, they then proceed to share it that way, they get accustomed to that, and when they find out it isn’t as they’ve been remembering it, they cannot cope with it.

While that may sound mean, it’s hard to come to terms with something that you’ve lived and grown to know as the truth being, well, a lie. Hell, I still swear Pikachu’s tail is black at the tip. Alas, it isn’t. It always throws me for a loop.

So where does that leave us? Well, I’d say that about does it. That’s more or less what the Mandela Effect is. A fancy term for a false memory, though is that truly what it is? Well, let’s once again go over the theories because this write-up is nothing if not playing to the tune of false memories, so I feel the need to just reiterate what I just said, lest we forget what we just said. Oh no, I’m repeating myself! Quick, let me repeat myself even more!


1. The universes are overlapping!

We went over this theory during the write-up, so I’ll keep it short: it posits that two universes overlapped and somehow, timelines converged or were swapped and now we live in a world where whatever we remember is as it was in the other timeline. Some remember the old timeline and now we basically have people who are “misremembering” things, but in reality, they remember the old timeline. Not much more to it than that, so let’s continue on.

2. It’s a false memories

The second theory is one that I’m sure many of you are familiar with because we went over it during the write-up! False memories are nothing exactly revolutionary; we all have instances where we misremember things. The idea that the Mandela Effect is just a big case of “oh, whoops, I thought this was like that,” isn’t going to shatter one’s world. Though in some cases, I guess it could because you’re adamant that what you remember is as you, well, remember it. Yet, it isn’t. There isn’t that much more to it since, as stated above, we more or less went over this during the write-up itself. Wait, I said that before, right? I think so, I can’t remember.

My Take

Truth be told, I think that the Mandela Effect is simply a case of falsified memories. Yes, while that may be anticlimactic, I’ve never quite bought into the whole hubbub about Universes overlapping, alternate timelines converging, and so on.

Now yes, I’ve had my own moments where I remember something as sounding or looking sound radically different. However, my memory is very far from perfect. I’d go so far as to call it incredibly bad. It’s faulty, it betrays, and it leaves me wanting to go back in time so I can avoid magnificent embarrassment.

I’ve forgotten mechanics in World of Warcraft dungeons and raids because I recall them being a part of something else, I’ve recalled dialogue in movies as sounding different or being something else entirely. I’ve remembered lyrics in songs being much different too. What’s more likely: a timeline break-off or the human memory being crummy? I’d say the latter, but that’s just me. As is the case with anything, you’re free to disagree; heck, I encourage it! That’s one reason I write—to try and have people think for themselves and try to deviate from being people who follow the “narrative” blindly. At the same time, I also don’t want people to follow what I say blindly. That’s just silly.

With all of that said, does that mean that it isn’t possible that Universes can’t overlap? Ehh… that varies based on who you are. I think that it’s possible there are multiple Universes out there, but I’m skeptical of them overlapping and the two exchanging timelines. That seems really, really outlandish and kinda silly. Though I mean, that’s just me. I can’t exactly change your mind based on me just saying that I think it’s silly.

I think that it’s best if you draw your own conclusion on whether or not the Mandela Effect is real. In my eyes, I think it’s just a popularized term for a false memory. I doubt this has anything to do with overlapping Universes, converging timelines, or anything like that. I believe that to be silly, but I cannot fault anyone who thinks it’s legitimate. I think that such thinking is nice to see since it means that we’re not all some conglomeration/hivemind species.

On one final note, if you’d like to read more about the idea of false memories, click here for my write-up on what I call “The Line From Nowhere”.


With all of that said, we conclude our little expedition into the world of the Mandela Effect. If I were to be honest, I never imagined this would have been so fun to write about. The story has never been one of my favorites. Quite the opposite actually, I think it’s really dull. However, when you dig into the psychology of it, I think it becomes a fascinating example of how the human mind can be manipulated and tricked into believing something that was never the case.

Now, with that said, I would love to ask you, dear reader, something: have you ever had something that falls into the category of the Mandela Effect happen to you? If you have, I would love for you to leave a comment down below detailing it. C’mon, do it. I’ll even respond to it. I doubt that means much, but I would simply love to hear it.

Anyways, until tomorrow: stay happy, healthy, and Mandela Effect free!

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