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Your Memory Might Not Be As Trustworthy As You Think

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Did you know that up to 1 in 2 people may not be able to tell false memories from real ones? Many adults remember the popular peanut butter brand as ‘Jiffy’ instead of Jif even though the brand has always gone by the same name. Many people remember the Monopoly Man being drawn with a monocle even though he has never had one. And while almost anyone will quote the Star Wars phrase “Luke, I am your father.” the true line was “No, I am your father.”. 

All of these instances of multiple people misremembering events are known as the Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect was coined by paranormal expert Fiona Broome in 2009 in reference to the many people who believed that Nelson Mandela passed away in 1980. This wasn’t just a case of people being mixed up about the date of a death, many people still report seeing coverage of his death on the news or talking about it in school even though Nelson Mandela only passed away in 2013. When the Mandela Effect was first discovered, Broome made a website to discuss it in greater detail, and today it is recognized as an umbrella term to describe memory related phenomenon. 

The Mandela Effect today is known as a phenomena where a large group of people misremember a specific detail or event. These events can occur due to a number of reasons, but one of the most widely accepted explanations of this phenomena is asch conformity. This is when someone conforms to a certain group in order to align with a group. If a number of people all hold a similar belief, it is more likely that someone with a different belief will go along with the more popular opinion in order to fit in. If a person changes their beliefs over a long period of time it can lead to source-memory errors–when someone forgets the true source of a memory– or even entirely false memories. 

If enough people believe a fact, it can be more difficult to determine the true origin. With the rise of the internet and technology, this is becoming even more difficult. The internet allows for an easier and faster way to obtain information as well as voice your own opinion. When people read stories on the internet, they sometimes do not look for additional sources, and this has the possibility of leading to more instances of the Mandela Effect.

It can be disarming to know that something you truly remember actually didn’t happen. Not to worry though, the Mandela Effect is very common and can happen to anyone. To avoid instances of the Mandela Effect in the future it is important to fact-check information you find on the internet to make sure it is correct. Make sure to analyze all information critically, as it can be easy to accept things without questioning them or to make theories without hard evidence. These steps can help to make sure your memories are your own memories and not information that is the result of the Mandela Effect. 

Scarlet Logan is a marketing professional who loves writing. She graduated with a double major in journalism and economics.

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