Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Mandela Effect

Fiona Broome. Photo by John Hession
Have you ever had the feeling that you were just completely losing your mind? Have you ever been SO SURE about something happening exactly the way you remember it happening that you'd bet your life on it...only to find out later that what you held as the truth for so long never actually happened?

If so, you are not alone.  In fact, this happens so often that it actually has a name...and a rather interesting theory behind why it happens in the first place.  It's called The Mandela Effect.

The term, Mandela Effect, was coined by paranormal researcher Fiona Broome around 2005.  It was borne out of a conversation held that year at Dragon Con--it seemed that there were an overwhelming amount of people who truly remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison.  They remember seeing it on television, reading about it in the papers and honestly and truly believed that Nelson Mandela was deceased at the time.  Obviously he wasn't (Mandela died in December 2013 a free man).  So why did so many people have memories of his death?

The theory Broome puts out is that there are different realities---parallel universes with different timelines and sequences of events.  What may have happened in another reality, dimension, universe or timeline may have inadvertently slipped through to our own, letting a few people catch a glimpse.  Buzz Feed has done one of the better articles on this phenomena that I've seen, and has compiled a lengthy list of examples. Do you remember the Berenstain Bears ever being referred to as the Berenstein Bears? Nope; never happened--they've always spelled it with an A.  Do you remember Tank Man of Tiananmen Square being run over?  Holy crap....I do.  I remember being shocked beyond belief as his body was struck and disappeared under the tank. I can still see his face.  He was so proud and brave and then he was gone, disappearing beneath the tank. I remember seeing news footage of this and having to turn it off because I couldn't deal with what I was seeing.

Luckily, what I was seeing never happened!  When I read the Buzz Feed article, I had to do extensive research to prove to myself that Tank Man did survive and apparently is still alive to this day, living anonymously.  So where did this false memory come from?  Did Tank Man really die in an alternate reality and somehow I managed to see it?

The Mandela Effect has been on my mind a lot these past few days because just like with the Tiananmen Square incident, I've become victim to my own false memories.  While not on such a grand scale as totally mis-remembering an internationally recognized historic event, twice in as many days I have just been completely wrong!  Both times have been about research for this blog.  Back a few weeks ago when I was studying monsters and hauntings associated with the Ohio River, I clearly remember seeing an article stating that the Native American word for the Ohio River translated to River of Good Spirits!  I thought that was so cool!  The Kanawha River's Shawnee name translates into River of Evil Spirits, and I thought that juxtaposition was really cool!  I thought discussing how the two rivers, one of evil spirits and one of good, meet and join at Point Pleasant in a symbolic battle of good and evil would make an excellent blog post.  However, when I went back to link my sources, I could not find mention of the Ohio River being called the River of Good Spirits ANYWHERE!  The article that I'm positive quoted that only stated that its name meant 'Good River.'

Obviously I am a human being and my memory is not infallible.  I was disappointed that my awesome idea for a blog couldn't be used and realized that I had probably just made a mistake...but the feeling that I had read those extra words and made those connections really bugged me.  However, I was able to put it behind me---until it happened again the next day.

I had been on the Skeptic's Dictionary website awhile back and SWORE that I had seen an entry for some type of Effect named after some guy.  This effect was a fancy term for SLI-der phenomena---you know, that thing where people tend to affect street lights and other electronics just by being near them?  I had always hated the term 'Street Light Interference' since it really wasn't that encompassing of the phenomena...and really, was sort of a misnomer anyway since its long been proven that the ballasts in those street lights do have a tendency to go on and off, whether an electrically-charged person is near them or not.  I was thrilled to have found this term, and planned to come back to it.  However, I forgot the name and no amount of searching would even give me a clue that this entry in the dictionary ever existed.  I went through the entire list over and over and couldn't find it. But how could I have been so mistaken?  I clearly remember reading the entry on that particular website and making a note to file it away to discuss later.  Am I losing my mind?  Perhaps the entry IS there and I missed it?  Maybe it was taken down?  Or, just maybe...it was never there to being with, at least...not in THIS REALITY!

So let me know if something like this has ever happened to you.  Hop on over to the Theresa's Haunted History Facebook page and share your story!

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