The Mandela Effect, simplified, is a phenomenon where a large number of people remember something that didn’t actually happen. You might be considering the last argument you had, where you and someone else remember who said what differently. The Mandela Effect, though, according to believers, is not a case of mistaken memory. Rather, it occurs when many people, often strangers, share the same vivid and specific memories of an event or phenomenon that never occurred.
The Mandela Effect is actually named after a popular example of the effect itself. Many people say they remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. In fact, they’re positive that they saw it on the news or learned about it in school. Yet Nelson Mandela didn’t actually die until 2013.
So what’s going on? While non-believers say these instances are cases of misinformation or false memories, others have different theories. Perhaps the most popular among “truthers” (as believers are called) is that of alternate or parallel universes. “Sliding” between these different realities has created memory discrepancies and variant historical timelines. Other theories include time-travel butterfly effects, or that we’ve been experiencing holodecks (false holograms or simulated worlds) that contain occasional glitches.
While alternate universes might sound like a crazy leap, some examples of the Mandela Effect are odd, to say the least. A single crackpot remembering something incorrectly is one thing, but a huge group of complete strangers inventing the same exact memory of something that supposedly never occurred is…well, unsettling.