As we have probably often experienced, memories are not always as exact as we remember them. They can be highly suggestible and influenced by others’ recollections, pictures, the passage of time, or how we might have perceived something to happen when it didn’t. The Mandela effect is one of these types of false memory that occurs when a group of people misremembers a person or historical event that is incorrect.
Though Sigmund Freud and Pierre Janet initially investigated false memories, the term Mandela effect is a more modern phrase coined by paranormal researcher Fiona Broome. She started a website documenting these memories after she had a recollection that South African President Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s and found others had this same memory. But Mandela served 27 years in prison, became the president of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and died in 2013.
Broome argues that these are not false memories since there are no reasonable explanations or causes why these memories have been mistaken and that these memories are of an event that didn’t occur in this reality and have some interaction with an alternate reality. There are theories in physics, such as string theory and the possibility of multiple universes, but scientists have been unable to test these theories.
Psychological researchers give potential causes of the Mandela effect. The first is false memories, or those recollections that are untrue or distorted about the actual remembered event. Another cause is confabulations or false memories spontaneously generated by a person to compensate for holes in a person’s memory.
Priming is another possible cause that describes a phenomenon where exposure to a certain stimulus influences a response to a subsequent stimulus without knowing the connection. A simple example is when the word “apple” is used. Some people think of the phone, and others think of the fruit.
With the influence of the internet, the Mandela effect concept has become increasingly popular because of how much information is disseminated that is true, untrue, or combines bits of true and untrue information, possibly leading to things that are remembered differently. It is still unclear of the exact cause for these memories. Here are some of the more well-known examples of the Mandela effect.
“Luke, I am your father.”
This example is one of the most popular and misquoted lines from Star Wars: Episode V — The Empire Strikes Back in 1980. People commonly repeat the phrase said to Luke by Darth Vader, voiced by James Earl Jones, as “Luke, I am your father,” but the actual line is “No, I am your father.”
“Beam me up, Scotty”
Though this phrase is connected with the Star Trek television show and movies, it has never been exactly quoted as this in any Star Trek episode or movies. Close variations have been said, such as “Beam me (or us) up, Mr. Scott,” “Scotty, beam me (or us) up,” or simply “Beam me (or us) up.”
King Henry VIII’s Turkey Leg
King Henry, who is often portrayed in his more portly later years, is commonly known for holding a turkey leg in a painting, but no painting of holding this food has ever existed.
In Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, the line we’ve probably all heard it “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” But the actual line begins with “Magic mirror on the wall.”
These famous children’s books have been read for ages, but many remember the name of these bears being written as “Berenstein” with an “e” in “stein” when it is, in reality, an “a” and “Berenstain Bears.”
Another one of these misplaced letters occurs with the hot dog and luncheon meat brand Oscar Mayer. Many think there is an “e” in “Meyer” when it is an “a” for “Mayer.”
The Monopoly Man and His Monocle
People sometimes insist that the Monopoly Man from the Monopoly game wears a monocle. He doesn’t, but Mr. Peanut does.
Life Is Like a Box of Chocolates
This one is subtle, but in Forrest Gump, Forrest, played by Tom Hanks, when he is sitting on a bench talking to a woman, he says what is an often misquoted line from the movie. People will say he said, “Life is like a box of chocolates,” but the character actually says, “Life was like a box of chocolates.”
Cheez-Itz, Febreeze, Sketchers, Looney Toons, Sex in the City? Nope.
Though it seems everyone pronounces it Cheez-Itz and swears there is a “z” at the end, it is simply Cheez-It. Febreeze is actually Febreze without that extra “e.” Sketchers doesn’t have a “t” and is Skechers. Looney Toons is really Looney Tunes. And a lot of people remember the show as Sex in the City when it is really Sex and the City.
Ed McMahon and Publishers Clearing House
Ed McMahon has been associated with doing commercials for Publishers Clearing House and showing up at people’s homes to give them money. But McMahon was never a spokesperson for Publishers Clearing House. He was a spokesperson for American Family Publishers. His picture was only on the envelopes, and he never showed up at people’s doors.
Fruit of the Loom Logo
People sometimes remember the logo for the clothing brand as having a pile of fruit with a cornucopia behind the pile, but this is not how it looks. There has never been a cornucopia there.
Theme Song for Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood
The “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” was thought to be the opening lyric for the show, but the actual words were “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” The filmmakers for the 2019 Tom Hanks film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood even used the incorrect version.
“Play it again, Sam.”
The famous line has often been repeated from the movie Casablanca, but unfortunately, this was never said. The actual line was, “Play it once, Sam. For old times’ sake.”
“We’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
This is another famous line that is often misquoted from the movie Jaws. Roy Sheider’s character, Chief Martin Brody, actually says, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”
The Sunglasses Dance Scene in Risky Business
People who saw Risky Business starring Tom Cruise and the iconic scene where Cruise dances to Bob Seger’s Old Time Rock And Roll sometimes remember Cruise wearing sunglasses in that scene while he dances. But Cruise never had sunglasses on during that scene, only socks and a shirt.
In Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal Lecter is quoted as saying, “Hello, Clarice,” in the creepy scene where he greets the FBI agent. But the only thing Lecter actually said was “Good morning.” This line was used in a trailer for the next movie, Hannibal, however, so this may be where this association came from.
Sinbad in Shazaam?
Some people remember the comedian Sinbad in a movie called Shazaam. They may be possibly mistaking Shaquille O’Neal when he starred in the movie Kazaam as a genie.
“Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.”
This line from The Wizard of Oz was never said just like this. Dorothy actually said, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
“Lucy, you have some ‘splaining to do!”
This line has been attributed to Ricky Ricardo in response to Lucy’s hijinks during the I Love Lucy show. But Ricardo never said it in this way in any episodes and only said, “Splain that if you can,” and “Lucy, ‘splain.”
“You like me, you really like me!”
This phrase was supposedly uttered by Sally Field when she won an Oscar for her performance in Places in the Heart in 1985, but what she really said was, “I can’t deny the fact that you like me, right now, you like me!”
The Ford Logo
The “F” in the Ford logo was thought to just be a regular “F” by many, but throughout the company’s history, the “F” has had a small loop on the end of the line going across it. Though the logo has appeared without the small loop, it was most likely done by other manufacturers without a connection to Ford. Ford says the logo with the loop on the “F” has been there since 1912.
“If you build it, they will come.”
This is yet another often misquoted famous movie line. This line came from Field of Dreams, starring Kevin Costner, but the actual line that Costner’s character is hearing says, “If you build it, he will come.”
When asked what color C-3PO is, most people remember him as being all gold, but one of C-3PO’s lower legs was silver. This has been attributed to the Mandela effect, but there may be some alternate reasons why people remember the Star Wars character C-3PO being all gold.
In the movie, C-3PO does have a lower silver leg and the rest of him is gold. Many who watched the VHS version of Star Wars insist that he is all gold or have seen other shows showing his leg as gold. The silver leg is subtle on many versions, and some have attributed it to the lighting during shooting that doesn’t allow it to stand out. In addition, many toys have depicted C-3PO as entirely gold color. This could have been because it was just easier to manufacture an entirely gold C-3PO than to have one of his legs silver.
Are these different memories by groups of people about certain things simply from some other influence heard or read by many, a part of the memory just filling in the holes, or some other scientific explanation yet to be uncovered?