SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – When a large number of people misremember something the same way, psychologists call this unique phenomena “collective false memories,” but it is also known as the Mandela Effect.
The Mandela Effect refers to a large number of people remembering something differently than how it occurred. The term was coined by paranormal researcher, Fiona Broome. In 2009, Broome attended a conference where she and other attendees shared the same false memory of Nelson Mandela dying while in prison in the ‘80s. Nelson Mandela, who served as president of South Africa, did not die until 2013.
Psychology research assistant, Alexis Torres, said misremembering does not only happen amongst historical figures.
“An example of the Mandela Effect is the Monopoly Man having a monocle, and that has never been the case, but it makes sense because we’ve seen other characters like that like Mr. Peanut,” Torres said.
Syracuse University student Anne Hornstein experienced the Mandela Effect herself, as she watched a compilation video of common Mandela Effect examples.
“Was? That’s crazy,”Hornstein said , as the ‘90s film, Forrest Gump, came across the screen debunking her memory of the famous line, “life is like a box of chocolates.” The line actually revealed itself to be, “life was like a box of chocolates.”
For the Star Wars movie fans, Darth Vader’s most famous line, “ Luke, Am I your Father” is actually, “No, I am your father.”
Torres stated that there are a number of theories on why this effect happens.
“From a theoretical standpoint, all of the fine details are harder to access over time and kind of degrade more easily. Whereas you have the gist of what happens and that’s more accessible for a longer period of time,” Torres said.
Hornstein stated that even the popular children’s books entitled Berenstain Bears, confused her because she remembered it as “Bernstein Bears,” similar to her own last name.
“It’s weird we’ve all seen these things too, we’ve seen these movies and shows and they’re like a part of our culture, so to think that we’ve been misinterpreting it the entire time is really weird,” Hornstein said.
There are still many unanswered questions when it comes to this phenomena, one thing that does seem certain, is that memories are not as reliable as they seem.