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The Mandela Effect


It is time to discuss this issue of the Mandela Effect.  The Mandela Effect is a hypothesis put forth by writer and paranormal consultant Fiona Broome, based upon her recollection that Nelson Mandela had died in prison, long before he became the leader of South Africa.  From this conviction, she has reasoned that paranormal activities are at work, changing reality.  Recently, the Mandela Effect has gained further allegiance when it became associated with CERN, the Hadron Super-Collider located in Switzerland, and people have linked it to scripture, claiming a supernatural modification taking place in the text found in Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:6, which people recall saying the lion shall lie down with the lamb. 

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 11:6

The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.

Let’s take a look at the transliterated Hebrew:

V’gur zehabe im kebes v’namer im gedi y’rabats v’egel v’kifer v’miriy yachadi v’nahar qatan nahag.

And dwell a wolf with a lamb, and a leopard with a kid lie down, and a calf and a young lion, and the fatling together, and a boy young leads away.

There is a second witness within the same cepher:

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 65:25

The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the bullock: and dust shall be the serpent's meat. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain, says YAHUAH.

Typically, when someone is thinking of the “lion and the lamb,” Isaiah 11:6 comes to mind, primarily because it is often misquoted, “And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together.”  There are no biblical passages that refer to the lamb and the lion lying down together. That is a very commonly misquoted statement.

However, the Mandela Effect as postulated by Fiona Broome, appears to be an idea based upon her own faulty recollection.  Other discussions of this effect have similar claims, and hearken back to the reader, or in the case of the videos on the subject, the viewer, of similar recollections, such as Berenstein Bears versus Berenstain Bears, and other remarkable things which have supposedly transformed such as the change in the logo of a popular brand.  Broome makes the claim that these changes were the result of paranormal sources, while others are now claiming that CERN – the Hadron Supercollider – is somehow responsible for changing the text of every single bible (and other collections of scripture) on earth supernaturally, rendering verses that “we all remember” to something else.

First of all, the claim that we all remember begs the question, what is it that we all remember?  Do we remember reading the scripture itself? Or do we remember some famous pastor giving a popular sermon which misquoted the scripture?  Consider in your own mind when you actually read Isaiah for the first time. 

So, this claim of the Mandela Effect – literally, “I seem to remember him being dead in prison, and I am shocked to learn he is still living” – requires more than just “I seem to remember.” 

Devariym (Deuteronomy) 19:15

One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sins: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Mattithyahu (Mattew) 18:16

But if he will not hear you, then take with you one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.

Qorintiym Sheniy (2 Corinthians) 13:1

This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.

A difficulty arises, however, when two or three people have a false memory or false recollection. According to Jason Arndt in his peer-reviewed and published study False Recollection: Empirical Findings and Their Theoretical Implications, “human memory is subject to a multitude of errors, including, but not limited to, misattributions of familiarity, confusions between reality and imagination, susceptibility to misinformation, eyewitness identification errors, and beliefs that we have encountered events that were never experienced.”[1]

Arndt goes on to say that “memory processes that produce a strong sense of familiarity, such as unstudied test items that resemble a strong gist memory trace, can cause people to erroneously believe that they recollect false memories (referred to as phantom recollection). Similarly, theories of recollection phenomenology that are based in signal-detection theory suggest that strong familiarity can underlie the belief one can recollect a previous occurrence.  Thus, although people’s subjective experience suggests they can recollect (1) misinformation as apart of an event they witnessed, (2) performing actions they only imagined, and (3) events that never occurred, those subjective experiences can be explained using only familiarity-based mechanisms.  While familiarity-based mechanisms can account for people’s subjective experience of false recollection, an alternative explanation for why people find some memory errors highly convincing is that these memory errors are supported by recollection-based processes. This general claim argues that events that were not experienced can, in some cases, produce retrieval of the encoding context of an event that was actually experienced, which is mistakenly used to validate a person’s false memory experience.”[2]

In another empirical study, a variation of Deese's (1959, Journal of Experimental Psychology, 58, 17-22) list-learning paradigm, 32 first-graders, 32 younger adults, and 24 older adults self-generated words that were semantically related to study items prior to recall. This manipulation increased false recollection for children and older adults, but not for younger adults. These data suggest that source-monitoring deficits underlie children's and older adults' illusory memories within the list-learning format. The differential roles played by source monitoring versus declarative memory in the production of false memories are discussed from a life span developmental perspective.[3]

Another study which looked at photographs as a constituent part of everyday memory activity for older adults found that “reviewing photographs of events seen earlier in a videotape increases the likelihood that both older and younger adults remember specific details from the reviewed event (W. Koutstaal, D. L. Schacter, M. K. Johnson, K. E. Angell, & M. S. Gross, 1997)”. The authors reported that in two experiments, photo review produced false recollection in elderly adults: “After reviewing photos of events that had not been shown earlier in a videotape, older but not younger adults were later more likely to ‘remember’ that those events had been shown in the videotape. False recollection induced by photo review appears to reflect an age-related deficit in source-monitoring abilities.[4]

In conclusion, the claim “I seem to remember” followed by “don’t you remember as well?” are insufficient to warrant a conclusion that scripture in every bible (such as my photocopy of an original 1560 Geneva Bible which says wolf and not lion) has been supernaturally altered by CERN or some other paranormal event.  Far more likely is the possibility of false recollection. 

It is my ultimate conclusion that the Mandela Effect is of no effect. 


[1] False Recollection: Empirical Findings and Their Theoretical Implications, Jason Arndt, from The Psychology of Learning and Motivation, Edited by Brian Ross, Elservier Academic Press, San Diego, California, 2012, pg. 82

[2] Arndt, op. cit, pg. 84.

[3] Source Monitoring and False Recollection: A Life Span Developmental Perspective, John M. Rybash, Kara L. Hrubi-Bopp, Published online: 11 Nov 2010; http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/036107300243696.

[4] False recollection induced by photographs: A comparison of older and younger adults. Schacter, Daniel L.; Koutstaal, Wilma; Johnson, Marcia K.; Gross, Mara S.; Angell, Kathryn E. Psychology and Aging, Vol 12(2), Jun 1997, 203-215.

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