Vince Shuta: Engineer, Writer and Raconteur
The Mandela Effect and The Google Effect: Are They Synergistic?
There are two effects that are popular discussion points on the internet right now, and I think may be related. And as I present this theory, let me just say that I'm not trying to debunk any other theories as to why they may be happening. As a writer of science fiction, I find some of the theories very compelling. Whether or not they exist in our world, I am very tempted to include them in one of mine. With this article I just want to add to the discussion.
That may seem like an odd way to start presenting a theory, but the first effect I'm going to describe is an emotionally charged subject for many of those who experience it. I want to make sure that my theory does not sound dismissive of anyone's experiences or their interpretation of those experiences.
This first effect is called “The Mandela Effect,” and there is a good chance you've felt this firsthand. It is when you have a very detailed and clear memory that doesn't match up with reality, but does match up with the memories of others.
It is so named because there are a large group of people who remember Nelson Mandela's funeral. Not the one in 2013, but another funeral after he died in prison in the 80's. This is more than a case of “wasn't he dead already?” They remember seeing the funeral in detail, having teachers discuss the death in class, etc.
There are many celebrity deaths are considered to be part of this effect, as well as many other things: movie scenes, corporate logos, and song lyrics among them. Pretty much anything that a group of people can agree matches their memories but not reality.
More personal memories may be also be attributed to the causes of the effect, but of course it's hard for the masses to share a personal memory. Unless half your family remembers your great uncle Gene as a redhead, when every picture of him shows him as blonde, it's hard to identify a false memory as a Mandela effect.
There are many websites that detail these, and I've experienced some of them—though not the namesake effect. I don't have any clear memories of Mandela dying in prison. I also haven't experienced in an noticeable fashion what seems to be the second most popular memory—the Berenstain Bears actually being spelled Berenstein or even Bernstein.
Here are some of the ones I have experienced:
1.) “It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” The first line of the opening theme of Mr. Roger's neighborhood is one many of us know and love. It get's quoted all the time. “How are things going, Dave?” “Oh it's a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Ha, ha!” We know it like the back of our hands.
Except for the small problem that this is not the line from the song. The song actually goes “It's a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” A small change to be sure, but when someone points it out it can be jarring.
2) The A-Team Van: Many people remember the hero vehicle from the '80's TV show “The A-Team” as being black with a red stripe. In reality above the red stripe it's gray. I first noticed this when I saw a tribute van someone had built and thought, “Well that's wrong. I wonder why he painted the top gray?” Thankfully I didn't get to ask him about it, because it was my memory that was incorrect.
3) “Life is like a box of chocolates.” Actually, Forest said “Momma always said, 'Life WAS like a box of chocolates.'” Now Sally Field did say “Life is like a box of chocolates” in the present tense in the movie “Forest Gump,” but not Forest. (Speaking of Sally, one of the Mandella effects relates to her name—do you remember her as Field or Fields?)
4) “You like me...” Speaking of Sally Field, in 1985 she made one of the most memorable oscar speeches in history. The line “You like me! You really like me!” has been quoted all over the place. Only problem is, she actually said “You like me! Right now, you like me!”
Come to think of it, that's three separate ones related to Sally Field(s).
5) “The Thinker:” Picture Rodin's “The Thinker.” If you don't know what I'm talking about, Google it. Many people—myself included—remember this statute with his chin resting on a closed fist, or his forehead resting on the closed fist. The actual statue has chin resting on the back of an open palm, that just looks strange.
There are many more. (Did the lion really lie down with the lamb in Isaiah 11:6, or has it always read: "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.” )
There are many theories about why this happens. You'll notice many of these things are minor details. It's easy to incorrectly remember this vs that, or what Tom Hanks said with a southern drawl. “Life 's like a box of chocolates.” Might be pretty close to what you hear if you're not paying attention. How different is black from gray on an old TV, especially when the toy manufactures found it easier to make the van all black? Was Sally repeatedly misquoted in a way that was more fun in a time when we couldn't re-watch the scene over and over on the internet? Was that then the memory that stuck?
Speaking of re-watching it over and over on the internet, let us now consider the Google effect.
The Google effect is one I know I've experienced. It's when things which you can readily find on the internet become harder to remember. For instance, I shouldn't have to look up that Alex Karras played Mongo in Blazing Saddles. I'm too big a fan of both the movie and football. But the brain is smart enough to move memories that you don't need immediately to the back of the attic. You can have a harder time remembering things that you know you can look up.
This was true in the age of books, but heading to the library took effort. According to the Google effect theory, in the new age of the internet, our brain is even more liberal with what it puts into deep archive—or forgets altogether.
I think Facebook really messes us up, because now we have a repository of people's names that our brain can rely on. Doesn't help you if you meet them in the store though, does it?
Given that the Google effect is a real thing, is it any surprise that the Mandela effect would start to become more noticeable at the same time? I'm not saying it created the Mandela effect, but could it be enhancing the effect?
Not only are we more prone to forget trivia, but we now have a quick way to look it up. Reading this article, if you had to go to the library to double check me on the hand in Rodin's “The Thinker” instead of hitting Google, would you have gone through the effort or would you have taken my word for it? (Kudos to you if you said yes.)
I'm not discounting the other explanations for the Mandela effect. As far as the mass mind control theories are concerned, I have a harder time seeing the mechanism—though I admit we've got an awful lot of waves in the air. It might be possibly for a class 2 alien race, but I'm not sure about class 1. (And we're not even class 1 yet.) The brain is a terribly complicated thing and I don't think we have that good a grasp on it to pull off detailed mind control like that. But I'm not saying it's impossible.
I think the so called “Slider” theory is more believable. If you consider quantum theory—especially the multiverse interpretation of quantum theory—then there could be parallel universes which interfere with each other. (The Copenhagen interpretation gets you to the same place, but it's harder to conceptualize.) For your homework, look up the double-slit experiment if you want to question what reality is anyway. The concept that there are real world “sliders” that move between universes—even if it is only a little bit—isn't completely outside the realm of possibility.
I do think that if our own universe had changed, the memories would change with it, as the entire time-stream would have been changed. It has to be a “sliding” effect—moving from one reality to the other—to get the conflicting memories.
However, I think it might be more likely that we simply live in an age where our brains our bombarded with information, and sometimes we're simply going to be wrong. Watching Mandela's funeral in 2013 may more than enough food for our imaginations to generate a detailed false memory—especially if you have a good imagination.
As for the video where the scientists at CERN seem to drop obscure hints that they saved Mandela, all I'm going to say is I know a lot of engineers. A good percentage of us, if told that people believed we were changing the time-stream, would run with that. They would troll you to no end, and try to build up the story.
Of course, if they actually did change the time-stream, they're going to want you to know that too.
Thus the discussion will continue. Hopefully I've added to it in a positive way—especially if you're one of the people who's really disturbed by the Mandela effect, and feel your world is falling apart. It might just be that your brain is optimizing itself so that you can deal with what's really important in your life, while it adapts to the tools that have been introduced in the last few decades.
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