Mandela Effect

So we learned the show was called Sex and the City, not sex IN the city. The and/in confusion is an oft-cited example of the Mandela effect, in which people have a sort of collective false memory about some past event—such as, for example, the vast numbers of people who remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. Examples of these conflicting memories about: was it the Berenstein Bears or the Berenstain Bears? Fruit Loops or Froot Loops? Oscar Mayer or Oscar Meyer? Was there a movie with Sinbad as a genie called Shazam, which was distinct from a movie with Shaq as a genie called Kazaam? Did the Monopoly guy have a monocle?

There’s an entire internet subculture devoted to it, and the theory du jour is that these collective eidolons happen because timelines from different dimensions/universes intersect and merge. So you might have grown up on a timeline where it was the berenstAin bears, but that has now merged with the timeline where it was berenstEin bears, making you feel like a lunatic for remembering something that didn’t exist.

The internet connects us all: vast stockpiles of information at our fingertips, instant communication, that app that identifies bird songs. It also manages an alchemical transmutation of a mundane realization—”Weird, I thought it was the berenstAin bears. Huh”—into a cosmic philosophy of omni-universal mindfucks (everyone trust me on this, I’m a brain scientist: memory is fallible and reconstructive. Don’t trust it as far as you can throw it). Luckily no such confusion exists about my thriving segway tours business:


appeared in: processed trivia roundup