The Mandela Effect Demystified

By Jonathan Roseland

I'm not a doctor, medical professional, or trained therapist. I'm a researcher and pragmatic biohacking practitioner exercising free speech to share evidence as I find it. I make no claims. Please practice skepticism and rational critical thinkingYou should consult a professional about any serious decisions that you might make about your health. Affiliate links in this article support Limitless Mindset - spend over $150 and you'll be eligible to join the Limitless Mindset Secret Society.

The Malevolent Conspiracy that Explains it...

Mandela Effect Demystified

This has got to be one of the most compelling and unsettling new conspiracy theories that have emerged recently. It goes like this...

Large groups of the population distinctly remember certain cultural memes one way, yet a simple Google search will show they are different. Significant proportions of the population have false memories about mainstream cultural memes.

Some examples...

  • Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s in prison instead of in 2013.

  • Darth Vader did NOT say "Luke, I am your father" he actually said, "No, I am your father."

  • Sex in the City is actually Sex and the City.

  • Life is like a box chocolates is actually Life was like a box chocolates.

  • The Berenstien Bears is actually The Berenstain Bears.

  • In the movie Field of DreamsIf you build it, they will come is actually If you build it, he will come.

  • Mirror, Mirror on the wall from Snow White is actually Magic mirror, on the wall.

  • Interview With a Vampire is actually Interview With the Vampire

  • From Sally Field(s)'s Oscar acceptance speech "you like me you really like me" was actually You like me, right now, you like me.

  • In the assassination of JFK, there were 4 people in the car, nope it was 6 actually.

And there's a bunch of other examples of the Mandela effects. I encourage you to go through them and I think you'll be surprised to find that you have some false memories of cultural memes, old movies, and brands. It's kind of creepy...

You're a Cognitive Miser

Do this math problem along with me...

A baseball bat and a ball cost $110 in total
The bat costs $100 more than the ball
How much does the ball cost?
Do the math in your head...
Most people will answer...
The ball must cost $10
But that's wrong...
The bat would cost $105
And the ball would cost $5

If you also got $10 that's because you're a cognitive miser and your brain would prefer to solve problems with language as opposed to math.

I had you do that arithmetic problem to illustrate how easy it is to hack the mind and our perception of reality. Your mind is less persnickety about the details than you would like to think...

Before you categorize me as a Mandela effect skeptic, read this in full as I have some rational explanations for the Mandela Effect and I do actually think there is a malevolent conspiracy behind the Mandela effect that nobody is talking about. And then I'll give you an experiment to do to empirically test the metaphysical theories to which a lot of people attribute the Mandela effect.
I shared these on the Mandela Effect sub-Reddit and the moderators deleted it, so they don't want to you know about what my research is saying.

On Confabulation

Memory confabulation

Human memory is infamously fallible and open to suggestions, so I don't place a lot of faith in my memories of old movies that I wasn't paying that much attention to anyway. For none of the examples of the Mandela effect do I have a vivid enough memory that I think I've moved to the wrong universe.
It would stand to reason that since we are all so susceptible to the same cognitive biases, it makes a lot of sense that large groups of people who saw the same movies, television, books, and products would have the same false memories. In fact, it's kind of what you would expect.
I had you do the math problem earlier with me to demonstrate how easy it is to convince you to think one thing when the reality is so obviously different.

Other Explanations...

A lot of Mandela effects can also be explained by...

  • Companies changing their branding and logos. Companies don't always roll out new logos with a bunch of pomp and circumstance. Sometimes they do it with no announcement whatsoever so that their customers will walk by their product on the shelf notice something is off and buy the product or contact them asking about the change, it's called a maven trap, you can look it up. It's a fairly common marketing practice.
  • Misquotations, which are super common; especially in the entertainment and the news business. There's this myth of mainstream media "fact-checkers"; that somebody is making sure that the people on TV are telling the truth and this is not the case. Anybody who's attained any level of notoriety has discovered that they get misquoted all the time.
  • Different versions of popular films, songs, or books. Movie studios will, for example, change the ending of a movie for different countries, because different endings will appeal more to the unique cultures of different countries. Novels will even be entitled differently in different English-speaking countries.
  • Certainly, some Mandela effects can be explained by Internet trolls using Photoshop and video editing software to create fake Mandela effects so that they can get 100,000 views on their Youtube video or whatever.

Baring a metaphysical explanation the Mandela Effect is a fascinating example of just how susceptible to illusions we are in groups. However, there are a couple that are pretty tough to explain, notably...
The Berenstien Bears - apparently even some old photos have surfaced of it spelled the old way that many remember it.
Luke, I am your father - Even James Earl Jones remembers saying it this way, and there are several interviews of him in the 90's repeating Luke, I am your father
Sally Field(s)'s Oscar acceptance speech - Her line became such a pervasive cultural meme, you see it repeated all the time in, for example, old Simpson's episodes

The two most popular conspiracy theories for this are that...
a) Around 2010 some of us moved to a parallel universe where facts and names of things are just a little different.
b) The simulation theory; that the universe is actually a computer simulation and that the programmer of the simulation is changing things - the Matrix is being hacked.
At the end of this article, I'll give you an empirical experiment to do to test these metaphysical explanations.

Google Keyword Trends

Mandela effect Google Trends

If the metaphysical theories are correct we would expect a statistical anomaly to show up in the Google search results; we would expect a divergence point. I didn't see that in Google Trends so my analysis is - I think - consistent with the theory that the Mandela Effect is just widespread fake memories. - Luke, I am your father has always been more popular - Berenstien bears has always been more popular - Sex and the city has always been more popular - Life is like a box chocolates has always been more popular - you like me, you really like me! Always been more popular - Sally Fields, Sally Field Her real name has always been more popular - If you build it, they will come has gotten more popular over time compared to the accurate quote

Google is just recording what people are searching for. Google also auto-corrects and auto-completes a lot of search keywords.

My Theories...

I have five alternative explanations for the Mandela effect, one of them is a pretty juicy conspiracy theory.

Lack of Critical Reasoning Skills

Despite having the cumulative knowledge of humanity available in our pockets, the average person has shockingly bad critical reasoning skills. Blame it on...

  • Bad parenting
  • Public school
  • Toxic food
  • Dumbed-down entertainment
  • Abrogated attention span thanks to Youtube
  • Or the fluoride in the water

...most people are just not that good at thinking.

We have culture and religion so that the not-so-smart amongst us can navigate life without having to cognitively wrestle with every decision. However, culture and religion have declined deleteriously and as a result, I think a lot of people are making decisions that they are not really qualified to make.

When a person who lacks critical reasoning skills experiences the Mandela effect they don't think...

Well, human memory is notoriously fallible, so much so that in a court of law DNA or other evidence always outweighs what people's memories are of an event. I've been wrong before and I must just be remembering things wrong.

No, they think...

It's those bastards at CERN! They're changing reality!

Fake News

Around 2010 we were reaching a tipping point in social media adoption and the long tail of online content so false memes were spread faster than ever. Around the turn of the decade we also saw the rise of blogging and journalism got a lot sloppier; a lot more "journalists" started doing a lot less fact-checking.
The Mandela Effect is maybe a byproduct of "Fake News". Read these books if you want to better understand this...
The Long Tail by Chris Anderson
Trust me, I'm Lying by Ryan Holiday

Berenstien to Berenstain

One of the more convincing examples of the Mandela effect is the name of these popular children's books.
Berenstien is a distinctly Jewish Germanic-sounding name like Einstien or Weinstien, stien means rock in German. I think they may have put out some books under the name Berenstien and then they thought...

Hey, I bet we can sell more books in America if we use a more Anglo-sounding name!

Back in the 1970s or '80s, America wasn't such a multicultural place, there was still some subtle racism against Germans and Jews. Back before the Internet, you could just change something like the last name on your brand without fear that a bunch of people eating Cheetos are going to get together and come up with a crazy conspiracy theory about it.

The Programmer is Shit Testing us

Pickup artists talk about shit testing or congruence testing, this is when a pickup artist is trying to seduce a woman and she starts being challenging, illogical, and a little dramatic. Anyone who has had much experience seducing women knows that if you stay congruent with your actions and intentions, despite her tests, you stand a much better chance of seducing her, consensually of course.
Shit tests are consistently over silly, petty, superficial things. Many of the Mandela effects are pretty silly and superficial.
If Elon Musk is right and we live in a simulated universe perhaps The Programmer is shit testing us with these Mandela effects. The correct response to such a test is to just keep doing what you are doing, not take it so seriously.

Hollywood/CIA Propaganda Experiments

What makes the Mandela Effect as a conspiracy theory so viral and compelling is that there's a malevolence implied, somebody is changing our history or tricking us!
I don't think that all of the Mandela effects can be explained away by people simply remembering wrong; by memory confabulation. Even James Earl Jones thought he said Luke I am your father.

I do think there is something of a malevolent conspiracy at play behind the Mandela effect, and that would be the Hollywood propaganda machine.
Many of the Mandela effects involve cultural memes from the 1980s. Let's think about what was going on in the 1980s; around the world, many communist regimes were on the verge of collapse which the US government and the CIA were working covertly to bring about. In the 1950s and the 1960s communist dictators had the good sense to not allow western or American entertainment into their countries but by the 1980s American movies, books, and blue jeans could be found in Moscow, Bucharest, and Beijing.
It would be an understatement to say that the CIA has been in bed with Hollywood for a long time, using movies and entertainment as propaganda vehicles both in the United States and abroad.
I find it highly likely that the CIA using Hollywood pop culture as a tool for Inception has, for seditious propaganda purposes or just as a mean-spirited joke on middle America, embedded false memories in many of our minds.

Hollywood is a weird place, Hollywood is in the business of trying to subvert and replace true culture with global cultural marxism. That's not a conspiracy theory, that's conspiracy fact!
Hollywood has for a long time been in the business of undermining Western culture; promoting cultural Marxism.
I encourage you to watch some of the documentaries about the dark sides of Hollywood...
The pedophilia
The communism
The warmongering and propagandizing
The greed and backstabbing
The censorship of dissenting opinions
The cult of Scientology
The general degeneracy

Whether you're in the United States, South America, Asia, Europe like me, or where ever Hollywood is trying to bastardize, dumb down, debase, and ultimately replace your culture.

  • NO, I don't think this is an intentionally evil conspiracy
  • I don't think that there's a bunch of old guys in a conference room somewhere smoking cigars trying to come up with evil plans to enslave humanity.
  • I don't think that the Jews are out to get us all.

But I do believe in incentives. Humans respond much more consistently to incentives than they do to arguments, principles, ideology, or morals. There exist huge incentives for Hollywood to produce entertainment that dumbs us down into acquiescent consumers and that's what we see them doing.
I don't have direct evidence tying the CIA and Hollywood propaganda to the Mandela effect just like people don't have direct evidence connecting the Mandela effect to CERN but based upon what we do know from history it's a whole lot more reasonable to blame the CIA and Hollywood than CERN.
I mention it because this is a malevolent conspiracy that is real which you can actually do something about! You can boycott Hollywood's propagandizing entertainment.

  • Instead of renting a movie go hang out with friends or family.
  • Instead of streaming Hollywood movies and shows on Netflix or Hulu, study something on
  • Instead of going to the cinema and spending $11 on popcorn go salsa dancing!

If you want to watch Hollywood movies or shows, torrent them. There's an app I recommend called Graboid which gives you, I think, unlimited downloads of the latest movies and TV for $20 monthly; so like once a year I will pay $20 and then I'll download a handful of series of shows that I'd like to watch and the few good movies that have come out recently work watching. And that's my Hollywood entertainment budget for the whole year!

Speaking of Hollywood, they made a not-awful movie about the Mandela Effect, it's entertaining and worth a watch with friends and family...

Personal Mandela Effect(s)?

I said I'd give you an experiment to do to test the metaphysical explanations for the Mandela Effect, which are...
We've moved to an alternate reality
The simulation is being hacked

If either were correct we would expect some more personal changes that would be equally observable. The Mandela effect pretty randomly seems to affect old movies, songs, books, and brand logos; if you've been alive for at least a couple of decades it would have randomly affected your life also. Right?

Your mom's name would change (better call her and double-check!)
Your childhood address would change.
Your dog would come back to life.
Your aunt doesn't die of cancer but in a car crash.
Your dad's hair color would change.
The company you work for would change its logo without telling anyone.

We would expect there to be consistency between the people reporting global Mandela effects and personal Mandela effects.

How exactly would you test for personal Mandela effects?
Well, you could call family or old friends and ask them about things that happened decades ago and see if there are any glaring inconsistencies that could be proven or disproven one way or another.
However, that's not a great way to verify personal Mandela effects.
What I see as the best way to test for personal Mandela effects is to look through your old photos with an old friend or family member;
Have your friend start to describe the photos to you...
This photo is of you and your brothers in the snow in front of grandpa's house...
Then you will have to fill in some details about what's in the photo...
I'm wearing that big blue jacket, Chris is holding a stick and Grandpa's ugly truck is in the background.
Then your friend will show you the photo, obviously, you're not going to remember all your photos but if you are indeed in an alternate universe or if the programmer has hacked the simulation there should be some differences between your episodic memories and the photos that are as conspicuous as Luke I am your father becoming No I am your father. You'd also expect things like names of places and address to change. It should be as (if not quite a bit more) conspicuous and unsettling as the pop culture Mandela effects are.

How to Improve Memory

So you might be thinking... 

Wow, it's about a bit alarming just how fallible long-term human memory is! Is there a legitimate way to improve memory? I've seen all these supplements and little games but I'm skeptical that they actually work...

There's a lot of hype and deceptive marketing around improving memory, a lot of those things you see advertised will do nothing for you, but there are four tools I'll direct your attention to that are pretty proven to improve memory.

Panax Ginseng and Ginkgo Biloba

These historical herbs together have an exponential effect on alertness and memory. From a Bulgarian study:

The favorable effects on learning and memory of the combination of [Panax Ginseng] plus [Ginkgo Biloba] and the other pharmacological activities inherent in the extracts characterize this combination, offered as Gincosan as a particularly promising drug in geriatric practice.

It's such a well-known combination that you can almost certainly walk into any pharmacy and purchase a bottle that combines the two. However, when dealing with herbs quality is really important, what you want to do is get the Panax Ginseng and the Ginkgo separately from high-quality organic sources:

It will cost a little more but it will improve your memory.

Also, herbs have better absorption and a more noticeable effect when you consume them as a tea. You can save some money by getting these herbs powdered and just adding them to hot water, the taste is quite pleasant actually.
You'll need to use these herbs for between several weeks to several months to benefit your memory.

Memory Association

The Greek writer, librarian, and historical literary icon Callimachus is known for saying...

A big book is a big problem!

...Because the books of the time were very awkward to handle scrolls of paper. Before smartphones, computers and notepads made recording and transporting information so convenient attorneys, engineers, and other professionals used the system of memory association to accurately remember mission-critical information on the go. They used...

  • Memory palace
  • Number visualization
  • Pegging
  • Object sequence transformation
  • Absurd association

Now people use memory systems for rapid language learning or high leverage skill set acquisition. You can download a 3-hour memory association course here on, they do improve your memory and creativity.

Dual N-Back

This brain game is the one brain-training task that has been demonstrated to have transfer effects to general intelligence, so as opposed to just training you to be better at the game itself, it has transfer effects to your abilities outside of the game.
Dual N-Back won't do much for your long-term memory but it increases the "RAM" of your conscious mind which improves your short-term memory and attentional control noticeably after about 20 training sessions. Probably a lot of people's susceptibility to the Mandela Effect is because they aren't (or weren't) really paying attention to what was in front of them. Read what I learned from 100 Days of Dual N-Back Training.


The herbal combination of Ginseng and Ginkgo that I mentioned is something that will improve your memory going forward but you might wonder if there's a drug that will improve your access to the memories that you already have; that would work like NZT-48 from the movie Limitless where he can remember everything he's ever read. Well, Piracetam doesn't work exactly like that but many people report that after using it daily for 10-14 days accessing their...
Semantic memory of facts and information
Episodic memory of personal memories and experiences much more like doing a Google search than looking for a book in a library.

Piracetam is a very safe anti-aging drug that has been the subject of over 600 human studies, it's very affordable but there's something of a protocol that you want to follow if you're going to use it, to optimize its effects. I'll encourage you to check out the Piracetam Protocol before you order or consume this quintessential smart drug.

Change My Mind

Please leave a detailed comment here if you do the test I described for personal Mandela Effects and discover that things from your past have been changed. That would be freaky and would make me reconsider my skepticism.
However, I suspect you won't find many because the Mandela effect works just the way you would expect it to if it were just mass false memories.

I produced this article into a cinematic conspiracy theory style documentary, give it a watch and a share... 


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