The Misinformation Effect VS The Mandela Effect
Most paranormal investigators will tell you that they started with an interest in the paranormal after having some sort of life changing experience when they were younger. While I did not start when I was younger, I have myself had a handful of paranormal experiences that I couldn't explain. I remember them like they were yesterday, or do I? Do you ever sit around with a bunch of friends and talk about some sort of funny event or memorable moment from your past? Do you all have different recollections of what has happened? Maybe you remember an event happening a certain way and once you research into it, you find out there are some subtle differences. Have you ever told someone a story and then later down the track they tell you the story claiming it happened to them and they truly believe it happened to them? This is all a part of the misinformation effect.
The Misinformation Effect experiment
At her 44th birthday party, psychologist Elizabeth Loftus had discussion with her uncle about the death of her mother. He told Elizabeth that it was her that had found her mother drowned in a swimming pool. She didn't really remember much about the incident, however over the next few days, all of the memories came flooding back. However she was about to learn that the memories that came back to her, were actually not real. She later discovered that it was her Aunt that had discovered her mother's body. A simple comment from her Uncle on an event she had little recollection of triggered these false memories. When you think about it, it is another form of how powerful the power of suggestion can really be. Following on from this she has done extensive studies on memories and written many publications.
Elizabeth is most well known for her experiment called 'The misinformation effect'. This experiment set out to prove that the type of questions a person is asked after an incident could actually influence the way they remember the details of the event. In this experiment, participants were shown the footage of a car collision. The subjects were then asked a series of questions similar to the type of questions you would be asked by an emergency services worker after being in an accident. One of the key questions asked was 'How fast were the cars going when they hit each other?'. Some of the participants were asked this question, while other participants were asked 'How fast were the cars going when they smashed into each other?'. A very subtle difference but it is making a subtle suggestion to your brain without you knowing it. From the study, the researchers found that by changing the word hit with the word smash, the participants remembered the footage they had seen differently. The were questioned again a week after being shown the footage. They were asked 'Did you see broken glass?". Some of the participants answered 'no', however most of the people who had been fed the 'smashed' word a week ago seemed to be more inclined to answer 'yes' even though there was no broken glass in the footage they had been shown. The results proved that the power of suggestion and subtle hints through wording changed the way a person remembered an event. To a lot of people, this makes perfect sense.
The Mandela Effect
BUT .... In 2011, there was an internet sensation (as there always is around certain theories) called 'The Mandela Effect'. Again it is a simple case of 'The misinformation effect', however the people involved had a very different theory. A paranormal enthusiast by the name of Fiona Broome thought that she remembered seeing news coverage of Nelson Mandela's death in the media back in the 1980's. Sharing her thoughts online, a lot of people agreed with her and seemingly had the same memory. There was only one problem with this claim. He was still very much alive at this time and did not pass away until 2013. When this was brought to her attention, the obvious explanation of 'The misinformation effect' was not enough. Her theory was that because others remember the events the same way she did or as a 'shared memory' that it must be the result of a parallel universes. For some this is not so far fetched and it is something we all do wonder about. So what is their proof? A bunch of mind blowing Photoshop comparisons of pop culture references that we remember one way, but it is actually different to what we remember. Here are some examples:
The biggest proof for Mandela Effect supporters is the whole Darth Vader saga. I am not a Star Wars fan, but even I know the whole 'Luke, I am your father' line. But wait, that is not what actually happened in the movie! WHAT?? Darth Vader actually says 'No, I am your father'.
Here are some more mind blowing things that didn't actually happen thus proving that we remember them from a different universe:
Forrest Gump famously said ' Life IS like a box of chocolates ...' except he actually said 'Life WAS like a box of chocolates'!
My favorite TV show is actually called 'Sex AND the City' not 'Sex IN the City'. Are we sure about this one? I mean I know this show pretty well, and it has to be 'Sex in the city'.
There was no 90's movie where Sinbad played a Genie. I am pretty sure this is conspiracy theory because I am 99.9% sure there was, there just isn't any proof of it anywhere. Why would my brain remember this if it wasn't true? Sinbad never made any good movies including the genie movie that never existed. It is thought that people are confusing this with the Shaq movie Kazaam.
Mirror Mirror on the wall, I did this many times as a kid, except that is not what the Queen actually said. It is 'Magic Mirror on the wall'. Maybe that is why my mirror never spoke to back to me, I was doing it wrong!
Hannabel Lecter never said 'Hello Clarice'. Watch the movie. Seriously it's not in there, it's just in every parody afterwards.
Interview with A Vampire is actually called Interview with THE Vampire
Ever sing 'We are the Champions .......... of the world!'. Yeh, listen to it again and you will find 'of the world is missing! BAM!
ET really said Home Phone not Phone Home!
Fruit Loops are actually spelt Froot Loops
I could quite literally do this all night because there are so many things out there, it is easy to see why this has become an internet sensation. Do I believe that I am remembering something from a different universe? No I think it is that pesky brain of mine.
Why does this happen?
There are a few different theories as to why we remember things differently. Apart from the possibility of a parallel universe, it is thought that our memory blends together the actual event and any other information about the event be it true or false. Our brain puts it all together and then remembers a version containing both pieces of information. It is even possibly if the suggestion is strong enough that the false information can completely override the actual event in our memory. From research it is even said that because the misinformation occurs more recently than the actual event, that is what we tend to actually remember. The biggest influences causing this misinformation to happen depend on the amount of time this misinformation is presented since the event, things like news reports, reading false information online would be a massive one (remember just because it is on Facebook or Google doesn't make it true - especially if it is Wikipedia), and the biggest one is probably talking to other people involved in the event. They are probably the biggest influencers here and again that power of suggestion is very very strong. Sadly, a lot of people are easily tricked or manipulated - depending on which way you want to look at it.
Now that our mind is blown, where do we go from here?
On a serious level we are very aware that our brains are extremely good at playing tricks on us. Visual and auditory pareidolia are just some of the things the brain can play on for paranormal investigators which I have explored in this very blog. Look at the Ganzfield experiment. We know that sensory deprivation is used essentially as a brain hack, however some believe it opens us up to a paranormal experience. We know that there is no science that can prove our paranormal experiences, and if anything science can essentially debunk them. Effectively the misinformation effect and false memories can put into question a lot of our childhood experiences. Do we want to debunk those experiences? If we debunk those experiences, would we continue investigating? We know our brain can play tricks on us and while some of the world may think we are delusional, some of us continue the search for answers because of the one thing we always rely on. Our gut. When a tough decision is presented and sometimes we are torn between our heart or our head, what is the number one piece of advice you give to someone? Go with your gut. I've said it many times, we are not going to prove anything to anyone and if that is what you are trying to do, you are probably in the wrong business. You should be searching for your own answers.
I personally find this study quite fascinating and I do challenge you to go back to some experiences you had as a child and see if they actually happened the way you remembered them. You never know, you may end up with more questions than answers and that is what our investigators love!
On a fun note, I want to know what crazy 'Mandela effect' memories you have found out. What blew your mind? Tell me in the comments below!
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