Is a Parallel Universe Changing Our Reality?
Sometimes referred to as the Berenstain Bears Conspiracy, the Mandela Effect is a phenomenon in which people report having the same false memories, leading to a belief that something is changing reality.
We all experience life through our own subjective lenses, interpreting day-to-day happenings differently than everyone else. This contributes to individuality, free will, and the ability to think for ourselves. But of course, the way that we witness our world often results in lapses of memory or perception. We sometimes seem to remember events happening differently than others or our perception of time is skewed.
And individual memory lapses are easily written off when everyone else’s memory says otherwise. But how does one explain false memories that are held by a significantly large portion of the population?
Confabulation is the psychiatric term for replacing a gap in your memory with a falsification. So, what about mass confabulation? Well, that’s become a conspiracy of sorts, referred to as The Mandela Effect.
Examples of The Mandela Effect
The Mandela Effect was given its name by Fiona Broome, who seemed to remember hearing about the death of Nelson Mandela on the news while he was imprisoned in the 1980s. In “reality,” Mandela survived until late 2013 and did not even become president of South Africa until 1994. But as it turned out, her memory was shared by a deluge of similarly convinced people, resulting in many other instances in which large swaths of the population have claimed to experience the same confabulated memories.
Could this be the result of one person incorrectly remembering a historical event or cultural icon propagating their misinterpretation to be inaccurately remembered by the masses? Or could it be evidence of a multiverse in which waves of events from a parallel universe have washed over into ours, creating subtle nuances in the time-space continuum, where there was once a children’s book called the Berenstein Bears, instead of the Berenstain Bears? It’s more interesting to explore the latter.
While the Berenstain Bears is ostensibly a mundane and inconsequential example of the Mandela Effect, there are other instances that are so uncanny, they’re hard to ignore. For example, when Darth Vader reveals his paternalistic relationship to Luke in Star Wars, most remember him saying, “Luke, I am your father.” In ‘reality,’ he says, “No, I am your father.” While an intransigent Star Wars fan might scoff at someone who misquotes such an important scene, it can’t be ignored that most people remember it in the former. Even James Earl Jones, who voiced Darth Vader, remembers the line incorrectly.
Movie quotes aside, an example of a famous real-life event that has been brought into the mystery of the Mandela Effect regards the famous protester at Tiananmen Square. The ‘Tank Man,’ whose defiant act of rebellion, standing in front of a tank with grocery bags in hand, is remembered by many as resulting in his death from being run over. In fact, he was not run over and there is no evidence of it, but many remember his crushing demise distinctly.
This is nothing new to those familiar with the theory and there are many other examples that support it; so many that there is an entire subreddit devoted to the effect. With topics ranging from movies that never existed to discrepancies in historical events, people vehemently claim to remember very particular things differently, but on a large, collective scale. Some people’s reactions are visceral when they experience new revelations due to the Mandela Effect, to the point of incurring panic attacks or questioning reality.
Mandela Effect Theories and CERN
One pragmatist theory for explaining the Mandela Effect is that it is simply a failure in the collective memory. Our brains are very easily influenced by our own filters, as well as the perception of others. Many common instances of the Mandela Effect are trivial and maybe just went unnoticed in the past, or are the result of conclusions that our brains jump to based on the context of an image or video. But some are substantial, like an entire country hundreds of miles out of place.
One of the more intriguing theories that attempt to explain this phenomenon points a finger at CERN and the large hadron collider in Switzerland. CERN’s experiments are intended to find elusive particles that could potentially show evidence of a multiverse, create tiny black holes, or discover dark matter. While all of this sounds very exciting, it also sounds potentially dangerous. What could possibly go wrong if we opened up a black hole in Europe, or tapped into another dimension with consequences unknown? While the scientists at CERN assure us their experiments are conducted on such a controlled, small scale as to have little, if any, negative consequences, some believe that their meddling in quantum fields has led to some strange effects, resulting in some kind of interdimensional entanglement.
One of the quantum particles that CERN has been searching for is the graviton. These elusive particles correspond with how gravity would react between different dimensions and are still only hypothetical, but the way CERN describes them is intriguing.
“If gravitons exist, it should be possible to create them at the LHC, but they would rapidly disappear into extra dimensions. Collisions in particle accelerators always create balanced events – just like fireworks – with particles flying out in all directions. A graviton might escape our detectors, leaving an empty zone that we notice as an imbalance in momentum and energy in the event. We would need to carefully study the properties of the missing object to work out whether it is a graviton escaping to another dimension or something else.”
Is CERN inducing these gravitons, creating holes to other dimensions, and swapping idiosyncrasies in our world? Or are we just having a collective memory lapse?
Do We Live in a Holographic Universe?
The Holographic Universe idea suggests that our universe contains a hidden order that connects every point to every other point in the universe. It tells us the whole of the universe is in every gram, thus providing subtle connections between seemingly unconnected events and places. This perspective also relates to the idea of a simulated or virtual universe, whereby our sensory experience is just an illusion produced by an artificial reality.
When you look around your surroundings, you get the feeling you’re living in a three-dimensional world full of visceral shapes, textures, patterns, and objects of all types. You have the feeling that you can interact with these physical objects and get an instantaneous subjective feeling in your body of their depth, size, temperature, texture and weight. This gives you a sense of the physical space around you and your location within it.
But what if this experience of space, location, and depth is all an illusion, a construct of your mind that is beautifully sustained from moment to moment? What if the apparent solidity and shape of the world around you is, in fact, an incredibly well-orchestrated hallucination produced by your brain. Perhaps we live in a purely informational space where matter and energy are not our reality’s fundamental qualities.
Believe it or not, a theory in physics that has been gaining traction recently is the Holographic Universe idea. It suggests to us that our perception of three dimensions is the product of our mind decoding information that arises from a two-dimensional, flat world. This occurs in the same way that a computer constructs a realistic, moving computer game from billions of bits of ones or zeroes embedded in a CD or hard drive. In other words, our senses are only perceiving information and not real physical objects, people, or things. That feeling of physicality is an illusion produced by our brain.