Recently I have become quite interested in what has come to be known as the "Mandela Effect," which is basically a mass misremembering of details or facts that don't line up with reality as it really is. I have written a few article on this in recent weeks, and there is a constant flow of reports of such odd discrepancies between what is real and what we think is real. It has been pointed out to me on more than one occasion that these are mostly concerned with pop culture, but this is not always so. Indeed, the history that you know, read about, and are sure is set in stone may not be so at all, and there seem to be alternate mysterious timelines of history that exist side by side with our memories and the reality we think we know.

When looking at the Mandela Effect we might as well start with the phenomenon’s namesake, and that lies with the great South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, political leader, and philanthropist, Nelson Mandela. It seems that a good portion of the population believes that Mandela died while languishing in prison in the 1980s while serving a 27-year sentence on charges of conspiracy to overthrow the state. In fact, while he did serve his time in prison he was eventually released, and he played a big role in world events up until he died in 2013 at his home from complications of a respiratory infection. Yet this is not how many people strongly remember it at all, and there are those who are adamant that he did in fact die in that prison, and that they had even read of it in history books and seen it on the news. It was when paranormal researcher Fiona Broome voiced this jolting discrepancy online that plenty of people chimed in to say they seemingly misremembered the exact same thing, and from there countless other examples came to the fore, earning the phenomenon of mass false memories the “Mandela Effect,” also often known as the “Mass Memory Discrepancy Effect.”

As with Mandela, world leaders and political powerhouses seem to draw this phenomenon to them. On November 22, 1963, then president of the United States, John K. Kennedy, was riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas, along with his wife, Jacqueline Kennedy, Texas governor John Connally, and Connally’s wife, Nellie, when the president was assassinated by a former U.S. Marine and communist by the name of Lee Harvey Oswald, who would himself be assassinated later by a Jack Ruby. At least that is the official, commonly accepted scenario, but the Kennedy assassination has grown into a morass of conspiracy theories and mysteries that I do not intend to fully get into here.

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John F. Kennedy

What I would like to get into is the mass misremembered detail of how many people were actually in the car on that day Kennedy was shot. Numerous people, including those who have allegedly spent hours and hours obsessively poring over the footage of the assassination, insist that there were just 4 people in the car at the time of that fateful assassination, and that it was definitely a 4-door car, but the true number was actually that there were 6 people in the car as far as we know. How could this be? The main theory is that the front two people were simply obscured by the car window, coupled with the focus on the actual assassination taking place, which have conspired to create the false memory.

Yet, there are many who are absolutely, positively sure that it has to have been 4 people. This detail has driven a lot of people absolutely bonkers, and there have been plenty of people who have tried to get to the bottom of this conundrum. One Justin Danneman, of the site squawker, managed to find all sorts of pictures that seem to show that it could not have possibly been 6 people in that vehicle, such as a replica of the car Kennedy was in that is noticeably a 4-seater, plus other photos and even a photo from Life Magazine that clearly shows just 4 seats in the car, yet the official number is indeed 6, with an unusual three rows of seats in the vehicle and a double windshield, much to the surprise and chagrin of some who claim to have gone over the footage frame by frame and remember it by heart- with 4 people in a 4-seat car. What is going on here, and if this were some sort of shift of reality why are there photos that still exist showing only 4 seats when it should have all changed? Who knows? All we know is that it is a persistent odd historical event that a good number of people get wrong.

Four seats, not six.

Adding to the mystery is that a great many do not recall that there was ever a double windshield on the vehicle, nor that a secret service agent runs up from behind right after the shooting or that Jacqueline Kennedy climbs over the back seat in the wake of the shooting. There are claims that even the angle of the footage and the trajectory of the killing shot are all wrong in the current version, or that the people in the car aren’t behaving the way they are clearly remembered as being. The footage as it stands now seems to be almost alien to the way some remember it, such as one poster on Reddit who said:

WHAT THE?! Where'd the extra people come from? What's with the double windshield? This event was before my time, but a few years ago (two or three max) I decided to learn more about it and spent many an hour looking super-close at the video, frame-by-frame even! There were like 3 different videos, all in color, but the Zapruder film was clearest. The film in this link isn't from the same angle as the one I saw, and it's a little more blurry/less colorful too.

It almost seemed like it was the driver that had shot him, because his right arm went over his left shoulder as he turned to see what was going on behind him. (This was one of the conspiracy theories; the driver did it.) JFK was behind the driver, and Jackie was behind the passenger. The man in the passenger seat did not react as quickly as the driver. JFK had been hit in front of the head, but also I remember discussion about another bullet that grazed him and hit the passenger. The "magic bullet" theory was famous, because a single bullet would have had to do a "180 in mid-air" to cause that damage, and yet the media kept cramming that fake fact because Oswald's gun had been found to have only shot the one bullet.

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Old Life cover showing 4 seats

This strange double-windshield car and that couple making out in the middle... no no no. The driver never turns around? No no no. Watching this clip I can't even believe what I'm seeing. freaky!! This is nothing like the film I saw. His wife never climbed over the back seat like that. The car is the same color and still a convertible but it is noticeably different as well. Camera angle is also situated different. Anyone who remembers this the way I do will have their jaw drop when they see this footage.

Even the subsequent footage of the assassination of Lee Harvey Oswald by Jack Ruby has been accused of undergoing a change in reality, with the angle of the famous footage being different than what they are sure it to be. Is this all just a trick of memory and a misrepresentation of historical facts or has reality been changed from what some remember? Another U.S. president with his own share of bafflement is Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States and often simply known as FDR. Many are very familiar with this president and his exploits, but what many people don’t seem to remember correctly is that FDR was in fact paralyzed from the waist down throughout the entirety of his presidency. Wait, what!?

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Franklin D. Roosevelt

Although there is a great number of people who are certain that FDR was in full possession of his physical health, or that at least he could stand and walk, the fact is that, at least in this reality, he was bound to a wheelchair. The condition first plagued him in 1921 when he was 39 years old, and he slowly lost the power of his legs after falling overboard while yachting. Other symptoms he suffered were fever, facial paralysis, bowel and bladder dysfunction, numbness, and hyperesthesia, and doctors at the time were convinced that he had polio, although in modern times it is thought that his condition was more consistent with what is known as Guillain–Barré syndrome. Whatever the reason, the important point here is that he could not walk when he was president.

But how could that be? Many of you might be convinced that he was featured walking about or standing, but this is not true. If you really pay attention to FDR’s photos of when he was in office, every single one of them is staged to make it look as if he is fine, but every one of them show him sitting down or leaning against something. He also avoided being seen in his wheelchair in public, and did everything in his power to distract from the fact that he was paralyzed, trying to hide it from the public eye. He did a fairly good job of hiding his disability, but he was never able to stand and walk around. This fact that one of America’s greatest and most iconic presidents ever was in a wheelchair the entire time really comes as a shock to many people who are sure that this wasn’t the case in the history they clearly remember.

Another world leader who has attracted talk of his own Mandela Effect is former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who served from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955, and was most notable for boldly leading his country to victory in World War II. Seen as one of the greatest wartime leaders of the 20th century and a larger than life historic figure, Churchill was also rather well-known for his bombastic speeches, which served to rally the people and are also highly quotable. But do you remember them correctly?

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Winston Churchill

One of Churchill’s most rousing and famous speeches of all was given during the height of World War II when he expressed his intentions to do whatever was necessary to fight the Nazi scourge. You probably know the speech, don’t you? It is famous for the line “We will fight them on the beaches,” right? That is what most people remember and which has been quoted again and again, an icon from one of the most powerful speeches of the war. Right? If you have been paying attention in this article so far, then you known that, no, of course that is not what he really said at all. He actually said “We shall fight on the beaches,” and here is the entire section if you don’t believe me:

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and if, which I do not for a moment believe, this island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.

This mistaken quote is oft-repeated in the media and online, but it is wrong. That’s pretty odd, isn’t it? Speaking of Nazi’s, let’s take a look at the head honcho himself, Adolf Hitler. He is a very menacing and prominent figure in history, and we all probably know exactly what he looked like, not very tall, brown hair, and brown eyes, pretty much not at all what his idea of the “perfect Aryan” was. Yet, this description is wrong, and Hitler actually at least had blue eyes, as much as you may think or remember differently. This example of the Mandela Effect is sometimes chalked up to propaganda against the German leader at a time when color photographs were not really a thing and were very rare in those days. However, Hitler’s eyes were most certainly blue, often described that way, and sometimes photographed that way, not brown as so many believe.

A rare color photo of Adolf Hitler which shows his true eye color date unknown
Rare color photo of Hitler, with blue eyes.

Another very famous historical figure who also has a history that people seem to get wrong on a regular basis is Mother Teresa of Calcutta (1910 – 1997), who already has an instance of the Mandela Effect with her name alone, as many remember it as being “Mother Theresa.” Yet the bigger mystery is why so many people clearly remember her being made a saint, or canonized, in the 1990s, or even while she was still alive, well after her death, and that it was carried out by Pope John Paul II. This is very vividly remembered as having been all over the news that way, yet, this sainthood was actually not achieved until 2016, and was granted by Pope Francis, which has left a lot of people flabbergasted.

Keeping on people from history, we have the portrait known all over the world as the Mona Lisa, painted by the famous Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. It is perhaps one of the most famous and widely known paintings ever created, and it too has its own Mandela Effect mysteries. First is that many people believe that the identity of the woman in the painting has always been a complete mystery. They are absolutely sure that this is a well-known and persistent unsolved mystery of the art world, but they might be surprised to know that her identity has long been known as being of Lisa Gherardini, the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, which is even officially recognized in the records of the Louvre museum. The Mona Lisa has another mystery in that many people are sure that the woman in the painting has always had a completely blank expression on her face, but look now and it is clear that she is smiling.

The Mona Lisa

Besides notable famous people there are also assorted historical events that are claimed to have somehow changed in our memories of them. There is the famous historical event that happened during the French Revolution, which was a far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies that lasted from 1789 until 1799. A famous incident during the revolution, indeed the catalyst for the whole thing, happened at the very beginning on July 14, 1789, when a huge mob of people armed with an assortment of weapons converged in front of the Bastille, where hundreds of prisoners were kept. The popular image of this storming of the Bastille is of hundreds of newly freed prisoners spilling out to join the revolution, but in fact current historical records show that only 7 prisoners were actually freed, a big discrepancy with what you may remember learning and as is commonly depicted.

In more modern times there is one that I have covered before but which seems worth mentioning again here is the case of the Tiananmen Square “Tank Man.” The notorious Tiananmen Square Massacre broke out in China in June of 1989. At this time, thousands upon thousands of student led pro-democracy activists had gathered in Tiananmen Square for demonstrations seeking basic human rights, culminating in a vicious crackdown enacted by the Chinese government.

After declaring martial law, heavily armed troops descended towards the square, arresting and killing indiscriminately as protestors attempted to block their progress. These shockingly violent tactics employed by the Chinese government brought about outrage and worldwide condemnation, yet even then the killings and arrests continued virtually unabated. Amongst all of this mayhem an image emerged which seemed to perfectly encapsulate the strife that was rocking the area at the time. Called the “Tiananmen Square Tank Man,” the image shows a lone, unarmed man defiantly and bravely standing in the path of an incoming Chinese tank, which is followed by a whole procession of other tanks.

Tiananmen Square Tank Man
The Tiananmen Square Tank Man

Now, many of you may vividly remember from TV footage and history books that this man was mercilessly mowed down and killed by the tanks. It may be firmly ingrained into your mind to the point that it is indisputable fact. Yet, this never happened. Look today and you’ll see that video footage of the incident shows the unnamed individual sidestepping and remaining in its way even when it tries to go around him, and even jumping up onto the tank to apparently have a short chat with the tank’s driver before dropping down and taking up his defiant position once more. This continues for several minutes before the man is swept away by a group of people. The iconic photograph of this incident, taken by Associated Press photographer Jeff Widener, has become one of the most potent, famous, and instantly recognizable images of the century, yet although no one knows who this man was, it is very clear that he did not die as so many erroneously recall.

We also have the tragedy of the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger, which broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, killing all seven crew members and shocking a nation. In this case the Mandela Effect lies in the time of the disaster. Although it most certainly happened on January 28, 1986, there are a fair few people who insist it really happened before that, in 1984. Additionally, these people claim that the explosion occurred in the summer months, when the actual disaster really happened in winter, which is indeed one of the reasons for the mishap, as a seal broke which had not been thoroughly tested in the cold conditions. Making things more bizarre are the tales from people who are certain that some of the astronauts survived the traged to go on and live normal lives, which none of them did, at least in this reality. Which version is true? Does it depend on which reality you are from or is this mind tricks?

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The Challenger explosion

It is curious that so many people should remember history so wrongly. What is going on here? The most rational explanation is that this is all due to the inherit glitches of the human brain. Specifically, our memories are much more malleable and in flux than we may like to believe. Especially with details or memories we only have a fleeting awareness of or do not know in any great depth, misinformation can alter or completely warp what we think we remember as our brain struggles to fill in the gaps with these wrong facts or details. These new facts can cause fabricated, distorted, or misinterpreted memories that we take to be true, even in the face of concrete evidence to the contrary, causing the puzzlement we experience when we are confronted with reality.

Then there are the more far-out theories, which claim that this is evidence of some fundamental shift in reality that has occurred without our awareness. In this case we have shifted over to an alternate timeline which is mostly the same, yet different enough to give us a sense of unease when we encounter the details that do not line up and which we apparently remember from our former reality. Also just as bizarre is the idea that this may even indicate that we are in a Matrix-style computer simulation and that someone or something is messing around with the program either intentionally or due to a glitch. Whatever scenario you believe it is at the very least a peek into a strange phenomenon of the psyche, and even the hardest skeptics have to admit that it is at the least an intriguing and anomalous peek into perhaps one of the biggest mysteries of all; the human mind.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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