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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

The Mandella Effect

Virtually everyone has had a discussion about something that happened in the past, and both parties have distinctly different memories of the happening. At times the exchange becomes heated as each one demands that their remembering of the facts is accurate. Sometimes the facticity of the event can be verified; sometimes not.

A term has been coined for a person having a clear, personal memory of something that never happened in reality: the “Mandela Effect.” It is a phenomenon which is often exhibited by large groups of people. This form of collective mis-remembering of common events or details first emerged in 2010, when countless people on the internet falsely remembered Nelson Mandela was dead. It was widely believed he had died in prison during the 1980s. In reality, Mandela was actually freed in 1990 and passed away in 2013 – despite some people’s claims they remembered clips of his funeral on TV.

Memories can be imprecise or downright wrong. The brain can be a trickster. I’m guessing that everyone reading this has at one time been willing to swear on a stack of Bibles (or Korans or the Vedas) that such-and-such was absolutely true, only to find out later that it was absolutely false. Then it’s time to eat crow.

Emotions, intuitiveness, hunches, and the like are real and not to be denied. But when they contravene or deny actual facts, they need to take a back seat to reality.

I grew up with the TV show Dragnet. Detective Joe Friday (Jack Webb), when interviewing a woman during a crime investigation, would often say: “Just the facts, mam; just the facts.” Actions follow decisions which should follow careful, prudent judgment of facts. Sometimes not all the facts are available and a best-guess must guide. But generally one starts with the facts, doing one’s best to ensure that the facts are genuine, and then bases the ensuing decisions and actions on them.

And no . . . Nelson Mandela did not die in a South African prison in 1985. I was there and he was very much alive.

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