The ‘Mandela Effect’ Describes the False Memories Many of Us Share. But Why Can’t Scientists Explain It?

Does Mr. Monopoly wear a monocle? Is there a black stripe on Pikachu’s tail? And does the fruit in the Fruit of the Loom logo pour out of a cornucopia?

If you answered yes to any of these questions — sorry, you’re wrong. But you might also be experiencing the so-called Mandela Effect.

Paranormal researcher Fiona Broome coined the name in 2009 after becoming convinced that then-South African President Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s. But Mandela did not die in prison; he was released in 1990, went on to lead South Africa and died in 2013. However, Broome noticed that many others seemed to share the same inaccurate memory, prompting further investigation.

Since then, more communal false memories have surfaced, such as C-3PO of “Star Wars” fame being entirely golden (he has a silver leg); Jiffy as the name of a well-known peanut butter brand (it’s just Jif); the spelling of a classic children’s book being “The Berenstein Bears” (it’s really “The Berenstain Bears”); and a host of misquotes from movies, among them “Luke, I am your father” from “The Empire Strikes Back” (the actual line is “No, I am your father”), “If you build it, they will come” from “Field of Dreams” (it’s “If you build it, he will come”) and perhaps the most misremembered of them all, “Mirror, mirror on the wall” from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” (the Wicked Queen actually says, “Magic mirror on the wall”).

But why do so many people misremember these?

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