Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Mandela Effect: Is There Another You in a Parallel Universe?

This weekend a friend of mine asked if I noticed that "something has changed." I didn't understand the question. He went on to state that the world has changed in some very subtle ways and that if you weren't attuned to it you might not notice. He referred to it as The Mandela Effect.

Naturally I was curious. Google has answers for everything, so I inquired because inquiring minds want to know. Here's the first link I found, with twenty examples of the phenomenon.

Reading about The Mandela Effect brought to mind our seemingly eternal fascination with things inexplicable, from the Great Pyramids to flying saucers and UFOs. When I was young I was drawn to books like Frank Edwards' Stranger Than Science, and its sequels. The universe does have some rather baffling features, so it's only natural that our curiosity attracts us to that which appears inexplicable.

Films like The Matrix provide lingo with which we're able to talk about these things. When someone suggests that there's been "a glitch in the matrix" we have a mutual understanding of the concept that doesn't require any further explanation.

Magicians and mentalists have long known about the tricks our brain plays on us, hence they are able to pull sleights of mind that manipulate memory and sometimes unsettle us. In recent years neuroscience is just now catching up to what these mesmerizing professionals have been tapping into for ages.

So where did the term "Mandela Effect" come from? Obviously it could not have preceded Nelson Mandela so it's of fairly recent vintage as an name or title of a concept. It turns out that the relatively new tag originated with a blogger named Fiona Broome. She described the phenomenon as "what happens when someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality." Ms. Broome proposes that it's not our memories that are faulty here. Rather, she suggests that there are alternate realities, parallel histories, and that our minds are crossing over through tears in the veil. For some, the Mandela Effect is a curiosity, and for others it's apparently becoming a quest.

Philosophers and mystics have long grappled with the nature of reality. How much of these current currents are just mind games? According to this article in The Sun, there are even scientists exploring the possibilities of parallel universes.

If you enjoy this kind of speculation, you might enjoy my story An Unremembered History of the World, which is the centerpiece of my book of short stories titled Unremembered Histories.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Maybe even more than you realize.

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