Second Guessing: When did Nelson Mandela really die?


Sarahi Villalobos (11) researches proof of a conspiracy theory to show her friends.

Using Reddit, Youtube, and BuzzFeed, conspiracy theories have been able to run wild in the new age of social media. Amidst theories doubting Hitler’s death, 9/11 being an inside job, and Beyonce having a clone, one theory in particular has reached many ARS students: The Mandela Effect.


This phenomenon uses the convergence of parallel universes as a way to justify false memories shared by a large groups of people, often which involve individual’s childhood memories.


“It’s Berenstein vs. Berenstain, it doesn’t really matter but it does trip me up,” Eva DiDonato (9) said.


The Mandela Effect is defined as large population believing or remembering a particular item or event, however, when looked back upon, it is discovered that the event never happened or the item is not what we remember. There are different explanations for this happening; one theory states that our world is switching into other parallel universes, the other is that a time traveler(s) went back in time and changed one thing, which in turn warped events in our timeline. This theory is titled “The Mandela Effect” because a large amount of people remember Nelson Mandela dying in prison on January 29th, 1991, however, Mandela died December 5th of 2013. A book titled English Alive by Alan Etherton that states “Nelson Mandela died on January 29th 1991” which is considered to be evidence that he did die, just in a parallel universe. This was further explained in a popular YouTube video.


“It’s a lot of people who don’t want to be wrong, so they are like ‘we just might be from an alternate universe! I might be from a different timeline!’” Patricia Mallard (12) said. “I definitely think that it’s a bunch of people who are just wrong.”


Some students at ARS strongly believe that the Mandela Effect does exist, whether it be Febreze or Febreeze, Charles Shulz or Charles Schultz, “Luke, I am your father” or “No, I am your father”, those who believe this theory have very strong feelings about their true or false memories.


“These are just common mistakes people make because they’re not paying attention, it’s a theory people care about, but I think it’s just a bunch of people being wrong about something,” Isabella Aguilar (11) said. “You can’t go back in time, because in order for you to do that there’d be two of you, so I don’t think it be possible to go back and time and change something.”


The common census among physicists is that there is the possibility of universes intertwining at points, however these converging universes could not be parallel, and the likelihood of convergences explaining mis remembrances is low. Another reason conspiracies are thought to be wrong is because of evidence showing it may be just cognitive dissonance. With cognitive dissonance your ideas or memories can be altered by interfering information.


“If you go back to Carl Jung and go back to his theory of collective consciousness, it says that humans are able to tap into emotions and experiences we share on an unconscious level,” Ms. Devi Puckett said. “then if you look at the way one individual can affect a whole, those make sense together.”


Theorists pull evidence from scientific and political standpoints, but no credible professionals have publicly confirmed any part of the Mandela Effect, making it in many people’s eyes no more than a theory.