Musings Upon the Mandela Effect

lion & lamb

Lion & Lamb: a photo I took outside of Sight & Sound Theater in Branson, MO.

The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where one’s memory of the past does not correspond to the evidence one can produce of that past. Most examples are inconsequential, like whether James Earl Jones while voicing Darth Vader famously uttered:

“Luke, I am your father.”


“No, I am your father.”

(Apparently it was the latter, though many fans, and the actor himself, recall the former).

Other examples, however, involve historical and even religious truths. The Effect itself is named after the mass belief that Nelson Mandela died in the 1980s, although his current death-year is given as 2013. And many a Christian has been disturbed by the realization that their collective recollection of Isaiah 11:6, which opens with the utopian statement that

“The lion shall lay down with the lamb…”

actually reads

“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb…”

This replacement of the remembered lion with the apparent wolf is potentially upsetting because, in Judeochristian symbolism, the lion is often equated with God, while wolves are only ever equated with the Devil. To a paranoid eye–perhaps such as mine–it looks like someone decided to engage in a little nefarious editing to reference Aesop’s fable “The Wolf and the Lamb” while simultaneously giving the Lion of Judah/Aslan connotation the boot.

These are but a few examples of a veritable avalanche of surreal and even downright disturbing incongruities between recollection and reality that the internet has compiled since around 2012 (oh yes, we can’t get this weird without the Mayan calendar being involved).

Most explanations of the phenomenon appear to be either secular or metaphysical extremes:

  • that human memory is even more fallible than previously believed, or
  • that science/tech like CERN has opened portals to alternate dimensions, merged timelines, etc.

Briefly entertaining the thought that every KJV Bible in my possession–and perhaps in the world entire–has mysteriously been tampered with, was sufficient evidence that this Effect has the potential to send imaginative people straight to the funny-farm.

Yet, the madness of a thing is not sufficient to disregard it–not in a modern age where quantum computing/artificial intelligence wizards like Geordie Rose must turn to H.P. Lovecraft’s horrifying Great Old Ones as the only sufficient metaphor for what their creations will be like in relation to human beings.

So, for now at least, I want to propose a moderate theory which bridges the Effect’s extreme explanations.

  • Because we humans, for the first time in our existence, cannot in anywise foresee or guess at our own future (it is as though the future merely reads “Here There Be Monsters,” like old ignorant maps), perhaps we are suddenly forced to look back at a hazy past. What do I mean by “hazy past?” We have in effect severed all of our ancestral ties. Few humans in the developed world know much about their family beyond their grandparents or great-grandparents. And perhaps even fewer still believe or think like those unknown ancestors did. The developed world starting with or since the 1990s has been so forward-focused that we have neglected all which came before. Only now that we have accelerated technology to the point that we can no longer chart its trajectory are we rebuffed, and forced to look over our shoulders into the proverbial “haze” for some point of reference. But that which is neglected rarely welcomes the negligent. We find “the good old days weren’t always good” (as Billy Joel puts it in his song Keeping the Faith). And, especially for those who are recollecting something from childhood, we find the subjective sheen and grandeur of innocence is shed, replaced by adulthood’s cynical appraisal. Thus, those who seek a firm foundation in nostalgia find only shifting sand. Perhaps only now do we fully understand why the ancients were so all-fired adamant that one should keep in close contact with their tribal history and myth.

This of course does not placate those who are dead-set that the fabric of reality is already coming unwound pre-Singularity (see Ray Kurtzweil’s books and interviews for more on that idea). I am even willing to concede that it might be. But, I believe my explanation at least serves as a useful caveat. If the past is decaying, it is due to our overemphasis of the future; and the sole way to combat it is by genuine, rather than merely reactionary, reconciliation with that past.

For example: if Jesus’s quotations are (or will be) corrupted and lost, then one had better be sure they have Him in their hearts, rather than depending upon an “infallible” text to preserve His reality for them. True, he did say “my Word will never pass away…” But He Himself is that Logos or Word…

I would also recommend to anyone who can remain entirely unaffected by this Effect (and similar phenomenon in the coming years) to be patient with those who cannot. Even if the Effect is utter tripe–an internet conspiracy conflagration based on memory’s fallibility–the environment in which such Effects are possible is unquestionably trying to introverted personality types. It is relayed by some zookeepers that apes in captivity display hair loss, impotence, and sometimes even insanity. From a purely cold and clinical perspective, this Mandela Effect could be a human comparable to “captivity” in a post-tribe, post-scarcity, post-history environment.

I.E. this is but the tip of an iceberg that our Titanic has already struck. When “deepfakes” fully arrive, all bets will be off in regards to the validity of visual media. The Mandela Effect is but a largely analog precursor to this digital crisis, wherein the average person will not be able to discern a screen or hologram’s fact from fiction. Even if we have begun by distrusting arguably trustworthy forms of media, the principle of general distrust towards media may prove invaluable in an all-too-near future.

The choice is coming sooner than expected:

  • to continue consuming content one knows, deep down, is false and/or harmful, or
  • to endure the silence of no content at all, and discover what awaits there.

2 thoughts on “Musings Upon the Mandela Effect

  1. This is utterly fantastic!!

    From: Christopher Lee Winn Reply-To: Christopher Lee Winn Date: Saturday, April 20, 2019 at 12:19 AM To: Subject: [New post] Musings Upon the Mandela Effect

    christopherleewinn posted: “Lion & Lamb: a photo I took outside of Sight & Sound Theater in Branson, MO. The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where one’s memory of the past does not correspond to the evidence one can produce of that past. Most examples are inconsequential, lik”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s