The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Is the Mandela effect evidence of supernatural activity? Or is it just bad memory?

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/4/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 3 months ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 772 times Debate No: 93327
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (68)
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I have specific memories of events in history that are now shown to be false or changed. Everyone does. I would like my opponent to show that these events are just not being remembered correctly, by a LOT of people. Below is a questionnaire, please answer, from memory only, all of these in the comments section, and say yes or no whether you choose to accept the debate. I will choose my opponent based on their answers, No cheating! Anyone may answer the questions in the comments section, but most of the older people here will have a memory like mine (30+) Good luck!

Fill in the blanks:
1._______ mirror, on the wall... (Snow White)
2. Chuck E _______
3. ________, I'm your father. (Star Wars)
4. It's a beautiful day in ____ neighborhood Mr. Rogers
5. Sex ____ the City
6. JCPenn__
7. Life ___ like a box of chocolates
8. Oscar M_yet (hot dogs)
9. Interview with ____ Vampire
10. If you build it, ___ will come (Field of Dreams)
11. The Berenst_in Bears

I will tell you I got ALL of these wrong, according to "recorded" history, so which is it? Is something supernatural at work here? Or am I (we) just remembering it wrong?

This debate is meant to be fun and interesting, no semantics please. I intend to find out what's going on, whatever the outcome is, this just encourages the research, and inevitably, the truth.


Since this is a 3 round debate, I'll present my opening arguments in this round, since my being here is indicative enough of acceptance.

The Opponent's Argument

The opponent's argument is only at its opening stages, so I'm not going to be rebutting it so much as I am going to look at what the structure of the argument must be.

Currently, we have a list of partial phrases or terms that all generally obey what is called the Mandela Effect. The Mandela Effect, if it wasn't obvious, is the tendency for a group to misremember some specific event, detail or physicalilty all in the same way. When I first heard about this, I didn't know it was called the Mandela Effect. (The opponent clued me into that a few weeks ago.) But the example used was:

_____, I am your father. (Star Wars)

A great number of people immediately associate the term "Luke" with this quote, but that is incorrect. In fact, the quote is, "No, I am your father."

This phenomenon is undoubtedly interesting and the rest of this debate will focus on why it happens. The opponent will be arguing that this is, at least in part, due to a supernatural activity. I will be arguing a) that we do not have enough evidence to conclude this and b) that there are natural explanations to this Effect.

In demonstrating a) we have shown the opponent has not met the burden of proof. This is generally Con's only duty, but I happen to like the opponent so I'm not going to stop there. B) Will demonstrate explanations that are more inline with evidence.

Some History and Definitions

In terms of pyschiatry, the Mandela Effect represents something called "confabulation", but on a large scale. We would be amiss to say that confabulation can only occur in healthy people, but we would be even further amiss to say that all people affected by the Mandela Effect aren't healthy.

Clearly, a great many people have experienced this, so the answer is not simply that "these people are mentally ill".


Memory is a fickle thing. I think each person in the world of a certain age has at least one memory of something irrelevant that is packed full of details. Opposite that, each person has at least one memory of an extremely important event that they can recall almost nothing about.

This should indicate to us that memory is not completely understood. We do not know why our mind chooses to remember some events and not others. We know that some factors can affect this, such as exposure to the event, the significance of the event, the frequency of the event, etc, but there are a great many exceptions to these "rules".

Fortunately, these rules become more applicable when looking at large groups of people. This is because there will always be certain individuals who remember the event to a degree different than expected, but the average of these memories should be fairly predictable across a large enough group of people.

Since the Mandela Effect refers specifically to a large group of people, we know these "rules" are more applicable than not. This leads us to our next question: What are these "rules"? What rule is in place that causes people to misremember these common quotes?

The Rules For Misremembering

1. Incorrect reinforcement.

A great way of remembering something is to expose yourself to that thing multiple times. Many a calculus students have earned an A by looking at their derivation and integration formulas many times a day.

Put more formally, suppose you have an event X. This event occurred only once so far. Whenever you see X again, your mind reconfirms all of the details of X(1) with the details matching in X(2). This reconfirmation serves to improve your memory of the event. After observing X many times, the details you remember will tend toward the average occurence of that detail in each event.

For instance, suppose you decide to start attending air shows in which "The Bumblebee" is always present. On your first air show, Show 1, the tail of The Bumblebee is painted black. There is no particular motivation to remember this exact detail, outside of the desire to remember the event.

A few months pass, and you're now on Show 10. However, after Show 1, the Bumblebee's tail was repainted to be yellow. This means Shows 2-10 all had your plane with a yellow tail fin. If you were asked to recall the fin's tail from the first show, you would almost certainly say "yellow". This is because "yellow" is the average color of the tail across all observations of the event.

This relates to the Mandela Effect because, in most all these quotes, we hear them far more outside of the movie/text than inside the movie/text. For instance, the average person might have seen Star Wars only twice, while they've heard the quote "Luke, I am your father," many more times. Because we tend to remember the "average" details of the event, the first hand viewing of the event (namely the film) becomes skewed by the incorrect quoting of the phrase.

In this framwork, it is easy to see why we all believe so intently that our memory of these quotes is correct, even when it's not. It's because, in some sense, we are remembering the quote correctly, but the quote we're remembering is the one we've been told so many times -- not the actual one from the film.

2. Contextual Additions

But how do these quotes first start becoming inaccurate? That isn't completely clear, but we do have some idea.

In many of these quotes, you'll note that the missing term that you though was there tends to be more descriptive than the one actually there. Again, with the Star Wars quote: Mentioning the word "Luke" is far more revealing about the origin of the quote than the original. What's more, the quote "No, I am your father." directly implies that Vader is answering a question, which isn't part of the quote. Instead of remembering that lack of information, we remember the term which provide the most utility to the memory. After all, it's far more useful to remember 'Luke", since it immediately leads one to remember, "Oh yea, star wars."

Some of these quotes are easier to say than their original. For instance, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall" is a lot more elegant that "Magic mirror on the wall." As such, we tend to remember the more "quotable" version. (Which makes sense. People say things all the time and we can't be expected to remember all of them. The quotes which do stick are those which have high degrees of repeatability, either due to context or simple statement elegance.)

This "quotability" factor is a major determinent of what you'll remember. "Sex in the City" is much easier to say than "Sex and the City". What's more, they sound nearly identical coming out of the mouth. "Life is like a box of chocolates" seems much more like sapient advice than "Life was like a box of chocolates".

The point is, for each of these quotes, it's easy to see why you remembered it more correctly. The incorrect quote either is more contextually revealing, it's easier to say, it is more inline with our expectations, etc., than the original

Hedge point: Why would a supernatural entity bother with doing this in the first place?

This is a point meant to hedge against the opponent's upcoming case.

Let us say that there is a supernatural thing going on here. The natural question becomes why? Why would any supernatural being will us to remember a Star Wars quote incorrectly? What goal does that serve?

It seems that any supernatural being with the power to warp our minds is great enough such that it would have no reason to do this. There is nothing gained by having people slightly misremember quotes. Even if it's an evil supernatural entity, misremembering unimportant quotes doesn't even hurt anybody.

There's simply no reason a supernatural entity would involve itself in this.


We've seen that a variety of factors can influence people's memories. The most important is the fact that these quotes are repeatedly told to us incorrectly, reinforcing our belief in their incorrectness. Minor reasons in point 2 also play a part.

I look forward to Round 2.
Debate Round No. 1


The day science begins to investigate non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence."
Nikola Tesla

I thank my opponent for accepting this interesting debate, I also thank him for giving us a background of the topic. I intend to show the voters, through some examples that might be firmly established in his or her mind, that some events have been tampered with, or our memories of them.

In the example that is possibly the most prevalent, and the one that has convinced me most that something strange was happening, I will start with my last question, the Berenstein Bears. As a child, I, like many others, received one or more of these beloved books, probably for Christmas or a birthday. Being at an age where I could read fairly well, I specifically remember both the names of the bears, and the authors, which were on most, if not all of the covers on these books. I asked my mother if she remembers my asking her if I was supposed to pronounce the word "stine", or "steen", and she confirmed. Now, had the weird ended in stain, I would not have had this specific shared memory. Stories like this are very common in some of the recent communities popping up on the net surrounding this phenomenon. I'm sure some of our viewers will be familiar with the original books, and the spelling of the word, maybe even relating this event to another major event, as I've described. This being a bonding moment with a parent, or it could be related to a person that has Stein in part of their own name, a large collection of the books, or the like. This is known as associative memory. Similar to thinking specifically what object you placed your keys on, in order to remember where you can find them.

Also, some people, as I do, have what's known as photographic memory. For example, movie theater employee may have passed a movie poster a few hundred times before it was taken down, and might specifically remember staring at the letter "A" in "Interview With A Vampire" I specifically remember this one, because I remember thinking that the a, which usually isn't capitalized in a title, was. Another person, who worked at JCPenny for some years, was quizzed on the spelling of her own current employer, was wrong. Spelling bees, and grammar Nazis have photographic memory to an extent, being able to just look at a word or phrase, and see that it doesn't "look right". For example, "dilemma" does not look right. I specifically remember seeing an "n" instead of a second "m".

I've figured out a way to sort of look back at some of these events as recorded in history, and show the number of people that remember things differently, or articles that haven't been "changed", yet. Firstly, let's start with this

As you can see as I searched for Interview With A Vampire, of course only the "current realities'" results will show. Note that all of the related searches show "a" simply because this is what other people are searching, so I know I'm not by myself in remembering the title correctly.

However, newspaper archives show that some things have changed, while others remain the same.

What are the odds that both the writer, and the editor both got a very (at the time) popular movie title wrong, when an advertisement is directly beside the article/review? This wasn't actually a memory at the time, so these people were referring to a current, new movie or event, no doubt with references to check readily available.

Also here.

Sometimes, after "the change" happens, some things, like the url of this Amazon listing for the film, remains unchanged.

I know my opponent will like this listing, which shows three new releases by the Berenstein's called "The Truth", "Too Much TV", and "on the Moon"

Sometimes it's not just subtle changes that happen. Many people from the area remember only being able to get to and from Staten Island by a ferry famously known as Staten Island Ferry. It seems now that there was a bridge constructed in the fifties that takes you to and from the island.

Classic songs often stay with us our entire lives, even if its just the chorus, or opening verse. Mr Rodgers neighborhood is one example for this. Many people watched Mr. Rogers in their youth, often singing along and even getting it stuck in their heads days after last hearing it last. It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood could be heard in my house often. When this Mandela effect was pointed out to me, I couldn't believe my ears. Id heard this song many, many times, and never before did it say this. The two words are very different in pronunciation, so I know I didn't mishear it. This is an example of the Mandela effect completely changing the entire meaning of the event. Now it seems that we are alienated from his neighborhood. Maybe the voters will remember this one also.

As for the Star Wars reference, I didn't really remember the movie, or this scene in particular, but many do. This impressionist clearly remembers the scene and the quote. Impressionists have to reproduce the quote exactly, that is the job of an impressionist.

Here's James Earl Jones himself, who voiced Darth Vader uses the "correct" quote. How likely is it that the original voice of the quote in question would get it wrong?

"Some of these quotes are easier to say than their original. For instance, "Mirror, mirror, on the wall" is a lot more elegant that "Magic mirror on the wall." "

How is it more elegant to use a repeating word, than a different one? I'd also like to address a comment, in that
another version previous to Disney's version said mirror instead of magic. That version was not nearly as popular as Disney's version, so a fraction of people saw it, yet here are some people, young and old, that remember it correctly, matter of factly, EVERYONE I've asked remembers it like I do.

Even the original Disney book had the quote right... Why change it?

"Why would a supernatural entity bother with doing this in the first place? "

While it is unlikely that a supernatural entity is changing small things like this, or our memories of them, we can't rule it out. Or maybe this "entity is changing small things to see what the population's reaction will be, readying us for a much larger change. I'm sure my opponent has heard of the "butterfly effect ", this could be the the result of some bigger, unseen changes in history, that is yet to be revealed. Alternatively, as I stated in the comments, it could be the result two or more realities converging.


Whatever the voters' thoughts, it cannot be doubted that the opponent is comfortable doing research. Thanks for the well evidenced speech!

It's clear that quite a few people vociferously believe that these popular quotes have been somehow "changed" at one point or another. Or in other words, they believe quite strongly that they couldn't have possibly remembered something incorrectly. That there is no way a great number of people have incorrectly remembered this "quote" or "movie name".

We'll briefly look at a few examples the opponent has brought up, then try looking at a larger source of data.

Interview with the Vampire; Sex and the City

These two are notable, because they illustrate the "sounds like" conversion I mentioned earlier.

Most Americans say "the" like "thuh" whenever it happens in the middle of the sentence. For instance, most Americans would say "I'm going to thuh movies", rather than "I'm going to thee movies". The former is simply easier to say.

Similarly, the term "Interview with the Vampire" sounds exactly like "Interview with a Vampire", since the "th" in 'with' naturally combines with the "th" in 'the'. Whenever we have two 'th's' back to back, we never pronounce them both.

We can look at photos of the original VHS tape to confirm that, indeed, the movie is called "Interview with the Vampire". [1]

The same "pronunciation" mistake occurs in "Sex and the city". Whenever there is an "and" in the middle of two subjects, we generally pronounce it as just the letter "n", which sounds precisely like the word "in". "Sex 'n the City" vs "Sex in the City".

Again, the box art: [2]

Original Sources

Talking about the box art seques into this point: That original sources confirm the original quote/term. Secondary sources, like newspapers or internet videos, indicate the population's general "thinking" on the terminology used, but it cannot be considered more valid than the original.

After all, I don't think the opponent would be opposed to me using the term "group think", which refers to a group's tendency to align thoughts and beliefs with one another, even if that alignment is contrary to reality. It only takes on powerful misuse of information to have everyone believing that said information is true.

A fantastic analogue goes all the way back to high school, where you assuredly heard a rumor that was so thoroughly propogated that everyone believes it to be true. After all, if everyone is saying something, it is true, right? In the case of high school rumors, clearly not. The same can be said about common quotations, especially in which the mistaken quote is more repeatable than the original.

Now, if we were to go find an original Star Wars VHS collection and actually watch Vader say, "Luke, I am your father", that would change everything. But in no presented example and in no example I could find on the web did any of these "Mandela Effects" ever turn out to have a primary source confirm them.

At this point, the opponent could say "well I don't think the Mandela Effect changes our memory, I think it changes reality". This seems to be what he is eluding to anyway, so let's discuss that.

Is the Mandela Effect a manipulation of reality?

I'll be the first to admit that this cannot be proven either way. We can look at the likelihood of it happening though.

Let's suppose that the original release of Star Wars had, "Luke, I am your father". Let us suppose a Capra Demon decided to change this reality. What all does he need to change:

1. He needs to change all original releases of the movie.
2. He needs to change all transcripts of the film.
3. He needs to change all unreleased takes/transcripts/film taken of the scene.

Now, if the Capra Demon were capable of doing this, why would he not also change our memories? If he wanted reality to be different in some way, why would he not change the reality completely? Why only a portion of it?

Let's suppose that the original release of Star Wars had, "No, I am your father." In this case:

1. A great number of people would be misquoting the movie.

The latter scenario is much more likely since, as I've discussed, our memory is an inherently fragile thing. If you hear the misquoted version more than the original version, you are significantly more likely to believe the misquoted version is the actual quote.

I only wish that there existed evidence of when the quote was first misquoted, but alas that kind of evidence doesn't exist.


Another "hedging factor", that makes the reality change less likely, is the fact that there are large groups of people who believe the original quote is correct. After all, if nobody ever pointed out that people were "misquoting" a movie, then the Mandela Effect wouldn't have been noticed. The existence of all these people who vividly remember the "correct" quote indicates that this "misremebering" isn't so systematic as the Mandela Effect implies.


Finally, in determining whether this is evidence for an altered reality, we can look at the evidence concerning "altered realities" themselves. If we discount the "Mandela Effect", it stands to reason that other evidence would exist that further implies this reality?

- We have no evidence that there is any reality except this reality.
- We have no evidence that multiple "colliding" universes exist.
- We have no reason to believe that a supernatural being exists that wants to alter reality in suchminor ways.

Without other sources of evidence existing to allude to some "multiple reality", we are forced to consider that perhaps this (The Mandela Effect) is not indicative of another/altered reality. Instead, we are forced to conclude that likelihood indicates that this is just an example of the fragility of human memory -- that it is not perfect and is easily susceptible to believing false information, especially if many other people do.

All things considered, the Mandela Effect is most likely not evidence of supernatural interaction.

1 -;
2 -;
Debate Round No. 2


Thanks to my opponent for his kind words, I do so love to research strange phenomenon, and encourage anyone to do the same.

My opponent briefly counters a couple of my examples, namely the most similar sounding one's in hopes of proving his case. I'll admit that the two groups of words do sound similar in context, and they could be easily mistaken. However this does not explain the other anomalies listed above.

"We can look at photos of the original VHS tape to confirm that, indeed, the movie is called "Interview with the Vampire". [1]"

This is the entire point of this debate, people remember things a certain way, yet it is as though it never existed in such way, other than memory, or other ways, which I pointed out in the last round. Therefore there is no way to officially prove this, other than testimonials, and these other ways. I owned the VHS copies listed, and knew what the titles and quotes were, but recently, upon reviewing these, see the changes happen to even these.

"A fantastic analogue goes all the way back to high school, where you assuredly heard a rumor that was so thoroughly propogated that everyone believes it to be true. After all, if everyone is saying something, it is true, right? In the case of high school rumors, clearly not. The same can be said about common quotations, especially in which the mistaken quote is more repeatable than the original."

Except this is not merely a rumour,this is a case where everyone heard or saw the event in question, and developed a specific memory of it, barring any rumours that might can get misconstrued.

"Let us suppose a Capra Demon decided to change this reality. What all does he need to change:..."

If a supernatural being can change any of these, it is likely he can change them all, but the memory remains. This being can change physical objects, but not non-physical (memories). This does not eliminate the conclusion of realities converging. Say the population experiences a certain event, the other reality experiences a different event, slightly different. These realities converge, where both populations interact and share them, finding out they differ.

Let's suppose that the original release of Star Wars had, "No, I am your father." In this case:

1. A great number of people would be misquoting the movie. "

People love to be right about something, Why then has no one pointed out these "misquotes" until recently? This movie was released in the 80's!

"it stands to reason that other evidence would exist that further implies this reality? "

The multiverse theory is widely accepted amongst scientists the world over. Since the 20's when scientists started replicating the two slit experiment, the multiverse theory has become more accepted as not only possible, but probable. It stands to say that these universes could at one point collide, or cross paths.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 3
68 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Agingseeker 3 months ago
Could be both, you know. But taking a logical approach here. People can remember a fact in a wrong way. It remains a fact but not as recounted. Now, if some people all say they saw a spaceship with greem men I would be crazy to think they are all lying or all totally cooking up something. Aquinas said that everything must have a basis in reality. I think that is incontestable.
Posted by Cobalt 3 months ago
The forfeit bug is back. This sucks
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago
sad to see the forfeit, hope all is well.
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago
LHC started in the 50's Michael J. Fox went back to the 50's to "change history", in front of JCPenn(e)y. The Twilight Zone first aired in the 50's. but it's all coincidence.
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago
5th link in rd 2 should be
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago
"Who controls the past controls the future; who controls the present controls the past." Ingsoc (Newspeak for English Socialism or the English Socialist Party)
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago
well, as a noun anyway
Posted by Edlvsjd 3 months ago

31In that day, he which shall be upon the housetop, and his stuff in the house, let him not come down to take it away: and he that is in the field, let him likewise not return back.

This is the original king James version... was stuff even a word? I thought this word came in around the 80's?
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