The Mandela Effect is a strange phenomenon that occurs when many people have vivid memories of things, people or events that are different from the actual facts. It can refer to biographies of famous people, historical events, or even movies.
For example, some people are convinced that Nelson Mandela, the South African anti-apartheid activist and president, died in prison in the 1980s, even though he was alive until 2013. The term was coined by Fiona Broome, a researcher of anomalous phenomena, who discovered that she was not the only one who had this false memory.
One of the areas where the Mandela Effect is most noticeable is geography. Many people have erroneous ideas about the location or shape of countries on world maps. They believe that countries used to be in a different place than they are now, or that they had a different size or form.
One example of this is New Zealand. Can you determine its location without looking at the map? Is it in the northeast or southeast of Australia? Or maybe in the west or even in the east?
The correct answer is that New Zealand is in the extreme southeast of Australia, about 1200 miles from the mainland. However, for many people this answer seems to be wrong. They have different ideas about the location of New Zealand, which have been formed since childhood. Some believe that it is located much to the south, while others believe that New Zealand is located almost off the coast of Australia in the northeast.
One Reddit user described his point of view, and another user was shocked by his misconceptions.
“I remember very well that it was to the west of Australia. I was 16 years old when I bought myself a desktop globe for self-education and on it New Zealand was located precisely in the west of Australia. I also remember thinking that it would be easy to remember, so as it is in the west, on the same side as the USA.” “When I read about this, I specifically went to my sister’s wall map, which I had been looking at for many years. I was sure that New Zealand was located in the northeast of Australia.”
New Zealand is not the only country that suffers from the Mandela Effect. Many people also have wrong impressions about the location or shape of countries such as Sri Lanka, Japan, Mongolia, Finland, Sweden and Norway. Some even claim that entire continents have shifted their position or size over time.
How can we explain these errors in our geographical memory? There are several possible factors that contribute to them. One of them is the distortion caused by different map projections.
The Earth is a sphere, but maps are flat representations of its surface. To make this possible, mapmakers use various techniques to project the spherical surface onto a plane. However, these techniques inevitably introduce some distortion in terms of distance, area, shape or direction.
For example, one of the most common map projections is the Mercator projection, which preserves angles and shapes but distorts areas and distances.
This projection makes countries near the poles look much larger than they really are, while countries near the equator look much smaller. For instance, Greenland appears to be almost as big as Africa on a Mercator map, even though Africa is actually 14 times larger than Greenland.
Another factor that influences our geographical memory is our exposure to different sources of information and media. Depending on where we live and what we learn at school or through books, TV shows or movies, we may develop different mental images of countries and regions. We may also be influenced by stereotypes or biases that affect our perception of other cultures and places.
For example, some people may associate New Zealand with Lord of the Rings movies and think that it is a land of mountains and forests. Others may associate it with rugby and think that it is a sporty nation. These associations may affect how we remember its location or shape on a map.
A third factor that plays a role in our geographical memory is our cognitive limitations and biases. Our memory is not a perfect recording device that stores everything we see or hear.
It is a reconstructive process that involves selecting, encoding, storing and retrieving information from our experiences. However, this process is prone to errors and distortions due to various factors such as attention, interference, forgetting or confabulation.
Confabulation is a term used to describe the unconscious manufacture of fabricated or misinterpreted memories. It occurs when our brain fills in gaps in our memory with information that seems plausible or consistent with our existing knowledge or beliefs.
For example, if we don’t remember exactly where New Zealand is on a map, we may confabulate its location based on what we think makes sense or what we have heard from others.
Confabulation can also be influenced by social factors such as conformity or suggestion. We may adopt false memories from other people who share them with us or persuade us to believe them. This can create a collective illusion of reality that reinforces our false beliefs.
The Mandela Effect can be seen as an example of confabulation at a large scale. It shows how our memory can be unreliable and influenced by various factors that distort our perception of reality. It also challenges us to question what we think we know and to seek more accurate sources of information.
However, some people prefer to explain the Mandela Effect with more exotic theories such as parallel realities or multiverses. They claim that differences arise from movement between alternative versions of events and objects that exist within each universe. They believe that some people have memories from different timelines or dimensions than others.
They argue that there are a huge number of parallel worlds around us, in which our reality has countless alternative versions. In one of these worlds, for example, you may like green instead of red, while in another, countries may have completely different locations on the map.
These theories are based on speculative interpretations of quantum physics and cosmology that have not been empirically tested or verified. They also raise many logical and philosophical problems such as how and why people shift between realities and how they can communicate with each other across them.
While these theories may appeal to some people’s imagination and curiosity, they are not supported by scientific evidence or rational arguments. They are more likely to reflect wishful thinking or fantasy than reality.
The Mandela Effect is a fascinating phenomenon that reveals how our memory works and how it can fail us sometimes. It also reminds us to be humble and critical about what we think we know and to seek more reliable sources of information.
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