Have you ever been so certain about something that nothing could convince you otherwise that you were correct? Of course you have. Everyone has thoughts like that regarding something they remembered from their past with utter certainty. “I know it was called Berenstein Bears and not Berenstain Bears,” you said. “What is this Berenstain Bears nonsense?” Then you go to trusty Google that knows all and you find your entire worldview has been rocked off its axis. So, you tell yourself that you’ll go find your old childhood books and you either cannot find them or they also reflect this Berenstain Bears phenomenon that you saw on the world wide web.
But you are so certain that when you were younger, it was Berenstein Bears, Oscar Meyer, Tostino’s Pizza Rolls, and there was a movie called “Shazam” starring Sinbad. A lot of folks seem to collectively remember these and many other examples, but can it really be attributed to something as simple as a false memory from our childhoods? There are even more people out there who call this phenomenon the “Mandela Effect” after Nelson Mandela, the former President of South Africa who allegedly died in the 1980s but in actuality lived until December 2013, passing at the age of 95. This has led a lot of conspiracy theorists to believe that we are living in a parallel universe where these events have changed and what we’re remembering is our time from the sibling universe we once lived in.
However, the easiest explanation of this is just the concept behind how faulty and easily manipulated the human memory is. The DRM Paradigm started initially as a study pioneered by James Deese in 1959 and expanded upon Henry L. Roediger III and Kathleen McDermott in 1995. This study was adapted in order to investigate false recognition as well as false recall. In our text “Cognitive Psychology: Applying the Science of the Mind,” this study is explained to us as quite successful in supporting the idea that illusory memories are very common. The subjects for this test were given a list of words that would be used in a test of recall immediately after; this test also had non-presented theme words for each list. According to the results, the false theme word was recalled nearly half the time and also falsely recognized to an equivalent level of the correct recognition.
With enough convincing, people can generally be led to believe almost anything, even if they were informed prior that it could not have been true. Deceiving the mind of a group of individuals is surprisingly easy given the nature of the test of the DRM Paradigm, so in an age of ultra-fast communication it’s not unreasonable to believe that an entire group of people from a similar age group, either born in the late 80s and early 90s would come to agree that everything they remembered from their childhood as the absolute truth instead of this scary new reality we all live in. We’re just as likely to believe in the absurd truth of us having leapt into a parallel universe instead of it just being our faulty memories that are tricking our brains into believing that it used to be Berenstein Bears instead of it having always been Berenstain Bears.
But let’s be real here, we all know it was really Berenstein Bears.