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The Mandela Effect
Don’t worry about alternate realities

When the Kansas Reading Roadmap (KRR) Coordinator at Jefferson Elementary School, Emma Goad, said her school would celebrate World Book Day by giving away free books this week, we were happy to attend. KRR is an after-school program to increase reading proficiency and a child who is a proficient reader by fourth grade is more like to graduate from high school than one who is not.

To celebrate World Book Day, parents were invited to come to the school and read with their students. Each family received a copy of the book “Berenstain Bears: When I Grow Up” to take home and keep.

A fun thing happened when doing a write-up for the Great Bend Tribune. We did a check on the name “Berenstain,” having always believed the name was “Berenstein.” That’s when we learned about the Berenstains and the Mandela Effect.

The children’s books were written by Stan and Jan Berenstain, which is how they got their name. However, many people swear they have childhood memories of “Berenstein Bears” books and cartoons. Some fans swear the name was changed as part of a creepy conspiracy theory called The Mandela Effect. Fans of the Matrix movies would call it a glitch in the Matrix; the theory gets its name from the fact that many, many people share false memories of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s, when in fact the famed civil rights leader was released from prison in 1990 and later became president of South Africa. Instead of assuming people simply got it wrong, the Mandela Effect suggests that these are shared memories — glimpses into parallel worlds with different timelines.

A website,

, lists many things that people remember wrong. You really did NOT grow up eating Fruit Loops cereal and Jiffy Peanut Butter and watching Looney Toons on Saturday morning TV. (The real items are Froot Loops, Jif and Looney Tunes.)

These are all easy mistakes to make because Berenstein, Fruit, Jiffy and Toons (as in cartoons) all SOUND correct and our minds tend to fill in what we don’t know. But faced with reality, it makes sense to accept the evidence that we were simply WRONG, rather than insisting there is a conspiracy or parallel reality. 

Just as reading proficiency is important, it is important that people learn critical thinking. Magical thinking, alternative realities and alternative facts are entertaining and there no way to prove that people CAN’T choose their own realities, but we really should accept the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to wishful or delusional thinking.