How to make the Mandela effect even more ridiculous

Among the many absurd things Vox Day promotes, one of the least immediately toxic is the so called Mandela effect: the idea that popularly misremembered things are actually true memories of an altered past.

The latest one he is promoting is from the Bond film Moonraker. I reviewed the film (or rather the song) recently here and there is a clip from the relevant scene. The bad guy Jaws falls from a cable car and meets a nice woman with glasses and pigtails. They instantly fall in love, demonstrated by their nervous smiles. Many people, not unreasonably, think the woman also has braces on her teeth and in fact, she doesn’t.

“Many people, myself included, believe that Dolly had braces in the Moonraker movie, and that the disappearance of those braces is a Mandela Effect. It’s significant enough that it is included among the various effects “debunked” by the self-proclaimed debunkers.”

Day backs up the idea that braces were somehow removed from the film by citing a question asked of ChatGPT. The AI, which we’ve already seen is a consummate bullshitter confirms that the girl wears braces. This is because ChatGPT makes shit up, indeed it makes shit up more often than not.

Day states:

“It might be a good idea for those with AI accounts to ask the various AI’s similar questions about other Mandela Effects such as the Berenstein/Berenstain Bears, as it would appear that the scrubbing of the past is not only incomplete, but has left enough traces behind that they are being picked up on by the AI datamining.”


Which isn’t how it works. Let us demonstrate as simply as possible. I asked ChatGPT a series of questions about Vox Day’s visual appearance. To be honest, I was trying to get it to say that Vox wears a bowtie, but it wouldn’t bite. I then asked if he waved spaghetti around in his videos and ChatGPT wasn’t sure. Finally, I just asked what he was known for visually and I got this absolute gem:

“Vox Day (Theodore Beale) is known for his conservative political commentary and his work as a writer and publisher. Visually, he has been known to wear a variety of clothing styles in his public appearances, ranging from more formal business attire to casual clothes such as t-shirts and jeans. He has been photographed wearing both regular ties and bow ties, but it’s not a consistent feature of his appearance.

In terms of physical features, Vox Day has a distinctive look with long hair and a beard. He has been described as having a rugged or unconventional appearance that sets him apart from more traditionally groomed public figures. However, it’s worth noting that personal appearance is a subjective matter and can vary depending on context and individual perception.”

ChatGPT 29 March 2023

Oh no! When they took away Dolly’s braces they took away Vox’s lovely long hair! Meanwhile:

“To answer your question, based on publicly available images and descriptions, it seems that Camestros Felapton does not have long hair or a beard. He has been described as having a bald head and glasses in his public appearances”

See. Only one of us is timeline stable.


58 responses to “How to make the Mandela effect even more ridiculous”

  1. So, this has happened to me a few times in real life, during the fifty odd years I’ve been alive. One of the most memorable, which happened in my teens, was the overnight appearance of a ramp up to the entrance of Lloyds Bank in Rochdale town center. My brain is convinced to this day, despite the clear visual evidence of the age of the construction, that this had been different the last time I walked down the street.

    I’ve always been fairly sure that my mind was at fault, but there’s always that 10% feeling that maybe something is messing with the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The thing that always got me about the Mandela Effect is that Mandela’s release from prison was a big deal and televised live around the world so some of us have very distinct memories of it. Well sort of. Thanks to the internet you can rewatch it and it was fun to see how much my distinct recollection, of seeing a small figure in the distance grow gradually larger as he walked forward, differed from the reality.

    It’s not hard to see where this came from. Mandela’s biography was called the Long Road to Freedom, and I was 21 years old at the time having first gotten involved in anti-apartheid campaigning at 14 so it was a long time coming. Memory, being an act of imagination, had conjured the metaphorical truth.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Picking Mandela as the paradigm of the effect did it no favours as I’ve long memories about his status as a prisoner and then his release. The Berenstain (or whatever) Bears at least has the advantage of me not knowing how the name is spelled, so at least I guess I could be convinced there was a change.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Whereas I, on the other hand, had been a fan of Stan & Jan Berenstain from their days as regular cartoonists at McCALL’S, and for a satirical 60s paperback (FLIPSVILLE/SQUARESILLE: ace-double type paired snarky looks at teens and olds, with some grown-up humor) that I reacquired a year or so ago and still like.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. It’s not the Mandela effect, it’s only misremembering, but when I googled Theo holding his big flaming sword he had more hair than I remembered. But long hair and a beard? Not hardly.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mean, I remember both the song and thus Biko’s name, so thanks Pete. I also remember being happy that Mandela was freed and became president of SA (hard to do if you’re dead).

      But then I pay more attention to world news than your average American, having grown up on a steady diet of Walter Cronkite and 2 newspapers a day. (Admittedly I read the comics first. And a city having 2 different daily papers was common then.)

      This is literally the first time I’ve heard the thing about Jaws’ girlfriend. It’s a plausible corny thing to have happened in a Moore 007 movie, but then I’m old enough to have seen Moonraker in the theater too, and was recently out of braces. So I’d have remembered that.

      It’s the RWNJ playbook of fascism, as we all know from 1984.

      Last pic I saw of Teddy, he had no hair or beard. But that was in the glorious days of Tingle takedown.

      “The Mandela Effect” was a funny episode of the last season of X-Files, though.


        • Having rewatched the episode I can’t help wondering if the writer (Darin Morgan – writer of most of my favourite episodes of the original run) deliberately chose the extremely non-obvious title “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat” in the hopes that people would misremember it as The Mengele Effect. The correct title always takes me a moment longer to recall than it should and I’m not sure if it’s because you mistitled it here before I rewatched it or if Mr Morgan has successfully messed with my head.


  4. I have the weirdest example of this. My brain has completely associated the horrible 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami with a particular holiday we took. It’s entirely the wrong holiday (my kids are the wrong age, we were actually in an entirely different part of the country in 2004). I recognise this consciously now, but I cannot summon up any ‘correct’ memories about that event. Incorrect ones are all I have. Brains are funny things.


      • It does make me understand how some people can start to question reality. When all we have is the perspective from inside our own heads it’s hard to accept that something has gone wrong in there, that something so fundamental is not as reliable as we would like. What other things have I misremembered so completely? Who knows…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Imagine thinking “people slip from one universe to another slightly different one without realizing it all the time” makes more sense than “I guess I don’t know how to spell ‘definitely.’”

    Liked by 2 people

  6. How is this “timeline change” supposed to happen? Is it some weird quantum effect? Parallel dimension? A glitch in the Matrix? Government agents, like the Ministry of Truth in 1984?


  7. I’ve seen this happen with my own kid — he used to say his first memory was of standing with his grandmother on the front porch of our house in Charlotte (which did happen). Now he still remembers standing with his grandmother, but he remembers it as being in front of a Walmart, which — there weren’t even any Walmarts where we lived then.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. The fake memory that drove me nuts as a kid was being convinced that the train crossing the school bus went over was double tracked, when in fact it was single. No idea which crossing imprinted itself on me.


    • A church near where I lived had a statue of Mary. Kids at school were convinced that it shifted the direction it was pointing over time. That was a real mind-messing one, as it created just enough doubt that you couldn’t be really sure that it hadn’t turned a fraction since the last time you saw it


      • Ah, memories of a church I used to live near, whose garish adornment really did move. Imagine the most tasteless display of flamboyant piety and this was a bit worse. Paid for by a local businessman who wanted people to be aware he was a generous church supporter. After he died, it was very quietly taken down.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. It actually makes a lot of sense that Beale would embrace this theory, after all, it’s impossible for him to be wrong about anything, so when he does appear to be wrong about something, the only explanation can be some sort of facture in space time.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I haven’t heard of this one before, but it makes sense that people would remember it wrong. He smiles at her with his metal filled teeth and she does a big smile back to him, so people just think mirror image and attach metal braces to her teeth to match.

    But what I don’t get is the idea that the filmmakers conspiratorially removed them and told everybody involved to lie when one finds out one remembers wrong. Why would they remove them if they’d had them? It was expensive to do at the time and would be totally unnecessary to bother in later editions of the film. What is the supposed pressing need to erase the braces and lie about their existence?

    What they’ve found is that people who are witnesses are often very bad at remembering details or remembering them correctly. Was a car blue or black? Was someone tall or average height? The brain is processing light and sound in micro-seconds and it’s going to get stuff wrong. We have entire memory games devoted to the fact that we often remember wrong. The game of telephone shows that we hear things wrong.

    So while you might assert that a personal memory you have is right and other family members or friends are misremembering, declaring that filmmakers are conspiring against your memories of a minor detail in a Bond film is pretty weird. I mean sociologically interesting but weird. And thinking that chatbots mean anything at this point is just ridiculous. They’ll happily tell you anything you want (mirroring) or sew random bits of data about different people in databases together. I’m really wondering if search engines are going to completely fall apart because tech people are enamored of these poor products and think they should replace working programs.

    Liked by 2 people

      • I don’t think it’s really a surprise that the makers of an ’80s Bond movie didn’t include a logical idea. I mean, yes it would’ve been a pretty silly joke that would’ve fit the movie’s style, but there’s SO much else that they could’ve thought through better than they did…

        Liked by 2 people

        • Whoops, I mean a 1979 Bond movie.

          Anyway, I think Kat is right about the reason for the false memory in this case. There’s a video essay [note, if you cringe as I do whenever people link to video essays, this one is unusually to-the-point and non-unbearable] that gets into this a bit deeper, pointing out other ways that the movie plays up the idea of “they’re opposite, but they’re similar” in visual jokes, as well as other potentially confusing perceptual cues like her wire-rimmed glasses.

          Liked by 1 person

  11. Cam, not knowing at all what you look like, my mind would supply me with a visual cipher when I thought of you. I can’t really describe it—not an image as such, but just a vague blob, more conceptual than visual. (Am I unusual in this?) Now that you’ve owned up to “bald head and glasses”, I fear I’ll be stuck with Bunsen Honeydew going forward.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. It’s odd. I have the exact same false memory despite having purchased and viewed the complete Blu-ray set of Bond films about seven or eight years ago. So I no doubt rewatched Moonraker then (one of my least favorite Bond films) and saw the lack of braces and was surprised by it (and then promptly forgot that they weren’t there). I first saw the film when I was about 15 during it’s original theatrical run and that was probably where the false memory came from.

    So instead of concocting an elaborate theory of studio f*kery or alternate dimensions I just shrugged and moved on (like I just did having sought out the scene in question).

    I guess some people just cannot admit they are wrong about anything no matter how insignificant.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Me too, Ed, but that just proves we’re old. 🙂 I’m sure you also remember the confusion when the subtitle for TESB came up.

      THEY (whoever THEY are) can’t get to VHS, though, because mine still says just “Star Wars”.


  13. I blame decades of shoddy SF TV shows like Sliders for encouraging people to think “parallel world where detail X is different but everything else is essentially the same” is a thing that somehow makes sense. Like, if Mandela dies in prison in universe A and lives to become President of South Africa in universe B, there’s absolutely no fucking way that those timelines would stay similar enough in other regards that a person who somehow mind-tripped from A to B wouldn’t notice they had done so, until they happened to read something about Mandela and went “wait, what?”

    One of many things I like about Ted Chiang’s “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Influence” is his clear (if verbose) explanation of how the “butterfly effect” would apply to reproductive genetics: given how sensitive the gamete selection process is to all sorts of external factors, within a generation after any kind of timeline divergence it’d be vanishingly unlikely for any of the same people on Earth to be born with the same genes— instead, people who are genetically those people’s siblings or cousins would be born, who would then behave differently enough to ensure more divergences. And that’s even if the original divergence had been something imperceptibly trivial, rather than the death of a world-famous leader in a country with great influence over the second-largest continent on Earth. To force things back onto a track where all the things and people look virtually the same, enough to fool an accidental universe-hopper, would require basically a miraculous intervention by God.

    Liked by 3 people

    • [btw, that title of course is “Anxiety is the Dizziness of Freedom”, which I guess got crossed in my mind via timeline-slippage with “the anxiety of influence”. I’ve never made so many copyediting mistakes in comments anywhere in my life as I make on this blog.]

      Liked by 1 person

    • Welllllll …. if Everettian Many Worlds are in play here then as long as the probability is not actually zero, there will be such a ‘branch’ of the multiverse out there! Of course, the problem then is that the theory itself (quantum mechanics) tells us we can’t hop from one branch to another (instead, according to the dominant understanding of Everett, there will be counterparts in the appropriate branches – including a Vox Day who is hirsute and liberal!)


      • I seem to be finding it harder and harder to do that as I get older (which is odd because when I was actually ‘doing’ physics (in some sense) I had no problem suspending disbelief!). It does mean fantasy benefits as I’m happy to go along with the whole ‘magic laughs in the face of physics’ vibe.


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