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Nerd Talk: Conspiracy or proof of multi-verse theory?

Megan Roth’s bi-weekly column discussing pop culture and all things nerdy

Is it the BerenstAin Bears or the BerenstEin Bears?

Many will remember the series, whether in its book form, originally published in the 1960s, or as a T.V. show from the 1980s or in its subsequent video games.

But how do you spell the name of the bear family? Is it with an ‘A’ or an ‘E’?

This may seem like a very odd question, but it is one many are contemplating as they are being told they are remembering wrong.

A large group of the population swear the spelling of the reasonably popular series is spelled Berenstein, and they are wrong.

The actual spelling ends with “ain”. If you don’t believe me I’ll give you a few minutes to look it up.

See, I told you, “ain”.

This is an example of The Mandela Effect, a false memory that is shared by a large group of people. Often this group has no personal interaction with others, but when asked the same question they give the same incorrect answer.

The term “Mandela Effect” is a reference to a large incorrect shared memory that South African leader Nelson Mandela died in prison in the 1980s, when he actually died in December, 2013.

Blogger Fiona Broome discovered many people attending Dragon Con believed Nelson Mandela had died, and even remembered it in a very similar way.

“See, I thought Nelson Mandela died in prison. I thought I remembered it clearly, complete with news clips of his funeral, the mourning in South Africa, some rioting in cities, and the heartfelt speech by his widow.,” Broome Wrote. “Then, I found out he was still alive.”

This term was coined in 2010, though can be traced back even further.

Examples include lines from popular movies. Many believe Darth Vader to claimed “Luke I am your father,” when he actually states “No, I am your father.”

It can also be seen in Disney. Is it “Magic mirror on the wall…” or is it “Mirror, mirror on the wall…”?

I was first introduced to this idea in a psychology class a few years ago, though I never expected it affected me. Sure my memory isn’t the greatest, but I didn’t think I had false memories.

That is until a conversation with my sister about childhood shows and books we remember really enjoying.

She was looking for recommendations for a baby shower gift when the topic switched to the Berenstain Bears.

“Do you spell it with an ‘A’ or an ‘E’?” she asked me, and I confidently responded with ‘E’, because of course they are the Berenstein Bears.

She then took great joy in correcting me, as younger siblings tend to do.

But here’s the thing, I absolutely remember it being spelled with an ‘E’ everywhere. The books, the show, on the T.V. guide.

“I’m not crazy, it was spelled with an ‘E’,” I told her, to which she calmed my nerves by saying she too remembered it this way.

Most say that these false memories are shaped by similar factors affecting multiple people. This could include social reinforcement of incorrect memories, false news reports and misleading photographs influencing the formation of memories based on them.

If this is true, how was I, and many others influenced in this shared false memory. I’ve asked others my age, and a few older than myself, they all say the same thing.

Some believe the series at some point changed the spelling of it’s main characters. Others are claiming it to be a conspiracy.

While it could be fun to call this a conspiracy, “The Berenstein Conspiracy” has a nice ring to it, there is probably a simple explanation.

It was a mistake.

At some point some one printed the name incorrectly, and the world kind of ran with it.

It could have been the T.V. guide person or a writer somewhere, and it was just copied and pasted again and again, giving the world a false report.

Dr. Henry L. Roediger, an expert in false memories, says people likely just remember the Berenstain Bears with the “ein” instead of “ain” because that is a much more common spelling.

Personally I like a more ridiculous explanation. We are living in an alternate dimension where “The Berenstein Bears” is a remnant or a shadow of some alternate world.

I’ve always been a fan of the multi-verse concept of physics, which states, super simply, that for each decision a person makes a new “world” is created where the person does the opposite.

Maybe, just maybe, this is evidence of multiple universe theory, and not that we all have false memories implanted in our heads.

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