Misinterpreting the Mandela Effect

Right now, I’m working on a book series about the Mandela Effect. The first book – which has been my main focus for the past few weeks – is going to be a quick overview for those with a casual interest in the topic.

Misunderstanding the Mandela Effect. Fiona muses about news reports. For me, it’s another reminder that people don’t always “hear” text the way it was intended. But, as I’m researching others’ explanations for this quirky phenomenon, I’m also seeing some bizarre interpretations of things I’ve said online.

Oh, it’s not news that snarks, hyperbole, and sarcasm rarely convey clearly in text.

In the case of the Mandela Effect, I’ll have to include musings and “what if…?” speculation to that list.

For me, the Mandela Effect is like other paranormal topics I’m studying. I have absolutely no doubt that something odd is going on.

Also, I’m fairly sure that the Mandela Effect – like ghosts, faeries, and related subjects – can’t be explained (or shrugged off) with just one, all-purpose explanation.

In the case of the Mandela Effect, too many disparate reports match up in eerie ways.

  • They can’t be dismissed as just one or two people (or even a troll collective) submitting prank reports.
  • The “false memory” label doesn’t fit the reports, universally.
  • Nor can I attribute something as widespread as the Berenstein Bears’ issue as a literacy problem, or any of the myriad other explanations skeptics like to insist upon.

However, as much as I like the parallel realities concept – and feel that, in a way, it’s kind of an Occam’s Razor answer – I’m not going to insist on it.

In a February 2018 article in the British newspaper, The Independent, I read this:

Broome explains the Mandela effect via pseudoscientific theories. She claims that differences arise from movement between parallel realities (the multiverse). This is based on the theory that within each universe alternative versions of events and objects exist.

That’s too funny. Of course I don’t claim that. I offer the multiverse theory as one speculative, fun explanation. But – even if it’s among my favorite, “what if…?” theories – it’s only one of many.

And, if I were discussing the Mandela Effect seriously, the multiverse would be far down the list of most likely explanations.

(For starters, I usually tell people to research everything they can, related to the alternate memory they seem to recall. Maybe there’s a logical answer to the mystery. Perhaps it started as a simple misunderstanding, some troll-ish mischief, or an April Fool’s joke that someone thought was serious.)

Oh, back in the early days (2009- 2010), Mandela Effect conversations were different. We were a small group – maybe a dozen or so people – sharing thoughts via comments at my website.

I’m pretty sure all of us knew the difference between when someone was serious, and when they were having fun with “what if…?” speculation.

By April 2011, far more people had joined the conversation. Some took the topic more seriously than others. In general, the tone was still “what the heck is this, anyway?” as we tried to sort the evidence and possible explanations.

In other words, few people – including me – locked into just one reason for the Mandela Effect.  Our conversations were sincere, but also light in tone. Most of us recognized how strange it all sounded, even to us.

Then, in 2015 after the Berenstein/Berenstain Bears topic went viral, I guess my whimsical tone of voice didn’t convey well in what people read. Or they didn’t go back to see the wide range of theories and banter we’d already shared.

So, some mistakenly think I take everything very seriously, and insist on just one Mandela Effect theory.

For example, in a 2015 article at Psychology Today, I see this:

Broome believes memories that are out of sync with recorded history occur because our minds get entangled with alternate universes. According to the “Many Worlds” hypothesis proposed by quantum physicists Hugh Everett and Bryce DeWitt, the world splits into parallel universes every time a quantum event happens. Thus, while Nelson Mandela did not die in prison in the 1980s, at least in this universe, there is some other universe in which this did occur. And Broome’s memory of the event is proof that her mind has come into contact with that alternate universe!

Umm… no. My own late 1980s’ memory could be badly flawed. It could be a mish-mash of several funerals in TV news reports. I’ve never claimed otherwise.

In fact, that’s why I’d never mentioned that memory until someone else (Dragon Con’s security manager, Shadow) brought up the topic. I was absolutely amazed that anyone else shared that weird, unsupported memory… much less thousands of people.

In fact, it’s probably an understatement to say I was amazed. Utterly stunned and flabbergasted might be better terms.

But even (or perhaps especially) knowing that others share the memory of Nelson Mandela’s funeral in the late 1980s, “normal” explanations elude me.

A few things really baffle me. They include others’ reports with details (that I’d omitted from public posts, deliberately) that matched my memories of the Mandela funeral, 100%.

Also, I’ve never found other funerals from that era with details that I could have conflated.

Yes, most critics insist I’m remembering Steve Biko‘s funeral, but that was in 1977, when I lived in northern California. The funeral I recall was on the TV when we lived in Florida, so that places it between 1987 and early 1990. Also, the TV coverage continued for days, at least two and possibly three.

But, being somewhat skeptical by nature, I’m still not certain that my memory of the Mandela funeral is accurate. I’m open to other explanations.

As a Mandela Effect researcher, I try to keep an open mind. Also, in addition to trying to explain my memory of that funeral, I’m looking for an explanation for the thousands of other people who seem to share that quirky memory.

Like me, they seem to recall several days of TV coverage, the outdoor speeches under a big tree, the emotional widow and her bodyguard, the odd assortment of folding chairs, and so on. Lots of details that usually (but not always) match my memories. That still seems very odd, and I’m still hoping for a simple, non-weird explanation.

But, that’s very different from claiming that my “mind has come in contact with [an] alternate universe.”

Of course, the person who wrote that article might have written it as humor. Again, text doesn’t always convey tone of voice.

It’d be kind of cool if I did feel confident that I’d crossed time, space, or dimensions, and ventured into an alternate world. That sounds like tremendous fun.

Alas, I don’t have that kind of confidence, though I love the parallel realities explanation. Among all the options, it’s easily my favorite, and it seems to resonate with many of my friends and fans.

Even better, quantum studies seem to suggest that parallel realities are, well, real. So, that could be the best, single explanation for my “alternate” memories, and others’.

But… yes, I’m still looking for patterns that will explain paranormal phenomena, including the Mandela Effect. I’d love simple, single answers.

Meanwhile, I’m in a world where writing books still involves research, putting words on a page, editing those words, and then publishing them.

But hey, if anyone knows the gateway to a universe where thoughts go directly to printed words and then magically appear in books, let me know. 

(And, just in case a reporter mistakes that for a serious request: Yes, I am laughing as I make that request, but I also know we may not be far from achieving some of that. That’s the fun of “what if…?” speculation: Sometimes, it actually becomes real.)

A Quick Housekeeping Note

This morning, MandelaEffect.com moved to WordPress.com hosting. This means the “http://MandelaEffect.com/ ___” links won’t work, because WordPress.com’s hosting uses a different structure. (In fact, the URL – for now – is mandelaeffectsite.wordpress.com)

anxious monkeyThe reason for the sudden move is horrendous service at HostGator, where the Mandela Effect site was hosted for most of the past year. My strongest advice: never trust HostGator with your websites.

Fingers crossed, WordPress.com can handle the Mandela Effect site traffic. (That site averages 200k unique visitors/day. I’m not kidding.)

Early in July, I’ll re-evaluate my hosting options. Between now & then… well, I have a bazillion projects in-progress. Expect some cool announcements in the next couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, I’m uneasy mentioning exactly where I do banking, but their client support is the best, ever.  They had to get involved, since HostGator’s mistake involved my bank account.

I’m so impressed with how the bank handled the problem, I’d love to thank them – by name – here. For obvious security reasons, I can’t. (But, I’m adding a personal “thank you” to the client support guy who went far out of his way to be helpful… in case he reads this.)

 

April Update – 2018’s Paranormal Trends

Recently, TV producers have been asking me for insights about paranormal trends. Some already have a good idea for a TV series. Others want me to suggest ideas, locations, or possible cast members.

Here’s what I’ve seen as of April 2018. If you have additional ideas, or disagree heartily, I hope you’ll post a comment at this article. (Include your site link if you’re willing to talk with interested TV producers.)

Also, I’ve created a free, eight-page report (PDF) explaining these trends in more detail. Click here to download Paranormal Trends – April 2018.

2018’S TRENDS, so far

Paranormal trends - your thoughts?

  1. People are less interested in the adrenaline spike (“Dude, run!”), all by itself. It’s fun but, they also want more information, like exactly what is going on, and perhaps why it’s happening. They still want thrills, but they want to feel assured that what they’re seeing is real.
  2. They’re revisiting the concept of haunted/energized objects. That covers “cursed” objects as well as weird things that keep landing back at the local second-hand shop. This is a more in-depth interest than in the past.
  3. The topic of demonic activity keeps cycling around, and it’s emerging again now. But, like point #1, above: viewers want deeper insights. (I’m not convinced this is suitable as “entertainment.” I’m just talking about trends I see in the ~500 emails I receive, daily, from friends, fans, and followers.)
  4. “Okay, it’s haunted. What now…?” That’s a comment I’ve been hearing as people joke about past TV shows. I’m not sure if they want a “where are they now?” segment about past show locations (and their owners), or if they want something that goes into really dealing with haunted houses.
  5. “What else is haunted/weird near [location]?” Or, “is there another place that has the same kind of weirdness as [location]?” Instead of a series of episodes that hop all over the landscape, people want a cohesive connection between the episodes. Think of it in terms of a scripted series, and each episode ends on a connected cliffhanger, not just a “Next week, on this show…” preview.

The Trend I Didn’t See

Over a week ago, I asked several respected friends to share their thoughts and comments on these trends (and others that they see).  I even put a request at HollowHill.com, my most popular ghost-related website.

I several great suggestions, which are going into a free report I’m writing, today. But, fewer than five people were willing to talk with TV producers, even if it might mean starring in a TV series.

Wow. That’s a trend I never saw coming.  If I’d posted this same article just three or four years ago, I’d have been deluged with “I want to be a TV star” messages.

At this point, I have to shift my attention back to my current projects: the free ghost hunting courses, my books, an upcoming appearance on George Noory’s radio show, and so on.

But, don’t worry. You didn’t miss your opportunity altogehter.

If you have a strong background/interest in paranormal research, and you’d love to share your ideas with TV producers, you can still do that.

Leave a brief comment (with a link to your website) at this article. I’ll point TV producers to it, so they can contact you directly.

Comment with your views about paranormal trends in general, in real life and on TV, and what you’d like to see on TV (or even be involved with).

Every few days, I’ll approve all non-spam comments, and – time permitting – reply in comments of my own.

2018 – So Far, So Good

The past two years (or so) were tumultuous. I talked about that in my January 2018 post about what’s changing in paranormal research.

I spent a large part of 2017 re-evaluating my career direction, adjusting my business model, and taking preliminary steps – course corrections, in a way – to focus on my strengths.

In 2018, I’ve already made good progress. Here’s some of what’s been going on, behind the scenes.

Hallowfields, which will include all of my free ghost hunting courses, is still expanding. The first course – Introduction to Ghost Hunting – is at the site, and I’m adding to it, a little at a time.

Yesterday, we replaced all of my older YouTube videos to make each playlist distinct. It was a far bigger project than I imagined.

That paves the road so I can record & upload many more short videos for all of my websites, but especially for Hallowfields.

One of the most surprising aspects of that video project…?  Discovering how many decisions – and how many hours of work – go into an eight-second intro clip.  Wow. I have renewed respect for people editing TV shows and movies.

Meanwhile, editing and updating my books is also a more time-intensive project than I’d expected. Looking back, I regret asking my publishers to remove the old editions before the new ones were ready. (Oops.) I’m making progress, but have no ETAs yet.

Hollow Hill will be expanding, as soon as I have a little more time. For example, I still want to restore all of my podcasts, or at least the ones that are still valid. And, of course, add more articles.

People have asked why I don’t do more with the Mandela Effect site.

That’s complex.

First, MandelaEffect.com was intended as a “what if…?” site. It was a fun, quirky topic. For the first couple of years, it was a hobby site. I loved the weird, speculative conversations with people like Vivek, Julia, Mike, Martin, Gurluas, and so on.

Then, the topic’s popularity spiked and – with it – the time necessary to moderate/update MandelaEffect.com, as well as its hosting bills. Ugh. That’s not what I thought I’d signed up for.

Now & then, I consider redirecting traffic to the Wayback Machine. Then I realize the importance of the Mandela Effect site. It should remain online, and I should expand & improve it in my spare time.

Yes, I suppose I could go on TV & radio shows, or resume my guest appearances at Dragon Con, etc.  Yes, those could provide very nice income to support & expand the Mandela Effect website.

I turn down those opportunities, not just because I like my privacy. (But, that’s a large part of it.)

It’s also because the things some people say…  well, I don’t deal with those who insist that my motives are sinister.  Not when they’re extreme and high volume, and my rational arguments seem only to make things worse.

So, I opt for privacy and a happy life. I choose to do as much good as I can, online and in my community. Despite my unusual career, my life is pretty much mundane. I’m a devoted wife, a caring mom, and – in my own way – a hippie/idealist who just wants a better, happier world.

Every day, I like being the person who supports paranormal research with fresh ideas, important insights, and – for income – how-to books and some quiet, behind-the-scenes consulting for TV shows.

I know that old friends and new researchers are eager to learn about my newest discoveries. And I have so much to share, it’s probably time to post this and get back to work.

A Weird Kind of Fame – Mandela Effect

As someone who’s always preferred a quiet life, I’m always astonished (or perhaps aghast) when something I do attracts attention.

This week, it’s the X-Files.

HollywoodLife.com illustration

Really, they created an X-Files (reboot) episode around the Mandela Effect.

* blink, blink *

I think it’s Season 11, Episode 4, “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat.”

I’m about to watch it on Hulu, and try not to act like a hyper-protective parent, as if the Mandela Effect is entirely mine.

Of course, my website kind of started it all. And yes, I popularized the phrase… but with the help of a few hundred thousand people who’ve had something to say about the topic.

But still, seeing it in an X-Files episode, for heaven’s sake… that’s just surreal. It’s like a part of my life, and it’s on the TV screen. I can’t seem to grasp that this is happening. Even if the show is tongue-in-cheek parody/humor.

At the moment, I’m stunned. And kind of chuckling over how weird this is. And then I’m back to blink-blink mode, kind of overwhelmed.

And, because this is how my mind works…

Since that TV show will bring a lot more attention to the Mandela Effect, I threw together some free iron-on designs that fans can use for DIY t-shirt printing. They’re linked in my MandelaEffect.com article, That X-Files Episode.

2018 – A New Year for Ghost Hunting

2018 has arrived, and I think it’s going to be one of ghost hunting’s most interesting years so far.

Over the past few years, things changed radically in paranormal research.  For example, TV shows took ghost hunting to extremes – sometimes truly ridiculous. (No, there is no evidence that “shadow people” kill anyone. Ever.)

The good news is: It looks like many (not all) popular media are more grounded, or at least moving their paranormal coverage in that direction.

In addition, a new generation of ghost hunters are entering the field. They have fresh ideas. New approaches. Interesting ways of looking at paranormal research. And some great questions.

But yes, they’re also a little jaded by how this field twisted and turned over the past decade or so.

Looking back, I think many of us feel that way, especially after seeing what greed can do. (The story of Ideal Event Management is so negative, I was on the fence about mentioning it. But now… well, it looks like a lot of friends & fans were impacted. So, I’ll address it here.)

I’d known Marc Tetlow from his earliest days in ghost hunting, back when he was a reporter in Nashua, NH, reading Hollow Hill articles on his lunch break.

I met him in real life after he started representing Jason Hawes & friends, when the Ghost Hunters TV series launched. That’s when Marc became my agent, as well.

Everything seemed fine until 2010. Marc created an embarrassing (and very public) scene at Dragon Con. That’s when I asked him to remove me from his list of clients.

In retrospect, I wish I’d been more outspoken about the problems I saw, before others lost tens of thousands of dollars to Marc.

Did I lose money to him? Maybe. There were a few red flags, but I have no idea.

I’m looking forward, not back. Providing great value and cool insights to my readers… that’s my biggest concern.

And, I think 2018 is going to open new doors to paranormal explorations and discoveries.

Yes, for many paranormal researchers, 2016 and 2017 were difficult years. People pointed to poorly attended events and sagging TV ratings. Several haunted sites reinvented themselves, omitting any mention of ghosts.

Even the Ghost Hunters TV series was cancelled.

To many people, things looked grim for ghost investigations.

But – as usual – my outlook was a little different. By mid-2017, I started seeing interesting new trends in the field.

That’s when I removed all of my indie-published books from Amazon, etc. They needed updates & rewrites. (For me, there’s no such thing as just “good enough” for my friends & fans. I always want you to have the best information I can provide.)

Ghost Hunting in Tilton, NH - 3rd editionSome of my friends did the same with their books.

One book I contributed to, Ghost Hunting in Tilton, New Hampshire, has been re-released this month. It’s more than double its previous size.

That book is in Kindle, and it’s 99 cents during January 2018. (Rue tells me there will be a print edition, later in January.)

Meanwhile, I’m revising my own books, but – during January – my free ghost hunting course is a higher priority. I expect to complete the videos and free worksheets, etc., around the middle of this month.

(March 2018 update: Okay, that was an unrealistic prediction. June is a more likely completion date for that first course.)

After that, I’ll be back at work on book revisions, new books, site updates, freebies, podcasts, videos, and – of course – quirky paranormal research ideas.

I’m excited about 2018. I think we’ll see some tremendous breakthroughs and exciting new trends in ghost hunting… and in paranormal research, in general.

I’ll update you with news, as I see things taking shape.

Thanks for your interest, support, and input about my sometimes-weird (but usually fun) research into odd phenomena.

I hope your 2018 is tremendous, as well.

Hallowfields Ghost Hunting Academy

Hallowfields Ghost Hunting Academy is my newest website. I’ve been working on this project since mid-2017.

HallowfieldsThe concept is simple: It’s an educational site for paranormal researchers, with entirely free courses.

Initially, I’d planned a generic name: Ghost Hunting Academy. One of my publishers secured that URL for me, and we set up a basic website.

Then I realized the name was too generic. It could be forgotten easily, or  confused with similar names like “ghost hunting school,” and so on.

After a few weeks’ thought, the name Hallowfields sounded good to me. It’s a little of Halloween, mixed with fields of paranormal study.

I decided to launch the site shortly before Christmas/Yule, and settled on today – December 15th – for the opening of the site. (It sounded good at the time.)

Well… it looks like I was a little too optimistic about the work involved. But, I launched the site today, anyway.

Full moonThe text for the first course, the 2017 edition of Introduction to Ghost Hunting, is complete and at the Hallowfields site.

The course has many new, free downloads – mostly worksheets – as well.

So, students can start the course immediately, and complete it. They’ll even receive a printable certificate/diploma at the conclusion.

But, that course doesn’t have all the bells & whistles I’ve envisioned. In fact, I’m currently working on videos to supplement it.

Those videos will probably start arriving at the website next week.

A software glitch delayed today’s video recording. But, I finally found the problem. Now, the first video – a very short one – is in the first lesson of the course. It’s a start. I’m feeling victorious.

I’ll add more free worksheets in the next couple of weeks, too.

At the start of 2018, I’ll be juggling books – mostly updates/revisions of my older books – and adding more articles and videos at HollowHill.com. I’ll create more courses for Hallowfields, and… I’m still not sure what I’m doing with the Mandela Effect site.

Mostly, I’m excited about the coming year, as I look ahead to 2018. I have the feeling it’s going to be a fun year.

I hope you’re enjoying a wonderful holiday season. Merry Christmas, Happy Yule, and a joyous… well, whichever holiday/s (if any) you celebrate at this time of year.

November 2017 Changes

Halloween houseWhew! Halloween is over. Most of the media requests have faded into memory, and my schedule is – once again – my own. Well… sort of.

Here’s what I’m working on:

  1. The free course, which will be one of several at Hallowfields Ghost Hunting Academy. Basically, I’m updating the free “Introduction to Ghost Hunting” course I created years ago, and adding new worksheets, videos, etc. ETA: mid-to-late December 2017. (I have other free courses in mind for 2018.)
  2. Videos for YouTube. I’ll be adding many more to improve my articles and free courses, and – of course – just for fun.
  3. Podcasts. I thought most of the old ones (nearly 100 podcasts) were lost. No, they were just hiding in archives I didn’t know about. Yay! So, I’m reviewing them. And, I’m adding the best to related articles at HollowHill.com. I’m also going to use some as soundtracks for YouTube videos.
  4. Books. Earlier this year (2017), I removed almost all of my books from publication. Most of them were in dire need of updates & corrections. I’ll be juggling those revisions with my work on courses, videos, and podcasts. With some luck, at least one of my books will be back in print by the end of 2017. (Which means 2018, since – in a preposterously optimistic, rosy haze – I tend to overbook my schedule.)
  5. Big website changes. On November 15th, EncounterGhosts.com will vanish, but only the URL. All of that website’s articles (and more) are back at HollowHill.com, and I’m expanding & updating that site, steadily. (All old Encounter Ghosts links will redirect to the new location.)
  6. Other website updates. I’m improving & updating the articles at Ghosts101.com. I’m also planning to republish the content as a book (print and digital) with about 20 new questions, answered. If you have a ghost-related question, ask it in comments at any of my websites, and I may add it to the book.
  7. Experiments. I’m working on a few weird & quirky ideas for remote (“armchair”) paranormal research. So far, I’m learning what doesn’t work, but a couple of things look promising. If this is fruitful, I’ll share more in 2018.
  8. And then there’s the Mandela Effect. I’m considering a few videos to explain my views of it. Well… maybe. In the past year or two, the topic took on a life of its own, sometimes in good ways… but also in oh-dear-heaven ways, as well. I’m not sure whether I should define my views so they’re clear, or stay out of the fray. (I see it as a fun, “what if…?” topic that went viral, mostly thanks to George Takei. And then, a few hundred thousand people added their ideas, and that number seems to keep growing, daily. To be honest, I’m kind of aghast.)

So, that’s what’s happening at my desk and in field research for the rest of 2017. I’m enjoying the peace & quiet, and opportunities to create cool new resources for paranormal researchers. Happy holidays ahead!

New Feature at Hollow Hill: Ask Fiona

Halloween moon with owl, tree, and batsHalloween is nearly here. Daily, I receive many questions in email. There’s no way I can answer all of them, individually.

So, I’ve decided to try an alternative: An “Ask Fiona” page where readers can post their questions as comments.

As time permits, I’ll reply with a short answer (and possibly a useful link or two).

For more complicated questions, I’m creating an “Ask Fiona” article series. That’s where I’ll reply with more detailed information.

Due to the volume of questions I receive, I’m not sure this is a good idea. It may be more than I can manage, with the rest of my research & writing.

But, it’s worth a try, and it may be fun.

If you have a question about ghosts, ghost hunting, or haunted places, here’s where you can ask: New Feature: Ask Fiona.

Hollow Hill Returns

Hollow Hill - the ghost hunting websiteThis week, we’re relaunching HollowHill.com.

Back in the mid-1990s, my ghost hunting articles appeared at GeoCities.

Then, in 1999, as that virtual community was phased out, I started Hollow Hill as a paranormal research site. (The name referenced Ireland’s “hollow hills” with a strong nod to Sleepy Hollow.)

But, by 2014, Hollow Hill had become a behemoth. I’d written over 700 ghost-related articles. Site navigation was a nightmare.

So, I split the articles into categories, and moved them — in groups — to nearly a dozen smaller sites like Ghosts101.com and EncounterGhosts.com.

Now, we have new navigation tools. Big sites are okay. So, Hollow Hill returns.

This has been — and continues to be — the big 2017 project.

Ghosts101.com101 Ghost Hunting Questions Answered is now a Q&A site based on my earlier ebook, 101 Ghost Hunting Questions, Answered.

EncounterGhosts.com will be phased out between now and mid-November.

As of last night, HollowHill.com has around 400 articles. We’re still fixing broken links, updating the articles, etc.

We’re also adding “lost” articles as time permits, to make the site more like my original Hollow Hill.

Meanwhile, between seasonal media interviews, I’m continuing to work on book revisions and new books. Fingers crossed, many will be in print by Halloween.