One Reporter's Ramblings: Misremembering 101

Who can forget classic film lines such as “Luke, I am you father;” “Mirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” or “Play it again, Sam”

Better question: Who can remember that all three of the quotes above are wrong.

Darth Vader replies to Luke saying, “No, I am your father.” (Sorry if I spoiled the ending of a 30-year-old movie.)

The wicked stepmother in “Snow White” asked “Magic Mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” 

Meanwhile, Ingrid Bergman (not Humphrey Bogart as many remember) said “Play it, Sam” in “Casablanca.”

This type of collective false memory is known as the Mandela Effect, a term which was coined by Fiona Broome who started a website devoted to the term after she noticed that many people seemed to have memories of

Nelson Mandela dying in prison. Despite many claiming to remember the story, it would be impossible considering he became president of South Africa after being released from his life sentence and actually died 23 years after his release.

The favorite example for many younger than 40 seems to be whether the popular children’s book series was called “The Berenstein Bears” or “The Berenstain Bears.”

A large number of people have strong recollections of reading “The Berenstein Bears” stories as kids, but it has actually always been spelled with “ain.” 

It’s not hard to see how some of these recollections occur. Darth Vader revealed as Luke’s dad was a big deal, but Luke’s comment to him beforehand wasn’t. Names ending in -ain aren’t as common as those ending in -ein, so our mind tells us that the characters (named after the author) must follow the regular trend.

What is interesting is how much learning we were wrong about these things can affect us. One of my friends seemed very shaken about being wrong about “The Berenstain Bears” and some suggested name changes and all sorts of conspiracy theories involving replacing books. The best theories involve sliding from parallel realities where our false memories are correct. Unfortunately, human memory just isn’t 100 percent reliable. 

For example, while writing this column, I’m getting a sense of deja vu and beginning to think I might have written this before. If I have, it was a purely unintentional example of our fragile memory.

Paul Gaudette is a staff writer at the Dublin Citizen and can be reached at 445-2515 and

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