As a way to introduce our investigation into how the Mandela Effect is integrated in several career industries, we wanted to start by sharing with you what’s going on in our very own school! Memories and their unreliability have caught the attention of librarian and IB English teacher, Ms. Wilson! Find out how she’s been planning to bring her discoveries right into the classroom:
FE: After assessing how you remember your childhood, are your memories based off of more concrete proof, like photographs, or are they coloured by what you’ve heard from your parents?
W: So when I think about the way my memories are formed, absolutely I think it’s not just the memory itself — ‘cause sometimes those are really fuzzy — but I remember better things that my parents took photos of, and then told me the stories as I was growing up; kind of reinforcing the memories. This can be problematic I suppose, because the way the stories’ are told and what actually happened could be two different things.
W: I know my mum and I disagree about things I distinctly remember happening, but she insists did not happen. So, it calls into question to what extent memories are actually constructed just with our own brains, and to what extent there are shaped by the stories of others… And there’s some things that we would rather forget!
FE: How have you educated yourself on false memories and its impact?
W: So yeah, it’s problematic for sure. I watched this little clip about this psychologist who implants false memories into subjects’ brains: Basically by attaching old memories and then adding — like finding out something that was true about what happened to them — and then adding an extra element that they didn’t think had happened. Then through repetition, the subjects eventually agree. So this idea that you can piggyback some sort of different interpretation or different facts, quote-on-quote from the past the way other people saw things. So, when our memories are constructed, it’s a big mess.
FE: Yes, we totally agree! Memories can get easily distorted, and we can’t always rely on just a person’s account without much irrefutable, solid proof.
W: Yes! I go back to my mother, because I can mention a situation and she would just contradict me and say it never occurred. I’m like ‘you’re gaslighting me!’
“Chronicle of a Death Foretold” is a book that describes the murder of a young man, Santiago Nasar, and the events leading to his death. It also follows some of the characters’ lives after he is killed.
This story relates to the Mandela Effect in many different ways. For example in the book. There was rumors saying that Santiago Nasar was going to be killed but neither of them knew it was true.
So far, students are asked to write a formal essay on how the narrator is recollecting, researching and representing Nasar’s murder; and how they may not be reliable, since most details of the crime were lost.
*Stayed tuned to for updates on how this is connected to the Mandela Effect, by subscribing to this Websitedown below!
As a way to highlight how false memories and the Mandela Effect are integrated into the real world, we wanted to know how people in the medical field are equipped to deal with ranging memory complications. So, we went to the largest rehabilitation centres in British Columbia, and talked to clinical nurse educator on how she prepares her staff on recollection impairments in their brain injury patients.
*Interviewee: K. Marquez, RN and Clinical Nurse Educator — Vancouver Coastal Health vch.ca/
FE: So if we could start by you introducing your career profession and how you got into it, specifically in this ward.
KM: My name is Karen Marquez. I’ve been a registered nurse for 14 years, and I’m currently the clinical nurse educator for GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre for the entire unit. So, we have three units here: spinal cord injury, acute brain injury and NMS.
FE: And then why did you choose pursue nursing?
KM: Oh, nursing! I just have the passion for nursing. The healthcare field is in my family. My dad is a doctor and my mom was a nurse as well, so I guess early on I was pushed into the field of healthcare. Nursing for me is pretty big, because there are a lot of paths you can go to. There are so many different areas you can excel in and develop your skills in every area possible. Rehab wise, I like rehab nursing because we see people that come in here and they have the worst fate in life, having brain injuries, having spinal cord injuries. Going through rehab will help them get back to where they were, and for me I find that very inspiring.
FE: When people think of major memory impairments, Alzheimer’s and dementia are the most widely known. What does it look like to have these diseases?
KM: I can talk about when I was working long-term care, where we had a lot of patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s and dementia are mostly memory problem-related. You could see they would have trouble remembering people’s names or what they had for breakfast. They would just ask you like oh, did I have my breakfast?, but they already had breakfast. So, for Alzheimer’s and dementia, it’s setting them back to reality, and making sure hey, you already had breakfast!, and saying what they had. It’s more repetition for them.
KM: For rehab, a lot of our patients here in the ABI unit suffered a massive stroke that lead to a brain injury, or a traumatic accident or experience. Whether it be a vehicle accident or something like that. What I find with regards to their memory problems is that a lot of them don’t remember what happened during the accident. They would just tell you oh, the last thing I remembered I was just in the street!. So, they don’t know if they’ve been hit or what happened when they had that stroke or brain injury. For us [nurses], it’s all about the facts we can give them so they know what really happened to them.
FE: Do the memory issues you see arise in the brain injury ward primarily affect older populations, or can it affect youth too?
KM: Well, I feel we have handed a lot of people from different age groups. We have adolescent people, people in school– like extremes of age really. We have had really young people, as well as really old people. But how we treat them as the same. So it’s like repetition, repetition, repetition!
FE: Do you use any ques like photos, scrapbooks or any mementos from home to use to bring back those memories?
KM: Oh, for sure! We encourage their families to bring a photobook, so that they can remember their family members. That is because a lot of them would be like oh, who is that?, and they would be say oh, I don’t know!. Then, we would point out that is your sister [for example]. It’s just giving them that sense of a visual perception on who you’re talking about, and it actually helps them. And one other thing that we’re doing is [incorporating] flashcards, actually. A lot of our patients also forget a sense of safety, so they’re safety inhibited as we call it.
KM: They don’t know how to be safe, so we usually give them flashcards to be like make sure you call so you don’t fall off your chair!. That’s because some of them have mobility issues as well. It’s just making sure that they know, because if they see it then they would know to call. But sometimes if they don’t see the sign, they would just stand up just because they forgot they need help.
FE: As a CNE, are they any protocols your nurses are supposed to follow if a patient is experiencing memory impairment? Is there a particular way of reporting this to other colleagues?
KM: For nursing, we always do report handovers if there’s anything that happened in particular to a patient that we need to be monitoring. For example, this particular patient we found very confused today. Like he doesn’t remember the date or something like that. So, it’s handed over to the next shift via written report.
FE: In the brain injury ward, is it reliant on any machinery that helps patients’ maintain their memories?
KM: From what I know, a lot of them do the EEG. I think for EEG, it just tracks the brain waves and sees if there’s any changes to a normal behaviour. That’s just it mostly. For us, it’s just based on facts. We just tell them what the facts are, and just repetition. There’s not a whole lot of gadgets.
FE: If a patient were to be experiencing a Mandela Effect, and sure they’re in the right and have become aggravated because of it, is there a protocol you have for RN’s to diffuse the situation?
KM: Oh, for sure! Just from my previous example of somebody that thinks they have not had breakfast yet, they can flare up because they think they haven’t had breakfast, but they actually did. So for us nurses, we always got to be calm. That’s the first thing we got to be. Then, we got to think critically, like how do I help this person?
KM: I know he is having memory issues, so it’s mostly just being calm and getting the person to calm down, because you don’t want to aggravate the person more. But it’s not like your going to tell them that — force them like no, you’ve had your breakfast you don’t remember!. It’s mostly just okay, calm down let’s talk this over; look at the time, it’s already maybe 10 o’clock and you usually have breakfast around eight o’clock, so you must have had your breakfast already.
KM: It’s just more like that. Just being calm, and just telling the person it’s okay. I know it’s difficult for some people to say just relax, but especially with brain injury people, they don’t know how to relax right away. So you got to make sure the environment around them is calm as well, and there’s no outside stimulation that can stimulate and aggravate them more.
FE: Have you had patients that don’t have a background or history with brain injuries experience Mandela Effects or memory impairment?
KM: Yes, for sure! Maybe it’s the hospital setting in itself, because some of them get cabin fever where they’re in one place, and forget what it’s like outside. They get restless, but sometimes they are not allowed to go outside. But memory problem wise, it’s just a matter of — sometimes the basic thing they forget is the day it is today, or something like that.
KM: It’s just up to the nurses to intervene right away and make sure they’ve got a calendar right there; make sure they’ve got a clock, and know how to read a clock. If not, then we switch to the — but now we are offering them the iPad, so it’s digital, right? So you don’t need to know how to read an analog clock. That I think rally makes a difference for them for sure.
FE: Do these memory concurrently happen quite often, or is it just a one time thing that occurs maybe once a week? How often do you see these arise in the ward?
KM: I don’t keep track, but I’m sure it’s often. It’s more often than I think it is, and I think that’s also a memory problem! Yeah, definitely more often than I think it actually is. I guess our brain is not as conscious to it. If we open our brains up and just think hard, I think you’ll be like oh yeah!. That is what you call now a memory gap, [where] you thought of something that didn’t actually happen.
FE: How often are the memory impairment case you see are linked to physical accidents, rather than continuing diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia?
KM: This floor in particular is acute brain injury, so I would say 80-percent of them are accidents. Either vehicle accidents; or snowboarding accidents; or skiing accidents or something like that. Sometimes the memory loss starts during the accident per say, because they don’t remember what happened.
FE: What are the key details to gather from a victim of an accident in terms of what they can remember?
KM: The first thing [paramedics] ask if is the person is alert; or if the person is oriented. Usually it’s the three: day, name and place. So, if they pass that, then they’re fully conscious. But some people just know their name, or they don’t know the date; they don’t know where they are. That’s an impairment right there! And usually it’s documented by the paramedic and transferred on to the hospital, and then we see it.
KM: So everyday when we start our shift, we ask them [the three signs of orientation] to monitor if there are any changes. Like maybe yesterday, [a patient] got three-out-of-three, but today it’s only two-out-of-three. Then we go to the next day and [their] back to the three-out-of-three, so maybe that’s just a fluke. But if it continues to go different directions that what we want to, that’s when we’ll be like [they’ll] need more intervention, because he’s having brain problems.
FE: So what’s the road to a diagnosis from there?
KM: The doctors will look at the medications, because medications have side effects or trigger memory loss as well — not memory loss per say, but it changes the hormones in the brain that makes you think. So some antipsychotics and anti-seizure medications will have brain effects that can lead to relapse memory.
KM: There’s no diagnosis per say for memory loss. It’s just something that happens, and something that you need to monitor so it’s not getting worse. Because when it gets worse, maybe there’s a bleed in the brain that need to be surgically operated on. Or, that’s just where the level of brain injury is; that they just cannot remember, and it’s up to you to intervene and make sure their safe and go on in life even with the deficients they have.
FE: What medias do you use to go about your lessons with RN’s on memory-related issues and other health topics?
KM: I feel for educating nurses, it’s more about making it fun and interactive. So, I find posting videos about what is relevant in their practice is more — they actually respond more to videos, rather than giving them a handout to read. And including movies as well, because now I am just showing them short documentaries. I’m actually going to post something for spinal cord injuries, about a guy who had an accident and memory problem. I find that inspiring, and hopefully the nurses find it inspiring as well!
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FE: Can you recall an early childhood memory and how you remember it, whether it be from a photo album, scrapbook, personal account and so on?
S1: Yeah, I remember when I was five or something, my cousin and I climbed the roof of his house back in Sri Lanka. It was really cool, ‘cause I was very small and I was on the roof. I have a very clear memory of this; of just looking over the edge of the roof, and my cousin also remembers it. Also, my aunts and everyone got really mad, so obviously they remembered as well. I generally look to it as my first memory, because it’s the first solid thing I have that everyone else also remembers.
FE: Wow, that’s a very vivid memory, and you seem to have lots of confidence in it since it’s backed up by others.
FE: Do you have any plans of making physical keepsakes as a way to pass down memories to future generations in your family?
S2: So, most of the images or memories can be found throughout different means of media. As a way to pass them down, I would probably keep those, maybe print out photos and have a box of images, or keep them on a hard drive of some sort and go through them with family.
FE: How have you received your childhood memories?
S3: In the past, my parents have always taken photos and created albums.
FE: Do you plan on carrying down memories later on in that same fashion?
S3: I would like to continue that for other generations.
FE: How do you plan on passing down memories to future generations in your family?
S4: I would probably share photos of my childhood, and probably take photos of my kids for the future.
FE: And will it be done digitally?
S4: Yes, probably digitally.
FE: How do you plan on passing down memories to your children [if you’re going to have any]?
S5: I think that in today’s age the easiest way to pass down your own memories to your children is by recording them on your phone, and then it’s saved on the iCloud. So even if that phone were to get destroyed or whatever, those pictures will forever be there. Unlike actual photos, where if it gets destroyed in a fire [for example], then it’s gone totally! So, I guess if I’d wanna show something to like my upcoming relatives, like next generations, the best way to do that would be saving it on an iCloud device sort-of-thing, and then being able to share it that way.
FE: How have you remembered your childhood memories?
S6: Ah, just through some photos, and my parents tell me some things that they’ve remembered.
FE: What are your earliest childhood memories, and how do you remember them?
S7: Mmm, some memories, you know as I grew up, I still have them in the back of my mind. And, some my parents back up with their stories, and we have hardcopies of those little incidents and anecdotes that my parents back up that I have.
FE: Can you recall your oldest childhood memory?
S8: It was me around two or three drinking from my milk bottle, and looking at my mom while my favourite show was playing in the background and my two older siblings were going to school.
FE: So there’s sounds involved, so it’s not necessarily through photos. So, how do you remember it?
S8: I don’t know. It’s always been the first thing that comes to mind when someone says ‘childhood.’
FE: And do you remember it through conversations with a parent or…?
S8: No. I tell my mom about it, but my mom doesn’t remember it, so I don’t feel like it’s true even though I think it is.
FE: This story is based solely on your personal memory, so how confident are you with the accuracy behind your memories?
S8: Every time someone tells me to speak on a memory that happened a few years ago, I tend to change a few details from a story, because I don’t remember the– I keep forgetting more and more details as time goes on, so I make up details. I don’t think our memories are perfectly true or perfect.
FE: What is your earliest childhood memory and how do you remember it?
S9: My first childhood memory was being able to spell my first word, which is ‘love.’ How I remembered it was I was drawing at home and I asked my mom what word I can learn, and she said love. That’s the first time I spelt a word.
FE: What was your first childhood recollection and how do you remember it?
S10: Well, my first childhood memory was when I was a kid. I was playing with my sister in the store — I think it was Gap — and we were just holding hands and spinning around in circles, and then she accidently let me go. I flew and hit my head on the metal shelf, and it started to bleed.
FE: And how do you remember it?
S10: ‘Cause it was an accident [and therefore really memorable]!
FE: Can you recall your oldest childhood memory?
S11: I think the first thing I remember is I fell down on the bathroom table, and my mother told me.
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In order to male an amazing Podcast for you guys, there’s a lot of prep work needed in order to get there. One of the best ways we can add to out message and make each of our segments richer is through sound. Below, the entire False Effects team created a Wishlist for what sounds we would like to include in future episodes. Take a quick glance and tell us what you think!!
SOUND FREQUENCY WAVES: This is a good sound to include in False Effects, because like some sounds in horror films, you can’t hear them. The heartz test plays subtle buzzing which could make you, the audience, focus harder and concentrate on where you hear the frequencies during a segment.
LIGHT BULB SWITCHED ON: When we might explain a concept or introduce the results of an experiment, the sound of switching a light bulb on associates with getting an idea. This may build anticipation and make you guys more aware of what to anticipate next.
EVP RECORDER: When we explain the inconsistencies behind Nelson Mandela’s death or go into detail about Fiona Broome’s paranormal expertise, this sound device can set the creepy mood. An EVP recorder is a radio device that is said to communicate with spirits.
AUDIENCE/GROUP OF PEOPLE GASPING IN SURPRISE: This sound effect will set the scene more when we discuss some of the shocking consequences behind the Mandela Effect and false memories. A shock sound will illustrate how we felt when we found out for instance false memories is the number one cause of false convictions. This sound will act as a second layer, and reaffirm the gravity of our message.
DARTH VADER BREATHING: When we share some pop culture examples of the Mandela Effect, many come directly from some of the most famous films in Hollywood. That includes the Star Wars franchise, but you’ll have to stay tooned to find out what they are in order to avoid spoilers (These include examples that weren’t reported!).
NEWS BROADCAST: When we share some of the latest in human memory studies, or talk about the Mandela funeral news coverage, it will help you visualize the setting or where our information is coming from when you hear a news broadcast.
LOONEY TUNES MUSIC: This sound effect would be great for our Mandela Effect Podcast as an intro because it brings a happy mood to our episodes. It also gives an old-time feeling, like time-travelling since Looney tunes is an old show. Furthermore, this podcast is about things that “happened” in the past and Looney Tunes music intro would add depth to it.
WRAPPER OPENING: A wrapper opening would be great for our Podcast because it could be a sound effect when we open objects or talk about unraveling problems that have to do with solving certain Mandela Effects.
AIR FRESHENER SPRAY: This is a good little sound effect for when we talked about popular Mandela Effect examples. Specifically with the one about febreze and how everyone thought it was spelled ‘’febreeze’’ but in reality it’s spelt ‘’febreze.’’ This adds a nice touch to it.
MICROPHONE THUMPING SOUND: A major part of our Podcast is to get everyday people like you included in our episodes! So when we’re going to take on-the-street interviews about Mandela Effect examples or the stunning science behind it, it would be helpful to have a sound effect to que us in and alert you when the interview segment is on! Also, it would be an effective way to introduce a potential expert to give us exclusive insight on false memories and its significance to you.
SCREAMING: This would be a very essential sound effect for our Podcast. We would use this effect when one of the examples we talk about is scary/spooky – like a shocking fact – or when we describe the spookiest and paranormal Mandela Effects
In order to delve deeper into our topic of interest, we would to research extensively before hand. Before we begin our Podcast, we have noted down a series of questions and statements about the Mandela Effect. However, we plan to go deeper. We also created a series of questions which have not been investigated or mentioned in the press. Our statements have come from the following ‘Independent’ article:
“Differences arise from movement between parallel realities; the multiverse” source: Fiona Broome
“Schemas are organised packets of knowledge that direct memory.” source: Frederic Bartlett’s schema theory
‘…The Queen in Snow White says “Mirror, mirror on the wall.” The correct phase is “Magic mirror on the wall.”’ source: Snow White movie
‘For instance, it was wrongly recalled that C-3PO from Star Wars was gold, actually one of his legs is silver.’ source: Star Wars movie franchise
‘Broome explains the Mandela Effect via pseudoscientific theories.’ source: authors Neil Dagnall and Ken Drinkwater paraphrasing Fiona Broome (creator of the Mandela Effect
Questions for Direct Quotes:
Could false memories be linked to broader theories, like time-warps, false realities, etc.?
Where exactly in the human memory system do people turn to direct their lives?
Questions for Indirect Quotes:
Do the examples of the Mandela Effect go beyond just mistaking when Nelson Mandela died? Are there other instances in pop culture, childhood recollections, etc?
Could Mandela Effects go beyond what people hear? Are there any examples incorporating other senses like sight, hearing, etc.?
What are the grounds to Broome’s Online study? Is it focused more on scientific analysis and polling, or are her theories just a collection of hypotheses?
List of Questions Still Remaining:
(1) Who did Broome find that also thought Nelson Mandela’s supposedly died in the eighties? Did she follow any method of fact-checking to confirm they were telling the truth (and not just giving her a bogus story)? While on her Website (mandelaeffect.com) she mentioned meeting the people at a conference, she has described them as “random people.” There has been no follow up to who the people are and what makes their testimony credible that goes beyond just their word (ie. no news coverage to play back showing Mandela’s funeral).
(2) Where did Fiona Broome get her education, knowledge and credentials to become a reliable “Paranormal Consultant”? How can courses and training in this field be scientific, when paranormal concepts are regarded as myths or tales? While Broome explained how she got her Online network going on her Website, there is no explanation to her she got her credentials from. It also goes to question why people trust her articles, since her background is quite abstract.
(3) How did the Mandela Effect get conflated with black magic, witchcraft and other dark Satanic matter? According to The Conversation and other publications, various myths have come to light citing time travellers and demonic rituals have lead to the Mandela Effect. However, there is still no scientific proof for the claims. But no publications has specified yet where these myths originated from, and if Broome and her open comment section lead to the rumours’ gaining traction.
(4) How do people confuse real events versus imagined ones from their memory? What happens to the human brain for “organized packets of knowledge” to get distorted from the truth? While Bartlett may have uncovered where the brain turns to for existing memories, it is still unclear what in particular happens in the brain for memories to get distorted and altered.
(5) Should you believe in someone else’s story/memory even if its filled with tons of confidence, detail and emotion? How can you tell if someone is telling the truth or not? Are there any body language cues or a structure/detail to their statement that can prove it is not a false memory? According to the Scientific American blog, there is no study dedicated to linking body language and false memories. As of 2016, it is understood that there is no way to distinguish if a memory is false or not in the absence of evidence (ie. photographs).
(6) What is the future of this concept? Are there any grounds to take this from a “pseudoscientific” concept to a coherent psychological study? Could Broome play a role in this study even though her work is not is not based on scientific method? These are important questions to ask, because in Broome’s Mandela Effect Website, she never quoted to outside, professional research. Instead, Broome has her Website set-up for conversational purposes where people can write responses and tips without any verification.
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Shattered Glass is a film about how one of the youngest, most successful journalists in the US capitol garnered fame for his stunning reporting. However when his rival colleague and a competing publication start questioning the legitimacy of his articles, his career goes down a long tunnel filled with lies and deception.
In order to report on the stories in Shattered Glass, the journalists used a series of technical interview methods to get answers to their personal inquiries. These techniques include welcoming interview subjects, verifying claims, noting down small details, layering interview questions and investigating stories at their respective locations.
Create a character and/or welcoming environment so you can get insider access into a story:
At the beginning of the film Shattered Glass, a New Republic reporter, Stephen Glass got an assignment to report on young conservatives at CPAC. He decided to dress up in an America-themed hat, glasses and apparel in order to blend in with the crowd and not stand out like a sore thumb. Stephen Glass would also produce intricate stories such as the false pretence of him being gay. Stephen would share these stories with his fellow New Republic journalists, editors and copy-writers.
By doing this, Glass was fairly successful because he got exclusive access to multiple interviewees at CPAC without the intimidation or doubt towards him as a journalist. This was significant, because many tories had bad blood with the media long before Trump; with the birth of Fox News in 1996. In addition, Stephen would create a character with other New Republic journalists. Glass told them random stories and asked odd questions like “are you mad at me?” to manipulate his colleagues.
Instead of slowing building up a relationship with the other journalists, Glass would use childlike manipulative tactics in order to be in their best regards. He used this to his benefit when the magazine’s journalists felt sympathetic for Glass when their editor Chuck Lane started penalizing him for his inaccurate published stories. For instance, Glass’ fellow journalist, Caitlin was an opponent to having Stephen fired because she cited it would “break” him. Caitlin was also on the receiving end of Glass’ various breakdowns.
Therefore, by Stephen making up false pretences such as being gay, he paved the way for his subjects/colleagues to feel comfortable with him and unconsciously enable his fake reporting. As a result, his co-workers stood by him till the very end, until his fake reporting was indisputable.
2. Do not allow your subject to present suggestions and unverified details as facts:
When a CPAC organizer objected to Glass’ Spring Breakdown story, his editor Michael Kelly brought him to his office for further questioning. When Kelly told him there were no mini bars in the event’s hotel rooms, he specifically asked Glass how he got to that conclusion. This question got Glass to confess that he made an unfounded assertion, because he associated the small bottles he saw meant there was a bar in the hotel rooms.
After, Kelly called the hotel to ask if it was possible for its customers to rent a fridge in their rooms. The subject on the phone said it was not possible, but Kelly did not retract the article or issue a response to their readers (like Lane eventually did at the end of the film).
Although Kelly’s line of questioning was effective in revealing the truth, he unresponsively chose not to retract Glass’ story. This is a bad journalistic technique, because journalists who report inaccurate details can be sued for defamation or other libel cases. Similar to the ending of Shattered Glass, there is the fear of the publication losing their integrity and reputation as an accurate, facts-first team.
This was alluded to when Lane confronted Glass about how Forbes’ journalists would go through his hacker story and find security camera footage and other details that were not factually accurate. Lane stressed throughout Shattered Glass that such lies would tarnish the publication’s reputation of being “the in-flight magazine of Air Force I.” Therefore, if a journalist or editor’s questioning of their reporter leads them to believe their publication’s story is subjective or inaccurate, they must remove or update it immediately. By doing this, it ensures the stories provided to their readers are entirely factual.
3. Enter a story with a different, unconventional lense, which would otherwise go unnoticed by other journalists:
Stephen Glass in a stream of consciousness outlined the importance of recording very miniscule details during every interview he conducts. Asking questions and taking notes of his subject’s interests, clothing, working environment, etc. adds to each story more character, humanity or in Stephen’s words, “behaviour.”
In Shattered Glass, Stephen asked several CPAC attendees about their age and noted down the party culture in their hotels (ie. the booze, prostitutes). By asking about these fine details, Stephen Glass was able to extract a story that was not only a specific profile of a group at the conservative gathering, but also was relevant to its time period: post-Clinton/Lewinski affair scandal during a democratic administration.
United conservatives, especially young tories, played a pivotal role in electing a republican president shortly after the impeachable scandal. Although Stephen’s story was miscreditied for unfounded claims and assumptions, the profile revealed how polarizing the period was, and a part of the republican voter demographic which won back the White House.
Stephen Glass’ interview technique by entering a story with a different, unique perspective has also worked out extremely well in other cases. For instance, after Joaquin Phoenix won a Golden Globe for his performance in Joker, one journalist asked him a cookie-cutter question about how he got into character.
Phoenix scoffed off the question, because he answered it in almost all the interviews he conducted while promoting the film for six months. Whereas, another journalist took an unusual route and asked him about his vegan diet and the vegan menu served at the event. Phoenix provided a detailed response, talking about how the agriculture/dairy industry is a prime factor of climate change, and how more award shows need to adopt a vegan dinner.
Subsequently days later, Phoenix was arrested at Jane Fonda’s Fire Drill Friday protest in Washington, DC. Phoenix brought up the same concerns from the journalist’s line-of-questioning at the protest. This example demonstrates how Stephen Glass’ unique, detail-oriented interview technique is effective because it exhumed information which added to a larger and more consequential story at-large (in this case being the climate crisis).
4. Strategically ease your main inquiry in during your interview in order to lay out a coherent story:
When a couple of journalists from Forbes had trouble pieces the details to Stephen Glass’ Hack Heaven story about a young hacker and its firm, they gave him and Lane a call. In the call, they allowed Stephen to defend his reporting and gave him the benefit of the doubt. They methodically asked him questions like if Glass ever called the hacker agents directly, or why a major hacking firm had an AOL Website. They also asked for various phone numbers and Emails before hand to try out and see if there are legitimate.
Once Forbes viewed the Website and received an additional phone number which was not from Nevada like it was supposed to be, they asked Glass how confident he was in his story. Glass agreed there were major holes in the details which did not add up or make sense.
The order in which they laid out their questions was effective, because it allowed them to garner more material for their story. Their prior research already had enough to prove Glass was making the hacker story, but they still persisted in asking for more details (ie. no state was crafting new Internet-themed legislation like he cited, etc.). By doing this, the Forbes journalists were able to build up their case to be larger and stronger until it was time to say ‘checkmate.’ Therefore, in order to have a solid and thorough story, it is important to ask building block questions which will reach to the heart of the issue. In Forbes’ case, it was to expose Glass as a fraudulent and fake journalist.
5. Besides referring to the Internet or external sources to fact-check, checkout your subject’s claims in person (with more follow up questions):
During one of the most climactic scenes in Shattered Glass, editor Chuck Lane got Stephen Glass to take him to the supposed restaurants and an office building where the “Jukt Micronics” gatherings took place. Lane raised suspicion on how it was odd to hold an exclusive hackers meeting at an open eatery.
Later, Lane asked follow up questions about where the office building was which held the hackers reunion. Lane saw in-person how it was impossible for 100 to 200 people to be in such a confined space. In addition, he effectively asked a second subject besides Stephen about the meeting’s time specifics. By getting a second subject (being a receptionist), they were able to state the building was not open on Sundays unlike Stephen’s story.
Lastly, when Chuck asked if and where the group had dinner, he found out the restaurant did not serve past lunchtime. By asking Glass additional details and fast-checking the logistics in-person, his editor Chuck Lane was able to successfully exhume inaccuracies in his story. If Lane chose to refer to a street map or an Internet search, he would have never seen first hand how the locations’ size, business hours and overall optics do not correlate with a large scale hacker firm meeting.
Chuck Lane’s interview and hands on fact-checking method is highly effective, as it worked to uncover other real high profile scandals. For example, Washington Post journalist Stephanie McCrummen broke the story on how an Alabama Senate candidate had a sexual encounter with a minor. When McCrummen received a tip that the candidate Roy Moore had an affinity for teenage girls, she immediately flew to Alabama to gather more details. When an alleged victim by the name of Leigh agreed to go on the record with her story, she answered McCrummen’s questions with a series of locations where she said to have met with Moore.
McCrummen and her team had to vet every single sentence in order to see if her story was credible. The journalists working the case drove to the corner Leigh said Moore picked her up at; tested if the drive was as long as she described; checked to see if the driveway was paved like she recounted, etc.
It was very effective for the Washington Post to run through the story details in real life, because a Google Map search would not have determined accurate information from many decades ago. Instead, McCrummen went to the local courthouse and obtained Moore’s property records to see if the commute and locations were accurate to their subject’s claims (it was!). This example illustrates how Chuck Lane’s in-person fact-checking technique is useful, because it allows journalists to find or not find holes in their subject’s story.
In essence, while Shattered Glass documented some of the worst examples of fake and fabricated news stories, it allowed many investigative interview techniques to prevail and bring home the truth. The interview skills demonstrated in the film allowed the various characters to garner access to an exclusive source, make their articles very detailed and write-up a thorough, coherent story.
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Before we introduce how social media played a vital role in igniting the Mandela Effect campaign, we first need to define a term used to describe the influencers on this topic. Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule of Harvard University posited in Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures that conspiracy theories circulate through “conspiracy entrepreneurs.” Essentially, conspiracy entrepreneurs are individuals who earn a living from directly or indirectly sharing profound claims and theories.
The False Effects Breakdown:
We learnt about the Mandela Effect from the Internet’s first conspiracy entrepreneur, Shane Dawson. Back in 2015, we came across Dawson’s web series called Conspiracy Theories, which spans to over fifty videos. We plan to share our most notable claims we recall from the series with our audience: ie. Beyonce faking her pregnancy, the Mandela Effect proving parallel universes exist, etc. After Dawson came out with his series, 1.3 million videos about the Mandela Effect were uploaded on YouTube in 2016 alone by other influencers.
False Effects Debates:
Although these videos became increasingly popular and easier to capitalize off of, we are split on if these “conspiracy entrepreneurs” are really talented. On one side, some of us believe they are very skillful, because they design their own marketing images, organize collaborations, and utilize YouTube’s algorithms to their advantage. But on the other hand, some of us also think they should not receive much credit, because they are simply reiterating theories that were already circulating the Internet, rather than creating original content. We plan to conclude this episode with a debate on if their fame is well justified or not using these points in our discussion.
When trying to understand why many Mandela Effect examples are incredibly polarizing, we first need to address with our audience how we get them in the first place. Misassociations is the leading cause of the Mandela Effect. Misassociations or misattributions are memories where the overall item is correct, but one or more of the details regarding the topic are wrong. These kinds of memories are known to be fairly common, and can affect anyone.
False Effects Takes it to the Streets:
With that being said, we are going to take some of the most popular Mandela Effect examples from pop culture references and consumer goods logos to the streets to see if they are as divisive as people claim them to be. We will record four people reacting to each Mandela Effect and state which of the two answers they think is correct (the real version vs. the Mandela Effect.) First, we will bring up two movie quotes: Did Darth Vader say “Luke, I am your father,” or “No, I am your father;” and if the evil queen from Snow White said “Mirror, mirror on the wall,” or “Magic mirror on the wall.” Lastly, we will see if our streeter subjects can tell the difference between two brand logos. We will show a picture of a Kit Kat bar with and without a hyphen, and the Monopoly mascot with and without a monocle, to see if they can identify the correct version.
The False Effects Breakdown:
After taking various Mandela Effects to the streets, according to memory researcher at New School, Elizabeth Loftus, there are two main factors which explain how our chosen Mandela Effect examples formed: Suggestibility and misinterpretation. Amongst ourselves, we found we misquoted movie lines based off of what we heard from others, and therefore taking their suggested lines to be true. Whereas for the brand logos, Loftus argues small details often go overlooked, so there is often confusion when deciphering what is accurate and what is not. We will compare these factors to our interview results to see if misassociations led our subjects to the wrong answers.
In order to analyze the impact and consequences behind the Mandela Effect, we first need to establish with our what it is: The Mandela Effect is a phenomenon where someone’s memories do not match its current reality or history. The Mandela Effect is often associated with the science of false memories. Likewise, we need to make clear for our audience is false memories can also entail remembering situations which did not occur. However, one draw distinction they have with the Mandela Effect is that false memories can have partly distorted or altered recollections, instead of full-blown lies.
The False Effects Breakdown:
Next, we will share with our audience the decade old history behind the Mandela Effect, which ties into the etymology of her psychological mystery: The dilemma originally went public as a Website (mandelaeffect.com) by paranormal researcher, Fiona Broome. Broome’s first reported on her findings in 2009, when she cited many people (including herself), remembering former South African president Nelson Mandela’s death in the late 20th century. Many people she had interviewed remembered watching nearly identical funeral coverage on all major American, Canadian and British cable news networks. Her Website later gained traction in 2015 when users started coming forward with their own incorrect memories: For instance, we all coincidentally believed in our elementary school years that America had 52 states, when in reality, there is only 50.
False Effects Debates:
Lastly, we will end with a mini-debate on if it was right for Broome to step-down from her study, rather than just set limits on her platform. When spam and troll messages on her Website became severe, Broome would spend a minimum of 6 hours each day moderating the discussions. By 2016, she felt her project was fully taken out of context, with users treating the Mandela Effect as a conspiracy towards parallel realities and other unfounded claims laced with hyperbole. One argument we have is Fiona Broome should have only archived all the chat logs and limited her comment section to act on the issue. But on the contrary, some of us felt it was right for Broome chose to go further and step-down from admin post this year, because her study was getting too divisive and misrepresented.
We created a quick fictional interview for you that talks a great deal about some themes we plan to address in our Podcast. Enjoy!
Elizabeth Loftus is an American cognitive psychologist from Stanford University. She researches on false memory, and how people remember things differently.
Loftus started her career as a researcher at New School, where she has published various studies on misinformation psychology.
Q: Why did you choose to study human memories rather than other branches in psychology?
A: So when I was 14 years old, my uncle told me I was the one to find my mother’s body after a drowning accident. But as it turned out, my uncle was mistaken because it was my aunt who found her body floating in the pool. This traumatic event really got me thinking about how suggestibility often gets in the way of knowing our own truth; and how vital the facts really are.
Q: In particular, you research “false memories.” What interested you about false memories?
A: I found it so compelling how we had no way of explaining why people recall incidents which either did not occur, or occurred in a completely different way. Before I published my first study in 1974, no one had researched this issue.
Q: Today, false memories are being tied to an Internet phenomenon called the Mandela Effect. Is this a fair connection, or are they two completely different concepts?
A: There’s a correlation between the two, but the Mandela Effect, in my opinion, is a way for people to merely laugh at themselves, and realize minuscule details that originally went under their noses. False memories on the other hand, have real life consequences as I unfortunately know very well. For instance, did you know false memories is the leading cause of wrongful criminal convictions? It just blows my mind how schools, courtrooms and more rely so heavily on memories which are proven to morph and bend the truth.