Online is a strange and terrifying place. It’s enabled us to connect with one another, advance the causes of science and culture, and unite the world with a glowing net of data. It’s also enabled people with very… particular interests to find each other. In this weekly series, we’ll be dipping into the Internet Gutter – the strange subcultures and weird worlds lurking in the dark pockets of the World Wide Web.The Mandela EffectDid you ever get the feeling like the world isn’t quite right? Have a memory that conflicted with other people’s? No, you’re not insane or being experimented on by evil government scientists. You’re just the latest victim of the Mandela Effect.Coined by a “paranormal consultant” named Fiona Broome, the name comes from Broome’s unshakeable belief that South African political leader Nelson Mandela died in jail in during the 1980s. He was actually freed in 1990 and became President in 1994. When she found that other people shared her wrong information, the Mandela Effect was born.With a critical eye, it’s pretty easy to see what’s going on: these people just don’t remember things right. It’s not complicated, and we all do it. The technical term is “confabulation.”But, since this is the Internet, the simplest answer isn’t always the one people believe. Hardcore Mandela Effect sufferers think they’ve been forcibly relocated to a parallel dimension, or are living within a computer simulation that’s glitching out. Let’s dive into the Internet Gutter to dig up the most crackpot theories.The StainProbably the most famous example of the Mandela Effect is the Berenstain Bears, the long-running children’s book series written and drawn by Stan and Jan Berenstain. A significant group of people believes that the titular ursines are the BerenstEin Bears, and at some point in the past, the spelling of the name was changed. Not only that, but all record of the E version was expunged from history.This… didn’t happen. People are confused because “Berenstein” is a more common spelling of the last name, where “Berenstain” is rarer. As you’ll see with some these Mandela Effects, they depend on childhood memories that have faded with time.Genie In A BottleComedian Sinbad is probably best known for his tenure on A Different World, but hundreds of people remember him as the star of 90s kid comedy Shazaam, where he played a wisecracking friendly genie.Only one problem: Shazaam never existed. Those memories are pure Mandela Effect. If you remember that movie, chances are you’re confabulating Sinbad into the Shaquille O’Neal vehicle Kazaam, which was about a wisecracking friendly genie. This would – and should – be a good enough explanation for most people, but Mandela Effect victims won’t let it rest.You read that right. People are making up all kinds of explanations as to why a movie that has never existed might have actually existed. Pulling the Star Wars Holiday Special into the mix to justify the burial of Shazaam is some next level nonsense, and in that thread there are multiple replies from people who swear to have seen Shazaam on videotape more than once. But this all seems innocuous compared to the truly weird places the Mandela Effect can go.Getting RealMost of these Mandela Effect manifestations have been pretty benign. Does it really matter that the name of a bear family is spelled one way or the other? Probably not. But some believers are pushing the limits in ways that could be dangerous. Watch this video and see if it doesn’t freak you out.One popular Mandela Effect theory involves the anatomy of the human body and the belief that it “changed” sometime in the 1990s. They back this up by comparing anatomical drawings from the mid-1900s with current drawings. In the “old reality,” human bone structure was wildly different, with fewer and less articulated bones.Let’s be frank, here: this is absolutely, inarguably insane. And the guy explaining it in the video above is a chiropractor, meaning that he actually works with the human body and gets paid for it. Would you like to know if the person re-aligning your spine believes that aliens or space gods or something rewrote reality during the grunge era? I would.Reality BitesThe best place to keep tabs on the continuing conflicts between memory and the real world is the Mandela Effect subreddit. That’s where people bring their best evidence to the hivemind and see what they think. Threads there are pretty funny. There’s always one or two “no, that’s always been that way” debunkers who get voted down, but the big discussion is around “residue” – images and videos that they believe might contain traces of the “old universe” that people remember.Some Mandela Effect cases are stupid – of course, Rubik’s Cube is spelled with a K, not an X. Chartreuse has always been a yellowish-green, not pink. Carmen Sandiego’s coat is red. Brian Dennehy is alive, goddammit. But people have managed to convince themselves that the opposite is true. And they’re making forum posts, blogs, and YouTube videos about it.What does the future hold for the Mandela Effect? Despite articles like this clearly stating that these are mixed-up memories and nothing more, believers continue to find more and more jawsome “examples” of the world changing without their permission. Who knows? Maybe there will be a shift so big that even skeptics like myself will have to admit it. But I wouldn’t put money on us ever remembering it.