Here at Balladeer’s Blog I enjoy writing about all aspects of mythology and folklore and the way that a popular misconception can be spread. Once again the false claim that Ed McMahon (above) was affiliated with Publishers Clearing House instead of American Family Publishers is making the rounds. Every few years this story resurfaces and is often cited as an example of the Mandela Effect.
If you need a refresher on the Mandela Effect, it refers to the way that information can become jumbled in the public consciousness, resulting in a mass sharing of false memories. This name for the phenomenon comes from a 2009 story about the large numbers of people who incorrectly believed that Nelson Mandela had died in prison in the 1980s.
In large measure that misconception has been attributed to the fact that in 1987 Denzel Washington starred in the movie Cry Freedom, a film based on the real-life Steve Biko. Washington portrayed Biko, a black anti-Apartheid activist in South Africa, just like Nelson Mandela had been. Biko, like Mandela, was imprisoned for his activities, but Biko – unlike Mandela – died in prison in 1977. Continue reading