The Spelling of Georgia O’Keeffe’s Name Is Now the Subject of an Internet Conspiracy Theory About Parallel Universes
It’s an example of what is called the “Mandela Effect.”
by Ben Davis
Quick—what’s the correct spelling, “Georgia O’Keefe” or “Georgia O’Keeffe”? And before you say anything, know this: How you answer may literally depend on which reality you live in.
For the record, the art-historically correct answer is the one with two “F”s. Nevertheless, some people still really, really believe that the famed American painter, pioneer of abstraction, and icon of the Southwest is “Georgia O’Keefe.” And not only that: They believe that the co-existence of the two names is evidence of parallel dimensions, or a sinister conspiracy of mass mind-control. Or something.
The “O’Keefe/O’Keeffe” question has recently bubbled up in internet chatter as a cardinal example of the “Mandela Effect,” a term coined in 2009 by Fiona Broome, an author of several “how-to books about ghost hunting.” After a speaking engagement at the annual sci-fi convention Dragon Con, she realized that several people in her circle had similar memories of South African political leader Nelson Mandela having died in prison. He was, at that time, still very much alive. (He passed away in 2013.)
The “Mandela Effect” became, in Broome’s use, the name for “what happens when someone has a clear memory of something that never happened in this reality,” as her official website dedicated to the phenomenon puts it. Online communities have sprung up around documenting examples where collective memory seems to disagree with recorded fact.