Do you remember Curious George? If you do, picture him right now.

Does he have a long tail? If you said yes, you might be shocked to hear that he had no tail at all. But don’t feel too bad because you are only one of a mass of people who believe, incorrectly, that Curious George had a tail.

Similarly, I was having a conversation with my sister recently where she relayed a similar story (you’ll forgive me, but I don’t have the details beyond what she conveyed). A writer told their audience that they might be shocked to learn that every-man fitness guru Richard Simmons never wore a headband. Those used to seeing him in his signature short-shorts and tank top found it hard to believe. In particular, a couple was in such disbelief that they went over their entire collection of his “Sweating to the Oldies.” Their discovery—not a single frame of Simmons wearing a headband.

Both George and Richard fit into a phenomena called The Mandela Effect, named so because the chief instance of it is the mass recollection of Nelson Mandela having died in prison in the 1980s, even though the icon survived his imprisonment to become president of South Africa and passed away in 2013.

The icon survived his imprisonment to become president of South Africa and passed away in 2013.

Although the term was coined by paranormal researcher Fiona Broome, the Mandela Effect fits into the psychology of false memory, studied by the likes of Sigmund Freud and Pierre Janet. False memory is defined as “a phenomenon where someone recalls something that did not actually happen or recalls it differently from the way it actually happened. Suggestibility, activation of associated information, the incorporation of misinformation, and source misattribution have been suggested to be several mechanisms underlying a variety of types of false memory.”

It’s not hard to see. The examples of Curious George and Richard Simmons, in my mind, can be explained by the simple idea that we expect a monkey, even a cartoon one, to have a tail, and a signature outfit that includes shorts and a tank top to naturally also include a headband. The same is true of other instances on the Mandela Effect “list”—such as that we like to imagine the Monopoly man with a monocle. It fits the rest of the outfit. But he never had a monocle.

It also seems to me that many things on the list of mass, incorrect recollection involve our nature to correct things, particularly spelling, even if the “mistake” is the result of playful marketing. Kellogg’s has called its cereal Froot Loops since its inception, but a great number of people either never picked up on the joke or made the correction in their heads and swear it's Fruit Loops.

And it is also possible that the phenomenon extends beyond our memory and includes our perception of something right in front of us. Take the viral video from the beginning of this year called “Rock or Alligator?” showing either an alligator in front of a rock or a rock shaped like an alligator. You can try and decide for yourself at

According to authors Brian Brooks and Jim Steventon, the same can be said for digital transformation, writing “quality practices can determine if your next step will be a rock or an alligator.”

So check out their article, “Automation - Rock or Alligator?” and everything else we have to offer in this month’s Quality.

Enjoy and thanks for reading!