The Berenst#in Bears Problem: Are We Living In An Alternate Worldline?

A couple months ago, someone left an innocuous comment on my post 4 Weird “Clues” that Parallel Universes Exist. The comment was this:

“You need to look up the Berenst#in Bears problem.”

My response at first was probably what yours is now: The what? But after a quick Google search, I realized what this person was talking about. The Berenstein Bears.

Now, if you don’t know about The Berenstein Bears, they were a series of children’s books, and eventually a cartoon, created by Stan and Jan Berenstein. They focused on a family of bears, and did the usual educational children’s book/tv series thing. Simple enough. I remember them, vaguely, and I believe I owned a book or two when I was a kid. It’s been a while.

So what’s the problem?

They’re not The Berenstein Bears. They’ve never been The Berenstein Bears. Despite the fact that many others remember them as The Berenstein Bears, and I myself still pronounce their name as The Berenstein Bears, this is false. This is wrong.

They are The Berenstain Bears.

The Strangest Thing

It was such a strange feeling to find that out. To see Google correcting my spelling, to see the Wikipedia entry titled The Berenstain Bears, to see book covers that seemed at odds with the memories I had in my head. What was going on?

The “problem,” as it were, became clearer when I found this post by someone named Reece (“a graduate student of physics”) at a blog titled the Wood between Worlds (an interesting place, check it out).

Reece’s post is a trip down the rabbit hole for anyone, like myself, who remembers that cartoon family as The Berenstein Bears, not The Berenstain Bears. And with it comes a strange hypothesis.

Did something in our universe change to make this happen? “Somehow, at some time in the last 10 years or so, reality has been tampered with and history has been retroactively changed,” Reece explains, “The bears really were called the ‘BerenstEin Bears’ when we were growing up, but now reality has been altered such that the name of the bears has been changed post hoc.”

Reece’s proposal is essentially that somewhere along the way we shifted into an almost indistinguishable parallel universe. Almost, as there are minor differences, many we probably haven’t realized yet.

“…we moved to the stAin hexadectant, while our counterparts moved to our hexadectant (stEin). They are standing around expressing their confusion about the ‘Berenstein Bears’ and how they all remember “Berenstain Bears” on the covers growing up.”

In a later post, Reece would tackle some of the flaws in the idea. Many people do remember them as The Berenstain Bears, including members of the Berenstain family, of course. But perhaps these individuals are simply native to this Berenstain universe, and notice no difference. Others (perhaps yourself included) don’t remember one way or the other.

Perhaps we all just read it and heard it incorrectly.

Of Bears and Time Travel

Another possibility, however, is that what we’re dealing with isn’t a matter of parallel universes naturally diverging, but rather a meddling time traveler interfering with the past. In fact, some have drawn a potential connection between this curious problem and John Titor, musing that Titor’s travels in our worldline caused a divergence that not only prevented the Y2K Bug, but also changed the spelling of Berenstein Bears.

“…To me, this BerenstEin (which it WAS, and was supposed to have remained) Phenomenon is an Echo of Proof that OUR World-line was Affected by the Time/Dimensional Traveler, John Titor. Maybe he wasn’t in Our Specific World-line in 1975, but whatever he did There (or Then) caused Ours to be Created as a Branch-off from that point.”

Could our false memories, in fact, be alter-vús?

Well, myself, I’m willing to admit that I probably read the name wrong. It’s just one of those things that happens, and as always I ride that line between skepticism and belief.

Or maybe I didn’t, and one of the above theories is true.

Either way, it’s an intriguing outcome of events when so many people remember something a certain way, only to find out that the reality is entirely different. Check the links I shared above, dive down the rabbit hole yourself. There are apparently other inconsistencies. What do you remember?


Rob Schwarz

Writer, blogger, and part-time peddler of mysterious tales. Editor-in-chief of Stranger Dimensions.

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