Don’t Be Afraid Of Ouija Boards

Can Ouija Boards summon demons? Are Ouija Boards dangerous? Can Ouija Board possess you? No. The only threat a Ouija Board poses to your health and safety is if someone throws it at your head, sometimes the square boards have sharp corners that could take an eye out if you’re not careful and some people use Ouija Boards in dark rooms with candles lit which can pose a fire risk if knocked over.

Who is the dumbass really? Hmm?
Who is the dumbass really? Hmm?

The idea that Ouija Boards are dangerous in some sort of spiritual way is usually the result of religious scaremongering and superstitious people. There is absolutely no reason to be scared of a Ouija Board, so if people tell you that you are being stupid or a dumb-ass for using a board, if they tell you that you are at risk of demonic possession or they say that you are evil don’t listen to them. They’re the ones who are in the wrong and science can show us why.

The planchette- the marker that is moved between letters and numbers to spell out messages -seems to be guided by an unseen force but research[1] has shown that this effect is caused by those involved without them necessarily realising it. This is referred to as an Ideomotor Response. Some people would disagree and would claim that these effects are caused by paranormal and supernatural forces but this is speculative and there is no evidence to back this claim up.

When I point this out a lot of people who disagree with my opinion on Ouija Boards tell me stories of times that messages that came from a Ouija Board were precise and detailed and they will tell me that there is no way that anyone could have made the board deliver those messages. Although these experiences can seem very compelling to the user the answer usually lies with them and their involvement. Our expectations can have a huge influence in the outcome of Ouija Board sessions- especially if we are really keen to communicate with the deceased.

For example, if you are told that a ghost called Marie haunts a house and that she is often seen looking for her lost lover then it is likely that a message from Marie will be spelled out via the board that matches these expectations. Some would argue this is proof that the ghost of Marie exists and is trying to communicate with the living but that it is the people around the Ouija Board unconsciously moving the planchette in accordance to their expectations is a far more reasonable explanation. If you replace Marie with the spirit of a relative that the people using the Ouija Board are desperate to get a message from you can see how easy it would be to unwillingly move the planchette through an eagerness to get that message. In the past people have gotten messages via Ouija Boards from ghosts who were completely fictional which suggests they unconsciously moved the planchette to deliver those messages with the details they were given influencing them.

Ouija Boards can be fun to use but there is no evidence that they provide a communicative channel with spirits of the dead, yet there is an overwhelming amount of evidence that shows that what happens during a Ouija Board session is a product of the people taking part. In fact, if you blindfold people who conduct a Ouija Board session and turn the board around without them knowing you are doing so, the planchette will be pushed to positions in which letters had been before the board was repositioned. The same effect is seen when a square board is replaced with a circular board and so on.

Does this mean that people who use Ouija Boards are cheating? Not necessarily. There is no way to be certain that the other people using a Ouija Board are not pushing the planchette around on purpose to trick the other people with them, and this should ring alarm bells for anyone planning to use a Ouija Board. If you cannot put in place a control to rule out intentional trickery then how can you ever be sure? However, even if you trust the others using a Ouija Board with you to not trick you it is still likely that all of you will unintentionally cause the planchette to move.

In fact, after his research into Ideomotor responses Ray Hyman stated that ‘honest, intelligent people can unconsciously engage in muscular activity that is consistent with their expectations’, that means that even if you are not intending to move the planchette and trick people you will still have an influence upon it without necessarily meaning to, especially if you are attempting to communicate with the dead and want to be successful in doing so.

Recent research[2] has suggested that Ouija Boards can be used to tap into our subconscious and some people have mistaken this as evidence that Ouija Boards have spiritual powers but this is not true. This research, which is still in early stages, relies on the Ideomotor Responses of people using Ouija Boards to work and that is all. Nothing spiritual involved whatsoever.

When it comes to spirit communication methods there is a really good rule of thumb that I recommend everyone uses: if people have to touch something for a spiritual message to come through then it’s probably not spiritual at all.

Fear not the Ouija Boards, for Ouija Boards is people.

 

1-http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/ideomotor.html
    http://www.sgipt.org/medppp/psymot/carp1852.htm

2- http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1053810012000402

Recommended Reading

Science Of Scams | Ouija Boards Revealed [Video]
Hayley Is A Ghost| Did Scientists Prove That Ouija Boards Work? No. 

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Hayley Stevens

Hayley is a ghost geek and started to blog in 2007. She uses scientific scepticism to investigate weird stuff and writes about it here while also speaking publicly about how to hunt ghosts as a skeptic.

5 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid Of Ouija Boards”

  1. Still amuses me to see such mysterious portals to communicate to the dead for sale on Amazon under Kitchen and Home section …. also Toys and Games

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