Very few objects can cause as much fear as the supposedly evil Ouija board.
For centuries, Ouija boards have been used by spiritualists, psychics, and those merely curious in the hopes of communicating with the dead. Even though I think that they’re absolutely beautiful, I’m still wary to ever go near one–they have been linked to the terrifying true story that inspired The Exorcist, and paranormal investigators warn that they can open dark doorways to the other side. But are Ouija boards really a conduit for spirits–both good and evil? Science says no.
If you’ve never used an Ouija board before (a classic slumber party event alongside “light as a feather, stiff as a board,” and Baby Blue), the idea is relatively simple. Those participating place their fingers lightly on the plastic planchette and ask the spirits questions. The idea is that through your questions, you’ll summon spirits and they’ll move the planchette around to land on letters and numbers. It all seems pretty spiritual, but there’s actually a straightforward scientific explanation.
It’s called the ideomotor effect, and it is a way your body communicates with itself. The basic idea is that our body moves when we’re trying not to. An extreme example of this effect is when you jerk awake from a dream. With an Ouija board, your body is manifesting the answers to the questions you ask. This has been proven in several experiments where subjects have been blindfolded while using the board only to spell out gibberish (if it were a spirit spelling the answers out, it wouldn’t matter if those playing with the board were blindfolded).
In a way, this makes Ouija boards that much more intriguing and interesting. It isn’t speaking from the spirits or ghosts in the room, but rather revealing what is in our subconscious… and sometimes that can be just as scary!
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