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Ouija Boards Are Even Creepier When You Know How They Work

Almost nothing has changed about the Ouija board since its debut, save our understanding of how it probably works. It could be a spirit reaching out to you, but science provides another spooky possibility: You are unconsciously answering questions that you never thought you could. Two factors are at play when using an Ouija board: A strong subconscious need for an answer to a question and a phenomenon known as the ideomotor effect. The ideomotor effect says that people can move or move something without their conscious mind realizing it. In the case of the Ouija board, if you really want the answer to a question to be yes and your partner knows it, you could both push the planchette to “YES” without either of you consciously applying any force. (And if you think you can ever keep your hands completely still, try keeping a laser pointer’s dot perfectly motionless.) You can test this effect for yourself. Find a string and tie something moderately heavy to it. Extend your arm and hold the string and hanging object as still as possible. Now imagine the object moving in a circle. Even though you think your arm is motionless, the object should start moving! The University of British Columbia ran a study on the ideomotor effect and the Ouija board in 2012. One test had subjects sit at a Ouija board with another person and answer factual yes or no questions. The subject was blindfolded when using the board and the partner knowingly removed their hands from the planchette. The blindfolded subject moved the planchette alone, answering questions, but felt that they were exerting no force on it at all. The subjects answered more questions correctly than when they answered the same questions verbally — they did better when they believed they weren’t in full control of the planchette. via Nerdist.

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