(ORDO NEWS) — Although Ouija boards have been around for over 100 years, they (a wooden board with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9, and the words “yes”, “no” and “goodbye”) continue to be a popular pastime – especially in Halloween.
To work, all participants must put their hands on a wooden pointer (or tablet) and ask the “spirits” present to answer their questions, moving the tablet around the board to say their answer.
Some consider it a harmless salon game, others swear that the board is able to communicate with those who have crossed to the “other side”.
But while science suggests that no ghosts are behind the board’s mysterious movements, the explanation for how it works is not as simple as one might expect.
The history of the Ouija board is very long and varied. At first, she can be partly attributed to the Fox sisters, popular 19th-century mediums who pioneered the Spiritualist movement.
One of the most common methods they used to communicate with the so-called spirits was to say the alphabet aloud and listen for a knock in response. This allowed them to pronounce words and messages supposedly from the dead.
This method captured the imagination of the public but quickly disappointed. People wanted to be able to communicate with spirits as quickly as they could communicate with humans through new technologies such as the telegraph. So when the Ouija board was finally developed in 1890, it was an instant success.
But despite its early popularity, the Ouija board fell into disuse in the early 20th century. This was largely due to the fact that many well-known mediums who used this device were publicly debunked.
Even the Society for Psychical Research has moved away from communicating with spirits towards other paranormal phenomena such as extrasensory perception (the ability to send and receive information using one’s mind) and haunted houses.
However, after World War II, interest in spiritism and Ouija boards in general quickly revived—and continues to this day.
Ouija boards at work
But do Ouija boards work? It depends who you ask. For those who believe in the possibility of communicating with spirits, the answer is yes. But given that there is no conclusive evidence for the existence of spirits, the answer from skeptics and scientists is a resounding no.
Yet we often hear stories from so-called “non-believers” who say they felt the tablet move across the board, speaking words and telling things no one at the table could possibly know.
So, if these are not ghostly messages from the other world, then what are they?
One possible answer is the ideomotor effect. The term “ideomotor” comes from the words “ideo” (idea) and “motor” (muscle activity), suggesting that our movements may be conditioned by our thoughts.
The ideomotor effect refers to movements that people make without realizing it – the so-called subconscious movement. For example, when using a Ouija board, a person may subconsciously move the Ouija board while saying words that only they can know.
The surroundings can also contribute their subconscious movements, which may also explain why the tablet seems to be moving independently.
This effect could also explain a number of other paranormal phenomena, including automatic writing and dowsing (a pseudoscience that uses a Y-shaped twig or metal rods to locate buried objects such as water or oil).
Another explanation, which is also related to the ideomotor effect, has to do with our sense of responsibility. A sense of responsibility refers to our subjective ability to control actions that will have an impact on external events. So, for example, if you decide to raise the table, it will move it.
Experiments with Ouija boards have shown that our sense of agency can be manipulated into thinking that an invisible third party is moving the Ouija board.
This is thought to be due to the challenges our brains face in predicting consequences. When our predictions match the outcome (for example, you pick up a table and it moves), we feel we are responsible for our actions.
But if we feel that the actual result is not what we expected, then our sense of responsibility is reduced – and it is possible that in the context of a séance, we may instead attribute this movement to an external source.
The third factor to consider is emotional contagion. We know that shocking, highly emotional events can cause nearby bystanders to become “infected” with those emotions. It is believed that this was one of the main factors during the witch trials in Salem and Europe.
So when using the Ouija board with others, the excitement of a high-stress environment can make it easier for us to empathize with others. As a result, we can pick up on their fear and anxiety, making it more likely that we think the board is moving on its own.
Thus, it can be hypothesized that a combination of factors the ideomotor effect, the manipulated sense of agency, and emotional contagion may convince people that the tablet is moving and the spirits are talking to them.
But given how difficult it is to replicate in the lab the social setting in which most people use Ouija boards, we can’t say for certain that these factors alone explain what actually happens when we put our fingers on the Ouija board and invoke the spirits. share your knowledge.
As some experts note, the desire to communicate with the dead becomes more popular during periods of social and political upheaval.
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