Wednesday, January 21, 2009

On Ouija Boards...

Some testimonies from Amazon:

"First off, a Ouija board is not a toy! I have not really used one seriously since around 1989. I can tell you that several absolutely unexplainable things happened of which I will not go into too much detail in this particular forum. While all of the things that happened were freaky, one in particular involved driving to a location that the board spelled out for myself and my girlfriend (at the time). We didn't know if the address actually existed but thought we'd go there since it wasn't too far away if it really did exist (this was before the days of the Internet when I could have looked it up on Yahoo or Mapquest). When we got there, we could not believe that the address was real, but neither of us was willing to get out of the car and knock on the door (looking back, I almost wish we had). When we got back to her place, the first thing the board spelled out was, "I saw you outside my window." This is not a joke. This happened and it is one of several incidents. My girlfriend got scared and didn't want to play anymore and I've not really touched the board since. I can't explain the things that happened. I only know that several unexplainable things occurred and that I am telling the truth. The unknown is fun and exciting, but it can also be scary and dangerous! Play at your own risk!"

"The talking board is only a tool- neither good nor evil. However, it is a tool far different from divination aids such as the tarot, runes, or the various I Ching methods. With all talking boards you are openly inviting the influence of disembodied entities. Be very careful what you are opening the door to. I wouldn't even consider using it without deep and sincere prayers for protection. Low-level spirits can only influence those who are "vibrating" on the same low level. Examine your motives and your maturity before you experiment here."


Like millions of people around the world, I was raised in a Christian household where topics such as Ouija boards, Ghost Hunting, Divination, etc. were all seen as taboo, and as "the devil's work". I've heard thousands of stories like the above, and, sometimes I genuinely believed them. I always loved watching TV shows like "ghost hunters", "the paranormal", "America's most haunted", and a million others. Usually these shows are nice enough to provide a Skeptic's opinion on the topics, though they usually give him 10 seconds of air time. I personally used to hate skeptics, I always saw them to be anti-fun arrogant smart asses who thought they knew everything and wanted to take away from the mysteries of life and the thrill one felt when thinking about the supernatural. But, alas, I've grown up a little, and today I look up to these men, who seem to be few and far between, skeptics such as Michael Shermer, James Randi and a slew of others take on these taboo topics head-on armed tooth and nail with the weight of science.
So, what do the skeptics have to say about these Ouija boards? Well...pretty much that its nonsense.

People think that it is the supernatural that is behind the movement of the plank, but it is the user, either consciously or unconsciously who is the one that moves it. Simple little experiments have showed this, for example, try to have someone blindfolded while using the board, while a bystander who isn't blindfolded takes notes on what words or letters are selected, usually the results are completely unintelligible.
Another one is to try blindfold the users and flip the board upside down without their knowledge, and again, it spells absolute nonsense. One has to wonder why any spirit of demon would be fooled by this little trick.

"The movement of the planchette is not due to spirits but to unconscious movements by those controlling the pointer. The same kind of unconscious movement is at work in such things as dowsing and facilitated communication"

This is what's known as the ideomotor effect: "a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously. As in reflexive responses to pain, the body sometimes reacts reflexively to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action. For instance, tears are produced by the body unconsciously in reaction to the emotion of sadness."

Religious folk and me are in agreement that kids should stay away from these boards, but for very different reasons. To the Christian, using these boards is dabbling into the occult, it is a rebellion against God in the sense that you are consulting 'unclean spirits' for knowledge or wisdom that one should only ask from God. At least that was what I was always told. I on the other hand, think kids should be taught to stay away from these things because they encourage superstitious thinking. Kids should get better hobbies than wasting their money on these wooden pieces of junk and attributing any minor muscle movement to the supernatural.

It is possible that part of the appeal of these things is that they provide comfort and hope to those who have lost loved ones in their past, it fills them with the hope that they'll be able to contact their lost relatives again, and as with everything in the world today, there will always be an entrepreneur just waiting to capitalize on this grief, and that's what psychics and game companies like these do.

Here's an interesting excerpt:

"Although Ouija boards are usually sold in the novelty or game section of stores, many people swear that there is something occult about them. For example, Susy Smith in Confessions of a Psychic (1971) claims that using a Ouija board caused her to become mentally disturbed. In Thirty Years Among the Dead (1924), American psychiatrist Dr. Carl Wickland claims that using the Ouija board "resulted in such wild insanity that commitment to asylums was necessitated." Is this what happens when amateurs try to dabble in the occult? Maybe, if they are suggestible, not very skeptical, and a bit disturbed to begin with. However, even very intelligent people who have not gone insane are impressed by Ouija board sessions. They find it difficult to explain the "communication" as the ideomotor effect reflecting unconscious thoughts. One reason they find such an explanation difficult to accept is that the "communications" are sometimes very vile and unpleasant. It is more psychologically pleasing to attribute vile pronouncements to evil spirits than to admit that one among you is harboring vile thoughts. Also, some of the "communications" express fears rather than wishes, such as the fear of death, and such notions can have a very visible and significant effect on some people.

Observing powerful messages and the powerful effect of messages on impressionable people can be impressive. Yet, as experiences with facilitated communication have shown, decent people often harbor indecent thoughts of which they are unaware. And the fact that a person takes a "communication" seriously enough to have it significantly interfere with the enjoyment of life might be a sufficient reason for avoiding the Ouija board as being more than a "harmless bit of entertainment," but it is hardly a sufficient reason for concluding that the messages issue from anything but our own minds"

Oh yes, and here's something my skeptic friends will appreciate, its the James Randi board!

"If there really is an afterlife, I'll bet the best way to contact it is through a plastic, mass-produced board game from Milton Bradley!"--Mad Magazine

Here's a very simple experiment by Penn & Teller. Pay special a attention to the rationalizations made as to why it doesn't work when one is blindfolded.


Eric G. said...

Nice post. I've never messed with an ouija board mainly because I didn't know anyone who had one. I can only imagine skeptics playing with it and the damn thing not moving.

David Plumb said...

When I was younger I was too scared to play with Ouija boards. I was always told that they would let demons into your house and they'd mess with you.

However, I'd be interested in trying it now - I wonder if it works with skeptics, even with the idiosyncratic effect thing.

I still can't believe these guys that are into it don't sit back for a second and think, 'this is made by the same kind of people who make monopoly boards...'



Anonymous said...

There's onne problem with the experiment and that is, unlike a normal Ouija session, the subjects aren't able to see the board. This gives non-skeptics a way to discredit the experiment. If the teacher is so sure that the Ouija board doesn't work he should do the session as normal. The board should still fail to give the correct answer.

kamagra said...

in my opinion this is one of the most dangerous instruments in the world, not only are to silly think that you can control the board, you never known what you are calling.

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kamagra said...

Ouija board is not a game or a toy as you said, it's something unexplainable that people shouldn't use, due to the fact consequences could be me, I made a mistake when I was younger and I still paying for it.

Angantyr said...

God, Kamagra, you are dumb and so are anyone else who believes as you do. Ghost might be real, I'd not discount them 100% (however ''ghosts'' might not be dead spirits), but the Ouija board was invented as a parlour game. It is no more dangerous than the 'Dark Shadows' board game... unless you are willing to believe that Nicholas Blair or Barnabas Collins are ready to leap out and get you!

People should play with Ouija boards as they wish. They can be used as legitimate entertainment.

Anonymous said...

man you skeptics are one of the most idiotical imbiscles i know.

the Ouija board is VERY Real...i use it occasionally. Im being 100% honest here i have an EVP of a ouija session i done before xmas and i heard a spirit say "help me" and "help" and giving away a prophecy regarding some woman i know In another session after i closed off i noticed a strange indescribable smell (the smell of death). These things are VERY Real and ar enot toys and should only be used by people who know what they are doing.

dont hand me that namby pamby story of the idometer effect because the supernatural is VERY Real.

Anonymous said...

Agantyr, your comment proves how tiny your mind truly is. Are you so uncomfortable with yourself that you have to bash others beliefs to feel better? Do you think because YOU, one tiny being on this planet, have not seen something that it doesn't exist? People used to think the world was flat and that a circular earth did not exist and they were proved wrong. I have seen things I have no rational explanation for, and by using a Ouija Board I embarked on a path of searching for what others deem impossible. So instead of saying its not real, be honest and admit your mind is too small to comprehend such anomalies.

Anonymous said...

Its all nonsense in your heads. Only idiots think otherwise. Wake up.