Oct
31
2013

Ouija board, tell me the real reason you work so well

Tell me Ouija board: What is the science that makes you actually work?
Tell me Ouija board: What is the science that makes you actually work?Courtesy Majail0711
Hey, it's Halloween. Do you have a seance to go to tonight after you finish your trick and treating?

And what's a good seance without a Ouija board? You know it's the quickest way to connect with the dead and find out those mysterious secrets that aren't accessible any other way.

It's been quite a while since I last touched a Ouija board. But I do remember being amazed how that little pad just skimmed across the board to give us answers to our questions. It's fun and mystical. And (SPOILER ALERT) it's all based on science.

The current issue of Smithsonian delves into the history and science behind the board. You can get all the details right here. Since the board's beginnings, the creators had insights into the ideometer effect. That's a fancy term for the automatic muscular movements that take place in our bodies without our conscious will or volition. It's like what happens to us when we cry during the sad part of a movie or flick away an annoying bug pestering us. People using a Ouija board are subtly moving the pointer around the board without realizing they are doing so.

Research conducted a couple years ago quantified what was happening. People were asked random fact-based questions that were challenging. Just hearing the questions and answering without a Ouija board, participants got about 50 percent correct, which was what researchers expected. But when participants were asked similar questions while seated at the Ouija board, that correct response rate jumped up to 65 percent.

The researchers account of the difference by people tapping into their non-conscious knowledge and using the ideometer effect to guide the Ouija board pointer across the board. And people actually do better answering questions on topics that they don't think they know the answer to than topics that they do.

So, if you do happen to find yourself sitting around a Ouija board tonight, be careful what you ask it. You might just get the answer to something you've been burying away in your mind for a long time!!!

Happy Halloween and feel free to share your observations here with other Buzz readers on the science of Ouija boards.

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