You might have seen Ouija boards in horror movies and wondered if there is any truth to their spookiness. Do they really work? Are spirit boards real, or is there any truth to them?
There is no scientific evidence to support the idea that Ouija boards work as a means of communicating with ghosts or other supernatural entities. Many experts believe that messages obtained through the board result from the users’ subconscious thoughts and suggestions through the ideomotor effect.
There is no scientific evidence that the Ouija board can retrieve messages from the spirits, but with that said, many swear by it. In this article, we will dig deeper into the subject to answer whether Ouijas are indeed a tool for spirit communication.
Exploring the Debate: Are Ouija Boards a Valid Form of Spirit Communication?
Ouija boards, sometimes called spirit board or talking boards, are well-known tools for spirit communication and has been used since the beginning of the 1900s. They have a reputation for being dangerous due to their ability to attract demons and negativity.
If Ouija is real, it is the perfect way to retrieve complex messages, as you don’t have to have psychic abilities. You place your fingers on the planchette and let the spirits guide you. The planchette moves over the board and spells the answer to your question.
But is things as easy as placing your fingers on a planchette to get messages from beyond?
There is no scientific evidence to prove the existence of ghosts. This makes the messages received from the talking board questionable. The concept of ghosts as the spirits of deceased individuals that can interact with the living is a belief in many cultures and religions. Still, it is not a concept that is supported by scientific evidence.
Many supposed sightings and encounters with ghosts can be explained as hallucinations, illusions, or natural phenomena. No scientific evidence supports the idea that ghosts are real entities that exist independently of the living.
While many people claim to have had experiences that they believe are evidence of ghosts, these experiences can be explained by other factors such as sleep disorders, hallucinations, and vivid imagination.
From a psychic standpoint, it could be a tool to extract messages from the Ether. Psychic abilities, or ESP, have not been recognized by science either.
With all this said many stand by its effectiveness and function. In a spiritual and occult setting, the Ouija is considered one of the most effective ways to communicate with spirits.
Due to this, Ouija boards are questioned. In the spiritual space, though, it is a powerful divination tool. In my opinion, you can never take away the personal experiences of the Ouija.
Related article: What does Ouija mean: Definition and origin
A scientific view on Ouija
Science does not recognize Ouija boards as capable of interacting with the dead or the spirit world. We don’t have proof of ghosts, psychics, or divination tools, and, therefore, not Ouija.
Many scientists and experts believe that any messages or information obtained through a Ouija board are likely the results of the subconscious thoughts and suggestions of the users rather than any real communication with spirits.
Many say that the Ouija board is a tool that can be used for self-reflection and self-discovery, but it’s not a reliable way to communicate with the dead.
It is also believed that people who believe in the Ouija board’s abilities may be more susceptible to suggestion and other forms of manipulation, which can lead to false or inaccurate information being obtained through the use of the board.
In the video below, we see how people interacting with a talking board receive clear messages when they see the board and no clear answers when they are blindfolded. This might suggest that the people unconsciously interact with the game, not the spirits.
There are four central scientific answers to why this is. Read more to learn what these psychological mechanisms are.
Related article: Is the Ouija board dangerous? What you should know
Explanation #1: The ideomotor effect
The ideomotor effect is a phenomenon where a person’s unconscious muscle movements can be influenced by their thoughts and expectations. This effect is thought to be responsible for the activity of the planchette.
In the case of the Ouija board, users may unconsciously move the planchette to spell out words or messages, believing that they are communicating with spirits. They are simply moving the planchette based on their subconscious thoughts and desires.
If a person wants to receive a message from their dead loved one, the subconscious mind might be spelling the message they want to hear. This is not done consciously, but it drives from deep within the psyche.
Ray Hayman explains the phenomenon in his book Tall Tales about the Mind and Brain: Separating Fact from Fiction (affiliate link). The ideomotor effect has also been seen in other divination tools, for example, pendulums and dowsing rods.
Explanation #2: Sense of agency
The sense of agency is the feeling of being in control of one’s actions and consequences. For example, if you drop a bottle, it will fall to the floor and shatter. We knew this would happen, so we had a sense of agency. We understand that the bottle would break if we dropped it.
Things are not this easy, though; our subconscious and unconscious mind control some movements. When we are about to fall, we act faster than we think – by reflexes and impulses.
It is thought that we can move our hands if the subconscious mind wants us to. If we play Ouija and want answers to our questions, the hand might start spelling out messages without us understanding why – it is the spirit! But in reality, the movement is created by impulses from our minds.
According to science, this is why the planchette starts to move over the board. It is not the spirits; it is our subconscious mind playing us a trick.
The video below explains the ideomotor effect and how it makes the planchette move during a Ouija session.
Explanation #3: Power of suggestion
In the case of the Ouija board, the participants may unconsciously move the planchette in response to their thoughts or beliefs about the board’s supposed ability to communicate with the dead.
The power of suggestion can influence the participants to believe that the planchette is moving in response to the spirits rather than their unconscious movements through the ideomotor effect.
If you believe strongly that Ouija works, it is a great chance it will! But it is not the spirits you are talking to; your subconscious mind or second intelligence is playing tricks on you.
Explanation #4: The second intelligence
The second intelligence refers to a different type of intelligence separate from the traditional understanding of intelligence as cognitive ability, such as IQ. This second type of intelligence could involve non-cognitive skills, such as emotional intelligence, social intelligence, or other forms of intelligence that are not measured by IQ tests.
The second intelligence is not entirely accepted as a term but might be the root cause of the ideomotor effect in Ouija.
The second intelligence is overriding the conscious mind and controlling hand movements. This is why the planchette moves over the board, spelling out messages. It is our second intelligence at work, not the spirits!
Authorities and the law don’t deem the Ouija real
In general, the Ouija board is considered to be a form of entertainment and is not illegal to purchase or use. However, some people may consider it a tool for divination or communicating with the dead, regarded as occult or supernatural practices in specific cultures or religions. Therefore, some groups could frown upon it.
With this said, there is no ban on selling, purchasing, or using Ouija in western countries. The board is sold in toy stores and is considered safe for children. If Ouija were real, there would be legislation that prohibited its use of them.
As stated earlier, there is no scientific proof of ghosts, demons, psychics, or divination tools; therefore, legislators or law enforcement do not consider them dangerous.
Related article: Ultimate Guide for Parents: Ouija for Kids and Teens
A spiritual view on Ouija
From a spiritual standpoint, the Ouija board is a tool for communicating with spirits or entities from the afterlife. According to science, Ouija works by the ideomotor effect through the power of suggestion and a sense of agency.
As spirituality can’t fully be explained by science – the spiritual truth of Ouija might differ from the scientific one. You can’t, for example, fully explain what “spirit” is (if there is one), and you can’t explain the magic essence of creativity. The answers might be hidden in the secrets of the spiritual realms.
Some people firmly believe that the board can be used to connect with loved ones who have passed away or to gain insights or guidance from spiritual guides or entities. As you might not be able to explain the core of spirituality, the truth of Ouija might lie in the spiritual world – not the scientific one.
The world, as we know it, is run by a duality. Everything has a counterpart of some kind. Darkness and light, good and evil, truth and lies, strong and weak, and so forth. The counterpart to science might be spirituality—the laws of nature and the realities of the realms.
No one knows for sure, of course. But it is hard to take away people’s experiences using the Ouija boards. Some have very vivid and strong reactions when using the boards. May it be the ideomotor effect or not? The experience is still there, and their own.
The second intelligence discussed in the scientific space might be the human essence or the spirit in action. This would make rationality and intuition counterparts in our dualistic reality.
What are we missing?
We are missing a massive part of the Ouija mystery by limiting ourselves to the scientific explanation. Let me explain my train of thought.
The scientific answers lead us to the solution that our unconscious mind and the ideomotor effect explain Ouija. But what is the unconscious mind? Do we really know this?
Many spiritualists believe communication with spirits and entities occurs in the unconscious mind. If this is true, spirits might be able to use the ideomotor effect to bring forward messages. As we have no proof that ghosts don’t exist (as well as they exist), we can’t take anything for granted.
According to science, the Ouija board is not actual but works due to the ideomotor effect. The power of suggestion and the sense of agency create the perfect storm. We think the planchette spells messages from the spirit world. But in fact, we are being tricked by our brains. There are no spirits in action, just our minds.
On the other hand, some strongly argue that they had powerful spiritual and paranormal experiences using Ouijas. Videos show strange happenings taking place when people use the Ouija boards. Many might be fakes, but there might be truth in some of them.
It might be worth considering if the truth might lie between the two arguments. Some experiences might be due to the ideomotor effect, and some by spirits. But, again, we don’t know for sure. It might be that Ouija is more than a game.