Ouija Boards Give Voice To The Unconscious

New Scientist on how the occult device allows people to provide information they didn’t know they knew:

Believers think [Ouija board answers] come through from the spirit world. In fact, evidence points to the cause being the ideomotor effect, small muscle movements we generate unconsciously.

Take driving your car along a familiar route while planning your day. On arrival, you realise you were not in conscious control of the car, it was your “inner zombie”, said Hélène Gauchou at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK, this week. “How can we communicate with that unconscious intelligence?”

Gauchou’s team’s approach is to turn to the Ouija board. They asked subjects to answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to general knowledge questions using the Ouija board, and also asked them to answer the same questions using the more orthodox method of typing on a computer. Participants were also asked whether they knew the answer or were just guessing.

When using the computer, if the subjects said they didn’t know the answer to a question, they got it right about half the time, as would be expected by chance. But when using the Ouija, they got those questions right 65 per cent of the time – suggesting they had a subconscious inkling of the right answer and the Ouija allowed that hunch to be expressed.

23 Comments on "Ouija Boards Give Voice To The Unconscious"

  1. it’s amazing what people will spend research money on.

  2. Liam_McGonagle | Jul 11, 2012 at 11:35 am |

    Not that I would regard the Ouija was a source for super-technical info, but it makes sense that giving a person a ghostly alter ego is an effective way of providing them with a platform to say things that would be socially unacceptable in other contexts.

    Stuff like, you know, what they’re really thinking.

    • Lifobryan | Jul 11, 2012 at 11:22 pm |

      I’ve done a bit of Ouija in my time, and actually take it quite seriously …. but I have to admit I sooooo wish that once, just once, a response could spell out “Boo”

  3. the pendulum and tarot cards work the same way.

  4. what about the thousands of people who have had experiences they couldnt explain. This is where this breaks down, I can think of dozens of people in my life INCLUDING myself that have had some unbelievable things happen while using a Ouija board..

    some people seem to push away the evidence they want to and focus on whatever their propaganda is.

    whatever the ouijji board is, its something awfully strange, and awfully dangerous. And if you want to argue with this then it is obvious you never had those experiences, so dont go around telling us who did, that what we experienced was not real..

    cause it most def. is.

    • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 11, 2012 at 4:46 pm |

      You can create unbelievable things using many forms of ritual magick. Ouija boards are just a very simple and highly commercialized form of it. Ritual magick usually involves highly complex ways of enacting self-deception, the fact that it is self-deception shouldn’t cheapen the experience either. Self-deception in ritual means only those who partake in the ritual have their perception altered, with the chance of creating thicker illusions or creating more realizations.

      Makes one think about the efficacy of the larger ‘rituals’ conducted on a national and global level. 

      It starts becoming more bizarre when you temporarily build a consensus reality with 3 or more people, or when it’s attempted at certain festivals. Makes you really think about the idea of ‘consciousness as the ground of all matter’.

      • Camron Wiltshire | Jul 12, 2012 at 1:23 am |

        Well said.
        Regarding the larger ‘rituals’ conducted on national and global levels.
        Curious what you think having watched the above link.

        • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 12, 2012 at 8:19 am |

          It’s interesting how so many of these youtube conpiracy videos focus on magick as a tool for domination, power and trickery.

          It’s been used for good and bad much in the same way many other tools have been used. It’s probably one of the least evolved tools at human disposal, stuck in the thick illusions of superstition until recently perhaps?

        • Blessings/Thank you Camron.
          Been researching/studying/observing for approx. 14 years steady and, yes watching the link, offers insight into the tip of the iceberg (intro) of this ‘hologame’ we have been living in.

        • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm |

          What’s your take on that video series?

        • Monkey See Monkey Do | Jul 15, 2012 at 12:10 pm |

          Rich people with mansions, yachts and lots of shiny things ae the least likely types to have any sort of mastery over magick anyhow. Their tapping into lower primal urges for domination, control and competition.

    • how is it dangerous?

    • “…and awfully dangerous”
      What’s the danger?

    • If people are having experiences they can’t explain, then what’s wrong with searching for an explanation? 

    • People like you don’t really understand the meaning of conscious or unconscious, no one said that what you’ve experienced wasn’t real. You would be surprised of what our subconscious are holding, so rather to know what is in there than let yourself bite your tail…

    • People like you don’t really understand the meaning of conscious or unconscious, no one said that what you’ve experienced wasn’t real. You would be surprised of what our subconscious are holding, so rather to know what is in there than let yourself bite your tail…

  5. Lifobryan | Jul 11, 2012 at 3:57 pm |

    This assessment seems to address subconscious phenomena better associated with automatic writing than ouija. I too have had some very, very strange experiences with a ouija board – and I have indeed wondered how much is subconscious projection and how much is actual contact with some other force or entity. In my experience, a ouija board works best when two people are touching the planchette … and, according to the theory posited in this article, that means one person’s subconscious is dominating the “communication.” I personally suspect that some unconscious mingling is occurring when two people operate the board. In other words, the two people are creating a third subconscious “force.” Perhaps it is or becomes its own entity, or perhaps not. 

    Still … some of my experiences with the board have been so uncanny and skin-crawling, that I can only HOPE there was an external force involved.

  6. the circumstances most people call “reality”
    also gives voice to the unconscious
    but most aren’t attentive enough to notice

  7. DeepCough | Jul 12, 2012 at 2:47 am |

    This experiment speaks more to the manipulation that comes from the “occult” rather than revealing
    anything starkly nuanced about the state of “unconsciousness.”

  8. Halcyon23 | Sep 26, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

    I had a one-off experience with a Ouija board about 20 years ago. It was one of the most real experiences I have ever had in my life. When it was my turn to ‘communicate’ I asked questions (silently in my mind) that I only knew the answers to. The other 3 people could not hear what I was asking and besides I barely knew them. The planchette moved so quickly that I could only just maintain contact with it….the questions were answered exactly. I have never done it again I and I doubt I ever will, but the ideometer effect did not apply to what I experienced. It was very real and I would warn those considering trying to think twice.

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