What does science say about the Ouija?
The Ouija is one of the great icons of spiritualism . The idea that we can communicate with incorporeal and supernatural beings has seduced many people since this wooden board with letters and response options was created in the 19th century.
The idea is simple: a board on which are written all the letters of the alphabet, the numbers from 0 to 9 and basic options such as "yes", "no", "hello" and "goodbye". To use the Ouija, participants place their fingers on a plate or glass placed on the board, ask questions and see how the object slides over the letters and numbers offering answers as if it took on a life of its own.
But the Ouija does not work
As expected, the Ouija sessions can not be explained by attributing the movement of the token or vessel to forces beyond. It is not just that it does not make sense to believe it, it is that it can be demonstrated through a simple experience that Professor Larry Barrieau is responsible for carrying periodically with his students.
In these sessions, in the first place, the teacher asks his students to say to what extent they believe in spiritualism. Then, choose the most believing and convinced people that the Ouija works and ask them to choose a board that they believe works to contact the spirits. Once the students have chosen, the Ouija session begins, and they are promised that if the movement of the card indicates the correct answers to the questions that will be asked, the whole class will have an excellent grade. But with a small change: students have to hold a piece of cardboard under their chin, so they can not see the letters or the numbers on the board.
In all the experiences that Larry has led, the answers never make sense , basically because students can not see anything that happens on the board. However, the wooden tab does move without the students having a feeling of controlling it. What is this about?
The ideomotor effect
Of course, there are people who believe that its operation is based on a real ability to contact the afterlife, but if we discard this possibility and focus on the scientific explanation that explains the existence of people who believe in the effectiveness of the Ouija after of having experimented with her, what is left? Next we will see the psychological phenomenon that allows to understand why the Ouija seems to be connected with spirits. His name is ideomotor effect.
This is a concept that serves to describe the phenomenon by which certain sugested people move parts of their body involuntarily, making these movements have a logical connection with beliefs, desires or ideas that are expressed unconsciously. Therefore, the idea of mental processes that are beyond the reach of our consciousness plays a very important role in understanding how this kind of suggestion may appear.
An experimental example
The theory of the psychomotor effect has been observed in several experiments carried out in a laboratory environment.
In one of these experiences, a series of volunteers was chosen and they were asked to answer a series of questions through a computer, selecting the "yes" or "no" options. Afterwards, they were asked to do something similar, but using an Ouija board instead of a computer program. On this occasion, in addition, a companion would put his finger on the wooden plate at the same time as them, but they had to answer blindfolded. But this investigation contained a surprise: as soon as the eyes had been bandaged, the person accompanying the volunteer in the Ouija session left the table, leaving only one finger resting on the wooden token, which, however, was moved
The results showed that the participants were very surprised to learn that no one had accompanied them in the Ouija session , since many times they believed that the other person would be compinchada with the investigators and would be in charge to move the card. In addition, the questions whose answer was not known for sure were correct 65% of the time. Somehow, the fact that they unconsciously believed more in one response than in the other and that they did not rule out the possibility that the spirits manifested through the Ouija to give an answer for them made them, without realizing it, give a answer themselves.
In science, under equal conditions, the simplest hypothesis always wins . And, in the case of the Ouija, the ideomotor effect is a much more useful idea than the existence of spirits that manifest through a board game.
In addition, the possibility of experimenting with the ideomotor effect is a good way to better study the functioning of the human unconscious, a very promising field of research in the field of psychology.