11 Creepy Paranormal Phenomena Debunked By Science

9. Ouija Boards

ouija board

What’s Really Going On: The Ideomotor Response

Ouija boards – most often used by misguided teenagers in horror movies, these “talking boards” have been used to contact the spirits of the netherworld for many years. A ouija board consists of a polished wooden board with the letters of the alphabet, numbers 0-9 and the words yes, no, hello and goodbye. A pointer or a glass is placed on the board and everybody will gently place their finger on it to “channel” a spirit. If successful, the spirit will move the glass/pointer and answer questions from the group.

Anyone who has ever tried it will attest to the fact that it is pretty spooky when the glass begins to move, seemingly unaided, more often than not spelling out increasingly threatening responses – it’s enough to convince anyone of the presence of malevolent spirits. Fortunately, there is a very simple explanation: You’re pushing the glass.

Surely you’d notice, right? Wrong. The ideomotor response is the result of the power of suggestion that makes our muscles contract, causing unconscious movements. If you expect the glass to move, you will make it move. This was put to the test in 1853, at the height of Victorian spiritualism, during an experimental séance put on by four doctors.

During a demonstration of “table tipping” – a similar concept to the ouija board but using hands placed on a table that will move about he room – the doctors told half of the participants that the table would move to the left, and half that it would move to the right and (surprise surprise) it didn’t budge. Once the participants were all told the same thing, the ideomotor effect returned and the tables began speeding around the room with renewed vigour.

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