close menu
Nerdist Special ReportsNerdist Special Reports

The Science Behind Ouija Boards is Spookier Than Spirits

If you and your childhood friends ever messed around with an Ouija board—also known as a “talking” or “spirit” board—you know that the occult “communicator” can produce some legitimately chilling experiences. And the experience is even spookier when you know how they really work.

Introduced commercially all the way back in 1890 by businessman Elijah Bond, the board and handheld planchette were considered parlor gags until a popular American spiritualist claimed the spirit board as a way to talk to the dead during World War I. The reason they were considered parlor gags has been somewhat forgotten, though, and that’s where the science comes in.

As you can see in the video above, the movement of the Oujia board can be explained by the so-called “Ideomotor Effect.” The idea is that you are never truly motionless, even when you’re trying to be still. Now comes the weird part: those micro-movements can be influenced by suggestion and intention, without conscious knowledge. When amplified by a device that exaggerates movements, like a slick planchette and a slippery talking board, the ideomotor effect can produce large movements that their owner never intended.

It’s almost like an inaccessible corner of your mind speaking through you and your friends, which, for my money if even spookier than spirits. Who knows what else we have no control over?

Welcome to Nerdoween! Throughout the month of October, we’ll be celebrating everything spooky, macabre, and just plain weird. Nerdoween 2017 is presented by Alpha, our interactive membership service, which offers you exclusive content from Nerdist and Geek & Sundry, as well as a 10% discount on all of our merch.

What other terrors lurk on Nerdist?

HOCUS POCUS Funko Pop!s Are Coming Just in Time for Halloween

HOCUS POCUS Funko Pop!s Are Coming Just in Time for Halloween

article
STAR WARS Could Easily Bring Back Han Solo for EPISODE IX

STAR WARS Could Easily Bring Back Han Solo for EPISODE IX

article
Is Disney Retconning THE LAST JEDI?

Is Disney Retconning THE LAST JEDI?

video