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The Ouija board, or what science thinks about connecting with the afterlife

The Ouija board, or what science thinks about connecting with the afterlife

The case was investigated by Megan Kenny of Sheffield Hallam University, which describes how interest in spirituality and paranormal phenomena has declined and increased over the years. As it turns out, Ouija painting has its origins in the Fox Sisters, a medium popular in the 19th century. Women considered pioneers of the spiritual movement came up with the idea that communicating with ghosts could involve saying the alphabet out loud and waiting for a quick response. In this way, the siblings were supposed to communicate with the afterlife.

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In 1890, the painting form was created in the form we know it today, although in the following century, spirituality and the activities associated with it lost little in importance. It was on the heels of the revelations of many people who call themselves mediators between the world of people and spirits. After the Second World War, there was a sharp increase in interest in the topic and we can observe it to this day. Because of Halloween, such issues spark even more curiosity.

It is worth explaining how the Ouija board works. The whole idea is that we need a wooden board covered with the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 0-9 and the words ‘yes’, ‘no’ and ‘goodbye’. All participants who take part in the parade must put their hands on a wooden sign, which – at least in theory – will be moved by someone from the underworld.

The Ouija board was created in the late 19th century

On the one hand, it sounds silly, but on the other hand, there are many people who say they felt some foreign power moving the sign. If we remain skeptical about such reports, we must look for scientific explanations. In this case, one of them may be the share of the so-called kinetic effect. Basically, it has to do with our subconscious movements that we make, even though we don’t think we do. As a result, the person involved in the sort can “speak” the sentences through the board without being aware of it.

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Another explanation, partly related to the kinetic effect, is known as the sense of potency. It refers to our subjective ability to control actions that will affect external events. Experiments with Ouija boards have shown that our sense of agency can be manipulated to the point that we are considered an invisible entity to move a table, for example. Where does this phenomenon come from? It is most likely the result of the problems the brain faces when it comes to predicting the consequences of its actions. When our predictions align with their outcome, we feel responsible for the action. However, when the result turns out to be inconsistent with our expectations, our sense of efficacy weakens and we try to shift responsibility to someone or something else.

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The influence of crowd can also play an important role in this case. The angst among the participants deepens, and each — even the smallest movement of the pointer — seems to be a sign from another world. In other words, we roll each other, although if we look at everything from the side, we will assume that nothing really happened. The combination of all these factors can make even the most skeptical of paranormals skeptical.

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