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Personally I feel that, although there are strong arguments that the Ouija board is nothing more than an elaborate board game, the fact that when using one, peoples’ experiences are quite dramatic, make this much more than just a game – it’s playing with people’s minds.  It’s commonly understood to be used as a means of communicating with the dead.

Ancient advert for the Mysterious Ouija Talking Board

Ancient advert for the Mysterious Ouija Talking Board

I’ve always felt that people who are happy to use this and similar types of “divination” are the gullible type anyway.  Suggestible people are open to believing what’s put in front of their eyes and then inclined to be indignant when people accuse their beliefs and go so far as to attempt to provide evidence and proof to support their argument!

I’ve known of people who’ve arranged slips of paper with letters of the alphabet, written on them, and ones with the words ‘yes’ and ‘no’, placed on a table and then an ordinary drinking glass used in place of the “planchette”.

In early 2015 a video of a woman using a board and planchette did the rounds on the internet and made interesting viewing.  The woman had videoed herself using it placing a finger from each hand on top of the planchette.  This, in itself, seems wrong since the premise for using the board is that you have 2 or more people all placing a finger on the planchette meaning that no one person could be manipulating it.  During the video the planchette actually lifts up at the front and comments were make suggesting that she had a monofilament line attached (possibly manipulated by someone out of shot), hence it’s lifting as it does. As far as I’m concerned (and quite a few other people who’ve viewed and commented on it) it’s a fake but here’s the link:- 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU5eZJn73QQ&app=desktop

This interesting article is courtesy of Paranormal Examiner of London who posted this information at http://pel.gi9.co/wp/category/qa/ on May 14th 2014.

The question so often posted  in this regard is: is a Ouija board dangerous?

The answer, in my opinion, is emphatically no. It’s just a cardboard toy and has no significant link to the paranormal.  However, how it’s used and the pure matter of chance in its’ use, is where the problems begin.

Edit 31/10/2016  In the run up to Halloween 2016 I came across mention of a Guardian article entitled The Ouija board’s mysterious origins: war, spirits, and a strange death.  This article advises that the Ouia board owes its’ existence to the American Civil War as reported by historian Robert Murch. In this, he advises that “the name was coined by Helen Peters, a medium who was using the board with her brother-in-law Elijah Bond one night 1890 in Baltimore. When she asked what they should call it, the planchette spelled out “Ouija”, which the board told her meant “good luck”.

In actual fact the name is an amalgamation of the words yes in French and German and one wonders how these people didn’t recognise this mistake for what it was. Although, the fact that Helen Peters was a medium who subsequently took out the first patent on the board so the mis-naming may have more to do with a marketing ploy than a mistake.

The article goes on to mention the bad luck that befell the board’s early promoters, Helen Peters and later the entrepreneur William Fuld whose ‘brilliant marketing’ is the reason why the Ouija board is still very much in evidence over 120 years later!

Some of the most notable hauntings throughout the last 100 years have involved this toy in some way, shape or form.  That’s a fact.  The spirit board as we know it goes back to ancient China and was used for the same reason. It wasn’t until recently when I believe the Parker bros found out about it and made it a family toy.

I venture to suggest that quite a few people will have dabbled with one of these, probably as a teenager or college student.  For myself, I was in 5th form at Grammar School so about 15 years old at the time. Someone had brought an Ouija board in and 3 or 4 of the girls sat down with it. Frankly, I wasn’t that interested in the paranormal then, only the year before I’d discovered science fiction….!  However, they apparently were in communication with a spirit – I wasn’t paying any attention until one of the girls shrieked something about an old lady she’d known who ran out of the room crying.

Now there’s a couple of points here. Young people, particularly juvenile girls, seem to be susceptible to paranormal phenomena, whether real or imagined. Secondly, by using an Ouija board, you’re already entertaining the possibility that there’s some credence attached to “communicating” with the dead.

I’ve recently read a blog that suggested: “You get a bunch of youngsters together. Now, imagine they go out on the streets, laughing and joking and just saying “Hey! Come hang out with us!”.  For the most part you’d think they’re just a bunch of silly kids and go on about your business. Now think logically, if they do this long enough, someone just might hear and take them up on this. Its been done thousands of times in reality. Now lets go to the odds of something not going the way they planned or wanted.  Convert all that to the spirit world.  The spirit world is a cold and lonely place full of confused once people looking for answers. Suddenly there’s a voice calling to them.  Things may not go well for the spirit but it knows that someone at this location tried to communicate with them. It would only make sense for them to return.

They may choose to call it a day and move on or elsewhere. They may stay until they get the help they want. They may lash out to get the attention they need.  Next thing you know there’s a book and a movie. So is it dangerous to use these toys? You decide.”

Frankly, the above hypothesis pre-supposes that: the after-life, the other side, spirit world – call it what you will, actually exists!

In popular fiction and films, these boards are a way for entities, particularly those with evil intent to wreak havoc on the living.

I’ve also read Paranormal Examiner’s argument which goes some way to concurring, saying that, although it’s a toy, it can be used as a gateway to connect with the ‘other side’!  Since I’ve yet to find concrete evidence, I’m afraid I have to disagree! In support of my decision I give you the following by way of justification.

Firstly I quote the ideomotor phenomenon, which is a psychological phenomenon where a subject makes motions unconsciously.  The whole point of having 2 or more people with a finger on the planchette is to rule out the possibility of conscious movement of it. However, if you observe a board in use, there is a likelihood that the people surrounding the board will be attempting to second guess what the next letter is going to be to form a word and, in doing so, are actively supporting the movement without being aware that they are doing so.

To throw the cat among the pigeons, National Geographic asked what happens when you blindfold people using an ouija board?  They videoed a session:

http://www.realclearscience.com/video/2015/08/01/what_happens_when_you_blindfold_ouija_believers.html

Whilst any video can be “manipulated” if this is a genuine National Geographic offering then there’s no reason to doubt the veracity of it.

As further evidence in favour of human rather than paranormal activity, please view http://www.paranormal-encounters.com/wp/derren-brown-on-ouija-boards/

Derren Brown is, for want of a better term, a mentalist.  Mentalism is a performing art in which its’ practitioners, known as mentalists, appear to demonstrate highly-developed mental or intuitive abilities.  However, in addition to astounding us with his acts of mentalism, Derren Brown will go on to explain just how easy it is to manipulate a person into providing the desired result.  He is able to cold-read as convincingly as any medium who tells you they’re passing messages from your deceased loved ones.

Derren Brown has said that people tend to hear only things that support their own ideas and ignore contradictory evidence; this is known in psychology as confirmation bias. 

In his web-based series The Science of Scams, which aired on Channel 4, a number of videos were placed on YouTube purporting to show various kinds of paranormal phenomena such as ghosts, telekinesis and a tarot card reading.  In a second series of videos Derren Brown and his co-presenter Kat Akingbade, explained what was actually happening, exposing each as a specially created scam.  I very much admire him for his work because, yes, he IS an incredibly accomplished showman and mentalist, but his desire not only to entertain but to explain, unmask and debunk, has shown how easily our eyes and brains can be manipulated and fooled.  

A Wiki about his programmes (and links to them) can be seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_by_Derren_Brown

In the words of P.T. Barnum “There’s a sucker born every minute”!

Further reading material:

Edit 14/10/16 Pararationalise’s latest article about Ouija boards concurs pretty much with my feelings.  Please have a read of the article the-ouija-board-is-it-really-a-highly-efficient-path-to-hell.

Ouija Boards: Spiritualism and Manipulation | @ConspiracyStuff

National Geographic’s ‘Do You Believe’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRo8TytvIDw

I’ve told you my considered opinion on this topic.  Have you used an Ouija board? Would you consider yourself to have been successful in making contact with the afterlife?

Ouija board revealed!

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