SCI­EN­TISTS GET THE OUIJA BOARD OUT

Focus-Science and Technology - - DISCOVERIES -

What did they do?

A team of cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists from Den­mark’s Aarhus Univer­sity and Univer­sity of South­ern Den­mark, and Ger­many’s Biele­feld Univer­sity, at­tended a con­fer­ence for Ouija board users and in­vited par­tic­i­pants, in pairs, to take part in a ‘séance’.

Why did they do that?

Pre­vi­ous re­search has shown that when a Ouija board is used, one or more in­di­vid­u­als is phys­i­cally caus­ing the ‘planchette’ (or more com­monly, glass) to move – but that those in­di­vid­u­als are of­ten un­aware they are do­ing so. The team wanted to use eye-track­ing equip­ment to find out what’s go­ing on.

What did they find out?

When sub­jects were asked to de­lib­er­ately spell out a given word, track­ing ei­ther in­di­vid­ual’s eye move­ments would pre­dict the next let­ter ac­cu­rately. In a so-called ‘séance’, no one in­di­vid­ual’s eye move­ments could pre­dict what the next let­ter would be – but com­bin­ing those of both sub­jects could. It is be­lieved words are there­fore spelled out as the re­sult of a sub­con­scious joint ef­fort.

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