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Old 28th August 2009, 09:23 AM   #1
mbush1us
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Cool Ideomotor and the ouija board

Hi all,

I've been primarily a lurker for awhile now, but thought you all might get a kick out of an experiment I've been undertaking (or not). I have a fairly strong ideomotor response and was curious to try something out with a "ouija" board (I can get that little planchette to move all over the place and it "feels" completely different than when I consciously do it) just to see what results I would get. I'm a complete skeptic when it comes to this as I am with dowsing which like lots of folks I can "do" too (or at least I used to be able to, I haven't tried it in a long time) though I can easily see how it could fool someone. However, I do want to try to figure out where the "information" comes from since it appears to mostly be out of the blue (meaning often not at all what I'm thinking at the time or expecting). I'm guessing it's just self-delusion and confabulation, but am wondering if there is a subconcious component also. By the way the board is homemade, it makes no difference in the response either way.

What I've discovered so far is the following:

1. The board can provide no proof by facts - by which I mean it can provide no verifiable facts that are not something I either already know consciously or have had contact with before and may have forgotten. In fact, I now have this as a primary requirement for any discussions and so far the response is to either an attempt to distract, disassemble, or avoid. If pressed the response is that the board can't provide proof (pretty telling). For now, the discussion stops here.

2. The board attempts to provide information on the future as proof, but so far nothing predicted has come true (or even close). I require very specific predictions - nothing vague or ambiguous is accepted.

3. The board always sets up two responders, one "good" and one "evil". The good one is always warning me about the bad one and the bad one is always trying to upset me (not working). In both cases their behavior and responses are childlike and trite. Things like "God is love" or referring to the devil and evil (I'm an atheist so these always kill me). Their names are even obviously from my own head - the good is called "Volume" probably because I had my ipod too loud when "it" gave it's name and the bad one is "X", likely based on my previous enjoyment of the x-files. Not even imaginative which probably says something about me. The responses are also sometimes either grammatically incorrect or misspelled (both mistakes I wouldn't conciously make so I suspect it is intended to be part of the confabulation). Often when pushed on something that I know it can't provide the response devolves into nonsense.

I know this is completely anecdotal and certainly nothing new, but I am curious if any of you can think of anything else I can try just to see what the response is and in your views on the subconscious aspect.
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Old 28th August 2009, 09:28 AM   #2
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Old 28th August 2009, 09:36 AM   #3
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You're pushing it around by yourself?

And you refer to the "Board" as giving you answers?

Pretty sure you have strayed from ideomotor and into self-delusion.
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Old 28th August 2009, 09:42 AM   #4
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I'm sure I'm pushing it around myself - I just meant there is a distinct difference in feel from when I consciously do it. I referred to the board only as a means of indicating a response I didn't mean the actual board was responding. Sorry for the confusion.

I'm sure there is self-delusion at work too, only I'm not actually believing it consciously which is what has intrigued me. I absolutely do NOT believe I'm talking to anything or any one.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:11 AM   #5
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Hi and welcome.

I'm not clear what it is exactly you are trying to establish. Are you just wondering if there is a subconscious aspect involved?

The ideomotor effect is by definition related to unconscious movements, so the answer to that would have to be yes.

In essence, this is you communicating with you, as you say. So any questions you come up with might give you some insight into your own mind, for better or worse, but I'm not sure of what further value that would be.

If you were trying to test the board to see whether there was really anything supernatural involved, that would be different, but you've already said you don't believe that. I'm assuming you were open to that possibility at the start or you wouldn't have tried asking for predictions with the requirement that they provide specific information or information you didn't know yourself.

Based on my own experiences with the Ouija board, pendulums and such things, I suspect much of what we get is based on our underlying expectations, even if it's sort of an unconscious expectation. For example, we may hope for an answer from the spirit world and even think consciously that we're open to it, but deep down we basically doubt it. Or maybe we've heard horror stories from other people so we expect bad spirits to show up and we get spooky or mixed messages. Personally, I think lucid dreams work along these same lines, with what we think we want to do sometimes replaced by something we fear instead. The lucid dream characters we create (again, in a lucid dream they seem quite real and we aren't aware that we are creating them) can be disorganized and strange or organized and intelligent, and the same can be true with the us that we meet through a Ouija board. Again, all just speculation on my part - feel free to take with grain of salt.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:19 AM   #6
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I was given an Ouiji board when I was about 13. I wasn't really a skeptic then, though I think the roots were there. I tried it by myself and it didn't do a damn thing. I tried it with a friend, and it started working... at spelling out what my friend was telling it to (including misspellings). I thought, "This is the most useless toy ever", and gave it away to my friend.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:24 AM   #7
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With lots and lots of practice, I got to the point where I could make Tarot cards subject to the same ideomotor effect + subconscious wishes and fears.

Once I realized what was going on (by tracking specific predictions that never "came true" better than the rate of chance), it was part of the beginning of the end of woo for me.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:25 AM   #8
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I guess I'm curious on the subconscious aspect (not so much the paranormal) as the responses do seem sentient albeit childlike which would suggest some conscious involvement. I could be wrong though and the subconscious mind could provide actual responses which would be interesting in and of itself (especially given that the nature of the responses are generally not what my conscious ones would be - the whole god/devil aspect for instance). I would guess that the responses say something about what's going on under the surface in my mind however surprising. The thing that is throwing me is that the responses are not predicted or even in my conscious mind at the time they are spelled out. In other words, I don't know what will be spelled out either before or during.

As for the paranormal aspect - I haven't experienced anything that would even suggest this. The proof request that I now use is just for curiosity sake more than anything. I don't expect it to ever be fulfilled.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Tricky View Post
I was given an Ouiji board when I was about 13. I wasn't really a skeptic then, though I think the roots were there. I tried it by myself and it didn't do a damn thing. I tried it with a friend, and it started working... at spelling out what my friend was telling it to (including misspellings). I thought, "This is the most useless toy ever", and gave it away to my friend.
I'm not sure if everyone can get the response to work or maybe it takes practice. If I'm doing it with someone else I can easily get the board to spell out what I want it to say, but that's not what I'm describing here - there is a difference between the two kinds of responses for me. Again, I'm not suggesting that there is anything paranormal going on, I'm just trying to figure out why there is a difference and where the second mentally comes from.

Edited to say that I do NOT use the board with anyone else or for any kind of gain - it was a cool parlor trick when I was a kid at a sleepover nothing more.

Last edited by mbush1us; 28th August 2009 at 10:34 AM.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:35 AM   #10
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Do you find that your Ouija sessions bring up similar images and/or themes as your dreams and daydreams? That would tend to suggest that the answer to their origins lies, as ExMinister discussed, in your subconscious.
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:46 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by blue sock monkey View Post
Do you find that your Ouija sessions bring up similar images and/or themes as your dreams and daydreams? That would tend to suggest that the answer to their origins lies, as ExMinister discussed, in your subconscious.
Not really which is why I'm a bit thrown. Often the responses don't seem to have any connection to me or my beliefs at all - or at least what I believe those to be - maybe that's the disconnect. Perhaps my conscious mind is the deception
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Old 28th August 2009, 10:52 AM   #12
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This is an interesting little experiment. We know why people self-delude when it comes to woo, and we know about the ideomotor response. The Ouija board is a perfect way see both working.

The fact that you are still getting answers, even from "personalities" when you consciously know what is happening is a bit fascinating. I would have assumed that the board would not respond. Have you kept any notes? Can you point to specific subconscious results?

At this point, it is only a single experiment that would be very difficult to repeat since you need another skeptic who could suspend disbelief. But I wish this information had been out there when I was a teen. The idea that I was doing it and could track my own subconscious responses would have been far more interesting than the usual "supernatural" blather. I would have been all over that experiment and my stupid Ouija board wouldn't have been a waste of money.
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Old 28th August 2009, 11:00 AM   #13
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Now I'm wondering if the responses could be subconscious connections to my childhood. For instance the responses often refer to god/good or devil/evil . While I've been an atheist for a long time (many years) I was raised Catholic (though not in a strict sense). The responses do tend to be simplistic and on a childlike level which would jive with that time and age of my life. Some of the other topics I can't recall ever really having thought about, but I may have when I was younger and just don't remember. They aren't anything really important or somehow profound so I'm not sure why I would have held onto them but who knows why we keep what we do. If so, it would be a facinating way to look into one's subconscious but I don't know how I could go about actually proving that that is what it is.
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Old 28th August 2009, 11:04 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by bookitty View Post
This is an interesting little experiment. We know why people self-delude when it comes to woo, and we know about the ideomotor response. The Ouija board is a perfect way see both working.

The fact that you are still getting answers, even from "personalities" when you consciously know what is happening is a bit fascinating. I would have assumed that the board would not respond. Have you kept any notes? Can you point to specific subconscious results?

At this point, it is only a single experiment that would be very difficult to repeat since you need another skeptic who could suspend disbelief. But I wish this information had been out there when I was a teen. The idea that I was doing it and could track my own subconscious responses would have been far more interesting than the usual "supernatural" blather. I would have been all over that experiment and my stupid Ouija board wouldn't have been a waste of money.
Yeah it is kind of interesting from that point of view. However, apparently the subconscious mind doesn't give in so easily and it is still trying to persuade me that it is something else (hence my request for proof, that seems to stump it). It's really odd and in a way amusing to see the struggle to convince me (I know that seems weird, but it is what it is) which suggests some kind of disconnect from my conscious mind.

It would be very interesting and fun to do this with another skeptic but unfortunately I don't know any in the area I now live.
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Old 28th August 2009, 11:10 AM   #15
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Have a friend present.

Your friend blindfolds you or, better yet, you face a panel through which your hands protrude and you have no way of seeing the board. Your friend presents the ouija board to you with either the letters facing you, or the board turned 180 degrees (the letters are upside-down, the yes/no are not where you expect them to be, etc.). You have no way of knowing whether the board is oriented properly or not.

Your friend then logs your answers to your questions.

ETA: I only have a few minutes to respond; maybe others can help refine a simple protocol.
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Old 28th August 2009, 11:15 AM   #16
mbush1us
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Originally Posted by HeyLeroy View Post
Have a friend present.

Your friend blindfolds you or, better yet, you face a panel through which your hands protrude and you have no way of seeing the board. Your friend presents the ouija board to you with either the letters facing you, or the board turned 180 degrees (the letters are upside-down, the yes/no are not where you expect them to be, etc.). You have no way of knowing whether the board is oriented properly or not.

Your friend then logs your answers to your questions.

ETA: I only have a few minutes to respond; maybe others can help refine a simple protocol.
This wouldn't work, I've already tried it just for fun. I'm not claiming that it is something else doing the responding so I'm not sure what this would prove regarding my subconsious - I'm assuming that it would need my eyes too .
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Old 28th August 2009, 12:26 PM   #17
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Sounds like fun. I'm thinking of doing something similar with dowsing.

See how the other half live, as it were.
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Old 28th August 2009, 02:09 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by blue sock monkey View Post
Do you find that your Ouija sessions bring up similar images and/or themes as your dreams and daydreams? That would tend to suggest that the answer to their origins lies, as ExMinister discussed, in your subconscious.
When I was experimenting with the Ouija board, what it said never related to my dreams or daydreams either. I don't think it necessarily follows that it would. I'm talking specifically about lucid dreaming, which is much different from ordinary dreaming in that you really feel you are interacting with real people, and the main point is that lucid dream characters often say and do unexpected things. They do not necessarily do what I will them to do and seem to have minds of their own. Most lucid dreamers say the same thing, and I think that's partly why there's so much "woo" around lucid dreaming, with people believing they are really interacting with entities on another dimension.

How this relates to Ouija - I just suspect there may be a similar dynamic at play, where the same part of our minds capable of creating lucid dream characters that seem to have opinions and characters all their own can also create characters that will communicate through a board with us.

I was really good at working the Ouija board, too. I could even make it work by myself, and I was convinced it wasn't me moving it. I really believed back then that I could contact the spirit world with it, including spirit guides, which I had been taught were all-knowing. That made me stick with it for a long time, and in hindsight all I can say is it was frustrating never to get any sort of information out of it that I didn't already know, or as you say, what I did get that seemed predictive never happened. Of course, I had the same experience with lucid dreaming.

I wonder if maybe our minds will draw on whatever memories are stored there to create the lucid dreaming world, and maybe the material that comes through with a Ouija board too.
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Old 28th August 2009, 02:20 PM   #19
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HeyLeroy:
Your friend blindfolds you....

Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post
This wouldn't work, I've already tried it just for fun. .......
There is a clue there somewhere....
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Old 28th August 2009, 02:23 PM   #20
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Interesting. I can control the "actors" and actions in my lucid dreams; I thought this was quite common. My first experience of the phenonmenon was the sudden thought, "This is such a boring dream--I wish it was about ___" and the dream shifted immediately for me.
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Old 28th August 2009, 02:54 PM   #21
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If I understand your experiment correctly, you want to see if your subconcious is connect to your movement much like the way we dream. If I have that right, then I think what Skeptical Greg said is very big:

Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
HeyLeroy:
Your friend blindfolds you....
Originally Posted by mbush1us
This wouldn't work, I've already tried it just for fun. ......
There is a clue there somewhere....
I could be completely wrong, but it would seem to me that your mind is anxious to see the outcome of your experiment.

Kind of like what happens to a baseball player when he anxious to see if he got a hit as he is starting his swing at the ball. In that split second he gets himself confused and distracted. Usually when a batter does that, he completely misses the ball.

So maybe your are so anxious to see the results, your mind is making a descion as to what the result will be without realizing it.
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Old 28th August 2009, 03:30 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by blue sock monkey View Post
Interesting. I can control the "actors" and actions in my lucid dreams; I thought this was quite common. My first experience of the phenonmenon was the sudden thought, "This is such a boring dream--I wish it was about ___" and the dream shifted immediately for me.
No you're right and I think it is common. It's especially easy to control scenery and events. In my experience, it's the characters that so often seem to have a mind of their own. I've read of people who claim they can talk to their spirit guides and deceased loved ones in the lucid dream state, so I assume they must have a sense that their dream characters are independent from themselves.

I've just had way more of these experiences than is probably average; up to 2-3 times a week for a few years. Some of them felt like "out-of-body" experiences at the time, different in the way they started. Occasionally I had sleep paralysis. Happily, I don't have any of it much anymore, and I say good riddance. They weren't as much fun for me as they seem to be for other people! But I did learn a lot about my own mind and the lucid dream state.
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Old 28th August 2009, 04:05 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg View Post
There is a clue there somewhere....
Yes, a clue to something else entirely than what the OP is asking about.
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Old 28th August 2009, 04:05 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by ExMinister View Post
When I was experimenting with the Ouija board, what it said never related to my dreams or daydreams either. I don't think it necessarily follows that it would. I'm talking specifically about lucid dreaming, which is much different from ordinary dreaming in that you really feel you are interacting with real people, and the main point is that lucid dream characters often say and do unexpected things. They do not necessarily do what I will them to do and seem to have minds of their own. Most lucid dreamers say the same thing, and I think that's partly why there's so much "woo" around lucid dreaming, with people believing they are really interacting with entities on another dimension.

How this relates to Ouija - I just suspect there may be a similar dynamic at play, where the same part of our minds capable of creating lucid dream characters that seem to have opinions and characters all their own can also create characters that will communicate through a board with us.

I was really good at working the Ouija board, too. I could even make it work by myself, and I was convinced it wasn't me moving it. I really believed back then that I could contact the spirit world with it, including spirit guides, which I had been taught were all-knowing. That made me stick with it for a long time, and in hindsight all I can say is it was frustrating never to get any sort of information out of it that I didn't already know, or as you say, what I did get that seemed predictive never happened. Of course, I had the same experience with lucid dreaming.

I wonder if maybe our minds will draw on whatever memories are stored there to create the lucid dreaming world, and maybe the material that comes through with a Ouija board too.

I understand your point now. I haven't ever had a lucid dream so I can't compare the two, but I suspect you're right. It is just very odd and I can see how someone would be fooled (especially if they want it to be paranormal). The responses really do seem to come from a separate mind even though I consciously know that they don't. The inability for the responses to even acknowledge this and the continued attempts to convince me otherwise is weird too.

I've thought more on the connection between what the responses are and my subconscious (or whatever part of my brain/mind is providing the answers) and if I consider what is said it does relate in some way to either what I want to be or what I would expect it to be although in many cases it is very convoluted or loose and not at all obvious.

The difference in the way the planchette feels or moves is entirely subjective of course (I have no way of actually testing if this is true or not) and the perception is most likely due to what I expect more than anything else.
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Old 28th August 2009, 04:18 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by JFrankA View Post
If I understand your experiment correctly, you want to see if your subconcious is connect to your movement much like the way we dream. If I have that right, then I think what Skeptical Greg said is very big:



I could be completely wrong, but it would seem to me that your mind is anxious to see the outcome of your experiment.

Kind of like what happens to a baseball player when he anxious to see if he got a hit as he is starting his swing at the ball. In that split second he gets himself confused and distracted. Usually when a batter does that, he completely misses the ball.

So maybe your are so anxious to see the results, your mind is making a descion as to what the result will be without realizing it.
I guess I'm confused on the blindfolding part and how that would relate to my subconscious. I can see doing it as a test if I was suggesting that the responses are paranormal since presumably the entity or whatever the responder is would not require me to see the board to correctly indicate the letters (which is why I did the test initially, just covering all the bases like a good skeptic). However, I'm not claiming this and my subconscious would have to use what I see as much as my conscious mind would or so I would presume. I'm not even claiming it is my subconscious, that's just the best explanation I can come up with so far. It's possible that our conscious mind can compartmentalize to this degree and that's where the responses are coming from.

In any case I don't think I have any real anxiety over the results (could be wrong) I'm doing it more for fun (it's especially entertaining to see the various confabulations my mind is apparently able to come up with and the various reactions to my nonbelief) than anything else. Perhaps the entertainment value alone is enough to cause the responses in the first place. It is a great way to see just how easy it could be for someone to be fooled and absolutely convinced in it being paranormal especially if they don't really scrutinize the veracity of the responses.
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Old 28th August 2009, 04:31 PM   #26
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I've been trying to find a study (which may not exist, but it sounds like something someone would try) looking at the brain via FMRI to see if there is a physical difference in the brain between when a participant consciously moves the planchette and when the participant does not believe they are moving the planchette consciously. So far no luck, mostly the studies have been focused on the Ideomotor apraxia disorder (which is far more important anyway).
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Old 28th August 2009, 07:37 PM   #27
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I wonder if automatic writng would work for you too, mbush1us?
That would be a lot quicker and you would have a record of what you had said.
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Old 29th August 2009, 01:37 AM   #28
mbush1us
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Originally Posted by Jonquill View Post
I wonder if automatic writng would work for you too, mbush1us?
That would be a lot quicker and you would have a record of what you had said.
I don't know if it would or not, but the board is pretty fast (it's not the slow creeping movement you might think of with a ouija board).
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Old 29th August 2009, 03:57 AM   #29
JFrankA
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Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post
I guess I'm confused on the blindfolding part and how that would relate to my subconscious. I can see doing it as a test if I was suggesting that the responses are paranormal since presumably the entity or whatever the responder is would not require me to see the board to correctly indicate the letters (which is why I did the test initially, just covering all the bases like a good skeptic). However, I'm not claiming this and my subconscious would have to use what I see as much as my conscious mind would or so I would presume. I'm not even claiming it is my subconscious, that's just the best explanation I can come up with so far. It's possible that our conscious mind can compartmentalize to this degree and that's where the responses are coming from.

In any case I don't think I have any real anxiety over the results (could be wrong) I'm doing it more for fun (it's especially entertaining to see the various confabulations my mind is apparently able to come up with and the various reactions to my nonbelief) than anything else. Perhaps the entertainment value alone is enough to cause the responses in the first place. It is a great way to see just how easy it could be for someone to be fooled and absolutely convinced in it being paranormal especially if they don't really scrutinize the veracity of the responses.

I'm sorry, I'm not being clear, and to be honest, I don't quite grasp what you are trying to convey. (I understand you're not suggesting something supernatural).

Neither am I. What I'm suggesting is anticipation. That feeling of "Oh boy, what will it be?" and getting so anxious that your mind creates something at the spur of the moment without you realizing it.

Another example is someone testing some kind of theory, and is so anxious to see the result, that she/he, without realizing it, pushes the tester to the desired result.

In this case, you don't know what you want as a result, but the desire for something to happen is still there, so your mind pushes it to...something weird that you know. It's not anxiety, it's anticipation.

Once blindfolded, you can't do that because you can't see where the thing is going.

....does that help explain what I mean?
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Old 29th August 2009, 04:14 AM   #30
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Ok, I understand your point now. Yeah that could very well be it, although the blindfold would only work if I hadn't used a specific board before and the layout was different than the one I was used to (otherwise I could do a fair approximation just based on memory). I still can't figure out a way to actually tell which part of my mind is actually producing the responses which is what I'm really interested in given the degree of confabulation that goes on.

I guess that my real point is that if skeptics want folks who believe in the ouija board and other ideomotor responses to understand what is really going on, a clearer explanation on how the responses can seem so real has to be addressed. I KNOW it's not paranormal and yet it is still very weird to me so someone prone to belief is going to find it that much more convincing.
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Old 29th August 2009, 01:09 PM   #31
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As for articles about the use of fmri to measure the "distance" between processing in the neocortex and the conscious intention to act, check out: scienceagogo.com re: Mind Reading. 60 Minutes did a whole piece on similar experiments earlier this year. I'll bet Steve Novella has covered this on his site as well.
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Old 29th August 2009, 10:22 PM   #32
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All bolding mine:

Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post
Ok, I understand your point now. Yeah that could very well be it, although the blindfold would only work if I hadn't used a specific board before and the layout was different than the one I was used to (otherwise I could do a fair approximation just based on memory). I still can't figure out a way to actually tell which part of my mind is actually producing the responses which is what I'm really interested in given the degree of confabulation that goes on.

I guess that my real point is that if skeptics want folks who believe in the ouija board and other ideomotor responses to understand what is really going on, a clearer explanation on how the responses can seem so real has to be addressed. I KNOW it's not paranormal and yet it is still very weird to me so someone prone to belief is going to find it that much more convincing.

Originally Posted by HeyLeroy View Post
Have a friend present.

Your friend blindfolds you or, better yet, you face a panel through which your hands protrude and you have no way of seeing the board. Your friend presents the ouija board to you with either the letters facing you, or the board turned 180 degrees (the letters are upside-down, the yes/no are not where you expect them to be, etc.). You have no way of knowing whether the board is oriented properly or not.

Your friend then logs your answers to your questions.

ETA: I only have a few minutes to respond; maybe others can help refine a simple protocol.
Something like this:
Language WARNING: Penn and Teller ********
YouTube Video This video is not hosted by the ISF. The ISF can not be held responsible for the suitability or legality of this material. By clicking the link below you agree to view content from an external website.
I AGREE

If you don't want to watch the whole clip, go to about 4:00 in.
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Old 29th August 2009, 11:11 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post
Ok, I understand your point now. Yeah that could very well be it, although the blindfold would only work if I hadn't used a specific board before and the layout was different than the one I was used to (otherwise I could do a fair approximation just based on memory). I still can't figure out a way to actually tell which part of my mind is actually producing the responses which is what I'm really interested in given the degree of confabulation that goes on.

I guess that my real point is that if skeptics want folks who believe in the ouija board and other ideomotor responses to understand what is really going on, a clearer explanation on how the responses can seem so real has to be addressed. I KNOW it's not paranormal and yet it is still very weird to me so someone prone to belief is going to find it that much more convincing.
I think understand what you're driving at. Let me take a stab at restating your point and giving a possible answer.

The typical explanation of the ideomotor is what we see in Wiki:
Quote:
The ideomotor effect is a psychological phenomenon wherein a subject makes motions unconsciously. As in reflexive responses to pain, the body sometimes reacts reflexively to ideas alone without the person consciously deciding to take action
When it comes to dowsing for water, we tend to say that the person may be aware subconsciously that a certain spot is likely to have water (or consciously so, like in the "open" test before a controlled test), so their subconscious causes the movements that pinpoint the water. Some of us argue that in many parts of the country, it's hard to dig and not find water. What you seem to be asking is, "Fine, but why did the dowser pick that spot instead of some other?"

Similarly on a Ouija board, one might ask, "Will I be rich someday?" If they spell out "yes" then we simply conclude that most people want to be rich, so naturally they spell out yes. If I understand you correctly, you're saying, "Fine, what if they spell out 'pickle' or something else nonsensical? Why?"

I think the explanation is rather simple. We know the body can make these movements absent of conscious will. In the case of a Ouija board, our conscious knows where the letters are, so it only makes sense to move it to some letter. Let's just say on the first move it goes to the letter P. Does there need to be any other reason for it to be a P other than it's a letter? I don't think so. The subconscious "instruction" so to speak was to pick a letter. With the exception of a few letters, one is just as good as the next when it comes to forming words, which is the ultimate subconscious goal.

The subsequent letters could then be the subconscious picking a letter that might reasonably come next. With a P, a vowel is likely to come next as is an H, L, and R. Other letters like D and X don't make sense. So let's say you pick an I just because it makes sense subconsciously as a second letter. Again, follow the same basic logic of spelling words, only in this case a vowel is less likely but a C offers a good path leading to pic, pica, picante, Picasso, and so forth. Lather, rinse, repeat.

In the water dowsing scenario, there could be any number of factors triggering the movement. Maybe you're just tired or bored and want to be done. Maybe something attracts your attention subconciously. Maybe you just notice a slight movement from just walking around and your subconscious decides to run with it.

We make thousands of little movements all day long without conscious input or rational explanations. The only difference with the ideomotor effect is that we have visual feedback. That's why you only spell "pickle" on a board where you know where the letters are.

If you need a more in-depth explanation, I am available as a "life coach" for $100 per hour. I'm sure with a few dozen sessions we can get to the bottom of why you spell out certain things.
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Old 30th August 2009, 05:25 AM   #34
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I can see where you're coming from and as a skeptic I can accept that this is probably what's happening even though the perception is far more complex - we're talking about fast, complete and often (though not always in my experience) coherent conversations, not simple one or two word responses - it really is like having a regular conversation with another person. On to my next point.

Someone who is a bit more credulous (and I don't think it would take much given just HOW convincing the response is) may think that this explanation isn't satisfactory for what they are experiencing. For instance (and ex-minister may be able to back me up here), given that the responses are often not nonsensical at all (like pickle in your example) and appear very complex and thought out (though perhaps somewhat childlike in their overall simplicity - not to be confused with simpleminded) telling them that it is a "reflex" is probably not going to convince them. In fact, it may tend to further convince them that their personal experience is even more special and real (especially if they are not requiring any kind of evidence of external sentience and the responses can rationalize this need away fairly easily). In other words, it would be very easy to tell oneself that what you are experiencing can not be reflex or even subconcious in the way described given the quality of their interactions hence they personally must be special and not like all the others. I suspect out of body experiences may fall in the same category for the same reasons. I just think that as skeptics it's important to recognize just how convincing these experiences can be and not expect the explanation of ideomotor response or subconscious mind to be enough all by themselves (even if in reality that is exactly all it is). In fact, to the person caught up in it, it may appear that the skeptic doesn't fully understand what exactly is being described and are therefore easily dismissed. Sure we can always fall back to the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and be satisfied that we aren't falling for it and move on, but in their mind this may be extraordinary evidence just by it's very convincing nature. Not every skeptic is going to care, but I guess having experienced it myself I can see (but not agree with) their point of view and wish there were an argument that more fully responded to the complex nature of the experience without seeming to miss their point.

Sorry if that was rambling and not to the point, it's still early here and I'm not sure my brain is fully engaged yet.
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Old 30th August 2009, 05:30 AM   #35
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Hmmmm

I would like to bet at this point that Mbush1us is not all that he/she claims to be.

I would bet that within the next 100 posts or so, he/she will 'come out' as a true believer.
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Old 30th August 2009, 05:51 AM   #36
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All I have to say about ouija boards is that I refuse to believe that the portal to the Other World is made by Milton Bradley.
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Old 30th August 2009, 06:15 AM   #37
mbush1us
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Originally Posted by scarlettinlondon View Post
Hmmmm

I would like to bet at this point that Mbush1us is not all that he/she claims to be.

I would bet that within the next 100 posts or so, he/she will 'come out' as a true believer.
I was afraid someone would assume this, and I'm absolutely NOT a believer though I can see how someone could suspect this and didn't know how to avoid it.

I just don't know how to explain the experience (and I hate to use the word experience because that may carry connotations that I don't intend, but I don't know a better term) any differently than I am - it is what it is and is purely anecdotal but I've tried to be as honest as possible about it. That does not make me a believer anymore than assuming that someone who can describe the way an out of body experience "feels" believes they are actually leaving their body. To suspect me based on the fact that I'm attempting to fully describe the perception supposes that a real skeptic is somehow immune to the neurological experience altogether and should not be able to do so. At least as far as I'm concerned that has not been the case. I am interested in the neurological aspects of it and the explanation should at least take into account all the types of responses and not be based on incorrect assumptions or the simplest possible experience.

I'm not arguing that the explanations offered aren't exactly what is happening--I do think that it is all in my own mind and is ideomotor response, it's obvious to me that it is. I'm just trying to be clear that the experience is far more complex than is perhaps supposed.

My only point now is that it I can see how it may not be obvious to a believer that this is really just a reflex. My only concern is that by not at least trying to understand the full nature of the experience from a believer's point of view, a skeptic may not be able to provide the best argument against it. I'm certainly not suggesting that a skeptic should entertain the notion that it is paranormal.
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Old 30th August 2009, 06:20 AM   #38
mbush1us
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Originally Posted by Rogue1stclass View Post
All I have to say about ouija boards is that I refuse to believe that the portal to the Other World is made by Milton Bradley.
Me either. For what it's worth, I just use a sheet of paper with the alphabet and numbers on it not an actual ouija board from Milton/Bradley. Apparently my brain at least doesn't need all the spiritual trappings in order to confabulate.
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Old 30th August 2009, 06:24 AM   #39
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Originally Posted by Skeptical Greg
HeyLeroy:
Your friend blindfolds you....

Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post
This wouldn't work, I've already tried it just for fun. .......
There is a clue there somewhere....
Guys! He said in his OP that he knows it's just ideomotor. That means he knew at the start this sort of thing would produce nothing. What he's probing with the Ouija board is what his subconcious does through the ideomotor effect.

Telling him that there is no supernatual component and providing protocols to eliminate the ideomotor effect is not useful for his case.
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Old 30th August 2009, 06:24 AM   #40
scarlettinlondon
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Originally Posted by mbush1us View Post

I just don't know how to explain the experience
Okey dokey
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