Do Ouija boards work?

An inside look at the truth behind Ouija boards and if they are more than just superstition


Evie Cuffaro and Lia Farrell

Don’t play alone. Don’t take your hands off the board. Beware of evil spirits. Always say goodbye before ending the seance. These are the rules if you use a Ouija board. 

Some precautions can be taken to avoid any unwanted, or evil spirits. Burning sage, placing protection stones around the corners of the board, and never holding a seance in a cemetery will keep your group safe. 

Ouija boards have been in use since the late 1800s. Seances were much more common, as this was an age of spiritualism. 

As Americans looked to communicate with loved ones they had lost, popular methods such as the Ouija board were created. It was sold as a new “game” to play with family or friends and as a party trick. People didn’t care how it worked, they just wanted something to believe in. 

Many believe Ouija boards can be used to connect with spirits, ghosts, and other supernatural beings. Others, however, are more skeptical about whether they are real or simply a piece of mass-produced plastic. 

Lucie Lebek ‘20 fully believes that Ouija boards help people communicate with ghosts.. 

“There are just so many stories about them actually working that, at this point, you have to believe it,” she said.

When playing, a couple general rules are that everyone participating needs to have at least two fingers touching the planchette. Players are not supposed to push the planchette one way or another.  

“It’s clear that no group in a seance plans out what they want the board to say, it just moves by itself regardless of who is touching the planchette,” Lebek said. “But there are a lot of stories about people taking their hands off and [the planchette] just keeps moving around back and forth,” Lebek said. “That’s so creepy!” 

Because of her belief that Ouija boards can connect with spirits, Lebek doesn’t want to ever use one. 

“I don’t think I would ever mess with it because I don’t want to be possessed or something,” she said. 

Even if someone doesn’t intentionally try to move the planchette to spell out words or phrases, scientific studies have made people question their beliefs that Ouija boards can work.

Sydney Medina ’21 can attest to this. 

“[Scientists] held an experiment where they got a whole group to do a Ouija board,” Medina said. “The whole thing worked out perfectly. They blindfolded the same group of people and asked the same questions and they were spelling random letters that didn’t make sense.” 

The theory Medina speaks of is that someone is moving the planchette, but if they can’t see the letters, they can’t spell out the words correctly. 

“At least one person is subconsciously trying to move it because they know the answer, or they have an answer that they want to hear,” she suggested.

As one player lightly pushes the planchette, the other players follow the movement with their fingers, causing it to look like the piece is moving itself. 

While Medina doesn’t have any interest in playing with a Ouija board, she still thinks it is possible to talk to those who have passed on. 

“I’m sure there are people that are more connected to spirits, but I don’t think Ouija boards are it,” Medina said.