August 18, 2004  ·  Tim Wu

Though raised by scientists, I sometimes find Ouija boards hard to explain. The early advertisements claimed the following:



Interesting and mysterious; surpasses in its results second sight, mind reading, clairvoyance.

Proven at patent office before patent was allowed.

Price $1.50.


The ad is deceiving. William Fuld’s 1895 patent, admits that it is either through “involutary muscular motions” or “some other agency” that the board answers questions.

  • Joi Ito

    Emergent leadership is like being an Ouija board…

  • Tom Morris

    It’s involuntary muscle actions – the ‘ideomotor’ effect. More information at Skeptic’s Dictionary.

  • Jardinero1

    I always though it was magic.

  • Santa… no wait… I’m dyslexic

    No, it’s the devil.

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    What’s misleading about the ad? The ad doesn’t state, or even imply, any specific mechanism for how the Ouija board works. They’re not claiming that it’s anything other than involuntary muscle movements. They claim that it’s better than mind reading, clairvoyance, and second sight, but that’s not an extravagant claim, quite plausible, and open to testing.

  • Tim Wu

    That’s a good point. The ad is indeed probably accurate.

  • Tom Morris

    Jardinero: There’s no such thing as “magic”. Only elaborate trickery. The difference between proper magicians and the “sixth sense” types is that proper magicians tell you they are screwing with your perception of reality.

  • Jardinero1

    Of course it’s magic. Back in 1978, I and some friends were playing with it and it correctly predicted Bush’s victory in 2000. How else can you explain that. For that matter, how else can you explain Bush’s victory.

  • leah

    most people think these ouija boards are a toy but they can open doors to other dimisions and if u dont know how to close them they should never be tampered with

  • macb

    My version has one of those automatic door closers on it, so that hasn’t been a problem.

    Sorry… patent applied for already.

  • lilkimi

    i dont no if ouija boards are real but you have to see to believe! i wud like to try but i wudnt no if sum1 was pushing the glass!

  • susmitha

    i have played it but it never worked .

  • k41

    i have messd with a ouija board… i don’t know how real it is but i am aware that some weird things have been happening since..some weird visuals were seen by all of my friends that used it after so. Evil is the only thing taht would control something like that, and i don’t beleive anyone should even want to use one… espescially if you want to sleep at night.

  • Divya

    IT’s really horrible I am very afraid of that.

  • no one

    I want a ouija board so bad, should i get one?

  • Jessica

    I played a ouija board at my friends house and nothing happened to her..I wonder why. Her house is full with spirits cause of that ouija board..I got really freaked out when a glass of water fell on my friends sister and when a door slammed open from that game…I really want one and people say if you say a pray first before you play it, nothing bad will happen to you but I don’t know. I tried to make one and it didn’t work. I don’t know why. For all the people who want to try it or want to buy one, i think you should because ouija boards aren’t always evil.

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