computer scientist measured Ouija board planchette movements


Jedi Council Member
A guy measured Ouija board planchette movements and says the results are contrary to the ideomotoric effect
The data thus obtained question the prevailing assumptions about the ideomotor effect, as formulated by a study published in August 2018 on the Quija effect, among others, as an explanation for this effect, and presents meaningful answers of the Quija board as an emergent characteristic of unconsciously interacting and foreshadowing session participants, which originally lend a supposed structure to random display events.
German article:

(note: ads/advertisemts etc read 'display')
More than just ideomotor skills? Technical Monitoring System Delivers New Observations on the Ouija Onboard Effect

Heidelberg (Germany) - For more than 100 years, the "Ouija Board" has been one of the most popular aids to spiritualism. While some see messages from the beyond in the advertisements of the little ship, skeptics are certain that the movements of the so-called planchette are caused by unconsciously coordinated movements of the participants. A new technical monitoring system now provides new data and information on the "Ouija on-board phenomenon", which questions this "ideomotoric effect" as the sole explanation for the movements of the planchette.

As Dr. Eckhard Kruse, Professor of Applied Computer Science at the Duale Hochschule Baden-Württemberg (DHBW), reports in the latest issue of the Journal of Scientific Exploration (DOI: 0.31275/2019.1445), he has developed a monitoring system for the Quija board based on cameras, motion and tactile sensors, which can be used to monitor, record and evaluate the movements of the planchette as well as the impulses of the meeting participants.

Similar to the well-known "glass back", the Quija board uses a pointer board to support the fingers of those involved in the meeting and to display the hoped-for "messages from beyond". Skeptics, on the other hand, deny the anomalistic or even paranormal function of the ouija board as a medium of communication with spiritual beings and refer - as in the case of commuting, for example - to minimal self-movement that cannot be controlled or even turned off or even unconsciously coordinated movements of the human motor system among the participants of the meeting as an explanation for the movements of the "little ship" (ideomotorics).
The data of the system developed by Dr. Kruse can be read and evaluated in different ways and for different purposes. On the one hand, the system can be used for better interpretation of the answers and messages obtained, but also for scientific analysis of the dynamic, physical and mechanical processes during the session. The latter led the computer scientist himself to the now published 'small study', which is based on more than 50 own sessions of the author with a varying number of participants.

Blick auf das verwendete System Copyright: E. Kruse
View of the used system
Copyright: E. Kruse

- A detailed description of the technical basics of the system and the results of the study can be found in the original article, which can be viewed free of charge HERE.

Thus the system can be used for a detailed measurement of the respective position, movement, speed, force, rotation and dwell time of the planchette.

In this way, Kruse could observe, among other things, that with increasing session duration and number of sessions, the speed and orthographic accuracy increased. As an example, the author cites a session on December 30, 2018, which lasted a total of 2 hours and 10 minutes and displayed 4,799 letters and characters every 1.75 seconds with an average sequence of characters, but at the end of which this value was only 1.3 to 1.5 seconds. The maximum speed of the Planchette was 100 cm/second with almost one character per second.

"These data allow the measurement and comparison of dynamics during a Quija session, both over the course of the session and as the parameters evolve as the session progresses," reports Kruse.
+ HERE you can order the daily free GreWi-Newsletter +

The data thus obtained question the prevailing assumptions about the ideomotor effect, as formulated by a study published in August 2018 on the Quija effect as an explanation for it, among other things, and presents meaningful answers of the Quija board as an emergent characteristic of unconsciously interacting and foreshadowing session participants, which originally lend a supposed structure to random display events (...GreWi reported).

"If this were the case," Kruse points out in his article, "one should expect that as soon as this 'structure' is reached and foreseeable, i.e. a meaningful beginning of a word or sentence emerges, the correct 'pronunciation' (or spelling) of the word becomes simpler and faster. In fact, this has been observed here and there in the over 50 sessions, Kruse reports - but adds that the data obtained does not show any fundamental correlation between the writing speed and the number of meaningful characters displayed. "In addition, it turned out that typical sessions began right from the start with clear and meaningful answers and that these cannot be described as random display events at all, which then gradually developed into meaningful words and sentences.

The data also provide clues to the interaction between session participants and to the differences between intentional and unconscious movements. "At the beginning of each of our sessions, we would move the planchette from one letter and sign on the board to the next with intentionally induced movements. The participants (seated persons) know in advance which sign will be next. "This circumstance is repeatedly characterized by a swinging movement of the planchette from one sign to the next, because the next goal can already be known and expected and the movement there is thus optimized by the participants.

Das Muster des Bewegungsverlaufs der Planchette bei absichtlicher Ansteuerung des Alphabets durch zwei Sitzer (siehe Abb. l.) und das Muster während einer „echten“ Sitzung (r.). Copyright: E. Kruse
The pattern of the planchette's movement when the alphabet is deliberately controlled by two seated persons (see figure l.) and the pattern during a "real" session (r.).
Copyright: E. Kruse

However, in the following "correct" sessions, this oscillating aspect of the advertisements was no longer so clear, if at all. "Even in one case, where (to the astonishment of the participants) the complete alphabet was displayed unconsciously and therefore unintentionally, this pattern was not present and after each newly displayed letter, the movement began again, so to speak, without the previously described swinging movement of the planchette. For Kruse himself, these different movement characteristics could, for example, be an indication of a possibility of differentiating between movements and indications deliberately brought about by the seaters and "genuine (i.e. unconscious) Quija movements". However, this observed effect must of course also be critically examined by further studies and under different conditions.

According to Kruse, the data on rotational movements of the planchette also reveal interesting information, although this movement is irrelevant for the actual sign display. The author explains: "If the seated persons move their hands on the planchette only with slightly different speed or direction, this results in a (more or less easy) rotation of the planchette. If two participants sit face to face, this effect is most pronounced in the form of a movement to the left or right, while forward and/or backward movements are less likely to lead to rotation. (...) Such a movement of the planchette can therefore be an indication that the participants are not acting synchronously, i.e. that someone is moving his hand faster or earlier, while the other person is acting later, i.e. reacting with some delay.".

Using three case studies, however, Professor Kruse also explains observed differences:

- In case 1 (case 1), an intentional movement was performed by one of the two seaters, which led the planchette specifically to display a message unknown to the second seater, who simply followed the movement of the planchette. The result was strong rotational movements of the planchette.

In addition, it was observed that during the guided movements of one seater, the second (passive) seater followed the movements with some delay, but in some cases this re-action was not as easy. (Fig. E. Kruse)

- In case 2, both seaters execute the display of a previously agreed text with intended movements. The result of this action was a much more synchronous movement of the planchette. (Fig. E. Kruse)

- In case 3, the typical situation of the Ouija is considered, i.e. neither of the two seated persons carried out an intentional, conscious movement of the planchette and none of the seated persons had an indication task, but one simply followed - so at least the subjective feeling - the movement of the planchette. It is interesting to note that here too, comparable with the result of case 2, the movements are largely synchronous, without large rotations. (Fig. E. Kruse)

"In contrast to deliberately executed display, 'ideal Quija movements' seem to produce significantly less rotation of the planchette. The seaters act more synchronously - as if they had a common stimulus or a common goal, which in contrast to case 2 described above, is not known to the seated persons and was not defined in advance," says Kruse.

For the computer scientist, this observation also calls into question the hypothesis of ideomotor activity, since it requires a form of (conscious or unconscious) agreement or exchange of information between the seaters, which would probably lead to asynchronous movements as in case 1. "Even if the seated persons repeatedly exchange their roles in acting and reacting, this would be evident from the patterns of movement.

In addition, Kruse reports: "Often two seaters were able to move the planchette synchronously, as the intentionally induced movements corresponded to a previously agreed message - even though such an agreement had not been made. These cases also call into question the conventional ideomotor explanations, since they require a voting process on the next sign, which is not known to the seaters: "Even if something like this could happen unconsciously, it would take a certain amount of time to transfer information between the seats, which would presumably lead to a delay in the actions of one of the seats and to similar rotational movements of the planchette, as can always be observed when one of the seats deliberately leads the planchette - unless there are psi effects that explain the synchronicity of the movements observed nevertheless.“


Prof. Dr. Eckhard Kruse studied computer science with application physics and received his doctorate in the field of robotics and image processing. He worked for eight years in industrial research as a scientist and manager. Since 2008 he has been Professor of Applied Computer Science at the Baden-Württemberg Cooperative State University (DHBW). Over the years, he has questioned and expanded his classical scientific world view based on manifold personal experiences and encounters with inspiring people from various areas of spirituality.

He is author of the book "Der Geist in der Materie - die Begegnung von Wissenschaft und Spiritualität".

- An essay by Kruse on his investigations, experiences and assessments of the Ouija phenomenon can be found HERE
The system also allows interesting observations of the "blind Ouija", as it automatically records the movements, records the letters and also outputs them acoustically. This makes it possible for all participants to close their eyes while interacting with each other via the planchette. "Whenever all the seated people closed their eyes in our experiments, the answers quickly came to a standstill. Only when at least one of the seated persons continued to observe the board did the communication continue. Apparently, the Ouija game requires a certain form of hand-eye coordination by the seated players to ensure a precise position and spelling.

The question of the extent to which the perception of the seater plays a role also came to the fore in another observation involving four seaters, an interesting observation: "After one question, the planchette did not display any letters, but made a rapid movement across the board, from which the participants initially could not derive any sense. After this display was repeated two more times, one of the seated persons suggested that it could be the representation of a heart. Also the demand for the Ouija resulted in a 'yes'. Only the later (after the end of the session) performed evaluation of the recording of the session then actually showed that the planchette had very clearly and with great precision traced a heart shape (see Fig.).". For Kruse, this effect suggests that it is possible for the planchette to move in a way that only makes sense after later analysis. This example also calls into question the ideomotor explanation theory of subconsciously coordinated participants.

Darstellung des Bewegungsverlaufs der Planchette, als diese - zunächst für die Sitzer nur schwer deutbar – eine Herzform nachgezeichnet hatte. Copyright: E. Kruse
Representation of the motion of the planchette when it had traced a heart shape - at first difficult to interpret for the seaters.
Copyright: E. Kruse

However, the system also provided data elsewhere that, at least in terms of ideomotor function, correspond to the fact that human muscle power actually moves the planchette: "The experiments with the tactile sensor on the planchette showed that it is the fingers of the participants that move first and then the planchette itself follows these movements. (...) If we were dealing here with psychokinetic effects, it would probably be the other way round and the fingers would follow the actions of the planchette."

Although the system is still in its infancy and there is certainly still potential for improving the measurement method and evaluation, Kruse is already confident that "his system can contribute to a more comprehensive explanation of the Ouija phenomenon beyond the ideomotor effect".
Top Bottom