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Scientist’s Ouija board project turns to crowd funding

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University of British Columbia scientists have turned to crowd funding to finance a study that involves the use of an Ouija board.

Research assistant Docky Duncan, who works in a Visual Cognition Lab, said they are hoping to raise $2,000 to get the project off the ground. However, he admitted that simply because an Ouija board is involved it might turn off potential funders.

“The research methodology is so strange, using the Ouija board and all, that it might be a little too controversial for most grant organizations,” he said adding that “people either think they’re possessed or they’re a total sham and that they have no place in science.”

In fact, a previous campaign on the web site Microryza failed to garner the funds but Duncan is not giving up just yet.There are other crowd funding sites specifically for scientific research such as Experiment and Rockethub.

The university experiment gives participants a “series of questions” they are asked to answer on a computer. They are then given a partner, blindfolded and told to use the Ouija board to determine the answer. The partner is then removed leaving just the one person using a planchette on the board.

Surprisingly, it was found that “participants who cannot answer some of the questions on the computer, can sometimes answer them correctly using the Ouija board.” When this occurs, Duncan said the participants “usually don’t believe us at first.”
Computer science student Ashwin Krishnamurthi was “amazed” when he learned that he was conducting the experiment alone.

“I thought that the other participant was also playing along with me. I felt that the other person was trying to move the piece but he wasn’t. It was just me,” he said.

For Duncan, results such as this appear to show that the human mind has special potential to draw answers out of seemingly nothing.
“There’s still a lot that we don’t know about how our brains work and about how our subconscious is organized,” he said adding that the experiment is aimed at finding some answers.

Known primarily as a ‘parlor game’ that became all the rage at the beginning of the 20th century, the Ouija board is usually used be a group of people who each put an index finger on a planchette. In this manner, the participants hoped to channel spirits from beyond the grave. One of the most avid participants in Canada during the 1940’s was former prime minister William Lyon Mackenzie King.

Source: Globe and Mail - British Columbia researchers crowd source funds to back Ouija board science project