Friday the 13th Challenge: Summon a spirit

Over the last two years or so, I’ve received a heap of emails from people (some mostly curious, but others with paranoid fear or outright vitriol) about my talking (Ouija) board. Now, I don’t normally pay any heed to the vitriol and try to calm down the paranoid and fearful folks with explanations on what’s actually happening. Alas, my efforts were mostly in vain.

Today, I’m issuing everyone who has been on my case a challenge:

Put up or shut up

You say a spirit, ghost, demon or other such entity has attacked, plagued or otherwise been connected to you since you used one of these boards? Show me proof. Better yet, summon a ghost, spirit, demon or whatever and record it. Show me some evidence of books flying, chairs moving, loved ones (or yourself) possessed or otherwise influenced by another entity. I dare you!

I’m not responsible for actual damage including, but not limited to, direct, indirect, special, or consequential damages arising out of, resulting from, or any way connected to the use of the talking board. I’m only interested in evidence.

Minimal

Minimal pattern for non-discerning spirits

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Is “Rest in Peace” appropriate for Buddhists?

Yes.

That is all.

No, seriously, that’s it.

You don’t need more explaining.

OK, Fine!

RIP is just an expression wishing the dearly departed an unperturbed existence in the afterlife. Sure, it comes from Christian theology, but then so is Goodbye — short for God Be With You. Pretty much everyone in all other religions have said Goodbye if they’re fluent in English, so why not RIP? The technicalities don’t matter; what does is the sentiment.

We use countless words and terms that are grounded in past religions and beliefs including many that have been lost to history.

I’m a Buddhist/quasi-Atheist and that hasn’t stopped me from saying Merry Christmas either or Godspeed if I’m wishing a safe journey. Many in the scientific world use Godspeed, especially toward astronauts or those about to conduct high altitude research and quite a bunch of them are non-religious as well.

But I would get my panties in a bunch if the phrase became mandatory, which last I checked, it wasn’t. Shall we stop walking on eggshells already?

This is a bit of an odd post, but I was prompted to write it because I saw that question in the stats as one of the search terms linking to this blog. I guess it’s been a while since I wrote anything about culture (also, I’ve seen this question asked elsewhere) so might as well put it to rest here.

Site of the Week: Pantheism.net

I’ve been fascinated with the Pantheism movement for a very long time and this is probably the closest modern, spiritually prefaced, interpretation of the age long idea of not [pooping] where you eat. I.E. Live and let live, responsibly. Pantheism.net is a good resource for people just starting to learning the details.

Are you searching for a path which focuses on Earth in the Cosmos, rather than some imaginary beyond? Are you more concerned with saving the planet than saving your eternal soul?
Do you hunger for a spirituality that respects individual choice rather than pushing prejudice down people's throats, and that values reason rather than fanaticism?
Do you find it impossible to believe in supernatural beings, and difficult to conceive of anything more worthy of the deepest respect than the beauty of Nature or the power and mystery of the Universe?
Do you feel a deep sense of peace and belonging and wonder in the midst of Nature?
If you answered yes to these questions, then you will feel at home in the World Pantheist Movement.

Virtual Talking (Ouija) Board

It’s starting to become one of the most popular posts on my entire blog and I’m frankly surprised (and a bit embarrassed). A while ago, I created a set of three talking boards available for download and I’m not sure if it was the ease it could be found on the internet, the fact the design was as simple as possible or whether it came with no license strings attached, but they were the most downloaded images and “printable ouija board” was routinely the top search hit for the past year or so.

Well, not that I want to encourage this sort of thing, but I have been getting a few email requests to make a virtual version of the talking board. When they say, “virtual” apparently there’s a demand to get rid of ideo motor responses and confirmation bias. Well, I can help with the first, but the latter is impossible for me to fix since that’s completely in the domain of the end user and, let’s face it, if you’re using a talking board, you sorta have to believe in them to begin with.

So today, I created a virtual talking board with a bit of a twist. It’s basically a simple script that randomly selects coordinates within a board image (the “minimal” version from the ones linked above) and moves the planchette there. This happens every second and if it lands on a character or word, it gets added to a textbox below.

Pick your gibberish

Of course, this method is ripe for confirmation bias since any random set of characters will jump out at anyone desperate to find a pattern, but I’ll leave that to the user’s discretion.

Printable Talking (Ouija) Board

I was watching a TV movie today called “Possessed”. It was based on The Exorcist by William Blatty where a young boy plays with a Ouija board that eventually leads him to be taken over by a demon. I don’t particularly fancy these types of movies, but it had Christopher Plummer so I stuck around.

Well, I got cheated on Plummer time, but it wasn’t a total write off. It did make me think of how much people get into these types of “talking board” toys. And let’s face it, it is a toy no matter how you look at it. A piece of wood or cardboard with another wooden or cardboard base with writing on it. Why would you spend money on something like this? Surely the “spirits” are more concerned with contacting you than the quality of the board you’re allowing them to use through you.

Well here’s a few you can print off and use yourself. I wasn’t sure on other people’s tastes, so I made three versions. Mind you, “Ouija” is actually a brand name, but the concept itself is quite a bit older. The overall design is from a patent from the 1800’s so please consider these images to be in the public domain.

Update 12/24/2011

There is now a virtual version of this available.