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A Charlie Charlie game, waiting to terrify you. Estelle Caswell/
"Charlie, Charlie, are you there?"

This incantation is sweeping the nation: teens everywhere are stacking pencils, calling to a demon named Charlie, and entrusting your fates to the predictive powers of leftover loose-leaf file and graphite.

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"Charlie, Charlie, room you there?"

But wherein did this tendency come from, and also what does that say around superstition? To find the answers, ns consulted specialists on the psychology that superstition and the Ouija board. What they revealed will not frighten you and shake you to the an extremely core, yet it will aid you recognize the origins and appeal the this newly popular game.

What is Charlie Charlie?

Charlie Charlie is a brand-new teenage heat that"s somewhere in between a Ouija board and also cootie catcher. It"s unable to do viral through the hashtag-friendly name #CharlieCharlieChallenge.

It"s played by splitting a item of file into four quadrants, every labeled through either a "yes" or "no." If you like, you can additionally switch out the "yes" or "no" for her favorite member of One Direction, or some other interesting subject.

Then you ar one pencil top top one line and also balance an additional perpendicularly on top of it. Say, "Charlie, Charlie, are you there?" If Charlie "responds" by rotating the top pencil towards among the answers, type of prefer a compass, you deserve to proceed to ask more questions. Examples include "Charlie, will certainly I gain an A?" or "Charlie, will I gain married to my homecoming date?"

A common reaction looks choose this:

Where did this game come from?

There are two levels to why youngsters are play Charlie Charlie: what castle think that means, and where it actually comes from.

The completing legends room that Charlie is a Mexican son who died, a mexican demon or pagan god the is in cahoots with Christian Satan, or the victim that some kind of violent crime. No one of these deserve to be confirmed. Regardless, the belief is that a ghost or spirit is gift conjured native the depths of hell come answer questions around whether her crush likes you.

For her article about the phenomenon, Washington short article reporter Caitlin Dewey did some good research, and also the story ultimately reveals that we don"t really know why teens room suddenly play Charlie Charlie. It may be regarded an old video game from Spain dubbed "Juego de la Lapicera," but we don"t know just how or once the crossover happened. There is one more game called Charlie Charlie that"s been played for a while, but it"s different and also involves pencils hosted together instead of being put on a record grid. At part point, the 2 games came to be the phenomenon we understand today.

Lately, over there have also been murmurs the Charlie Charlie is part of a famous marketing project for the movie The Gallows due to the fact that of a teaser trailer that contains the game:

However, Snopes convincingly debunks that theory, mirroring that the game was a viral phenomenon long before the movie released the trailer.

What is do the pencils move?!?

The motion of the pencils is eerie, to be sure. But as Elizabeth Palermo at LiveScience explains, it"s really simply an unstable framework that"s bound to move.

The pencils balanced on each other are an extremely precarious, for this reason the slightest wind or movement can reason one or both that the pencils to guide one means or another. It"s basic to imagine that a subtle draft or the breath that a superstitious teenager could send the top pencil relocating in different directions.

There might likewise be few of the ideomotor effect involved — that"s a mental phenomenon in which someone"s mental emphasis can cause her to relocate her body subconsciously or reflexively. The ideomotor impact is behind a many Ouija plank games, too. Though the football player aren"t poignant the pencils, they can upset the paper, the table, or other things nearby.

Why do teens fall for stuff choose this? Is it precious worrying about?

Charlie Charlie prompts a bigger question: in an er of smartphones and easily accessible information, why do teens still loss for obviously fake stuff choose Charlie Charlie? while the proliferation of the meme virtual is a new phenomenon, believing in the superstition is timeless.

"This is by an interpretation a society thing," Stuart Vyse says. He"s a psychology professor in ~ Connecticut College and also wrote about these beliefs in Believing in Magic: The Psychology of Superstition.

"People don"t summon Charlie Charlie alone, therefore this period group is a element demographic." The same way that teens favor to see paranormal movie together, they choose to beat Charlie Charlie together. "There"s a genuine social bonding aspect to this entirety phenomenon," Vyse says.

Donald Saucier, a psychology professor at Kansas State University, agrees the the social element of Charlie Charlie is vital to the appeal. "Superstitions room socially sent . You learn their value from other people. Because that teens, it"s a duration where social affect is very strong, and also I think they"re probably an ext prone to social influence. It stands to factor they"d be much more prone to superstition."

Of course, past that particular teenage desire, there"s a deeper appeal come superstitions like Charlie Charlie. "It"s comforting," Saucier says. "Some civilization might feel less pressure if a superstition is affecting their lives." Vyse note that quite than gift a source of genuine fear, there"s miscellaneous electrifying around playing the game. "It has the thrill that newness through it, and the thrill of fear," the says. "It"s practically a developmental passage for some kids, to address things that space scary."

So is Charlie Charlie the downfall of adolescents and western civilization? "Superstitions gain a negative rap," Saucier says. "If they"re doing it come affiliate and have fun, it"s no a problem." Superstitions have the right to be harmful if civilization rely ~ above them come the allude of obsession — but they can likewise be a fun means to pass a couple of idle moment in class.

How long have people believed in stuff prefer Charlie Charlie?


A depiction of a séance, circa 1860. (Ullstein Bild/Getty Images)

The social media fizz roughly Charlie Charlie provides it seem choose a modern-day phenomenon, yet it"s timeless.

Robert Murch is chairman of the talk Board historic Society, i m sorry uncovers and celebrates the countless ways civilization have do the efforts to call the heart world, native Ouija to other talking boards couple of people have ever heard of.

He states that decades before the 1880s, and also long prior to people bought gamings like Ouija, homemade gadgets like Charlie Charlie were common. "Something so straightforward as placing two pencils together is too basic not to try," the says, "and like the beforehand talking boards, prior to Ouija acquired its name, you can make this yourself."

Many teenagers who try Charlie Charlie more than likely realize the isn"t real. Yet it"s so easy that it"s worth trying.

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After all, don"t you want to watch if friend have any type of pencils around? Charlie is waiting.

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