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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Kooky Beliefs

 

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve known people who’ve maintained kooky beliefs—acceptance that statements or ideas are true or that something exists which is slightly strange or eccentric, but often in a way which leads to fondness for the person who maintains the assumption.

 

As well, I’ve retained beliefs which weren’t in accordance with logic and reason. These sorts of assumptions are considered irrational. For a period of time, I quit labeling beliefs and behaviors as “crazy,” “kooky,” or otherwise, though I’ve since reversed course.

 

I used to believe that it was stigmatizing to call out wacky beliefs. However, now that I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) I find value in identifying and even playfully mocking irrational beliefs.

 

In particular, REBT theory maintains that there are four predominate irrational beliefs which people use: demandingness, awfulizing, low frustration tolerance, and global evaluations. Allow me to briefly illustrate each of these silly beliefs using my former religious beliefs.

 

Demandingness – People mustn’t mock my religion!

 

Awfulizing – It’d be terrible if someone were to mock my religion!

 

Low frustration tolerance – I can’t stand when people mock my religion!

 

Global evaluations – Anyone who mocks my religion is worthy of damnation!

 

Other than faith—something that is believed, especially with strong conviction, and for which there may be no objective evidence for purposes of verification—upon what were my loony beliefs founded? Sure, I read about religious principles in a book, though the text didn’t constitute evidence.

 

In reality, my kooky faith-based beliefs weren’t rational. While I understand the spiritual and religious arguments to the contrary, I maintain that my batty beliefs represented little more than unfalsifiable claims. To demonstrate what I mean, consider that one source states:

 

The Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM) is the deity of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, or Pastafarianism, a parodic new religious movement that promotes a light-hearted view of religion. It originated in opposition to the teaching of intelligent design in public schools in the United States. According to adherents, Pastafarianism (a portmanteau of pasta and Rastafarianism) is a “real, legitimate religion, as much as any other”. It has received some limited recognition as such.


Photo credit, Niklas Jansson / Wikimedia, fair use

 

If I truly believe in the FSM, who’s to say that it doesn’t exist? What evidence may be offered to render my claim of its sauciness invalid? For improved understanding, the logical form of unfalsifiability is: X is true (when X is cannot possibly be demonstrated to be false).

 

Regarding this matter, one source states, “Confidently asserting that a theory or hypothesis is true or false even though the theory or hypothesis cannot possibly be contradicted by an observation or the outcome of any physical experiment, usually without strong evidence or good reasons” represents unfalsifiability.

 

Thus, the FSM may be as real to me as the ability for crystals to heal people, the notion that people have chakras, or the idea that plant-based psychedelics transport people to different dimensions or realities. Unfalsifiable claims all! Ergo, these are kooky beliefs.

 

Make no mistake; I’m not absolutistically asserting that such assumptions are provably false. Rather, I’m proposing that if one maintains that the FSM isn’t real though simultaneously believing in an afterlife; such nutty beliefs meet the standard of unfalsifiability.

 

As stated, I’ve maintained some absurd beliefs in my lifetime. Nevertheless, I chose to evaluate what I told myself. Not everyone is willing to undergo such examination of kooky beliefs.

 

If mere faith is the evidentiary standard upon which my beliefs are based, I remain open to challenging personal assumptions. Regarding this philosophical burden of proof standard, one source states:

 

When two parties are in a discussion and one makes a claim that the other disputes, the one who makes the claim typically has a burden of proof to justify or substantiate that claim, especially when it challenges a perceived status quo. This is also stated in Hitchens’s razor, which declares that “what may be asserted without evidence may be dismissed without evidence.” Carl Sagan proposed a related criterion – “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” – which is known as the Sagan standard.

 

You may wonder how the current topic is relevant to my practice of REBT. While this psychotherapeutic modality maintains that there are four major irrational beliefs which contribute to the process of self-disturbance, this proposal doesn’t exclude the existence of other illogical and unreasonable assumptions.

 

For instance, suppose person X believes, “Each time there’s a thunderstorm, I believe the weather is a sign from my late grandma, because she used to comfort me during storms.” This zany notion doesn’t comport with reality, as it’s illogical and unreasonable.

 

However, it doesn’t fit into one of the major categories of self-disturbing beliefs. Does this mean that person X’s belief is therefore rational? No, not even a little bit. Thunderstorms occur regardless of whether or not his deceased grandmother provided comfort during storms.

 

Nevertheless, person X may be unbothered by the existence of his odd belief. Fine. There’s no harm in him believing in nutty things. Where there may be a need for personal intervention is when one’s irrational beliefs cause self-disturbance.

 

As an example, suppose that when person X expresses the bonkers grandma-thunderstorm belief and I respond by saying, “That’s not how life works,” he may merely shrug off my disbelief and carry on about the day.

 

Yet, imagine that person X regards my disbelief of his crazed belief as a personal attack on him – not merely his belief – and then person X irrationally believes, “People mustn’t disbelieve me, because it’s terrible when this happens!” Now, we’re in self-disturbance territory.

 

The key distinctions between kooky beliefs and the four predominate irrational beliefs recognized by REBT are: 1) Rigidity of conviction to the belief. 2) Openness to considering other perspectives. 3) Consequential effects of one’s inflexible belief.

 

When the severity of person X’s belief – to which he doesn’t remain open to challenge – impacts his emotions, body sensations, or behavior, we’re no longer dealing with a merely eccentric though somewhat amusing belief. This experience suggests self-disturbance.

 

With people in my personal life, I now opt not to challenge most of the absurd beliefs I encounter in the same manner as I do in my professional life. Rather, I may playfully mock kooky beliefs and take no further action.

 

However, when working with clients, I use disputation to help people stop upsetting themselves from use of irrational beliefs. Perhaps you maintain some self-disturbing beliefs which are beyond mere kookiness. If you’d like to know more about how to stop upsetting yourself with these assumptions, I’m here to help.

 

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life—helping you to sharpen your critical thinking skills, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

 

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

 

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

 

 

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW

 

References:

 

Hollings, D. (2024, May 22). A philosophical approach to mental health. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/a-philosophical-approach-to-mental-health

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Blog – Categories: Disputation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/blog/categories/disputation

Hollings, D. (2022, October 31). Demandingness. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/demandingness

Hollings, D. (2022, March 15). Disclaimer. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/disclaimer

Hollings, D. (2023, September 8). Fair use. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/fair-use

Hollings, D. (2024, April 2). Four major irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/four-major-irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2023, October 12). Get better. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/get-better

Hollings, D. (2023, September 13). Global evaluations. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/global-evaluations

Hollings, D. (n.d.). Hollings Therapy, LLC [Official website]. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/

Hollings, D. (2023, May 18). Irrational beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/irrational-beliefs

Hollings, D. (2022, November 10). Labeling. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/labeling

Hollings, D. (2023, September 19). Life coaching. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/life-coaching

Hollings, D. (2023, January 8). Logic and reason. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/logic-and-reason

Hollings, D. (2022, December 2). Low frustration tolerance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/low-frustration-tolerance

Hollings, D. (2024, April 22). On disputing. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/on-disputing

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Hollings, D. (2024, January 4). Rigid vs. rigorous. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/rigid-vs-rigorous

Hollings, D. (2022, November 1). Self-disturbance. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/self-disturbance

Hollings, D. (2024, April 21). Sensation. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/sensation

Hollings, D. (2022, October 7). Should, must, and ought. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/should-must-and-ought

Hollings, D. (2022, November 15). To don a hat. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/to-don-a-hat

Hollings, D. (2023, October 22). Unfalsifiability. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/unfalsifiability

Hollings, D. (2024, February 23). Wacky beliefs. Hollings Therapy, LLC. Retrieved from https://www.hollingstherapy.com/post/wacky-beliefs

Logically Fallacious. (n.d.). Unfalsifiability. Retrieved from https://www.logicallyfallacious.com/logicalfallacies/Unfalsifiability

Wikimedia. (n.d.). File:Touched by His Noodly Appendage HD.jpg [Image]. Retrieved from https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage_HD.jpg

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Wikipedia. (n.d.). Carl Sagan. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carl_sagan

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sagan_standard

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Flying Spaghetti Monster. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Hitchens’s razor. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hitchens%27s_razor

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