Round Table: What’s Your Woo?
As skeptics, we always try to approach subjects with logic and reason. But superstitions and habits can be hard to get rid of. From old tales our parents may have told us to fears about the paranormal, our parents confess their stories about irrational beliefs.
Share your irrational fears or illogical beliefs in the comments!
I don’t have many current pseudo-scientific beliefs as far as I know, especially when it comes to parenting. Here are a few that come to mind:
- I refuse to apply weed-killers to my lawn. For some irrational reason, I just don’t want my kids and precious dog playing on chemical-coated grass! The “Weed Man” and other local lawn care services try their best every year to suck us in, and it never works. I even ended up blocking their number from my phone.
- I have a deep-rooted love of Oprah Winfrey. Her promotion of unscientific “experts” like Dr. Oz and Deepak Chopra cause me great dissonance. I continue to subscribe to O Magazine although it’s chock full of “all-natural” type advertising, advice on superfoods to “flush fat from your body,” etc. I cringe when I see titles like, “5 Ways to Lessen Your Exposure to GMO.” That said, I can’t shake my love for Oprah.
- A childhood friend’s mother used to insist that if there too much laughter, a tragedy follows. To this day, I feel a twinge of unfounded fear when my kids or I are having too much fun. I do my best to suppress this and never show it around my children.
- So many of my OCD behaviors, especially in the past, have been ultra-woo. As I’ve described previously, OCD compulsions so often resemble superstition. I spent a lot of my early motherhood literally knocking on wood to prevent calamities befalling my children (read more about this here.) For an entire year of high school, I’d blow bubbles in the shower with body wash through the O of my thumb and forefinger until I produced one of sufficient quality and longevity to ensure a smooth day ahead.
- Finally, I don’t disbelieve in ghosts or gods, although I don’t necessarily believe in them.
Conspiracy Theories were my weakness even after my introduction to skepticism peeled away most of the supernatural woo that I believed when I was young and gullible, a period which our 43rd President demonstrated could last well into ones mid 30’s. No matter what evidence I was shown I was convinced that FDR knew about Pearl Harbor, the Illuminati had been pulling the strings of the Bilderbergers with the help of the Rosicrucians in order to combat the Knights Templar and their allies the Freemasons. And JFK was definitely assassinated by a shadowy cabal of mobsters and war profiteering industrialists. Oswald was a patsy, there were definitely multiple shooters on the grassy knoll. The cover up went all the way to the top! Kevin Costner said so!
JFK was the one that hung on the longest. Eventually, after much reading and listening I made my piece. Maybe Oswald just got off a lucky shot. Thankfully I came to my senses before 9/11, or I might be one of those fool Truthers nattering on about controlled demolitions.
Well, for starters I have Trypophobia. Not really a belief, but definitely irrational. It nauseates me, sometimes for up to an hour.
Before rolling a dice, I try to clear my thoughts and think of the number I want to come up (but not too hard.) It works just often enough that it feels like its working.
Before I was a skeptic, I was quite convinced by the Truthers for a period of maybe 6 months until I finally got ahold of someone who had clearly explained responses to their claims. That whole experience of being fed a convincing lie, repeating it to others, finding out how wrong it was, and regretting it is part of why I learned about skepticism.
I don’t know if it’s true or not, but I was paranoid about leaving my cats alone with my newborn baby. I was convinced that they would sit on her chest (because she was so warm) and asphyxiate her. I never looked up any research to see whether or not this was just an old tale.
I watched Paranormal Activity in the theaters, and I couldn’t sleep right for 2-3 months after, because my nocturnal brain was convinced that every breeze was in fact a demon trying to pull me out of bed. Despite the fact that I don’t believe in ghosts or demons, I could not shake that fear, and now I can’t watch paranormal movies. I had a friend (who was a fellow skeptic) who scoffed at my “fear” of demons pulling me out of bed, and he told me that I should set up a camera and film myself sleeping, just to prove that nothing weird would happen. But of course, if you’ve seen Paranormal Activity, filming the demon is exactly what pisses it off. (Also, I don’t want to watch myself sleeping.)
This is fairly common, but I fear very improbable disastrous events moreso than probable ones. For example, I’m scared of my house burning down more than I’m scared of heart disease. I fear getting in a plane crash more than I fear driving my car every day.
My husband used to have a superstition about tabletop gaming dice. If he rolled a die and it turned up too many bad numbers, he would “shun” it and get a new die.
I can’t watch underwater scenes in movies, especially the scenes where the camera is bobbing up and down at the surface of the water. It makes me feel like I’m drowning. When I was more superstitious, I believed that maybe one of my past lives had drowned. (I don’t believe that anymore, of course.)
Sometimes I carry around a “good luck” charm. I found a plastic four-leaf clover a long time ago, and I hid it in my purse and forgot about it, and sometimes I will find it randomly and it makes me feel like something lucky is going to happen.
I have sciatica, and normally I can get through episodes of pain by doing stretches and core work. However, sometimes the pain lasts for too long, and I actually have a chiropractor that I see. Not all chiropractors are the same, and mine also has a degree in sports medicine, so she does a lot of stretches with me, in addition to working the kinks out of my back. There is no neck-manipulation involved (by my request). Maybe it works, and maybe it doesn’t, but it does make me feel better the next day.