The Little Shaman is a spiritual coach & specialist in cluster B personality disorders, with a popular YouTube show and clients worldwide.
As you probably know, "hypothesis" is just a fancy word for proposed result or conclusion. It is saying that if we look at the evidence, this is the result or conclusion (or one of the results or conclusions) that we believe we will probably get. My hypothesis is that if I throw a rock up in the air, it will fall back down. I can then test that hypothesis and see if it holds up by throwing a rock up into the air. If it falls back down, the results support my hypothesis - my conclusion - and my hypothesis has been validated. If it does not fall back down, my hypothesis has not been validated.
A falsifiable hypothesis is one that can be proven false, which means it can be tested for validity. In science and in life, it's important that we be able to prove our conclusions on some level. An unfalsifiable hypothesis is one that cannot be proven false, which means it cannot be tested for validity. In other words, it cannot be proven wrong. When the results of testing invalidate our hypothesis - our conclusion, this tells us that we are wrong. If that cannot happen, then we can never be proven wrong.
This is often what you see with narcissistic personalities. The type of conclusions they come to and the arguments that they make involve unfalsifiable hypotheses. They are based on things that essentially cannot be proven wrong. And contrary to their apparent beliefs, these things are not impossible to falsify or disprove because they are so true and correct. They are impossible to disprove because there is no way to test or prove them.
- you cannot prove you are thinking or not thinking something
- you cannot prove you are feeling or not feeling something
- you cannot prove you believe or don't believe something
- you cannot prove you meant or didn't mean something
- you cannot prove you did not do or say something in many contexts
These things are often the crux of arguments with pathologically narcissistic personalities. For them, the fact that these things can't be proven wrong is proof that they are right. This kind of illogical thought process is one of the things that makes dealing with narcissists so frustrating and ultimately pointless. They insist that you need to prove the unprovable. They want you to convince the unconvince-able, using examples they won't accept and facts they deny. It's useless.
Narcissistic personalities have all the evidence stacked up on their side. They seem to think that they have proof of what they believe. They will tell you what you think, what you feel, what you believe, what you meant and nothing you will ever say convinces them otherwise. They add 2 and 2 together to get 5, and will not listen to or even consider anything that does not validate that. You cannot prove them wrong, which automatically validates these things as true and correct.
The problem here is that you are arguing facts and they are arguing feelings. When they state their feelings as facts, you attempt to address their unsupported conclusion by bringing up the actual facts. This may be perceived by the narcissist as you trying to manipulate or convince them out of their feelings, or as trying to control what they think. These conversations are extremely confusing and frustrating for people, and it's because, even though you might not realize it, you are actually talking about 2 different things. You are talking about what actually happened, and they are talking about what they have interpreted the event to mean through an emotional, distorted lens. Because of that, these things may bare only a passing relationship to each other. Maybe it was Wednesday and you were both at the movies, but that is where the agreement of the two perceptions ends.
There is no way to get together on this, because narcissists will not listen to you. They can't. If they listen to or even entertain your side of things, they seem to view this as giving up ground and losing the power position. For the narcissist, everything depends on them being able to keep that position, and they will fight like crazy to do it, even when it makes no sense at all and even when it causes them to lose important, valued positions or relationships. In fact, this kind of ignorant, unintentional self-sabotage is very common for narcissistic personalities.
Even if they did listen to you, there is every possibility they would not be able to understand what you are trying to say. Their perception of things is very different from yours and they see things through an affected lens. Simply trying to present objective facts to narcissistic people is often very difficult, because many narcissists really don't have a way to see things objectively. They cannot take their feelings, conclusions, and interpretations out of the equation. They cannot view things through any other lens. Asking them to do so is pointless. They can't do it, so what you are left with is a person who cannot see things as they really are. You cannot prove their conclusions or interpretations wrong, which means you cannot prove them wrong, and therefore there is nowhere to go with any of this. They will simply keep repeating the same wrong thing over and over again, completely convincing themselves that it is the truth and bolstered even more so by your inability to prove them wrong.
Sometimes this behavior is gaslighting to take the focus off of them and whatever they did wrong, but sometimes it is truly sad. The narcissist will sit there, smugly believing they've caught yet another evil liar in a gotcha! moment when in reality, they are doing nothing but assigning malicious motives to people who care about them and destroying the most important relationships in their lives for what is literally no reason, simply because they misunderstood due to their own fear or self-loathing and then wouldn't listen to anything that said they were wrong. It's really a shame to watch, and even harder when you realize that there is nothing you can do about it except move on with your life because this person has a delusional, fantasy image of you and it's not going to change.
In the end, it's important to learn to recognize when someone is using an unfalsifiable hypothesis fallacy so that you can better judge when trying to explain or prove something is pointless. It will save you so much time and energy. It will reduce the stress in your life dramatically. And when dealing with narcissists, that is the most important thing.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2022 The Little Shaman