Is NLP PseudoScience?



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There’s lots of talk these days about whether NLP is pseudoscience. Claims have been made. So-called researchers are sneering at the “pseudoscience of NLP.”

NLP trainers are up in arms. The debate is very real, as it affects the lives of good people who use NLP to help others. Calling NLP pseudoscience, officially and publicly, has a direct, negative impact on the field.

NLP pseudoscience claims also deprive well-intended people of the opportunity to learn a valuable set of skills. Prospective NLP students begin their research, find a pseudoscience claim on a website (that is actually a pseudo-authority), then abandon their desire to learn NLP without thinking it through or testing the evidence for themselves.

It’s sort of like when some really lame researchers declared that exercise is bad for you. “It creates free radicals, which cause disease,” they said. Of all the asinine things…researchers who cannot seem to manage a puzzle with more than two pieces! Of course, this justified a million couch potatoes, much to the chagrin of those who understand the benefits of regular physical exercise.

At any rate, the NLP pseudoscience debate is even more asinine, for several reasons. Here are 3 of them:

1. NLP has never claimed to be a science.

Comparing apples to orangesCalling NLP pseudoscience is the height of ignorance. It’s like calling an apple a pseudo-orange. Huh?

NLP is a set of models that attempt to familiarize people with the structure of subjective experience and human interaction.

Developers of these models have been clear over the years that we are not attempting to unveil “the truth.” We only want to discover things that are useful. If you don’t find a particular model useful, then don’t use it. In NLP, little time has been wasted debating truth!

In the end, YOU are the evidence that determines if NLP is good for you – your experience – that is the bottom line. Test it for yourself. This is all any reputable NLP trainer has ever asked.

2. Notwithstanding, there is a growing body of evidence that NLP models are valid.

As we speak, there is a movement in the field of NLP to organize existing NLP research and present it to the public. The research is impressive. As soon as it is available, the iNLP Center will be sharing it.

Even with good research, you still have to make your own decision, based on the evidence NLP produces in your life.

Don’t let yourself off the hook on this one. Who says you can trust any research over your own experience?

3. By the way, which “scientific” research should you trust in general?

The research that put aspartame – one of the most toxic substances in the food supply – on the market? Is this the science you put your faith in? What about the science that says genetically modified foods are A-OK? There are highly paid Monsanto scientists that swear GMO’s are good for you, in spite of massive tumors found in mice that are fed GMO-only diets.

How about the research that says fluoride should be in the water supply?

The great fluoride hoax was pulled off by none other than Edward Bernays, the Father of Spin. Bernays was Sigmund Freud’s nephew and the founder of the field of public relations. Bernays orchestrated the most impressive PR campaign while working as a hired gun for the Aluminum Company of America (Alcoa), who wanted to sell billions of dollars in fluoride.

Bernays said:

You can get practically any idea accepted. If doctors are in favor, the public is willing to accept it, because a doctor is an authority to most people, regardless of how much he knows, or doesn’t know … by the law of averages, you can usually find an individual in any field who will be willing to accept new ideas, and the new ideas then infiltrate the others who haven’t accepted it.

Are you with me? There is nothing inherently trustworthy about science.

No matter how valid it might seem, it can still be corrupt.

When it comes to education in fields like NLP, there is no substitute for your internal sense of what is right for you – based on your experience. Is NLP pseudoscience? You decide, based upon the results you experience, personally.

If you don’t take this responsibility upon yourself, you are vulnerable to the spin doctors of the world who love to perform in front of the largest crowds, to the tune of the highest bidder.

How to decide which NLP training is right for you:

If you’re interested in NLP training, then the following ideas might be helpful as you make your decision:

1. Be skeptical. You have no reason to believe that NLP will be helpful to you until you experience it as helpful, period. If you see valuable reason for learning NLP, learn it. The right training should get you thinking and offer a new view than how you currently see the world.

2. Interview your trainer. Speak with the trainer prior to investing in NLP training. You have a right to be impressed! Discuss your goals. Do you really believe he or she will be helpful? The trainer’s attitude and experience has a lot to do with the quality of the training and what you will get out of it.

3. Don’t fall for hype. There are some shysters in the field of NLP, just like any field. Be wary of NLP organizations who make NLP sound like a magic bullet. It is nothing short of embarrassing, the way some trainers carry on. They are not the ones you want to learn from if you want real change and benefits.

4. Match your goals. Not all NLP trainings are the same. Even though most training centers cover similar topics, it doesn’t mean they deliver or teach in the same way. Think about the time you have to invest and the speed at which you want to move through the material. Is your goal to simply get your certificate, further your career or to grow as a person?

5. Time and money. There are a few types of trainings to consider. Prices vary with each. In-person, group trainings tend to be the most expensive, especially when you factor in the travel expense. In person training lasts for a period of days in a row (be wary of certification training that is less than 10 days) or on a series weekends. Generally they require travel, time off work and time away from families.

Online NLP training allows you to work at your own pace, start whenever you want and  learn from home. There is generally no time limit with these and they are the least expensive.

Another type of training is a custom NLP training. This is a hybrid version where you work independently part of the time and with a live trainer as well. These are usually one-person trainings that allow for customization to your certification purpose and goals.

About Mike Bundrant

Mike Bundrant is a retired psychotherapist, Master NLP trainer, and practicing life coach. He and his wife, Hope, founded iNLP Center in 2011. For information on coaching with Mike, please visit his coaching website AHA System.

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