Chris Jack chris_jack at
Sat Sep 8 11:57:22 BST 2007

*       > It is also easy to find critiques of NLP that point to the lack of
scientific evidence for such stuff as, say, looking up and to the right
means you've gone into "visual" mode and so on.
> > 
> > But none of that means NLP isn't valuable and hasn't helped a lot of
> There's real evidence of this?

Bringing this slightly back to perl, if I said to you large scale programs
are better and easier to maintain if they are structured, commented, and
documented - you would possibly agree with me. I don't know if there are any
scientific studies to back this assertion up - but your agreement or
disagreement with me probably wouldn't be based on those studies if there
Regardless of any studies, you may (for instance) argue that comments
actually generally get in the way of understanding the code or that
documentation tends to be so out of date as to be useless or whatever. It is
difficult to set up a study to adequately examine this. Ideally you want to
have a large scale program and examine what happens when different groups of
similar people try to maintain it with variations on each of the above 3
variables - but there are obvious problems getting this to happen. With a
bit of creativity, I am sure one could set up some sort of study but to what
The point is not what your actual view of sound programming practice is -
the point is one's opinions of these things are based far more on personal
experience than on what a particular study does or does not say.
If you search for "NLP evidence" at google (or whatever your favourite
search engine is), you will find a lot of pages arguing about the
appropriateness of the setup of the studies for validating or invalidating
whatever particular bit of NLP they set out to examine.

> Trouble is, there's plenty of "evidence" for homeopathy and prayer
> helping a lot of people. None of it has yet stood up to real scrutiny.
> Has NLP been examined sufficiently rigourously to tell if it really does
> work and that (eg) whatever improvement they've seen isn't merely a
> placebo?

If I make a suggestion to you that "you should be nice to yourself" - how do
you determine if any change that results in your life - is as a result of a
placebo effect or because it's useful to have empathic statements directed
at you?
Most of the work I do at Saneline (I think I mentioned I do volunteer work
for a mental health line: go to
<>  if
you want to support me on my charity trek) is simply giving people support
to explore their feelings. My experience is that this helps (e.g. suicidal
person rings up, talks to me for a bit and is no longer suicidal), I have a
theoretical understanding of why this is, but no formal studies have ever
been done on my particular style of empathic listening.

> I imagine that designing such an experiment would be tricky to say the
> least :-)
> Anyway, in the absence of any such evidence, I'll just carry on assuming
> that it's well-meaning waffle like all the self-help books you see
> people reading on the train, and that at worst it's just voluntarily
> relieving people of their money much like that silly philosophy course
> that's been advertising on the tube for the past fifteen years.

Do you choose a plumber based on a scientific study of the plumber or even
of plumbing in general - mostly I imagine you choose one based on prior
experience or a personal recommendation or professional qualification. You
(usually) choose a life partner on the basis of how you feel about them, not
on the basis of a study, and so it is with therapy.
I know people who recommend NLP and I can see it has changed them for the
better. I also accept that NLP isn't perfect - but I look to take away what
is useful out of it. If I simply focus on the non-useful bits, I would
probably either feel angry or like I was wasting my time.
Of course, I might come back after the 9 day course thinking it's all sh"t.


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<>  with a friend now! 

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