A Questionable Faith

A shared coronavirus narrative is emerging amongst NLPers. It’s not good and is extremely concerning to me. I hope that it will be concerning to you too but in order for this to make sense, I need to explain a little so please bear with me.

You see, it’s the same as when a group of psychics “investigate” a haunted house. Each has their own imaginings of the hidden history of the property and slowly a shared narrative begins to form on which they can all agree. Groups of psychics cannot disagree with each other because it brings into doubt the validity of the psychic art itself.

The existence of psychism must go unquestioned. So they unwittingly converge on a shared set of beliefs which form the rules by which the narrative emerges.

But it’s not just psychics and mediums that do this. NLPers do this too.

Now, before anyone complains that Austin is attacking NLP again, I am not, nor have I ever done so. No matter what people might have told you.

It is many of its trainers and practitioners that I attack. And I do so freely and without concern about “harming NLP.”

If I were to write the same of mathematicians, the act of doing so would not be an attack on algebra or simple arithmetic. It would merely be an attack upon morons who identify themselves with mathematics. The mathematician might be a dipstick, but 2+2 will still equal 4. The validity of the equation would go unharmed.

Oh, and in addition to this, I have a simple request. When people tell you of things I have supposedly done or claimed, do please ask them for actual evidence. They will tell you something like, “well, I have heard it on good authority” or other such falsity that allows them to support their belief.

The faithful rarely require evidence. It’s all just a question of faith and higher authority upon which to rely on for support which sounds a bit like religion to me.

Religion is a social system built upon fabrication and no one is allowed to ask for evidence. Evidence is buried deep in the past and truth is revealed only through conviction and faith. Those who fail to experience the evidence themselves are the ones who lack faith. This can be rectified by learning the script of that particular social system and repeating it endlessly to themselves in the form of scripture study and prayer. All the while they may be exposed to the failings of the social system, but this must be disregarded. They must pray more. Study their scripture more.

Learn the scripture.
Learn the script.
Learn the scripture.
Learn the script.
Repeat the script to others.

However, to question why that preacher needs the mansion and Rolls Royces whilst the congregation struggle to pay their medical bills is to turn away from the script.  To question what the Priest wants with that boy is to challenge the authority and sanctity of the church and challenges the existence of the god they serve. So the faithful turn a blind eye, they silence the victim whilst shunning and slandering person who tries to speak out. As anyone who has worked with victims of religious communities will be aware, the crimes of the community leaders against the most vulnerable are actively covered up by the community. It spoils the narrative that “we are the good/righteous people” to do otherwise.

The heretics get burnt. To ask for evidence is to question the speaker’s integrity and this must not be allowed.

Speaking of which, the shit-posting across Facebook in response to my previous blog post and FB rants has been prolific.

Here’s my favourite:

Vague-posting of this type is a favourite gaslighting technique of Shrodinger’s Douchebag, because when asked who they are referring to they get to say:

Of course, when called out on it like I am doing here, I can be simply dismissed as some kind of self-important paranoid, something of which few people would disagree.

I don’t win myself too many friends by calling out the righteous people as cranks and charlatans. No one likes to think they’ve been fooled.

Meanwhile, as with religious communities, stories of the miraculous abound. I know of several trainers who attribute their cancer recovery to their NLP knowledge and skills, but of course, they neglect to tell you of the surgery, the chemotherapy, the radiotherapy, the expert medical care and so on. One such trainer neglects to tell you that their “cancer” wasn’t really cancer in the traditional sense of understanding and in the majority of cases this condition resolves spontaneously without intervention. In this individual’s case, it was treated medically (a simple drug taken orally usually resolves it) but again this gets missed from the collective narrative.  We are told endless stories of miraculous healing and spontaneous remission and how these remissions can be “modelled” and thus replicated using NLP.

Because of my neurology background, I have often been told the story of the amazing cure of the Parkinson’s patient who was a stage demonstration by a famous trainer. They saw it with their own eyes, so they know it is true.

Well, sorry but plot twist here: I was the one who sent that Parkinson’s patient as a demo subject and I know him personally.  I was also the one who did the follow up with him afterwards. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you what the actual outcome was.  He is not a happy man at being used as one of these success stories.

So in the background of this NLP-coronavirus narrative are dozens of healing stories, many of which are false, misrepresentations or just stories of Chinese whispers.  Two essential aspects of these miraculous cures are (i) the doctors did not know what they were doing and kept using the wrong script, giving negative suggestion which we all know can make things worse and (ii) upon recovery the doctors were amazed and said they’d never seen anything like this before.

This is classic FOAF-lore and should alert you to the probability of the story being bullshit. (FOAF-lore: https://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Urban_legend)

Against this background, we also have something else: positivity.

There are hundreds of research papers demonstrating the relationship of health to all manner of psychosocial things such as belief, attitude, mood and kindness. Basically, positive beliefs, happy moods and good relationships are good for your health.

All well and good.  Will it cure cancer? Of course it fucking won’t!
Chemotherapy, radiotherapy and decent medical care might though and survival rates are increasing all the time as medical advances continue unabated.

But given the clinical evidence that positive belief improves T4 and having been indoctrinated into the miracles of self-healing, these halfwitted NLPers and their ilk join up the non-existent dots to conclude it will cure cancer.

The emergent narrative is the same as that of the religious fools.  Faith and piety will save you from disease and death.

Let me give you a simple example of what I mean here. This is from a “Master Trainer” in the context of how to survive the global pandemic that is currently devasting communities, economies and countless lives:

It is important to look after yourself both physically and mentally; stress and anxiety can lower the immune system. Being both mentally and physically fit will help you through this challenging time.”

Now admittedly, this “Master Trainer” is not claiming that NLP can cure the ‘Rona but this shows the motif: to stay well, do not “lower the immune system.” As someone who pays a lot of attention to metaphor I cannot help but wonder if all this “raising” and “lowering” of the immune system is using the metaphor of a drawer bridge – a defensive barrier. Actually, the more I think about it, I am certain of it but you may like to put your concept of this in the comment section below.

So, do not lower your immune system. Lowering your immune system will get you killed.

And here it is, this is the emergent narrative of the NLPers in this global pandemic: with NLP you can control your immune system.

Just look at the replies to the post from fellow NLP trainers including an “advanced master trainer.”  I’ve removed identifying data because I have no beef with these people individually, but post it instead to highlight the collective insanity of NLPers that is emerging during a global pandemic that will kill countless numbers of people:

Now, I am trying to be kind here. But let’s be real. This is the most idiotic reasoning anyone can have in the face of a highly infectious and potentially fatal disease.   And let’s be clear, the Rona doesn’t kill people because they are negative. People die from a thick and sticky mucous build-up in the lungs and they slowly and horrifically asphyxiate as dedicated and overworked health care professionals try to save them. These same health care professionals are themselves dying off at an alarming rate from the same horrific fate they have repeatedly witnessed dozens of others succumbing to.

Meanwhile, these self-aggrandising elites of the NLP world pontificate their expertise on immunity. A subject about which they demonstrate themselves to know very little indeed, but as Dunning-Krugar suggests, the stupid are too stupid to know that they are stupid.

Ahh..forget it, these people don’t deserve kindness. Why? Because they pride themselves on being masters of persuasion and influence, they claim for themselves high status which they laud over others at every opportunity and here they are working as a collective persuading people they just need to trust in the immune systems.

Like the cult leader leading his people to drink the cyanide-laced Kool-Aid, these cult leaders encourage blind faith in their own particular saviour. In the case of these particular NLPers, and believe me, there are dozens more like them posting the same narrative prolifically, the current god is “the immune system.”  Until this global catastrophe, the previous god was “the unconscious” in which we ought to place our Trust. But the new god has emerged to be worshipped for these troubling times.

And like the whistleblower who exposes the hidden abuse within a community, I shall be accused of bringing shame upon the good name of the NLP. It is the whistleblower that gets shamed, rarely the perpetrators of the abuse or whatever. They and the fabrication that they represent continue to be protected as everyone rallies to oust the troublemaker.

In the mighty name of God I heal thee.
In the name of Christ I banish all evil.
In the word of The Unconscious, I shall trust.
And the Immune System I shall worship.
For thou art with me
And I shall fear no evil.
My Unconscious Mind shall guide me,
And my Immune system shall protect me.

Begone naysayer, shame and condemnation be upon thy soul.

And of course, there is a punchline here. But it is yet to be written.  As it stands at the moment, there exists the possibility that we are just at the very beginning of the pandemic. It is a troubling thought. This means that by percentage very few people have actually been affected directly and there is a probability that none of these NLPers has yet themselves been affected. Again, looking at the probabilities, most are relatively young and healthy so may not be affected too badly.  We can be sure of hearing the great stories of how they used their NLP (whilst tappers will be using tapping, homoeopaths use magic water and so on) to effect the self-healing. It won’t have anything to do with how the virus affects people so differently.

But there is the other possibility.  A top-level NLPer dies of the ‘Rona, the new satan that the religion of NLP must fight.

How will they handle this cognitive dissonance? I predict there will be two responses: (i) he wasn’t a “real” NLPer (s/he was not one of the chosen) and/or (ii) s/he made a choice (s/he made peace with, or rejected, his/her god) and gave up the ghost.

I’ve seen an example of this first hand as an assistant trainer on a big level NLP course. One evening of the training, one of the trainers was mugged on the street. In the following days in the backrooms, this became an object of hilarity as they all ridiculed and joked about his lack of “sensory acuity” and how much of an idiot he was. It was extraordinarily unpleasant behaviour from the other assistants who had spent the previous few days kissing the same trainer’s ass.

Loyalty is not something these people appear to have in abundance.

Let the backlash begin.

Please use the Comments section below.

6 Comments

  • 👏👏 fabulous Andy.

  • Just when I though I had seen the most bonkers and irresponsible behaviour, here’s a new level. One master trainer spouting the power of visualisation and immunity fails to mention that they when running trainings had colds so frequently that attendees used to turn up with pastals and cough remedies (true story) The problem is how other people are suckered into such nonsense and literally can be put in harms way. Worse still when many countries were in lockdown a group still ran live trainings in the USA. They clained to be metres apart during the event (no need to cancel just because there’s a global health pandemic) but then all posed for photos at the end of the training when certificates are released. As I type live NLP trainings are still scheduled for May in USA and Italy

    • It certainly worrying to see how freely some people are putting profit over welfare of their trainees. Plus at the same time. It’s worrying to see how many people are still willing to attend group events at this time. Natural selection in action?

  • Thank you Andy for being a voice of Logic and Reason in the forest of juju woowoo and charlatanism that has taken over NLP. These bad generalizations and biases of thinking are not just something that we humans can know about and will away. They are at the very structure of what it means to be a social human in a society. We all do it to one degree or another. We make gods of our prior beliefs.

    That is why the best epistemology that has been devised is the processes and procedures of science. We need these long drawn out procedures to help us sort truth from hopeful or superstitious thinking. We all should learn and use the scientific method and learn applied critical skepticism. An mind must remain open to possibility while challenging it’s own beliefs with potential counter examples. How else could this work? What else could explain this? How might I be wrong? How good is the quality of my evidence? What is the source of my ideas? And what level of expertise do they have that is based in peer reviewed repeatable grounded evidence and explanation?

    Thanks for all you do.

    • Thanks Keith!

  • This signals the death of common sense!

    “Putting profit over welfare” is just greed and I m sure that existed since forever.
    Additionally, what amazes me is how the body is disregarded as even a factor (forget an integral one) in life and diseases. It is propagated that NLP and our mind is the only thing that can “change” our body and positive thinking will “heal” us! One can not fight the pathogen the cells of the body have with a “technique”’!!!
    I like the way you introduce the narratives and how it goes around. Positive thinking and master your mind seem to be new ones, gaining more popularity, adding to people’s stupidity.

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