Ian Haney López, author of Dog Whistle Politics: How Coded Racial Appeals Have Reinvented Racism and Wrecked the Middle Class, says it’s not just the promotion of old-fashioned racial stereotypes that we need to worry about. Rather, he argues, it’s the manipulation of racism in service of very specific goals.
López’s book focuses on elected officials’ ability to tap into bias without being explicit about it, all to gain support for what he calls “regressive policies,” which, ironically, hurt working-class white people as much as people of color.
“This sort of coded speech operates on two levels,” he says. “It triggers racial anxiety and it allows plausible deniability by crafting language that lets the speaker deny that he’s even thinking about race.”
It’s disturbing and frustrating, and more than ever, it’s what racism sounds like and how politics works.
To understand how outright racist language has gone underground but is working as hard as ever to drum up support for conservative policies, the author says, you just have to look at this list of sneaky code words and phrases that politicians throughout history have loved, and what they really mean:
Ryan’s statement, which he later said he regretted, is a perfect example of the way public expressions of racism have evolved, says López. “You can’t publicly say black people don’t like to work, but you can say there’s an inner-city culture in which generations of people don’t value work.” The goal here, he says, isn’t to demonize minorities—far from it—but to demonize a government that helps the middle class (and if the people Americans have historically associated with inner cities have to be used in the process, so be it).
Totally innocent and nonracial, right? Not so much. López says we first heard this from Barry Goldwater, who was running on a very unpopular platform critical of the New Deal, during the 1964 presidential election. “He makes the critical decision to use coded racial appeals, trying to take advantage of rising racial anxiety in the face of the civil rights movement,” says López. In other words, while “states’ rights” is a pretty racially neutral issue, you just have to look at what was happening at the moment to realize that everyone knew it translated to the right of states to resist federal mandates to integrate schools and society.
López calls this phrase, which, on its face, was racially neutral, “the Northern analog of states’ rights,” which “allowed the North to express fevered opposition to integration without having to mention race.” After all, kids had been bused to school for quite a while. It was only when the plan took on a racial edge that it became controversial. Politicians didn’t have to say that outright, though—they simply dropped in the phrase to trigger resentment and gain supporters.
Dog-whistle politics is partly about demonizing people of color, but it’s also about demonizing government in a way that helps the very rich, says López. So, when Ronald Regan said “cut taxes,” what he was communicating to the middle class was, “so your taxes won’t be wasted on minorities.” A key Reagan operative admitted as much in an interview quoted in Lopez’s book, saying, ” ‘We want to cut taxes’ … is a whole lot more abstract than, ‘Nigger, nigger.’ ” It continues to be more abstract, and it continues to work.
Law and Order
This phrase, says López, is a way to draw on an image of minorities as criminals that was used by both Reagan and Clinton. He points to an inverse relationship in Congress between conversations about civil rights and criminal law enforcement. “What you see in the 1960s is that opposition to civil rights becomes ‘what we really need is law and order, to crack down’. ” Of course, the latter is less controversial and, at least on its surface, avoids the issue of race.
Welfare, says López, was broadly supported during the New Deal era when it was understood that people could face hardships in their lives that sometimes required government assistance, and, in fact, was purposely limited to white recipients. In this context, it wasn’t heavily stigmatized. Fast-forward to the 1960s, when Lyndon Johnson made it clear that he wanted it to have a racial-justice component. “Then it becomes possible for conservatives to start painting welfare as a transfer of wealth to minorities,” says Lopez. Remember those Reagan speeches about welfare queens? Today, says López, we hear “food stamps” used similarly.
We first started hearing about this alleged threat to American justice in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, says López, when the Bush administration became intent on linking the war in Iraq to hijackers who were from Saudi Arabia. “To get there, you convince America that this threat is internal as well—new brown immigrants who are threatening the heartland,” he says. “A prime example is Kansas prohibiting courts from drawing on Shariah law—it’s not a threat at all. The point isn’t the reality; it’s the racial frame. The point is, these brown Muslim people are infiltrating our country, so be afraid, and vote for politicians who will support the right wing.”
This phrase, says López, is a perfect dog whistle, which triggers fears about immigrants as criminals, taking advantage of welfare and disrespecting the American way of life. But somehow the concerns are always pointed at the Mexican border instead of the one we share with Canada. “It’s racial rhetoric about Latinos that is now being couched in this seemingly racially neutral language, and harnessed to support fear to get people to support conservative policies.”
States Rights: This is often used with issues that conservatives want to throw hissy fits over (gun rights, marriage equality, slavery, etc.) and don’t want the silly federal government to pull its trump card — the Supremacy Clause.
Liberal Media: Any media outlet that isn’t Fox News and won’t cater to scripted questions and answers. Otherwise known as fact-based, honest reporting.
Gotcha Questions: You’ll hear this one a lot when Republicans are asked questions they don’t know the answer to, or know that an honest answer will hurt their image. It basically means they’re embarrassed they just got caught being an idiot.
Judicial Activism: Any time the Supreme Court sides with the Constitution over conservatives’ bigoted opinions on how they think things should be run (ex. Obamacare, marriage equality, etc.).
Playing the Race Card: When they know they’re racist, but want to blame whoever calls them out on it.
Entitlements: Programs citizens have paid for and are, in fact, entitled to (Social Security, Medicare), but the GOP wants taxpayers to think they’re somehow getting ripped off by the poor.
Right-to-Life: Control over the medical decisions of women. This phrase has nothing to do with “life” because the same people who claim to be “pro-life” are also pro-war, pro-death penalty and anti-taking care of people who are already born.
War on Terror: Sending troops to influence nations with an abundance of oil.
Liberty: To have the ability to control others, but still keep all of their own rights intact.
Freedom: To make sure Wall Street and the wealthy are taken care of and guilt-free in all of our economic woes. Basically, as Republicans seek to regulate women, gays and minorities, they seek “freedom” for corporations and big banks to flush our economy down the toilet while reaping all the rewards for themselves.
Socialist: Any words that come out of a Democrat’s mouth. The actual meaning is neither here nor there.
Capitalist: BFF who writes checks to make policy that will make them lots and lots of money. This has nothing to do with actual capitalism, which should be ethically regulated to keep things fair for all.
Obamacare: The scary word used to deflect from increased accessibility to private health care.
Democrat Party: This is used to get under the skin of liberals everywhere – and it does, because it’s simply bad grammar.
War on Religion: The hissy fit thrown when conservative Christians don’t get their way dictating the lives of others.
Religious Freedom: The thinking that you have the freedom to control others via your religion.
Job Creators: The very wealthy. This is the one of the oldest tricks in the books for the GOP. If they call all the rich on top “job creators” their imbecilic base will vote for them. When, in fact, if tax breaks for the very wealthy worked we’d have had an abundant economy at the end of President George W. Bush’s second term instead of the biggest recession since the Great Depression. (Hint: it’s a lie. Growth happens from the bottom up like everything else. Get money in the hands of those who need it most and the wealth spreads upwards. It doesn’t work the other way around, as has been proven time and time again. What we need to do is raise wages.)
Big Government: Republicans LOVE actual big government. Don’t believe it? Look at the Defense budget. Look at their love for controlling the lives of women and the LGBT community. Look at how much they want to spend on subsidies for the already wealthy. “Big Government” is another deflection word to make their voting base scared that the United States wants to control every aspect of their lives. When, in fact, that is what the GOP has been trying to do for decades. Democrats, on the other hand, don’t want “big government” they want functional government. However, that doesn’t sound nearly as scary.
“Taxes are stealing”: This is used to make people hate the government. Here’s the thing, without taxes how are we going to pay for things like say, the military, or oil subsidies, or $8 million/day in aid to Israel. It’s not that Republicans hate taxes, they hate taxes they themselves and their wealthy cronies have to pay for. They’d LOVE to make a regressive flat tax that would tax the poor and middle class more and the wealthy less. They’d LOVE to make sure 99% of the nation is paying for all the things the 1% is dictating through policy lobbyists. Republicans don’t hate taxes. No no. They hate actually being the ones to pay them. In an ideal society, we’d have a progressive structure that made it so more money stays in the hands of the less fortunate so they can stimulate the economy from the bottom up. Taxes should also be used for fixing infrastructure, education, health care etc. You know, things that actually benefit the taxpayers, not just the very wealthy.
Patriot: Warrior for the 1%.
Tax and Spend: The scary phrase they use with the GOP base who haven’t quite caught on to how things really work. The government has taxes so they can fund government. Tax and spend. Just like “get paid and spend.”
Elitist: Someone who had the audacity to learn the facts and repeat them.
Class Warfare: This is used any time someone points out that Republicans are hating on the poor in favor of benefiting the wealthy. “Stop with the class warfare.” Oh, you mean telling it like it is?
Family Values: The phrase used any time they want to be bigoted assholes and get away with it. The only “family value” the Republicans have is the dollar amount they can squeeze from middle and working class families to pay for tax cuts for the rich.
Free Market: Unregulated Capitalism.
School Choice: Privatization of education for profit.
Ronald Reagan: To make people think about the 1980s and distract from the mess they’ve created over the last 30 years through bad economic policy. Honestly? Any time someone hears “Ronald Reagan” they should think “mediocre actor,” “terrible leader.”
To be honest, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to words and phrases Republicans use to distract their voting base and the public at large from knowing their true intentions as policy makers. However, now you have this handy guide. Remember to pull it out whenever a Republican starts talking. Perfect for debates and family holiday gatherings.
In a brief and well done video, Colonel Ty Seidule, the Head of the West Point History Department, completely destroys the Neo-Confederate Myth that the Civil War was about anything other than Slavery.
Watch it for yourself below:
I would say that pretty much clearly destroys all the Neo-Confederate arguments for their position that the Civil War was not about slavery.
Most reasonable people, would view this video and acknowledge that Southern Culture was, and in many respects still is based on the immoral practice of owning humans and making them work for the gain of the white community.
But, I know many here in the 6th District (most if not all would consider them conservatives) that still refuse to admit the reality we can see in the actual documents and photographs of the time.
A document I just found is perfect. Here is the link to the entire document. Alexander H. Stephens, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America, said
Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests, upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth
This clearly states that the intent of seceding is to preserve slavery.
The newspapers of the time plainly said secession was about preserving slavery. Just Google it.
So why do so many here in the 6th District deny the clear and obvious truth?
Because if Southern conservatives admit the Civil War was about Slavery, they have to admit that they caused the deaths of more than 500,000. Also, many conservatives still actually believe that black are inferior (just look at their comments about Black Lives Matter as a very recent example) and that they still believe they, White Anglo Saxon Protestants, should dominate our culture (or as they call it our Christian Nation.)
And what happened when a Democratic president signed the Civil Rights Act into law? Southern conservatives abandoned the Democratic Party in droves and flocked to the Republican Party when they enacted the Southern Strategy (Google it) of nonstop dog whistle racism.
If you were raised in a family and community that explicitly believes black people are inferior sub-humans and they must be subjugated to white people, I can easily understand how you would be pretty upset that they are given equality with your WASP community.
So what do you do?
You use as much selective perception as you can muster to ignore the reality of slavery. When confronted with any discussion of slavery, you defend slavery in some of the most obtuse ways. One of my favorites that my mother-in-law likes to use to justify slavery is to suggest that blacks sold the blacks into slavery, so it must be clearly the blacks own fault.
One of my favorite parts of the video above is the point about “States Rights.” Southerners love to say the war was about States Rights, but ignore what the most important State Right they were trying to protect.
I also like the argument that it was “The War of Northern Aggression” even though Southerners fired the first shot.
Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) is one of many self-help programs that emerged in the 1970s and ’80s but whose popularity has waned somewhat in recent years. NLP might be seen as a competitor with Landmark
Forum, Tony Robbins, and legions of other
enterprises promising to teach the masses the key to success, power, health, and happiness.
is probably the most successful “graduate” of NLP. He started his own empire
after transforming from a self-described “fat slob” to a firewalker to (in his own words) “the nation’s foremost authority on the psychology of peak
performance and personal, professional and organizational turnaround.” The founders
of NLP, Richard Bandler and John Grinder, might disagree about who is the master authority on the psychology of self-help and success.
NLP seems to have something for everybody, the sick and the healthy, individual or corporation.
In addition to being an agent for change for healthy individuals,
NLP is also used for individual psychotherapy for problems as diverse as phobias and schizophrenia. NLP also aims at transforming corporations, showing them how to achieve
their maximum potential and achieve great success. If you shop around, you’ll find NLP Practitioner Certification Training for under $100 and only a couple of days of your time. What is NLP? “NLP is the comprehensive training that covers everything you need to know to succeed (and help others succeed) in any area of life including business, relationships, career and any other area of life.”
Who discovered NLP?
NLP was begun in the mid-seventies by a linguist (Grinder) and a
student of mathematics (Bandler) who had strong interests in (a) successful people, (b) psychology, (c)
language and (d) computer programming. It is difficult to define NLP because those who started it and those involved in it use such vague and
ambiguous language that NLP means different things to different people. While it is
difficult to find a consistent description of NLP among those who claim to be experts at
it, one metaphor keeps recurring. NLP claims to help people change by teaching them to
program their brains. We were given brains, we are told, but no instruction manual.
NLP offers you a user-manual for the brain. The
brain-manual seems to be a metaphor for NLP training, which is sometimes referred to as
“software for the brain.” Furthermore, NLP, consciously or unconsciously, relies
heavily upon (1) the notion of the unconscious mind as
constantly influencing conscious thought and action; (2) metaphorical behavior and speech,
especially building upon the methods used in Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams; and (3) hypnotherapy as
developed by Milton
Erickson. NLP is also influenced by the work of Gregory Bateson and Noam
One common thread in NLP is the emphasis on teaching a variety of communication and
persuasion skills, and using self-hypnosis to motivate and change oneself. Most NLP
practitioners advertising on the WWW make grand claims about being able to help just about
anybody become just about anything. Below is an excerpt from a website called The National Board of Professional and Ethics Standards on the wonders of NLP:
NLP can enhance all aspects of your life from improving your relationships with loved ones, learning to teach effectively, gaining a stronger sense of self-esteem, greater motivation, better understanding of communication, enhancing your business or career, bending steel bars in a single bound and an enormous amount of other things that involve the use of your brain.
Some advocates claim
that they can teach a highly reliable method of telling when a person is lying,
but others recognize
that this is not possible. One NLP guru,
Dale Kirby, informs us that one of the presuppositions of NLP is “No one is wrong or
broken.” So why seek remedial change? On the other hand, what Mr. Kirby does have to
say about NLP which is intelligible does not make it very attractive. For example,
he says that according to NLP “There is no such thing as failure. There is only
feedback.” Was NLP invented by the U.S. Military to explain their “incomplete
successes”? When the space shuttle blew up within minutes of launch, killing everyone
on board, was that “only feedback”? If I stab my neighbor and call it
“performing non-elective surgery” am I practicing NLP? If I am arrested in a
drunken state with a knife in my pocket for threatening an ex-girlfriend, am I just
“trying to rekindle an old flame”?
Another NLP presupposition which is false is “If someone can do something, anyone
can learn it.” This comes from people who claim they understand the brain and can
help you reprogram yours. They want you to think that the only thing that separates the average person from Einstein
or Pavarotti or the World Champion Log Lifter is NLP.
NLP is said to be the study of the structure of subjective experience, but a
great deal of attention seems to be paid to observing behavior and teaching people
how to read “body language.” But there is no common structure to non-verbal
communication, any more than there is a common structure to dream symbolism. There
certainly are some well-defined culturally determined non-verbal ways of communicating,
e.g., pointing the back of the hand at another, lowering all fingers but the one in the
middle, has a definite meaning in American culture. But when someone tells me that the way
I squeeze my nose during a conversation means I am signaling him that I think his idea
stinks, how do we verify whether his interpretation is correct or not? I deny it. He knows
the structure, he says. He knows the meaning. I am not aware of my signal or of my
feelings, he says, because the message is coming from my subconscious mind. How do we test
these kinds of claims? We can’t. What’s his evidence? It must be his brilliant intuitive
insight because there is no empirical evidence to back up this claim. Sitting
cross-armed at a meeting might not mean that someone is “blocking you out” or
“getting defensive”. She may just be cold or have a back ache or simply feel
comfortable sitting that way. It is dangerous to read too much into non-verbal behavior.
Those splayed legs may simply indicate a relaxed person, not someone inviting you to have
sex. At the same time, much of what NLP is teaching is how to do cold
reading. This is valuable, but an art not a science, and should be used with caution.
Finally, NLP claims that each of us has a Primary Representational
System (PRS), a tendency to think in specific modes: visual, auditory,
kinaesthetic, olfactory or gustatory. A person’s PRS can be determined by
words the person tends to use or by the direction of one’s eye movements.
Supposedly, a therapist will have a better rapport with a client if they
have a matching PRS. None of this has been supported by the scientific
literature.*Dr. Michael Heap evaluated some 70 papers on NLP and concluded: “…the assertions of NLP writers concerning the representational systems have been objectively and fairly investigated and found to be lacking.”
Bandler’s First Institute of Neuro-Linguistic Programming™ and Design Human
Engineering™ has this to say about NLP:
“Neuro-Linguistic Programming™ (NLP™) is defined as the study of the
structure of subjective experience and what can be calculated from that and is predicated
upon the belief that all behavior has structure….Neuro-Linguistic Programming™ was
specifically created in order to allow us to do magic by creating new ways of
understanding how verbal and non-verbal communication affect the human brain. As such it
presents us all with the opportunity to not only communicate better with others, but also
learn how to gain more control over what we considered to be automatic functions of our
We are told that Bandler took as his first models Virginia Satir
(“The Mother of Family System Therapy”), Milton Erickson (“The Father
of Modern Hypnotherapy”) and Fritz Perls
(who coined the expression ‘Gestalt Therapy’) because they “had amazing results with their
clients.” The linguistic and behavioral patterns of such people were studied and used
as models. These were therapists who liked such expressions as ‘self-esteem’, ‘validate’,
‘transformation’, ‘harmony’, ‘growth’, ‘ecology’, ‘self-realization’, ‘unconscious mind’,
‘non-verbal communication’, ‘achieving one’s highest potential’–expressions which serve
as beacons to New Age transformational psychology. No neuroscientist or anyone who has
studied the brain is mentioned as having had any influence on NLP. Also, someone who is
not mentioned, but who certainly seems like the ideal model for NLP, is Werner Erhard. He
started est a few miles north (in San Francisco) of Bandler and
Grinder (in Santa Cruz) just a couple of years before the latter started their training
business. Erhard seems to have set out to do just what Bandler and Grinder set out to do:
help people transform themselves and make a good living doing it. NLP and est also have in
common the fact that they are built up from a hodgepodge of sources in psychology,
philosophy, and other disciplines. Both have been brilliantly marketed as offering the key
to success, happiness, and fulfillment to anyone willing to pay the price of admission.
Best of all: no one who pays his fees fails out of these schools!
the ever-evolving Bandler
When one reads what Bandler says, it may lead one to think that some people sign on
just to get the translation from the Master Teacher of Communication Skills himself:
One of the models that I built was called strategy elicitation which is something
that people confuse with modeling to no end. They go out and elicit a strategy and they
think they are modeling but they don’t ask the question, “Where did the strategy
elicitation model come from?” There are constraints inside this model since it was
built by reducing things down. The strategy elicitation model is always looking for the
most finite way of accomplishing a result. This model is based on sequential elicitation
and simultaneous installation.
Many would surely agree that with communication like this Bandler must have a very
special code for programming his brain.
Bandler claims he keeps evolving. To some, however, he may seem mainly
concerned with protecting his economic interests by trademarking his every burp. He seems
extremely concerned that some rogue therapist or trainer might steal his work and make
money without him getting a cut. One might be charitable and see Bandler’s obsession with
trademarking as a way to protect the integrity of his brilliant new discoveries about
human potential (such as charisma
enhancement) and how to sell it. Anyway, to clarify or to obscure matters–who knows
which?– what Bandler calls the real thing can be identified by a license and the
trademark™ from The Society of
Neuro-Linguistic Programming™. However, do not contact this organization if you
want detailed, clear information about the nature of NLP, or DHE (Design Human Engineering™
(which will teach you to hallucinate designs like Tesla did), or PE (Persuasion
Engineering™) or MetaMaster Track™, or Charisma Enhancement™, or
Trancing™, or whatever else Mr. Bandler and associates are selling these days. Mostly
what you will find on Bandler’s page is information on how to sign up for one of his
training sessions. For example, you can get 6 days of training for $1,800 at the door
($1,500 prepaid). What will you be trained in or for? Bandler has been learning about
“the advancement of human evolution” and he will pass this on to you. For $1,500
you could have taken his 3-day seminar on
Creativity Enhancement (where you could learn why it’s not creative to rely on other
people’s ideas, except for Bandler’s).
Grinder and corporate NLP
John Grinder, on the other hand, has gone on to try to do for the corporate world what
Bandler is doing for the rest of us. He has joined Carmen Bostic St Clair in endorsing an
organization called Quantum Leap,
“an international organisation dealing with the design and implementation of cross
cultural communication systems.” Like Bandler, Grinder claims he has evolved new and
even more brilliant “codes”.
…the New Code contains a series of gates which presuppose a certain and to my way
of thinking appropriate relationship between the conscious and unconscious parts of a
person purporting to train or represent in some manner NLP. This goes a long way toward
insisting on the presence of personal congruity in such a person. In other words, a person
who fails to carry personal congruity will in general find themselves unable to use and/or
teach the New Code patterns with any sort of consistent success. This is a design I like
very much – it has the characteristic of a self-correcting system.
It may strike some people that terms like “personal congruity” are not very
precise or scientific. This is probably because Grinder has created a “new
paradigm”. Or so he says. He denies that his and Bandler’s work is an eclectic
hodgepodge of philosophy and psychology, or that it even builds from the works of others.
He believes that what he and Bandler did was “create a paradigm
The following claim by Grinder provides some sense of what he thinks NLP is:
My memories about what we thought at the time of discovery (with respect to the
classic code we developed – that is, the years 1973 through 1978) are that we were quite
explicit that we were out to overthrow a paradigm and that, for example, I, for one, found
it very useful to plan this campaign using in part as a guide the excellent work of Thomas
Kuhn (The Structure of Scientific Revolutions) in which he detailed some of the
conditions which historically have obtained in the midst of paradigm shifts. For example,
I believe it was very useful that neither one of us were qualified in the field we first
went after – psychology and in particular, its therapeutic application; this being one of
the conditions which Kuhn identified in his historical study of paradigm shifts. Who knows
what Bandler was thinking?
One can only hope that Bandler wasn’t thinking the same things that Grinder was
thinking, at least with respect to Kuhn’s classic text. Kuhn did not promote the notion
that not being particularly qualified in a scientific field is a significant condition for
contributing to the development of a new paradigm in science. Furthermore, Kuhn did not
provide a model or blueprint for creating paradigm shifts! His is an historical work, describing what he believed to have occurred in the history of science. Nowhere does he indicate that a single person at any time did, or even could, create a
paradigm shift in science. Individuals such as Newton or Einstein might provide theories
which require paradigm shifts for their theories to be adequately understood, but they
don’t create the paradigm shifts themselves. Kuhn’s work implies that such a
notion is preposterous.
Grinder and Bandler should have read Kant before they set off on their quixotic
“Copernican revolution” might be considered a paradigm shift by Bandler and
Grinder, but it is not what Kuhn was talking about when he was describing the historical
development of scientific theories. Kuhn restricted his concern to science. He made no
claim that anything similar happens in philosophy and he certainly did not imply that
anything NLP did, or is doing, constitutes a paradigm shift. Kuhn claimed that paradigm
shifts occur over time when one theory breaks down and is replaced by another. Scientific
theories break down, he claimed, when new data can’t be explained by the old theories or
when they no longer explain things as well as some newer theory. What Bandler and Grinder
did was not in response to any crisis in theory in any scientific field and so cannot even
be considered as contributing to a paradigm shift much less being one itself.
What Grinder seems to think Kuhn meant by “paradigm shift” is something like
a gestalt shift, a change in the way we look at things, a change in perspective. Kant
might fit the bill for this notion. Kant rejected the old way of doing epistemology, which
was to ask ‘how can we bring ourselves to understand the world?’ What we ought to ask,
said Kant, is ‘how is it possible that the world comes to be understood by us?’ This was
truly a revolutionary move in the history of philosophy, for it asserted that the world
must conform to the conditions imposed on it by the one experiencing the world. The notion
that one has the truth when one’s mind conforms with the world is rejected in favor of the
notion that all knowledge is subjective because it is impossible without experience which
is essentially subjective. Copernicus had said, in essence, let’s see how things look
with the Sun at the center of the universe, instead of the Earth. Kant said, in
essence, let’s examine how we know the world by assuming that the world must conform to
the mind, rather than the mind conform to the world. Copernicus, however, could be
considered as contributing to a paradigm shift in science. If he were right
about the earth and other planets going around the sun rather than the sun
and the other planets going around the earth–and he was–then astronomers could no longer do astronomy without profound changes in their
fundamental concepts about the nature of the heavens. On the other hand, there is no way
to know if Kant is right. We can accept or reject his theory. We can continue to do
philosophy without being Kantians, but we cannot continue to do astronomy without
accepting the heliocentric hypothesis and rejecting the geocentric one. What did Grinder
and Bandler do that makes it impossible to continue doing psychology or therapy or
semiotics or philosophy without accepting their ideas? Nothing.
Do people benefit from NLP?
While I do not doubt that many people benefit from NLP training sessions, there seem to
be several false or questionable assumptions upon which NLP is based. Their beliefs about
the unconscious mind, hypnosis and the ability to influence people by appealing directly
to the subconscious mind are unsubstantiated. All the scientific evidence which exists on
such things indicates that what NLP claims is not true. You cannot learn to “speak
directly to the unconscious mind ” as Erickson and NLP claim, except in the most obvious
way of using the power of suggestion.
NLP claims that its experts have studied the thinking of great minds and the behavior
patterns of successful people and have extracted models of how they work.
“From these models, techniques for quickly and effectively changing thoughts,
behaviors and beliefs that get in your way have been developed.”* But studying Einstein’s or
Tolstoy’s work might produce a dozen “models” of how those minds worked. There
is no way to know which, if any, of the models is correct. It is a mystery why anyone
would suppose that any given model would imply techniques for quick and effective change
in thoughts, actions and beliefs. I think most of us intuitively grasp that even if we
were subjected to the same experiences which Einstein or Tolstoy had, we would not have
become either. Surely, we would be significantly different from whom we’ve become, but
without their brains to begin with, we would have developed quite differently from either
It seems that NLP develops models which can’t be verified, from which it develops
techniques which may have nothing to do with either the models or the sources of the
models. NLP makes claims about thinking and perception which do not seem to be supported
by neuroscience. This is not to say that the techniques won’t work. They may work and work
quite well, but there is no way to know whether the claims behind their origin are
valid. Perhaps it doesn’t matter. NLP itself proclaims that it is pragmatic in its
approach: what matters is whether it works. However, how do you measure the claim
“NLP works”? I don’t know and I don’t think NLPers know, either. Anecdotes and testimonials seem to be the main measuring devices. Unfortunately, such a measurement may
reveal only how well the trainers teach their clients to persuade others to enroll in more
If you don’t trust me, take a look at:
Thirty-Five Years of Research on Neuro-Linguistic Programming. NLP Research Data Base. State of the Art or Pseudoscientific Decoration?
postscript: On a more cheerful note, Bandler has
sued Grinder for millions of dollars. Apparently, the two great communicators and paradigm innovators
couldn’t follow their own advice or perhaps they are modeling their behavior after so many
other great Americans who have found that the most lucrative way to communicate is by
suing someone with deep pockets. NLP is big on metaphors and I doubt whether
this nasty lawsuit is the kind of metaphor they want to be remembered by. Is Bandler’s
putting a trademark on half a dozen expressions a sign of a man who is simply protecting
the integrity of NLP or is it a sign of a greedy
books and articles
Barry, Dave. “Altered States” in The Miami Herald, April
13, 1997. (Humorist Dave Barry takes Peter Lowe’s SUCCESS 1997 12-hour success seminar
featuring Anthony Robbins, Elizabeth Dole, Rabbi Harold Kushner, Brian Tracy, Lou
Holtz, Jim Morris, Peter Lowe, Pat Riley, Dr. Ted Broer, George Bush, and Dan Kennedy.)
Roderique-Davies, Gareth. 2009. Neuro-linguistic programming: Cargo Cult Psychology? Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education Volume 1, Number 2. pp. 57–63. “…after three decades, there is still no credible theoretical basis for NLP, researchers having failed to establish any evidence for its efficacy that is not anecdotal.”
Method by Frank Clancy & Heidi Yorkshire (A 1989 article from
Mother Jones magazine that accuses Bandler of alcohol and drug
addiction, and argues he was guilty of the murder he was charged with in
“Bandler Unplugged” An
interview with the head honcho himself. Read it. He reveals it all in this interview.
Neurologica (Dr. Steven Novella) – Neurolinguistic Programming and other Nonsense
“…the assumptions of NLP, namely that our cognition, behavior and emotions can be ‘programmed’ by mimicking the more superficial aspects of those with desirable attributes (for example posture and mannerism) are wrong. The last thirty years of research have simply shown that NLP is bunk.”
Personal Financial Risk is increasing as managing personal finances becomes more and more complex in a rapidly changing environment. Adequate healthcare coverage is essential. (Healthcare costs are the major cause of personal bankruptcies)
Accumulating savings is more difficult for many people as they have less discretionary money to save, there are low interest rates and a very volatile investment marketplace.
Having a disciplined approach to managing your money is critical.
Income greater than expenses = Happiness
Expenses greater than income = Misery
To know which is greater you have to know what they are!
Most people don’t know what they are. You have to have the discipline to know and plan a budget. The less money that you have the more critical this is!
Understanding Personal Finances:
The amount of money that you have available after tax and deductions. You therefore also need to know (estimate) what your tax and deductions are likely to be. Your income may also be variable based on bonuses/commissions or irregular work.
You must establish a cash reserve to cover expenses in low income periods. This is not what you should use credit cards for.
Fixed expenses – predictable expenses that occur on a regular basis, weekly/monthly/ annually: Mortgage/Rent, car payments, healthcare, basic food insurance,…………..
Variable expenses – expenses that are dependent on circumstances and vary in cost but are likely to occur. You have to estimate the likely amounts and budget for them.
Gas, clothes, additional food, utilities (gas, electric, water…), car maintenance, house maintenance costs, healthcare payments, credit card bills……….
Reserves/Emergency money – Risk Management
You must have rainy day money to cover any loss of income for a time. This should be at least 3 months expenses. Maintaining this reserve has to be a planned variable expense. This and keeping your credit card debt to the minimum, will be major contributors to getting and keeping a high credit score.
One of the major drivers of credit card debt is defaulting on payments.
This is the income that you have left after paying all fixed and variable expenses and maintaining your reserves. Credit availability is NOT discretionary money, it should be treated as short term emergency money and paid off every month.
If you do take out credit payments on a purchase you must be able to pay them and maintain your cash reserve.
Discretionary money will be used for funding savings, retirement, entertainment, college funds, luxury items………….
You should prioritize how you spend this money, the first priority should be maintaining reserves, then savings, particularly for healthcare costs and then starting a retirement fund.