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A research project with questionable design and implementation

Posted by Reg_Connolly on 16 Jul 2012 at 07:12 GMT

There are a number of questionable features to this research project.
For example, only one of the 17 references refers to an NLP source - and the work quoted does not deal with the research subject!

The project seems to used Google searching to establish whether or not the project was a valid one. They did not actually speak with people who have experience in using and teaching NLP.

Yet even this simplistic approach is flawed. Richard Wiseman on his Twitter feed has since said: “Love the NLP folks saying they never believed the eye movement/lying claim. Before yesterday we couldn’t find website that was critical.”

Inconveniently for the research team, we (Pegasus NLP) first cautioned against believing that the eye movements can be used as a lie detection process over 12 years ago – this article is recorded in the Web Archive dated 20 August 2000

We also published blog articles on The NLP Lie Detector Myth in 2008 and 2010 – see the blog address below.

These three articles are on pages 1 or 2 of Google for searches along the "NLP and lying theme". Our website is regularly in the top 3 on a Google search for “NLP”.

I have now published a preliminary critique of the basis for this research project on our blog:

Some of the comments made by today’s readers, on the structure and process of the project, could make uncomfortable reading for the research team.

Pulling all of the project’s flaws aside, a question which does arise: "Isn’t it good to have myths scientifically debunked?" to which my answer is…

Yes, it is, especially if the science is sound and if the myth (as it is in this case) is un-useful to the general public.

But if the myth is debunked by poor science it undermines both the debunking and the reputation of the de-bunkers leaving the myth stronger.

Their case would have been a little more convincing if they had

- Taken steps to create a sound premise to investigate
- Assessed whether NLP originators and trainers were supportive of or were averse to this premise
- Investigated how the eye movement patterns are actually taught and used in authoritative NLP training organisations.

Reg Connolly

Competing interests declared: NLP Trainer with 32 years experience of using NLP