Episode #7

Topics: SA Creationist Paradise, Bishop Tutu, Ken Ham, Abiogenesis

Download Episode 7 here

Recorded 24/02/2011 (Not yet recorded/posted… expect the podcast on Sunday)

Stat Ó the Week

South Africa: Creationist paradise

From http://www.reasoncheck.com/2009/07/07/south-africa-creationist-paradise/


Our first Mail!! Yay!

Soo’s reply to Mike Meadon:

Let me start my response with a quote from the link Mr Meadon referred us to, an article posted in Neurologica blog by Steven Novella (http://theness.com/neurologicablog/?p=228) :

“So why, then, has NLP persisted for 30 years despite all the evidence against it? I think this reflects an endemic problem within the mental health field. Part of the problem is that the field is very broad, with multiple parallel professions, including psychiatry, clinical psychology, social work, and counseling. Also, within each profession there are multiple theories and traditions, many mutually exclusive. The degree of dedication to science and evidence-based practice is also highly variable. The bottom line is that, although there is a great deal of legitimate science within the mental health field, in practice it is rife with pseudoscience and nonsense.”

This.  Yes… let me start by loudly agreeing with this.

And then let me share a quote from Dr Paul Tosey and Dr Jane Mathison, from the University of Surrey  from their paper A CRITICAL NATURAL HISTORY OF NEURO-LINGUISTIC PROGRAMMING (http://www.nlpresearch.org/)  :

But accounts of NLP are often problematic, relying either upon the marketing hype of those with commercial interests in its promulgation, or upon the polemic of its fiercest critics. There is little evidence of dialogue between practitioners and academics, and the two main examples of scholarly books of which we are aware, Esser ( 2004) and Walker (1996), are not published in the English language.”

And that.  Let me continue by loudly agreeing, with that.

I have been tempted, on occasion, to exorcise the letters NLP from my business cards and website.  The term itself appears to be deliberately constructed to cause offence to the mental health field – ‘programming’?  Really?  I suspect it may have been provocational, and a bit of a boast, and there is certainly evidence to support that.  I have discovered something very clever, and I want to have a dig at the established mental health community who stand to lose a lot of money from the discovery. Sure.  There is that… but

I am a coach and a counselor.  My goal is to help people improve their lives, and to overcome obstacles (both real and imagined) and traumas (both real and imagined).  In my toolbox you will find traditional therapy – hang on.. What the hell even is ‘traditional therapy”.. oh.. That’s the stuff I learnt through rubber stamped channels like University, then I sometimes use reframing techniques (an NLP technique) which I learnt at a coaching workshop, and I also use chicken soup, placebo’s, kind words, pats on the back and the occasional smile and hug.

I am confident, through personal evaluation of existing research that large portions of NLP are sound, and have been tested and evaluated through recognized channels.  I am also confident, that many other portions ARE NOT.

At the same time, I see researchers scrabbling to address the problem, the work of Dr Tosey & Dr Mathison, would be an example, as they seek to :


“1.Support the emergence of an NLP research community, and build bridges for increased dialogue between academic and practitioner communities.

2. Develop a critical appraisal of the field.

3. Further our work on transformative learning and teaching (which has applications to coaching and mentoring)” (note tenses changed from original text)


Research using empirical procedures!  Dialogue with the academic community!  Yes!  THAT! As Heap (a known critic of NLP) has said: “There is just no other way of doing this” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuro-linguistic_programming).


So sure, some of it is unproven, and will be revealed as bollocks, long exaggerated and embraced by the pseudoscience community.  Some… and this is honestly my view… will not.

So here’s how I handle it.  I choose to use the experimental unproven medicine of NLP in situations where I believe it is warranted.  I have seen it work.  Is that a cry of Placebo! I hear from the back row?  Yes maybe… but that would make me no different from any other practitioner.  If I am not sure of some of it and I still continue to use it, does that make me a charlatan?  Well, if you believe that the administering of a placebo to a trusting client without them knowing it is a crime, then perhaps you might believe that.  Of course we all understand this is the only way it works.

This is a long discussion, and this is a podcast Mr. Meadon, so… here is what I suggest.  If it’s worth a rumble discussion… NLP… or even untested therapy techniques generally, should they be used, is this ethical… even if they work?  Should they be used before the jury is out?  Then let’s do it.  I stand at the ready.

In the meantime, I can email you this response, and we can have a bit of fun hashing it out.

Links (related to references I have made in this response) :







Bishop Tutu and cradle of life



Ken Ham and his dumb-ass museum




From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis

In natural science, abiogenesis (pronounced /ˌeɪbaɪ.ɵˈdʒɛnɨsɪs/ AY-by-oh-JEN-ə-siss) or biopoesis is the study of how biological life arises from inorganic matter through natural processes, and the method by which life on Earth arose. Most amino acids, often called “the building blocks of life”, can form via natural chemical reactions unrelated to life, as demonstrated in the Miller–Urey experiment and similar experiments that involved simulating some of the conditions of the early Earth in a laboratory.[1] In all living things, these amino acids are organized into proteins

Crazy Talk

Pasted from <http://frankdimora.typepad.com/>

Are you really searching to know the truth?

Disclaimer: Since the facts and evidence on my posts and in my book are real as they are taken from news around the world, and this news proves Bible prophecy is actually coming to pass in our generation, the information you read or see may scare you. If you are depressed or on any meds for depression, or have any type of mental disease consult your doctor before reading this material.


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About woodelfman

Trainer, Speaker, Blogger, Consultant

38 responses to “Episode #7”

  1. kelltrill says :

    I look forward to hearing your discussion of Abiogenesis (if it is on the podcast and not just this blog… I’m not sure of the structure yet). That’s an issue I feel very passionately about. The Miller-Urey experiment is one of the most exciting experiments in the history of science to me, despite their criticism.

    • woodelfman says :

      Thanks Kelly. This blog is the show notes of the podcast, so yes, we will be discussing Abiogenesis. In fact, recorded it last night. So should be up by Sunday.
      Stay posted.

  2. kelltrill says :

    I think the link to the podcast is broken. It takes me to a 404 error page.

  3. Michael Meadon says :

    Thanks for reading out my letter… 🙂

    Soo promised links to reputable scientific studies demonstrating (parts of) NLP are evidence-based. Those are?

    • woodelfman says :

      On the way Mike. And please keep stimulating this particular discussion.

      • Michael Meadon says :

        Right. Erm…

        “Fabulous Creatures of HRD: a Critical Natural History of Neuro-Linguistic Programming” is not published in a peer-reviewed journal. It was presented at a conference. (With some exceptions, conferences are super easy to get in to. Many joke papers do, in fact). This doesn’t mean it’s false or wrong. But it’s also not what I asked for.

        And, the paper you forwarded to me from Soo, does not (as far as I can tell) present empirical experimental evidence. Do randomized single-blinded (double would be impossible) trails of NLP methods show it is superior to (or at least as good as) other therapeutic interventions? That is the question.

        Soo seems to misunderstand how to do rigorous research. One does not simply cast around the literature, find a couple of studies, peruse the abstracts and then come to a conclusion. I can do that and conclude PSI is real. Or creationism. (They too have their journals).

  4. kelltrill says :

    I’ve never even heard of NLP before this podcast. I think it’s always educational to discover something in debate-form 😉

    Also, thanks for punting my blog in this podcast. It was unexpected and I really appreciate it.

  5. blog admin says :

    hey there Michael, hope you also got my other links, sent via email?

  6. benguela says :

    Suzanne, do you start each NLP session with a disclaimer informing the patient that the techniques you are about to perform are scientifically unproven? Or do simply go ahead with your performance and collect the money?

    • Michael Meadon says :

      Have to agree with Benguela here too. There are two issues: (1) is NLP a pseudoscience? and (2) is it ethical to employ a pseudoscience as a life coach / therapist? The answers are, in my view, yes for (1) and no for (2).

  7. murraybiscuit says :

    i read an article the other day about za involvement in the human genome project. this vanessa heyes person sounds pretty hardcore. here’s an excerpt which stood out for me involving her recruitment of tutu for the project and his response:

    Ingenuity and perseverance led Vanessa to knock on the door of Nobel Peace Prize recipient Archbishop Desmond Tutu. He was, she knew, a critical step needed to gain access to a potential treasure trove of South African genetic data. She made her case directly to the Archbishop in front of a room of advisors who told him not to participate in a genetic study. However, much to her surprise, Tutu agreed to be the first South African to have his genome sequenced. Vanessa believes he did so, against the advice of his advisors, because he knew the importance of this type of research to the people of his country.


    nice article.

  8. blog admin says :

    Ok.. where to start. First off @ Michael – you supported your stance on by referencing a blog critique of NLP. I supported mine with a paper which was presented at the European Conference on Educational Research at the University of Hamburg (although having a funny name, the University of Hamburg also boasts 6 Nobel Prize winning Alumni – perhaps not jokey in the way that you meant it?)

    In terms of quid pro quo, I reckon I upped the anti.

    Did either reference represent the full foundation upon which either of us has based our opinion? Hell.. I hope not. That would mean that you buy into whatever party line is put forward by your favorite guru, and that I know how to use a search engine…

    Anyhoo.. I did send you other links after that, via email. I see Deon did forward them to you. Did you get those? Any comments on THEIR credibility?

    If your offering is “NLP is pseudoscience”.. you need to give me a little more to go on than that. Give me feedback which shows you have a little understanding of what is a broad umbrella term.

    @Benguela – ‘unproven’ is going to far. Empirically tested in a manner which meets my particular satisfaction? No – and this would apply to some portions of NLP, not to others. I also give my clients a cup of tea, even though I do not have peer-reviewed research to prove that it is in any way beneficial to our interactions.

    I am a coach. I spend the first two hours with any potential client discussing the techniques I would use, free of charge – letting the person get a feel for the chemistry which may or may not exist between us. If they are not satisfied with anecdotal results and references (as I am not always able to offer them more), they are free to walk away. They are also free to walk away from the coaching relationship at any time thereafter, as they would any other situation, if they were paying for a service, and didn’t feel it was being delivered.

    At the end of the day, if I am not helping folks, my client base will soon dry up. Are people happy? Absolutely. If you are looking for a clearer measure than the fact that I continue to make my living this way, I can’t help you out, and you would be hard pressed to get same from anyone else in the mental health or coaching fields.

    • Michael Meadon says :

      Soo… you clearly have the onus, not me. And, honestly, I don’t care nearly enough to read that many papers.

      Here’s what we can do, if you like. Send me the best NLP paper you’ve read. One that presents actual scientific evidence. (I.e. conducts experiments, uses rigorous statistics, that kind of thing). Or, even better, a systematic review or a meta-analysis. Think pieces like the articles you’ve sent me so far do not take the debate forward.

      • woodelfman says :

        Mike… and everyone else.
        Just something to keep in mind for this, and similar conversations I’m sure we’ll have in future.
        Primordial Soup is an Atheist podcast. Our goal is to rant and rave about religion and sky fairies.
        It seems to me we may be in danger of harping on a topic that is not relevant to our cause.
        Although we love our Skeptical cousins and other free thinkers, we are not a skeptical or scientific podcast like SGU.
        So… I have no problem with folk discussing pretty much anything they like here on the comments, but we won’t be giving NLP any more podcast airtime… unless of course the Pope is into it.
        Soo is an Atheist who happens to use certain elements of NLP in her job. Brian is an Atheist who masturbates while dreaming about unicorns (shit did I say that?). Basil is an Atheist who thinks we have free will. I’m an Atheist who uses personality profiling in my work. It’s Atheism we’re interested in…
        I know I encouraged this conversation, but now I’m encouraging a refocus.

      • benguela says :

        Atheism with irrational beliefs deserves equal attention and simply avoiding without addressing it is hypocritical.

        • woodelfman says :

          Benguela. How is that a skeptical, rational statement? Firstly you haven’t even come close to proving Atheism with irrational beliefs – all you’ve done is express personal, subjective dissatisfaction. I agree with Soo – make a point, so we can at least see where the disagreement lies. Secondly, deserves equal attention? Say who? Thirdly, who’s avoiding anything? Soo is more than capable of having a rational conversation and defending her stance, and I’m more than happy for the conversation to happen. I’m simply saying that our podcast is not about NLP, it’s about the absence of faith in God. Do you have any comments in this area we can discuss?

      • Michael Meadon says :

        Deon: I wasn’t going to respond again after I saw you wanted the discussion refocused. But being compared to Tom Cruise and a creationist proved too much.

        Feel free to delete my comments if you see fit.

      • benguela says :

        woodelfman said “I’m simply saying that our podcast is not about NLP, it’s about the absence of faith in God. Do you have any comments in this area we can discuss?”

        Let’s assume Soo’s absence of faith in God is because of absence of evidence, a logical position to take. Let’s call this theorem 1. If however she follows up with theorem 2 that says I believe in X, and do Y, even though there is no evidence for X, then through reductio ad absurdum she is undermining the truth of the theorem 1. This is a logical inconsistency. This has to be addressed otherwise your continued discussions on atheism are on a shaky foundation.

        It is this particular statement from Soo that is the needs to be addressed:

        ” I choose to use the experimental unproven medicine of NLP in situations where I believe it is warranted”

        If you think this is a logical proposition then you cannot criticize people who say
        “I choose to believe in an experimentally unproved God
        in situations where I believe it is warranted”

        woodelfman, if you want to “refocus” and not address this then you are a hypocrite.

  9. Basil says :


    I once believed that we had free will, thanks to Langtons ant, James in particular and a whole host of arguments that were dismally put down (mainly by James)I have no choice but to be blissfully aware that my bathroom habits were never a matter of preference…

    ho hum… 😉

  10. blog admin says :

    The problem with writing off, or dissing a term, which represents a whole basket of things, like NLP or Psychology, is that you start looking like Tom Cruise.

    When links were demanded (repeatedly), links to studies and academic papers – they were supplied. (Sidekick, if you would like the same links sent to you, no prob. Please give me your email address and I will happily do so.)

    But here’s the kicker. You can’t keep squealing that the onus is on me to prove my case, when you consider reading and absorbing the evidence and back up material I have supplied, to be too much effort.

    It reminds me of the debate that Richard Dawkins tears his remaining hair out over. It goes something like this :

    Fundie : Evolution is Bullshit! Where are the fossils? Where is the evidence? Its all a load of made up rubbish!
    Dawkins : There are plenty of fossils. Go and visit a museum. Any Museum.
    Fundie : I don’t see why I have to. The onus is on you!!!

    If however, anyone is prepared to go beyond throwing stones, and has a point to raise on a particular area of NLP which offends you, I will happily respond to that particular issue and debate it with you. You may even find that I agree with you on one thing, but perhaps not on another. I would love to find that out!

    All you are doing right now is the equivalent of saying “Sausages are rubbish! Down with sausages!”. If you wished to point out that it was the look of sausages which bothered you, or the ingredients they contained, we could have a discussion.


    Hold out all the hoops you like Mr Meadon.. unless you give me specifics, I can’t help you out, even if I did feel inclined to jump through them. Expecting me to produce one research paper which covers every element of NLP, is like expecting me to produce a paper which covers every element of “finance” or “suitable childcare”.

    Man up.. or duck out. You started this.. and I would love to carry on with it, constructively.

    • Michael Meadon says :

      Jebus. You do realize just how terrible these arguments are, right?

      At no point did I ask for “one research paper which covers every element of NLP”. I asked you to provide a research paper (that you’ve, you know, actually read) that provides some actual empirical evidence for NLP. I figure you choosing your best evidence, then me looking at it, could be productive if we want to take the discussion forward.

      Your bluster – comparing me to Tom Cruise, really? – makes me suspect you don’t actually know the NLP literature. The quality of your arguments and the nature of the papers you have “referenced” makes me suspect you don’t even know what counts as good evidence.

      • woodelfman says :

        To all the Christians out there… The Atheistic world really isn’t self destructing. We actually enjoy having robust debates among ourselves. We have beer and sex afterwards.

      • blog admin says :

        This is just going to get circular. It already is.. I suspect.

        Your words above : “I just don’t care enough to read all those papers”

        Well, I guess I don’t care enough, to send you any more…

        UNLESS you point to one particular area of NLP which you have a problem with, and make ME believe, that you have read more than just a single Novella blog on the subject, and that your belief that NLP is ‘grade A Bullshit” isn’t just based on the opinion of some dude you respect.. cause.. well that would be embarrassing, particularly coming from someone who feels so strongly about “good evidence”.

        It’s not your hoops per say I mind leaping through, but I am not quite simple enough to jump through the specially constructed one (flaming… goes over a cliff) which you are holding up right now.

        Its the same as having a go, at someone who believes the events in bible, happened exactly as they are set out. Shouting “the bible is rubbish!”.. is not really enough. You need to read the thing, understand where it comes from, and launch a legitimate point for point debate.

        Anyone else reading, who wants to get specific, give me a shout. I will point you to the museum. It is open to all.

      • blog admin says :

        I really am being sincere, when I say I am happy to produce the science, for specific issues in NLP, jocular posturing aside, but offering up my ‘best evidence’ would appear suspect.

        If I sent you a respectable paper on mimicry and rapport, it would be easy for anyone to say ‘sure.. send the paper about the only teeny bit of NLP which has any credibility!”

        I cannot choose the focus of this.

      • blog admin says :

        (Really hopes Deon is not panicking and that no one says.. “this has gone far enough!”.. I am cool and happy folks.. anyone who has met me or dealt with me would know that. Serious)

      • blog admin says :

        A General comment :
        Here is a link, for anyone interested, concerning the status of NLP research, and it’s standing in the academic community – interviews with Frank Bourke PhD and Rich Liotta PhD.

        They are You Tube vids, so it’s an easy way to get a clearer view of the issue, and my standpoint, without having to wade in too deeply, or take too much time.

        They say it way better than I do, and they represent the stance of many mental health professionals and coaches – we feel this stuff works, but we have not done enough to prove it. There is some work done however, and nobody wants to give up, fudge it or dodge it.


  11. blog admin says :

    In response to Deon – I agree, we are an atheist podcast, and perhaps we should not have taken up the topic at all, because after a while.. where does it end? If I am expected to defend every aspect of my life will I need to explain why I am a vegetarian or a lover of kung fu movies?

    But the thing is.. we did respond, so I have an obligation, based on that, to continue with the debate as long as it has hot air in its lungs.

    It is worth pointing out to anyone reading, that I would never expect at any point, for my fellow panelists to agree with me on every issue, just as I do not agree with them on many things.

    We are atheists, with opinions, not robots.

    So join in, bring your pies.. whatever.. but please understand it might stay here, because our podcast is a little more focused.

    • benguela says :

      Soo, see my response to Deon above for why I think it is important that this topic should be discussed and how it relates to the atheistic position.

      • woodelfman says :

        Benguela: “woodelfman, if you want to “refocus” and not address this then you are a hypocrite.”
        Nope, I just don’t give a shit about NLP, and don’t think any Skeptic, even you, is entirely Skeptical about everything in the eyes of someone else. There are ALWAYS grey areas of disagreement, even in science. You’re free to have your opinions on the matter, but you certainly can’t bully anyone into having your discussion. If you think I’m a hypocrite… well I’m probably not going to lose sleep over it. Look forward to your opinions on Atheism though…

      • benguela says :

        woodelfman, fine, let’s leave it at that because I do not see a way forward. Your interests are propositions of the type

        “I believe in X without any evidence where X is in the set of religion”

        and you are not interested in propositions of the type

        “I believe in X without any evidence where X is not in the set of religion”

        A kind of non-overlapping magisteria for you but not for me.

      • benguela says :

        My final shot across the bows

        “Atheists should strive to consistently employ a methodology of naturalism, skepticism, and empiricism — not just where religion and theism are concerned, but broadly in all areas of life.”


      • Soo says :

        I think it might be worth pointing out that the topic is not being shut down, it just however, doesn’t get to consume airtime, which could be better allocated, on Deon and our ATHEIST podcast.

        I am still ready to have a discussion with anyone who is prepared to ask a specific critical question about NLP, and not just screech that it is all rubbish.

        Even if atheists are not allowed to hold non empirically tested crazy views (which really hasn’t been established), you haven’t yet established that NLP even IS a non empirically tested crazy view! The cart is not just ahead of the horse, it is at the bottom of a pit, in teenie weenie little pieces.

        All that has changed, is that it happens here, instead of on air, because it is kinda boring and tiresome to my colleges. I don’t want to hear them defending why they water their plants twice a day or wear red underpants, and they don’t want to talk about NLP on the podcast.

        I am sure that once you have conclusively proven after reviewing all of the science, and blowing it out of the water, what no one else has yet managed to do – that NLP is after all “grade A bullshit”.. then I am sure I will be immediately dismissed from my panel position if I do not denounce it immediately! Perhaps we can even bring flaming torches to the ceremony.

        In the meantime, it is probably worth me admitting that I once attended a yoga class because the spinning class was full… and I liked it!

  12. Southern Skeptic says :

    Hi Primordial soopers

    I just listended to this episode and, as usual, really enjoyed it.

    On to some comments on the content:

    I liked the third eye 🙂

    I can’t support the use of NLP. The premise does not convince me, and this Donald Clark blog entry (linked from Novella’s blog) torpedoes it quite thoroughly: http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.com/2007/03/nlp-no-longer-plausibe.html

    Saying that it “works” is the exact same thing that I hear from homeopathy proponents.

    I would be willing to change my mind if a double blind trial shows it to work though

    The Arch:
    Desmond Tutu is a wonderful man and a credit to our country. Someone in his position is perfectly placed to introduce our superstitious RSA brethren to the wonders of science and specifically evolution. Well done him!

    Creationist museum:
    I read their hiring policies once, and, not quite believing that they were for real, I then went to other sections of their website. But I had to stop because teh stoopid was hurting my brain.

    I lol’ed at “Hymns end in brawl”. Classic!

    In arguments with theists I will cheerfully concede that we can’t explain the origin of life, but in my opinion science will be able to explain it eventually.

    Evolution already torpedoes the bible’s creation story extremely easily.

    Crazy talk:
    Deon your rendering of the site warning had me giggling

  13. Basil says :

    Southern, it’s nice to have some ‘ normal’ chat around Atheism.


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