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The map is not the territory

globe on a leafIn the previous section we looked at the NLP Communication Model and learned how a significant amount of the information about the outside world is filtered down to a size that our conscious mind can usefully attend to at any single point in time.

It is useful now, having learned that knowledge, to return to one of the presuppositions of NLP - The map is not the territory, and understand more about what that means.

To recap briefly, approximately 2 million bits of information per second pour in through our five senses. This information passes through a number of perception filters which delete, distort and generalise, leaving approximately 134 bits per second which we use to construct an Internal Representation (IR) of the external event.

Our IR's combine to form our internal map of the world. As human beings we operate on our maps of the world rather than directly on the world itself (recap complete).

Very significant point coming up - pay close attention!

Now - given the obvious difference between 2 million bits per second and 134 bits per second, we clearly see that a significant amount of the incoming information is lost in the selection process. Thus we can also clearly see why our map of the world could NEVER BE the world itself, just as a map of the UK, even if it was built to scale by a team of experts, could NEVER BE the UK itself.

We can also conclude that as we are all individuals and individually pay attention to different things that our internal maps will vary very significantly. Even if a group of individuals are all paying attention to the same external event, the very different perceptual filters that they each have will mean that they are likely to selectively pay attention to different aspects of that same external event and hence their individual Internal Representations will also differ from one another.

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