Here are some excerpts:
The dubious ethics
If you didn't think deliberately targeting women with low self-esteem was bad enough, a lot of PUAs base their techniques on something called “neuro-linguistic programming” or NLP. It's purportedly a form of hypnosis, similar to what Paul McKenna might use on you if you wanted to think yourself thin. In other words, if this actually worked, PUAs would be hypnotising women into sex. How this would be ethically distinguishable from drugging them is not obvious. Luckily for everyone, research into NLP suggests that it is nonsense anyway; see below.
NLP seems to be claptrap (one psychiatrist, Dr Roderique Davis, describes it as “cargo-cult psychology”, meaning that it was designed to look like science without doing any of the work). But a misunderstanding of complex ideas seems to be at the heart of a lot of pick-up artistry. One PUA, a fat man called Gem, once told The Times that Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene taught him “everything I know about pick-up”. One of the figureheads of the movement, David DeAngelo (or “Eben Pagan”) claims to be an aficionado of Ayn Rand. There is a lot of talk of “alpha males” and “beta males” and “psychological anchoring”. It is not clear that any of the people involved know what they are talking about. Dr Petra Boynton, the sex educator and blogger, says that there is “no evidence of effectiveness” for any of the PUA claims.
People who have had dealings with PUAs often use the same term to describe them: “trainspotters”. Like trainspotters, they are obsessed with collecting numbers and statistics; many keep detailed records of every “Close”. The terminology often has a militaristic fantasy feel: even aside from the endless US Army-style acronyms, messages in chatrooms detailing pick-up attempts are called “field reports”, and PUAs discuss “field testing” new techniques, as though they were howitzers rather than glorified chat-up lines. Dr Boynton describes users as “the most vulnerable of men”, and says that the PUA industry is a means of making money from vulnerable people.