John Perna
The "Delphi Technique" used by US Congressman
Fri Aug 11, 2006 17:56

The Delphi Technique was originally conceived as a way to obtain the opinion of experts ... There are three steps to diffusing the Delphi Technique when ...

The "Delphi Technique" used by US Congressman
If you recently attended the meeting held by Congressman Joe Wilson,

or if you plan to attend other such meetings,

you will benefit from a study of The "Delphi Technique".

Attendees were told to write their questions on a card and pass them
to the front.

The "facilitator" could be SEEN shuffling through the cards,


Anyone who spoke was silenced with the admonition to

"write their questions on a card and pass them to the front."

Most of those silenced, in this manner, had ALREADY

written their questions on a card and passed them to the front,



Using the Delphi Technique to Achieve Consensus
How it is leading us away from representative government to an
illusion of citizen participation

The Delphi Technique and consensus building are both founded in the
same principle - the Hegelian dialectic of thesis, antithesis, and
synthesis, with synthesis becoming the new thesis. The goal is a
continual evolution to "oneness of mind" (consensus means solidarity
of belief) -the collective mind, the wholistic society, the
wholistic earth, etc. In thesis and antithesis, opinions or views
are presented on a subject to establish views and opposing views. In
synthesis, opposites are brought together to form the new thesis.
All participants in the process are then to accept ownership of the
new thesis and support it, changing their views to align with the
new thesis. Through a continual process of evolution, "oneness of
mind" will supposedly occur.
In group settings, the Delphi Technique is an unethical method of
achieving consensus on controversial topics. It requires well-
trained professionals, known as "facilitators" or "change agents,"
who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one
faction against another to make a preordained viewpoint
appear "sensible," while making opposing views appear ridiculous.

In her book Educating for the New World Order, author and educator
Beverly Eakman makes numerous references to the need of those in
power to preserve the illusion that there is "community
participation in decision-making processes, while in fact lay
citizens are being squeezed out."

The setting or type of group is immaterial for the success of the
technique. The point is that, when people are in groups that tend to
share a particular knowledge base, they display certain identifiable
characteristics, known as group dynamics, which allows the
facilitator to apply the basic strategy.

The facilitators or change agents encourage each person in a group
to express concerns about the programs, projects, or policies in
question. They listen attentively, elicit input from group members,
form "task forces," urge participants to make lists, and in going
through these motions, learn about each member of a group. They are
trained to identify the "leaders," the "loud mouths," the "weak or
non-committal members," and those who are apt to change sides
frequently during an argument.

Suddenly, the amiable facilitators become professional agitators
and "devil's advocates." Using the "divide and conquer" principle,
they manipulate one opinion against another, making those who are
out of step appear "ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or
dogmatic." They attempt to anger certain participants, thereby
accelerating tensions. The facilitators are well trained in
psychological manipulation. They are able to predict the reactions
of each member in a group. Individuals in opposition to the desired
policy or program will be shut out.

The Delphi Technique works. It is very effective with parents,
teachers, school children, and community groups. The "targets"
rarely, if ever, realize that they are being manipulated. If they do
suspect what is happening, they do not know how to end the process.
The facilitator seeks to polarize the group in order to become an
accepted member of the group and of the process. The desired idea is
then placed on the table and individual opinions are sought during
discussion. Soon, associates from the divided group begin to adopt
the idea as if it were their own, and they pressure the entire group
to accept their proposition.

How the Delphi Technique Works

Consistent use of this technique to control public participation in
our political system is causing alarm among people who cherish the
form of government established by our Founding Fathers. Efforts in
education and other areas have brought the emerging picture into

In the not-too-distant past, the city of Spokane, in Washington
state, hired a consultant to the tune of $47,000 to facilitate the
direction of city government. This development brought a hue and cry
from the local population. The ensuing course of action holds an
eerie similarity to what is happening in education reform. A
newspaper editorial described how groups of disenfranchised citizens
were brought together to "discuss" what they felt needed to be
changed at the local government level. A compilation of the outcomes
of those "discussions" influenced the writing of the city/county

That sounds innocuous. But what actually happened in Spokane is
happening in communities and school districts all across the
country. Let's review the process that occurs in these meetings.

First, a facilitator is hired. While his job is supposedly neutral
and non-judgmental, the opposite is actually true. The facilitator
is there to direct the meeting to a preset conclusion.

The facilitator begins by working the crowd to establish a good-guy-
bad-guy scenario. Anyone disagreeing with the facilitator must be
made to appear as the bad guy, with the facilitator appearing as the
good guy. To accomplish this, the facilitator seeks out those who
disagree and makes them look foolish, inept, or aggressive, which
sends a clear message to the rest of the audience that, if they
don't want the same treatment, they must keep quiet. When the
opposition has been identified and alienated, the facilitator
becomes the good guy - a friend - and the agenda and direction of
the meeting are established without the audience ever realizing what
has happened.

Next, the attendees are broken up into smaller groups of seven or
eight people. Each group has its own facilitator. The group
facilitators steer participants to discuss preset issues, employing
the same tactics as the lead facilitator.

Participants are encouraged to put their ideas and disagreements on
paper, with the results to be compiled later. Who does the
compiling? If you ask participants, you typically hear: "Those
running the meeting compiled the results." Oh-h! The next question
is: "How do you know that what you wrote on your sheet of paper was
incorporated into the final outcome?" The typical answer is: "Well,
I've wondered about that, because what I wrote doesn't seem to be
reflected. I guess my views were in the minority."

That is the crux of the situation. If 50 people write down their
ideas individually, to be compiled later into a final outcome, no
one knows what anyone else has written. That the final outcome of
such a meeting reflects anyone's input at all is highly
questionable, and the same holds true when the facilitator records
the group's comments on paper. But participants in these types of
meetings usually don't question the process.

Why hold such meetings at all if the outcomes are already
established? The answer is because it is imperative for the
acceptance of the School-to-Work agenda, or the environmental
agenda, or whatever the agenda, that ordinary people assume
ownership of the preset outcomes. If people believe an idea is
theirs, they'll support it. If they believe an idea is being forced
on them, they'll resist.

The Delphi Technique is being used very effectively to change our
government from a representative form in which elected individuals
represent the people, to a "participatory democracy" in which
citizens selected at large are facilitated into ownership of preset
outcomes. These citizens believe that their input is important to
the result, whereas the reality is that the outcome was already
established by people not apparent to the participants.

How to Diffuse the Delphi Technique

Three steps can diffuse the Delphi Technique as facilitators attempt
to steer a meeting in a specific direction.

Always be charming, courteous, and pleasant. Smile. Moderate your
voice so as not to come across as belligerent or aggressive.

Stay focused. If possible, jot down your thoughts or questions. When
facilitators are asked questions they don't want to answer, they
often digress from the issue that was raised and try instead to put
the questioner on the defensive. Do not fall for this tactic.
Courteously bring the facilitator back to your original question. If
he rephrases it so that it becomes an accusatory statement (a
popular tactic), simply say, "That is not what I asked. What I asked
was . . ." and repeat your question.

Be persistent. If putting you on the defensive doesn't work,
facilitators often resort to long monologues that drag on for
several minutes. During that time, the group usually forgets the
question that was asked, which is the intent. Let the facilitator
finish. Then with polite persistence state: "But you didn't answer
my question. My question was . . ." and repeat your question.
Never become angry under any circumstances. Anger directed at the
facilitator will immediately make the facilitator the victim. This
defeats the purpose. The goal of facilitators is to make the
majority of the group members like them, and to alienate anyone who
might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda. People with
firm, fixed beliefs, who are not afraid to stand up for what they
believe in, are obvious threats. If a participant becomes a victim,
the facilitator loses face and favor with the crowd. This is why
crowds are broken up into groups of seven or eight, and why
objections are written on paper rather than voiced aloud where they
can be open to public discussion and debate. It's called crowd

At a meeting, have two or three people who know the Delphi Technique
dispersed through the crowd so that, when the facilitator digresses
from a question, they can stand up and politely say: "But you didn't
answer that lady/gentleman's question." Even if the facilitator
suspects certain group members are working together, he will not
want to alienate the crowd by making accusations. Occasionally, it
takes only one incident of this type for the crowd to figure out
what's going on.

Establish a plan of action before a meeting. Everyone on your team
should know his part. Later, analyze what went right, what went
wrong and why, and what needs to happen the next time. Never
strategize during a meeting.

A popular tactic of facilitators, if a session is meeting with
resistance, is to call a recess. During the recess, the facilitator
and his spotters (people who observe the crowd during the course of
a meeting) watch the crowd to see who congregates where, especially
those who have offered resistance. If the resistors congregate in
one place, a spotter will gravitate to that group and join in the
conversation, reporting what was said to the facilitator. When the
meeting resumes, the facilitator will steer clear of the resistors.
Do not congregate. Instead gravitate to where the facilitators or
spotters are. Stay away from your team members.

This strategy also works in a face-to-face, one-on-one meeting with
anyone trained to use the Delphi Technique.

Lynn Stuter is an education researcher in Washington state. Her web
site address is /.


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