The Delphi Technique — What Is It?
The Delphi Technique was originally conceived as a way to obtain the opinion of experts without necessarily bringing them together face to face. In recent times, however, it has taken on an all new meaning and purpose. The Delphi Technique is the method being used to squeeze teachers and citizens out of the process, effecting a right-wing takeover of the schools.
A specialized use of this technique was developed for teachers, the “Alinsky Method” (ibid, p.123). The setting or group is, however, immaterial; the point is that people in groups tend to share a certain knowledge base and display certain identifiable characteristics (known as group dynamics). This allows for a special application of a basic technique.
The change agent or facilitator goes through the motions of acting as an organizer, getting each person in the target group to elicit expression of their concerns about a program, project, or policy in question. The facilitator listens attentively, forms “task forces,” “urges everyone to make lists,” and so on. While s/he is doing this, the facilitator learns something about each member of the target group. S/He identifies the “leaders,” the “loud mouths,” as well as those who frequently turn sides during the argument — the “weak or noncommittal”.
Suddenly, the amiable facilitator becomes “devil’s advocate.” S/He dons his professional agitator hat. Using the “divide and conquer” technique, s/he manipulates one group opinion against the other. This is accomplished by manipulating those who are out of step to appear “ridiculous, unknowledgeable, inarticulate, or dogmatic.” S/He wants certain members of the group to become angry, thereby forcing tensions to accelerate. The facilitator is well trained in psychological manipulation. S/He is able to predict the reactions of each group member. Individuals in opposition to the policy or program will be shut out of the group.
The method works. It is very effective with parents, teachers, school children, and any community group. The “targets” rarely, if ever, know that they are being manipulated. Or, if they suspect this is happening, do not know how to end the process.
The desired result is for group polarization, and for the facilitator to become accepted as a member of the group and group process. S/He will then throw the desired idea on the table and ask for opinions during discussion. Very soon his/her associates from the divided group begin to adopt the idea as if it were their own, and pressure the entire group to accept the proposition.
This technique is a very unethical method of achieving consensus on a controversial topic in group settings. It requires well-trained professionals who deliberately escalate tension among group members, pitting one faction against the other, so as to make one viewpoint appear ridiculous so the other becomes “sensible” whether such is warranted or not.
The Delphi Technique is based on the Hegelian Principle of achieving Oneness of Mind through a three step process of thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. In thesis and antithesis, all present their opinion or views on a given subject, establishing views and opposing views. In synthesis, opposites are brought together to form the new thesis. All participants are then to accept ownership of the new thesis and support it, changing their own views to align with the new thesis. Through a continual process of evolution, Oneness of Mind will supposedly occur.
The theory of the Delphi and the reality of the Delphi are, obviously, quite different — the reality being that Oneness of Mind does not occur but only the illusion of Oneness of Mind with those who refuse to be Delphi’d being alienated from participating in the process.
While proponents of education reform feel they are quite justified in this, the effect of this unethical manipulation of people is to create polarized camps. In an effort to maintain the process, advocates have marketed a plethora of publications (such as What’s Left After the Right, No Left Turn and If You Don’t, They Will) intended to label, castigate, and alienate anyone who does not go along with them. As a result, parents come to understand that their role in education reform is merely perfunctory; that the outcome is preset, that they are not but the rah-rah team so when opposition does arise, advocates of education reform can say, “we had community input.”
To make sure that the situation is controlled, only those parents who agree with the process are allowed on the restructuring teams. New participants are carefully screened to ensure that education reform goes forward unquestioned.
If measurable opposition persists, advocates are told, get the local ministers on board. Take steps to neutralize, by whatever means necessary, the opposition. In some places, opponents have been harassed, both at home and on the job, personal property has been damaged and vandalized, people have lost their jobs. Anyone who does not go along with the restructuring of our society is susceptible to the totalitarian tactics of those promoting education reform – whether it be parents, teachers, principals, superintendents or board members. The need exists for advocates to maintain an iron grip on the process. They cannot, for instance, withstand open public debate of the issues. Therefore, they do not partake in public forums. They cannot withstand the criticism, so they close every avenue for parents to address the issues. They are rapidly creating, through their divisive tactics, a volatile situation. America is being torn apart.
Parents, citizens, teachers, principals, superintendents who are opposed to the new purpose being given our American education system need tools to withstand the process being used to bring it in — against the Delphi Technique and consensus which, through their basis in the Hegelian Principle, have Marxist connections and purposes.
First, no opportunity must be left untaken to expose this unethical, divisive process. Second, when this process is used, it can be disrupted. To do so, however, one must be able to recognize when the Delphi Technique is being used, and how to disrupt it.
The Delphi Technique — How to Disrupt It
Ground rules for disrupting the consensus process (Delphi Technique) — when facilitators want to steer a group in a specific direction.
1) Always Be Charming. Smile, be pleasant, be courteous, moderate your voice so as not to come across as belligerent or aggressive.
2) Stay Focused. If at all possible, write your question down to help you stay focused. Facilitators, when asked questions they don’t want to answer, often digress from the issue raised and try to work the conversation around to where they can make the individual asking the question look foolish, feel foolish, appear belligerent or aggressive. The goal is to put the one asking the question on the defensive.
Do not fall for this tactic. Always be charming, thus deflecting any insinuation, innuendo, etc, that may be thrown at you in their attempt to put you on the defensive, but bring them back to the question you asked. If they rephrase your question into an accusatory statement (a favorite tactic) simply state, “that is not what I stated, what I asked was… (repeat your question).” Stay focused on your question.
3) Be Persistent. If putting you on the defensive doesn’t work, facilitators often resort to long drawn out dissertations on some off-the-wall and usually unrelated, or vaguely related, subject that drags on for several minutes – during which time the crowd or group usually loses focus on the question asked (which is the intent). Let them finish with their dissertation/expose, then nicely, with focus and persistence, state, “but you didn’t answer my question. My question was… (repeat your question).”
always be charming,
stay focused, and
Never, under any circumstance, become angry. Anger directed at the facilitator will immediately make the facilitator “the victim.” This defeats the purpose which is to make you the victim. The goal of the facilitator is to make those they are facilitating like them, alienating anyone who might pose a threat to the realization of their agenda. [People with fixed belief systems, who know what they believe and stand on what they believe, are obvious threats.] If the participant becomes the victim, the facilitator loses face and favor with the crowd. This is why crowds are broken up into groups of seven or eight, why objections are written on cards, not voiced aloud where they are open to public discussion and public debate. It’s called crowd control. It is always good to have someone else, or two or three others who know the Delphi Technique dispersed through the crowd; who, when the facilitator digresses from the question, will stand up and say nicely, “but you didn’t answer that lady’s/gentleman’s question.” The facilitator, even if suspecting you are together, certainly will not want to alienate the crowd by making that accusation. Sometimes it only takes one occurrence of this type for the crowd to figure out what’s going on, sometimes it takes more than one.
If you have an organized group, meet before the meeting to strategize. Everyone should know their part. Meet after the meeting to analyze what went right, what went wrong and why, and what needs to happen the next time around. Never meet during the meeting. One of the favorite tactics of the facilitator, if the meeting is not going the way he/she wants, if he/she is meeting measurable resistance, is to call a recess. During the recess, the facilitator and his/her “spotters” (people who wander the room during the course of the meeting, watching the crowd) watch the crowd to see who congregates where, especially those who have offered measurable resistance. If the “resistors” congregate in one place, a “spotter” will usually gravitate to that group to “join in the conversation” and will report back to the facilitator. When the meeting resumes, the facilitator will steer clear of those who are “resistors.” Do not congregate. Hang loose and work the crowd. Move to where the facilitator or “spotters” are, listen to what they have to say, but do not gravitate to where another member of your team is.
This strategy also works in a face to face, one on one, meeting with anyone who has been trained in how to use the Delphi Technique.