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The Delphi Technique - by Lynn Stuter

"Ah consensus … the process of abandoning all beliefs, principles, values and policies in search of something in which no one believes, but to which no one objects; the process of avoiding the very issues that have to be solved, merely because you cannot get agreement on the way ahead. What great cause would have been fought and won under the banner 'I stand for consensus'?" - Margaret Thatcher

Citizens often arrive at what has been slated as a public hearing or a public forum to find that things don't seem quite right; that there is suddenly this new way of conducting meetings that somehow doesn't seem right. Instead of chairs set up for the audience with microphones where they can give input; there are now tables with chairs where people sit in circles and are facilitated by a pre-chosen facilitator.

The links below will take the reader through this facilitated process of consensus building, what it is, and why it stands diametrically opposed to the foundations upon which this nation was founded.

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

be persistent.

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.

With thanks to Sandy Vanderberg, Peg Luksik and others

©March 1996; Lynn M Stuter

What American Citizens Need to Know About Consensus and Facilitation

Your local newspaper publishes a notice that a meeting will be held one night next week to solicit input from the community regarding a proposed plan for community development. Being a civic minded individual, believing that community involvement is very important to the health of the community, you mark the date on your calendar and make a mental note to hold that night free of other commitments that you might attend this meeting to give your input. The next day you call the number noted in the announcement and ask to obtain a copy of the proposed plan for community development, that you might read it before the scheduled meeting date. You are told that the proposed plan is still at the printers but will be available at the door. On the prescribed night you arrive at the meeting, a little early as is your custom. You are greeted at the door by an individual who hands you an agenda and the proposed new plan for community development heretofore unavailable. You find the agenda rather odd; you were under the impression that this was a public meeting. What you envision is what has always been — a panel of individuals at the front of the room, with one or two microphones positioned in the aisles where individuals from the audience may voice their comments or opinions. As you enter the room, you are further amazed by the setup. There are no tables and chairs for the panel at the front of the room, there is but one microphone positioned beside a podium at the front of the room, lecture style. Further, the room is filled with tables — round tables, with six to eight chairs around each table. For an open public forum meeting, you find this rather odd and ask the greeter if this is really where you are supposed to be. Yes, you are assured, this is where the meeting is being held. Somewhat confused, you take a chair. Others file in, some you know, some you don't. You note that others, like you, find this new layout for a public forum meeting "different". Soon a speaker calls the meeting to order. After a short introductory speech the presenter asks for your cooperation in utilizing a new concept in decision making. Following a presentation regarding the new purposed plan, each table will participate in a discussion with the help of a facilitator. Each table will put on paper their thoughts and feelings about this new community plan — their likes and dislikes. A roundhouse discussion will ensue at each table from which will emerge a consensus of the group — a narrowing of the listed likes and dislikes to two or three that the group deems most important. These, you are told will be later synthesized. What is going on? You look around and note a look of bewilderment on several other faces. No explanation is offered; and you, feeling at quite a disadvantage but not wanting to look like a total ignoramus or fool, are hesitant to ask. You say nothing and go along. But the feeling of discomfort remains and continues to grow. What is going on?

A phrase heard a lot these days is paradigm shift. What is described above is part of that paradigm shift. Parents, community members, citizens, taxpayers have no idea what they are walking into when they suddenly, and without warning, find themselves participating in a whole new concept of a "public forum meeting". While the semantics may vary to some degree from meeting to meeting, the underlying framework of the process to which the people will be exposed does not.

Under the new paradigm, decision making is to be "decentralized" moving away from decisions being made solely by elected and/or public officials accountable to elected officials, moving to decision-making including the people. The "public forum" meeting and community participation process is the venue for that decentralized decision-making process.

The decentralized decision-making process is being sold to the people as a "move to empower the people," a way for people to have greater voice in their governance and in decisions made that will affect them. This is the rhetoric, this is not the reality. What people don't know, at the outset, is that the goal or outcome of the process is predetermined. This is made very clear in book after book on the facilitative process.

The decentralized decision-making process has three steps. The first step, unbeknownst to the people, is to assess the people as to "where they are now." This is accomplished by feeding people information relative to the issue at hand — be it education reform, land use planning, etc, then soliciting the feedback of the people relative to the information presented. The feedback solicited is put in writing, to be later analyzed, assessing the people, as a collective, as to "where they are now."

The second step is the process of moving the people from "where they are now" to "where we want them to be" — to acceptance of, ownership of, what is being advocated by the meeting planners relative to the issue at hand.

Step two has two phases. The first phase is to establish the framework for moving people "from where they are now" to "where we want them to be." To accomplish this, people must become "adaptable to change." People whose belief system is strongly grounded in absolutes, in Judeo-Christian principles, are not easily manipulated, are not easily "adaptable to change." That belief system must be changed in a greater number of people if the goal or goals are to be realized, if sufficient buy-in is to be realized to give the agenda the foreword momentum needed to achieve the goal. The facilitation process, utilizing up to nine basic steps, is intended to move people from a belief in absolutes — that right is right, wrong is wrong, to believing that right and wrong are situational, a matter of perception, from beliefs holding basis in Christian principle to beliefs holding basis in humanism (although this is never divulged). For those who refuse to become adaptable, concession "not to sabotage" or "openly oppose" augments the forward momentum of the agenda. In some school districts teachers are being required to sign a charter agreeing not to oppose education reform.

The second phase is to facilitate people into ownership of the preset outcome. The process of facilitation is intended to produce consensus which means "solidarity of belief". In other words, through a facilitated process, oneness of mind theoretically occurs. Consensus holds basis in the Hegelian Dialectic of thesis — a belief or supposition; antithesis — the opposite belief or supposition; and synthesis — the synthesizing (bringing together) of thesis and antithesis to form a new thesis. The process then begins again and through continual evolution, oneness of mind theoretically occurs. Consensus, however, left to its own devices, cannot be controlled. As such, a manipulative form of consensus, utilizing facilitators highly trained in group dynamics, is used to ensure the outcome. While the facilitators are billed as neutral to the facilitated process of consensus, they are anything but neutral; they are key to the group reaching the preset outcome. And, if facilitated properly, the people emerge believing the decision made — the outcome — was their idea; unaware that they were facilitated in a certain direction. This, then, sets the stage for the third step. (Click here to learn more about what is commonly referred to as the Delphi Technique, and Click here to learn how to disrupt it.)

The third step is accountability. First, the outcome of the facilitation process is decided; second, the people are facilitated into acceptance of, and ownership of, the preset outcome; third, authorship of the preset outcome is given to the people. The people, then, as a collective, become accountable for the decision made. This is why, when people have objected to being governed by consensus decisions, they have heard, "but we had the input of the people." What this does, very effectively, is two-fold — it gives the bureaucracy license to do whatever it wants under the guise of "doing what the people authorized us, via their decision, to do;" and second, it makes the people, not the bureaucracy, accountable for decisions made. The people become at once the scapegoat and the victim.

Most people have no idea, when they become involved in consensus circles, what their purpose is in the larger picture, that they are being assessed, that their belief system is being targeted, that they are being used.

What is established, via the consensus process, is covert authority — the same authority that under girds socialist/communist regimes that justify their existence and governance structure in the collective authority of the people. In the Soviet Union, a consensus circle is known as a soviet.

The religion of socialist/communist regimes is humanism. Humanism is a man-centered religion, believing that man is devoid of spirituality or self-determinism, that man must, therefore, be conditioned to his environment — whatever that environment is decided to be. B F Skinner gave this "conditioning" a name — operant conditioning — a practice used pervasively in classrooms across America, especially under outcome-based education. Humanism is a pagan, occult, satanic religion. This is why socialism and communism are oppressive governments; why they lead people into darkness, into hopelessness, into bondage. Humanism is what is undergirding the paradigm shift in America, not only in education but in all facets of the restructuring of the American society.

America was established on Judeo-Christian principles. This was not by accident, this was by design. Our Founding Fathers knew that there was only one religion under which any nation had ever prospered; under which man would ever know freedom. That religion was Christianity. The American government was established on the principles of Biblical law — a government of laws, not a democracy (a government of men, humanism) which by its very nature is arbitrary and capricious.

The contrast between Christianity and humanism is the difference between individuality and collectivism, freedom and bondage, prosperity and adversity, light and darkness.

What can people do? First people must educate themselves. When participating in public meetings, insist the meeting be conducted under Roberts Rules of Order — no consensus circles. It is the elected officials and those accountable to the elected officials who should be held accountable for decisions made. Pressure legislators to dispense with appointed commissions, councils, and agencies that are not accountable to the people and that are, via legislation, not accountable to the Legislature. Pressure legislators to return to the limited form of government established by our Constitution and Bill of Rights. Such a government limits itself to addressing those structures over which it is given specific authority. Push for judicial reform that removes from the judiciary the right to legislate via interpretations of law that hold no basis in the Constitution. Thomas Jefferson stated, in 1823,

On every question of construction, carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning may be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it conform to the probable one in which it was passed.

To be able to do that, however, one must have a strong foundation in Western culture and history — something very few Americans have today.

If we are to save our nation, we must become involved in the governance of our nation — whether local, state, or national. We can no longer sit back and abrogate our duties as American citizens. We must become informed and involved. The price of freedom is vigilance. Vigilance has been want for too long.

© January 1997; Lynn M Stuter




The Delphi Technique: What Is It?

How To Disrupt The Delphi Technique, tips on how to protect yourself from those who would use the "Delphi Technique."

How To Deal With Difficult Parents describes how some administrators are trained to deal with questioning, opposing and dissenting individuals.

Dealing With Difficult People, the information referenced in "How To Deal With Difficult Parents" from the Association of California School Administrators, EDCAL - Volume 25, - April 22, 1996

Unmasking The Crime Against Parents: In many ways, the experiences described in this article about Plano, Texas parallel those encountered by parents and community members in Reading, Massachusetts. Reading school administration "mantra" says one thing but their actions reveal a different intent.

A Reference Guide For Recognizing Political / Social Control Tactics - Useful for recognizing the tactics of some school officials and school administrators.

Are You Being Delphied? - The goal of the Delphi technique is to lead a targeted group of people to a predetermined outcome, while giving the illusion of taking public input and under the pretext of being accountable to the public.

Seventeen Techniques for Truth Suppression by DCDave

Strong, credible allegations of high-level criminal activity can bring down a government. When the government lacks an effective, fact-based defense, other techniques must be employed. The success of these techniques depends heavily upon a cooperative, compliant press and a mere token opposition party.

1. Dummy up. If it's not reported, if it's not news, it didn't happen.

2. Wax indignant. This is also known as the “How dare you?” gambit.

3. Characterize the charges as “rumors” or, better yet, “wild rumors.” If, in spite of the news blackout, the public is still able to learn about the suspicious facts, it can only be through “rumors.” (If they tend to believe the “rumors” it must be because they are simply “paranoid” or “hysterical.”)

4. Knock down straw men. Deal only with the weakest aspects of the weakest charges. Even better, create your own straw men. Make up wild rumors (or plant false stories) and give them lead play when you appear to debunk all the charges, real and fanciful alike.

5. Call the skeptics names like “conspiracy theorist,” “nutcase,” “ranter,” “kook,” “crackpot,” and, of course, “rumor monger.” Be sure, too, to use heavily loaded verbs and adjectives when characterizing their charges and defending the “more reasonable” government and its defenders. You must then carefully avoid fair and open debate with any of the people you have thus maligned. For insurance, set up your own “skeptics” to shoot down.

6. Impugn motives. Attempt to marginalize the critics by suggesting strongly that they are not really interested in the truth but are simply pursuing a partisan political agenda or are out to make money (compared to over-compensated adherents to the government line who, presumably, are not).

7. Invoke authority. Here the controlled press and the sham opposition can be very useful.

8. Dismiss the charges as “old news.”

9. Come half-clean. This is also known as “confession and avoidance” or “taking the limited hangout route.” This way, you create the impression of candor and honesty while you admit only to relatively harmless, less-than-criminal “mistakes.” This stratagem often requires the embrace of a fall-back position quite different from the one originally taken. With effective damage control, the fall-back position need only be peddled by stooge skeptics to carefully limited markets.

10. Characterize the crimes as impossibly complex and the truth as ultimately unknowable.

11. Reason backward, using the deductive method with a vengeance. With thoroughly rigorous deduction, troublesome evidence is irrelevant. E.g. We have a completely free press. If evidence exists that the Vince Foster “suicide” note was forged, they would have reported it. They haven't reported it so there is no such evidence. Another variation on this theme involves the likelihood of a conspiracy leaker and a press who would report the leak.

12. Require the skeptics to solve the crime completely. E.g. If Foster was murdered, who did it and why?

13. Change the subject. This technique includes creating and/or publicizing distractions.

14. Lightly report incriminating facts, and then make nothing of them. This is sometimes referred to as “bump and run” reporting.

15. Baldly and brazenly lie. A favorite way of doing this is to attribute the “facts” furnished the public to a plausible-sounding, but anonymous, source.

16. Expanding further on numbers 4 and 5 (e and f), have your own stooges “expose” scandals and champion popular causes. Their job is to pre-empt real opponents and to play 99-yard football. A variation is to pay rich people for the job who will pretend to spend their own money.

17. Flood the Internet with agents. This is the answer to the question, “What could possibly motivate a person to spend hour upon hour on Internet news groups defending the government and/or the press and harassing genuine critics?” Don't the authorities have defenders enough in all the newspapers, magazines, radio, and television? One would think refusing to print critical letters and screening out serious callers or dumping them from radio talk shows would be control enough, but, obviously, it is not.

Tactics of the Trained Facilitator

The following e-mails were received after the authors read the missives sent to and accessible from The Web of Deceit – K12®. The authors, Mary Thompson and Leslie, have done an excellent job of describing the tactics of the trained facilitator.

Tactics of the Trained Facilitator

I read every word of the exchange of correspondence you posted re: K-12. Your antagonist is so typical of a couple kinds of people. I have found that ...

1. there is the trained change agent/facilitator whose only means of pseudo debate is their definition of “dialogue”. It requires other listening “ears” since the psychology of group dynamics is foundational. Their first consideration is not to persuade you personally. The objective is to discredit you so you don't influence others. If their “trained” modulated original tone of “voice” doesn't disarm the one they are challenging, they go to the next step of “authoritative” tone designed to impress with “credentials”. When that doesn't work, they challenge the opponent's legitimacy to express facts. When that doesn't work, the knuckles get white, the tone of “voice” becomes shrill, and the motives and accusations of political agenda are used. When that doesn't work, they take their self righteous leave of the scene implying that the challenged party is not worthy of their time and warped wisdom.

2. I've encountered another similar, but differently motivated type. They are sincerely wrong but committed to the erroneous idea. They usually have some vested interest in whatever they are defending, being part of an organization behind the program or issue or whatever. They see themselves as spokesmen for not only the issue, but also the organization sponsoring it. Any criticism of the issue is construed as an attack on the organization and its representatives. They are truly blinded by the association of which they are a part. They, too, start out mildly trying to bring you around with true sincerity. They actually are interested in changing your mind, individually. As that doesn't work, however, they begin to question your authority to question the institution or idea. The debate becomes more strident as with the trained change agent. Ultimately, both do the same “exit” scenario of being the one to cut off the exchange, dismissing the challenger as unredeemable.

Long ago when I challenged my church synod about their bragging about being the first of that denomination to adopt PPBS, I was finally told, “Obviously, you don't know what you are talking about. We suggest this correspondence cease”. To this day, I suspect, the official correspondent had no clue what he was defending, but someone up the chain did.

The passing reference to the Modern Red Schoolhouse leaped out at me. I am currently reading a book, Commies, A Journey Through the Old Left, the New Left and the Leftover Left, by Ronald Radosh, co-author of the Rosenberg File. In the book, he has a chapter titled, “The Little Red Schoolhouse” in which he describes his days as a child of New York Communist Party parents (the commie youth camps, the schools, etc.). He attended a private school in NY, Elizabeth Irwin School,

“distinctive in that it was a refuge for teachers who would be thrown out of the public school system because they would not sign the Feinberg Law oath, stating that they were not members of CPUSA, refusing to testify at HCOUA, etc...”

He says,

“There was a reason why we called the institution we attended 'the Little Red Schoolhouse for little Reds.”

One wonders about the name of the Modern Red Schoolhouse for the 21st Century.

Mary Thompson


Note: There is a book, put out by Teachers College Press, Columbia University, 1995, entitled Schooling for “Good Rebels”; Socialism, American Education, and the Search For Radical Curriculum by Kenneth Teitelbaum with a foreword by Herbert Kohl. This book describes the “Socialist Sunday Schools” of New York. In reading the book, it is hard to miss the parallel to systems education. Kenneth Teitelbaum, at the time this book was published, was an Associate Professor in the Division of Education at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamtom.

I was thinking about this last night. Because I had just heard of a positive response to an on-line debate, I thought about what was the difference.

In the case where the lady responded positive, after some lengthy back and forth, she actually switched gears from opinion to fact. She went out and did some background research as she had been encouraged to do. She ate humble pie! She was willing to admit that yes, she had been only spouting opinion, and an ill-informed one at that! She went on to sign the WSFH Statement and Resolution.

What a stark contrast to Lynn's debates with this so-called “Gladys.” Some of us have concluded that “Gladys” and some of these other “ladies” are not real people at all, but plants from the public policy institutes and think tanks, well-trained in the exact form of debate that Mary described yesterday, and perfectly willing to go so far as to engage in very nasty personal attacks and threats.

The days of gentle grassroots activism are over. We are now facing the big boys head-on and they aren't pleasant. In fact, they aren't pleased that a truly spontaneous, genuine grassroots movement erupted. They intended to control all sides of the debate from the Right to the Left, and suddenly a few websites show up, and a few articles by Lynn Stuter appear, that expose their agenda a bit too closely.


-And there's more at the Learn-usa website, if you can find it and see it properly in your browser..