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Old 07-08-2008, 07:52 PM   #1 (permalink)
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How to stand your ground in public meetings

by G. Edward Griffin
In the 1960s, I came across a small training manual distributed by the Communist Party that showed how a small group of people as few as four could dominate a much larger group and sway the outcome of any action taken by that group. It was called the Diamond Technique. The principle is based on the fact that people in groups tend to be effected by mass psychology. They derive comfort and security from being aligned with the majority, especially if controversy or conflict is involved. Even if they do not like what the majority is doing, if they believe they are in the minority, they tend to remain silent and resigned to the fact that the majority should rule. This being the case, the Diamond Techniques is designed to convince the group that as few as four people represent the majority. Here is the strategy:
1. Plan ahead of time what action you want the group to take: nominate or oppose a candidate, support or oppose an issue, heckle a speaker, or whatever. Everyone on
your team must know exactly what they are going to do, including contingency plans.
2. Team members should arrive at the meeting separately and never congregate together.
3. Team players should arrive early enough to take seats around the outside of the assembly area, roughly in the shape of a diamond. They must not sit together.
4. The object of the tactic is place your people around the perimeter of the audience so that, when they begin to take action, those in the center will have to do a lot of head turning to see them to the right, then the left, then the rear of the room, then the front, etc. The more they turn their heads, the greater the illusion of being surrounded by people in agreement with each other, and the more they will be convinced that these people represent the majority opinion. I have seen this tactic used by collectivists at numerous public meetings over the years, and I have participated in it myself on several occasions when confronting collectivists in their own tightly held organizations. It works.
The only way to thwart the Diamond Tactic is to always be prepared to match it with your own team. Never take a meeting for granted, especially if something important is scheduled to transpire, such as nomination of officers. Even a simple gathering to hear an important speaker can turn into a nightmare if opponents send in hecklers. So, always plan for the worst and be prepared to spring into action with comments from the floor such as: "I want to make it clear that these people do not speak for me. I am in total opposition to what they stand for. In fact, I would like to ask them to identify themselves. Who are you? Why did you come to this meeting? What is your agenda?" If comments such as this are heard from three or four people around the outside of the room, the meeting will be very exciting, but the tactic will be defused.
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 focus.
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 charter.
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 control.
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.

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Old 07-09-2008, 09:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Boy, that's a lot of reading.

But I waded thru it. This has been around awhile and it never hurts to refresh folks minds on things like this Delphi Technique of manipulation. The feds today have also manipulated the process of public input by removing public input sessions and making input come in the form of written comments only. Can't say as I blame them too much for that one.

I remember well the old days of endlessly boring and mostly unproductive verbal confrontations and rabbit-chasing meetings over Forest Plans and such. Usually it was the loudest who ruled -- and it usually wasn't an OHV type.

So today with public briefings as opposed to public input sessions, the meetings are much shorter and more to the point. Input is then submitted in writting. This is still a form of input manipulation because we don't get to hear what others have to say like we would in an open forum.

So we have to get together more beforehand or afterwards in order to strategize our input. We also should rely more on our bigger organizations that understand this process and deal with it regularly.

And we have to WRITE our comments in the form of letters.

One last point on facilitators. Not all facilitation is bad. I "are one" and I use facilitation a lot in our OHV world. It's a great way to speed up a meeting and get things done. I even teach it in my online correspondence course (RLTC) as well as the VLLS workshops we do with the Rubicon Trail Foundation for future leaders in our sports.

So like a buggy vs. a stock Jeep and who does the most damage to a trail, it's not the rig, it's the driver. Same goes for facilitators and their purpose. I try to be a good one (I think).
Del Albright

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Old 09-25-2008, 10:48 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Especially with a new round of meetings for the Tahoe DEIS on the horizon, this is important stuff to remember... particularly the Delphi Technique, as USFS certainly has been coached in its implementation.

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Old 09-25-2008, 11:11 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Old post from the ASA BBS,

BEWARE - the Delphi Technique
Trained Facilitators in public meetings .

The following is from the book
None Dare Call it Education,
by John A. Stormer
published by Liberty Bell Press
P.O. Box 32, Florissant, MO 63032

How Communities Are Manipulated

The individual who gets involved will soon encounter the way educators, civic leaders, businessmen, the clergy and parents are manipulated using the Delphi Technique. Delphi is a method for obtaining a predetermined "consensus" among a diverse group of individuals who may or may not be knowledgeable about a field of endeavor or problem.

The Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation, a liberal think tank, in the 1960s. It was developed originally as a way of using repeated surveying of a group of people to bring them to agreement or "consensus."

The original survey technique has been adapted for use in controlling and manipulating meetings or study groups called to get public input for issues in education, police community relations, state control of child care, etc.

The survey approach, when used, is supposedly anonymous. It is done with a group of people who may never come face to face. A knowledgeable person has little opportunity to get exposure of his or her views or ideas to the entire group. It is a technique used by the educational establishment (often financed by the U.S. Department of Education) for reaching a supposed consensus on curriculum goals, content or instructional methods. Widely used as a technique for developing programs "to meet the needs of an individual state or community" the results often turn out to be almost identical, even in wording, to those adopted in other communities or states.

How Delphi Works

Using a series of surveys to develop a "consensus" was the original technique. A 100 page report using a Delphi technique survey done in 1989 is typical. The study was titled, Teacher Perceptions of the Effects of Implementation of Outcome-Based education. It was financed and distributed by ERIC (Educational Resources Information Center) of the U.S. Department of Education. The report described the method used. It said: A random sample of 60 teachers was selected from 600 teachers in an Iowa school district. The 60 teachers were given a "survey" which included 39 "statements" concerning educational goals and implementation of OBE. Those surveyed were given a choice of six responses from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. Space was provided for writing any comments or reactions to each statement.

When the surveys were returned, those conducting them tallied the results and analyzed the comments. An effort was made to determine the degree to which at least 75% of those responding would accept each of the statements. On the first "try" 75% or more of those responding agreed to (or would go along with) twenty of the original thirty-nine statements or premises. Those twenty statements became a part of the "consensus."

Try, Try And Try Again

A month later the sixty participants were surveyed again. They were asked to rethink their positions and then were again given the nineteen statements on which there had been no "consensus." When these tabulations were done, there was a consensus on twelve of the nineteen. Thirty days later, a third survey was done on the last seven points. By the time the third round was completed and the written comments were tabulated, it was found that a consensus was achieved and at least 75% of the participants were "in agreement" on the pre-determined package of statements. When the Delphi "consensus" is achieved, a lengthy and comprehensive report can be prepared and released using the "consensus" to support the goals and techniques of OBE or a tax increase or some other new project. When experienced teachers, or citizens, or business leaders, etc. have come to a "consensus" anyone disagreeing, must obviously be uninformed or out of step and may be an odd ball. The technique avoids the possibility of informed people with conflicting views influencing others.

Ultimately, depending on how big the project is, the "consensus" may be packaged beautifully (expensively) for dissemination to parents, teachers, legislators, and media.

Technique Used To Control Meetings

Delphi has been adapted for use in meetings where participants are present. Panels, groups and community meetings are manipulated to develop a community "consensus" which is then sold to the public. Here's how it works:

A group of interested citizens, community leaders, pastors, labor and business leaders, etc. are invited with the announced goal of "getting input" to develop a community "consensus on the problem of XYZ." The session starts with a general assembly addressed by an "expert" from Washington, a college, etc. He or she sets forth the "problem," the "opportunity" and general goals all can agree upon. There may be 50, 75, 100 or 250 in attendance in the general session.

When the general session ends, attendees may be instructed to check the package of materials they received when they registered to find a numbered or colored card -- red, blue, green, orange, etc. This determines the breakout session they will attend with 10 to 40 others. There will be a "facilitator' running each breakout session. There may be a panel of lesser experts to help in the discussion. When the time comes for input (comments and suggestions from the group), a call may be issued for a volunteer to serve as the "recorder" or "secretary." Normally one has already been chosen to "volunteer." This person may work at a chalkboard. As suggestions and proposals are made, the "recorder" will say, "I think we can simplify that to say" Or "I think what you are saying is ...." Or "Can we say it this way..." An unwelcome comment or question can be disregarded by the recorder who says "That's outside the scope of what we are dealing with today."

They will usually get five to eight such suggestions, at which time there is a break before going back to the general session. The "recorders" from each group get together and construct a joint "consensus" of the ideas and agreements from their sessions. A list of "agreed upon" goals, etc. is presented to the entire group. There will not usually be opportunities given for additional comments or disagreements in the general session when the "consensus" is presented.

Through the entire process, of course, care is taken to isolate the informed, opinionated individual who could sway the entire group if given an opportunity to speak. If there are half a dozen such people in attendance, the odds are they will be in different breakout sessions so they cannot support one another. In the final report on "consensus," a conservative or traditional answer may be thrown in. However, it will be presented in a way which indicates it was probably a joke. Everyone will laugh at how impossible that approach would be. This will serve to further intimidate other right thinking people. Many in attendance may be uneasy with the "consensus" but they don't want to appear stupid or out of step so they go along with the group's "consensus."

Selling the "Consensus"

In due time the community or state is flooded with a fancy, pretty "tool kit" selling the tax increase or promoting OBE, School-to-Work or a new approach to meeting the health "needs" of the community. The "consensus" may be joined or supported by the American Association of University Women, the state or local affiliate of the National Education Association, the local ministerial association, or the state or local Catholic Conference, the Chamber of Commerce, the Labor Council, etc.

The steamroller gets media support. When concerned citizens form a group for "Excellence in Education" or "Taxpayers for Fiscal Responsibility," they will be ignored or pictured as enemies of public education or "progress." Goal of the entire process is the changing of beliefs and attitudes. That isn't difficult today. After 50 years of progressive education and the liberalization of most mainline churches and religious denominations, many people aren't sure about what they believe. Even if they have a "gut" reaction that something is wrong, they have no solid foundational beliefs on which to base opposition or from which to offer creative constitutional solutions if there is a real problem.

What Can Be Done When Faced With Delphi?

Recognizing the technique and how to combat it is important. It may be possible to disrupt the process or enable a knowledgeable individual to locate others in the meeting who are uneasy but do not realize how they are being manipulated. Here are six simple steps:

Know what you believe. Go to such meetings prepared.
If possible ask in the first general session, "Will we have an opportunity here to discuss or question any consensus brought in from the breakout sessions?"
If a group of concerned friends attend, don't all sit together. Then, if when one person speaks, those in other parts of the room can rise in support.
When speaking or disputing, face and speak to the audience and not the "facilitator" or panel. Have friends who will speak up and agree or say, "We want to hear more from...:'
If necessary, afterwards issue a "Dissenting (not a minority) Report." In the big meeting, if the announced consensus is out of line, try to get the floor to ask anyone who disagrees and wishes to participate in a dissenting report to contact you. Get names, addresses and phone numbers.
Enlist supporters in Service Clubs, Veterans Groups, Senior Citizens Groups, labor unions, etc. to question the announced consensus and distribute any dissenting report.
This is not a new issue, perhaps we should consider a multi angle approach in dealing with this...TJ
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