The Delphi TechniqueWhat 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.  In Educating for the New World Order by B. Eakman, the reader finds reference upon reference for the need to preserve the illusion that there is "…lay, or community, participation (in the decision-making process), while lay citizens were, in fact, being squeezed out."  The Delphi Technique is the method being used to squeeze citizens out of the process, effecting a left-wing take over 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 Right 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.

With thanks to Sandy Vanderberg, Peg Luksik and others.

©March 1996; Lynn M Stuter