The Delphi Method is a forecasting technique developed in the 1950s by the Rand Corporation to forecast the impact of technology on warfare. In theory, the technique would appear to be sound: solicit input from a variety of stakeholders and experts sharing ideas in candid anonymity to discern the likely future direction of a given subject based on the widest possible scope of data. Were the process truly representative of a broad range of public opinion, it might prove to be a valuable, democratic, and legitimate means of shaping social policy. Indeed, I imagine the Delphi Technique has many legitimate uses. Recent social policy, alas, has not been one of them.
In today’s political climate much current social policy planning is the product of a group of obscure, faceless activists and politically-connected NGOs—primarily of the Left—the opinions of which do not come close to representing the diverse, and often contradictory, spectrum of thought encountered in the management of a large representative democracy. The process has been corrupted.
At the end of the survey, the public is invited to participate in the process in the form of one or more public meetings designed to appear as solicitations for public input but being, in reality, mere charades to lend an aura of legitimacy to what are, by now, solid plans. If these meetings were not held, the public would immediately recognize these agendas for what they are—tyranny. Apparently, if people believe that the program is theirs, they will support it. But how do you get them to believe the program is their own?
An interesting video on YouTube demonstrates this technique in action; in this case, the example is from a public meeting held a few years ago regarding a utopian “green” land usage proposal in the San Francisco area that discouraged car and even single-family home ownership. (If you’ve ever lived in California, you know that living without a car is madness. And why is it necessary for anyone to live shoulder-to-shoulder in a crowded city, deprived of the use of a car? That’s someone else’s dream, not mine.) According to one of the participants, “Other” or “None of the Above” were never offered as choices.
They never are.
The sole function of these meetings is to create the mirage of consensus and to isolate opponents by intimidating them and humbling them into silence, to marginalize the opposition. As a Christian, I can imagine this technique being used to promote the acceptance of all sorts of secular social policies I find morally objectionable: genetic engineering, pedophilia, selective abortion on the basis of sex, etc.
Lest anyone think I am wearing a tin-foil hat, it is well to remember that the Left is ant-like in its efforts to attain its goals and stops at nothing, including re-defining the language. If you’ve ever wondered how it manipulates public opinion, you owe it to yourself to be able to recognize some of their methods. You’d better; because they’d be happy to use them on you.
At least one article in Touchstone, for example, has highlighted the use of bogus “consensus-building” to prepare the way for the mainstreaming of deviant behavior: 1) start the ball rolling by holding one or more “townhall” meetings, 2) write books or studies on the subject to publicize it and drag it into the public square, 3) hold high-level seminars around the subject with subject matter experts to lend the cause prestige; 4) use these documents and meetings as evidence of pressing public demand and approval, and 5) introduce radical legislation to make it law.
It’s like product marketing: invent a problem, create a demand, manufacture a product to respond to the “need.”
Concerned Baltimore parent, Robert Small, appears to have stumbled onto one of these charades recently when he attended an open house meeting concerning the Left’s proposed national Common Core Curriculum. Mr. Small was arrested for daring to ask an unscripted question: “Do you think it’s wise to lower school standards?” Apparently, the only questions he was permitted to ask were the ones the moderators had pre-approved. He was not supposed to notice, for example, that they were proposing to lower his children’s educational standards or that the goal of the curriculum, apparently, would be to prepare local children for community college and not for the rigors of a four-year university—the ‘lowering’ to which Mr. Small referred. The directors of the play were there to stage a carefully-controlled exercise in achieving “public consensus,” and they would brook no improvisation.
I am no expert on the Common Core debate, but I can empathize with Mr. Small’s curiosity given that videos such as the following one, about the quality and methodology of the proposed Common Core requirements, are bubbling around the Internet. Ordinarily, these are just the tip of the iceberg:
(3 x 4 = 12 in this, and any other, universe. Somewhere along the line, I suspect my very life and safety have depended on some engineer having memorized that humble truth by rote.)
The Small video is yet more proof of the abuse of the Delphi Method and should make it crystal clear that 1) politically, Common Core has already been given the green light; if no one stiffens their back against it, it will become law; 2) the meeting was a act of Kabuki theatre; 3) the moderators obviously feared the exposure of any inconvenient truths; and 4) plenty must be wrong with the proposed Common Core standards if its proponents have to resort to trickery, dissimulation, physical harassment, and unconstitutional arrest in order to sell it. In short, tyranny.
If you are unfamiliar with the Common Core Curriculum debate, I would suggest investigating the matter a little more closely and, perhaps, following it up with action. And learn more about the features of the Delphi Method so you can recognize it if you ever find yourself in a public meeting that’s being “delphi’d.”
You might also say a prayer on behalf of Mr. Small; he was charged with second-degree assault of a police officer, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to 10 years in prison, and disturbing a school operation, which carries a fine of $2,500 and up to six months.
Charges have been dropped.
“The Baltimore County State’s Attorney’s Office has just received and reviewed the facts of this case. In the interest of justice, further prosecution will not accomplish anything more. Therefore, the charges have been dismissed.”