How to Recognize and Respond to the Delphi Technique in Discussion Groups

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This is a great tool to arm yourself with when participating in group discussions and community summits!

The following information is from a handout prepared by the AntiCorruption Society.

Key tip-off word: CONSENSUS

The Delphi Technique was established by the private RAND corporation think-tank as a way to create the impression of group (public) input. It is commonly used to create a false “consensus”.

Group manipulation is more often the rule than the exception.

The goal of the gathering will be presented to you as a problem to be solved or a policy to be established. You may or may not share the stated goal or their perception of the problem; however CRITICISM OF THE AGENDA will be quickly silenced.

Check list of the Delphi Technique:

  • Attendees are told their input is important and might even be referred to as “stakeholders”.
  • Polls, surveys or questionnaires are generally presented. The questions are designed to support a pre-determined outcome. They rarely have a “none of the above” choice.
  • The group is generally divided into smaller groups and assigned a small aspect of the bigger issue. Participants in each group are not privy to the comments/concerns of the other groups.
  • Each ‘break out group’ will have a facilitator that will ‘guide’ their discussion.
  • Eventually the smaller groups will come together and share their ‘findings’.
  • If you disagree with the ‘premise’ of the policy or choices being offered, you are likely to be marginalized or even insulted. This permits the planners to control any dissent to the predetermined outcome.

Delphi Manipulation

By controlling the following factors, a structured group can be manipulated into seemingly supporting the organizers’ predetermined conclusions:

  • facilitator – trained in Delphi technique
  • invitees – some with little or no expertise
  • questionnaires – designed to support predetermined conclusions
  • discussion – controlled by facilitators
  • final scores – tallied in private
  • final report – neither reviewed nor approved by attendees If during the event you realize that the policy proposals are not good for your family, your organization, or your community, your objections will most likely be silenced.

The organizers do not want the group to nix the plan, they want to present the plan (or report) as having the overall support of the group. If you conclude that your input wasn’t really considered or if you were bullied for speaking out . . . you have been DELPHIED!

The planners of the meeting/gathering have been well trained in this technique. They have been brainwashed into believing that this is a legitimate process for public participation.


Important questions to ask in front of the whole group:

  • Who do you work for, who pays your salary?
  • Who will pay for the implementation of this policy or how will this report be used?
  • Will the voters weigh in on this agenda?
  • What about the majority of our community that is not here, what do they want?

[The above information is from a handout prepared by the AntiCorruption Society]

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