Beware the Delphi Technique! This time in Billings, Montana

Buried near the end of this news account from Billings, MT about churches preparing welcoming kits for refugees is a bit of information you need to know more about—no matter what political issue concerns you!

First wade through a discussion about World Relief Spokane’s Mark Kadel as he brags about how he is proactive with the media to get out a “welcoming” message about refugees to head off the unwelcoming locals.

He says his work in Spokane with the media has helped keep a lid on the controversy that now embroils nearby Missoula, MT.  (See also this morning’s post on Rutland, VT where it looks like the media lid is off!).

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church
St. Andrew Presbyterian Church will host a “constructive conversation” about Syrian refugee resettlement on May 21st.

This is what I want to get to…..

Near the end of the longish piece we learn that a Billings Presbyterian Church is going to hold a community meeting about Syrian refugees on May 21.

St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in Billings invites area residents to engage in constructive conversations about Syrian refugees on Saturday, May 21, from 1 to 4 p.m. in the church, 180 24th St. W.

With a target of 10,000 Syrian refugees to be resettled in the United States by Sept. 30, Montanans are discussing whether Syrian refugees would be welcome in this state or if security issues are more important than the welfare of Syrians.

montana

Participants will join in small groups, with some members in favor of settling Syrian refugees in Montana and others who are concerned about the safety and security of citizens if Syrian refugees are permitted. A facilitator will encourage each person to tell his or her story and background, after which participants will explore any areas of common agreement. [Keep in mind that this ‘story and background’ mumbo jumbo is just one more strategy used to play on your emotions and stop logical debate.—ed]

The goal, according to a press release from the church, “is to learn to listen to others and to share our opinions in a civil manner, trying to understand each other without a need to come to any conclusions.”

For more information or to register for the free event, call the church weekday mornings at 656-9256 or write to office@standrewbillings.org.

Please state whether you are for or against the acceptance of Syrian refugees. This project is supported by a peace-making grant provided to St. Andrew Presbyterian Church by the Yellowstone Presbytery.

[LOL! they need to know in advance if you are for or against Syrians coming to Montana. Why?—ed]

Why is this so interesting to me (and should be to you)?

Because this is an example of the Delphi Technique, a system first developed over 50 years ago that is used now to direct the outcome of a public meeting to a pre-determined conclusion.  This (click here) is a good description of it.

The process used to “facilitate” the meeting is called the Delphi Technique. This Delphi Technique was developed by the RAND Corporation for the U.S. Department of Defense back in the 1950s. It was originally intended for use as a psychological weapon during the cold war.

However, it was soon recognized that the steps of Delphi could be very valuable in manipulating ANY meeting toward a predetermined end.

There are many variations, but here is a simple description of what I predict will happen (and what you can consider doing) at the St. Andrew Presbyterian Church:

Instead of the entire audience hearing the various critics of the idea of bringing refugees to Montana, the critics will be subsumed into small groups where the majority likely will be supporters of the proposition (refugees welcome) and have planned ahead for how to argue within your small group.

You, the critic in one group, will not hear what critics in other groups are saying.  The facilitator in each group will have been carefully chosen in advance (he or she will favor resettlement of refugees in Montana). Of course a smart facilitator will be slick, and you, the critic, will feel like your concerns have been heard.

But, since you are in the minority (unless many many critics show up!) when the group comes back together in the body of the whole, you will be made to feel that your opinion was the minority opinion and may not even be mentioned when wrap-up reports are given by each facilitator.

Media reports of the gathering will say that the majority of Billings citizens want to welcome refugees.

It seems to me that if you are planning to attend and are of the opinion that impoverished third world refugees from mostly the Middle East and Africa will not benefit your community you have several choices.

First, don’t participate at all and maybe protest outside.

Or, participate but stand up at the beginning and demand that you don’t break into small groups—then everyone hears everyone’s else’s concerns and ideas.  If they insist on the break-out groups (because their entire strategy is based on Delphi), you walk out (and complain to the press).

Or, if there are enough of you to make sure each small group has a large compliment of critics, and you are all prepared for their strategy, then it might be worth participating.

When you are participating be firm (and stay calm!) and do not allow anyone in your group (the pro-refugee people) to wander into a discussion about moral duty. Make them stick to the facts—cost of the program, employment, housing, security and so forth.

It is important to stay calm and reasoned because one important part of the Delphi Strategy is to show you as crazy people and the facilitators (the pro-refugee resettlement people) as the professional-sounding ‘good’ people.  Anyone attending who has not made up their mind will then naturally tend to relate to those people—the nice-sounding people—instead of you.

Make sure you get to the media when it’s over and don’t allow the sponsoring group to monopolize any reporters present.  If no reporters are present, then call your local media yourself—right away!

There might be other things you can think of to do, I’m not an expert, but I have seen it done to unsuspecting citizens often enough to recognize it!

And, please, please, all of you who plan to attend, click here and read the strategy on how you can defeat the Delphi Technique!

If you are not a regular reader of RRW and are wondering what the heck is going on in Montana, click here.

 

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