Debbie Coffey Copyright 2013 All Rights Reserved.
While some advocacy groups quickly lauded certain aspects of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report regarding the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wild Horse & Burro Program, Anne Novak of Protect Mustangs noticed something and brought it to my attention:
On page 275 of this report, under the Chapter 8 topic of Social Considerations, the NAS Board advised the Bureau of Land Management:
“One possible method to gather the latest information from experts and to focus it on a particular problem is to use a Delphi process.”
What’s troubling about this? The Delphi process was developed in the 1950s by the Rand Corporation, and has since been used for the purpose of maneuvering segments of the public into accepting predetermined government policies.
In other words, the Delphi process gives the illusion of public input and participation, but the input isn’t really considered and participation doesn’t matter. It’s basically just a way for the government to pretend there is public participation and accountability.
BLM photo of National Wild Horse & Burro Advisory Board meeting
Here’s how the Delphi process works: There is a predetermined outcome. (Most likely, not the one you’d hoped for.) And who picks the supposedly unbiased “experts” who will be submitting “the latest information?” Who chooses what to “focus” on? (Not you.)
There may be a series of meetings where people are broken into smaller groups and sit at different tables around the room. The purpose of this is that if knowledgeable people arrive together, they’ll have to sit with strangers and hopefully be more subdued.
Each table will have a facilitator, who will know which way to help “steer” the group. The people will be instructed to answer some questions among themselves, then arrive at a table “consensus.”
The Delphi process often uses surveys to bring about this “consensus,” but the questions on the survey are loaded and skewed to manipulate the desired outcome. The survey will use grading like “agree all of the time, agree most of the time, agree some of the time, and don’t agree. Or, the survey will ask respondents to use ratings like “most important, moderately important and least important.”
After the first survey, people are told most people agreed or somewhat agreed with the predetermined outcome. Then, people are given another survey and are asked if they can be flexible and try to rethink the “few remaining” areas of disagreement. Then, the respondents are told that the majority achieved a “consensus” (which is the direction that the group leading this meeting wanted: the predetermined outcome).
Someone is chosen to speak for the table, most likely a person who has been secretly pre-briefed about the desired Delphi outcome. The table “spokesperson” is the only one allowed to address the podium and there will be little, if any, opportunity to address the podium or the crowd directly. More