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Trouble is, Listen's organizers have already decided the outcome

  • Published in Letters
To the editor,
After I picked myself up off the floor, I re-read Bruce Mallory's "N.H Listens' Role is Complimentary ...." letter to the editor (March 29 edition of The Laconia Daily Sun) once more to make sure I didn't miss something.
Dr. Mallory wrote, "We weren't sure exactly what that was, so we Googled it." Rest assured that prior to tapping out the letters on his keyboard, he had both a profound and a deep understanding of the word "that" in the quote above. "That" refers to the Delphi Technique. Dr. Mallory had quite a few half truths in his letter, and you know the old saying don't you? A half truth is a whole lie.
How can I make such a bold statement? It's easy. I've had several conversations with Dr. Mallory, both in person, on the phone and via e-mail. In a recent email conversation, Dr. Mallory clearly talked about the Delphi Technique. You can read his exact words here: http://go.askthebuilder.com/mallorydelphi.
One face-to-face conversation about the Delphi Technique happened in the presence of two of his minions and two of my friends. We were all sitting in the warm sun gathered around an outdoor table at the Burrito Me restaurant in downtown Laconia. In case Dr. Mallory can't remember that either, the date was August 23, 2012. I still have Dr. Mallory's e-mail invitation to that meeting if you'd like to see it. Yes, he invited me to discuss NH Listens and how it's perceived in the community. While sipping iced tea, I clearly told Dr. Mallory that NH Listens employs the Delphi Technique. He denied it.
Speaking of facts, here are a few more. The Delphi Technique is a highly unethical method of running a meeting. The organizers of the meeting position the gathering to make the attendees believe they'll be providing valuable input that will guide an initiative. Highly trained facilitators run the meetings using powerful psychological triggers. Dr. Mallory clearly said in his letter that his NH Listens meetings are facilitated.
The meetings that employ the Delphi Technique all have the same or similar structure. The attendees are first addressed as an entire group with a welcome introduction. Then the attendees are broken up into circles or smaller discussion cells. These cells meet privately for at least 90 minutes. Each cell has it's own facilitator. The meeting concludes with all attendees gathering together once more where a brief summary of points from each cell is presented to the entire group. These summary points are then combined into a consensus document that the organizers publish.
The trouble is the organizers have already decided on the outcome of the meeting's consensus document. They steer the discussion by providing discussion points that are highly biased, and the facilitators cleverly extract what they want from the attendees as they chat in the small discussion cells.
What's more, there are almost always plants in each discussion circle that are loyal to the initiative's cause and/or are paid to be part of the discussion. Their programmed input in the small discussion cells is almost always favored by the facilitator and the other plants. This input always makes it into each cell's summary points.
As they say, the proof's in the pudding. Just a little over two weeks ago I attended one of the "facilitated small group discussions" as Dr. Mallory calls them in his letter to you. It was held at the Plymouth Senior Center. The topic was the Granite State Future.
I attended the listening session as a member of the media to cast a harsh spotlight on this unethical meeting format. One of Dr. Mallory's UNH's peers, Molly Donovan — the head facilitator that night — tried to stop me from video taping the event, but I politely informed her that I have crystal clear First Amendment rights in that setting to tape, record, quote and photograph the attendees and event. You can watch the video here: http://go.askthebuilder.com/delphi
After watching the video evidence you'll clearly see that NH Listens uses the Delphi Technique. You'll see the warm and fuzzy introduction. You'll see the small discussion cells. You'll see me holding the handout that contains the biased discussion points. You'll see the limited summary points given at the end. The only thing you won't see in the video are unicorns prancing under rainbows. You might find those on the Granite State Futures website.
My guess is after watching the video you'll probably agree that Dr. Mallory is suffering from one of two conditions: He possibly has temporary fatigue amnesia from writing too many grants, or he's mimicking Jon Lovitz's famous character on Saturday Night Live — Tommy Flanagan, the pathological liar.
Whichever it is, I strongly suggest you don't believe another word from his mouth or fingertips until such time as he makes a formal apology and calls the Durham NH Fire Department to have them on stand by in case his tweed pants catch on fire.
Tim Carter
Co-Leader Lakes Region Tea Party