Saturday, November 24, 2001

Hi, boys and girls. It's time for today's word. Can you say -- CONSENSUS? I knew you could...

"Consensus" is a word everyone should keep in mind, and watchful eyes and ears out for. The word sounds warm and fuzzy, but don't let it fool you; it is a buzzword that is part of a technique called the Hegelian Dialectic. This technique was invented by G. W. F. Hegel and is used to lead a group of people to a conclusion -- and have most of the group's members FEEL it was a rational decision and that they took part in reaching it.

So how does one spot the dialectic method in use? Look for someone calling for a meeting to decide on an issue. See whether that person is trying to lead the group in any particular dimension. There may be a shill in the group to help steer discussion in the "correct" direction. Big warning signs also include breaking the group into sub-groups to work on subsets of the problem, and the leaders' asking for someone who disagrees with parts of the consensus to submit a list of their objections in writing, essentially taking them out of the discussion.

One rule in performing as a "change agent" can be exploited to halt these brainwashing sessions; if a member of the group challenges the leader about whether the dialectic method is being used, the leader is supposed to bring the meeting abruptly to an end, blaming that person for being a disruption. If properly handled, this will let you explain to others what was being done to them.

A friend who read my article had this to say:

You should mention that by going to the meeting as a group and spreading out through the large group and supporting each other in asking question and getting them answered. Don't indicate you came together or even talk to each other during breaks.

It is better to allow the meeting to continue since they will just come back again later. If you have a complaint or disagree with something or want an answer ask the whole group if they agree with you, then if you have a collaborator he should say "yes I would like to know" or "I too don't like that suggestion".

The principle of the Consensus Process is to make people feel like they are causing trouble if they object. Individuals that disagree will be ridiculed.

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