I heard an excellant radio program this weekend, an interview with Beverly Eakman. She's studied and has become an expert on 'change agents' and various techniques they use to facilitate change through techniques and use of various controls such as 'the delphi technique', provacateurs, tithesis vs antithisis (sp?), etc., which amounts to having a preconceived agenda and then forming a 'meeting to work on issues' (..... which could be similar to a forum discussion on a topic... only this meeting is more specific and controlled than a forum is). The purpose of the meeting may be stated to a specific or a general topic..... which leads those who are invited to participate to assume some valuable input and participation pertaining to an issue or a problem. So participants come expecting that something important will be asked of them and they will have freedom in input.... when the outcome has already a predetermined goal and the leaders, who are specialists trained as 'change agents' and who already know will manipulate the predetermined outcomes. They take control at the start and so involve the group.... maybe through a series of exercises etc. during which the attendees by their responses and body language.... including the grouping of friends with friends (as most people do like to sit with those they know and agree with) are studied to determine who in the group is a follower and sympathetic to the guidance of the leaders.... and who demonstrate a resistance. The leaders, after an exercise, of one or several is used to guide and scramble the thought processes away from preconceived ideas brought in by the attendees, they set up or manipulate a general direction of images or thought, and are then ready to break up the group into smaller 'focus' groups who are given specific assignments to focus and discuss a singular point and bring back to the larger group a summary report of their determination or collective 'consensus'. It will later be presented before the whole group for final discussion and then included in a summary report to be presented before politicians, or company management, or an organization.... such as a church body or a PAC, as a favorable agreement of mutual consensus of the study group towards the specific preset goal in a specific direction. The attendees are manipulated into thinking that they are participating in a free exchange within their groups and when presenting their summary reports before the whole body. But peppered throughout their midst are facilitators or provacatuers who are masters of controlling group and individual psychology and manipulation... who help to create a concensus of agreement which meet predetermine goals or outcomes (reminds me of 'outcome based education'). When focus groups reassemble to bring their individual reports before the whole body.... the larger group is encouraged (by manipulation from within) to favorable or unfavorably react to the individual reports from the focus groups. By controlling the group discussion and either restricting the reports of some to their topic.... or making exceptions for other group reports..... and the use of ridicule or introducing issues which a focus group was not assigned and therefore unable to give a conclusive consensus.... these control agents manipulate the group thought and reinforce or reward those who agree with the predetermined agenda, and create negative incentives or 'punish' those who present opposition to the predetermined outcomes. The end result is that the whole group is divided into a majority who give the appearance of total agreement and a subgroup of a few and unsupported opposition who are limited in expression, subdued by restriction, and appear divided in subsets of study points and goals.... and then the whole group is manipulated into agreeing with the outcome or 'consensus' which is favorable to the original predetermined goals by those who employed these 'change agents'. Thus many who might have been individually disturbed by the outcome and might have represented a majority of disagreement against the conclusions, were manipulated into the semblance of agreement........ and the group then becomes an example of mass consent which supports a change of policy, law, or direction. ------ that is self report of what I gained from the program. But for this and more infomation may be found either by ordering the materials from the first link or by going to the other links for this and related information. www.beverlye.com http://www.eagleforum.org/educate/1998/nov98/focus.html http://www.beverlye.com/links.html http://www.thenewamerican.com/index.php/tech-mainmenu-30/computers/1160 This explains some experiences I've had in groups. While it may be used for 'good' or for 'bad'.... the outcome is that free people have the experience of having been manipulated, controlled and used against their principles and will. The best defense is to have an understanding of what is going on before being caught in such a group setting and to have some ideas to counter balance the control factors and preparation to hold self controled calm and focus even in the midst of personally aimed and disparaging verbal attacks.