Dumbing down of WT literature can be measured mathematically.

by hamsterbait 39 Replies latest jw friends

  • hamsterbait

    Every magazine on the news stand is very carefully aimed at a target market.

    It has long been known that how information is presented makes a big difference to who will read it. You will agree that the NY Times or Scientific American are more erudite than the National Enquirer or the Toronto Star.

    I am not talking about the subject, but how it is presented. The publication in question carefully plans vocabulary and sentence length for the readability by the target market. Research shows that comprehension decreases with sentence length and vocabulary. If a sentence contains a word the reader finds difficult the rest of the sentence might as well just disappear. To target the relevant market, publishers use what is called a "Fog Index".

    This can be easily calculated:

    1: Count the number of complete sentences in a 100 word quote. Call this number A.

    2: Count the number of long words having 3 or more syllables. Call this number B

    3: Add A to B and multiply by 0.4. You will arrive at a number between 5 and 18.

    The higher the number the greater the difficulty of comprehension. An index of 5 is suitable for a ten-year old child. An index of 11 is suitable for a 16 year old. Anything above 18 is rocket science.

    By using this method, you can pitch your article to exactly the right level.

    I tried it on some WT publications.

    1: Knowledge book. 6.8

    2: Awake october 22 2005. 4.8, and 5.2. (from 2 random samples)

    3: Awake January 1 2006. 5.2 and 5.2 (from 2 random samples)

    4: Watchtower January15 2006 5.6.

    Hence I think it is fair to conclude that the WTS aims its literature at those between 10 and 11 years, or those with that mental age (how much does THAT explain about dub behavior?)

    Unfortunately I do not have the older books and mags anymore, as I would like to go through chronologically, tracing the deterioration of expectations of the WT over time.

    I wish I could have done it on Mags and books from the 50s 60s and maybe some of the older publications. At least now we can prove with the numbers EXACTLY who the WBTS has set its sights on


  • cheezy


    F***ing brill!

  • Narkissos

    Great point.

  • jeanniebeanz

    Very interesting, Hammie. Thanks for that!! I always knew that the books and mags were pretty lame, but I had no idea how to quantify that sentiment until now.


  • wiegel

    HB - this is great! I guess that's one way to hang onto the "weakest" of the bunch - mentally speaking. If you feel talked-down-to, you're not likely to stick around forever. So it becomes survival of the weakest. Easy to lead, easy to control...............

  • caligirl

    Thanks for the analysis. Doesn't surprise me at all. What

  • caligirl

    Thanks for the analysis. Doesn't surprise me at all. What it

  • Mysterious

    Awesome! I'm actually going to go get some other books and do some calculations from those right now to see if we can get more of a timeline. I love this kind of statistics.

    On the side point they always argue that the truth is supposed to be simple so it appeals to all people. Barf.

  • Mysterious

    Hmm not sure what the flaw in the system might be but I have Magic School Bus 30 page books aimed at 8 year olds scoring higher than a 10 year old on the index. Here are some things I found:

    Aid to Bible Understanding [Chronology section]: 4.8, 4.4
    1992 Awake: 4.8, 5.2
    Security (older book): 5.6
    Worship the only true god (fairly new release intended more for internal use): 5.6

    Then we had to test some other literature:

    a "for dummies" style book on programming 5.2
    Anne of Green Gables 6.0
    Magic School Bus 6.4
    Harry Potter: 6.8
    a first year liberal arts textbook 7.2

  • ozziepost


    Interesting though this is, i think we all know, without the math, that the publications are aimed at the lowest common denominator of human society, intellectually speaking. In other words, we know the result before we begin, don't we?

    Coincidentally, I was asked by an academic only last evening what was the level of academic value of the WTS' publications. I considered my answer but concluded that they wouldn't stand up against the Bible commentaries freely available in bookshops.

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