These thoughts were provoked (I nearly said 'inspired') by the thread on 'When a loved one leaves Jehovah'. In particular, by the picture of the spiffy-looking distressed JW father with the immaculate hair and nice suit who has left his distressed wife to fester at home while he goes out to preach to others. It looks as though his 'preachee' is a fairly young man, and in my (cynical) imagination the subject of the preaching has the title 'How you and your family can live happily forever' or some such crap.
It brought to my mind the question 'How on earth could this man pretend to be believable given his own circumstances?' and led on to this:
When I was in the business of analysing and assessing information/intelligence, we used a fairly basic model to try and judge its reliability. It's nothing more than we all do in everyday life unconsciously, but it helps to formalise it and think it through.
The basis of it is that you assess the source separately from the information itself and by adding the two 'scores' can arrive at an indication of the weight and credence to be given to the information. For example, a source can range from 'completely trustworthy, tried and tested' through 'usually reliable' to 'unknown, untested'. Information can range from 'easily verifiable independently' through 'consistent with other information' to 'unverifiable and inconsistent'.
I had a few thoughts applying this principle to WTBTS publications (and I'm sure it could equally apply elsewhere too). For example:
- NWT translation: translators unknown, therefore untested. Information only partially verifiable. Overall - poor score.
- 1914 date: source known but unreliable. Information proven wrong. Overall - zero score
- 'The end is near': source known but unreliable. Previous information proven wrong. Unverifiable. Overall - zero score.
There may, of course, be some bits of information that would score higher. With my limited knowledge I can't think of any right now.