For those that think there are "subliminal images" in Watchtowers...

by AlmostAtheist 34 Replies latest jw friends

  • R6Laser
    Dave, I have to agree with you. When I get bored at the hall such as during a W.T. study, I look at the pics in the publications and can always find something that resembles a demon or other strange oddities. I think a person can do this with ANY picture and those that get excited thinking that the art dept. put them there ....are grasping at straws. As was mentioned, there are plenty of ligitimate fallacies without looking through artwork to find them.

    LOL. How about who put these so called subliminal images in carpet designs or some of the wood panels that have design to them, or curtains? Let's not stop there, I've seen subliminal images in clouds, water ripples, mirrors, sand, etc...

    Look at anything with any kind of pattern and most of the time you will be able to make out recognizable images out of it.

  • james_woods

    I think they would actually do this without compunction if they really thought it would work (or could think of this idea in the first place).

    My proof?

    It is pretty obvious that they willingly slanted articles into a pro-UN bias that the rank&file would not readily notice in order to prove up their UN relationship. That did not bother them, and it was subtle enough to be deniable when they got caught.

    My real take on "subliminal images"?

    It has probably been tried here and there throughout the history of visual media. It has a very minimal effect, if any. It is mostly to make the perpetrators feel good about how clever they are.


  • fullofdoubtnow

    I have seen odd images in wts publications that didn't seem like they should be there, but haven't really attached any significance to it. I agree with those who think it's probably the work of a bored member or members of the art dept trying to be clever. I fail to see anything sisnister about it.

  • AK - Jeff
    AK - Jeff

    I saw some of the 'suspect' images on a website somewhere once. I have to admit that it looked like deliberate work, not just random patterns.

    That said, I have to agree with Dave here. There seems to be no compelling reason to do it intentionally, and more reasons not to.

    The only 'subliminal' messages the WTS is interested in IMO, is the clever manipulation of words to effect mind control of it's adherants. That is an art they have mastered well. And prob the only one they need to continue what they do.


  • LovesDubs

    I think the subliminal message isnt in the ART its in the PRINT! The crap they write makes you think the sky is green Gods initials are not YHWH but WTBTS.

    Like Obewan Kenobi...."These are not the droids you are looking for...." (waves hand in guard's face)

    Guard "These are not the droids we are looking for...."

    Obewan: "Move along now..."

    Guard "Move along now...."

  • compound complex
    compound complex

    Greetings AA et al,

    Due to my lack of computer-related savvy and having antiquated equipment, I can only type out information. There are only two WTs, that I am aware of, that attempt to quash rumors of chicanery [deception by ARTful subterfuge] in the art department:

    "Would You Spread a Rumor?", WT September 1,1984, p.?

    "'Upon the Watchtower I am Standing'", WT March 1, 1987, p.15

    The WTs use such words as "rumors", "untruth", "false", "harmful", and "slanderous". As well, the 3/1/87 WT states, "Each article in THE WATCHTOWER and AWAKE! and every page, including the ARTWORK [emphasis added], is scrutinized by selected members of the Governing Body before it is printed." So, just the facts, then: Based on the above, is it simply a matter of somebody being asleep on the job? As a proofreader at Bethel, I scrupulously reviewed everything put on my desk. Two, three, four or more times. The "new-style" art did not exist when Ray Franz and I were there.

    I would be personally grateful for scans of the afore-mentioned articles and your comments on this. Since I am no longer a practicing JW, it is wonderful to be freed of the need to convince anybody of anything. Many thanx,


  • stillajwexelder

    2) some bored prankster in the Brooklyn art department. is my guess

  • daniel-p

    The subliminial message thing is completely [insert absurdity here]. One of the things I find interesting is how the nutcases always point out demons or scary things or what have you - when IF the watchtower put subliminal messages in, wouldn't they put things in to make their material more tantalizing? Coca-Cola doesnt put in images of words or demons - they put in stuff about sex and other things like that. The idea is to have subliminality work for you - not against you. I am 100% convinced these people have a mental fixation on this stuff and are deluded enough to pull things out of thin air. Why do i believe this? The images don't exist. They have to be conjured using overt suggestions and mirrors and what have you.

  • Dogpatch

    Subliminal Art in the Watchtower Publications

    by Randall Watters (5/20/04)

    Over the last 20 years of writing about the Watchtower Society in the Bethel Ministries Newsletter and its successor, the Free Minds Journal, I have received a lot of mail regarding the supposed intentional subliminal images found in many of the paintings that are created by Jehovah's Witness artists and reproduced in the Watchtower's publications. I would like to make a few comments about this subject.

    First of all, I am a skeptic when it comes to the power of subliminal art and music, even when it is intentional. Perhaps it is just my nature to take art and music for what it is rather than to stare at it and look for hidden meaning. I have no doubt that some artists do use subliminal images as part of their art form. Perhaps they even hope that some will see it and notice, adding richness and subtlety to the experience. But for the most part, according to statements by artists themselves, much of what people find in their art as "subliminal" was not intended at all by the artist him/herself!

    I do not doubt that there were some JW artists who put in some type of subliminal design or faces in their artwork, at least a few years ago when this was noted in the book, Hour of Darkness by Darek Barefoot. Some pretty interesting and even scary images seemed to appear upon taking a more magnified look at parts of faces or shrubbery or whatever. Having lived at Bethel, I know just how independent and rebellious some of the Bethelites can be! We did our own versions of the art in the Watchtower publications ourselves in the Pressroom (example 1, example 2), why would I assume that all the other departments at Bethel did not have certain ones who did the same thing, only in their own independent way? Yet when we were discovered with such artwork, we were severely reprimanded. Yet I would never have imagined that such could be a "planned" agenda by the heads of departments. They are simply too loyal to the overall Watchtower agenda and leadership to allow such a thing in a more organized way. As evil as they may be in the ruination of the lives of others, I personally do not believe the Watchtower Society does anything intentionally satanic. I worked there for six years and knew many of the heads of departments and workers, and they are mostly of the same old garden-variety fundamentalist drones who are there because of the Watchtower's ideology, and would never dream of doing anything remotely considered "satanic." Let's give them a little credit, less we lose our own credibility in critiquing them. They had so much mail about this subject they even addressed it in the pages of the September 1, 1984 Watchtower, page 20 (quoted in part):

    Even the Watchtower Society’s publications have been the subject of rumors—for example, that one of the artists had secretly been introducing pictures of demons into the illustrations, was subsequently found out and disfellowshiped!

    Did you share in spreading any such stories? If so, you were—perhaps unwittingly—spreading an untruth, since they were all false. Certainly, the rumor concerning the Society’s publications was harmful, as well as slanderous to the zealous Christians who work long hours producing artwork to make the magazines, brochures and books so attractive. This was as ridiculous as it would be to say that God, in creating celestial bodies, deliberately formed the appearance of a ‘man in the moon.’

    Recently there has been a major effort to "expose" the Watchtower for purposely putting all kinds of satanic subliminal images in the Watchtower's publications. Anonymous CDs full of magnified, twisted and redoubled images from the publications have been sent out to over a hundred persons (including myself) with intent to cause governmental investigations into the Watchtower for planning this major conspiracy. To me, this is total bunko! Personally, I am not into conspiracy theories in general, and this one seems to be the result of Christian fundamentalism or conspiracy theorists gone wacko. Why would the Watchtower intentionally do something that is exactly the opposite of their agenda to begin with? They are more afraid of Satan than most any other group in my opinion! Most Witnesses I know are afraid of objects being demonized, setting foot in a church, wearing crucifixes or anything else that might have some supposed satanic roots. It is like accusing the Mennonites of being secret satanists; it just doesn't wash to a critical-minded person who is educated about the group. Here is the web page for your consideration. HERE is a discussion of that web page on the Jehovah' discussion board.

    I myself had this fearful mindset towards anything demonic when I became a Jehovah's Witness in 1972. I burned, among other things: A full set of Ellen G White's books by the Seventh Day Adventists, all my rock-and-roll records, a picture of me with long hair and smoking, and all manner of other books and items that were religious in nature and subject to being demonized. Had I become a Christian instead at the time (which I am now), I would not have given nearly so much credit to the devil! (Now I have all kinds of "religious" books in my library for research purposes, not the least of which are Watchtower publications themselves! So far I have not been demonized by them, and doubt that I ever will. I also do not stare at pictures looking for hidden meanings. I also do not believe that anything that is currently considered as "subliminal" that I have seen has much if any effect on the reader to begin with. Apparently there are some professional people out there who agree with me as well. Following are some quotes from Robert Gann, as well as some VERY INTERESTING RESPONSES by artists about subliminal images in their OWN ARTWORK.

    Subliminal art

    by Robert Genn

    Robert Genn is one of Canada’s most accomplished painters, having gained international recognition for his genre subjects on Canada’s West Coast. He has painted in most parts of Canada, and in the United States, Central America, Europe and Asia. from:

    partially quoted from:

    In 1980 a university media professor, Wilson Bryan Key, wrote a book that caused quite a fuss. It was an inquiry into the use of subliminal images--mostly in advertising--but also in fine art. The title of the book, (which I won't repeat here because it may snag on some email filters) came from a popular restaurant place-mat that showed a plate of clams, which, on close examination, appeared to be a pile-up of boys and girls. ...

    Many of Wilson Key's examples--such as suggestive patterns in ice in a glass of Johnnie Walker require a fair stretch of the imagination. Crotches, protuberances, as well as grimacing faces in margarine patties and other products are less subtle. "Viewer manipulation," he warns. Is it possible that our unconscious voyeuristic natures take us automatically to forms that tease our libido? Even the suggested inclusion of a certain three-letter word with an 'x' at the end can do the trick, he finds. He uses Bruegel, Bosch, Durer, and even Rembrandt to flesh out his ideas.

    PS: "Superficially insignificant or accidental looking detail (in art) may well carry the most important unconscious symbolism." (Anton Ehrenzweig, The Hidden Order of Art)

    Perhaps the most constructive comments that represent the true reality of these subliminal images can be read from artists themselves who comment on subliminal images in their own artwork, in response to Robert Genn's article. These responses can be found at:

    What to make of it all? I like the response to the question of the Watchtower intentionally using subliminal images as part of a satanic conspiracy made by a couple of people quoted below:

    By Mike Tea (Miketea) on Wednesday, May 19, 2004 - 08:18 pm:

    All that has happened is that someone else, who we don't know, has said the story is genuine. It seems to me that such claims must meet a much more strict standard of evidence than "I read it in an email from a guy who used to be..." etc. I ask myself these questions:

    1. If the people producing and distributing these CDs are so devoted to the truth why are they so keen to stay anonymous?

    2. What exactly is achieved by distributing them?

    3. How are they helpful if a) we don't know their provenance (I got them from a friend who got them through the post from someone he's never heard of and can't name), and b) we have no way of proving whether they are accidental or deliberate.

    4. What do people think these things achieve for the people who are supposedly producing them for the original publications? This sounds like faith in superstition to me. looking at a picture of the devil, whether obvious or subliminal, will not trap you in some web of deceit and manipulation. It seems to me these poor people are already trapped and manipulated.

    5. What's the most important thing to share with a JW? Surely it is the Lordship of Jesus and not some theory about subliminal messages that is, at best, dubious and easily laughed off, at the very worst a sure way to an abrupt end of an otherwise good opportunity to share the truth and cause ridicule of "Christendom" down at the old Kingdom Hall.

    Whenever a Mormon asks me where the Book of Mormon comes from if it isn't genuine I ask "who is Jesus and what did he do on the Cross?"

    I recommend this approach. It is certainly more plausible and challenging than "turn this picture upside down, stand five feet away and squint".

    Your right Fran in being concerned about the effect this will have. People will overreact and JWs will feel persecuted and blame a conspiracy on the part of Christendom to make all this up and discredit them. That is how these things proliferate.

    By belinda mary maddox (Belindamary) on Thursday, May 20, 2004 - 12:18 am:

    Quote from GC's link.....

    >>Just think of the time and effort gone in to designing it!<<

    All I can say is think of the time and effort someone has gone to to manipulate photographs to show patterns which can (if you're fixated with them) look like demonic beings.

    This really is going too far, IMO, and it's such a bad witness. Anyone reading it will think Christians are loonies.

    When I was an atheist and thought that Christians WERE loonies, this is just the sort of thing that would have convinced me I was right.

    I'm having nothing more to do with this.

    For more information on PAREIDOLIA ( The erroneous or fanciful perception of a pattern or meaning in something that is actually ambiguous or random.) click here.

    back to Watchtower History

    back to Main Page

  • rebel8

    I too think it's pranks.

    Let's not forget an image of wt headquarters was on the official wt web site for at least a few weeks with the word "Maxtower" replacing the word "Watchtower" on the sign.


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