on "Manipulation of Information" - Hypocrisy Alert

by skeeter1 24 Replies latest jw friends

  • skeeter1

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The Watchtower has sunk to a new depth of hypocrisy. Check out this bullshit. Makes me want to barf, knowing how sly the Watchtower is at manipulating information!

    The Manipulation of Information

    "By clever and persevering use of propaganda even heaven can be represented as hell to the people, and conversely the most wretched life as paradise." —A DOLF H ITLER, M EIN K AMPF.

    AS MEANS of communicating have expanded—from printing to the telephone, radio, television, and the Internet—the flow of persuasive messages has dramatically accelerated. This communications revolution has led to information overload, as people are inundated by countless messages from every quarter. Many respond to this pressure by absorbing messages more quickly and accepting them without questioning or analyzing them.

    The cunning propagandist loves such shortcuts—especially those that short-circuit rational thought. Propaganda encourages this by agitating the emotions, by exploiting insecurities, by capitalizing on the ambiguity of language, and by bending rules of logic. As history bears out, such tactics can prove all too effective.

    A History of Propaganda

    Today the word "propaganda" has a negative connotation, suggesting dishonest tactics, but originally that was not the meaning intended for the term. "Propaganda" apparently comes from the Latin name of a group of Roman Catholic cardinals, the Congregatio de Propaganda Fide(Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith). This committee—called Propaganda for short—was established by Pope Gregory XV in 1622 to supervise missionaries. Gradually, "propaganda" came to mean any effort to spread a belief.

    But the concept of propaganda was not born in the 17th century. From ancient times, men have used every available medium to spread ideologies or enhance fame and power. For example, art has served propagandistic ends since the days of the Egyptian pharaohs. These kings designed their pyramids to project an image of power and durability. Similarly, the architecture of the Romans served a political purpose—the glorification of the state. The term "propaganda" took on a generally negative connotation in World War I when governments began playing an active role in shaping the war information spread by the media. During World War II, Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels proved themselves to be master propagandists.

  • skeeter1

    Propaganda promoting war and smoking has contributed to many deaths

    Following World War II, propaganda increasingly became a major instrument to promote national policy. Both the Western and the Eastern blocs waged all-out campaigns to win the great masses of uncommitted people to their side. Every aspect of national life and policy was exploited for propagandistic purposes. In recent years the growing sophistication of propaganda techniques has been evident in election campaigns, as well as in advertising by tobacco companies. So-called experts and other leaders have been employed to portray smoking as glamorous and healthful and not as the threat to public health that it actually is.

    Lies, Lies!

    Certainly, the handiest trick of the propagandist is the use of outright lies. Consider, for example, the lies that Martin Luther wrote in 1543 about the Jews in Europe: "They have poisoned wells, made assassinations, kidnapedchildren . . . They are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins, and children of the devil who sting and work harm." His exhortation to so-called Christians? "Set fire to their synagogues or schools . . . Their houses [should] also be razed and destroyed."

    A professor of government and social studies who has studied that era says: "Antisemitism has fundamentally nothing to do with the actions of Jews, and therefore fundamentally nothing to do with an antisemite's knowledge of the real nature of Jews." He also notes: "The Jews stood for everything that was awry, so that the reflexive reaction to a natural or social ill was to look to its supposed Jewish sources."

    Making Generalizations

    Another very successful tactic of propaganda is generalization. Generalizations tend to obscure important facts about the real issues in question, and they are frequently used to demean entire groups of people. "Gypsies [or immigrants] are thieves" is, for instance, a phrase frequently heard in some European countries. But is that true?

    Richardos Someritis, a columnist, says that in one country such perceptions caused a kind of "xenophobic and very often racist frenzy" against foreigners. It has been shown, however, that when it comes to delinquent acts, the culprits in that country are just as likely to be native-born as foreign. For example, Someritis notes that surveys have shown that in Greece, "96 out of 100 crimes are perpetrated by [Greeks]." "The causes of criminal activity are economic and social," he observes, "not 'racial.'" He blames the media "for systematically cultivating xenophobia and racism" by a slanted coverage of crime.


    Some people insult those who disagree with them by questioning character or motives instead of focusing on the facts. Name-calling slaps a negative, easy-to-remember label onto a person, a group, or an idea. The name-caller hopes that the label will stick. If people reject the person or the idea on the basis of the negative label instead of weighing the evidence for themselves, the name-caller's strategy has worked.

    For example, in recent years a powerful antisect sentiment has swept many countries in Europe and elsewhere. This trend has stirred emotions, created the image of an enemy, and reinforced existing prejudices against religious minorities. Often, "sect" becomes a catchword. "'Sect' is another word for 'heretic,'" wrote German Professor Martin Kriele in 1993, "and a heretic today in Germany, as in former times, is [condemned to extermination]—if not byfire . . . , then by character assassination, isolation and economic destruction."

    The Institute for Propaganda Analysis notes that "bad names have played a tremendously powerful role in the history of the world and in our own individual development. They have ruined reputations, . . . sent [people] to prison cells, and made men mad enough to enter battle and slaughter their fellowmen."

    Playing on the Emotions

    Even though feelings might be irrelevant when it comes to factual claims or the logic of an argument, they play a crucial role in persuasion. Emotional appeals are fabricated by practiced publicists, who play on feelings as skillfully as a virtuoso plays the piano.

    For example, fear is an emotion that can becloud judgment. And, as in the case of envy, fear can be played upon. The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail, of February 15, 1999, reported the following from Moscow: "When three girls committed suicide in Moscow last week, the Russian media immediately suggested they were fanatical followers of the Jehovah's Witnesses." Note the word "fanatical." Naturally, people would be fearful of a fanatic religious organization that supposedly drives young people to suicide. Were these unfortunate girls really connected with Jehovah's Witnesses in some way?

    The Globe continued: "Police later admitted the girls had nothing to do with [Jehovah's Witnesses]. But by then a Moscow television channel had already launched a new assault on the sect, telling viewers that the Jehovah's Witnesses had collaborated with Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany—despite historical evidence that thousands of their members were victims of the Nazi death camps." In the mind of the misinformed and possibly fearful public, Jehovah's Witnesses were either a suicidal cult or Nazi collaborators!

    The sly art of propaganda can
    paralyze thought and prevent clear thinking

    Hatred is a strong emotion exploited by propagandists. Loaded language is particularly effective in triggering it. There seems to be a nearly endless supply of nasty words that promote and exploit hatred toward particular racial, ethnic, or religious groups.

    Some propagandists play on pride. Often we can spot appeals to pride by looking for such key phrases as: "Any intelligent person knows that . . ." or, "A person with your education can't help but see that . . ." A reverse appeal to pride plays on our fear of seeming stupid. Professionals in persuasion are well aware of that.

    Slogans and Symbols

    Slogans are vague statements that are typically used to express positions or goals. Because of their vagueness, they are easy to agree with.

    For example, in times of national crisis or conflict, demagogues may use such slogans as "My country, right or wrong," "Fatherland, Religion, Family," or "Freedom or Death." But do most people carefully analyze the real issues involved in the crisis or conflict? Or do they just accept what they are told?

    In writing about World War I, Winston Churchill observed: "Only a signal is needed to transform these multitudes of peaceful peasants and workmen into the mighty hosts which will tear each other to pieces." He further observed that when told what to do, most people responded unthinkingly.

    The propagandist also has a very wide range of symbols and signs with which to convey his message—a 21-gun salvo, a military salute, a flag. Love of parents can also be exploited. Thus, such symbolisms as the fatherland, the mother country, or the mother church are valuable tools in the hands of the shrewd persuader.

    So the sly art of propaganda can paralyze thought, prevent clear thinking and discernment, and condition individuals to act en masse. How can you protect yourself?

  • skeeter1

    Do Not Be a Victim of Propaganda!

    "A fool will believe anything." —P ROVERBS 14:15, T ODAY'S E NGLISH V ERSION.

    THERE is a difference—a big difference—between education and propaganda. Education shows you how to think. Propaganda tells you what to think. Good educators present all sides of an issue and encourage discussion. Propagandists relentlessly force you to hear their view and discourage discussion. Often their real motives are not apparent. They sift the facts, exploiting the useful ones and concealing the others. They also distort and twist facts, specializing in lies and half-truths. Your emotions, not your logical thinking abilities, are their target.

    The propagandist makes sure that his message appears to be the right and moral one and that it gives you a sense of importance and belonging if you follow it. You are one of the smart ones, you are not alone, you are comfortable and secure—so they say.

    How can you protect yourself from the types of people that the Bible calls "profitless talkers" and "deceivers of the mind"? (Titus 1:10) Once you are familiar with some of their tricks, you are in a better position to evaluate any message or information that comes your way. Here are some ways to do this.

    Be selective: A completely open mind could be likened to a pipe that lets just anything flow through it—even sewage. No one wants a mind contaminated with poison. Solomon, a king and educator in ancient times, warned: "Anyone inexperienced puts faith in every word, but the shrewd one considers his steps." (Proverbs 14:15) So we need to be selective. We need to scrutinize whatever is presented to us, deciding what to accept and what to reject.

    However, we do not want to be so narrow that we refuse to consider facts that can improve our thinking. How can we find the right balance? By adopting a standard with which to measure new information. Here a Christian has a source of great wisdom. He has the Bible as a sure guide for his thinking. On the one hand, his mind is open, that is, receptive to new information. He properly weighs such new information against the Bible standard and fits what is true into his pattern of thinking. On the other hand, his mind sees the danger of information that is entirely inconsistent with his Bible-based values.

    Discernment enables you to discard irrelevant or misleading information

    Use discernment: Discernment is "acuteness of judgment." It is "the power or faculty of the mind by which it distinguishes one thing from another." A person with discernment perceives subtleties of ideas or things and has good judgment.

    Using discernment, we will be able to recognize those who are merely using "smooth talk and complimentary speech" in order to "seduce the hearts of guileless ones." (Romans 16:18) Discernment enables you to discard irrelevant information or misleading facts and distinguish the substance of a matter. But how can you discern when something is misleading?

    Put information to the test: "Beloved ones," said John, a first-century Christian teacher, "do not believe every inspired expression, but test the inspired expressions." (1 John 4:1) Some people today are like sponges; they soak up whatever they come across. It is all too easy to absorb whatever is around us.

    Test whatever you are reading or watching,
    to see if it is truthful

    But it is far better for each individual personally to choose what he will feed his mind. It is said that we are what we eat, and this can apply to food for both the body and the mind. No matter what you are reading or watching or listening to, test to see whether it has propagandistic overtones or is truthful.

    Moreover, if we want to be fair-minded, we must be willing to subject our own opinions to continual testing as we take in new information. We must realize that they are, after all,opinions. Their trustworthiness depends on the validity of our facts, on the quality of our reasoning, and on the standards or values that we choose to apply.

    Ask questions: As we have seen, there are many today who would like to 'delude us with persuasive arguments.' (Colossians 2:4) Therefore, when we are presented with persuasive arguments, we should ask questions.

    First, examine whether there is bias. What is the motive for the message? If the message is rife with name-calling and loaded words, why is that? Loaded language aside, what are the merits of the message itself? Also, if possible, try to check the track record of those speaking. Are they known to speak the truth? If "authorities" are used, who or what are they? Why should you regard this person—or organization or publication—as having expert knowledge or trustworthy information on the subject in question? If you sense some appeal to emotions, ask yourself, 'When viewed dispassionately, what are the merits of the message?'

    Popular opinion is
    not always reliable

    Do not just follow the crowd: If you realize that what everybodythinks is not necessarily correct, you can find the strength to think differently. While it may seem that all others think the same way, does this mean that you should? Popular opinion is not a reliable barometer of truth. Over the centuries all kinds of ideas have been popularly accepted, only to be proved wrong later. Yet, the inclination to go along with the crowd persists. The command given at Exodus 23:2 serves as a good principle: "You must not follow after the crowd for evil ends."

    We can confidently look to God's Word as the source of truth

    True Knowledge Versus Propaganda

    Previously, it was mentioned that the Bible is a sure guide for clear thinking. Jehovah's Witnesses unequivocally subscribe to Jesus' statement to God: "Your word is truth." (John 17:17) This is so because God, the Author of the Bible, is "the God of truth."—Psalm 31:5.

    Yes, in this age of sophisticated propaganda, we can confidently look to Jehovah's Word as the source of truth. Ultimately this will protect us from those who want to 'exploit us with counterfeit words.'—2 Peter 2:3.

  • PSacramento

    Pot meet keetle indeed.

  • Georgiegirl

    I actually stopped breathing while reading this. Amazing. There are just no words......(cries for those who are still in)

  • zoiks

    It is all so cynical.

  • skeeter1

    A few months ago, there was an Awake article that said that people should be able to change religions without consequences from family members or community. It highlighted a Muslim sounding name who wanted to study with the JWs. We later found out that this article was likely written to be passed out by WT officials at a conference on human rights. That article was written in an effort to mainstream the WTS, and to fool outsiders into thinking that the WT encouraged freedom of thought and religion. In fact, those who leave are ostracized by all other Jehovah's Witnesses, including their family.

    This article, I think we will find, is another effort to mainstream the religion, both to outsiders and to insiders. I "bet" the Watchtower is getting alot of flack about misrepresentations found within their literature. Russian courts have ousted them, the legal article, "Jehovah's Witnesses, Blood Transfusions, and the Tort of Misrepresentation" (detailing the misquotes), recent tv documentary in Europe where doctors said the Watchtower misquoted them, etc.

    I think the Watchtower is having serious problems with coercion and misrepresentation; and this is causing some of the dubs to wake up and hindering recruiting efforts as people research the Watchtower on the Internet before embarking on a serious Bible study. So, these articles are a sly way for the Watchtower to control its damage.

    Interstingly, an ultra-dub family member alerted me to these articles. Of course, he believes the Watchtower...despite my showing him many of the misquotes He has too much invested in the Watchtower, to admit that it could be a "wee" wrong on some issues.

    All I can say, is "CULT"

  • nugget

    Are they serious? Nothing they said is wrong it is the fact that they say it that is the irony. WTBTS is so fond of the word generally it is beyond a joke.

    They say Generally worldly people do this and generally people outside the org behave this way. To say generalisations are bad when they thrive on generalisations is laughable.

  • goldensky

    It's disgusting that THEY of all people should be writing this. Don't they realize how accurately they are describing THEIR own methods? Do you think they do or they sincerely don't?

  • greenie

    If you look on the WTs web site, they have an article right next to this one on why they AREN'T using propaganda.


    Is the Work of Jehovah's Witnesses Propagandistic?

    Some opponents of Jehovah's Witnesses have accused them of spreading Zionist propaganda. Others have charged that the ministry of the Witnesses promotes Communism. Still others have claimed that the work of Jehovah's Witnesses promotes the ideals and interests of "American imperialism." And there are those who assert that the Witnesses are anarchists, fomenting disorder with the aim of changing the social, economic, political, or legal order. Obviously, these conflicting accusations cannot all be true.

    The simple fact is that Jehovah's Witnesses are none of the above. The work of the Witnesses is carried out in faithful obedience to Jesus Christ's mandate to his disciples: "You will be witnesses of me . . . to the most distant part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Their work focuses solely and exclusively on the good news of the heavenly Kingdom—God's instrument for bringing peace to the whole earth.—Matthew 6:10; 24:14.

    Observers of Jehovah's Witnesses have found no evidence that this Christian community has ever been a force disruptive of the good order of any land.

    Many journalists, judges, and others have commented on the positive contributions that Jehovah's Witnesses have made to the communities in which they live. Consider some examples. After attending a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses, a reporter from southern Europe commented: "These are people with strong family ties, they are taught to love and to live by their conscience so as not to harm others."

    Another journalist, formerly negative about the Witnesses, stated: "They live an exemplary life. They do not violate the standards of what is moral and right." A political scientist similarly remarked about the Witnesses: "They behave toward other people with profound kindness, love and gentleness."

    Jehovah's Witnesses teach the rightness of submission to authority. As law-abiding citizens, they follow Bible standards of honesty, truthfulness, and cleanliness. They build good morals into their own families, and they help others to learn how they can do the same. They live peaceably with all men, not getting involved in disruptive demonstrations or political revolutions. Jehovah's Witnesses seek to be exemplary in obeying the laws of the human superior authorities, while they wait patiently on the Supreme Authority, the Sovereign Lord Jehovah, to restore perfect peace and righteous government to this earth.

    At the same time, the work of the Witnesses is educational. Using the Bible as a basis, they teach people worldwide to reason on Bible principles and thereby develop right standards of conduct and moral integrity. They promote values that improve family life and help young people cope with their peculiar challenges. They also help people to find the strength to overcome bad habits and to develop the ability to get along with others. Such a work would hardly be termed "propaganda." As The World Book Encyclopedia says, in a climate where ideas circulate freely, "propaganda differs from education."

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