Jehovah's Witnesses - Trained to Argue

by AllTimeJeff 47 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • Open mind
    Open mind

    "There is no greater mistake than the hasty conclusion that opinions are worthless because they are badly argued." Thomas H. Huxley

    Great quote and a great post Jeff.

    My 12th grade Civics teacher taught me the lesson that a great debater can argue night is day and win. Us 12th graders were putty in his hands. I enjoy reading an online debate where both participants are savvy & civil enough to at least try to avoid the common logical fallacies and rhetoric tricks. Here's one I particularly enjoyed between Sam Harris and Andrew Sullivan on God, Faith & Fundamentalism.

    What was most refreshing to me was the lack of vitriol and there was no resorting to cheap shots when one debater could see he was losing ground.

    If anyone knows of a similar debate where both sides stay on the intellectually high ground without resorting to mud slinging, I'd love to have a link.

    Thanks again Jeff.


  • AllTimeJeff
    So I guess what I'm saying is that I disagree with you. Whatcha gonna do about it?

    Beks, I'll take you down with me sista!! ;)

    Ironically, this is an opinion piece about opinions, featuring my opinion. I wouldn't dare to argue beyond a certain point on this topic. I think it healthy to express opinion. I think it unhealthy to get upset about those who disagree with you. You know, unless they are holding a gun to your head. Then its ok to get upset a bit.

    Open mind I think hit it perfectly. Some people (and cults) specialize in bullshit. Even though we all know JW's (specifically, the GB) is wrong where they stand, how many arguments have you seen them lose?

    They don't lose. They just have an iron chin. They wait for the other person to wear down.

    The only known antidote for this idiotic strategy is to pull out the paperback version of "Crisis of Conscience" with Ray Franz's name on it. It's kryptonite to a JW at the door. I remember the only time that happened to me, I thought Satan himself came out, scared the shit out of me.

    Otherwise, don't expect to ever win an argument against a JW.

    I think there comes a point where the motive of a debater/opinion provider has to be determined. I can share what I think, but truthfully, at the end of the day, if you disagree with me, my big head won't be crying in my big pillow all night.

    Others want to win, or feel they win. It's just a matter of keeping the argument going long enough to give the appearance of a win. Arguments won on the rubble of facts are not wins for anyone of course. We all know this to be the truth. (if you think I kid, ask a JW about Jehovah's name in the New Testament. Fascinating where that goes...)

  • moshe

    JW's will argue as long as they see themselves in the lead and when the conversation turns south on them, they head for the nearest exit. As so many JW's have told me, "this isn't a productive conversation, so I have to leave"- notice how the JW makes it my fault, why they have to cut off the discussion. Any mention of old WT dates, contrary blood transfusion info, JW shunning, etc, brings on this thought stopper, "it's not a productive conversation" - They must have learned this exit strategy in the Theocratic Ministry school. I have also noticed a discussion of "feelings" puts the JW in foreign territory. Acting like an HR guy probing for mental flaws in an interview, sends JW's into a panic. I ask, "what was the hardest doctrine WT doctrine for you to accept? If I can get an answer, I can usually ask the right questions and show the JW that they never really accepted the problem doctrine, they just swept it under the rug in order to join the club. Good god, they hate me when I do that to them.

  • JimmyPage

    My parents used to tell I should have been a lawyer, I could argue anything. Looking back, I think it was the JW training that made me that way.

  • yknot

    ....Maybe that was my problem.....

    I was being prepped for WTS Legal in my formative years which at the latter period collided with that brief "Berean Period" prior to the shutdown of the early 80's.

    I practiced arguing and strategy 3 Saturdays a month!

    I wasn't told I had to agree with the GB until I was almost 7 when I moved into the rural interior...... to which I quickly concluded these local Elders were clearly 'lacking discernment and spiritually weak'.........(I still see them and their sucessors in the same light!)

    Like Jimmy I could and would argue anything........often from both opinions

    (and yes I excelled at Extemporaneous Debate)

  • beksbks

    This reminds me of a visit from a pair of dubs one day. When they found out I was an X, they really started laying it on. It was almost like because I was a worthless XDub, they could cut loose. At one point I just looked at the loud one and said, "funny, in my day the goal was to win hearts, not arguments". ohhh she spluttered good, she spluttered real good.

  • Farkel


    Call me a stickler, but I consider the word "argument" to always mean its original, formal meaning. Winning an argument does not necessarily mean convincing most listeners than you won. You could win an argument hands down and 100% of the naive listeners could also think you were trounced.

    Dubs don't know anything about formal arguments. But they do know a whole bunch about how to use every common logical fallacy there is. They're just too ignorant to know they are using logical fallacies. Oh, yes: they also know how to talk VERY loud and attack the motive of their opponents when they are cornered. They call doing that "winning" the argument and walk away looking the fool, but smugly thinking they are geniuses.

    Argumentation is the natural offshoot of formal logic. Assertions and conclusions. If the conclusion must derive from the assertions, then the assertions must be tested to see if they are are also sound, i.e. true. Each time a logical fallacy is brought up and pointed out by an opponent in a formal debate, the fool who made it loses points. That keeps the debate honest AND on track. The winner wins on substance, not bullshit.

    I would like to see that sort of debate go on in here, but then again, I would also like to believe the Tooth Fairy and Santa Claus existed, too.


  • Gordy

    Not only are they trained to argue, but also to sell.

    I recall one time a guy who was having a study, he had been coming to Sunday meetings,
    but was attending his first School/Service meeting.

    Afterwards he said "You are trained to sell."
    Of course he was told we weren't.

    He said it had been like watching a business seminar.
    We were being trained to argue for and sell a product.
    To push the publications as much as possible.
    Having looked at the "School Guidebook" he said every thing in it was designed like a business manual, a guidebook to sell.
    There was nothing anything "spiritual" about the whole thing.

    He never came back.

  • garyneal

    I can certainly agree with what a lot of the people are posting here concerning the dubs. I've seen these JW tactics in my wife so many times. I would argue a point and present the facts that contradict her beliefs and she would attack me, my way of living, my walk with Christ, and of course you evil apostates who feed me this information. I am told things like, "This is not spiritually uplifting and I don't want to talk about this anymore."

    She rails against me about how I never take her opinions seriously and yet when I offer my opinions, she dismisses them or tries to talk over me. Even her parents has accused her of not listening to me. She wins the argument, but seldoms wins my heart.

  • BabaYaga

    JimmyPage said:

    My parents used to tell I should have been a lawyer, I could argue anything. Looking back, I think it was the JW training that made me that way.

    I agree, Jimmy. I was told I could rationalize anything and that I never apologized. I think THAT came from our "ministry" training, also! (By the way, hopefully I have overcome at least the apology part.)

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