Debator, or any JW apologists, please give me your oppinion re: mind control

by teel 2 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • teel

    I happened to surf on the "Cult checklist" page on wikipedia where I found the well-known Robert Lifton's list, with small explanations in parenthesis. Please explain what do you think which of these doesn't apply to JW's and why. Or alternatively, if it all fits, why do you think it's still fine? If you think all (or most) points are applyable to JW's, but only because the Bible says so, then please explain why do you think the Bible promotes mind-control techniques.

    • Milieu control (controlled relations with the outer world)
    • Mystic manipulation (the group has a higher purpose than the rest)
    • Confession (confess past and present sins)
    • Self-sanctification through purity (pushing the individual towards an unattainable perfection)
    • Aura of sacred science (beliefs of the group are sacrosanct and perfect)
    • Loaded language (new meanings to words, encouraging black-and-white thinking)
    • Doctrine over person (the group is more important than the individual)
    • Dispensed existence (insiders are saved, outsiders are doomed)
  • drew sagan
    drew sagan

    I'm not a JW apologist, however, I have in recent years come to question the concept of "mind control".

    The question is, is mind control a definable phenomena that can be tested and proven to exist? When looking at most "brainwashing" theories, there tends to be a general theme regarding the overall helplessness of the victim (the controlled subject). As some sociologists have noted (Bryan Wilson, among others), the idea of mind control allows a former member of a group to detach any personal responsibility for decisions that led to the individuals participation with the group.

    Without question there are a number of high pressure tactics that some groups use in order to persuade an individual to join a religious (or even secular) movement. However, what is the difference between this and high pressure commercial advertising and sales in commercial and retail industry? In some respects, what society sees as proper in one area of life (commerce) may be judged as unacceptable in other areas of life (religion). But even then the lines get blurred. I would agree that most of the practices described in the provided list are used by the Watchtower Society to some degree. But is this mind control? Could it simply be an extreme form of extreme peer pressure?

    Another question. Are all Jehovah's Witnesses under some form of "mind control"? Or have they instead made their decision to be (and stay) a Jehovah's Witness due to a variety of influences and factors (e.g. family relations and history, friendships, personal choice, peer pressure, norms, fear, hope, etc.).

    And what about personal choice? Just because an individual chooses to believe in a poorly constructed argument does not mean that they haven't chosen to believe it. I think that even when it comes to groups that exert higher forms of pressure on people the element of personal choice cannot completely be ruled out.

  • teel

    True drew, those are some of the things I was thinking about too. The term "brainwashing" or "mind control" unfortunately is very misunderstood, and people have pictures bordering sci-fi of what it means. Simple advertisement uses some of these techniques too, that's undeniable. Any way we call it, the extremeness that the JWs go to in the peer pressure, groupthink, or other is not moral in my book.

    I think your argument suffers from continuum fallacy: the line between an acceptable and an immoral pressure on the individual is indeed blurred, but that does not mean we can't judge some actions as being too much. What we call it is not really the point, the effect on people is. I'm sure if the GB voted to relax all these techniques, there would be many JWs who stay (you can't make up shit so messed up that you don't find someone on Earth to believe it). But my problem is not with them, but that there are some who don't know better, because they have been trapped by the above techniques.

    This list was observable in all extreme cults in the past. So it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck...

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