"I have seen many people post links here in direct response to you, showing how JW's match the characteristics of a cult."
The word cult has more than one definition.
The word cult pejoratively refers to a group whose beliefs or practices are reasonably considered strange.
This here is strictly in the mind of the beholder as many religions teach very different things. To me everything Jehovah's Witnesses teach (comprehensive view of existence) makes perfect sense.
By the 1940s the long held opposition by some established Christian denominations to non-Christian religions and supposedly heretical Christian sects crystallized into a more organized "Christian countercult movement" in the United States. For those belonging to the movement all new religious groups deemed outside of Christian orthodoxy were considered "cults".
In the late 1980s psychologists and sociologists started to abandon theories like brainwashing and mind-control. While scholars may believe that various less dramatic coercive psychological mechanisms could influence group members, they came to see conversion to new religious movements principally as an act of rational choice.
A person who is a member of a religion out of rational choice can easily debunk theories like brainwashing and mind-control that others try and apply to them. To me, a cult is a religious group that confuses loyalty to institutional church leaders with loyalty to God. Some members of clergy appear to have deified themselves considering titles like Holy Father and the Infallible Pope as only God is infallible.
[The Church] was also much concerned with man, with man as he really is today, with living man, with man totally taken up with himself, with man who not only makes himself the center of his own interests, but who dares to claim that he is the principle and [the] final cause of all reality. Man in his phenomenal totality ... presented himself, as it were, before the assembly of the Council Fathers.... The religion of God made man has come up against the religion--for there is such a one--of man who makes himself God.
And how did the Council respond to this specter of godless man, of "man who makes himself God"? Far from condemning this falsehood and asserting the superior claims of the Christian faith, the Council, said the Pope, was filled only with an endless sympathy. The discovery of human needs--and these are so much greater now that the son of the earth has made himself greater--absorbed the attention of the Synod.... We also, we more than anyone else, have the cult of man...
Thus, alongside God, the Church had added a second Lord, man, with everything ultimately focusing on man instead of God. Archbishop Karol Wojtyla, later Pope John Paul II, fully subscribed to the Vatican II doctrine, having been one of its leading framers. In his first encyclical after becoming Pope, he repeated the theme of Gaudium et Spes, declaring that human nature has been permanently "divinized" by the advent of Christ.