I have been inspired recently by some of the comments on this forum regarding the Society having reached a "tipping point". It's been observed that, despite the overwhelming weight of evidence that the Society is nothing more than a damaging cult, the number of Witnesses continues to increase, albeit gradually. The latest figures I have available are those in the 2011 Yearbook, showing a global 2.5% increase between 2009 and 2010.
As we all know, the internet is steadily rising in accessibility (or "penetration") around the world, and it provides a wonderful resource for those who are curious about joining the faith, helping such ones to quickly identify precisely how warped the teachings of the Watch Tower Society really are. Websites like jwfacts.com provide instant evidence of the fallibility of the Society's teachings, and are surely a major thorn in the side of the organization.
But here's a question: Is there a way of PROVING whether the internet is impacting the Society's growth?
I am convinced there is, and herein may lie the key to the Society's eventual downfall.
I have done a comparison between the figures given on Wikipedia for the number of internet subscriptions by COUNTRY, shown as a percentage of the country's population (figures are for 2010), and the Society's growth figures from their 2010 service year report. By comparing each country's percentage of internet use with the percentage of growth for the same country, I noticed a very definite (if gradual) overall correlation between the penetration of the internet and the increase/decrease in the Society's growth in any given country.
Of course, it's difficult to do a blanket global study, because the Society don't publish precise figures for 30 "Other Lands" where preaching is done under governmental ban. However, the average 2010 percentage of increase for these countries bucked the global trend at 14.3% growth. Most of these countries are Islamic or communist states where there is precious little internet connection anyway. For example, even with 450 million Chinese internet users, there are still only 36.3% of China's population with internet subscriptions. I have therefore, when doing my initial study, disqualified all countries where the Society is under ban. However, I feel that if the publisher reports for those countries were added to this study, the figures would be far more damning.
The figures come through more dramatically in a graph on my Excel spreadsheet, but until I figure out how to display Excel graphs on posts, you will need to make do with a written summary.
Countries with 75% to 100% internet penetration (% of subscriptions to total population):
Norway, Sweden, Netherlands, Denmark, Finland, Luxembourg, New Zealand, United Kingdom, South Korea, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, Japan, Australia, United States, Belgium, Estonia
Average % increase 2009-2010 = 0.647059
Countries with 50% to 75% internet penetration (% of subscriptions to total population):
Austria, Slovakia, Israel, Taiwan, France, Hong Kong, Latvia, Argentina, Czech Republic, Ireland, Slovenia, Spain, Hungary, Lithuania, Malta, Malaysia, Poland, Serbia, Uruguay, Chile, Macedonia, Colombia, Croatia
Average % increase 2009-2010 = 1.304348
Countries with 25% to 50% internet penetration (% of subscriptions to total population):
Italy, Macao, Portugal, Bulgaria, Belarus, Greece, Montenegro, Turkey, Azerbaijan, Costa Rica, Albania, Cyprus, Russia, Dominican Republic, Kyrgyzstan, Venezuela, Brazil, Puerto Rico, Romania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Mexico, Peru, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Philippines, Cape Verde, Lebanon, Nigeria, Panama, Thailand
Average % increase 2009-2010 = 3.290323
Countries with 0% to 25% internet penetration (% of subscriptions to total population):
Ecuador, Mauritius, Kosovo, Paraguay, El Salvador, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, South Africa, Bolivia, Zimbabwe, Honduras, Mongolia, Pakistan, Nicaragua, Kenya, Sudan, Uganda, Sri Lanka, India, Senegal, Gambia, Zambia, Namibia, Bostwana, Republic of Congo, Togo, Ghana, Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Malawi, Rwanda, Cameroon, Nepal, Mozambique, Benin, Papua New Guinea, Mali, Chad, Tanzania, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia
Average % increase 2009-2010 = 4.590909
As you can see, there is a DEFINITE correlation between LACK of internet access, and GROWTH in publisher figures. Basically, the more ignorant a country's populace is, the more fertile hunting grounds this will be for the local publishers.
I should note that the above figures are based on AVERAGES. As you might expect, there were always countries that bucked the trend. For example, only 14.5% of Cuba's population have access to the internet, but they still only managed a 1% increase in publishers. At the other end of the scale, 58.8% of Malaysia's population have access to the internet, but the Society still managed an 8% increase in that country. However, such exceptions are rare, and the overall trend (as shown above) is that "ignorance is bliss" - at least as far as the preaching work is concerned.
This gives hope to those of us who yearn to live to see the day when the Society collapses under its own weight. It also serves to explain the Society's recent attempt at dissuading the rank and file from using the internet altogether in the August 15th Watchtower:
"So, then, what should we do with regard to the Internet? Shun it altogether? That may be necessary in some cases. The Internet junkie mentioned earlier did that in order to overcome years of addiction. On the other hand, using the Internet can benefit us, provided we let 'thinking ability keep guard over us and discernment safeguard us.'-Prov. 2:10, 11."
Considering all of the above, the overall impression I get is that the Society have realised that, as the internet continues to grow, their opportunities to recruit new mindless automatons are becoming increasingly limited.
They may as well rename their popular slogan "working where the need is greater" to "working where there is no Google".
I apologise in advance if any of my methods are found to be "unscientific" on closer inspection. I don't claim to be a mathematician, or statistician - but I think that the above represents a starting point in helping to identify exactly why the Society should be panicking.