The Tobacco Industry held in thrall millions of addicted smokers for decades with an almost endless litany of false claims reinforced by propaganda and bad science.
It is informative and eye-opening to examine this brilliant but insidious strategy.
1. Exploiting controversy
The Tobacco team focused on "Conflicts of Interest" to create a distraction and exploit mistrust so nicotine addicts own confirmation bias would work in their favor. This strategy of producing scientific uncertainty undercut public health efforts and regulatory interventions designed to reduce the harms of smoking.
The Watchtower easily did the same thing by exploiting the confusing doctrine of The TRINITY and pointing to the corrupt history of the Catholic Church. The malfeasance of Christendom, the proliferation of sects and participation in wars were cited--as though this guaranteed the JW's
were superior rather than merely different.
2. Creating alternative facts
This is more than "Is the glass-half-empty or half-full" which is a POV opinion. The Tobacco companies hired their OWN scientists and conducted their OWN experiments and represented the results of their biased endeavors as a counter-balance. The Watchtower religion built its own Bible, the New World Translation. By changing the wording of Bible passages in favor of quirky doctrinal teachings and declaring this to be superior to the other translations the JW's felt their decision to trust the GB was well-founded and safe.
An alternative green Bible for only a dollar was a brilliant move, IMHO.
3. Reliance on massive advertising
The Tobacco industry presented its product as beneficial, soothing, sophisticated, and smart in all Media available.
By the same token, the Watchtower has utilized its FREE VOLUNTEER evangelizing and door to door distribution of printed propaganda through the use of clean-cut families at your doorstep smiling and chatting about Paradise on Earth.
Watchtower KNEW THIS WAS ADVERTISEMENT from the very start!
4. Exploiting CONFLICTS of INTEREST
The basic tenet of the highly articulated public relations approaches the companies deployed centered on the notion that if the current cultural context was inhospitable to the product, one could—through shrewd and creative public relations interventions—change the culture to fit the product.
Tobacco and Watchtower created an alternate universe of false choices and lifestyles out of thin air!
In the course of this transformation, the tobacco companies successfully defined and exploited critical aspects of a new consumer culture. Within the industry, marketing experts had developed a powerful notion of social engineering, what early public relations theorist Edward Bernays had called the “engineering of consent.”
HOW? Manufacturing and exploiting personal CONFLICTS of INTEREST.
Jehovah's Witnesses were told they were "no part of this world" because the world was ending, was corrupt, and its treasures and rewards would
soon vanish in a cataclysm called Armageddon. So--why bother pursuing a career or education?
Risk VS. Reward is very powerful.
5. Cherry picking quotations
Tobacco industry hired Public Relations experts suggested cherry-picking "experts" who could disagree with Scientific Findings inimical to the
product and its cancer prone effects.
Watchtower writers did exactly the same thing in promoting 1975 as the END of 6,000 YEARS of HUMAN EXISTENCE by citing worldwide famine
predictions, overpopulation of the globe, increased lawlessness, earthquake statistics, and an endless list of isolated passages in seemingly reputable
scholar's published works.
We now know how fraudulent these cherry-picked "facts" have been over the years.
For Tobacco companies, identifying the most vocal and visible skeptics of the emerging science of smoking and disease. These scientists (many of whom turned out to be smokers themselves) would be central to the development of an industry scientific program in step with larger public relations goals.
American Tobacco began to collect the public statements of scientists who had expressed skepticism about the research findings indicting5. tobacco. The company's own public relations counsel understood that it would be critical to create questions about the reliability of the new findings and to attack the notion that these studies constituted proof of the relationship of smoking to cancer
6. Self-serving PR statements
American Tobacco put on a sincere face of concern and used 400 newspapers and magazines to declare:
We accept an interest in people's health as a basic responsibility, paramount to every other consideration in our business. We believe the products we make are not injurious to health. We always have and always will cooperate closely with those whose task it is to safeguard the public health..
Watchtower Governing Body representatives are keen on self-serving announcements too.
It is an obligation of the Tobacco Industry Research Committee at this time to remind the public of these essential points:
- There is no conclusive scientific proof of a link between smoking and cancer.
- Medical research points to many possible causes of cancer….
- The millions of people who derive pleasure and satisfaction from smoking can be reassured that every scientific means will be used to get all the facts as soon as possible.
7. WHISTLEBLOWER effect
In 1995, a Tobacco company whistleblower named Jeffrey Wigand, spilled the beans on 60's Minutes broadcast.
In 1983, Raymond Franz, Governing Body member, did the same thing exposing Watchtower corruption in his book
CRISIS of CONSCIENCE
In view of the above parallels between The Watchtower Bible and Tract Society's efforts and American Tobacco, this
analogy reinforces a bold realization that it is quite possible to fool people by a conspiracy to cover your own ass
through clever and resourceful advertising, publicity, false controversy, and labeling of your opponents as
maleficent and evil.
How many at-risk cigarette smokers and how many delusional JW's are left in the world?
However many there are, they are convinced they are persecuted unfairly.