How do we know JWs are wrong and how do we convince others JWs are wrong: logic versus persuasion

by slimboyfat 57 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • slimboyfat

    We like to think we are logical and have good reasons for for our beliefs. No more so than when it comes to our reasons for rejecting the truth claims of JWs.

    We reject their version of history, such as the date of the fall of Jerusalem, because it doesn't agree with the historical evidence. We reject their claim that we are living in the time of the end because there are not more wars, famines, diseases or earthquakes now that at other times in history. We reject their interpretation of the "generation" of Matthew 24 because it doesn't make sense contextually, linguistically, or logically. We reject their version of creationism because the evidence shows that life evolved slowly by natural selection.

    But it seems to me that while these are some of the reasons we might give for rejecting JW beliefs, what actually persuades us to reject those beliefs in the first place is often quite different.

    One of the most important aspects of persuasion is social proof. We see other people leaving JWs and this persuades us that there are good reasons for leaving JWs. In logical terms this is a fallacy known as the bandwagon argument or argumentum ad populum. In this sense, it is the very existence of this site, its popularity, and the number of stories of leaving JWs it contains, which gives it persuasive power in drawing people away from JWs. Not the detailed doctrinal or historical arguments, but the stories of leaving, their volume and relatability.

    Another important fallacy involved in persuasion is the genetic fallacy. Maybe others have had a similar experience of studying something for a long time to try to work out if it is true. You make arguments in your head for and against and go round in circles. This can go on a long time, but it's when you realise the history behind a particular JW truth claim that a lightbulb goes on and you realise it just cannot be true. Take 1914 for example and now you can get bogged down in translation issues, astronomical data, ancient cuneiform. You can get incredibly detailed if you want to spend days and weeks researching this. On the other hands just a few key peculiarities of the history of the doctrine can psychologically undermine it much more than empirical data. For example the fact the size of the pyramid was used to support 1914, that the date was changed from 606 BC to 607 BC to make it fit, that Russell got the date from other Adventists, that president Knorr said he didn't necessarily believe it, that they say Satan was kicked out of heaven in September/October but World War 1 started in August already... this could be a long list.

    So often it's the historical circumstances of a teaching that undermines it more than logical arguments for and against. Refusing blood transfusion arose when donating blood was patriotic during wartime and vaccines were also stigmatised. Disfellowshipping started around the time Olin Moyle was kicked out of the religion and hardened following Raymond Franz's departure. Psychologically these details seem to harm belief in these doctrines more than a deep consideration of scriptures or arguments or logic.

    Another thing that often persuades us JWs are wrong is the sheer weight of expert opinion that JWs are wrong about key issues. People are hard wired to respect authority and expert opinion. JWs do an excellent job of neutralising this in their literature by 1) arguing that not all experts reject their views such as about evolution and 2) providing their own experts to support their claims. When we were naive JWs we often assumed that experts were simply not in possession of all the facts. If they read the Creation book or considered things dipassionately they'd realise they are wrong to believe evolution. However if we expose ourselves to books that explain evolution clearly we realise that experts are well aware of the type of arguments JWs make and they do not find them compelling. We also find out that experts JWs claim are on their side are either being misrepresented or their credentials are not what they are cracked up to be. So we reject JW beliefs because they are supported by dubious means. We didn't realise how much expert opinion weighs against JWs because we were discouraged from reading such matters or studying them. So when we realise experts reject JW claims directly and unitedly this does a huge amount to undermine belief in JW teachings.

    From personal experience I have noticed that arguing with a JW never convinces them they are wrong. If you want to convince a JW you need to persuade them not refute them. This requires a very illogical approach as explained above.

    Having said that, while persuasion might be more effective than refutation, it is still not very effective. JWs will often only be convinced JWs are wrong when such a conclusion aligns with their own interests.

    Logical arguments only work with people are are already convinced. Amd persuasion only works with people who want to be persuaded.

    Displacement may be more effective than either persuasion or refutation. In other words, instead of arguing JWs are wrong, or undermining JWs by appealing to authority, the genetic fallacy or bandwagon effect, don't say anything about JWs at all. Ignore the subject and suggest doing something alternative instead of the ministry. Then instead of the meeting. Then make it regular. Maybe the best way to win an argument with JWs is to avoid the argument.

    Just some ideas. What do you think?

  • cofty
    One of the most important aspects of persuasion is social proof. We see other people leaving JWs and this persuades us that there are good reasons for leaving JWs.

    That had nothing to do with why I left. I didn't know any ex-JWs.

    It was 100% based on facts and evidence. I researched doctrines using only the bible and WT library including many of Russell's and Rutherford's books.

    Logical arguments only work with people are are already convinced.

    I was entirely convinced the WT was the Truth when I discovered a flaw in the doctrine. It was about facts and nothing else for me. I'm certain I'm not unique.

  • tor1500


    I'm a witness, not for a long time though. Since I've been one, you can't convince nor can you persuade. Those don't work. I once found something in one of our books & showed it to a sister...she says...I was questioning God...I said, NO, I'm questioning man...the paragraph said one thing & the scripture said something else was like her brain short circuited...but I planted a seed, because she told me that now she is going to research because I have her curious...Now, of course she hasn't gotten back to me as of yet...but even a blind man could see what I pointed out.

    Sometimes they like to talk about Christiandom....I tell them, I came from there & no they don't talk about JW's because that is bad business. That's like Walmart saying don't shop at K-Mart...So we shouldn't at the hall talk about other religions, because they don't talk about us, well not from the pulpit, at there may be a person in the audience that is from another religion & if we want to bring them in, it's not good to talk about another religion....They could go back & say, you know them witnesses talk about blah blah blah....We don't want nobody to talk about us so we shouldn't either, & if we do, then we stooped to their level...

    Even my comments I place little seeds that may not be in the literature, but you can't deny, I made a good point...I like the story of David where after he slept with Bathseba and had her hubby killed, & his friend told him the story & David got angry about the man in the story, but his friend told it, it was him...that's kind of how I get them to think a very little bit...I haven't made any leaps and bounds with their thinking, but sometimes you have to appeal to folks fair play...But I do make a dent...

    Again, sometimes a little story, that is talking about them but they don't know it...but it does make them take a second look....

    I have one for them...but not sure how to swing this...In revelations, it talks about Jesus being on the white horse with an arrow but no bow, well, that's not Jesus...if one reads it, Jesus cannot ride out, then come back & read the scroll....then ride out again, then open another scroll...that's not Jesus...Jesus uses a sword, not an arrow & the arrow hasn't a he can't conquer anything....I'm working on it...

    It's not about convincing them or persuading's about just talking and mentioning things as a matter of factly....So far I've not been called into the back room as of yet...

    I've also learned to leave them to their thoughts...because if this whole bible thing is true...& Jehovah/Jesus is going to Judge, we all will have to answer for ourselves...God will ask us who did we listen to...GB's of him...I don't think he'll be angry if some stayed witnesses but he would also like to know...well if you stayed, did you swallow all the kool-aide...& that's the deal can say, yes I stayed but I believed the bible more than them. & that just might be the ticket to paradise, heaven or wherever, no one knows, because no one has come back to tell us...

    Plant little seeds, don't argue with them...always be humble...use a lot of grease when you talk to them...they won't know what hit them...

    But at the end of the day....JW's have to be JW's that's their only claim to fame...other than that, they feel worthless, being a JW gives them their worth....& most JW's have to be validated...think about it...You can comment one word & the brothers say, Good, or very nice...& that blows up most witnesses skirts...maybe the majority of them were never validated in their seems most of them have that MO...Birds of a feather flock together...maybe some witnesses have a certain personality that can't be this world if we can't cure it we'll colonize it...( isn't that what they did to the lepers)....

    You can't change folks that don't think they need to be changed or want to be changed.

    That's my 2 cents, not much I know...but there it is...


  • Ucantnome

    for me it wasn't about whether they were specifically chosen by God it was about what I would/could do which was related to a personal experience regarding belief. Therefore coming to a site like this or talking to others or reading books would have made no impact on me. I assume there are others like me.


    How do we know JWs are wrong

    It`s Provable..

    How do we convince others JWs are wrong..

    A lot of JW`s.....Like being JW`s..

    Your not going to convince them of anything..

    don't say anything about JWs at all. Ignore the subject and suggest doing something alternative instead of the ministry. Then instead of the meeting.

    No Loyal WBT$ JW wants to be a..

    Image result for Weak

  • nicolaou

    It was all about doctrine for me.

  • sparrowdown

    I think for many of the people who remain in this group their reasons for doing so are mainly social.

    The pressure to conform, the desire to be accepted and approved of by the group etc - all natural desires which WT is happy to exploit. For those people they stay for social reasons and they leave for social reasons.

    When things are going fine socially they can overlook any mistake or gaps in logic presented by WT. Then, when something very painful happens or maybe a succession of painful events that causes their "faith" to shatter they start to question the things they were previously only too happy to ignore and they are no longer able to cut WT the slack it needs to keep the lies going. If someone acts on these feelings of "someting is not right here" and starts to research WT for themselves that's when true awakening can occur.

    In my experience with trying to prove, convince or persuade others truth cannot be told it can only be realized. This point you alluded to in your post and for that reason if I see a JW now and cannot avoid chatting with them I talk about anything and everything but the"truth." Far more effective for them to see me happy and well adjusted.

  • slimboyfat

    Cofty you say you weren't influenced by others and it was your own reading of scripture pure and simple. I don't know the details, I wasn't there. But I ask you to consider if there may have been influences you were not aware of.

    I believe Dawkins is fond of saying that what religion you are is an accident of birth. You take on the beliefs of your parents and those around you. There is no avoiding it. A child of Aglicans doesn't normally grow up to be a Muslin. Similarly former JWs tend to take on the dominant religious tradition of their society.

    People who leave the Witnesses are also heavily influenced by their environment. Many who leave the Witnesses claim that a pure and unbiased reading of the scriptures led them to Christ or the Catholic Church or whatever. But it's noticeable that in most cases this "pure" reading of scripture leads to the JW accepting the theology of a dominant religion in their social environment. A JW in Italy reads the Bible and returns to the Catholic mother Church. A JW in the Scottish Highlands reads the Bible and it leads him to Calvinism. A JW in England reads the Bible and it leads him to a Protestant church. A JW in Eastern Europe reads the Bible and it leads him to the orthodox faith, and so on. The common theme is that the "unbiased" reading of scripture tends to lead the JW back into the mainstream - whatever that is in their society.

    It would be more impressive if a "pure" reading of scripture led a JW to accept a version of Christianity that is not dominant in his society. If a "pure" reading of scripture in Greece led someone to adopt to Calvinism or someone in Protestant Scandinavia to become Catholic, and so on. But it doesn't tend to happen that way, because people who leave the JWs are heavily influenced by their social environment. In your case you adopted Protestant Christianity which dominates our culture and was supported by the Reachout Trust in particular. This may as you say have been completely free from influence from any outside persuasion. But I just note that you didn't become an orthodox Christian or a Lutheran or an Armenian or a Quaker or Unitarian. Had you lived in societies where they dominate, your unbiased reading of scripture may have led in those directions, but you don't, and it didn't.

  • cofty
    I ask you to consider if there may have been influences you were not aware of

    I have reflected many times on the most significant decision of my life. There were no other influences. It was about cold hard facts. It was not true therefore I left.

  • breakfast of champions
    breakfast of champions

    I'm not a big fan of the terms "convince" or "persuade."

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