Born to Be Conned - The New York Times
People have a strong innate desire to make sense of the world. Which is why they choose to believe something that on the surface provides them the answer to this immensely complex field of subject matter. People are often committed to the KISS principle and believe a simple answer is best, even when it does not answer everything upon closer examination, or simply fails. This the first point as to why people choose to believe nonsense.
The second point the article brings out is that of self-preservation. No one likes to admit they have been duped, especially when it means giving up point #1.This is when cognitive dissonance hits, and they run away from its painful effects.
I have experienced this firsthand when dealing with intelligent JWs. Lack of intelligence is not the problem. These points sum up the issue well.
This article should be moved to the "best of" section, if it still exists.
“When people want to believe what they want to believe,” David Sullivan, a professional cult infiltrator, told the Commonwealth Club of California, a public affairs forum, in July 2010, “they are very hard to dissuade.”
Actually, this pretty much sums up people's beliefs in general and is summed up nicely in Paul Simon's song, "The Boxer", in the words, "A man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."
I recall also an old latin maxim from a few centuries ago: "Mundus vult decipi" ("The world wants to be deceived").
Making meaning out of meaningless is an extremely strong tendency found in most humans who can reason and think. After people "work" out their sense of meaning, they are less inclined to keep open minds about alternative explanations. That applies to people in cults as well as those who are not.
But, yes, it definitely becomes especially problematic when individuals are taught by their leaders to accept without question all they are told and threatened with negative consequences if they don't.
Exactly!! This is the exact reason why they always drum ''listen and obey'' in the rank and file's heads so much!!!
Like this passage:
That’s the power of the good con artist: the ability to identify your deepest need and exploit it. It’s not about honesty or greed; we are all suckers for belief. In Ms. Lloyd’s case, money was indeed a factor. But it need not be.
The point was valid because many would object and say that witnesses are not trying to con people into belief, for no one is actually profiting off members. There is no agenda to having more witnesses...
The reality is, "faithful" witnesses really believe in everything taught, NOT for financial gain, but for a sense of purpose, and it could be said, a sense of power and control.....over self and other witnesses....
The more engrossed a reader was in the story, the fewer false notes she noticed. Well-told tales make red flags disappear.
Lots of interesting things in the essay. I found this comment interesting, because I think it might explain why JWs are becoming less convincing and less good at conning people. Their output simply doesn't produce compelling narratives any more. Say what you like about how crazy the old "Babylon the Great Has Fallen" book was, it made a good coherent narrative. Other old books like "Paradise Regained" and "Jehovah's Witnesses in the Divine Purpose" had good stories with flowing narratives and satisfying endings. Even the "Live Forever" book had a progressive sort of story to tell. But what about the "Knowledge" book and the "Bible Teach" book? They don't so much tell a story as lay out doctrine in discrete chapter chunks. Efficient maybe, but convincing or compelling? Not really.
So yes the Watchtower is still conning many people. But I think they are becoming less effective at it and one reason is they are not as good at telling their story as they used to be. In part that's because they don't have a good story to tell of course. How can you possibly insert the new generation teaching into a good narrative? Or explain the 101 year ineffective kingdom rule since 1914 in a convincing way. It's a tough ask to start with and even so they are excelling at failing miserably.
Yes, this in conjunction with the bending truth video is good, but I really was blow away by a recent program (no pun intended) about the brain. It's on PBS here in the US. Here is a link to watch one episode, things are very well articulated about 40 mins in.Really helps getting over "how could I be so stupid?"