This week Witnesses start to study the July issue of the Watchtower Study Edition.  A while ago, we published a review of a secondary article in this issue which you can view below. However, something just came to light which has taught me to be more careful in accepting Watchtower sources as presented in the publications.

In the article, a resource is cited with what turns out to be a very judicious and self-serving application of ellipsis.  The relevant quote from the Watchtower article is:

“Keep in mind that Satan does not want you to think clearly or reason things out well.  Why? Because propaganda “is likely to be most effective,” says one source, “if people…are discouraged from thinking critically.” (Media and Society in the Twentieth Century.)
(ws17 07 p. 28)

Those with a background knowledge of JW thinking will quickly see why the ellipsis was needed to hide the inconvenient elements of this expert’s findings:

“Therefore, it is likely to be most effective if people do not have access to multiple sources of information and if they are discouraged from thinking critically.  Michael Balfour has suggested that the “best touchstone for distinguishing propaganda from science is whether a plurality of sources of information and of interpretations is being discouraged or fostered.” (Media and Society in the Twentieth Century. – page 83)

If you are unfamiliar with the Organization’s position on research, allow me to explain that Witnesses are actively discouraged from reviewing “multiple sources of information” and of considering “a plurality of…interpretations”.  Anything that disagrees with Watchtower doctrine is considered as apostate material and viewing it is equivalent to viewing pornography.[i]

Of course, use of ellipsis is valid at times. I just used them to avoid repeating the same phrase a second time. They can also be used to avoid including information irrelevant to the matter under discussion.  However, using them to conceal information that it both relevant and damning to the case one is making is nothing short of intellectual dishonesty.

So the lesson we can take from this is to always check the full text of the sources referenced in the publications of to ensure one is not getting a distorted view of the truth.  A good resource for doing this is google books.  Make sure to frame the quote in quotation marks to restrict the search.


[i] w86 3/15 p. 14 ‘Do Not Be Quickly Shaken From Your Reason’
Why is reading apostate publications similar to reading pornographic literature?

Winning the Battle for Your Mind