Letters, We Get Mail, CVII

Date: Mon, December 22, 2008 2:50 pm     (answered 2 April 2009)
From: "Terry J."
Subject: Thank You

I've been Sober for over 20 years and I love stuff like this.
You're right, Bill Wilson was not a Saint and people think he is.
It makes me crazy.
They don't believe me about the women and the LSD, the bellidonna god.
But it works for me;
I don't sell god, I don't sell AA;
But it works for me.
The first book I bought and read in AA was; AA: cult or cure?
I didn't want to be in a cult;
there's alot of cult like shit that goes on
but it works
and if your an Alcoholic like me,
ANYTHING is better. Trust Me.
I enjoyed your papers on AA. T.

Hello Terry,

I'm glad to hear that you are doing well. Congratulations on your 20 years.

I cannot share your assumption about what works though. All of the evidence says that A.A. does not work to make alcoholics quit drinking or stay sober.

It's easy to Confuse Correlation and Causation. It often takes careful controlled testing to determine what really causes what, and what really works.

When A.A. was put to the test, it failed every time.

Once again, we have the problem of Dumbo and the Magic Flying Feather. Dumbo was really sure that the feather that the crow gave him was the cause of his ability to fly. And Dumbo was sure that he would fall to his death without that magic feather. No so. Dumbo was completely mistaken about the real cause of his ability to fly.

I think you may eventually discover what the real source of your ability to stay sober is.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    If I knew I was going to live this long,
**    I'd have taken better care of myself.
**      —  Mickey Mantle

Date: Sat, December 20, 2008 10:44 pm     (answered 2 April 2009)
From: "Scott M."
Subject: Info correction

Dear Orange,

Just wanted to get a piece of info out there — Lifering does have a lot of face-to-face meetings contrary to what I keep seeing noted in the mail pages. There is a link to their meeting schedule on the unhooked.com site.

Thanks so much for your thorough documentation of AA's history and track record. I came to my senses regarding AA as a cult about a year after finding myself in the "rooms". That was about 7 years ago. I found your "Orange Papers" not long after deciding I just couldn't submit to the insanity any longer. Your site confirmed for me what I had intuitively suspected from the moment I attended my first meeting: that "something was rotten in the state of Denmark". Still it took a year to overcome the message that I would die a drunken addict if I didn't continue attending AA for the rest of my days. Finding the information on your site helped clear the remaining doubts I had about leaving AA behind and moving on with my life.

Scott M.

Hello Scott,

Thanks for the correction. I'm glad to hear that Lifering does have meetings.

And thanks for all of the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

And you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past,
**    nor to worry about the future,
**    but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.
**     ==  Buddha

Date: Tue, December 23, 2008 12:06 pm     (answered 2 April 2009)
From: "Robert B."
Subject: The Money?


Love your site, and think the Orange papers! Perhaps you could direct me to the right area of your site, I am trying to understand where all their money goes to. Like all cults, someone must be getting rich.


Robert B.,

Hello Robert,

Thanks for a good question.

And the answer is a little unusual. With most cults, the money goes straight up to the top, and the guru lives in lavish luxury. That was the case when Bill Wilson was alive. The A.A. headquarters supported him in comfort for the rest of his life and he never had to work a straight job again, and they even bought him a house in the country and a Cadillac car.

But times have changed. Now, the real money does not go to the top. It stays one level down in the pyramid. That is, the real money is in the treatment centers that sell the 12-Step religion for anything from $1700 to $40,000 for a short (28 day) introduction to the cult.

Legally, those treatment centers are independent agencies. But in reality, they are very much in bed together. Take Hazelden for instance. They run a treatment center in Center City, Minnesota. They also run a huge publishing operation, and sell more 12-Step-oriented titles than anybody else in the world. And they are the largest distributor of Alcoholics Anonymous-published books. The last I heard, they had interlocking directorates: Both Hazelden and Alcoholics Anonymous had representatives on each other's boards of directors.

The treatment centers and the A.A. headquarters have always had a symbiotic relationship. The treatment centers pipe a stream of new recruits into the A.A. meeting rooms, and the A.A. headquarters allows the treatment centers to misuse and sell the Alcoholics Anonymous program. Both benefit from the arrangement.

The amounts of money are huge. For years, I've been saying that drug and alcohol "recovery" was a $6.2 or $6.8 billion per year industry, just in the United States. But the New York Times recently raised the number way up. The NYT declared that the recovery industry was a $20 billion per year business. I don't know how they came up with that number, but I'd like to find out.

With that kind of money, they have no trouble coming up with the bucks to bribe Senators and Congressmen like the Stepper pair from Minnesota, Congressman Jim Ramstad and ex-Senator Norm Coleman.

So you notice a certain lack of laws or regulations outlawing quackery and fraud in the recovery industry. You can sell any fraud as treatment for alcoholism or drug addiction as long as you slap the "12-Step" label on it and brag about how "spiritual" it is.

Other information on the finances of A.A. is here: A.A. financials.

Form 990 is a form that non-profits must file with the government in order to qualify as untaxed non-profits. Since they are public documents, we can have access to them. They are routinely posted on the Internet so that people can research non-profits and charities that they might be considering supporting.

But it appears that the copies of Form 990 for A.A. (the "GSO") that were on the Internet have gotten buried or erased. So here are local copies:

  1. 1999
  2. 2000
  3. 2001
  4. 2002
  5. 2003
  6. 2004
  7. 2005
  8. 2006
  9. 2007

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  But when to mischief mortals bend their will
**  How soon they find fit instruments of ill!
**    == POPE, The Rape of the Lock, III
UPDATE: There is now much more informtion about A.A. finances here:

May 25, 2008: Still back up on the roof, Day 8.

This might be a Western Scrub Jay. This little guy really looks ragged and motley. It might be that his feathers are worn out because they are a year old, and due to soon be molted. Then he will grow a fresh, shiny new set of feathers.

Western Scrub Jay

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

Date: Thu, November 27, 2008 7:24 pm     (answered 3 April 2009)
From: Andy
Subject: NA

Hey, I am in NA right now and while I overall like the support group and the people I disagree with many of the fundamentals of the program and find your writings very good/informative. Keep up the good work!


Hi Andy,

Thanks for the compliments. And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Jede Form von Süchtigkeit is von übel, gleichgültig,
**  ob es sich um Alkohol oder Morphium oder Idealismus handelt.
**  Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic
**  be alcohol or morphine or idealism.
**    ==  Carl Gustav Jung (1875—1961),
**        Erinnerungen, Träume, Gedanken (1962) ch. 12

Date: Sun, November 30, 2008 10:59 am     (answered 3 April 2009)
From: "Louise M."

Aloha "Orange"

I say this with all sincerity. It's too bad you have injected your writings with so much venom, that it's impossible to read them without feeling slimy. As a person with nearly 25 yrs in recovery, I have no illusions about the "humaness" of Bill W. Most folks don't think he approaches sainthood, and those with some recovery under out belts enjoy learning accurate history about the founders of this organization.

Your website is so filled with your (narcissistic) demands that your readers see Bill W as a narcissist, that you lose your own valid message due to your inability to put your rage and incessant sarcasm aside.

I would like to suggest that you have somebody edit your work and remove your non-stop ugly statements, proving that YOU are King. I would like to suggest that you find an unbiased person to edit out your narcissism, confirm actual facts, and reproduce this with veracity. The other side of Bill the nicotine sex addict, the "to the wives" nonsense, his use of LSD, misuse of funds, and whether he drank again. Until you can get honest yourself, your website is just another disgruntled addict pretending to rewrite the Big Book. And, BTW, sign your name. Bill Wilson did.

Thanks, Louise M.

Hello Louise,

Thanks for the letter.

A lot of people do think that Bill Wilson approaches sainthood. The actor Gary Busey went on TV (on the Penn & Teller show) and declared that God gave the 12 Step program to Bill Wilson, and then Bill Wilson gave it to us. And I have personally heard the same kind of drivel in A.A. meetings.

You complain about my "venom". So just how am I supposed to feel when I see creeps knowingly foisting quackery and cult religion on sick people? I consider it a really low vile despicable crime to lie to sick people and deceive them in the name of God. How do you feel about that crime? Do you approve of it?

My web site does not contain "narcissistic" demands that people see Bill Wilson as a narcissist. I am simply telling the truth as I see it. Bill was nuts, and Narcissistic Personality Disorder looks like a very good description of his mental illness.

There is nothing on my web site that declares that "I am King".

Bill Wilson did not use his real name — he usually practiced false anonymity where he hid his real name, but he made sure that all of the sycophants knew his real name. Like when he appeared before a US Senate Subcommittee, he used the name "Bill W." and banned any photography of his face. That was after he had spent years grandstanding and getting his face photographed and put in the newspaper.

Bill's picture was featured in a newspaper article on alcoholism in the August 9, 1942 issue of the Knoxville Journal.
Chester E. Kirk Collection of the John Hay Library at Brown University

Now as far as I'm concerned, anonymity is all fine and well. But obviously you don't believe in it.

My real name is Terrance Hodgins, and I live in Portland, Oregon.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    People who will not work for what is right
**    Are little better than those who are doing wrong.

Date: Sun, November 30, 2008 11:57 am     (answered 3 April 2009)
From: rl
Subject: Question

Was wondering if you still drink and have "contented sobriety"

Hello R.L.,

I haven't had a drink or cigarette or illegal drug in 8 years now, and I'm quite happy with it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.
**         ==   Albert Schweitzer (1875—1965)

From: "Todd L."
Subject: Great Job, here's some info
Date: Tue, December 2, 2008 9:11 am     (answered 3 April 2009)


I just wanted to thank you for your work in compiling this archive and more for being a voice of reason. Being a rational person I can't actually accept you (or anything else for that matter) as a "higher power", but a la "Wayne's World" "we're not worthy — we're not worthy". Great job.

Anyway, I was looking over your wish list to see if there was anything I might be able to do to show my appreciation and was able to locate some info on a couple of items on the list.

Point 8, the Westbrook Pegler quote was printed in "The Evening Independent" Jun 24, 1947. The article is entitled "Public Unable to Maintain its Cynicism".


Item 2 bullet 2 is available on eBay for $9.95 if you want a physical copy


If you just want the text


Picture of the article


That's all for now, but I'll keep my eyes open for others



Hi T.L.,

Thanks for the compliments and the tips. I ended up getting both of those Liberty Magazine articles by Emily Newell Blair. I'll have to scan them and get them online.

You have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "A lie gets halfway around the world before the
** truth has a chance to get its pants on."
**     == Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

From: "dan o."
Date: Tue, December 2, 2008 9:24 pm     (answered 3 April 2009)

hi how r u? i have personally seen less than five percent falure rate u talk about. i b.s. u not, almost everybody i see who has worked the 12 steps and continues them does not drink. the people who sit in meetings and do nothing r the ones i see leave. maybe aa is a cult, atleast there is no spaceships, waco fires, or coolaid. what is the success rate of drug and alcohol treatment centers,

Hi Dan,

I am fine. Thanks for the comment and question.

Alas, you have the cause and effect relationship backwards when you say, "almost everybody i see who has worked the 12 steps and continues them does not drink".

What is really going on is,

  1. Almost none of the people who drink alcohol bother to work the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. They know that working the Steps isn't necessary for drinking.

  2. A small percentage of the people who don't drink alcohol do come to A.A. meetings and work the Steps (because they have been fooled into thinking that they have to work the Steps in order to stay sober).

So that makes it look like working the Steps makes people get sober or stay sober, and not doing the Steps makes people drink. But that is just an optical illusion. That logic is backwards. It is sobriety that causes people to waste their time on the Steps.

In addition, you may find that a lot of the people who claim to be working the steps are not really doing them. If you go to an A.A. meeting and announce, "I don't do the 12 Steps of Bill Wilson because they are nonsense", you will become very unpopular very fast. People will say that you aren't spiritual, and you aren't working a good program. They may condemn, shun and ostracize you. They may even claim that you are killing alcoholics.

So of course everybody plays their role in "The Emperor's New Clothes", and they all say that they are working the Steps and that the wonderful Steps are keeping them sober.

The fact remains that the vast majority of the people who come to A.A. seeking help for a drinking problem do not quit drinking — at least not in A.A.:

  • Only 5% — one out of 20 — eventually pick up a one-year "sobriety medallion". Then it gets worse.
  • Only 1 or 2 per hundred newcomers get the five-year coin.
  • Only 1 in a hundred gets a ten-year coin.
  • Only 1 in a thousand get the 20-year coin.

(All of the information on coin rates is here.)

The success rate of drug and alcohol treatment centers is about the same — probably because the vast majority — like 93% of them — use A.A. as a big part of the "treatment". I hear that on average, treatment centers get about a 10% graduation rate, but half of their "graduates" relapse in the following months, so that by the one-year point, the remaining success rate is just five percent.

Note that five percent per year is the normal rate of spontaneous remission. That is the success rate of ordinary alcoholics who get no treatment or "help". Each year, about one out of 20 of the alcoholics just decides not to die that way, and quits drinking, all on his own. So neither treatment nor Alcoholics Anonymous actually improves on the sobriety rate at all.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A.A. is not a "self-help group", it's an
**    "elf-help group". You are supposed to pray
**    and beg for an invisible "Higher Power",
**    like a leprechaun, or Cinderella's Fairy
**    Godmother, to solve all of your problems
**    for you and grant all of your wishes.

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 11:05 am     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: Heresjohnny
Subject: THANK YOU!

Please continue to do your work and KEEP PEOPLE OUT OF THAT PROGRAM!

I will describe my horrible experience in AA briefly, well, I will try to be brief... I am sure you have heard it all — but I guess I have to vent. I have a therapist and I am doing very well. I drank a lot for six months after taking care of a dear uncle who passed-away. I made the mistake of thinking I was an alcoholic. I was in dire grief.

My 13 months in AA was absolute hell. I am a gay man. I was continually 13th-stepped (honestly didn't mind that much, but was told I was screwing-up, I thought I was just screwing). Most who told me not to date, tried to have sex with me and when I refused, had nothing to do with me. They were manipulative, passive-aggressive, and treated me like I was a child. They didn't expect to be dealing with an experienced, well-educated, intelligent man. Most were baffled by my strength and wisdom.

I had one horrible relationship with a very ill narcissist man, who lied and cheated and was hooked on prescription drugs, but claimed his sobriety each day in meetings. He drove three men (new-comers) out of AA prior to me. That creep did one good thing for me — he drove me to escape the insanity of the AA cult. He stole from me in more ways than one... he had 18 years sobriety!

I should stop here and say, I am not perfect, I have many faults, and still have personal work to do. I am sure I did my share of inappropriate things while in AA too. But I am certain of one thing, I was never cruel, or exploitive towards another human being.

While in AA I was continually lied to, told I was sick and suffering, my self-esteem lowered with each passing day. I was on the brink of doing away with myself and when I expressed these feelings I was told I was doing it for attention. No ONE helped me. Most cult members started to back away from me.

My first nine months, two new comers killed themselves. "They couldn't cope with the truth." "They were sick and suffering." I was so upset over these deaths and I was told, "Let it go, keep your side of the street clean, he was sick, stay in the program or that could be you!" — Fear based BULLSHIT!

From the moment I entered those rooms, I questioned everything and the more I questioned the more I was beaten down, "You have a big ego." "You're sick and suffering." "You're a lair, all drunks are lairs." I was told who I was and what my destination would be if I left the AA cult, "Jails, hospitals and institutions." I could go on and on and on. I didn't know which end was up, moods swung.... days became darker, doubted myself, then would get strong, question things... I was a Yo-yo.... darkness, strength, darkness, "you're sick" you're sick" — "Who am I?"

In many ways, AA seemed to fit with the weak minded, the abused, the ones who came from loveless homes — obvious stuff here, I know — venting. The force was so strong, I started to sway away from my loving family... It scares me to think I allowed this... that is my biggest concern, but I did fight... and I am free now...

In my year in AA I don't think I met one truly intelligent person, however what I did encounter is many people with Narcissist Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, clearly the "big book" describes these disorders as Alcoholism when in fact what is being described is those serious personality disorders. Imagine a room full of people with Narcissist Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder and imagine dealing with them every day for one hour and sometimes having dinner with them! —They called socializing with one another, "fellowship". I called it dinner mixed with misery.

It has taken me months to get my head back on straight. I am back to normal and feel stronger than ever. I have no more depression and there is no more self-deprecation (which is enforced in AA: "be humble, you have a big ego, you have terminal uniqueness").

The scariest element about AA is that there is no person monitoring the program, so most people in AA, the real sick ones who prey on the innocent and vulnerable, are left to go wild and exploit the newcomer emotionally and sexually. When you complain about these people to other cult members, you are told it is your imagination, that you're sick and suffering and that it is your fault when people treat you badly, "there are no victims, only volunteers". I never volunteered to be emotionally abused and exploited; in fact that is why I ran from AA. It took me a full year of resisting, but the few that started AA with me, sadly, they gave in and fell into the AA vortex. Brainwashed. Many others left before me or after me, most leave.

AA enables irresponsibility, in fact most will sit in meetings, confess how they had sex with their best friend's boy friend or wife or husband and get complete absolution after a meeting and told whatever harm they caused people it is okay because they are "sick and suffering". There is no responsibility.

Awful, awful people, detrimental to personal growth, harsh, cruel inhumane, psychologically and philosophically incorrect and antiqued. I would rather be a skid-row drunk and sleep on the streets than be around some of the most deceitful, mentally ill people I have ever encountered in my life.

It is truly a cult. ALL friendships are conditional upon staying in the cult, and you must never question the cult or you will be branded as trouble, you will be snubbed, marked as "mentally ill" and other members will warn other members to stay away from you, "stick with the winners". There are no winners in AA. Only sad, pathetic losers, who prey on each other, gossip and exploit one another to ease their great inner pain and sick ego.

AA is full of contradictions, coy in its writings, has answers for everything, claims no rules, but is full of rules, confusing and harmful. The worst experience of my life. I am 45 years old and can say with all honesty I have never encountered such torment and abuse in my entire life. AA is full of drifters, drug addicts, romance and sex addicts, wet minds, damaged souls, and in my opinion, AA is driven by pure evil.

This was my entire fault, I did no research, I was incredibly vulnerable and insecure when I entered, raw from a horrible experience with a terminally ill uncle — but like everything in life I learned a great deal, and I am back and better than ever.


Hello Johnny,

Thanks for the letter and your experiences.

Please don't beat up on yourself. When you said, "This was my entire fault, I did no research...", my reaction was, "Well, I didn't do any research either, before I went to my first A.A. meetings."

Everybody just says that A.A. is wonderful and it will save your life, and you should go. So I went. Later, I started seeing it for what it is. Very, very few people ever do any research before going to A.A., so you sure aren't alone.

Another line that really stands out for me is: "The scariest element about AA is that there is no person monitoring the program..."
Yes, exactly. That is one of the fatal flaws of A.A. Nobody is in charge, there is no quality control, and anybody can do anything to anybody and it isn't against the rules because there are no rules. (As you pointed out, there are no rules, but there are lots of rules like "You can't criticize The Program.")

Have a good day, and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Hero-worship is strongest where there is least regard for human freedom.
**        ==  Sir Herbert Spencer, Social Statistics, IV

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 5:11 pm     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: "Mike"
Subject: Background

I read with great interest and fascination your information about AA as a cult. I wanted to know your background and expertise before I give it any credibility — are you an alcoholic? Are or were you in AA? etc. Are you sober and if so, for how long?

Hi Mike,

The simple answers are yes, an alcoholic, and yes, 8 years sober. I also have 8 years off of cigarettes and any illegal drugs. Now I take only what the doctor tells me to take, which isn't much.

Here are some details:

  1. Definitions of "an alcoholic".
  2. Intro to A.A.
  3. Bait-and-switch treatment
  4. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense
  5. Who are you
  6. The story about "Rat Park".

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "I like nonsense — it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a
**     necessary ingredient in living. It's a way of looking at life through
**     the wrong end of a telescope... and that enables you to laugh at all of
**     life's realities."
**        ==  Dr. Seuss

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 3:20 pm     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: "Ginny"
Subject: looking for others

I grew up in Moral Rearmament and it was really BAD.
Do you know of any other people raised by MRA devotees?
Of course there's no 12 step group for us, but we all need help.



Hi Ginny,

Thanks for the note. I don't know of any way to contact former MRA members. But maybe others might want to contact you. I can forward any messages that I receive. And, when I get a forum set up, that would make a good thread.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "I have sworn, before the altar of God, eternal hostility
**  against any form of tyranny over the mind of man."
**    == Thomas Jefferson

Date: Wed, December 3, 2008 3:40 pm     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: "Bennet Fox"
Subject: More 12 Stepping

Hey Terry!

Thought you might find these interesting. Penn and Teller's Bullshit about 12 stepping!

  1. 12 Stepping Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QGjRzvbnaFk

  2. 12 Stepping Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYyrQrRKNBU

  3. 12 Stepping Part 3 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCXye9Fkgh0

I haven't watched them yet but I thought you might enjoy them!

Take care,

Hi Bennet,

Thanks for the links. I have watched them, and they are good. And funny. I love the way that Penn & Teller just nail the A.A. bullshit.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "The rule is, jam tomorrow and jam yesterday — but never jam today."
**     Lewis Carroll quotes (English Logician, Mathematician, Photographer 
**     and Novelist, especially remembered for Alice's Adventures in
**      Wonderland. 1832—1898)

UPDATE: 2013.12.07: Someone posted the entire video as a single piece, so that you do not have to watch it in pieces:

Date: Thu, December 4, 2008 7:22 am     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: "Thomas J."
Subject: Hmmmmm

Greetings, I am impressed with your literary skills as well as your ability for critical thinking. But I suspect you maybe be an undiagnosed adult who has intellectual disabilities. Possible but not limited to Aspergers. I am not an advocate of AA though I do appreciate it's founding fathers legacy to mankind. That legacy being the reduction in world wide human suffering.

A patient of mine asked me to review your site. A man who has suffered greatly under the legal drug Alcohol. This man has gone onto discover a meaningful life in part do to the therapy inherent in AA's 12 Steps. Your research is extensive and appreciated but it's your underlying hatred for Mr. Wilson I find questionable.

Thank you for your time and attention.

If I had my life to live over again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once a week. — Charles Darwin

Hello Thomas,

The Alcoholics Anonymous "founding fathers' legacy to mankind" is really similar to the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard's legacy to mankind, and that is nothing to brag about.

Date: Thu, December 4, 2008 7:47 am     (answered 4 April 2009)
From: "Thomas J."
Subject: In Step Two, it says that you are supposed to surrender to God

Dear Orange,

Blantent misrepresentations like " (In Step Two, it says that you are supposed to surrender to God — "turn your will and your life over to the care of God, as we understood Him".) makes it difficult to take your work seriously. The actual step here would be Step Three — not Step Two. These discrepancies seem to be the norm rather then the exception.

Best regards,

Dr. Wow

Hello Dr. Wow.

Yes, you are referring to a typographical error, where I typed "Step Two" when I meant "Step Three". The error was simple and obvious, and you figured it out yourself.

If that's the biggest error you can find on my web site, then my information is pretty darned accurate.

The propaganda trick that you are using is, of course, "Nit-picking". That's the stunt where somebody tries to find even just one tiny trivial error, and then declares that the whole thing is invalid. The first nit-picker declared that "Hah! You misspelled Henrietta Seiberling's name! That totally blows your credibility. Now I'm not going to believe anything else you say."

Like I have been saying, my critics go through my web site with a magnifying glass, looking for errors. And they don't find very many. But it's good to have them error-checking for me. It helps me to find and clean up the typos.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** "Men and nations behave wisely once they
** have exhausted all the other alternatives."
**     — Abba Eban (1915-2002)

Date: Thu, December 4, 2008 5:08 pm
From: "S. L"
Subject: Spirit vs Word

astute,if cynical,observations.If one tells the truth,yet the recipient is arrogant,jaded,and/or unexcepting,or else a liar with self centered motives,how can one save themselves with the truth?Only God can help,and there is a God,depite our overwhelming 'intellect'

Date: Thu, December 4, 2008 8:38 pm
From: "S. L"
Subject: but at least he didn't drink

Bill W. sounds like a weird a-hole.Dull suprise.We live now in a world now where Ethics has to be taught,(but never practised). When I was growing up,it was taken as a matter of course.Now,moguls,CEO's,and similair types rip off millions for their own beneift and for the benefit of others in their class,and either vanish into affluent obscurity or have stautes built to them,and are never even indicted,yet those 'normal' people are exploited,tortured,impoversihed,marginalised,and cursed).Still,some people retain good morality in addictions,and recovery.To have no ethics or values and profit from it,yet maintaining a thin veneer of authority and morality,this seems to be the popular trend which characterizes the 'race to the bottom',and we are almost there.Bailout,anyone,(only if you are a major corps,not a hapless,fallible mortal)? You make some good observations. Narcissistic self destructive disorder myabe is a trickle down?

Hi S.L.,

Thanks for the views. And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to stay in
**     the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at
**     least twice as fast as that!"
**    ==  Lewis Carroll (English Logician, Mathematician, Photographer and
**      Novelist, especially remembered for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
**      1832-1898)

Date: Sun, December 7, 2008 12:18 am     (answered 5 April 2009)
From: "Peter D."
Subject: secrets


Thank you,

A very interesting read. What do you suppose is the motivation for this organisation?
Most religions want money.


Hi Pete,

There are many motivations, because there isn't just one "Alcoholics Anonymous". A.A. is different things to different people. There are different levels with different motivations, and there are also different kinds of members within each level. The motivations are many:

  • The leaders at the top, for instance, may well be cynical and only in it for the money. They are pulling down anything from $70,000 to $125,000 per year, and wouldn't want to give it up even if they knew that A.A. was a failure. And they know. They have all of the information available to them.

    CORRECTION (2011.03.28): It turns out that the trustees are not paid. But other people get lots more. The President and General Manager of A.A. Greg Muth gets $125,000 from both AAWS and the GSB (General Service Board of A.A.), for a total of $250,000 per year. And then his friend Thomas Jasper gets $469,850 for being a "Senior Advisor". And many others get salaries in the range of $70,000 to $100,000 each. Look here.

    But at least one member of the Board of Trustees, Dr. Prof. George E. Vaillant, looks more like a religious nutcase who stubbornly denies the fact that A.A. fails to sober up the alcoholics, even after he himself proved with 8 years of testing that A.A. doesn't work, and just raises the death rate in alcoholics. He still thinks that people get "spiritual benefits" from the A.A. religion, so he is still promoting it as the best religion.

  • At the other end of the spectrum, we have the desperate newcomers who really hope that A.A. will solve their problems and keep them from dying of alcohol addiction. Their motivation is obviously fear of death.

  • At the top of the members' pyramid are the old-timers who have a lot of status. They enjoy being a big frog in a small pond. Outside of A.A. they are nobody, just another failure or old burn-out, but inside of A.A. they are considered fountains of wisdom and great success stories, admired and revered by the young. Their motivation is of course to maintain their status. They can't quit A.A. and give up all of that.

    Then the members in the middle have quite a variety of motivations:

  • There are members who have been made to believe that if they leave A.A., they are doomed to die drunk in a gutter. That is the standard cult practice, Phobia Induction, implanting fears and making members afraid to leave.

  • And then there are members who have been made to believe that they absolutely must go recruiting and get new A.A. members or they themselves will relapse and die drunk — that only "helping others" will save their lives.
    (BOTH lives. That is, that sentence works both ways: They believe that they have to recruit to save the other people's lives, and they believe that they have to go recruiting to save their own lives.) And they believe that they have to indoctrinate and convert newcomers for their own good. (Again, for the good of both of them.)

  • Then there are members for whom A.A. is a social club. They enjoy the social get-togethers. It is their circle of "friends". The flip side of this item is, if they quit A.A., then their "friends" won't like them any more.
    The same goes for the "Unconditional Love" and "Complete Acceptance" that new members supposedly receive. If the newcomer quits A.A., then the other members won't love him any more.

  • Then there are people who enjoy Feelings of Grandiose Self-importance. "We are special" "We are chosen." They feel that they are doing the Will of God, and "helping others selflessly" by recruiting more cult members.

    It's like The Mamas and Papas sang:

    "I'm in with the in-crowd;
    I go where the in-crowd goes.
    I'm in with the in-crowd;
    And I know what the in-crowd knows. ..."

    Many cult members like to imagine that their cult is The Wave Of The Future, a big movement that is sweeping the world, ushering in The New Age of Peace and Enlightenment, and A.A. is no different. A.A. members call it things like "The Movement". A.A. members imagine that A.A. is actually some new enlightened mode of recovery from alcohol or drugs that will sweep the world and reform "the recovery community", rather than just a recycled, tired old cult religion with no new answers to anything.

  • Some members believe in Sacred Science — Only A.A. has the magic answer. Members actually believe the cult dogma, and actually believe that only this group has THE BIG ANSWER to all problems in life. — Not just the answer to alcoholism, but the answer to everything.

    And they believe that any newcomer who disagrees with the cult dogma is of course diseased and in denial, because A.A. teachings are of course the true and correct answer to everything.

    And of course they reject any information that does not accord with their own beliefs — it has to be wrong, automatically wrong, because it doesn't accord with their own beliefs. That circular logic keeps people brainwashing themselves endlessly, and never learning anything different.

  • Some want The Promised Goodies. All cults hold out the promise of something great if you kiss enough ass and follow the rules long enough. They offer enlightenment, spiritual virtue, sainthood, immortality, a ticket to Heaven, mental, physical, or spiritual powers, recovery, sanity, or something.

    In A.A., The Promises are even written up as a formal list. Bill Wilson promised members a whole lot more than just sobriety or survival.

    Conversely, they say, "Don't Leave Five Minutes Before The Miracle!"
    So you can't ever leave, or you will miss out on the promised goodies.

  • Old-timers don't want to admit that they have been so wrong for so long.
    "Do you expect me to believe that I wasted 12 years of my life in a cult?"
    That was a real statement made by an A.A. member in a newsgroup. He wasn't about to believe that he had wasted so many years in a cult. So that person will continue to convince himself that it is a wonderful organization, not a cult, just because he doesn't want to believe that he wasted a lot of time on something foolish.
    As they say in A.A., Denial isn't just a river in Egypt.

  • Some members are heavily into the Giggly Wonderfulness and Starry-Eyed Faith, which is a lot of fun for some people. Spiritual make-believe is a real kick. It's a lot more fun to imagine that you "are on the Broad Highway, walking hand in hand with The Spirit of the Universe", than to imagine that you are just another person who has been unwise and who got hooked on bad drugs.

    In addition, it just seems to be a common human trait that people wish to feel that their suffering was for some higher purpose. It is a lot easier for people to believe that they went through Hell so that they would be prepared to help others, than to believe that they went through Hell solely because they made some foolish choices.

  • Many people want Absolute Certainty. Dogmatic cult religions say that you don't need to worry about being wrong:
    "There is no question that we are absolutely right about everything, and we have a simple answer to everything."
    "Our book tells the truth about everything, and is 100% correct."
    "Our teacher's Promises are guaranteed to come true."
    "Our ticket to Heaven is guaranteed to work."
    "The answer to all problems is 'Do the Twelve Steps, Get a sponsor, and Read the Big Book.'"

    Such simple, absolutely-true answers also spare the cult member from the hard work of thinking, and let him avoid the discomfort of having doubts.

  • And then there are the Disturbed Followers. A lot of the members have mental problems. First they were obsessed with drinking alcohol, and now they are obsessed with cult religion. People who insist on believing a bunch of illogical, irrational, unrealistic, contradictory nonsense really do need their heads examined.

  • And then it gets worse. There are sexual predators, whose motivation is to get another warm body to play with. Both female and male newcomers are vulnerable.

  • Those predators also often get money and power from the newcomers. In groups like the Midtown group, the newcomers do menial labor for the old-timers, cleaning their houses and mowing their lawns and washing their cars. And also financing their vacations.

  • And the most exploitative criminals of all are The Treatment Providers.
    Here is where the real money is. Treating alcoholics and drug addicts with the 12-Step cult religion is a multi-billion-dollar-per-year industry — something between $6.2 billion and $20 billion per year. (My previous number was $6.2 or $6.8 billion, but the New York Times just printed the number $20 billion.) Ninety-three percent of the treatment centers in the USA use the "12-Step model", and they charge anything from $1700 to $40,000 for a 28-day introduction to the 12-Step religion. Who would want to end such a profitable game, and give up billions of dollars, by admitting that 12-Step treatment doesn't work, and is, in fact, just expensive fraud?

    So the treatment providers continue to advertise and promote "12-Step treatment" and Alcoholics Anonymous, and bribe Senators and Congressmen to get more funding for "mental health treatment".

In looking back, I see that I also answered this question in a couple of other ways, here, and here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   "this is about cars, pussy, and money..."
**     == an Arizona Young People's A.A. leader

Date: Sun, December 7, 2008 1:06 pm     (answered 6 April 2009)
From: "Janet S."
Subject: The "we're righteous because we're not in it for the money" argument...

I used to belong to a cult religion that frequently spotlighted their "we're not in it for the money" arguments. Donations were always anonymous via donation boxes and workers at their headquarters received only a small stipend of $25 to cover expenses for toiletries and such. Ministers were all-volunteer, never paid. For a long time, I was really impressed with this "selfless level of service". Years after being in that religion, I left. One day something dawned on me. Members of that religion often referred to those serving at headquarters as being "specially blessed" because they didn't have to deal with the "world". It finally dawned on me that just because one's motive isn't money doesn't mean one's motive isn't selfish. (There is more than one form of profit).

What I started to realize about these "volunteers" from my old religion is that "not having to deal with the (real) world" was in-and-of-itself a payoff. They got a roof over their head, food in their mouth and worked full-time in a hobby (the bible) they enjoyed and they faced practically zero risk in life to have all of this. And they got to look righteous for their "sacrifice" to boot.

I really don't believe the bit about "what other organization limits their member's contributions" really proves anything about the supposed "righteousness" of 12-stepper motives. What I saw when I went to 12-step groups (AL-Anon, CoDA) was the payoff the older members got in their "emotional" bank account, not their financial one. What was really sad was that they got their payoff at the emotional expense of others. Honestly, what I saw, was a bunch of dysfunctional drunks/drug-addicts/"counter-dependents" joining a surrogate dysfunctional family (in place of their biological family). What I saw was people attempting to either jocky for a better position in the new family than they had in their biological family or learning to accept that their position in the biological family would forever be theirs, even in this new family, and they just needed to make peace with that fact and accept it (let go and let God). The dynamics of this new "family" were not substantially different from that of the old biological drunken/drug-addicted/counter-dependent family.

Really, the $3000 limit AA places on contributions can go as far to proving that "obedience to the cult" is premium as it can to arguing that it's evidence they're not a cult. After all, if we're at the top of the emotional food-chain in this cult, we want to make sure that someone with a lot of money doesn't come along and buy their way into changing the tenets that help us maintain our power, don't we? Why do you think they don't allow outside contributions? They don't want someone from the outside to use their monetary influence to change the fact that "Only AA is spoken here" (God, no, "Higher Power" forbid someone with money actually use it to influence a real science of addiction among these people). Also, while AA may have a $3000 limit (they're thinking about changing that to $10,000,) Al-Anon's is $5,000, if I remember correctly, and this is just the yearly max. A lot of AA'ers attend Al-Anon. I know of no WSO rules that keep steppers from yearly donating the max to both organizations or even all 12-step WSO's (CoDA, OverEaters). There are also one-time "lifetime" contribution that can be made. Oh, and a group can contribute as much as it wants (obedience to the group is premium). So, really, while I guess there's a limit in there somewhere, that's a lot that one person can do to be involved in contributing financially to 12 step religion.

This next bit is kind of funny. When I was new to that cult religion I mentioned earlier, I had a workmate that I went to lunch with from time-to-time who was an AA member. This workmate claimed, at the time, that she was having a hard time finding a sponsor. She later told me that she had sorta been using me (a non-AA'er) as a sponsor in the sense that she talked to me about the problems she had managing her alcoholism and how she used the steps. I remember, at the time, thinking how the 12-step program as she shared it with me, was quite similar to the religion I was involved with.

At the time, my cult-religion training warned me to remember that, though AA might look like my religion, it could not possibly be the true religion because, well, only MY religion was the true religion. AA therefore was a really clever "counterfeit" religion "from Satan". I felt I had to break off my friendship with this AA'er as it proved to me the tenets of my religion that associations with the "world" would pull me away from God. I had totally forgotten about this experience until many years later when an alcoholic acquaintance recommended that I attend Al-Anon (I had an alcoholic boyfriend). Something felt oddly familiar about those "rooms". After many months of 12-step coercion, I remembered the association I had made many years ago with AA and my old cult religion. Even more funny is the fact that shortly after that I ran into a married couple from my old religion and the husband told me my old religion "had no problem with AA" and that he worked with people in my old religion in prison AA groups all the time. I was floored. This religion flatly opposes any form of "interfaith" and even considers Yoga exercises a practice of false religion that puts one in contact with demons. I couldn't believe that they couldn't see that AA was a religion and they were therefore practicing interfaith.

And another thing. That alcoholic friend that introduced me to Al-Anon? She actually told that the AA WSO could never be sued for an AA group's misbehavior because "each group is autonomous and fully self-supporting". Do you think it's possible that the real reason for the way they structure their organization is to prevent the WSO from being sued over damaging behavior like that found in the Midtown Group? In particular, I noticed the quote that, in the Midtown Group, getting an STD was "almost a rite of passage". Since an individual can be sued for giving an STD, couldn't the Midtown Group be sued for coercing people into getting a disease as a rite of passage? Does the way the AA heirarchy is structured somehow manage to keep the WSO from being sued over the damaging behavior "an autonomous, fully self-supporting" group engages in?

And another thing. What about that argument "does it really matter where it (AA) came from?"? It matters when it becomes obvious that 12-stepping has inherited substantially similar behavior traits as its progenitor.

Another thing that just seem to floor me about 12-stepping is that many emotional/psychological aspects of it's Lutheran origins really are pretty prominent and how the scads of gay people i met in those rooms could find themselves "worshipping" in a religion with roots in what strikes me as an unforgiving, spirit-whipping denomination bewilders me. I also can't figure how any self-respecting atheist could possibly 12-step at all, much less with the Lutheran influence. I can think of some religions, even christian ones, that would accept people from both of these groups, but Lutherans??? Hardly.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Keep up the good work.

Hi Janet,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. You make a lot of good points.

I am also curious about the issue of the headquarters being protected from lawsuits by the autonomy of the local groups. Legally, that's a very interesting issue that will keep some lawyers busy sometime in the future. I consider it only a matter of time before A.A. get sued for a variety of things, ranging from quackery and malpractice and coercive recruiting to aiding and abetting the rape of underage girls.

In fact, A.A. has already been sued by Baldwin Research for character defamation by various A.A. groups that were trying to keep alcoholics from going to Baldwin for treatment. I have not heard how it turned out, or if the case is finished yet.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle,
**     and the life of the candle will not be shortened.
**     Happiness never decreases by being shared.
**        ==   Buddha

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