Letters, We Get Mail, CXVIII

Date: Wed, October 1, 2008 8:12 pm     (answered 28 April 2009)
From: "Brenda H."

Hello Mr. Orange I was just mailing you to voice my opinion. You cannot say that the sucess rate is 0 when AA has helped millions. That is a proven fact. You riticule good people as I was once told dont beleive everything you read and that appears to be the reason as I read here and thanks fpr your opinion but millions would beg to differ.

Hello Brenda,

No, it is not "a proven fact" that "AA has helped millions".
Where is the proof? There is no proof.

The A.A. headquarters will not even say what the A.A. success rate is.

So I'll give you the opportunity to do it:

What is the A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many finally pick up a one-year coin for a year of sobriety?
A 5-year coin?
Ten years?
Twenty years?

(HINT: the answers are here.

Then compare those numbers to the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics, which is about 5% per year. That is the success rate of people who go it alone and quit drinking by themselves, without any A.A. or other "help".

What you will see is that A.A. does not increase the sobriety rate of alcoholics at all. Zero percent improvement.

So much for A.A. "helping millions".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions;
**    reality can be attained only by someone who is detached."
**      ==  Simone Weil (1909—1943),
**          Gravity and Grace (La Pasanteur et la Gr&acote;ce)

Date: Thu, October 2, 2008 12:43 pm     (answered 28 April 2009)
From: jordan l.
Subject: running down AA online....

You like to read a lot into to the big book, that is your right.

what about the people who are happy in their sobriety?

when did you ever try AA?

how many years did you suffer from uncontrolled drinking?

what did "you feel like "when every earthly thing you ever had , was taken from you as a result of "your own "consumption of alcohol?

how did you feel in the end of your battle with the bottle?

what method did you employ to return from the depths of suicidal despair ?

as a member of AA and a recovered alcoholic, I agree bill was sick and will also concede that some individuals "sick ones" find their way into our fellowship and intend to do harm ,all organizations are vulnerable to this. to condemn AA wholly for the digressions of a few has the power to drive away potential members and that would be sad if they need and want this.

Some of the things ,that happen at meetings are wrong the crazy pushy old timers that bully new members is not attractive ,some are only their for their own sick sexual compulsions ,and as of late we do not have a success rate worthy of our destinction as "the greatest social phenomenon of the twentieth century" we do how ever where I got help (sober)

have a sincere desire to be of help to any body who might have the illness as we see it only a person who has been to the bottom in their own mind due to alcohol consumption will realey see the simplicity and effectiveness of avoiding one drink for one day ,and to respond emotionaly to the day we are living in "one day at a time", we who have had genuine success with AA sobriety will be happy to openly discuss any part of AA ,as it can be applied to an individuals desire to remain sober we have nothing to hide and are no cult ,we have no leadership other than compliance to our traditions and at that we have no appointed authority to see to even that ,only by our own individual desire to participate on what ever level we decide will AA carry on .we as I've been taught we (AA) are only "one" way to deal with an age old problem ,my sponsor has made it perfectly clear to me his suggestions are just that and I'm free to do as I please ,his motive for taking the time ,is only to carry the message of sobriety one day at a time to me ,....this he say's he does to ensure his own sobriety one day at a time.

Maybe it "is".....all just bullshit and we are all a bunch of crazy yahoo's that have missed the boat in life that being said , I will continue to (after ten year's continuous , first time) take my way of responding to life's certain up's and down's ...free from alcohol rather than the way I was ,for eighteen years .without AA, hopefully no one close to you is currently suffering from compulsive drinking the way I have ,because the living hell on earth that....that is ,is not nesescery for anyone to endure.

we are not perfect ,but we are what is available to those who want it.

maybe you could tell a little about you sucsessful victory over a serious compulsive drinking disorder.

feel free to contact me with any response you see fit to forward.

Jordan l BC canada .

Hello Jordan,

The answers to your biographical questions are here:

  1. Intro to A.A.
  2. Bait-and-switch treatment
  3. Friends driven away from help by the 12-step nonsense
  4. who are you
  5. who are you, again

To make a long story short, yes, I've been through the mill too. Drank too much for 18 or 20 years, lost everything, ended up homeless. Been there, done that.

And then I snapped out of it and quit drinking. I think I was helped a lot by a doctor who said, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one." I chose to quit drinking and not die. That was 8 years ago. I also quit all drugs, so now I have 8 years clean and sober. I even quit smoking so that I could really recover.

So you can forget the debating technique where you try to imply that I don't really know about alcoholism.

You want to know how I quit drinking? I just quit. I just decided that I wasn't going to die that way, and I just quit. I quit without A.A., and in fact, quit two weeks before I ever got to an A.A. meeting. The story is here.

If you are happy in A.A., then have fun. Enjoy. It's a free country, and you can join any cult religion you like. I'm not writing about the people who are having a good time.

  • I'm talking about the people who are shoved into A.A. under one guise or another, and given old quack medicine when they need real help.
  • I'm also talking about the women and girls who get 13th-Stepped when they are supposed to be getting help with sobriety.
  • And I'm talking about the people who are given grossly wrong misinformation about alcoholism, falsehoods that make sobriety harder.
  • And I'm talking about the people driven to suicide when they are told not to take their doctor-prescribed medications.
  • And I'm talking about the people who get their minds messed up by the constant put-downs and insults and confession sessions.
  • And I'm talking about the alcoholics who are harmed by A.A. —
    1. increased rate of binge drinking.
    2. increased cost of hospitalization.
    3. increased rate of rearrests.
    4. increased death rate.
  • And I'm talking about the people who are sentenced to A.A. meetings.

You didn't bother to mention those aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous while you were praising it.

You have regurgitated a whole lot of the standard A.A. dogma and propaganda, but the one thing you have not said is that Alcoholics Anonymous actually increases the amount of sobriety in this world. You have not said that the A.A. program makes alcoholics quit drinking. You have not supplied a shred of evidence to show that A.A. actually works.

You imply that A.A. works, and use phrases like, "we who have had genuine success with AA sobriety", but that is just deceptive language that hides the fact that the vast majority of people who go to A.A. do not stop drinking. You ignore the huge numbers who don't have "genuine success with AA sobriety".

So I'll give you a chance to answer the question I asked in the previous letter:

What is the A.A. success rate?
Look here for the rest of the question.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**        "We are all born mad. Some remain so."
**        ==  Samuel Beckett  (1906—1989) Waiting For Godot, II

Date: Fri, October 3, 2008 8:09 am     (answered 29 April 2009)
From: "Matt R."
Subject: FW: AA.. total waste of space!

Hi again Mr Orange..

I see you're active again on your site.. was hoping to get a reply from you on my below emails..


Southampton Hampshire

Hello Mat,

Sorry to take so long to answer. I'm just way backlogged on answering email. But today is your lucky day, finally. :-)

== Orange

From: Matt
Sent: 15 April 2008 17:00     (answered 29 April 2009)
Subject: FW: AA.. total waste of space!

Hi Mr Orange,

I sent the below email the beginning of the year and haven't heard back, or seen it appear on your site. Hopefully the CIA or someone hasn't locked you up for telling the truth hehe. Anyway, there was a program on TV last night in the UK called "Am I Normal".. very good viewing I felt. You should look up the gentleman named Jeffrey Shaler. His book "Addiction is a choice" looks like it might be worthy reading. He basically put it that people who become addicted choose to become addicted and people naming addiction as an illness are enabling people to shun responsibility for their own actions. I totally agree with this line of thinking and have thought this way for some time...

Anyway got to go home..


Yes, Hi again, Mat.

I know that book, "Addiction is a choice". I read it way back when, in my first few months of sobriety, and liked it a lot. In fact, it's on my "Top 10" list of books to read.

Sent: 17 January 2008 16:55     (answered 29 April 2009)
From: Matt R.
Subject: AA.. total waste of space!

Hi Mr Orange,

I'm so glad I found your site. Made me realize that my own person struggle was real, worthwhile and not a joke. I'm an ex-drinker, and by many people around me considered an alcoholic. I myself believed, no believe I'm an alcoholic as well. I think drinking a bottle of whiskey a day plus beers is well within the realms of alcoholic. Ok, I held down a job, could drive a car, have sensible conversations and led quite a "normal" life. I just drank far too much. One day after 7 years almost no-stop drinking I woke up and decided I'd had enough of it, so I quit. No rehab, no therapy or AA meetings. I don't even know if we have such a thing in the UK. I've not touched a drop for nearly 5 years, and never will again. I don't NEED drink.

Hi Mat,

Thanks for visiting. I agree totally. I also qualify as an alcoholic, but I don't NEED a drink. In fact, I'm living quite happily now, and I have about 8 1/2 years off of alcohol (and also off of drugs and cigarettes, too, just for good measure).

By the way, watch out for the definition of the word "alcoholic". A.A. routinely uses three different meanings of the word, and mixes them up, which clouds the issue. I described the definitions here.

Now, I'm a member of facebook, and I looked for a group for people who were alcoholics drinking, or "reformed" alcoholics. I found one group just called straight "Alcoholics Anonymous". I requested to join and was accepted. I had a look at the conversations taking place, and immediately felt these people were suffering on a different level to what I ever had. They were struggling every minute to not take a drink, it was constantly on their minds, and always around the next corner. They were pitiful. People who had quit for 6 months were literally having to be hand held to stop them relapsing in a bottle. People openly admit they NEED to drink, even WANT to drink. I said hello, said my piece about my life, drink and how I quit. I stated that I thought that by their standards I'm probably not an alcoholic. I felt this because my struggle seemed nothing to theirs. I offered my help to anyone willing to take it..

One of the big problems with Alcoholics Anonymous is that they obsess with alcoholism. It becomes the center of their lives. Instead of drinking all day long, they think about drinking — all day long.

And then they convince themselves of nonsense like that they are "powerless over alcohol", and "in danger of getting triggered", and full of "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings", and only surrender to "Higher Power" will save them.

It's very damaging, really. It's enough to drive you nuts.

Personally, I like to do things like get out in the sunshine, and see the beauty of the world, and work on my suntan, and play the guitar, and go feed the geese and ducks and cute little goslings and ducklings down at the river.

If it weren't for answering letters to this web site, I wouldn't even think about alcohol for days at a time. It just isn't a part of my life any more. Not any more than smoking cigarettes. I'm just doing other things now, and enjoying better health.

The next day I looked on their and saw they had some photos on the group. I took a look. They were mostly religious mantras about putting faith in god and that you won't manage without his help. Now I'm not a religious man, I don't know if you are... but I didn't use "faith" to "heal" myself. I just decided I was going to kill myself with drink if I continued and I couldn't let that happen. I'm in fact very suspicious of religious spreading outside of the church into not so covert places and trying to convert people at any cost. I suddenly felt worried, even repulsed by this group. But I was yet to find the worst part of the AA cult. The 12 steps. I've never heard of them until now, and after reading them my jaw dropped. No wonder the people on this group were so, well.. pathetic. These steps trap them. I cannot see how these steps could help anyone quit drinking. The first six month after I quit I didn't surround myself with people who were struggling to stop drinking, banging on about how I'm incapable of quitting on my own. I didn't go to the pub, but I did ask my friends to arrange social meetings away from drinking. I got a new job. I didn't sit and feel sorry for myself as they seem to do. I actually took pleasure in the change I felt in myself. I felt proud. To be honest about AA.. it scares me. It scares me that someone decided to take this group of people and make them smaller than they already were. I feel sick when I see how pathetic they have become because of the 12 steps and AA meetings. I feel I want to help them escape this insanity, but I know that once in one of these "cults" there is no turning back.

I also didn't use "faith" to quit drinking, other than faith in myself. I had quit drinking before, a dozen years earlier, and stayed sober for three years, so I knew I could do it again. So I did. Actually, at first, I was telling myself, "Three months, just quit for three months to get your health back together and get back on your feet." But after three months of sobriety, I was still so sick that I knew I needed a year. At the one-year point, I decided to make it three years. Eventually, I extended it to life. I just don't want to ever go back to that nightmare again.

You are quite right that the 12 Steps don't help anyone to quit drinking. They were designed by Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman as procedures for recruiting and indoctrinating new cult members. (Actually, as is true of so many cults, Buchman didn't really entirely design them by himself — he got a lot of his cultish practices from his mentor, Henry B. Wright of Yale University.) Bill Wilson just repackaged those practices and edited in the word "alcohol" and "alcoholics" in the first and last steps, and declared that these cult religion routines were "spiritual principles" that would make alcoholics quit drinking. They don't work. They never worked.

And yes, A.A. is a harmful cult. This line really rings true: "...someone decided to take this group of people and make them smaller than they already were."
Yes, A.A. just constantly puts alcoholics down. Now I know that contradicts the the fairy tale that A.A. wants to unselfishly help alcoholics, but A.A. actually pushes them towards suicide with the constant denigration and condemnation, and then the mandatory self-criticism and confession sessions. I wrote a file about that: The "Us Stupid Drunks" Conspiracy. As Penn & Teller put it, "A.A. has no respect whatsoever for 12-Steppers."

And definitely see the Penn & Teller exposé of A.A. It's very funny, and to the point. You might find it on YouTube. Try these links:

UPDATE: 2012.05.28: This link is best:

Thankfully I found your site, because now I know I was wrong to doubt myself. I'm an alcoholic, not some sham. The difference is I did it the right way, my way, by myself. They have fallen into the trap of AA, and that makes me sad.

Anyway, hope this email is of some use to you..

Many thanks

Mat R.

Thanks for the thanks, Mat. And did you know that the Harvard Medical School reported that 80% of the alcoholics who successfully quit drinking for a year or more do it alone, on their own, without any "support group" or treatment program? So we are actually the vast majority, not unusual at all.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I used to be a creature of the night.
**     Now I'm a creature of the light.

May 30, 2008: Back in the park, Day 13.
May 30 was really a glorious sunny day. Spent all day in the park.

Chomp! They really do like that grass.

Canada Goose gosling munching grass

As time went on, the goslings ate more and more grass, and less and less of the food that I offered them. When their mouths grew strong enough to shear off the blades of grass, they just stopped eating the bread and oatmeal and rice that I offered them. They only wanted grass — which is, after all, their natural diet. Grass morning, noon, and night. Grass, grass, grass.

They would start screaming to go to the park bright and early in the morning. I barely had time to get a shower in the morning, and get a cup of coffee into me, before we had to go to the park so that the goslings could run around and get their breakfast.

[The story of a new gosling starts below, here.]

Date: Wed, December 19, 2007 9:21 am     (answered 30 April 2009)
From: "Eric Higgins"
Subject: website


My name is Eric Higgins and I am an intern for the newly launched DUIFoundation.org a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. I currently help maintain and write content for the DUI Foundation to educate and prevent against the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol and other impairing substances. The DUI Foundation website contains a database of knowledge covering health issues, legal information, current news and events updates, information details on support programs, as well as research and many other helpful resources.

At DUIFoundation.org, we hope to reinforce the idea that a single drunk driving accident can permanently have a negative impact on you, passengers in your vehicle, and anyone else involved in the disaster (drivers and passengers in other automobiles and even pedestrians).

I am asking you to support our cause and spread our message through adding a single-text link which links back to our site. We could also further offer a content article about driving under the influence to educate your site's visitors. Please help us in our mission to spread a message and prevent life-altering decisions.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing back from you!

Best Regards,

Eric Higgins

Hello Eric,

Okay, I'll give you a link. Good luck with your work.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     One DUI arrest can ruin your whole day.

From: "Brokers"
Subject: didn't work for you, eh?
Date: Mon, October 6, 2008 7:39 pm

Date: Wed, October 8, 2008 3:09 am     (answered 30 April 2009)
From: "Andy M."
Subject: Parallels between AA and Scientology

Hi Orange

I was interested to read the recent letter from someone who had been involved both with 12 step groups and Scientology, pointing out similarities. This is probably not the place to discuss the disturbing nature of Scientology in depth (a risky venture due to the vindictive fanaticism of some of its adherents) and there are, of course, many now involved in a campaign on this issue. I don't have a past involvement with Scientology, but I have become quite interested in studying the life of L Ron Hubbard and the history of his movement, as much as an example of psychopathology as anything else.

You point out that Bill Wilson seems to fit the profile of someone who might today be classified as having narcissistic personality disorder. This is also true of Hubbard. Both men, whilst pretending to be concerned with helping people and offering a form of constructive therapy, actually showed a cynical disregard for the feelings and welfare of others. Both were self-aggrandising fantasists who exaggerated their qualifications and attainments, although Hubbards lies and exaggerations were a lot wilder than Wilson's, and hence more easily exposed. Wilson was more subtle in his distortions of the truth, and his lies about himself, such as that he was real professional stockbroker and highly educated, are almost universally accepted as fact, and lend his pronouncements a bogus credibility because he is percieved as having been a highly intelligent figure worthy of respect, rather than a sly, cunning chancer.

I believe their are striking parallels between the two men's personalities. The fact that Wilson was less obviously psychopathic than Hubbard, doesn't necessarily make his legacy less dangerous.

For anyone interested in the subject I would highly recommend the books
"A Piece of Blue Sky" by Jon Atack and
"Bare-Faced Messiah" by Russell Miller,
both of which are available to read free online:

Best wishes
Andy M

Hello Andy,

Thanks for the letter.

Oh yes, this certainly is the place to discuss the psychopathology of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard. I criticize him and his Scientology hoax a lot in The Cult Test.

And the points of similarity between Scientology and Alcoholics Anonymous are a bit disconcerting, aren't they, considering how many people get sentenced to A.A. meetings.

I've read both of those books that you listed, and found them to be very good. I didn't know that they were now free on the Internet. That's good news.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The problem with Scientologists is not that they
**     are malignant; it's that Scientology is malignant.

Date: Wed, October 8, 2008 11:38 am     (answered 30 April 2009)
From: "Anonymous"
Subject: good blog


I found a good blog:


It is quite good.

You may want to link it in your site.


Hello Anonymous,

Thanks for the tip. I'll link it.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "I have seen a herd of elephants traveling through
**      dense native forest... pacing along as if they had an
**      appointment at the end of the world."
**         ==  Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) (1885—1962)
**             Out of Africa, [1937], pt. I, ch. 1

Date: Thu, October 9, 2008 5:00 pm     (answered 30 April 2009)
From: "Peter G."
Subject: Brilliant Stuff

Dear Author,

This piece of work is excellent. I have been going to AA on and off for 10 years and I totally agree with what is written here. A lot of my views are the same. AA will convince you if you are an alcoholic even if you are not. I could never get to grips with the 12 steps. When ever you doubt AA they have an answer for everything although generally it's the wrong answer. I will not be going back to AA as I feel that it is corrupting my mind, also I don't think that I am alcoholic, but have a drink problem. I have not been to AA for weeks now and feel better without it. It is not very nice when people are telling you that you are suffering from a hopeless condition of body and mind. I have still to digest a lot of this script, but do believe its helping me.

Hello Peter,

Thanks for the letter and all of the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you are doing better.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "As for life, it is a battle and a sojourning in a strange land;
**      but the fame that comes after is oblivion.
**         ==  Marcus Aurelius Antoninus  (121—180)  Meditations, II, 17

Date: Fri, October 10, 2008 11:56 pm
From: "Adrienne B."
Subject: Wow

That's one seriously freakish obsession you have.

Isn't it funny how, if you do a thorough job at something, some people will say that you are "obsessed"?

But the people who have to go to at least one A.A. meeting every single day of their lives, they aren't obsessed, right? :-)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*          [email protected]       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      https://www.orange-papers.info/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

From: "Adrienne B."
Subject: Wow

You probably know more than I do, where in the A.A. approved literature does it say you have to go to at least one A.A. meeting a day? I appreciate a thorough job, I really do. But a job usually has some sort of culmination.

Nowhere in the A.A. literature does it say that you MUST go to a meeting every day (the Big Book suggests once or twice a week), but many A.A. members insist that they have to do a meeting every day or they just can't make it. I know some of them.

But the A.A. member who really stands out in my mind is the woman who bragged that this was her third A.A. meeting today. Now that's obsessed.

Have a good day.

== Orange

Date: Sun, October 12, 2008 4:49 pm     (answered 30 April 2009)
From: "Adrienne B."
Subject: RE: Wow

Yup, I agree.

I don't believe it was the intent of the founders to have A.A. members go to a meeting three times a day, although if that's where they're feeling safe, I don't think it's a bad thing for a while. They have a saying for those members who go to such an absurd amount of meetings well after they're out of danger of drinking. It's, "hiding behind the apron strings of A.A."

There are two principles in the A.A. Big Book that I think those people are missing:

Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us. (pg 77)


We would like it understood that our alcoholic work is an avocation. (Forward)

What I am suggesting is that there are some members of A.A. who are sicker than others, but it's not fair to suggest that the entire program was designed to be a "cult". These folks are a representation of some of the members of A.A., but they aren't representing the program as it was designed. Actually, I doubt many of todays members are.

By the way, I am not familiar with the passage in the Big Book where it says one or two meetings a week. Can you please point me in the right direction? Thanks.

With Kind Regards,

Hi again, Adrienne,

This is the quote that I was thinking of, that suggested one or two meetings a week:

In conclusion, I can only say that whatever growth or understanding has come to me, I have no wish to graduate. Very rarely do I miss the meetings of my neighborhood A.A. group, and my average has never been less than two meetings a week.
... our one desire is to stay in A.A. ...
A.A. Big Book, 3rd Edition, Jim Burwell, The Vicious Cycle, pages 249-250.

Alas, I think it is fair to "suggest that the entire program was designed to be a 'cult'", especially since it was the Oxford Group cult even before Alcoholics Anonymous existed. That's what Bill and Bob were in, and that's what they learned, and that's what they believed, and that's what they practiced. All that Bill Wilson did was break off a branch of the Oxford Group cult and make it into his own cult, complete with the same beliefs and practices. So yes, it is what Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman designed it to be — a religious cult.

Bill Wilson actually changed very little when he substituted the word "alcohol" for the word "sin" in Buchmanism, and declared that this "new organization" and "great spiritual discovery" was a never-fails cure for alcoholism.

Now I know that many of the current members are well-meaning and really want to help other alcoholics. The problem is that they are using the wrong tools. Dr. Frank Buchman's cult recruiting and indoctrination tools don't work to make alcoholics quit drinking. Buchman's Oxford Group had a bad track record when it came to sobering up alcoholics, too.

This quote: "Our real purpose is to fit ourselves to be of maximum service to God and the people about us." (pg 77) kind of blows away the line about A.A. not being a religion, doesn't it?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living."
**        == Mother Jones (1830—1930), Autobiography [1925]

Date: Sun, October 12, 2008 8:23 am     (answered 2 May 2009)
From: "GARY B."
Subject: AA's deus ex machina solution to addiction

Dear Orange

I've been reading your website for quite some time now and wish to congratulate you on both your sobriety (over 6 years!) and the amazingly informative (and pleasurable to read) research that you have granted all of us AA refugees with.

Furthermore, you come across as a truly gentle, intelligent and kind-natured man; the fact that you still maintain such good manners/politeness despite some horribly abusive e-mails marks you out as a real gentleman, sir.

Regarding myself: as indicated, I tried AA; found that, due to my atheism, I couldn't just cut and paste a theology of choice to fit within the narrow parameters of the twelve steps; and always felt irreconcilable with the frankly moronic "fake it to make it" cliché (sorry, but as a perhaps poor example, I also don't believe in Santa Claus — and despite how many times I might wish to convince myself to the contrary, it just isn't going to happen...).

To summarise: my real problem has always been AA's deus ex machina-ish solution to recovery.

...Y'know: the whole thing about there being no other recourse other than divine intervention as a solution to addiction...

AA says that it welcomes individuals of "all shades of belief or disbelief"; what a load of baloney!! All they are really about is coercive proselytism!! There's loads of AA stuff (especially in "The 12X12") which is frankly absolutely hostile/disrespectful in its attitude to atheists and agnostics!

I'm sad to say that I stuck AA longer than I should have, Orange. The thing which I could no longer stomach was just the whole "Take the cotton wool out of your ears and stick them in your mouth" discouragement of using my critical faculties to attempt to question the logic (or lack of therein) of the AA program.

So: at the moment I'm just trying to do the best that I can without AA; it's a daily struggle, but I just keep telling myself that far from being powerless I'm actually POWERFUL — that, unlike less evolved animals, I don't have to just obey whatever urge seems to emerge at any particular time. I think, for me, what makes things difficult are the horrible, horrible black depressions and insomnia that I suffer. In truth, the alcohol has always given me a sort of very short-term respite, I suppose; however, having become addicted, it became a whole problem within itself.

Oh well, Mr. Orange, keep up the good work. Thought I'd close with a selected quote from wikipedia:

"A deus ex machina is generally undesirable in writing and often implies a lack of skill on the part of the author..."


Warmest regards

Gary B.,
United Kingdom

P.S. I loved your baby gosling photos.

P.P.S. ...Here's a thought, Mr. Orange: I wonder what Richard Dawkins makes of the 12 step movement?

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the letter. Sorry to take so long to answer; I'm way behind on answering email. And thanks for the compliments. And just for the record, not to brag too much :-), it's up to 8 1/2 years now. How time flies when you are goofing off.

I couldn't agree with your letter more, even though I'm personally not an atheist. But I sure don't believe in Santa Claus either. Personally, I think there is a cosmic consciousness that is embedded in the fabric of this universe, something that gives us consciousness. But that is a very different kind of idea than many religions sell. That concept doesn't make me buy into the standard dogma of religions that say that you can get your wishes granted by praying. I can't help but remember how well that worked for the Jews in Auschwitz.

In fact, the entirety of human history is filled with stories about people getting slaughtered by the millions while praying for some deity to save them. If it isn't Hitler, Stalin, or Ghengis Khan killing multitudes of people, it's a volcano or tsunami or the Black Plague or a famine. It's always something.

So the idea that some white American alcoholics will get saved from their booze habit by praying for a deity to change reality to suit them strikes me as very childish and unrealistic. (Not to mention selfish.) Personally, I think that if there were such a God that is actually capable of such intervention, and so inclined, that He should work on saving the starving, sick, and dying children in Asia and Africa before He wastes any time on self-indulgent white Americans.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

Oh, and about Richard Dawkins — I love him, and have been watching his lecture series on YouTube. There is a long multi-part lecture — I think Christmas lectures at Oxford — where he gives his oversight of biology. Fascinating.

I would also love to hear what he has to say about Alcoholics Anonymous.

Have another good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    As a lifelong Catholic and former altar boy, I still can't figure
**    out why people of my religion believe that our "all knowing, all
**    loving, all powerful" God can't figure out whether or not to help
**    a human situation unless one of his incredibly less knowledgeable
**    creatures — the Pope, a saint, etc. — intercedes to the Almighty
**    on behalf of someone.
**    So if a Catholic says, "I'll pray for you.", doesn't that indicate
**    they believe God is either not all knowing or not all loving —
**    since he doesn't know if he should or doesn't want to help unless
**    he hears the prayer. Consequently, aren't they really saying they
**    don't believe in the entire Catholic concept of God?
**    The Mick
**    http://www.usatoday.com/news/religion/2007-05-29-pope-missing-girl_N.htm?csp=34#uslPageReturn

P.S.: About the gosling photographs, I'm getting behind there too. I haven't even finished the story about last year's goslings, and I got a new one three days ago.

April 30, 2009, Thursday: At Waterfront Park, Day 0.

One little gosling — maybe 2 or 3 days old — got orphaned when some children chased the geese, and caught a gosling that belonged to a goose family that had only one child, and the parents panicked and flew away, leaving their baby behind. And they didn't come back. I guess they thought that the baby got killed. But it wasn't killed. Somehow, the gosling got away, or some adults made the children let the gosling go (I don't know which), and it wandered down to the shore of the river.

When I arrived, I found the gosling paddling around from one female goose to another, asking the adult female geese to adopt it. None of the other geese would adopt the baby — they snapped at it and actually bit it and drove it away — so come the end of the day, I caught it and took it home, to keep it from dying of the cold that night. Catching it was very simple: I just lured it close by feeding it rice (that I had cooked for feeding to the other goslings), and when it came within easy reach, I just gently grabbed it. The gosling is doing well.

This is the new gosling, in the first hours that I saw it. I am guessing that this gosling is 3 or 4 days old at this time. I haven't named it yet, because I haven't figured out what sex it is.
[LATER: I guessed that this baby is a female, so I named her Carmen.]

The new gosling "Carmen" in the Willamette River, 30 April 2009

It's been very chilly at night, and alone, the gosling wouldn't have made it through the night, but she sleeps with me, and cuddles up against my neck, under my beard, and chirps happily about being warm. I decided to take the gosling to bed with me because I had to keep her warm at night, and I didn't have the right parts for making a good incubator, which has to be done just right, or it might fall on the gosling and crush her or burn her. That could get really bad really fast. Keeping the baby warm the natural way was much simpler and safer.

Besides, goslings don't like being kept in a cardboard box, even with an electric heater. They do know the difference between an incubator and a big live warm friendly body. They don't trust the cardboard box to save them from a cat, but they do trust me. And then a cardboard box just leaves them feeling lost and lonely, but they don't feel that way when cuddling up with me.

Goslings that have to sleep alone cry a lot, like all night long, because they are lonely and frightened, and all of their instincts tell them that goslings that sleep alone will be cold and then get eaten by the cat. Goslings never sleep alone; they always sleep under their mother's wing.

Carmen was terrified when I first caught her, and shook and trembled in fear. But she calmed down a lot within 15 minutes, because she noticed that I still had not bitten her. (That's kind of a big thing with them.) Carmen relaxed and became less afraid with each passing hour, because I did nothing but friendly gestures like feeding her and warming and cuddling her and talking to her in a friendly manner.

So, as strange as it may seem, I took that gosling to bed with me. I put some old towels down on her side of the bed because goslings do poop a lot. It's just a baby, and that comes with the territory. I turned off the lights, and positioned the gosling beside me, and covered her with a hand, and cuddled her and pressed her gently against my neck, which was nice and warm.

I think that was the moment when she really knew for sure, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that I meant her no harm. A mother goose covers her babies with her wings, and cuddles them close to her body and keeps them warm and safe at night, and when I put a hand over the gosling and cuddled her against my neck, she clearly recognized the gesture. Nothing else that I could have done would have told Carmen so clearly, in easily-understood goose body language, what our relationship was, and what my intentions were. Carmen saw that I was treating her the way that a mama goose does, and that I had no intentions of hurting her. Carmen realized that she was in friendly hands, and that she was safe, and that she was going to make it through the night.

As I drifted off to sleep, and my breathing slowed down, the gosling started chirping so happily. Goslings have a cute little trill that they do when snuggling up with Mommy, that sounds something like a gecko's trill, that says, "Oh, I feel so warm and happy and cuddly and cozy and comfy." It seemed like the little thing serenaded me half of the night. I half woke up at 2 or 3 in the morning, and the little thing was still chirping happily.

However, the gosling insisted on waking up at the crack of dawn (I mean, first light in the east, not sunrise), and she nagged me to wake up too. She was very insistent about me waking up. She was hungry, and she wanted me to wake up and take her out for breakfast. She had an attitude like, "Hey, Foster Mother! Wake up! It's breakfast time and I'm hungry!"

She started by pulling my hair, and then my beard and mustache, and then (I swear she did this when I was still half-asleep) she body-slammed me in the face. And beat on my face with her tiny wings. And then she pecked me on the nose and cheeks, and pulled my eye-brows. The eye-brows are what did it. She has the ability to get just four or five eye-brow hairs in her little beak, and give them a good yank. Ouch! I felt that. She definitely managed to wake me up, and wouldn't be ignored. She wanted breakfast at 5 AM. Yawn.

It's kind of amazing how in 12 hours that gosling could go from being terrified of me to confidently hitting me in the face to wake me up, not worried about me hurting her. When she woke up alive in the morning, she knew everything that she needed to know. She knew that I could have killed her and eaten her during the night, but I didn't. She knew that I could have hurt her, but I didn't. I had cuddled her and kept her warm and safe through the night. That is the behavior of a mother, not a predator. So her attitude changed into, "Okay, Foster Mother. Wake up! It's breakfast time!"

The second night, however, she got her biological clock all out of kilter. We took a lot of naps during the day because I was tired from sleep deprivation — waking up at the crack of dawn wasn't my usual schedule. So we went to bed very early, like at 9:30 PM. It guess the naps made Carmen feel extra rested, because at 12:30 AM she started insisting that it was dawn, and time to get up. (Maybe the street lights outside fooled her.) And of course she was doing the usual wake-up routine on me. And she kept that up for hours. She is one determined little cuss. Yawn.

Still, mother and baby are doing well.

May 1, 2009, Friday: Day 1:
The next day, I took the baby Carmen to the closest city park, called "the North Park Blocks", to eat grass and play. She was already bonded with me to a great extent, and followed me around — most of the time. But she was still of two minds and a bit confused. Sometimes, like when I reached for her, she panicked and ran from me, which got to be very dangerous, because she nearly ran out into the street in front of cars three times. Fortunately, I was able to stop her from running into the street, but just barely.

The gosling got over that fear in one day. She didn't do that the next day.

The new gosling "Carmen" in the North Park Blocks, 1 May 2009

Back home, Carmen is very cuddly and wants lots of physical contact.
And she is wondering what a camera is.

May 2, 2009, Saturday: Day 2:

The weather was okay for some hours, so we went back to Waterfront Park, where the other geese hang out. When the baby gosling Carmen saw the geese couples, she immediately ran away from me and made a bee-line for a particular couple, and begged to be adopted. The female said, "No!", and snapped at the baby, and sent her away. I called to Carmen with a "honk!", and she ran back to me, and I consoled her, "They wouldn't accept you? Well, I'll accept you."

Female Canada Goose + gosling
The orphaned gosling "Carmen" and the female Canada Goose who wouldn't adopt the baby.

During the next few hours, Carmen mingled with the flock of geese and eventually asked most of the adult female geese to be her mother, and they all said, "No." Canada Geese rarely adopt orphans, especially the very young orphans. Oh, you may hear about a few rare exceptions to the rule — there are some unusual goose couples that will adopt orphans — but generally, the younger orphaned goslings die very soon, like their first or second night alone. The only ones you see surviving alone are the older orphans who are big enough to not die of hypothermia at night, and lucky enough to stay out of the mouths of cats.

May 3, 2009, Sunday: Day 3:
This gosling has adapted to her new situation amazingly well in just a few days.

Canada Goose gosling
The orphaned gosling "Carmen", at home, May 3, 2009, standing on her plate of cooked rice and graham cracker crumbs.

It is interesting to note here that when I was hand-feeding Carmen, when she was only a few days old, she insisted on filling her stomach three-quarters full of grass first, and then she would fill the remaining space with cooked rice. She never deviated from that ratio, and she always insisted on eating the grass first. She was actually born (hatched) with a built-in idea of what constitutes good nutrition for her.

The biggest problem is just that she is bored with being cooped up in an apartment. She wants to go to a park and run around in the grass. That's tough, because it's been cold and rainy for the last two days. We got out anyway, but not as long as this little creature would like.

When I say "cooped up", that is just an expression. I don't even own a bird cage. The goslings that I care for just live with me. I arrange things so that they can't get into too much trouble, and block off some areas, but they are never put in a cage. They just live with me, and hang out with me, and sit beside me, or nest in my lap. Still, they consider my whole apartment to be a small cage.

The gosling really is wildlife, and she really wants to be outdoors, with big expanses of open space and grassy fields to browse. Still, maybe in a few hours, the weather will dry out and warm up enough.

Later: It did. The sun came out for about 3 hours and Carmen had a fine time in Waterfront Park.

Canada Goose gosling
The orphaned gosling "Carmen", browsing the grass in Waterfront Park, May 3, 2009.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Mon, October 13, 2008 2:02 am     (answered 5 May 2009)
From: "Kim"
Subject: not true

Sorry, this has not been my experience in 32 years. sounds like you have lots of hatred.

There is good and bad in everything, life, work, AA, churches. Nothing is perfect, and not one per ever discouraged me to not thing. I was encouraged to share my recovery with family, friends, work etc

In 32 years I have never seen what you have written. I know someone who has not gone to meetings for over 10 years and they still have friends that go to meetings, and he is not hounded or criticized ever.

You are full of it.


Hello Kim,

What you are attempting there is the propaganda and debating trick called Escape via Relativism. As in:
"Well, it's just one opinion versus another. Your mileage may vary. I never saw anything wrong. Your daughters may have gotten raped at the Midtown Group, but mine are okay, so it's a good group. And your son may have been driven to suicide by A.A. dogma and constant put-downs, but mine is just fine. Heck, churches, schools, the government — everything is a cult. Nothing is perfect."

Such an argument is just an attempt to avoid the unpleasant facts of the matter, and to minimize and deny the really bad features of Alcoholics Anonymous.

You are also trying to use the logical fallacy of, "I didn't see it happen, so it didn't happen."
You think that one friend who isn't harrassed for not attending A.A. meetings proves that it didn't happen to anyone else. That's very faulty logic.
Like Carl Sagan said: "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Above all, since you have 32 years of experience with A.A., you have more than enough time to answer this question that the old-timers have NEVER honestly answered:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later? (Or even several years later?)
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever?
How about 11 years and 21 years?
What percentage of the A.A. newcomers go on to get those things?

(HINT: the answers are here.

Lastly, you declared, "sounds like you have lots of hatred."
Well, yeh, I kind of do "have a resentment" against dogmatic fools and dishonest cons who foist quack medicine and very bad advice on sick people, and occasionally kill some of those unfortunate sick people.

Do you believe that such criminal behavior is a good thing? Do you have no "resentment" or hostile feelings towards people who hurt other alcoholics like that?

(If not, then why not? What's the matter with you? Where is your moral outrage?)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**    a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**    it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.

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Last updated 24 November 2013.
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