Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXV

Date: 24.07.2009 17:19     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: David R.
Subject: Thank You

Dear Sir,

Thank You. The truth hurts, but it still is better than blindly believing in lies.

I havent read all of ur article yet (the funny spirituality of Bill W), but I feel ... enlightened. Enlightened by truth. Unfortunately, this is not the 1st time in my life that I have been duped. I used to believe very strongly in the spirituality of Sri Chinmoy, having been introduced to it thru music I listened to (such as Mahavishnu Orchestra and Carlos Santana).

Both McLaughlin and Santana had been disciples of Chinmoy, or at least had Chinmoy as their guru. Certain articles that I have read online have totally changed my mind about Chinmoy, such as how he took advantage (sexually) of some of his female disciples, and did certain other non-spiritual things.

So, yes, it really hurts to read what you have written, especially since I am a recovering addict and have been 'in the program' for almost 19 years. And it's true, people DO blindly worship Bill W, without doing any research like you've done.

I am still trying to stay clean, however it is now on my own. I have been interested in Buddhism for quite some time, as well. One of the things that I like about Buddhism is that Buddha made it clear that he was NOT God (altho a lot of people worship him as such). Buddha was very logical in that he came up with 4 Noble Truths, and an 8-fold path for one to live their life by. Also, Buddha taught quite extensively about craving (sounds like addiction, doesnt it), and the pain and suffering caused by it.

Anyway, I'm not trying to convert you or anyone else here, but I am very happy on the path I'm on now. And grateful for at least 2 reasons.

  • One, for people like yourself, who are willing to take a potentially VERY unpopular stand, in order to weed fact from fiction.

  • And Two, for the fact that I was openminded enough to actually listen and learn from you, even though it initially was very painful to read your article.

David R.

Hi David,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks. I also started off thinking that Alcoholics Anonymous was the biggest and best self-help group in America. It took me a while to learn the truth.

I'm also very interested in Buddhism. We were just talking about that a few letters ago, here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The same people who can deny others everything
**     are famous for refusing themselves nothing.
**         ==  Leigh Hunt (1784—1859)

Date: 24.07.2009 14:02     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: Sherp
Subject: A debating technique question

Hi Orange,

I wat to know if you ever encountered this tactic of debating/arguing? I've read a good deal of the debating techniques page, but not all of it so if it's on there and I didn't read it yet I apologize in advance.

Demand proof of your opponent's position while at the same time delegitmizing your opponent's point or the way you answer it before your opponent makes it.

It works something like this:

Give me ONE valid study that shows the ineffectivness of AA ! — And DON'T tell me of the Vaillant Harvard study! It's over 20 years old! He's more or less disowned it and since then the bulk of scientific data we have now clearly refutes it!

Obviously you have to know of the arugment that's coming so you would have to have encounter it before. You also have to lie (I believe Lie with qualifiers may be the correct term.)

I also see people do it in messageboards. When people respond to a usually particulaly long comment They'll try to refute each point by quoting every comment in order (the same way you answer some emails.) The person wanting a response will belittle this technique and the person doing it beforehand.

Are you gonna quote everything I wrote in order and respond to it? That's so lame and annoying! Why don't you just answer what I wrote without trying to make it look like your a some type of scholar or something???

Or at other times, they do the "I'm fed up" bit.

Don't Give me the "Blah Blah Blah" argument. I'm tired of hearing it!

Once again, apologies if it's up on your site already. : )


Hi Sherp,

Thanks for the letter. And no, it isn't already on the site. I'll have to add that technique — actually, those techniques.

You touched on more than one technique — three, I think.

  1. Not only is there Rejecting The Answer In Advance like you described — "And DON'T tell me of the Vaillant Harvard study!" — and
  2. Delegitimizing the Rebuttal in Advance, like you also described — "Are you gonna quote everything I wrote in order and respond to it?"
  3. but there is also Spurious Delegitimization Of Undesired Evidence.

    It does not matter whether Dr. Vaillant "has disowned" the results of his research project at Cambridge Hospital that he described at length in his first book — the results of valid tests are still the results of valid tests. It's like, if I "disown" my previous statement that I'm a 62-year-old American male, does that suddenly change me into a dashing young 20-something guy? (Wouldn't that be a great way to get eternal youth?)

    And I have not heard of Dr. Vaillant ever conducting another controlled study of Alcoholics Anonymous treatment that came up with a different result. Being a true believer in Steppism, Dr. Vaillant is just unhappy with the real facts that he unintentionally revealed — that A.A. did not work to make alcoholics quit drinking, but it did raise the death rate in alcoholics.

    I can understand how Dr. Vaillant is unhappy with that answer, and wants to "disown" the results, but that doesn't change the facts. But it's a great propaganda trick to say, "Dr. Vaillant has since disowned that study."

    And the statement that "...since then the bulk of scientific data we have now clearly refutes it!", isn't "lying with qualifiers." It is just plain old lying. There is no "bulk of scientific data" that says any such thing. The bulk of the scientific data says that A.A. does not work. All of the valid controlled tests found A.A. to be a failure, so when a Stepper argues that a bunch of "studies" showed that A.A. works great, he is merely referring to some phony propaganda articles that are based on no actual proper tests. Look here and here and here and here for four collections of such propaganda.

Have a good day now, and thanks again for some additions to the Propaganda and Debating Techniques web page.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     All of us are constantly being bombarded by particles
**       of misplaced schizophrenia.
**          ==  Roger Price

Date: 21.07.2009 22:07     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: Catt F.
Subject: Propaganda and Debating Techniques

I have happily saved a copy of this paper to someday share with a class, should I ever get an opportunity to teach rhetoric — brilliant! I feel as though someone has opened a window and let in both fresh air and light. Every day, in media and conversation all around me, I hear these fallacious statements and the propaganda that supports such granfalloons as cancer-causing foods, and the dangers of tobacco use.

I love your ability to turn the so-called logic on its ear and demonstrate clearly how inaccurate so many of the "truths" we live with are anything but.

Thank-you. I have long thought that the emperor was indeed naked.

Catt F.

Catt F.
Freelance writer, artist, and photographer
Topics of environmental, social and cultural interest
Davenport IA 52803

*Visit Catt's Web site*

*Visit the Poetry Street Project*

Hi Catt,

Thanks for the compliments. I'm glad to hear that you enjoy that page. I got a liberated feeling as I was putting it together, too. As I gathered the component information from myriad sources, I felt like I had stumbled across a Rosetta Stone or something that translated politicians' speeches into plain English. (And it turned out that what they were really saying was a bunch of bull.)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Fraud and falsehood only dread examination. Truth invites it.
**          ==  Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Subject: AA's angle
Sender: Zack S.
Date: 23.07.2009 23:47

First off, WTF don't you have your email address at the bottom or a contact button. I only got this address from looking through the other letters and then wondered how they knew the address in the first place. Sorry if its somewhere and I'm just missing it but I looked pretty hard.

Hi Zack,

Thanks for the letter.

Actually, I have my email address on every page, twice. At the top of the page, it says, "by A. Orange", and it's a link to my email address. Do a mouse-over on it, and see what the status line at the bottom of

Likewise, at the bottom of every page, it says: "Copyright © 2016, A. Orange", and yes, that's a link to the email address too.

Still, I suppose I could add a third one, and make it more obvious.

Anyways, I wanna try to keep this short. I'm just starting off in AA and "working the steps" and getting to about the third and starting to feel disillusioned. I stumbled onto your site and believe and agree with what you have to say. I checked out the SMART site and it looks at least worth my time to look into.

Perhaps you have answered this question before, in which case it will be easy for you to direct me to the answer if its on your page, but how do you account for there seeming to be no current MOTIVE for AA to be a cult. The founders are all dead so there is no personal glory. They don't sell you anything and the donations are pretty meager I doubt they cover much more than cost. So money, power or prestige are out (i think). Whats left? Momentum? If AA is a cult as you say then what is the point of the cult.

Ah yes, good question. The founders are dead, so they are not benefitting from the cult any more, but other people are. We have discussed this before. A.A. is different things to different people. Everyone who stays in A.A., or who promotes A.A., or who sells A.A., or who leads A.A., gets something out of it. See these letters:

LIke i said, I am recently in the program but I do hear people regularly talk about their definition of god and or how they worked the steps as an agnostic and there is not really any derision as far as I can tell. Yeah some people are obviously ardent about a more standard biblical definition and certain "AA nazi's" i think don't like it when others talk about how they came about it, but I don't even see what the point would be for sustaining itself if its not even doing the only other thing possible which is conversion to religion.

Yes, religious conversion is one of the goals of A.A., even as they deny it. But there are also other goals. If they can't convert you, maybe they can still get you to keep them company and listen to their drunkalogues...

Thanks for the large and informative site,


You are welcome, Zack, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A society of excess profits for some and small returns for others,
**     the society in which a few prey upon the many, the society in which
**     few took advantage and many took great disadvantage, must pass.
**         ==  Wendell L. Willkie

Date: 27.07.2009 11:14     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: william N.
Subject: Recalling an old story

Hi Terrance,

I haven't really given you much about my story — just little tidbits here and there. But here's a little anecdote:

Out of the blue the other night I recalled an incident that occurred when I was at my second rehab in New Jersey where back in 1995. The rehab was of the 28-day, AA farm-league variety. In other words, my insurance company paid them a whole lot of money just so they could simply shove the 12-steps down my throat.

The rehab was in Northern New Jersey, situated on old farmstead. The entire population of the place was only maybe 10 or 15. After I was there for about 3 weeks, and after buying the whole song and dance about AA and rigorous honesty and soul searching and stuff, the director of the place called us into the cafeteria for an abrupt meeting.

"Folks" he began gravely, "we have the opportunity to treat and save the life of a very important person. He has been struggling with this disease for several years and now it's time for us to act!"

Well, that very important person happened to be Lawrence Taylor, the all-world linebacker for the New York football Giants. His public problems had been legion and everyone at the rehab had heard he might be coming. Now it seemed a fait accompli. But wait a minute...

"I know some of you know who I'm talking about" he continued, "and I want you to know that if you think his attendance might in any way hinder your recovery efforts, please, please feel free to let me know.
"So if there is anyone here who objects to having this person here, please raise your hand."

We began looking around at each other. There was an air of excitement a famous person might become one of us! Heck, he could play volleyball with us during our daily game! Not one hand in the air — except for mine.

I slowly raised my hand. The director looked at me in shock. He shot an angry look over at my counselor in disbelief, who shrugged his shoulders, mystified. "I think having this person here," I began "would be a huge distraction for all of us. I don't think we would be able to concentrate on our sobriety. I know I personally would have a difficult time doing what I have to do..."

Stunned silence. The director and the counselors then proceeded to publicly harangue me in front of the rest of the community, "Nonsense! He's the same as you — a drug addict and alcoholic" they raved. "Do you think you're better than any other alcoholic?" And then this gambit, "In fact, YOU could help HIM."

Anyway they weren't going to let little ol' me stand in the way of them getting a big-time celebrity. The whole deal of asking our opinion was a complete charade — a farce. I got a real confused feeling about this. They were beseeching us to do one thing while they did another. It was complete and absolute hypocrisy and duplicity. I should've known this was just typical of the whole 12-step recovery business.

The memory still leaves a bitter taste in my mouth. They didn't give two shits about my life. By the way, once LT got there we never saw him. He was kept in a "private cottage" with a phone, TV, and special meals. He didn't have to mix with us nor did he have to bother with doing any of that boring step-work stuff like we did. He was looking for a little vacation and this place gave it to him. I don't blame him at all.

By the way, the name of the rehab? Honesty House.

Bill N.

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the story and the laugh. And you have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A celebrity is a person who works hard all his life to become
**     well known, and then wears dark glasses to avoid being recognized.
**     ==  Fred Allen

Date: 27.07.2009 15:00     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: Tony C.
Subject: Correspondence


I'm tony C. I'm british but have spent a lot of time in the states. I'm too ex-AA, doing fine, but find my whole AA experience scary, can't imagine how I was duped, but then AA is successful over here due to the lack of anything else

I'm hoping to open up correspondence with you, since I'm an academic and aiming to do my doctorate on the implications of 12-step societies in Britian.

It seems pretty much to me that we are heading in the same direction as the US, in substituting unqualified, faith-based solutions, with little evidence to support their efficacy where there should be psychological and sociological intervention.

I can't even recall the number of people I have seen torn apart during my seven years in AA in London.

All the best, thanks for your effort,

Tony C.

Hi Tony,

I'd be happy to carry on a correspondence, and I'd also like to hear more about what goes on in A.A. in London.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Who shall guard the guardians themselves?
**        ==  Juvenal

Date: 25.07.2009 17:11     (answered 31 July 2009)
Sender: Joe Y.

Hey Orange,

Thank you for maintaining an excellent site that I often visit as a part of my ongoing battle with addiction. I wanted to let you know that I had an experience with the "recovery" community that is 100% committed to AA (at least in their treatment methods). After many difficult discussions where I battled circular logic and group think, I was able to at least get some treatment professionals here in AA's birthplace to concede that it's not the only treatment option and that cognitive approaches do work. It is so unfortunate to see AA's grip on treatment centers as they present a 12-step option as the only hope for someone to beat addiction. It amazes me that the medical community has such a narrow focus with addiction while the rest of their colleagues are working on other health issues with a multi pronged approach. Jack Trimpey also raises a great point over at Rational Recovery with the conflict of interest for counselors who are members of AA and are also insisting their patients follow the same path. I think the sooner the treatment industry realizes this paradox the better off patients will be who are seeking results and not wasted time, money, and in worst case scenarios a slide into a black hole they never get out of.

Keep up the good work and I look forward to seeing future posts on the website.

Joe Y.

Hi Joe,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks. I hope you are in good health and doing well.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Treatment centers based on Alcoholics Anonymous concepts
**     routinely advised their patients to find a "higher power"
**     or take a "moral inventory", untroubled by the contradiction
**     between giving such advice and providing insurance-funded
**     treatment for medical diseases.

Date: 26.07.2009 01:25     (answered 31 July 2009)
Subject: AA
Sender: jaci s.

I've just come across your website -fantastic!!! I am a UK journalist, currently living in LA, and writing a book about giving up drinking. AA was disastrous for me, Alan Carr's book, fantastic, Deepak Chopra great, Eckhart wossisname far less so (way too many words!).

I was fascinated by your references to "spontaneous remission", as that is what I feel has happened to me, having taken on board a bit from so many different places and reached the point of saying: that's it. Over. Decision made. Now on with the rest of my life.

My book, The Beginner's Guide to Sobriety, is therefore not a struggle that results in my finding God, AA, etc. But I find a power within myself (some would say it comes from elsewhere; if I have to say it connects me to anything, I would say nature/the universe) that has really changed the way I live — not just the way I respond to drink. For me, drink was a manifestation of other toxins (emotional, largely), and dealing with those things rather than the symptom (ie drink) has been my cure.

I have never wanted a drink so much as when I walked out of AA! I did hear one thing, though, when someone said: We've had all the fun we're going to have from alcohol". I know that I have, but what I really want to get across in my book is that there are SO MANY different ways that people can face their alcohol problems and get through them without resorting to AA, which so many believe is the only thing available to them.

The one thing I AM stressing, though (and i changed during the writing of the book on this score), is that the "occasional drinking" stuff doesn't work. You may be able to stay sober physically with the occasional drink, but it's still keeping the "monster" alive mentally, emotionally and spiritually (and I don't mean the latter in a God way!).

Anyway, thank you for your amazing site; I have only just started exploring it, and it is just great.

Best wishes,

Hi Jaci,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the compliments. And your book sounds interesting; you make a bunch of good points.

Starting at the end, I have to comment that some people can drink moderately, and some cannot. I am one of those who cannot. But the Rand Corporation produced a milestone report that found that about 50% of the alcoholics who stop their self-destructive drinking do it by tapering off into moderate, controlled, drinking, and the other 50% get sober by absolute abstinence.

Dr. Kenneth Blum, who discovered one of the genes that modulate the risk for alcoholism, commented that he believed that genetic alcoholics had to completely abstain from drinking.

I believe that, because I'm a genetic alcoholic, who got it from his father, who got it from his mother, and total abstinence is the only thing that ever worked for me. I can stay sober for years (8.75 years now), but I cannot moderate for a month. Moderation never worked; it didn't stay moderate.

About "keeping the monster alive", oh, do I know that one. I became convinced that I could never drink moderately when I had about 7 or 8 months of sobriety, and was reading a book about alcoholism. When I got to the part about "controlled drinking", and was considering what the author was writing about how recovered alcoholics can learn to do moderate, controlled, drinking, the little monster was actually waking up and singing and dancing. I could hear the Democratic Party theme song "Happy Days Are Here Again" playing in my head. I was actually getting such a strong reaction to the thought of a return to drinking that the craving center was getting excited. I was amazed at the reaction that I was watching, and noticed that all that the little monster heard was "return to drinking", and that the word "controlled" was ignored.

I came to the conclusion that if I was getting such an extreme reaction to just the thought of a return to (moderate, controlled) drinking, that it was better to not feed the monster.

Still, I get the occasional letter from someone who has recovered in a way where he is able to do moderate, controlled drinking, and live a pretty normal life. More power to them, but that's not for me.

I feel that I'm also a case of "spontaneous remission". Basically, I just got sick and tired of being sick and tired. And I also got tired of the poverty, and nothing ever working out right, and the not feeling good about myself, and just the whole mess. So I was receptive to the message when a doctor told me that I had to quit drinking — "Quit drinking or die. Choose one." was how he put it. I thought it over for a month, and then I chose to live.

It's dangerous to over-generalize, but I feel like that is the story of a whole lot of people who do just finally quit drinking one day.

I also agree with the line about, "We've already had all of the fun that we are going to have with alcohol." That was one of the big problems with alcohol in the end — it just wasn't fun any more. Too much sickness, too much pain, not much fun. The party was over.

But that's alright, because the end of alcohol isn't the end of the fun of life. That's something I try to communicate to people who are about to quit, or thinking about quitting. The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster tries to tell you that you will never have any more fun, ever again, for the rest of your life, if you give up alcohol, but that isn't true at all. The real truth is just the opposite. I'm having a whole lot more fun now than I was having with alcohol and tobacco, just laying around the house sick and tired and never going out and having fun. Now I'm out and about all of the time, every day — I can't stand to be cooped up indoors, especially not during a beautiful summer like this.

So good luck with your book, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The hardest thing to learn in life is which bridge
**      to cross and which to burn.
**        ==  David Russell

May 14, 2009, Thursday: Day 14, continued:

Canada Goose gosling
One of Carmen's siblings

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: 26.07.2009 17:54     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Peter D.
Subject: thank you.

thank you...thank you...thank you very, very much.

seriously...thank you!

Toledo, OH.

Hi Pete,

Thanks for the thanks, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

Date: 28.07.2009 17:37     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Peter D.
Subject: question...

please tell me that the stained glass window of bill wilson and dr. bob does not in fact exist.

thats pretty scary shit, but hilarious none the less...


Hi Pete,

Alas, I do believe that this stained glass window really exists. (Doesn't every church need some stained glass windows that shows the heroic deeds its prophets and saints?) I'm not sure where it's located; it might be Akron.

The bars that you see through the picture are the aluminum frame that supports the weight of the glass. Yeh, it's real.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance
**    when the need for illusion is deep.
**        ==  Saul Bellow

Date: 26.07.2009 10:29     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: jerome l m.
Subject: Your online book

Excellent work!

J M.

Hello Jerome,

Thanks for the compliment, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Most American television stations reproduce all night long what only
**    a Roman could have seen in the Coliseum during the reign of Nero.
**        ==  George Faludy

Date: 27.07.2009 08:39     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Pat S.
Subject: Your web site

Do you recommend something else besides AA for people who drink too much?


Date: 28.07.2009 09:42     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Pat S.
Subject: Orange Papers

Man I can't believe how everything you write puts a finger on many things I have suspected for years. Your site is just way too much to digest in a year.

Please don't put my email address on your site.


Hi Pat,

Thanks for the letters and the compliment.

Answering your first letter, yes there are other things to help you with quitting drinking — a bunch of other things. I just answered the same question a few days ago, so I'll point you to it here.

Good fortune, and have a good day. (I won't wish you "good luck", because I don't think luck has much to do with it. :-)

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Let us be of good cheer, remembering that the misfortunes
**     hardest to bear are those which never come.
**         ==  James Russell Lowell

Date: 28.07.2009 10:23     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Townsend S.
Subject: hello

I have been reading the orange papers for several days now and completely agree with what you are saying. However, I am still very much in need of something to help me stop drinking. I tried AA, and after about 4 months started drinking again. I was very bored and lonely, and the only way I know how to feel better is to drink. I have been looking at SMART and some other things. I really feel like I need some sort of structured environment. I have told two therapists about this. One of them told me the best thing to do was to go to AA. The other one wanted me to go to an outpatient program, and then once I was done with that, he wanted me to go to AA. I live in Charlotte, NC. Do you have any advice?

Hello Townsend,

Thanks for the letter.

About something to help you to quit drinking, I just answered the same question a few days ago, so I'll point you to it here.

Just offhand, I don't know of a good "structured" program in Charlotte, but that link leads to a bunch of groups who have online forums, where you could ask. You can get information and advice from hundreds of people.

I would not bother to go back to a therapist who recommends A.A. as the best thing. Such a person is lazy and ignorant and has never bothered to learn the facts. That is inexcusable behavior in a person who is supposed to be a professional healer. That's like a doctor who never bothered to learn what works best to treat coronary disease, but who insists on treating heart disease in his patients anyway.

Have a good day, and take care of yourself.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If being in pain is a valid excuse to have a drink,
**     then I find that I am in pain all of the time.

Date: 28.07.2009 00:05     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Ron N.
Subject: AA



Hello Ron,

Yes, I've had "a drug or alcohol problem". Here is the usual list of autobiographical information:

You display an incredible amount of contempt for alcoholics when you say, "MAYBE "A BAIT AND SWITCH" IS NEEDED TO GIVE THE ALCOHLICS MIND A CHANCE TO CHANGE."

You really think that alcoholics need to be lied to and misled and deceived? (For their own good, of course.) And who is entitled to do the lying?

You believe that lying to alcoholics and deceiving them with bait-and-switch tricks will produce good results? (And "give them a chance to change"?)

Well, lying to alcoholics and deceiving them is what Alcoholics Anonymous has been doing for 70 years now, and that dishonest practice hasn't produced good results. A.A. is a failure with a high relapse rate, a high death rate, and a high suicide rate. That isn't good. That doesn't help.

When somebody lies to me, and deceives me, he loses all credibility when I discover that I've been lied to. I sure won't trust him after that. Why would anybody trust his life to a group that is deceiving him and pulling bait-and-switch tricks on him?

And people are not all so stupid that they won't notice what is going on, after a while. That is one of the reasons that A.A. has such a high dropout rate.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      A big lie is more plausible than truth.
**          ==  Ernest Hemingway

Date: 28.07.2009 19:02     (answered 1 August 2009)
Subject: The Bill Wilson Spiritual Experience (Are You Experienced?)
Sender: Al

Dear Orange.

Would you possibly know the website where I could locate that hilarious Jimi Hendrix album-cover spin off starring Bill Wilson, Ebby Thatcher, and Quack... I mean, DOCTOR Silkworth posing as the Jimi Hendrix Experience album cover? I spend a lot of my downtime making up wallpapers and screen savers and I think that this one would be a goddamned hoot!!!



Hi Al,

That sounds like a fun spoof. I don't recall having seen it. Any readers have any ideas?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Experience is the worst teacher; it gives you the
**      test before presenting the lesson.
**          ==  Vernon Law

UPDATE: the link is http://www.geocities.com/sanegallery/bwspiritualexp.html

See this letter: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters139.html#Raymond

Date: 29.07.2009 04:19     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Gary N.
Subject: My conclusions about AA

Dear Orange,

I know from reading your site what your real name is, but I guess I still think of you as Agent Orange. I wanted to share with you the latest development in my thinking, because your website has been a crucial element in shaping this development. Of course, this may be of no interest to you, but I wanted to give you the chance to see how your efforts have influenced me. Also, if you include this in your letters pages, it may help others with similar experiences to me.

I used to have a very rosy view of Alcoholics Anonymous — For a long time I was blind to its faults, its contradictions, its abuses, and its dubious history. I am not now. In recent years no one has tried harder than I have myself to convince me that AA is nothing but a big lie — a dangerous, brain-washing cult that harms people and destroys lives. I have tried to convince myself that I have been the victim of this cult and that my sole objective is to leave this cult and to recover from the damage it has caused me.

After a long period of hammering out this struggle within me, I have come to the conclusion that, despite the fellowship's deep flaws, there is something of value in Alcoholics Anonymous — something it would harm me to deny myself. The fundamental conclusion I have reached is that, whether I like it or not, I belong in Alcoholics Anonymous. This will, of course, reinforce your already firm conviction that AA is a cult, and that I have simply been unsuccessful in my attempt to be free of its evil clutches. But it is true. This is not something I can easily explain or define. When I first went to AA I was not simply indoctrinated into an alien belief system — I genuinely experienced a feeling of homecoming that no cult, no matter how clever and powerful, would be able to induce in its new "recruits".

I have asked myself one simple question: could I have stopped drinking and stayed sober without AA? The answer, for me, is no. I have tried to convince myself that stopping drinking and attending AA were coincidental — I have read the bit on your website about the last place you look for help getting the credit for something you have done yourself. But I cannot believe this is what happened to me.

I have tried to convince myself that the 12 steps are the religious precepts of a Nazi-sympathising religious fanatic, reworded for alcoholics by a small time con-man with messianic delusions. Perhaps they are? But there is more to them — more than even the flawed and ridiculous people who first cobbled them together realised or understood.

When I accept AA, everything locks into place — it all fits. I understand what I am, where I am, who I am, and where I am going. I feel that I am part of something greater than myself and such an understanding brings me great comfort and security.

When I reject AA then, despite what I try to convince myself, the reality is that I feel empty, alone, angry, afraid and directionless.

I want to say something else — and it will horrify much of your audience. Before I contacted AA, before I even knew what AA was, I belonged. Ever since I was a child I have drawn and written. I look back on my creative output, from childhood, through adolescence and early adulthood, and I see a clear common theme recurring over and over again. That theme is of spiritual recovery from alcoholism. I won't go into details here — this is not the place. But I can point to stories and lyrics I have written, as well as drawings and paintings I have done, that represent the search for spiritual recovery from alcoholism, through the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. At a fundamental level, I knew about AA before I was consciously aware of it. Therefore, when I went to my first AA meeting, I recognised AA. I knew it. And it knew me. This is true whether I accept it or not.

If you're still reading, I will add more.

I have been sober now for over seventeen years. There is much that is wrong with AA. In many, many ways it is rotten to the core. The literature is, for the most part, the garbled nonsense of people who have discovered something powerful but have no idea how to handle it or present it to others. Meetings are filled with sick people spouting dangerous nonsense, and most of those people will not remain long in AA, anyway. Alcoholics Anonymous has a non-existent "success" rate. Trusting people in AA is like playing Russian roulette with your safety and your mental and emotional health — something I have experienced first-hand several times. AA is a deeply flawed organisation that refuses to look at itself honestly and do something about those flaws before forcing itself on the rest of the world.

In the US the criminal justice system and health and social care is riddled with AA infiltration by covert AA members abusing their professional influence to force AA on those who don't want it. This situation is far less pronounced in the UK, but we are heading in the same direction. This is something that needs to be stopped. Alcoholics Anonymous and its 12 step program, it has been proven over and over again, does not lend itself to the professional setting, and should be kept away from professional people trying to do the jobs for which they are qualified.

I do not believe that AA is for everyone — it is far from the only shop in town, and does not have the right to pretend otherwise. The principle of attraction rather than promotion is a good one that has been lost.

I am not blind to these things any more. But I belong in AA. Perhaps such a belonging is only as a relative outsider, whose views are ridiculed and rejected by the more fundamentalist elements within the fellowship. But still belonging, nonetheless.

In your pages you quote Dr Arthur Cain. Although in 1963 he criticised AA, he says that in the 1940s he respected it. Part of his later criticism was that the genuine humility and gratitude he observed in AA's very early members was replaced by something he so accurately referred to as the "AA smirk". This smirk now covers the world — that early humility and gratitude is all but gone. But it is something I felt myself when I first attended AA. It does exist. Can it be recovered? Who knows?

I will continue to read your site and to stay up to date with the letters pages. I intend to go directly to the sources you quote to back up your arguments — to read them independently of your bias. That is not a criticism — you freely admit to such a bias and have never claimed to provide a balanced resource.

I know you won't agree with what I've written but I hope you would respect it. At least it will make a change from the usual slogan-spouting, hate-filled, caps-lock-happy, semi-literate crap that gets thrown at you by the true believers!

Stay well.

Gary N.


Hi again, Gary,

These statements are curious:

"In recent years no one has tried harder than I have myself to convince me that AA is nothing but a big lie."


I have asked myself one simple question: could I have stopped drinking and stayed sober without AA? The answer, for me, is no. I have tried to convince myself that stopping drinking and attending AA were coincidental ...

Why would you do that when you believe that you belong in A.A., and you were born predestined to recover from alcoholism in A.A., and that A.A. saved your life? Are you contemplating escape from the cult?

Your assumption that you could not have quit drinking and stayed sober without A.A. is groundless. What if you had quit drinking and moved to Saudi Arabia? What if you had quit drinking and joined a monastery? Or quit drinking and became a 7th-Day Adventist or a Mormon? What would have happened then?

Or, far less exotic, what if you had just gotten totally fed up with being so sick and hung-over so much, and finally just quit drinking?

You cannot really predict alternate futures. You just don't know what might have happened.

This line doesn't surprise me. It is actually a very common cult phenomenon:

Therefore, when I went to my first AA meeting, I recognised AA. I knew it. And it knew me. This is true whether I accept it or not.

Bill Wilson described it like this:

"When we reached A.A., and for the first time in our lives stood among people who seemed to understand, the sense of belonging was tremendously exciting."
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 57.

Cults promote that feeling with love-bombing and lots of code phrases like "coming home" and "being among our own kind".

Says Dr. Earle: "Our scientific training makes us want to know the reason for everything. Once you don't have to know the reason for everything, you're coming home, baby, you're really coming home."
Doctors in A.A.; the profession's skepticism persists, but MDs in Alcoholics Anonymous say the 12-step program could benefit all physicians, C. Thomas Anderson, American Medical News, Jan 12, 1990 v33 n2 p33(2)

Then you wrote:

When I reject AA then, despite what I try to convince myself, the reality is that I feel empty, alone, angry, afraid and directionless.

Yes. It's called "cult withdrawal", and it can be very painful. It's just like withdrawal from any other addicting drug. That's what keeps lots of people trapped in cults for many years.

What I would recommend as a remedy for that problem is that you start building a life outside of Alcoholics Anonymous. Deliberately seek out the company of other non-drinking people. Build a social circle of people whose lives do not revolve around either alcohol or Alcoholics Anonymous. Get in the habit of going to other kinds of meetings — like Wednesday is for one thing, and Thursday is for something else — things that you like to do that don't involve alcohol. Slowly wean yourself off of the A.A. drug.

...you freely admit to such a bias and have never claimed to provide a balanced resource.

Ah, but I never said that I allowed my personal feelings to cause me to change or distort the facts. To have feelings and biases is human; to distort the facts in order to promote a certain viewpoint is dishonest. I don't cross that line. I strive to be rigorously honest in reporting the facts, because people are dying over this stuff. (And of course you noticed that Bill Wilson and A.A. were notoriously dishonest about the facts like the A.A. success rate, A.A. history, and A.A. finances.)

Please do go back to the original source documents. That's what I did. I don't trust other people to quote accurately or completely either. I want to see the original reports and documents, and where possible, I'd like to see the original data upon which the report is based.

And if you can't find something, ask me. I've got xeroxed copies of a lot of stuff, including almost all of the research reports where A.A. failed the clinical trials.

And the bottom line is still, you know, that A.A. is a failure. It doesn't matter how much you believe that A.A. saved your life and that you belong in it (for the rest of your life), A.A. still fails to make alcoholics quit drinking. And you recognize that — you just said so above. Everything else is irrelevant and a distraction — all of the talk about spirituality and brotherhood and fellowship and feelings of belonging, and Serenity and Gratitude — that is all just a distraction from the fact that A.A. does not accomplish what it said it would accomplish — to make the alcoholics quit drinking and save their lives.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    When a judge in a court of law is forced to distinguish between
**    a free and a compelled act, he is not helped by being told by
**    either a psychoanalyst or a behaviorist that all acts are compelled.
**        ==  Willard Gaylin

Date: 29.07.2009 13:52     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Sarah W.
Subject: A letter I got today from an AA member


Thank you very much for your site.

I left AA a few years ago after ten years of keeping my mouth shut about all the abuse I saw, particularly toward those who dared to think for themselves. Today, because I felt like finally saying something, I joined an AA site (AA-meetings.com) and shared my experience on a thread about atheists (since I am one) in AA. I thought the author was asking for atheists to write, since she said that and all. Here is the first response I got. Believe me, I'm not surprised, that's why I never said anything in a meeting. But it is just a little too funny (in a very scary way, of course). My post is above the bold line, the first response is below. There are plenty more like it.

All the best to you,

I have done the steps numerous times, though, I'm sure that some would argue I didn't do them the "right" way because I don't believe in a god. I was willing to believe that the universe is greater than me and that if there is a god, I'm not it. That was all I needed to make my start. I've found a fair bit of anti-intellectualism in AA, and this is one area that makes this trend highly apparent.

Anyway, as my thinking faculties were restored, I found that I could use my brain and think for myself. Yes, AA is a spiritual program, but I think we would all agree that, "faith without works is dead." Thus, for some of us, spirituality is action. I've heard for YEARS that, "works without faith is also dead", but I don't agree. I have become sane, productive, healthy and have amazing relationships that were not possible. And, yes, I did it, not a god. Though this is anathema to many in AA, it is my experience. And, after all, our experience, strength and hope is what we share, and I have no lack of any of them.

As hard as it may be for some "believers" to believe, I apply the principles in all of my affairs, do regular inventory work and feel that I have gained a great deal from AA. I just don't need anyone to do my thinking for me. But hey, I've only been sober 12 years, what the heck would I possibly know?

So you are saying "you" did it....without any help? If you put your trust and faith in yourself, why AA? AA is a spiritual program. That is the way it was founded...

I think you "doth protest to much" You are trying to convince "yourself" there is no "Higher Power". You need to look at your AA group and friends. They are your "Higher Power"...they are carrying you.

Do you sponser anyone? Do you do service outside of your group?

You say you have "experience, strength and hope" Do you really beleive that the Strength comes form "you"? Why didn't you have that strength before AA...And what do you base "your hope" on? Yourself?

You also state you have 12 years sober ? Then you should KNOW YOU DIDN'T DO IT ALONE.....You sort of sound like a 12 year old. you are just rebelling. GROW UP and admit YOU didn't do get sober all by "YOURSELF" and without a "Highr Power"....

I truly beleive that if you keep on this road of "self", "pride" and all you will be brought down. "Pride cometh before a fall"

So my suggestion. Is LET IT GO...you don't have to admit to anyone but yourself that there is a "Higher Power"..But quit try to convnice others that you "did it" without one. No one but YOU think You have that kind of Power. The rest of us just hope the best for you and that keep coming back

Hi Sarah,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, they certainly do respect your intellect and your opinion and beliefs, don't they?

So much for freedom of religion in Alcoholics Anonymous.

I couldn't help but notice the bait-and-switch trick in:

So you are saying "you" did it....without any help? If you put your trust and faith in yourself, why AA? AA is a spiritual program. That is the way it was founded...

Well, actually, the way that A.A. was founded was that Bill Wilson wrote that you could have any religious beliefs you wish, or none at all:

Alcoholics Anonymous does not demand that you believe anything. All of its Twelve Steps are but suggestions.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 26.

But later, that changed into:

I was beginning to see that I would require implicit faith, like a small child, if I was going to get anywhere.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, The News Hawk, Page 259.

Oh, I also like the logical fallacy of Assuming Facts Not In Evidence:

"You also state you have 12 years sober ? Then you should KNOW YOU DIDN'T DO IT ALONE....."

Oh really? And that statement is made based upon what facts? What valid clinical test established that only people who get zapped by the "Higher Power" of a peculiar heretical religion can get and stay sober?

And then I love the fear-mongering:

I truly beleive that if you keep on this road of "self", "pride" and all you will be brought down. "Pride cometh before a fall"
Ah yes, the Boogey-Man will get you if you don't obey the rules and believe in the Right Religion.

And the quote is incorrect, too. The correct quote is Proverbs 16:18,
"Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall."

Personally, I don't consider this statement to be prideful or haughty:
"I got sober by myself, without joining any cult religion or imagining that I could get Miracles On Demand by praying to Santa Claus."

It is actually extremely prideful, haughty, and arrogant for any A.A. group members to claim that they have God Almighty waiting on them hand and foot and delivering miracles whenever they need one. What makes them so special?

Reverend John Haynes Holmes, pastor of the Community Church in New York, also said that it was blasphemy. He criticized the bragging of the theological father of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Frank Buchman, with this statement:

"I count it blasphemy for Dr. Buchman, or anybody else, to pretend to testify to what God has done for him while humanity is at this moment perishing."

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      The happiness of credulity is a cheap and dangerous quality
**      of happiness, and by no means a necessity of life.
**          ==  George Bernard Shaw

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