Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXVI

Date: 29.07.2009 17:59     (answered 1 August 2009)
Sender: Ted B.
Subject: sponsoring

I was thinking recently about the idea of sponsorship promoting the belief that the more time sober you have, the smarter you are... and able to think ( not for yourself )... but for a newcomer in the program. First, you need to be monitored and have someone teach you how to live your life, then you teach someone else how to live there's and monitor them. Meanwhile your individuality is lost. I get the feeling they do this on purpose.

thanks orange...
I hope you're getting these letters

Hi again, Ted,

Yes, I'm getting the letters.

Yes, isn't it funny how an A.A. member declares the he cannot think properly, and he depends on his sponsor to think for him and tell him how to live. And then he turns around and sponsors a newcomer and tells that newcomer how to live (because the newcomer can't think for himself).

It creates a pyramid of mental incompetents who all insist that they cannot think straight and they depend on the guy above them to do their thinking for them. (And of course it's also a pyramid of obedience. It keeps everybody in line.)

"My thinking is all screwed up, and I can't manage my own life, but my sponsor is clear-headed and qualified to run my life for me, in spite of the fact that he recites the same speech and says that his thinking is fucked, but his sponsor is really clear-headed, in spite of the fact that his sponsor also gives the same speech, and says that his thinking is also really fucked, but his sponsor..."

So who is at the top of the pyramid? Who finally stands up and declares, "I am a paragon of sanity and clear thinking, and I will do the thinking for all of you brain-damaged underlings!"?

I never saw that guy, or even heard of him... I guess he must be dead, maybe somebody like Dr. Bob, who died of cancer long ago, and all that remains now is a bunch of mentally-incompetent sponsees who all proclaim that their brains are toast.

And yes, it is hard to maintain your individuality when you don't believe that you have any sane thoughts or ideas of your own. What mind do you have that you can trust?

That brings up several standard cult characteristics:

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      It is only intellect that keeps me sane; perhaps this
**      makes me over-value intellect against feeling.
**           ==  Bertrand Russell

Date: Mon, July 27, 2009 12:31 pm     (answered 9 August 2009)
From: Bob O.
Subject: Powerless

Thank you for all you do. I like the name Orange, how did you pick it? I sometimes call myself "The remains" as in "after the crash the remains were taken to ..." Only partially funny because on 9.17.1967 I was very critically injured in a motorcycle crash (it was not an accident because I was drunk and stoned at the time).

I have been sober and clean since 10.27.1980. I have needed the fellowship of AA but I only take the first step which does not use the word GOD. I was told if you cannot do a step to go back to the last step, so I keep backing up to step 1 which works for me. They told me it was insane to drink when I knew what would happen. I say it was not insanity but alcoholism that made me drink. I did not need to be restored to sanity — I needed to overcome the compulsion, which I did with the help of a rehab on Long Island, NY. AA members continually say they are powerless over alcohol when the first step says we were powerless over alcohol. When I was drunk I was powerless but I am not powerless now.

I also say I will never drink again to which they say why go to AA meetings I refer them to the Big Book chapter called "Doctor Bob's Nightmare" which lists Dr. Bob's answer. It is my duty as an alcoholic to attend AA meetings. It is a debt I owe to those who were here before me. It can be a pleasure. It is insurance against a relapse. I agree with those statements. Before the compulsion left me I needed the fellowship of meetings. I do on occasion find it entertaining, though I usually keep it to myself and I do need to keep in mind that I can never drink because alcohol is in the bars-lined streets of my life. I have found the NA meetings in Suffolk County, New York to be more focused on recovery which is refreshing. I am tired of AA members saying it is not possible to recover immediately after reciting the preamble which says "help other alcoholics to recover from alcoholism"

Thank you for all you do. Peace and Love.
Bob O.

Hi Bob,

Thanks for the letter. I am glad to hear that you are doing well and thinking for yourself.

I chose the name "Orange" because a woman who ran a web site 9 years ago used the name "Apple", which led to a joke about mixing apples and oranges. The web site was "A.A. Deprogramming", where I first posted some of my articles. There is more of the story here. And that web site is currently mirrored here:

It is good that you are acting as a member of the "Newcomer Rescue League", and I wish you luck. I wonder, though, whether continued exposure to a lot of incorrect ideas about alcoholism and recovery will eventually get to you.

I already see some A.A. dogma creeping into your thinking, like:
"It is my duty as an alcoholic to attend AA meetings."
Why isn't it your duty to attend SMART meetings, or SOS, or Lifering, or anything else that teaches more sane, common-sense ideas?

While you may have derived some moral support and comfort from the fellowship of other alcoholics while you quit drinking, you do not owe them your life, nor are they due the credit for your sobriety. As you have already said, you did it — you did the quitting yourself, thus proving that you are not powerless over alcohol. So why even appear to be giving support and credence to such misinformation?

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     A superstition is a premature explanation that overstays its time.
**         ==  George Iles

Date: Wed, July 29, 2009 7:04 pm     (answered 9 August 2009)
From: "Craig D."
Subject: Wow

Hey Orange,

I want to say thanks for the website. I've been sober for roughly 9 months now. Originally I attended AA, but never felt quite accepted, and felt things were a little off. Like many drunks, I was an emotional wreck, and extremely confused about where life was leading. I initially hoped that AA would help clear things, but to be honest, it just contributed to my anxiety. While many of the suppositions on your site I don't fully agree with, there are many similiar thoughts you express that I myself have had.

— God granted human beings domain over animals, but I am supposed to be powerless over alcohol? Give me a break. Beer has never staged a home invasion. I either bought beer or I didn't. I either went to the bar or I didn't. I am one of those people who, once I start drinking, I don't stop. (I refuse to say can't, that seems to be shirking responsibility to me.) The only times I stopped was due to: a) I was out of beer; b) I was out of money; c) I passed out; d)the bar closed and I had no where to go get some beer. My power over alcohol is not drinking it.

— I do consider myself a fairly intelligent person. I like to ask questions to learn stuff. Not in a kiss ass way, but I like to learn. (I read that you like the history of the Pre-WWII fascist movements, we could probably have some interesting discussions.) I quickly realized that any questioning in AA was frowned upon, or at the very least answered with one of their countless cliches (which always drove me nuts!!!).

— I am a Catholic. I believe God can do all sorts of things. I do not, however, believe that God really likes it when people sit around praying for a miracle while they do nothing to help themselves. I also do not believe that I am being punished with alcohol for my sins anymore than I believe New Orleans was smashed by Katrina for being a sinful city. I pray daily for God's help in staying sober, but the responsibilty starts with me. I received a lot of negative attention at AA meetings for this "crazy" idea.

— I come from a family of alcoholics. In recent family history, from my grandfather to me, a number of family members had problems drinking. I can happily say that all prior to me reached a point where they just quit. On their own. When I bring this up to the AA people who tell me their way is the only way, I am given a lot of rubbish and non-answers, or the crap about how they aren't actually in recovery.

— Quite frankly, when I started reading your site, it scared the shit out of me. I know this was not your intent, it's just when you read the statistics on alcoholics it's hard not to be. But it is also encouraging because you also show examples of people who have survived alcoholism and also that I was not a crazy lunatic for thinking AA was off-kilter.

Due to your website, I am now exploring the AA alternatives I found in your links section. I also am trying to arrange some sort of psychiatric treatment, since I feel my problems run deeper than just drinking. I am now trying to open myself up to the idea of medication, which I have always been leery of. Not because I think I'm Tom Cruise or because of AA, just past experiences I've had with them. However, I agree that the old school AA philosophy on medication is just stupid, and harmful.

My thoughts are that I am dealing with a potentially deadly condition, and I should explore many different avenues of dealing with/ treating this condition. When one first decides to sober up, he is invariably directed towards AA. Word needs to get out about the other programs that have been proven effective or ones that show promise, not just shuttled off to the one that gets the most attention.

Thanks again,

Craig D.

Hi Craig,

Thanks for the letter. You make a lot of sense. It sounds like you are on the right track.

About the medications, I agree with you. If they help, wonderful. If they just mess up your mind, then avoid them, or get something different. It seems to depend on which medication someone is taking. From what I hear, some psychiatric medications are terrible, and some are great. It all depends on the drug and the person.

Telling people who need medications not to take their medications is just as stupid as telling people who have raging infections not to take penicillin or any other antibiotics because the speaker doesn't believe in them.

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The pen is mightier than the sword!
**     The case for prescriptions rather than surgery.
**        ==  Marvin Kitman

Date: Fri, July 31, 2009 6:20 pm     (answered 10 August 2009)
From: "M"
Subject: Unbelieveable

This explains the man I was dating. I dont drink and its hard to find people that dont drink. I started seeing this guy, didn't last long .............. He had been in AA 12 years. what a strange man.

And every word you wrote is so true about those people. I glad to see that somebody else sees what I see. I never in my whole life had so much trouble getting along with someone and I'm 50!

Thank you so so much. Enjoyed reading every bit of it.

Hello M.,

Thank you for the letter. And I hope you find a more sociable companion...

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Nine tenths of the people were created so
**     you would want to be with the other tenth.
**       ==  Horace Walpole (1717—1797)
**    (Some people have a large circle of friends
**     while others have only friends they like.)

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

Canada Geese family
Carmen and her new family
I can't be 100% sure in this photograph, but I think Carmen is the leftmost gosling, sitting right beside the mother, touching the mother's side. The mother is the adult who is sitting down.
As usual, the father is standing guard. And, as usual, Carmen is clinging to the mother. I think that girl has a bit of lingering anxiety from having been traumatized by getting orphaned at such a young age.
The gosling in the lower center part of the picture is posing like that because it is enjoying sun-bathing.

Canada Goose gosling
One of Carmen's new siblings, in front of mother

Canada Goose gosling
One of Carmen's new siblings.

This gosling is hot. You can tell by the way it is letting its wing droop down on the ground. It is spreading its wings out to radiate heat. If it were cold, it would hold its wings tightly against its body, to conserve heat.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Fri, July 31, 2009 8:17 pm     (answered 11 August 2009)
From: "Michael T."
Subject: Al-Anon?

Hi Orange,

I stumbled on to your website today. Very interesting stuff. I've been attending Al-Anon meetings for the last year or so as way to find some emotional support to cope with my wifes alcoholism and mental health problems and my own feelings of being isolated and alone. Given your views on AA, I am curious if you have an opinion on Al-Anon? I consider myself a "skeptic" who believes in the application of reason and the scientific method to inform my world view. I grant that Al-Anon can be a bit hokey, but there seems to be a lot of love and support in the groups and I don't see any evidence of abuse going on. As a skeptic, I find it comforting that they emphasize "take what you like and leave the rest". This allows me to reap the benefits of Al-Anon (emotional "tools" and sense of family/community) without having to accept ideas which are at odds with my rational view of the world.

Anyway, I'd love to know your thoughts on this subject.


Mike T

Hi Michael,

Personally, I've received some pretty dogmatic and wacked-out emails from Alanon members. What they lack in addiction they make up for in conviction. That's where the religious fanatics without a drinking problem go.

Now if you have found a group that really gives you some emotional comfort, and you are okay with the irrational dogma, then okay, enjoy.

I would just be very wary. When someone goes to 12-Step meetings month after month, year after year, it is very hard to keep some of the bad ideas from slowly soaking into his mind, almost absorbed by osmosis — like the idea that your significant other is drinking and doping because of your unspiritual behavior, and that the answer is to surrender and confess your sins.

I wrote much more about Alanon and Ala-Teen in the file on 12-Step Snake Oil.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A faith that cannot survive collision with the truth
**     is not worth many regrets.
**       ==  Arthur C. Clarke

From: "Steve H. "
Subject: Your comments regarding H. Tiebout
Date: Sat, August 1, 2009 4:35 pm

Who are you?

Steve H.

Hi Steve,

I've answered that one before, several times. The answers to that question are here:

  1. the introduction, my introduction to A.A.
  2. the "treatment" bait-and-switch trick
  3. another friend goes missing
  4. who are you
  5. who are you, again
  6. really an alcoholic...
  7. definitions of "an alcoholic"
  8. the story about "Rat Park"
  9. history of the Orange Papers, and
  10. creation of the web site
  11. censorship
  12. the "Orange" name.

There are some recent pictures of me and my little friends here and here and here.

Oh, and if you wanted an alphabetical label, my birth name is Terrance Hodgins, and I live in Portland, Oregon.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    When people are serving, life is no longer meaningless.
**        == John Gardner

From: "allan c."
Subject: NA is no different
Date: Mon, August 3, 2009 4:23 am

I'm not sure how I came across your website. But it is most refreshing.

My name is Allan. And I am not an addict. But I was.

I have been "clean" now for ten years. Although no one has baked me a cake, I am extremely proud.

At the front end of my road to "recovery". Or "self-discovery". I had moved out of my town. Probably the best decision I made at that point. In a new town, I attended an NA meeting. I was apprehensive of course, knowing full well that some meetings were populated by local pushers on the lookout for clients.

I didn't know what to expect, but it seemed to me another positive move.

The meeting had a very strict agenda. I could also feel palpable pain in the room. We were asked, one by one, as it went around the room to introduce ourselves and then confess to being an addict. I choked on those words because through my own endeavour I had not been using cocaine for several months, after the downfall of my marriage.

It was then expected of me, after listening to similar tales of mine to tell my story. I saw no point in that and brought up that I was new in town a skilled carpenter and cabinet maker and was actually there to network. And to see if anyone knew of some work available.

This was met with curious looks. Almost a disappointment that another juicy story of abuse, degradation, and failure was not going to heard.

So I explained that what I thought we should be doing was not recanting the past but helping to support each other in our endeavours for tomorrow and the future. It met with even more curious looks.

I went to one more meeting and found I was more discouraged and depressed afterwards than I was before.

My attitude towards that has not changed. I'm not sure of the theory behind NA or for that matter AA. But I am convinced by own experience telling people, and reminding them once or twice a week sometimes, that they are totally helpless in their substance abuse, will most definitely fall back into it, and actually that they are total losers, does not lend itself to recovery from addiction.

It is a money-making venture suppported I would imagine by the courts in some cases. Although I am sure it has helped some people I am afraid they are off in the wrong direction.

Whether it is a cult or not:

  1. It does not empower people.

  2. It does not give them the skills and/or the courage to take control of their lives once more.

  3. It is much like Catholics going to confession. But a brief confession does not get rid of an addiction.

    Self-worth does.

    And from my brief encounter NA does not fulfill that.

Thank you for opening up this dialogue.


Allan C.

Hi Allan,

Thanks for the letter, and I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Were it offered as a choice, I should have no objections to the
**     repetition of the same life from its beginning, only asking the
**     advantages authors have in a second edition to correct some
**     faults of the first.
**         ==  Benjamin Franklin

Date: Mon, August 3, 2009 4:43 am     (answered 12 August 2009)
From: "Alan K."
Subject: aa

Hi I have been reading your paper and find then very interesting, I first went to AA for 18 months but then drank again, so this time I just abstained by myself and for 12 years now, however recently I have felt lonely and vunerable and have started going to one meeting a week, in a different area, I have to confess it feels different this time and no-one seems to be so demanding or cultish, not sure if I am going to stay, but despite my not attending for 12 years, they have made me feel welcome, I feel I have found some nice people to share my journey .....time will tell,

Alan ( a confused recovering alchoholic )

Hi Alan,

I wish you success. It isn't the end of the world if you find some companionship at some A.A. meetings. Maybe you can even inject a note of sanity into the proceedings. You could even become a member of the Newcomer Rescue League.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    A true conservative is one who can't see any difference
**      between radicalism and an idea.
**          ==  author unknown

From: "sly w."
Subject: faulty reasoning
Date: Tue, August 4, 2009 12:39 pm


First, let me out myself. I've been sober in AA for 24 years and bounced around it for 10 before that (with a period of 6 years sober back then). I sobered up in Akron, knew many of the folks that Dr. Bob 'sponsored', met Lois, and have done quite a bit of study about the 'early years'.

Hello Sly,

Thanks for the letter. Congratulations on keeping yourself sober for 24 years.

Your website information is quite well researched and it's one that I'd recommend to folks with a bit of sobriety under their belts. There's obviously an agenda on your part which has led you to some faulty reasoning and quite a few 'half-truths'. I don't have the time or the engery to take you one point by point, but I'll try to address a few of the things that jumped out at me with a quick cursory reading of your site.

First let me say that it seems that you must have run into the kind of AA members that I abhor.... the fundamentalist non-thinkers. There were quite a few of them back in Akron when I was first trying to get sober. They do seem to be the most noticed and most vocal to new people coming in for help. It's one of the reasons for the tradition about 'principles before personalities'. There are a number of 'sick' people in AA and many have not recovered emotionally even though they may have stayed 'dry' for a number of years. Often they're the ones who are still going to many meetings a week in order to fend off their 'demons' (figurative NOT literal, lest you jump on my terminology).

Actually, I got my ideas about the fundamentalist non-thinkers from reading official A.A. council-approved literature, like the Big Book and Bill Wilson's other writings like As Bill Sees It.

And yes, the Akron crowd was some hard-core fundamentalist religious types. Even Bill Wilson said so. And the leading dogmatic condescending non-thinker was Doctor Robert "Bob" Holbrook Smith, who wrote in the Big Book:

If you think you are an atheist, an agnostic, a skeptic, or have any other form of intellectual pride which keeps you from accepting what is in this book, I feel sorry for you.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Dr. Robert Smith, Doctor Bob's Story, Page 181.

I agree that many of the sickest people become addicted to A.A. meetings and become the resident old-timers.

I've got to get back to work, so I'll make this quick.

I looked at the section on AA being a 'cult'. Your reasoning was compelling but flawed. In one sentence you mention how members must agree completely with the founders then go on to quote numerous members who disparaged their behavior. Which is it? You know that Bill took great pains to point out that 'we are not Saints'. Just because some newly sober or ignorant people believe something doesn't make that the norm. The mis-quoted Spencer quote that you mention was given to me in its original meaning. It's why I'm giving your site some time, seeing what I can learn.

I don't know which "one sentence" you are referring to, that is then followed by some members disparaging "their behavior". I wish you were more specific — please quote the lines — so that I know exactly what you are talking about. But to proceed in general terms:

Actually, it is your logic that is flawed. A cult leader may demand obedience, conformity in thinking, and unquestioning belief, but that doesn't mean that he is always going to get it. On the contrary, there will always be people who see through his scams, shams, and deceit, and criticize him for it. (When people did that to Bill Wilson, he hit the roof and threw a screaming temper tantrum. In his own words, "loud shouting matches ensued.")

When you claim that "some people" do something and "it isn't the norm", you are edging towards the defense that A.A. is not responsible for what the A.A. members do, and "it isn't the norm" — "not all groups do it."

That is a common defense of A.A., and it is wrong. A.A. is what its members make it. If a newcomer girl is sexually exploited by the resident sexual predator (like Mike Q. and his gang), then that is "the real A.A." for her. That is "the real A.A. experience." It doesn't matter whether it is "the norm", or whether "all groups do it". In her experience, A.A. is a very bad organization.

Likewise, when sick people get bad advice and goofy cult religion as "treatment" or "a cure" for alcoholism, then that is their A.A. experience. It doesn't help them any that some other lucky people got better advice over in another state.

Bill Wilson's line about "we are not Saints" is routinely used to rationalize and minimize all kinds of bad behavior. It's one of the more disgusting aspects of Alcoholics Anonymous. Pretend to be spiritual, and then do reprehensible things, and then rationalize, "We are not saints..."

You like to talk about AA as some kind of institution. It isn't. You mention how AA disparages other treatment options... I'd like you to show me ONE piece of actual AA liturature that does that, not just the opinion of some of it's members...and then you quite rightly mention that AA has no opinion on outside issues. Which is it?

Bill Wilson pulled a bait-and-switch trick there. First, he put on the appearance of being moderate by making a few mollifying open-minded-sounding remarks like "we have no monopoly", and "we know only a little", and then he wrote:

Any willing newcomer feels sure A.A. is the only safe harbor for the foundering vessel he has become.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 35.

      ... you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
      To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.
      But it isn't so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type [atheists or agnostics]. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life — or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up. Something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 44.

And the Big Book also says:

...he was insisting that he had found the only cure.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 257.

...they had found the only remedy...
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 259.

The only requirement is a desire to stop drinking. PERIOD.

That simply isn't true at all. There are many requirements, even if the double-talk says that they are not requirements (just "suggestions"):

  1. Do not criticize "The Program".
  2. Do not tell the truth about Bill Wilson or the history of A.A. while "sharing".
  3. Believe in the Twelve Steps.
  4. Go to meetings, get a sponsor, and Work The Steps.
  5. Recruit new members, and then train them.
  6. Revere Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob.
  7. Believe in "Higher Power".

And I know that you are going to reply that some atheist A.A. members do not believe in "Higher Power". Sure, you have your "token Negros".

Yes, there's some peer pressure to find A higher power. I lean towards Jung's collective unconcious. I often qualify the 'God' statement with "God as I don't understand, Him, Her, or It". I've never had a problem mentioning that at a meeting. I know a handful of people who don't believe in any kind of higher power other than the power of the group and friendship. They're not derided. They have as much say as anyone.

...Like I just said, pressure to believe. Never mind the fact that an atheist trying to work the 12 Steps is completely illogical, because there is nobody there to deliver miracles on demand when you pray for the goodies.

If someone wants to drink or do drugs, it's their decision. AA is there for the folks who want to stop. PERIOD.

That is a platitude. Actually, for other people, the experience was that A.A. is there to mislead, misinform, indoctrinate, exploit, rip off, and rape.

I've been quite uncomfortable with the courts and hospitals requiring folks to come to AA. It makes your opinions of AA seem more real...but again, AA has no opinion on that... if they send folks, it's up to the individual groups to decide if they'll sign the papers. Most do as a courtesy. There are a few immature folks who go on a power trip about it. They're NOT what most aspire to.

That "A.A. has no opinion" line is really something else. Talk about dodging the issues. Another correspondent wrote to me and said that when the A.A. headquarters says that it has no opinion on an issue, what that really means is that it is a dangerous issue that the A.A. leaders wish to avoid talking about, so they pretend to have no opinion and try to avoid the issue.

Like how A.A. has "no opinion" on Mike Q.'s Midtown Group (and other groups, like "The Pacific Group") sexually exploiting and even raping underage girls. "Every group is independent" they say, so they do nothing. Yes, that is really "spiritual" behavior all right.

Lunch break is over, and I've got to get back to work...so I'll leave it at that right now. Like I was taught, the traditions are to save us from ourselves.

Sorry, but The Traditions are just window dressing. They were never real, and never followed. Traditions are things that people have been doing for a long time, like long-respected customs. Bill Wilson's "traditions" are just 12 rules that he made up one day, rules that he didn't even bother to follow himself. Worse yet, they embody some really bad cult dogma, like that the A.A. group is more important than the people — "Principles before personalities", which you quoted earlier, means that their cult practices are more important than your own moral and intellectual standards, and "A.A. unity" means that you have to conform to the group. Those are not traditions — they are cult demands.

I hope you're well and happy. If so, wonderful! You don't have to hate AA. Go ahead and hate some of the folks in it, if you like.



I am well and happy, thank you, and I hope you are too.

Sly, the only people that I "hate" at A.A. are those who deliberately do grievous harm to others who are seeking help for a terrible sickness. That is just heartless and beneath contempt, but unfortunately, there are a lot of such monsters in A.A.

Again, I get the feeling that your line about "hate some people in A.A., but don't hate A.A.", is another attempt to deflect criticism, as if the A.A. organization itself does not deserve criticism and contempt, "it's just a few bad apples." Sorry, but the whole organization has become a big negative influence —doing more harm than good. Overall, A.A. still fails to sober up the alcoholics — it just raises the death rate, and raises the rate of binge drinking, and raises the rate of rearrests, and raises the costs of hospitalization of alcoholics... That isn't good.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent
**      a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.
**         ==  Eric Hoffer

Date: Tue, August 4, 2009 1:25 pm     (answered 12 August 2009)
From: "anonymous"
Subject: wow

Dude 'Orange'

right, Um whoever you are dude. Look: I do not like ur orange pages... they ramble & are most negative in reading style, critical; non-interesting in entirety.

Why when People write to You, the response is lengthy and badgering. Your pointed and harsh ...and its rude.

AA has something You don't and WE don't shoot our wounded. Your are welcome in there when You arent out here. I can't, We can.

Oh yeah; if u talk to a sponsor they are there to identify with You and equally point out insanity. You crush Bill Wilson..a gifted dude who wanted nothing more but a new medical view on alcoholism.

Now you know my opinion on Orange pages.. remember this ... AA has a code of Love and Tolerance. WHat is urs? *more importantly* what is the code of the Orange pages.. rough... narrow minded ..negative badgering and lengthy Orange Pages. (???)

I wish u would just go back..find someone to trust and live a good way of life.. Instead seperating your self on some spiritual hightop rambling on..I mean come on dude. I ramble ..i keep on truckin I am in it for the long haul and paople are recovering in Wahington State.. same as in Independence Missouri; I have first hand 7 months experience there, dude.

Relax man! People need to pray.. Utilize dont analyse .. It's exausting.

Thanks a million


Hello Anonymous,

Thanks for the letter. You are obviously living in a dream world that has little connection to reality. What Bill Wilson wanted was to be the leader of a cult religion that supported him in comfort, and supplied him with money, fame, a large crowd of admirers, and a stream of women. Alcoholics Anonymous is not "a new medical view". It is a repackaged old cult religion.

We have seen how the "A.A. code of love and tolerance" works in many groups: sexual exploitation, economic exploitation, virtual slavery, and dogmatic demands for belief. And then there are the cultish demands that you stop thinking for yourself, which you yourself just parrotted: "Utilize, Don't Analyze."

You asked, "what is the code of the Orange pages?"
It is simple: Tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, because people are dying over this stuff. Didn't Jesus say, "Learn the truth, and the truth shall set you free"? I really wish Alcoholics Anonymous would also start telling the truth.

There is little similarity between the A.A. slogans about spirituality and the sad organization that really exists in cities around the world.

And the worst part of it all is that the A.A. headquarters refuses to fix any of it. That isn't spirituality, or morality, or even common decency.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    When a fellow says, "It ain't the money but the
**    principle of the thing," it's the money.
**       ==  Frank Kinney Hubbard ("Kin Hubbard")

[This is the third in a chain of letters. The previous one is here.]

Date: Wed, August 5, 2009 3:36 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: "Eric B."
Subject: Thanks again for your reply

Orange — Thanks again for your reply. I can see that you mis-read my note of July 22. You see , it is not an "assumption" that the steps released my inner potential but a fact of my experience.

Hello again, Eric,

No, I did not mis-read your last letter. It is an assumption that you got a spiritual experience from doing some of the practices of an old cult religion. There is zero evidence that practicing Buchmanism gives "spiritual experiences". The historical record says just the opposite.

This experience did in fact "connect[ed] me[you] up with God". Yes I do believe that the 12 steps have done great things for me because they have — again a fact of my experience.

Your belief is not evidence. If fervent belief were really evidence, then there are a lot of people in psychiatric hospitals who really are Jesus Christ or Napoleon.

It seems that you want to attribute my experience as some sort of coincidence of timing. And yes I do tell people to try take the 12 steps and see for themselves what their own experience is.

Again, you are assuming that the mind-bending practices of an old cult religion do good things, rather than deceive people. The mind-altering practices of cult religions are designed to deceive people, and induce artificial experiences, and they are often very effective. They are techniques that have been refined over many centuries by trial and error. The most effective techniques survive to be improved upon by the next generation of cults. No one cult invented them; each cult builds on what came before.

Bill Wilson got it all from Frank Buchman and his Oxford Groups. Dr. Frank Buchman drew upon practices that he learned from his mentor Henry B. Wright of Yale University, who learned it from Robert E. Speer, who got it from Henry Drummond...

The fact that you quit drinking and then practiced Buchmanism is not just a coincidence. You were so desperate to save your own life that you were open to suggestions and willing to try whatever the cult recruiters suggested. They told you to practice Buchmanism, so you practiced Buchmanism, and the next thing you knew, those techniques worked on your mind and you started believing that you were getting spiritual experiences. If you had gone to Scientology, the sequence of events would have been similar.

My observation is that most people are simply unwilling to take the steps. I know many people like the woman you mention who wrote to you who just simply have never taken the steps and at the same time conclude they don't work. That's not very scientific is it?

"Most people are simply unwilling to take the steps" because they clearly see that that the 12 Steps are cult religion, and they want no part of it.

What is scientific is to look at all of the people who have done the 12 Steps, or practiced Buchmanism, and see what happened to them. And what happened is that they had a lot of bad experiences, and often became depressed and relapsed, and even had mental breakdowns, and also often got their lives so messed up that it broke up their families, and they got divorced, and some even committed suicide. Many others became obsessed with cult religion and made it their lives.

Also, I did not say in any way " that I [you] became powerful and able to conquer my [your] obsession" I am afraid you again mis-read my letter. What I did say in my second letter was that " a great inner resource exists and *this* is what solved my problem" [emphasis added].

No, I did not mis-read. You are engaging in double-talk. If you have an inner power that enables you to conquer an addiction, then that does make you more powerful. But you are trying to fudge in the declaration that your inner power is Somebody Else and that you didn't get any power over your addiction.

And yes, I was clearly insane to keep drinking the way I did — a sane man would have quit long before. So in step 3 I decided to turn to an "unsuspected inner resource" for help to solve my problem.

You are still trying to fudge that "inner power" into being something other than yourself, so that you can later call it "God".

In steps 4 through 7 I did find that I was driven by fear — a self-centered fear (is there really any other kind?) — and that "I" could not think my way out of that fear.

You are trying to pass off a guilt-inducing confession session as sane self-analysis and introspection. They are not the same thing at all.

Again, I turned to this inner resource to remove my self-centered fear.

Please explain how "turning to an inner resource" removes "self-centered" fear. What you are trying to do is slip self-deprecating Buchmanism into your argument with a few clever phrases. What that really means is:
"Oh, I was afraid because I was selfish and self-centered. But if I had stopped worrying about myself, I would have seen that Higher Power had a special plan for me."

In steps 8 and 9 I set right my past wrongs (something nearly all spiritual teachers have advocated) and in steps 10 and 11 I learned to pay attention as to who was running things — my fears or my "inner resource".

So now it is clear that you are trying to claim that your "inner resource" is your idea of God The Dictator Who Runs Things. You keep trying to assert that you are talking about the same thing as me when I talk about drawing upon inner resources to conquer addiction. We are not talking about the same thing at all. I do not believe in a Big Dictator who gives psychic orders and runs lives.

In step 12 I practice these principles as they relate to all departments of my life and report on the results to other alcoholics who can't quit drinking.

The 12 Steps of A.A. are not spiritual principles. They are cult religion practices.

And you can't "practice these principles in all of your affairs". What, do you list and confess all of your sins while shopping for groceries? Ask Higher Power to give you a little extra power while filling your car's gas tank? Conduct a séance and get psychic work orders from Higher Power while driving down the freeway? Admit that you are powerless and a self-centered loser when your boss tells you to get a job done?

The report by the way is that I am a free man, I never *have* to go to another AA meeting for the rest of my life if I don't care to, and I am useful to others once more. This state of affairs seems to be unending so long as I stay connected to that inner resource.

It is all fine and well — really, a good thing — that you got a grip and quit drinking. But that does not prove that practicing Buchmanism is a good thing.

So no, I am not reversing the meaning of step 1 — of myself, I cannot quit and stay quit for good and all. So most of your reply doesn't apply in my case. And I am in contact with a rather long list of drinkers who have had very similar experiences to mine described above. They too are free men.

Now that is an attempt at "Appeal to Numbers (Argumentum ad Numerum)". The fact that you can list some people — even many people — who share your Buchmanite beliefs does not prove the validity of those beliefs. Again, a long list of people who all sincerely believe that they are Jesus Christ or Napoleon does not prove that their beliefs are true.

And of course you will not list the far larger number of people who did not get happy outcomes from practicing Buchmanism. That is the propaganda technique called "Observational Selection".

That is my experience. Whether you had that experience or not, and whether you accept that that was my experience or not is up to you. You will have to decide for yourself.

Again I want to thank you for all the historical information you have provided. It is of great interest and surely illustrates that the founders of AA were indeed flawed — as are we all!

Cordial regards,

You are welcome Eric.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    The most costly of all follies is to believe passionately
**    in the palpably not true.
**      ==  H. L. Mencken

[The next letter in this chain is here.

Date: Wed, August 5, 2009 8:16 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: ray
Subject: AA & masonry

Hi Terry,

Just read your response about Ol' Bill not being a mason. Looks like Dr. Bob may have been one:

It is not well known that Dr. Bob was a Mason. Suspended in 1934, he gained reinstatement after being sober for some years.[4] According to John Weldon, "The truth is that Masonry is a distinct religion that espouses teachings incompatible with Christian faith in the areas of God, salvation, and other important doctrines."[5]
4. Cedric L. Smith, PGM, Grand Secretary of Masons in Vermont
5. John Weldon, The Masonic Lodge and the Christian Conscience, CRI DM 166, pg. 1


Ray S.

Hi Ray,

Thanks for the input. That's very interesting.

Incidentally, I just got another shred of information about the circle and triangle image — the pyramid with the eye — on the dollar bill. Some people have claimed that it is a Masonic symbol, and that it hints at the power of a secret mystical order, and that many of the Founding Fathers of the USA were Masons.

But it seems that Thomas Jefferson had something to do with it, and his opinions were just the opposite of the Masons. Jefferson wanted religion and superstition out of government. To him, the eye on the pyramid was the Eye of Reason. The inscription around the pyramid, "A new order for a new age" — "Annuit Coeptis Novus Ordo Seclorum" — meant that we would have an age of reason, not another age of belief or superstition.

And Jefferson was very proud of the fact that when he founded the University of Virginia, there was no chapel on the campus (a historic first), and that religion was not forced on the students as a part of the curriculum (another historic first).

But Dr. Bob being a Mason, now that's interesting. I'll have to check that out further. And I'm still open to the suggestion that Bill Wilson may have had some involvement with the Masons, if anybody has any evidence.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    An act of God was defined as something which no reasonable man
**    could have expected.
**       ==  Sir Alan Patrick Herbert (1890—1971), Uncommon Law, p. 316

UPDATE: More evidence of Dr. Bob being a Mason is here: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters139.html#Mason

Date: Thu, August 6, 2009 3:28 pm     (answered 13 August 2009)
From: "AARON F."
Subject: sex addiction and SLAA

Hi Orange:

Well it has been many months now I have not engaged in the sexual behaviors that caused me troubles and ten-plus years of hell in SLAA groups and meetings. I have managed to not engage in these behaviors by a combination of thinking about not only the negative consequences of engaging in these actions but also the positive "consequences" of NOT engaging in these actions, and also by substituting other, non-harmful behaviors for the harmful ones.

SLAA is full of crazy, toxic people and harmful and dangerous ways of thinking and behaving. And, most importantly, for the majority of people it doesn't work, by which I mean it doesn't help them stop doing the behaviors they want to stop doing. I think in my case being under the influence of the SLAA world actually made me engage in my destructive behaviors more, because of the shame the group caused and from being around a group of chronic relapsers all the time. Plus I think for any intelligent person, the act of ignoring or sublimating the clear knowledge that these programs are bunk and playing along with something they know doesn't really make sense must set up some kind of problem in the brain. It is a shame there are not really any alternatives to these 12 step groups for people with sexual problem behaviors. I also think it is really terrible that these groups are pushed at sex-addiction rehabs.

Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the letter. I hope you are well.

The evidence just keeps mounting that practicing Buchmanism does not produce good results. And I agree that it is a tragedy that 12-Step groups are the only "support groups" offered for a lot of things. What's wrong with today's generation of psychologists and psychiatrists? Can't they invent something better? (Well, actually, there is SMART and AVRT...)

Are you a compulsive clutterer? Or a grown-up former abused child of alcoholics? Or dying from Hep C? Join a Buchmanite cult and confess your sins... And they call that "self-help".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    As to marriage or celibacy, let a man take which course he will,
**    he will be sure to repent.
**       ==  Socrates (470?—399 B.C.)

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Last updated 11 February 2015.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters136.html