Letters, We Get Mail, CXXXVIII

Date: Tue, August 11, 2009 7:06 am     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "Melisa N."
Subject: I Started Reading....

I read quite a bit of your stuff. I actually found this site 2 years ago, when I was a newcomer to AA. I think that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, on pretty much anything. But, you also have to remember, that I'm entitled to my opinion. If I believe that AA has saved my life, it's not quite kosher to call me basically a brain-washed dumb-ass. I have seen the 13th stepping that you refer to. Those people are predators, and definitely have an agenda above and beyond sobriety. They are preying on people when they are extremely vulnerable, emotionally, mentally, and physically. AA is a microcosm of society, so yes, we have predators. We have sociopaths, narcissists, psychopaths, grandmothers, mothers, fathers, teachers, politicians( I think I covered those in the first three ), construction workers, computer nerds, liars, thieves, virgins, sluts, black, white, native, jewish, muslim, hindi, and that's just in my district. I am Pagan, and have not been kicked out of AA. I am female, have been hit on by these predators, and had the women in my group close ranks around me. We let people know in no uncertain terms that it's not acceptable.

Hello Melissa,

Thanks for the letter. Yes, you are entitled to your opinion. But that does not make the opinion automatically true or accurate. Like Senator Patrick Moynahan said, "Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts."

I know for a fact that my higher power is not going to hand me a wonderful life on a platter, and all I have to do is pray, meditate, and drag some other sucker in. I do not feel guilty about what I have done in the past. Doing my inventory, and telling my sponsor what was in it, actually helped me get over the guilt. I do not have to rehash it, over and over. It's done. As to me having a wonderful life, I have to do the work for that. I have to take the actions. I leave the outcome up to my higher power. I either get what I wanted, or I don't. And I don't throw a pity party if I don't.

So you have to do the work yourself and save your own life, or else. Welcome to the club. We are all in that situation. So you are supplying zero evidence that A.A. or "higher power" did anything good.

By the way, I do not for a minute believe that Steps Four through Ten don't actually induce more guilt and depression. How many years do you have to dwell on all of your "wrongs" and "moral shortcomings" and "defects of character"? When do you get to say, "I've graduated, and I'm a good person and I don't need to do the confession session routine any more."?

I am sorry your experiences with AA have soured you so much. It's not for everyone. And I respect that. Just as I respect your right to try to contradict anything and everything about AA. I too believe Bill W. was full of it, and narcissistic. So what. I take what I need from AA, and meetings, and leave the rest to people like you to stew over.

What soured me on A.A. was seeing so many people relapse, and realizing that A.A.-based treatment had nearly a 100% failure rate while 12-Step promoters and propagandists lied about how well "The Program" really works. All of those meetings and Steps weren't helping my friends at all. And that is what you haven't mentioned — the A.A. success or failure rate. What percentage of the newcomers get and stay sober? How does A.A. really help the alcoholics? How does N.A. help the addicts?

Oh, and then there is of course the problem that some really sick people hang around and become the resident old-timers, and they set themselves up as the experts and mentors to the newcomers. And there is no sanity test required before somebody becomes a sponsor or counselor. Heck, Bill Wilson wouldn't have passed such a test, and he got to write the Big Book.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Whenever two people meet there are really six people present.
**     There is each man as he sees himself, each man as the other
**     person sees him, and each man as he really is.
**         ==   William James

Date: Tue, August 11, 2009 3:16 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "DougB"

You've been a voice of reason during my attempt of freedom from AA/NA. I spent over two years, 9 times a week in the rooms making every attempt at getting what they were saying. It never made sense and in fact, at a fundamental level, went against everything I sensed to be right. After finding your Site, all the confused and contradictory thoughts and feelings began to take focus and were substantiated. It took years for me to get myself free from the nonsense of these programs and it may not have happened at all were it not for your Site. Thank you, Agent Orange.


Hi Doug,

Thanks for the thanks, and I hope you are doing well and feeling okay now.

So have a good life and a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Ade's Law: Anybody can win — unless there happens to
**     be a second entry.
**          ==  George Ade

Date: Tue, August 11, 2009 3:43 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "Trish R."
Subject: telling people they are incompetent

Hi Orange,

I got to thinking about the problem of people being sent to a group that tells them that they have been damaged in ways they can't fix. I realized there is a parallel in recent history that might illuminate the problem of what AA does to people, and that would be the recovered memory movement. People, mostly women, who were functional but vaguely unhappy in some way, and seeking therapy stumbled upon therapists who had an a priori conviction that unremembered sexual trauma causes all sorts of problems in adult life — or even ALL problems of adult live — were trained to recover memories of the abuse. Often the therapists sent people who claimed to have no memory of such abuse to group therapy, where talking to others who recovered abuse memories resulted in recovering memories of abuse. Did this result in freer & happier ex-patients? No, it caused people to become so distressed they could no longer work, and damaged their relationships with families and loved ones. Plus, innocent family members "remembered" to have abused the patients were carted off to jail. It reminds me of the "spectral evidence" that resulted in the 1619 convictions for witchcraft in Salem.

Considering what we now know, thanks to the work of Elizabeth Loftus, about the malleability of memory, even when a person is under no social pressure to revise a memory, and that humans are such social animals they are perfectly willing to join and stay in groups that are damaging to them, I think it's really important to question the method of diagnosing alcoholism/addiction via a person recalling their life story. Especially when they are under pressure, whether from an AA group, or perhaps from annoyed loved ones, employers or a court, and the claim of being "diseased" might result in a second chance at a job or relationship, or avoiding jail time. It would be surprising if people in such circumstances didn't suddenly "discover" themselves to be "diseased."

On the other hand, if you take some kids and claim to their teachers that they have higher than average IQs when they don't, by the next school year, they will. People tend to live up or down to the expectations of their social groups.

Just a thought.


Hi again Trish,

Thanks for the letter. And yes, it's more than just a thought.

Stephen Gaskin once said, "The two most important words in the English language are 'I am'. You must be very careful what you put after those two words."

Yes. If you say, "I am stupid," often enough, you will start to believe it and act like it. And other people will see you as stupid.

On the other hand, if you say, "I am good-looking" enough that you start to believe it, you will start to radiate an aura that makes other people see you as good-looking. Then you really will be good-looking. (That one is almost magical.)

So sending people to a group that tells them that they are damaged and sinful and selfish and weak and powerless and insane and full of moral shortcomings and defects of character and have short fuses and no patience and little tolerance for pain does not help those people. No wonder some of them go commit suicide.

The whole "recovered memories" thing is such a huge mistake. Unfortunately, human memory is highly unreliable, and suggestible. After someone thinks about something for a while — that is, trying to remember a suggested event that didn't really happen — they think they can remember it, but they are really remembering themselves imagining it and picturing it earlier. They are remembering their own previous thoughts, not reality. Oops!

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      "It's a poor memory that only works backwards."
**         ==  Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodson, 1832—1898),
**         Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass

Date: Mon, July 27, 2009 6:58 am     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "Parrish S. K."
Subject: Another for your Hollywood list


On a few occasions, you've mentioned that Hollywood has a sort of "stealth pro-AA" agenda, giving a list of various TV shows and movies and so on where an alcoholic is portrayed as the most miserable worthless sot in the world and whose life is turned into a miracle by joining the Steppist church. I know your list isn't meant to be exhaustive (frankly, it's hard to see how it could be), but I thought I'd add another one for you: "Beverly Hills, 90210". The original, not the remake. I haven't seen the remake at all and so can't comment, but in the original, the character Dylan McKay (played by Luke Perry) gets the usual treatment you'd expect.

This is particularly ironic, because there's another story arc over a number of episodes during a different time in the same show where another character, Kelly Taylor (played by Jennie Garth), also gets sucked into a cult. Whoever did the writing knew what he/she was doing, because the cult that Kelly joins exhibits all the stuff: mentally ill and grandiose leader, extensive use of jargon and slogans, busy work at the cult's compound, separating members from "outsiders", belief that cult members are special and destined for greatness by transformation — the cult leader actually says they're striving to become a new species, Homo Lucens, or "Shining Man" — dire predictions regarding leaving the cult, and all the rest of it.

In fact, now that I think about it, it makes me wonder whether it was the same writer (or writers) for both storylines, and what the writers' own stories are. I may delve into IMDb someday to see what I can find out.

Off to get my day started... TTYL, P

Hi again Parrish,

Thanks for the tip. I haven't seen that program.

That sounds very interesting though, and it does make one wonder about whether the screen-writers saw the similarity between the cult and A.A. (What amazes me is when they don't.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    We are drowning our children in violence, cynicism and
**    sadism piped into the living room and even the nursery.
**    The grandchildren of the kids who used to weep because the
**    Little Match Girl froze to death now feel cheated if she
**    isn't slugged, raped and thrown into a Bessemer converter.
**       ==  Jenkin Lloyd Jones

Date: Wed, August 12, 2009 12:51 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "Frank W."
Subject: Orange papers

Mr. Orange,

I recently discovered your works as a result of monitoring my 12 year old son's Internet usage, "links' on U-tube to be specific. I have been sober and a realistic member of AA for 25 years. I applaud the depth and magnitude of your research. I do not disagree with many of your statements and observations but I am having difficulty following you some of your logic and conclusions. While I am not an intellectual of your caliber, I do find your observations interesting...... It would be most helpful for me to know your background or story, before continuing to study your work. If you are sincere in your beliefs I hope you are willing to share your personal story with me as a fellow seeker of Truth.


Frank W.
AKA — Big Book Frank ; )

Hi Frank,

Thanks for the compliments. The list of links to the usual autobiographical information is here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Every society honors its live conformists and its dead troublemakers.
**        ==  Mignon McLaughlin

Date: Thu, August 13, 2009 1:21 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: Doug
Subject: assistance, please....

I'm indebted to what you've helped me achieve...freedom. Freedom from AA/NA and freedom of thought. Thank you. Recently I've started a debate and was given this, from a pro faith based, 12-step program person:?

"As I have said befor and will probably say again — there are many roads that lead to recovery and when people learn to respect other ideas, and become willing to try another methods when one doesn't work. Both for the addict and the one working with the addict then I believe that the % of sucess will rise."?

I know there's a problem with this logic, but can't fully figure it out. I've tried researching the appropriate sections of your Site, but can't find the answer. Your help would be most welcome.


Hi Doug,

Thanks for the letter and the question.

Yes, that argument has several holes in it.

  1. First off, there is the complication that the statement might be true. That is, there might be some other "idea" that should be respected. So under certain conditions, some other idea or method might produce good results. For example, if the speaker were really leading up to recommending SMART or Rational Recovery, I would probably agree with him.

    That is a subtle use of the propaganda technique of Sly Suggestions — he suggests that "other methods" will work, which sounds reasonable enough, but he doesn't supply any facts to support that suggestion.

  2. This is Slanted Language:
    "when people learn to respect other ideas..."
    Such nice words, "learn", and "respect", and "ideas", rather than "be gullible, and accept quack medicine".

  3. The author wasn't at all specific about what should be respected. If Joe Blow suddenly starts promoting demonology and Satan-worship as a cure for alcoholism and addiction, are we supposed to respect those ideas and give them equal consideration with methods and techniques like Rational Behavioral Therapy or Addictive Voice Recognition? I don't think so.

    That is called the logical fallacy of Escape via Relativism, which essentially says, "One opinion is just as good as another. One idea is just as good as another."

    "Be open to new ideas" and "respect other opinions" is the anthem of every quack and fake doctor around. There are plenty of frauds that should not be respected.

    Yes, we should be open to new ideas. However, we should be quick to ask, "And what evidence do you have that this new idea is true?"

    Keeping an open mind is a virtue,
    but not so open that your brains fall out.

    — James Oberg

  4. Then the speaker says, "there are many roads that lead to recovery..."

    Oh really? Says who? What are they? What are their success rates? The speaker assumes that there are "many roads" that work, but where is the evidence? That is the propaganda trick of Petitio Principii, Assume Facts Not In Evidence.

    And the speaker is also again using Escape via Relativism, as if one recovery method is just as good as another — "There are many roads to recovery, and they all work, so it doesn't matter which one you choose."

    Oh yes it does.

  5. I totally agree with the statement that when one method does not work, we should try a different method. But that "different method" should not be quackery.

  6. The speaker ends his rap with, "...then I believe that the % of sucess will rise."

    There, he is substituting his beliefs for facts — Confusion of Beliefs with Facts. He has presented zero evidence that he has, or even knows of, any better method that will really improve the percentage of successful treatments. He just wants you to believe that such a thing exists — which opens the door for him bringing in something that is pure quackery, like faith healing or worshipping the Easter Bunny as your "higher power".

  7. If I were participating in that discussion, my next question would be, "Would you please be very specific about what 'new idea' you want us to accept? If it's Bill Wilson's religion that was really created by Dr. Frank Buchman in the nineteen-twenties, then it isn't 'a new idea'."

    So if they are trying to sell the 12-Step program to you by calling it "a new idea", then that is the propaganda trick of Deception Via Mislabeling or Misnaming Things.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The value of an idea has nothing whatsoever to do with
**     the sincerity of the man who expresses it.
**         ==  Oscar Wilde (1854—1900)

Date: Thu, August 13, 2009 2:27 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: "Annabelle M."
Subject: The Cult Test 100 Questions was very useful to me, thanks!!

Dear A. Orange,

Thank you for The Cult Test Hundred Questions. I will send the link to a good friend of mine that is currently falling into Scientology (and print out a few choice excerpts to have them handy if she allows the discussion).

Between the time she entered her first "self-help class" and the time she signed for a 2.5 years contract and started selling everything she owns in order to move in another city to "work" for them, there was only 4 weeks! So I find myself pressed for time and am using the tools at my disposal and taking advantage of the very thorough research you put into The Cult Test. There is no way I could prepare something this complete!

So thank you, having a solid reference like this is a great help.

P.S.: It is probably too late for my friend (although I will not stop trying), but people around her and around me also need to be educated and pushed towards doing their own research, because a common reaction I got when discussing Scientology was "Oh but they're one of the good cults, right?". (AAAARGH!!!) So I'll be suggesting your Cult Test to a lot of loved ones, as a first read. Thanks again.

A. from Montreal, Canada

Hello A.,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. I'm sorry to hear about your friend getting sucked into Scientology. Four weeks, and they've got her on a 2.5 year contract, and she will spend years working for Scientology for free as unpaid slave labor (although they call it "working to pay off auditing and courses"). Wow. That love-bombing and Instant Community and Instant Intimacy really works fast, doesn't it?

Thanks for sending the Cult Test around. I honestly don't know why information and warnings about cults are not taught in high school. If it came down to a choice between teaching the students how to diagram sentences, or how to avoid getting deceived by cults, I'd choose to teach the latter. (In fact, I think I did. :-)

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There's always an easy solution to every human problem —
**     neat, plausible, and wrong.
**         ==  H. L. Mencken

May 15, 2009, Friday: Day 15:

Canada Geese families
The Family of 9, coming for munchies

You can see how when two families band together, they arrange themselves in a convoy with two adults in front, and two behind. Here, their arrangement is very loose and casual. At other times, they arrange themselves into a very precise symmetrical rectange with adults stationed front left, front right, rear left, and rear right, and the goslings are always in the middle of that protective perimeter.

Canada Geese family
Carmen's Family, eating oatmeal
It's hard to say for sure in this photo, but it looks like Carmen is the gosling in the front left.
The father is on the left, and mother on the right. Again, you can easily tell them apart by the shapes of the white patches on the sides of their heads. And of course the father likes to stand up tall and proud and make himself look as big as he can — and it also gives him a better vantage point for watching for danger.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Thu, August 13, 2009 4:57 pm     (answered 19 August 2009)
From: Jaciti
Subject: Amazing

Wow, and just what do you do in your spare time? Thats amazing. You still spend much of your time trying to pick apart a program that works well for millions. This disease is like many. Some don't get it in the first year, but they don't give up. Some don't get it the second time, but eventually, people begin to get a program that works well for many.

It would depend on what your idea of success is for you to determine a failure rate. There are many things that people don't get the first time. Riding a bike, an answer in school, achieving a goal. You would suggest that they just give up and try something different instead of looking at what wasn't tried the first time and correct that. Under your philosophy, everyone would be crawling around on all fours because of the first time they fell when they were learning to walk.

I especially like things like "a million little pieces" and even Mike's response on this page. I have weened my self from AA and now I have 18 years. Its sort of like saying "I dropped out of school and now I really have my ABC's down packed. I really can do this reading thing now.

I dont think that people in the AA program are saying that no one gets sober without it. Call it what you want, one stepper, two stepper. It is in regards to the change that a person makes in their behavoir along with the not drinking. I mean a person who stops drinking, but continues to go down to the bar and get into fights has some serious issues. They are still acting like the drunk, but just not drinking. This is something that is addressed in the 12 step program.

And by the way Orange, what's the purpose. Are you saving people? I mean, are people being seriously hurt by following the suggestions of the program. Bill W as you so referred to him many more times than in the book he wrote, refers to an alcoholic, not to people who have drinking problems. Alcoholics. What type of a person finds joy in drinking themselves out of families, jobs, life, freedom. I mean, you surely would suggest that it is there weakened will power, and they just need to what,,,,,, stop. Do you think that they have considered that one?

Perhaps they just need to be jailed up with the key buried so they can never hurt themselves or anyone else. Perhaps they mean to scar their kids for life.

You evidently had a drinking problem at one time and decided to stop. AA scarred you in some way. What was it Orange? Were you thrown out of treatment for not giong to meetings? Were you sent to jail because you wouldn't go. Its something. For the person who is suffering from the addiction of alcohol and drugs can get clean from doing the hoochie coochie dance, then thats fine. This program is for people who wants the results of this program. Not other outcomes. I mean, I wouldn't go to a fish market to buy a roast beef. So if people don't want the things that program offers, then perhaps they should try something different like self will,,,,,,,Oh, they usually have tried that before coming to that program. IT DIDN'T WORK. It didn't work the first time, the second or the third. And you what Orange, they were welcome to continue to try. Jail sentence after jail sentence, loss after loss. Go for it, its your life.

So what do you suggest Orange, what is your miraculous cure for this thing called addiction. Just stop!!!!!!!!! Uh, tried it. Keep busy? Yea, that helps with diabetes and high blood pressure too. Tell everyone, wont you, what AA did to you. Who turned you away? I cant see you taking this much time for a cause that has nothing to do with you.

Hello Jaciti,

Well, you pretty much declared your whole position in two sentences at the start of your letter, so I'll concentrate on those:

You still spend much of your time trying to pick apart a program that works well for millions. This disease is like many.

You are making a huge groundless assumption when you declare that "it works for millions". What works? And where are the millions for whom it works? A.A. does not even have 2 million members in the whole world, and it has a huge relapse and dropout rate — barely one percent makes it for 10 years — so there aren't any "millions" of successful members.

There is zero evidence that A.A. increases the sobriety rate of alcoholics. But there is real evidence that A.A. participation

  1. raises the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. raises the rate of rearrests, and
  3. increases the costs of hospitalization later, and
  4. raises the death rate in alcoholics.

And the argument that it takes many people two or three tries before they quit drinking and stay quit doesn't change those facts.

Then you claim that "This disease is like many."
Oh really? Please define "disease". What do you mean, when you say that "alcoholism is a disease"?

  1. Is alcoholism a disease like Chicken Pox or Small Pox or Ebola, where all that you have to do is touch someone who has the disease, and you will get infected with the virus too?

  2. Is alcoholism a disease like Avian Flu or Swine Flu or the Spanish Influenza, where somebody coughs in your face, and you inhale the virus, and now you have it too?

  3. Is alcoholism a disease like Parkinson's Disease or Huntington's Chorea, where you inherit a broken gene, and that dooms you to an unpleasant early death?

  4. Is it a disease like Rickets or Scurvy, which are caused by vitamin deficiencies?

  5. Is it a disease like lead poisoning or arsenic poisoning or mercury poisoning, which are caused by accumulation of heavy metals in the body?

  6. Is alcoholism a disease like PTSD, which is caused by surviving traumatic experiences?

  7. What causes this "disease" of alcoholism? What is the etiology?

  8. What are the signs and symptoms of this "disease", besides the fact that alcoholics drink too much alcohol? (Which is actually a behavior problem...)

  9. If an alcoholic quits drinking alcohol for a few years, does he still have the "disease of alcoholism"? How could you identify such a sober person as having the "disease of alcoholism"? (Besides perhaps poisoning that person with ethanol and seeing how he reacted, which isn't allowed.)

  10. Is it possible for a person to have the "disease of alcoholism" without ever drinking alcohol?

Then you closed with, "...what is your miraculous cure?"
That is a cheap propaganda trick — Make Unreasonable Demands. You know that there is no miraculous cure. Criticism of A.A. quackery is not invalid just because nobody has a miracle cure for compulsive and addictive behavior. There is also no miracle cure for mental illness, which is the real cause of a lot of peoples' drinking problems, but the medicines are getting better.

Now if you have read many of my responses to email, you know that I recommend recovery methods and groups like SMART, WFS, and SOS. The list is here, in case you are interested (which I doubt).

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Wherever the art of medicine is loved,
**       there also is love of humanity.
**         ==  Hippocrates (460?—370? B.C.)

Date: Fri, August 14, 2009 5:51 pm     (answered 21 August 2009)
From: "John M."
Subject: False arguements

In regards to this:

Sam won the lottery, and immediately went on a huge outrageous binge of celebration that ended in him dying drunk. He had all of the free time and money he needed to drink himself to death, and he did. Therefore, winning the lottery is a terrible thing that will make you die drunk. (Likewise, success is also a dangerous thing that will probably ruin you, so don't succeed in life.)

I'm not saying that you are wrong, but would it be honest to say there is a grain of truth in that argument? I.e. people that "regularly" play the lottery are people who don't have that much experience managing money and would be more likely to ruin themselves with that money. Or as Ayn Rand said, (to paraphrase) "they were not ruined by that money they ruined their money". And is it better for us who seek the truth to exact that grain of truth and ruin the rest of their arguement.

Hi John,

Yes, I knew when I wrote that one that it was thought-provoking, and a two-sided coin. I remember having heard a long time ago about some study of winners of lotteries that found that half of the winners ended up being miserable from the money. People went on spending binges but found that they couldn't buy happiness. Relatives and friends nagged endlessly for a share of the money. The winners had zillions of new "friends" with ulterior motives. Many marriages were wrecked by arguments over money and ended in divorce, and some people did drink themselves to death. Other people blew all of the money on parties and extravagances, and ended up being disappointed and bitter, and spent the rest of their days lamenting what might have been.

But it is still a gross oversimplication to conclude that winning the lottery is a bad thing that will make you die drunk — the other half of the people did manage to cope with being millionaires.

(And the people who were happiest were, in general, the people who changed their lifestyles the least — people who just banked the money and kept on with their usual routines.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Money won't buy happiness, but it will pay the salaries
**     of a large research staff to study the problem.
**        ==  Bill Vaughn

Date: Sun, August 16, 2009 8:20 am     (answered 21 August 2009)
From: "Soussherpa"
Subject: Thought you might like to see this

philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote a book about debating techmiques. If you haven't read it already, here it is translated. It's called The Art of Controversy.


Hi Soussherpa,

Thanks for the tip. I'll have to check that out.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Style is the physiognomy of the mind, and a safer index
**     to character than the face.
**         ==  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788—1860)

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

Date: Fri, August 14, 2009 2:44 pm     (answered 21 August 2009)
From: "Eric B."
Subject: Thanks again for your reply

Orange — Thanks again for your reply. Yes, I see now that you and I are not talking about the same thing as regards "inner resource". For clarity, perhaps you could answer this — do you consider yourself to be an atheist?

Cordial regards,

Hi Eric,

Right, we are talking about very different things. When I talk about drawing upon my inner resources, I mean my determination and drive to live, and will power and common sense, and that kind of stuff, not anything supernatural.

No, I'm not an atheist. I just don't believe in Santa Claus. Nor do I believe that we can summon up demons or spirits by name and get them to do our bidding — not even "good spirits" — which is what a lot of people's "prayers" really amount to: "Dear Higher Power, Please gimme, gimme... This we ask in XXX's name...".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Tell me not, in mournful numbers,
**    Life is but an empty dream!
**    For the soul is dead that slumbers,
**    And things are not what they seem.
**    Life is real! Life is earnest!
**    And the grave is not its goal;
**    Dust thou art, to dust returnest,
**    Was not spoken of the soul.
**       ==  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807—1882)
**           A Psalm of Life [1839], st. 1, 2

[The next letter in this chain is here.

Date: Sat, August 15, 2009 10:03 am     (answered 22 August 2009)
From: "chris"
Subject: hi

Hi Orange,

thanks for this site. Reading some of the material here validated my decision to leave AA after 10 months. I went, reluctantly, because I had to quit drinking to live. I was going to fewer meetings because I didn't see the point of them. I'm not a very social person so I didn't want the company. I guess I just sobered up enough to see what BS AA really is. I'll have one year of sobriety on Oct. 7 and I'll take the credit for that, not AA.

Thanks again,
BC, Canada

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the thanks, and congratulations on your year of sobriety. And congratulations on the common sense and avoidance of insanity.

So have a good life.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     When they said Canada, I thought it would be up
**     in the mountains somewhere.
**         ==  Marilyn Monroe

Date: Sun, August 16, 2009 8:12 am     (answered 22 August 2009)
From: Chris W.
Subject: Success of AA

Having worked at Harvard Med School's Division of Addictions, Phoenix House and as a 3rd generation recovering alcoholic my experience seems to contradict your ideas.

It was unanimously agreed when Dr. Steve Hyman, then Dir of the Div of Addiction, next Dir of the Natl Inst of Mental Health ($900 billion a year spent on research) and now Provost at Harvard that AA was without a doubt the most effective program of recovery.

My personal observation agrees with that. Having 8 family members with the disease I saw the 5 that recovered all did it thanks to AA.. The other 3 died of the disease. Believe me these were very troubled alchies and not "Spontaneous Remissions" whatever that means. I fear unfounded pieces like yours will cost more lives similar to the UCal San Diego "studies" of the 1970s.

But we do have freedom of speech. Sorry to see it used in a way that can hurt people.

Chris W.

Hello Chris,

Thanks for the letter. That is a good demonstration of six propaganda techniques:

  1. Appeal to Authorities (Argumentum ad Verecundiam)
  2. Everybody Knows, and Everybody Says
  3. Use the Passive Voice
  4. Confusion of Correlation and Causation
  5. Petitio Principii, Assume Facts Not In Evidence
  6. Ad Hominem, Launch Personal Attacks On Opponents

  1. Referring to an authority like Dr. Steve Hyman sounds impressive, but proves nothing.

    • What valid and properly-done randomized longitudinal controlled studies was he citing when he gave the opinion that A.A. was "the most effective program of recovery"?
    • Did Dr. Hyman actually do any real randomized longitudinal controlled studies to see what works best?
    • Did he study anybody else's properly-performed randomized longitudinal controlled studies?
    • What other properly-tested recovery programs was he comparing Alcoholics Anonymous to when he made that statement?
    • You cannot truthfully declare that one thing is the most effective without having tested all of the alternatives.
    • Did he have ulterior motives, like that he is a hidden member of A.A. himself?
      • Or does he make money by selling A.A.-based treatment?
      • Does he have a vested interest in 12-Step treatment?
      • Does he have a reputation to protect (by not recanting)?
    • We know none of that.

    And I'm left really wondering why he would ignore all of the valid medical tests and say such a thing. Was he ignorant of the facts, or deliberately lying, or just a stubborn cult member who won't allow his opinion to be changed by mere facts? Or did he simply not say any such thing at all? Or are you misquoting him? (Actually, you didn't quote him, did you?)

    Oh, and can you give me a reference so I can look up what he really said?

  2. The statement that "It was unanimously agreed when..." is use of the logical fallacy of "Everybody knows", like "Everybody agreed when Herr Professor Flachlander declared that the world is flat".

  3. That same line also uses the passive voice: "It was unanimously agreed..." What faceless, unnamed people agreed, and what do they know? And did somebody hold an election or take a poll to see if the opinion was really unanimous?

  4. Then, citing the experiences of your own family sounds good, but does not provide any actual evidence that A.A. works. You did not say that your family tried any other methods with which to compare A.A., nor did you mention motivation. The people who wanted to quit drinking did, and they also went to A.A. meetings (because somebody told them that they had to), while the people who did not wish to quit drinking did neither. They chose to go to bars instead, and drink more, and eventually alcohol poisoning killed them. That is not evidence that A.A. works or does anything good. That is evidence that the best way to avoid death by ethanol poisoning is to stop drinking ethanol.

  5. This statement assumes facts not in evidence: Believe me these were very troubled alchies and not "Spontaneous Remissions" whatever that means.
    • So how did you determine that the recovery of relatives was not spontaneous remission? You said that it is your belief, not a fact. You also said that you don't even know what spontaneous remission is. So how can you be so sure that your relatives' recovery was not spontaneous remission, when you don't know what spontaneous remission is?
    • You are also assuming that Alcoholics Anonymous actually works to make alcoholics quit drinking, which it has been repeatedly proven to not do.
    • So some people quit drinking and at the same time also went to some A.A. meetings (because they really wanted to quit and were willing to try anything, even goofy cult religion), and you assumed that A.A. made them quit drinking, rather than that they wisely chose to quit drinking in order to save their own lives.

  6. Oh, and then claiming that I am using freedom of speech to "hurt people" is an old Stepper propagandists' trick — "How many people have you hurt by telling the truth? You are doing a great disservice to alcoholics..." Here is a list of similar attacks. Apparently, a lot of A.A. members really don't like it when you tell the truth.

Lastly, you say that you worked at Phoenix House? Isn't that a 12-Step facility that has a reputation for using "Confrontational Therapy" to attack alcoholics or addicts, using the vicious methods that the crazy nutcase Chuck Dederich created at Synanon? Would you care to explain how that works?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

BTW: I am also a third-generation recovering (or recovered) alcoholic.

== Orange

P.S.: I am curious about the "UCal San Diego studies of the 1970s". I had not heard of them before. Do you have a reference? Thanks.

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I have the same confidence in the ability of our people to reject
**     noxious literature as I have in their capacity to sort out the true
**     from the false in theology, economics, or any other field.
**         ==  Justice William O. Douglas

NOTE: 2012.12.25: Still no answer to any of those questions, not one, not ever.

Date: Thu, August 11, 2009 8:07 pm
From: "Trevor F."
Subject: Can I ask you a question re Alcoholics Anonymous?

Yes, if it's a real question.
Have a good day.
== Orange

Date: Thu, August 13, 2009 8:07 pm     (answered 22 August 2009)
From: "Trevor F."
Subject: Re: Can I ask you a question re Alcoholics Anonymous?

Hi Orange,

Yes it is a real question.

I have a couple if that's ok

1.Did you suffer from Alcoholism and ever go to AA?

2.Did you or someone you know get hurt by AA?

The reason I ask is that I found your site and you seem to have put a lot of time in checking out the history of AA and adding your own thought as is your right and you seem to have a great dislike towards Bill Wilson. I note occasionally using sarcasm or wit towards him personally. To put what you have put together takes a lot of time and I was wondering why the crusade?


Hi Trevor,

The answer to both questions is "yes".

The list of links to the usual autobiographical information is here. You should find answers to all of your questions there.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The new electronic independence recreates the world
**     in the image of a global village
**         ==  Marshall McLuhan

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Last updated 25 December 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters138.html