Letters, We Get Mail, CLXXXII

Date: Wed, July 14, 2010 5:13 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "John S. II"
Subject: AA Contributions

Howdy again Terry...

After reading Letters 179 where Ray S. mentioned the button for online contributions to http://www.aa.org/ I was curious and had to check it out for myself. I learned that they will take donations up to $3000 per individual annually. That averages out to $8.22 per day. Your response in another Letters 179 sums it up pretty good: "Some kind of new campaign to revive a dying cult religion?". Peace...

John S.

Hello John,

Thanks for the note. I'm impressed. They won't take more than $3000 from any one person in any one year? Why that is so spiritual that I'm going to have to implement the same rule for my own web site.

I hearby declare that I won't take more than $3000 per year in donations from any one person.

But if you really insist, you can donate another $3000 in your wife's name.
And another $3000 from your son.
And another $3000 from your daughter.
And your dog.
And your cat.
And your gerbil.

Oh isn't it fun being spiritual?

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Barring that natural expression of villainy which we all have,
**     the man looked honest enough.
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835—1910

Date: Fri, July 16, 2010 6:04 am     (answered 19 July 2010)
From: "Al Z."
Subject: ???

Who are you and more importantly.... why your vendetta driven hatred of AA?

You seem quite restless, irritable and discontent.


Hello Al,

And there it is again: the standard A.A. cult response to criticism — just attack the speaker — ad hominem. Don't bother to talk about the actual facts, like the A.A. cure rate, or the A.A. dropout rate, or the A.A. suicide rate, or the A.A. death rate; just attack the critic personally, and declare that his opinion is invalid because he has a resentment, or he seems unhappy, or he has a vendetta, or he is hateful, or he seems "restless, irritable and discontent" (sic.).

But I guess that if I surrendered my mind and my will and my life to Buchmanism, then I would supposedly be rested, unirritated, and contented, right? No thanks. I didn't quit drinking alcohol just to rot my brain with cult religion.

As far as who I am, and why I do the web site, I answered those questions here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  If stupidity got us into this mess, why can't it get us out?

Date: Sat, July 24, 2010 10:21 pm     (answered 2 August 2010)
From: "Al Z."
Subject: Re: ???

I see. Well, AA saved my life. I am most definitely an alcoholic. My father died of it when I was nine years old. That may be unrelated, but I don't believe so. At any rate, it really doesn't matter as I am an alcoholic.

If AA is "baloney" or a cult as you seem to claim.....so what. Other than a buck or two to assist in assuring that we are self-supporting, it's been a pretty "cheap" solution to my alcoholism.

A much better bang for the buck than a bunch of paid analysts.

But most importantly, it has worked for me when no amount of self-will could.

If you are an alcoholic and have found a solution for yourself by any other means, I would think that you would want to share it with others. If you aren't or have not then I fail to understand your negativity against it.

Good luck with your life.


Al Z.

Hello Al,

Starting at the top, my father also died of alcohol, so I suspect that there is a genetic factor at work there.

I'm sure that you believe that A.A. saved your life. There is however, no reason to believe that A.A. works to make alcoholics quit drinking. What works is just getting a grip and using your own determination to get better.

The phrase that you used, "found a solution", is an often-repeated Wilsonism, that implies that someone must use a "cure" or "solution" or "program" to quit drinking. Not so. The answer to drinking too much is pathetically simple: Just stop drinking so much. Either moderate or quit totally, whichever works out better for you.

Then you wrote:

If you are an alcoholic and have found a solution for yourself by any other means, I would think that you would want to share it with others. If you aren't or have not then I fail to understand your negativity against it.

We have talked often about what works, or is helpful, for quitting drinking, or moderating. See these two lists of things: the short list here, and the longer list here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     As I see it, every day you do one of two things:
**     build health or produce disease in yourself.
**           ==  Adelle Davis

May 19, 2009, Tuesday: Day 19, continued:

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Sat, July 17, 2010 12:04 am     (answered 20 July 2010)
From: "casey jensen"
Subject: yet another letter

I just wanted to write, and let you know how much i appreciate what you are doing. I am 23 and have been through numerous outpatient, inpatient, rehabs, and of course 12 step groups. When i got to aa i did quit, but now i realize that was because i was ready. I don't know if i should regret the time i spent in aa (sober 2 years in october) or not. Your angle about the guilt that the steps cause is right on. I thought i was having a spiritual experience when i left my sponsor's house after a grueling 6hr 5th step. I was just relieved to be done telling someone a whole bunch of stuff they have no business knowing! You are very well spoken and a pretty funny dude too. Keep it up; you're saving lives whether you know it or not. I have been so much happier since i stopped going to meetings and feeling guilt over normal human emotions.

Casey Jensen (fuck anonymity!)

Hi Casey,

Thank you for the letter. That really brightens the morning cup of coffee. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better.

So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I am the Lord thy God, Creator and Master of the Universe.  I have a
**     Divine Plan where everything will finally end in Glory. Oops! Some of
**     those hairless monkeys on the planet Earth are praying and begging me
**     to do something different. I guess I will have to grant their wishes
**     and honor their demands. After all, they are praying and begging.
**     There goes the Divine Plan. From now on, it will be the Humans' Plan.

Date: Mon, July 19, 2010 1:59 pm     (answered 20 July 2010)
From: "Alan"
Subject: Rethe Orange papers siet

Dear Orange,

I have read with great interest your opinions on AA and many (not all) of the letters you have received.

I personally am grateful for as much input and information as I can get regarding AA as I am 9 months sober (after 35 years drinking) and very much in the AA program.

I respect your views and experiences, It just seems to me that the 12 step program, the Big Book and your experience of AA are actually keeping you sober? It must be a true blessing to be so focused on your continuing recovery by having something to research and analyze to such a degree, write it down and share with many others who identify with your experience.

Hi Alan,

Thanks for the letter.

No, it isn't really the web site or researching A.A. that keeps me sober. We have talked about that before, many times (like here). What really does it is the knowledge that I will descend into Hell and then die a miserable death if I go back to drinking and smoking. Once you know that, really know that, then staying sober is easy. And of course I don't want to lose the good health that I am currently enjoying. So drinking and smoking again isn't a question.

Everything else that I do is just something that I'm doing, not a "program for recovery", no matter whether it is researching the history of the Oxford Group and MRA and A.A., or working on the web site, or laying on the beach and working on my sun tan and drinking ginger ale and photographing goslings. That is all just fun and games.

What keeps me sober is my determination to not be sick. I don't ever want to go back to that hell again.

I do not agree with much that you write in terms of intimating that AA kills people.

Well, that is what Dr. George E. Vaillant found. And he is a doctor who spent nearly 20 years shoving A.A. treatment on alcoholics. He tracked his first 100 A.A.-treated patients, and at the end of 8 years, the score was: 5 sober, 29 dead, and 66 still drinking. He also found that A.A. treatment produced the highest death rate of any kind of treatment that he studied. In that CASPAR program, Dr. Vaillant was actually trying to prove that A.A. works. And he accidentally showed that A.A. kills more alcoholics than it saves.

And that comes from a man who loves A.A., and has spent his life promoting A.A., and even got elected to the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. because he is such a big A.A.-booster.

Likewise, Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma found that A.A. way increased the rate of binge drinking in alcoholics. Dr. Diana Chapman Walsh found that "free" A.A. made alcoholics worse off and made later hospitalization more expensive.

And there is much more. You should read that whole file on The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment.

I do agree that AA may not be for everybody and that was one of the first things told to myself, by the Doctors, addiction specialists and counselors at the medical detox and rehab I attended last year when I experienced my own alcoholic and addiction "bottom". However, the overwhelming encouragement from them all was to give the program a try. I am glad that I did as my health insurance company (I am lucky enough to have healthcare) deemed that I was "cured" and no longer required treatment after 6 months. My managed health care addiction specialist recommended continuing with AA.. There was a provision that if I relapsed to the point of requiring hospitalization again, they would reevaluate my benefit. Great!!! relapse and if you survive we will give you more treatment??? It was also interesting for me that not one of the regular GP's that I sought help from, prior to my first prescription pill and alcohol overdose, recommended AA. They literally just gave me more pills. I could not stop drinking so the combination of the prescribed Xanax, Paxil, Lexapro and Ambien, combined with my unstoppable drinking, really did nearly kill me. There seems to me, to be such a widespread medical ignorance of this condition at the GP level.

If the statistics are correct and only 5% of the people who go to AA meetings actually stay sober, that's great !! I don't hear about where the other 95% are? Or what program they are in. If they relapse then maybe they come back when they are ready to finally want to stay sober. I for one am thankful that the AA program has kept me sober for this long. If I drink again, then the things I have done in the last 9 months still have great benefit to myself and hopefully others I have interacted with soberly. And that's the best I can ask. Its nine months of life I really am lucky to have. Any life is better than the life I personally ended up with.

No, that 5% number is the A.A. retention rate, not the sobriety rate. Only five percent (or fewer) of the newcomers are still around at the end of the first year. And then the dropout routine and attrition continues. There is zero evidence that A.A. increases the sobriety rate in alcoholics. Again, doctors doing valid medical tests have found the A.A. success rate to be zero, or less.

You are assuming a cause-and-effect relationship when you say that A.A. somehow made you get sober, or stay sober. You did it. You got yourself sober. Your sobriety was not caused by doing the occult practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion.

As for AA being a cult. You have tremendous amount of information and references on the subject, and there is no doubt that there are a great many groups or cults that participate in all manner of good and bad practices in the name of their faith. Including (but by no means limited to) Christianity. But if you did a test called "How to define groups devoted to helping others who want to stop drinking alcohol" Would AA pass? How many others would? It seems to me that AA set out no targets for success, just simply offers a solution to people who can not stop drinking but want to. I don't think anybody in AA really cares if they are called a cult or not, the fact is that tens thousands of people have improved their lives and those of their families and friends by following the AA program. Thousands of others may have done the same by not following the program and that's fine too?

Good luck with your own recovery.


Alan (please use just alan if you put this letter on your site)

There is a ton of evidence that A.A. is a cult. Saying that A.A. exists to get alcoholics sober does not excuse A.A. from cultish practices. Saying that something has good intentions does not make it good. There is an old saying:

The opposite of good is "good intentions".

And again, there is no evidence that A.A. caused or is responsible for "tens of thousands of people have improved their lives..." Again, you are just assuming that A.A. makes good things happen, and ignoring the fact that people quit drinking in order to save their own lives. They do it, and then A.A. steals the credit. (Scientology does the same thing too, in their Narconon scam.)

You are a good example of that. You had already decided to quit drinking and doping when you went to rehab. You had decided to change your life and get better. And then you did it. Then A.A. fooled you into believing that they were the cause of your sobriety.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "For the great enemy of truth is very often not the lie —
**     deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth —
**     persistent, persuasive — of our forebears. We enjoy
**     the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought."
**        ==  John F. Kennedy, commencement address,
**              Yale University, June 11, 1962

Date: Sun, July 18, 2010 1:08 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "Jeff H."
Subject: up with people

it is amazing to see how you fit so many of you own stereotypes. i especially love the one about "contempt prior to investigation". it is sure easy to see the unbridled contempt you have for up with people but your investigation seems to be limited to one very old book from 1967 and a few people who have contempt to share. i know your site does not claim to live by the fox news slogan "fair and balanced" but when you have to resort to quotes from morons writing parody lyrics about eating people or blowing them up, then it gives me clear warning that any serious reading of the rest of your material is a bigger waste of my time than seeing an up with people show. just one quote from any of the thousands of participants who managed to escape their lifelong slavery to this cult might have given some validity to your "information". it is pretty obvious however that you learned a lot about propaganda from study of this evil organization which has harmed so many people around the world. just to confirm your suspicions the answer is yes, i was one of those silly brainwashed knuckleheads who forked over payment (in my day it was about $3800) but i got even when i worked my way "up" in the group to get the big money from the punk kids below me. in my time in the pyramid scheme i probably recovered about half of what i paid but i pulled a fast one on the evil leaders by sneaking around the world on airplane trips to europe and long luxurious bus rides around the united states, canada and mexico for a couple of years. all while eating food that the foolish host families provided in their misguided kindness. i am still trying to figure out another gig where i can get about $20 of benefit for every buck i put in. i know it's not through the U.S tax system. i am still in contact with many of the other fools i traveled with during those years and although many of them, including myself, have more than a bone or two to pick with this group about this or that stupid thing they either had us do or did to us (a big one was how we couldn't have sex on the buses even if we were allowed to sit with some of the airheaded members of the opposite sex by my day) i am incredibly thankful for an adventure that i could never have had in any other way. if i was asked to smile and be polite to the public or sponsors and host families i am willing to accept you, or anyone else thinking i was some mindless drone following orders. i can only hope that some of those concepts about being positive about my potential to have a good impact on the lives of others around me, and hoping that humanity might actually have the possibility of not destroying itself, will rub off on my kids. it is so easy (and lazy) to be cynical about something you think you know all about, but having a truly open mind means being willing to acknowledge that even if someone or something has flaws, or ideas you disagree with, doesn't have to mean they are the spawn of satan. you might be surprised to find how few neo-nazi, hitler fan club members actually joined up with people. i will be sure to mark your site for further updates or warnings about any books i might need to check my bookshelf for, just to make sure i didn't unwittingly buy copies every time i walked by a bookstore. i know up with people is an easy punching bag for late night tv show hosts and comedians, but i doubt i will ever regret the time i spent,all those years ago visiting high schools in the south, where i even had the opportunity to talk to some young black guys who threatened to kill me because i dared speak to a black girl after a show. my delusions of grandeur that day were not to change the world but along with learning about the "real" world outside my white middle class bubble i did feel good about convincing them not to stab me and even to consider not whipping them out the next time "whitey" stumbled across their path. it may be foolish to someone like you who is doing so much to "save" others because their not smart enough to save themselves, but i value the handshake from those young black guys (along with other similar experiences during the "troubles in northern ireland and a handmade lapel pin from a one legged member of the PLO) much more than anything i might have been able to buy for my $3800 initiation fee into the cult of kindness and respect for others. sorry i didn't have the time to make my note to you as flashy as your website but my cult training never did include keyboard skills and i would still rather read a real book than spend endless hours on the computer sifting through all the incredible and non-credible crap that any "fruit" can put out there. as far as serious advice- --the only thing that comes to mind is for you to let your orange papers ripen a bit more because you seem to be sitting on some real sour ones and they are giving you quite a pucker. lighten up, do some real investigation and dare i say it----SMILE! (it might even make you feel better)

Hi Jeff,

Well, starting at the top: You accuse me of "contempt prior to investigation"? You haven't read much of my web site, have you? (That is more "contempt prior to investigation", isn't it?) Just look at the bibliography, if you aren't going to actually read the web pages before criticizing them. Just scan all of the way down that list of books. That is the kind of investigation that I did before having contempt for Frank Buchman's cult religion.

So obviously, I didn't just read one book from 1967 and then have contempt for Up With People. (By the way, I also actually saw UWP on television when they did their national broadcast during the Vietnam War. I clearly remember that disgusting mess of right-wing pro-war propaganda.)

The fact that you enjoyed traveling around with Up With People, and had a lot of fun, does not make it a good organization, or make Frank Buchman's pro-Nazi philosophy a good thing. Some old surviving Germans can tell you about their good times in the Hitlerjugend, too.

Heck, an unrepentant widow of a senior SS officer, Florentine Rost von Tonnigen, even declared,

"Himmler was a man of vision and out of this vision came the Wewelsburg. The SS is the true absolute elite of all that has been. The world today considers us criminals, but there is no purer, more intense, and intellectually higher body than the SS. Thank God there are still a few German people who know something of the Wewelsburg."
The BBC TV program Hitler's Search for the Holy Grail

Yep, the S.S. was just as spiritual and noble as The Oxford Groups and Moral Re-Armament.

It is just an unfortunate human characteristic that once someone buys into a package of beliefs, they tend to stay stuck there.

And in your case, you want to just ignore everything bad about Frank Buchman or Moral Re-Armament — and their song-and-dance show — because you had a fun adventure when you were young.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     One of the saddest lessons of history is this:
**     If we've been bamboozled long enough, we tend
**     to reject any evidence of the bamboozle. The
**     bamboozle has captured us. Once you give a
**     charlatan power over you, you almost never get
**     it back.
**        == Carl Sagan

Date: Sun, July 25, 2010 1:50 am     (answered 27 July 2010)
From: Jeff
Subject: Re: Re: up with people

It continues to amaze how selective your focus is and how you ignore much of what i wrote. if it was not obvious enough to you let me say it flat out..i had many disagreements with uwp and also had nothing to do with frank buchman except for an obviously pro buchman bio. i have countless disagreements with buchmans style of christianity, many of which you state and i happen to agree with. i have nothing to say about him or aa and the only thing i will say about mra is that during my time in uwp (24 months total over 5 year span, is that we were never taught abought them in uwp and if we did hear about the connection we were never told not to repeat anything we heard no threatened in any way if we tried to learn more. my personal opinion based on my time as an employee and through conversations with people there from the beginnings of uwp was that blanton belk saw the potential to make uwp people a totally non-religeous (the term we used was non-denominational) orginization. the only thing that could be remotely considered as a party line of any kind was the phrase "to build bridges of communication and understanding between people of the world". we were free to share with each other any personal beliefs or philosophy we had but were discouraged strongly from outright proselytizing either amongst others in the cast or the general public. my feeling was that belk had some problems with mra and saw an opportunity to take uwp in a new direction. it took me a long time to get over some anger and frustration about my last tour as a staff member (they asked my wife and i to return after an absence of a few years) because although they hired us with the understanding that they wanted us to bring work and professional behavior from the corporate world there was to many people that mucked things up for us to be effective. these things were business disagreements and had nothing to do with philosophy or any of the other muckraking things you try so hard to make a connection to make between buckman, nazis and uwp.

let me tell you one last thing. the most emotional experience i was ever a part of during my time with uwp was when one of my casts went to visit a concentration camp. we had a few german students in our cast and when we had a meeting after the visit the tension was palpable. it finally boiled over when one of the young germans, 19 or 20 yrs. old, burst into tears over the confusion of having to sit with his 100+ "friends" he had lived and worked with for over 6 months as they condemned germany and "germans" in general for the collective evil. he could not understand why he was being condemned for something that happened decades before he was born and that he himself had spent a lifetime coming to terms with as a german. it took a lot of tearful shouting and accusations back and forth about peoples families and ancestry but in the long run it was this event that made this the closest one of the three different different casts i traveled with. i don't know if you have stepped up to the plate yet to make reparations for American Indian abuses or African slavery (provided you have connections in any way to america and its past, but you might think about how easily you try to connect people that travelled with an organization which has no connection, affiliation, or philosophy in common with buchman or mra that has any meaningful significance.

i will grant that many of the original uwp members came from connections through mra and some of their work but the founders worked very hard to separate themselves from that and lay down new foundations based on their own genuine beliefs which differed greatly from the real leaders of mra. i would hope you are not so close minded as to not allow that people can change, learn, grow , and break away from things they find themselves in disagreement with.

i would extend a personal invitation for you to learn more about the vast majority of people who travelled with an organization that you may find easy to ridicule but just mind find has done far more good in this world through the impact of those individuals who have no official ties with uwp except that at some point in their life they spent a very physically and emotionally challenging year or so of their life traveling the world to learn about others who live in it and hopefully learning to respect and admire the diversity they found. please don't just listen to the small minority of those who have an axe to grind, legitimate or otherwise ( i sure had mine for a while) and just consider the possibility that uwp, no matter their genesis, was simply what it claims to be, a place for young people to find an outlet for some youthful optimism. i sure wish i could replace some of the cynicism that has taken root in my older years with some of the naive hope i felt in the 70's. i would ask that you reconsider using comparisons to anything to do with hitler or his reign because i do take personal offense to that and as my sons remind me if your making such an allusion put up or shut up. and do it in a direct way without the seven roads to kevin bacon. ( i know thats not right but its the right idea)

Hello again Jeff,

I did not ignore everything that you wrote. You wrote that you had a good time in Up With People and feel that you got your money's worth. And I said that that does not prove that Frank Buchman's philosophy was a good thing.

You also said that you had some philosophical disagreements with the MRA management, and wanted to fraternize with the girls. I got that.

That still does not change what the show was.

In this letter, you declared:

i would extend a personal invitation for you to learn more about the vast majority of people who travelled with an organization that you may find easy to ridicule but just mind find has done far more good in this world...

What good? First, UWP was mindless jingoism and flag-waving that promoted the Vietnam War and "anti-Communism", and then, after the war ended, UWP sold a mindless feel-good fluff, pretty well-shorn children dressed in colorful costumes, doing an emotional cheerful song-and-dance show. Disneyland offers exactly the same entertainment, complete with the veiled "patriotism", and appeals to God, Country, Mom, and Apple Pie.

It is outrageously self-congratulatory to imagine that putting on a song and dance show for a few hours changed the world, or somehow promoted understanding between peoples and nations. Again, that is pure Buchmanism, especially the self-congratulatory part.

Now I'm sure that the children who were in the show were very nice young people who would never knowingly join the Nazi Party or do anything bad. That still does not change what UWP really was, or why Frank Buchman and his followers created their song-and-dance shows.

You keep trying to infer that because there were some nice kids in UWP, that UWP was really an okay organization. That is bad logic. That is just like declaring that because there were some conscientious oil workers on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, who really wanted to do the right thing and be safe and careful (but were over-ruled by BP management), that BP is really an okay corporation that didn't cut any corners or violate any safety standards or do anything wrong. Nope. BP was running the show, not the employees, and BP determined what happened.

And again, you are trying to separate UWP during your years there from all that happened before. "Up With People" is just the last name that Buchman's ongoing show had. UWP was not materially different from the shows that Frank Buchman and gang were putting on during the nineteen-forties. And UWP was basically the same show as Sing Out!, which Buchman created while he was still alive. They just renamed it to hide its roots from corporate sponsors who were leery of being associated with a controversial religious group like MRA.

You don't seem to realize how much your speech is loaded with Oxford-Group/MRA buzz-words and phrases, and grandiose claims, like

  1. "...to build bridges of communication and understanding between people of the world".

    Yes, Frank Buchman and his cult were constantly claiming to be saving the world, or Remaking The World, one way or another. Again, that is pompous and self-congratulatory.

    A pleasant song-and-dance show is good fun for an hour or two, but it does not do all of that "bridges" and "communication" stuff. You might as well turn on MTV, or go to Disneyland.

  2. "make uwp people a totally non-religeous (the term we used was non-denominational) orginization."

    That was one of the key beliefs of MRA. That is why Rev. Samuel Shoemaker Jr. quit MRA in disgust after being Frank Buchman's right-hand man for twenty years. He saw that Frank Buchman had abandoned Christianity and was promoting a political philosophy where MRA was allegedly quite compatible Islam, Buddhism, the Vedas, or anything. That is the theological error that the Catholic Church calls "syncretism" — reducing all theology and religions to the lowest common denominator — a pablum — that is acceptable to all and offensive to no one. A religion that is all things to all people is nothing to anyone.

    So what philosophy was UWP really selling?

    If all that UWP was selling was the idea that is it fun to sing and dance and be nice to other people, then that is hardly a philosophy that is going to "Upturn The World", and "promote peace and understanding between nations".

  3. "...traveling the world to learn about others who live in it and hopefully learning to respect and admire the diversity they found."

    Well, that sounds good. Travel is broadening. Travel is fun. I recommend it. Unfortunately, it is really hard to learn a lot about other people and other cultures when you are only in their country for a few days, but I guess anything is better than nothing.

About your experience with the Germans: It is nice that you came to an understanding with the young Germans. They were obviously not to blame for what other, much older, people did earlier.

Personally, I lived in Germany as a teenager, in the early nineteen-sixties, and both my German friends and I were born after the war ended, so we all knew that we didn't do any of that stuff, one way or the other. Problem solved. Now some older people still had hard feelings, but we didn't. That was their problem, not ours.

So why, if UWP was spreading such good feelings, were American members bitterly denouncing Germans? Where did all of that "tearful shouting and accusations back and forth" come from?

This is pure denial:

you might think about how easily you try to connect people that travelled with an organization which has no connection, affiliation, or philosophy in common with buchman or mra that has any meaningful significance.

No connection? That is like a guy pointing at his mother, and saying, "I don't have any connection to her. No connection, or affiliation, or philosophy in common."

Again, I have to ask, "Well, if you have totally abandoned the MRA philosophy, what philosophy was UWP selling at the time that you were in it?"

If, by then, UWP was just a feel-good song-and-dance show, devoid of any religion or philosophy or politics, then I guess the Simpsons satire of UWP as the "Hooray For Everything" movement really was appropriate, wasn't it?

In fact, you said roughly the same thing:

uwp, no matter their genesis, was simply what it claims to be, a place for young people to find an outlet for some youthful optimism.

Okay, so it was fun. That hardly supports the claim that UWP was building bridges and promoting understanding between nations, and all of that stuff. The Rolling Stones on tour do the same thing, don't they?

This is re-writing history:

i will grant that many of the original uwp members came from connections through mra and some of their work but the founders worked very hard to separate themselves from that and lay down new foundations based on their own genuine beliefs which differed greatly from the real leaders of mra.

"The Founders", as you call them, were all MRA members and they created the shows "Sing Out!" and "Up With People" in order to promote Frank Buchman's religion and sell it to the world. That history is well-documented and undeniable. Maybe later managers wanted to downplay the Buchmanism, but that did not change history, or who the Founders were, or what they were selling, or what they did.

Again, I wrote specifically about UWP in the nineteen-sixties, when it was undeniably pro-war and jingoistic and fascistic. And UWP in the 'sixties was also the last gasp of MRA as a popular organization. You are complaining that 10 or 20 years later, UWP was just a fun song-and-dance show. That does not invalidate what I wrote, nor does it change what UWP was in the 'sixties, nor does that change who created UWP, or why.

I can agree with this:

i sure wish i could replace some of the cynicism that has taken root in my older years with some of the naive hope i felt in the 70's.

Me too. Unfortunately, in the 'sixties, I saw the older generation of American people choose war over peace, and hatred and anger over love and peace, for a lot of years, so I lost that hope and idealism. And now I'm seeing the younger generation making the same mistake again. It's deja vu all over again. We are in another ten-year war now, with no end in sight, again vainly trying to establish "democracy" at gunpoint.

But it sure would be fun to feel some of that optimism again, and believe that we were going to save the world real soon now.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      After silence, that which comes closest to
**      expressing the inexpressible is music.
**         ==  Aldous Huxley

Date: Sun, July 18, 2010 1:27 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "Kevin D."
Subject: The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment


I have just read the above article. You raise some interesting arguments but you are very biased in your views, certainly very anti-AA. For this reason the article cannot be taken as a sensible peice of useful research, which is a shame.

An exhaustive study of differing treatments and their effective usefulness would be extremely useful. Alcoholism is a world wide problem and one that is very much on the increase.

Your over complicating the 12 step program of AA. Its really very simple. AA brain washes people into a different way of thinking. If the attendee to AA allows this process to happen then the compulsion to drink is removed. If the attendee fights this process his thinking will remain the same and a relapse is almost certain.

The brainwashing process is always seen as a negative thing when in fact this need not be so. The brains of alcoholics very often need washing.

AA can work and is probably more successful than you give it credit for. You would need a much larger study of alcoholics than your pitiful 200-300 to show this.

K. D.
Sober AA member

Hello Kevin,

Thank you for the letter. Unfortunately, you start off with a false premise, that someone is "biased" if they criticize something. I am very opposed to the Nazis and Nazi philosophy, and have criticized it often. Does that mean that I am "biased" on the subject of Nazis, and all of my writings about the Nazis must be dismissed as unreliable?

You see, Jeff, (or maybe you don't see,) some things really should be criticized, like lies, cult religion, and foisting quack medicine on sick people. It is immoral to not criticize such things.

Yes, alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction are a serious problem. But that does not make Alcoholics Anonymous a good organization. We have talked often about what works. See these two lists of things: the short list here, and the longer list here.

This is total fantasy, no connection to reality, pure A.A. cult dogma:

Your over complicating the 12 step program of AA. Its really very simple. AA brain washes people into a different way of thinking. If the attendee to AA allows this process to happen then the compulsion to drink is removed. If the attendee fights this process his thinking will remain the same and a relapse is almost certain.

I agree that A.A. brainwashes people. But that is not good. Not only is A.A. brainwashing not necessary for recovery, it actually makes things worse. A.A. brainwashing increases the rate of binge drinking and increases the death rate in alcoholics.

By the way, the vast majority of alcohol abusers who get a grip and stop their self-destructive drinking do it without A.A. and its brainwashing. The Harvard Medical School said that.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Often a non-Christian knows something about the earth,
**     the heavens, and the other parts of the world, about the
**     motions and orbits of the stars and even their sizes and
**     distances,...  and this knowledge he holds with certainty
**     from reason and experience.  It is thus offensive and
**     disgraceful for an unbeliever to hear a Christian talk
**     nonsense about such things, claiming that what he is
**     saying is based in Scripture.  We should do all that we
**     can to avoid such an embarrassing situation, which people
**     see as ignorance in the Christian and laugh to scorn.
**         ==  St. Augustine, De Genesi ad litteram libri duodecim

[Next letter from Kevin is here.]

Date: Mon, July 19, 2010 1:52 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "Graham L."
Subject: Wishlist


Thanks so much for your work on 'the Orange Papers'. I sat down about a week ago to write something of my own on the cultish nature of 12 step programmes, a little Googling lead me to your site and I found you'd already written most of what I had intended to write and done most of research I'd never have managed to. I spent several days reading virtually the whole site. I'm so glad somebody is speaking out against the way cult religion is successfully masquerading as medical treatment. I sent a cash donation a couple of days ago, and reading your wishlist I find I can help in another way.

*Point 24:

Somebody did a study that found that they could pay alcoholics not to drink. They also found that they could pay alcoholics in programs with tokens that would buy a drink. The alcoholics were allowed to cash in their chips and drink any evening that they chose. Some of the alcoholics chose to save up their tokens so that they could really party hearty on Saturday night.

If alcoholics were really powerless over alcohol, then that should not have happened. The alcoholics showed a lot of control over their drinking habits. So the question is, what was that study? When, where, who?

That's referenced in Fingarette, Heavy Drinking, the Myth of Alcoholism as a Disease (University of California Press, 1989) pp 35-37 where he gives his sources as Bigelow and Liebson, "Cost Factors Controlling Alcoholic Drinking" (1972) and Cohen *et al. *"Moderate Drinking by Chronic Alcoholics" (1971b)

Hope that helps,

Have a good day,


Hello Graham,

Yes, that does help. Thank you.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Talk not of temples, there is one
**       Built without hands, to mankind given;
**     Its lamps are the meridian sun
**       And all the stars of heaven,
**     Its walls are the cerulean sky,
**       Its floor the earth so green and fair,
**     The dome its vast immensity,
**       All Nature worships there.
**          ==  David Vedder, The Temple of Nature

UPDATE: Friday, 23 July: Talk about cosmic coincidences, or karma looping around fast. Fingarette's book Heavy Drinking just showed up at Goodwill. $2. That's convenient.

Date: Mon, July 19, 2010 11:51 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "Barry C."
Subject: Comment

Im sure you receive many responses to this expose of Bill W, the man, but I guess I would just ask you if you feel it negates the millions who have been helped by Alcoholics Anonomous and the dozens of 12 step programs that have been born from the steps of Alcoholics Anonomous, including SLAA and SA..that continue to save lives and resurrect families..maybe Bill struggled with his "other" addictions and was more human than Saint..but do you not see the divinity and salvation for so many others in the works and steps that became Alcoholics Anonomous??As they say in AA it is "principals before personalities"?I appreciate the history and it actually comforts me more to know that this divinely inspired program was the brain child of a very human man?You have helped me realize my own faults and humanity today and made me grateful for all I have and the simplicity of a sober life. I do not excuse Bill his character defects but it is not for me to forgive him or judge him. I appreciate your input as it has taught me humility today.

Thank you.



Hello Barry,

The misbehavior and insanity of Bill Wilson do not totally discredit A.A. — just nearly so. What really totally discredits A.A. is the failure of A.A. to actually increase the sobriety of alcoholics.

The lies, sexual predation, grand larceny, and callous treatment of others do discredit Bill Wilson's "spiritual" teachings. He obviously was not talking to God much, or getting a "divinely inspired" program from either God or Frank Buchman.

But what really totally discredits A.A. is the fact that it does more harm than good. A.A. actually increases the rate of binge drinking and increases the death rate in alcoholics.

Your statement about

"...the millions who have been helped by Alcoholics Anonomous and the dozens of 12 step programs that have been born from the steps of Alcoholics Anonomous, including SLAA and SA.."

is a fantasy — just some more of the A.A. advertising propaganda. There are no "millions" who have been "helped" by the Church of the 12 Steps.

There are millions who have been deceived. There are millions who went to some 12-Step meetings, and saw that it was a bunch of bull, and left. But no millions who were saved, or who had their lives improved.

If you think that A.A. really works, then please answer this one question that the A.A. true believers have never answered honestly:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

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

(HINT: the answers are here.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "You have no conception these days of how much failure we had.
**  You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful
**  to take the bait."
**  Bill Wilson describing early recruiting efforts for Alcoholics Anonymous,
**  at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

Date: Mon, July 19, 2010 9:32 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: Bob O.
Subject: NY Times — no advantage to 12-step programs

Mister T,

I hope you do not mind "Mister T" as short for Terrance. Please read


I am unable to forward it to you due to lack of skill. Thank you for all you do. I also think about who will carry the message after you are gone. The damage from alcohol and other drugs may be a more immediate threat than we think. Do you think true recovery methods will overcome 12-step religion in the near future and if so how and when?

Long Island Bob O.

Hello Bob,

Thank you for the letter, and thanks for the thanks.

Yes, I remember that article. It's worth reading again.

Review Sees No Advantage in 12-Step Programs

Published: July 25, 2006

When Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs are examined in controlled studies, a new review reports, scientists find no proof that they are superior to any other intervention in reducing alcohol dependence or alcohol-related problems. The researchers, led by Marica Ferri of the Italian Agency for Public Health in Rome, found little to suggest that 12-step programs reduced the severity of addiction any more than any other intervention. And no data showed that 12-step interventions were any more — or any less — successful in increasing the number of people who stayed in treatment or reducing the number who relapsed after being sober.

Another way of saying that is: "Twelve-Step programs are completely ineffective and do nothing good. A.A. just steals the credit from a few people who were going to quit anyway."

That article is actually four years old now, as of next Sunday, but that hasn't deterred the A.A. true believers from continuing to proclaim that A.A. is the best thing in the world, and a "divinely inspired" Gift From God.

I think that more sane methods of handling the problems of alcohol and drug abuse are slowly being adopted. The problem is just that the Steppers are so well-entrenched, and they are fighting to keep their position (and monetary income).

What will work to get better treatment modalities established is information and publicity. The majority of the public has been misinformed by the A.A. propaganda machine. The A.A. promoters just did another TV special, another Hallmark made-for-TV movie that glorified A.A. and its founders, this time canonizing Lois Wilson.

We have to inform the public, especially the politicians who write the laws and fund projects, of the truth. Let the politicians know that they will lose votes and campaign contributions, not gain them, by supporting and promoting and funding the 12-Step cult.

Have a good day.

== Orange (or Mr. T, as you wish)

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Never attribute to malice what can be adequately explained 
**      by ignorance or stupidity.
**          ==  Isaac Asimov

Date: Mon, July 19, 2010 7:07 pm     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "carlin s."
Subject: Propaganda/Debate Techinques

I found the majority of the actual information in this quite helpful, but I have one major gripe with it. About 3/4 of the article was brazenly attacking Alcoholics Anonymous, with you yourself using many of the propaganda techniques in your criticism (most notably of which was putting words in their mouths.)

I am not defending A.A. here (I hold slight sympathy to the cause, but know that AA has significant downfalls), but this was presented as a list of propaganda techniques and turned out to be a bashing of one single entity. Nearly every 'technique' links the technique to criticism you have of A.A., some using solely A.A. for an example.

You're allowed to have your opinion about them, but in an article about propaganda techniques you destroy an organization you disagree with instead of provide an objective view... While criticizing the exact same techniques you use in your criticism. The tactics you describe as unfair are the same tactics you brashly employ, and further examination of your website shows that these techniques are used throughout.

I know some people who have been helped through A.A, and some people who preach it as fundamentalism. The ones who have been helped through A.A. tend to ignore if not chastise the fundamentalists. There are a lot of fundamentalists, and they annoy the living crap out of me like any other hardcore believer of any doctrine. This classification shouldn't and can't be applied to A.A. as a whole, just like any other doctrine.

To better promote your cause, when you have your website criticizing A.A., don't criticize it in every single point you make. People like the feeling of being smart enough to get your inferences if you've already demonstrated the other evidence.

On a completely unrelated note, I'd like to ask your initial experience with A.A. The amount of furor I see in this site leads me to believe you have either heard about it entirely secondhand, or have had a deep firsthand conflict with them. The amount of Appeal-to-Ridicule I see indicates to me the former.

-Carlin S.

I do not give you permission to publish my e-mail address or full name on your website. Doing so will result in legal consequences. You may publish the contents of this e-mail, in whole (not in part) with my name and e-mail address removed.

Hello Carlin,

Of course a large part of my writing is criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous. That is the whole point of the web site. A.A. is a fraud and a hoax, and deserves to be criticized.

What, do you want "balanced opinions" like they do on TV news?

After I quote doctors like:

  1. Dr. Brandsma, who found that A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking, and
  2. Dr. Ditman, who found that A.A. increased the rate of rearrests for public drunkenness, and
  3. Dr. Walsh, who found that "free A.A." made later hospitalization more expensive, and
  4. Doctors Orford and Edwards, who found that having a doctor talk to the patient for just one hour was just as effective as a whole year of A.A.-based treatment, and
  5. Dr. George E. Vaillant, the A.A. Trustee, who found that A.A. treatment was completely ineffective, and just raised the death rate in alcoholics. No other way of treating alcoholics produced such a high death rate as did Alcoholics Anonymous.

...Am I supposed to then balance all of that with the opinion of Joe Couchpotato the high-school dropout who says that he really, really loves cult religion because it makes him feel so good? And not only that, it's so much fun to be in with the in-crowd...?

I don't think so.

Of course I am using debating techniques. That is how you debate. The big difference between me and Alcoholics Anonymous is, I'm not lying. I'm not using dishonest and deceptive techniques. I'm not falsifying history. I'm not glorifying and canonizing a lunatic. I'm not promoting quack medicine.

When you declare, "I know some people who have been helped through A.A,...", you are assuming a cause-and-effect relationship that just isn't there. A.A. does not help people. It kills more alcoholics than it saves. That has been clearly established again and again.

The fact that some people quit their addictions and improved their lives and regained their health, and then wasted their spare time doing the practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion does not prove, or even indicate, that the cult religion is helping people.

The stories of my previous involvement with A.A. are listed here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Hence, vain deluding Joys,
**     The brood of Folly, without father bred.
**        ==  Milton, Il Penseroso

Date: Tue, July 20, 2010 2:05 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "bingo"
Subject: You probably get millions of these... but I'm writing anyway.


I'm a court-ordered AA guy that was doing some research about the organization and happened upon your pages. It's a breath of fresh air. I was put on probation (in Dallas, Texas) a while back and ordered not to drink at all — for 5 years. I've had numerous troubles in my past, and drinking was involved in most of them. But I never would accept the idea that it was the fault of the alcohol — I always call drinking a "side effect" of something deeper. After some self-therapy of sorts, my drinking subsided considerably, and I began moving in a more positive direction... mostly while on probation.

But I still drink occasionally, and in a lapse of retardation, I popped on a piss test for alcohol (.03%). Now, my probation officer is telling me to go to meetings 3 times a week, get a sponsor, work the steps, and document for her what I did to work each step! It's total BS, because I told her that I'm not religious (I thought it wise to avoid either of the "A" words) and I don't feel like telling the people in there my deepest, darkest secrets. She of course responded by saying, "Surely you believe that there is something out there that is greater than you." I should have chimed in at that point by saying, "Yeah, but I don't get on my knees and ask it for stuff!"

I knew I would have problems finding a sponsor because the first rule is to have a desire to stop drinking — which I don't, particularly... maybe week long binges, but still. I have a close friend that was doing the steps that has agreed to help me "work the steps" — and let her call if comes to that. Meetings will be handled by the usual forgeries. I have 8 months left on probation, and I figure the first month will be "getting the sponsor", then a few months on Step 1, a few months on Step 2, finished.

I didn't really have any questions for you, I just wanted to thank you for the priceless insight that you have made available here. The Internet is truly a "blessing"!

Thanks again,


Hello Bingo,

Thanks for the letter, and thanks for the thanks. I trust that you are doing well, and coping with the hassles.

By the way, you can sue your probation officer for forcing you into the 12-Step cult religion, you know. Now, or later, after you are no longer under her thumb. We were talking about that before, here. Document everything — times, dates, places, who, what, where, when, why... See if you can get a lawyer who will take it on a contingency.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     And the Devil did grin, for his darling sin,
**     is pride that apes humility.
**        ==  Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Devil's Thoughts

Date: Tue, July 20, 2010 6:51 am     (answered 21 July 2010)
From: "Dan"
Subject: But

Does it matter if aa helps many folk not drink?


Hello Dan,

Yes, it matters a lot. It matters whether the law is forcing sick people into the clutches of a lying cult religion that promotes quack medicine and spiritual fraud.

People are dying over that. It matters.

And if I understand your question correctly, I think you might be asking, "Does it matter if A.A. has many bad things about it, as long as it helps a lot of people to quit drinking?"

Well, A.A. does not help a lot of people to quit drinking. It is a fraud. It doesn't work. A.A. just steals the credit from some people who were going to quit drinking anyway. We were just talking about that, here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
**        ==  Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice, I, 3

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