Letters, We Get Mail, CLXXXVIII

Date: Tue, August 10, 2010 10:49 pm     (answered 17 August 2010)
From: "Herb B"
Subject: Having a Good day

Hey AO,

Firstly I wanted to say hi and thanx for your opinions. Next I wanted you to know I have been in A A for 26 years and early on an old guy said to me " If you make A A your life then A A will be all the life you get but if you make A A a way of life then you will have the opportunity to make a life you choose." I believe it has worked to my benefit. I know it has worked to the benefit of family and loved ones. I have a life.

I still go to my home group. I tell my story which concludes with letting the people know I make the choice not to drink today, that my life is about choices, my choices. If I did not get the support in the first years I may not have been able to make the kind of decisions I did make for myself and my family would be long gone.

There are many areas in A A that have become obsolete or were nonsense from the beginning. I was encouraged to take what I needed and to leave the rest and I pass that on to newcomers. Here in my small town we do not actively seek new people. They stumble through the doors when they are ready and we are there to pass on the message "Just don't take the first drink, even if your ass falls off!" & "life gets better without ingesting alcohol." There are no people attending unless they choose to come. No one is telling them that they will die if they choose to leave. There are a couple of long time members who have strong opinions but opinions are like assholes, everyone has one!

I have made peace with all I have met in A A even the ones who disagree with me and who I disagree with. Life is too short not to try to get along.

You have put much info onto your web site. I have learned a great deal of historical (and other) facts from your site. Some I will take and some I will leave. Your opinions give me much to meditate on.

Keep up the good work,

A Dios,

Mr B

Some men of a secluded and studious life have sent forth from their closet or their cloister, rays of intellectual light that have agitated courts and revolutionized kingdoms; like the moon which, though far removed from the ocean, and shining upon it with a serene and sober light, is the chief cause of all those ebbings and flowings which incessantly disturb that restless world of waters. -Charles Caleb Colton, author and clergyman (1780-1832)

Hi Herb,

I'm glad to hear that you worked things out and got your life together. And it's good that you created your own program. That is of course, not evidence that A.A. "works". It is evidence that you do good work.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If a man love the labor of any trade, apart from any
**     question of success or fame, the Gods have called him.
**        ==  Robert Louis Stevenson

[The next letter from Herb is here.]

Date: Wed, August 11, 2010 7:45 am     (answered 18 August 2010)
From: "Noel"
Subject: Lindsay Lohan

I've just read your comment about Lohan getting out of jail. Something really sucks there. From what I know, she did not spend the full 3 months in prison, which for some reason, the authorities are happy with, yet she will have to serve the full 3 months of her 'treatment' programme, no ifs or buts or time off for good behaviour. Am I the only one who can see that there is something amiss there?

I'm glad you have sorted out your housing situation and are settled where you are. It looks quite a spectacular part of the world and from your photos, you are very close to open countryside. Fair play to you and to use a quote from British politician, Michael Mates, 'Don't let the buggers get you down', although not in the context that Mates said it.

Hi Noel,

Thanks for the letter. You are right, Lindsay Lohan served very little of her sentence. I don't know the exact number, but it seems like she didn't do more than about 2 weeks of it. What they didn't bother to mention in many of the news stories is that there was very little chance that she would serve out her sentence, and even the judge knew it. The county jail is full to overflowing. The sheriff needs those jail beds for really dangerous people like murderers and gun-toting drug dealers. So it wasn't a matter of a cute actress getting special treatment. She was just a low-priority prisoner. She got a taste of jail, and the threat, "Now do good at the rehab or you come back here."

So now I hear that she is going to Promises of Malibu. That place is famous for being a luxury rehab resort for the movie stars. $48,000 for a 28-day vacation. It appears to be Stepper all of the way. Their web site says:

The disease of addiction and other behavioral health issues is complex and each person's treatment needs are unique. ...

Promises does not keep our clients isolated from the outside world during their residential stay. Clients are taken to community-based 12-Step meetings daily as well as a neighborhood gym five days a week.

Hmmm... The "disease" is so complex, and the treatment so unique, that everybody gets the same 12-Step meetings every day. Yes, that sure is a unique, personalized solution to the "disease". Not!

I doubt that it will do a lot of good. Just 10 days ago, there was an article in the Washington Post saying that "Rehab Doesn't Work", and commenting that it was the fourth time that Lindsay Lohan went to rehab in four years. And nothing was changed by her previous "treatment". She was right back to driving drunk in no time.


About living in the country, yes, it's nice. And I really am on the edge of "civilization". I discovered that if I walk two blocks to the west from my house, that the town suddenly ends, and it's just farmland. Likewise, about 5 blocks to the south, and the town ends.

And then it turns out that the whole route to this town presents an optical illusion. I ride the light rail from downtown Portland west to the end of the line, and then get on the bus and ride it further west to its end of the line, and I'm home. Well, it looks like a huge city as you travel those miles. Lots of development and apartment buildings and shopping centers for miles and miles. But it turns out that there is just a thin strip of settlement and commerce beside the light rail line and the highway, and as soon as you get beyond that thin strip, it's all farmland. And then beyond the farmland it's forested hills, and eventually a range of mountains. So I really am out in the sticks, out on the furthest end of a long, spindly branch of habitation. Which is a nice place to be.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      ...the spectacle of a celebrity entering a drug and alcohol
**      treatment center, relapsing, then heading to rehab again
**      — and again and again — has become depressingly familiar.
**         ==  Bankole A. Johnson, The Washington Post,
**               Sunday, August 8, 2010; B03

UPDATE: 2013.03.08: Also see this information about Prof. Bankole A. Johnson of the University of Virginia, here.

[More news on Lindsay below.]

Date: Wed, August 11, 2010 5:35 pm     (answered 19 August 2010)
From: "Merilee Gage-xxxxx"
Subject: Boot Camps: Children's Gulags or Child Abuse for Fun and Profit

Can you tell me who I would speak to regarding the post above. All I could find was a person hiding behind the name Orange. Its regarding Steve Gage, MY father.. Please let me know how I would reply back to Mr. or Mrs. Orange personally..

Merilee J. Gage-xxxxx
(541) xxx-xxxx

Hello Merilee,

I am not "hiding behind the name Orange". I have printed my birth name on the web site many times, and I'll do it again. My name is Terrance Hodgins, and I live in Forest Grove, Oregon. You can contact me by email, like how you just did.

I take it that you object to me reprinting the story of the conviction and sentencing of Steven Gage, as it was reported in the local newspaper at Sisters, Oregon, the "Nugget Newspaper". Sorry about that, but that's the way it is. Steven Gage was found guilty by a jury of his peers of raping a bunch of underage girls, and the judge sentenced Steven Gage to many years in prison. And that's that.

Look here for a letter from one of the girls who suffered in Steven Gage's home-made prison for girls.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Look at him! Do you think that this man would ever be a
**     part of any teenage girl's fantasies? It was disgusting!"
**     said one of the victims of coerced sexual activity with Gage.

[The previous letter from Trevor is here.]

Date: Thu, August 12, 2010 8:52 am     (answered 20 August 2010)
From: "Trevor F."
Subject: RE: AA


Yeah, I agree almost entirely with you on everything that you say about AA, and the list of sham debating techniques that you illustrate, showing how the Big Book uses sophistry, is quite good. About 1/3rd of the stuff that you cover, I had already been thinking about over the last two years, but I admit that after reading your articles, many other conclusions have now crystallized in my mind, things that were sort of on the tip of my tongue but not quite clear.

I guess I just thought that you should have made it very clear, in the certain passages you had quoted, that you were taking out Bill W.'s modifiers, because it could be something that pro-AA clowns could use against you. But at the end of the day, I agree fully with you on how Bill W.'s sneaky insertion of words like "may" is simply cover for AAs failure, as you've made clear in other examples as well.

Hi again, Trevor,

Yes, I think I should make it clearer when I am paraphrasing, rather than doing direct quotes. Maybe just the word "paraphrasing" in parentheses.

I was wondering if you ever thought or wrote about my following disagreement with the 8th step, which I know is probably just one problem with this step out of many. What if someone apologized for their past "wrongs" to not only someone who wronged them far more, but to someone who is quite egotistical and narcissistic, who would use the apology to just bloat his ego even more with the thought that you were wrong and he was right, and therefore he would harm others around him even more, or your apology actually harms HIM because it inflates his ego even more?

I know this example is almost hilarious, but it shows how stupidly the 8th step is worded.

That is a good point. Other people have questioned whether the offended party really wants to rehash the past and hear about it all again, but I don't recall somebody mentioning your objection. Oh, I do recall that Ken Ragge mentioned a fellow who was molested by a priest being told to apologize to the priest for having been angry and having a resentment over it. And a woman who was raped was told to apologize to her rapists. Those are cases of someone being harmed and then being told by a crazy Stepper to apologize for it. And now that I search, I find a few letters talking about that: Sharen K. talked about child-molesting priests, here and here.] But I don't recall anybody talking about the influence that the apology would have on the people getting the "amends". Won't apologizing to a gang of rapists encourage them to rape again? And apologizing to a child-molesting priest just tells him that it's okay for him to do it again.

There are people I know who have been quite irritated with my drunkenness in the past, the type of people who, according to the 8th step, I should apologize to, but they are people who have been at least as irritating and unfair to me when they have been sober, and I just let it go and didn't say anything, whereas it took me getting drunk to wrong them only half as much. So, I say, screw it, I will never apologize to these types of people. Sometimes these people can have very ugly personalities and be cruel, whereas if I were to be drunk in front of them, they would immediately fly off the handle and condemn the hell out of me. The irony is that they are the ones who should feel more embarrassed by their behavior than I have felt during one of my horrible hangovers, when the guilt and regret and vulnerability are at their most intense. But these sober jerks just go on to the next day, not giving a flying fug about their behavior and hypocrisy. There are some drunks who deserve contempt. But you've probably seen, like I have, so many instances of a drunk who is a better citizen than a sober aquaintance, and the sober guy uses the drunk's drinking against him cruelly to hide his own immorality and screwed-up life.

Yes. There is some hypocrisy there. Drunks are easy to pick on.

I've been reading the "Small Book" recently, and it certainly makes far more sense than AA. I might have found a contradiction in this book — I think the author writes that we mostly drink when we feel good, but then later on seems to say that problem drinkers usually drink when they feel bad — but I'd have to double check that.

Yes, I definitely have to disagree with that line. Most often, I drank because I felt bad and was in pain, and just wanted to end the pain.

Anyhow, I'm out of AA for good — I ended up hanging out with people I didn't like, just like at the bars when I was drunk! — but I'll check out this Rational Recovery stuff.

All the best...

Have a good day, Trevor.

Oh, and also check out SMART.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     To describe drunkenness for the colorful vocabulary
**     is rather cynical. There is nothing easier than to
**     capitalize on drunkards.
**       ==  Anton Pavlovich Chekhov (1860—1904)

Date: Thu, August 12, 2010 8:56 am     (answered 20 August 2010)
From: "James L."
Subject: AA

I have read your web page at:


My first reaction is to say that you should heed the quotations in the boxes at the top of the page.

Hello James,

I did.

I am an alcoholic. I drank at an ever-increasing rate until I was 56 years of age. My marriage was crumbling and my wife finally told me she was divorcing me. I decided to seek help with what I thought of as "controlling" my drinking. I consulted my physician, who referred me to a psychiatrist who told me he would not see me until I had attended 90 AA meetings within 90 days. I was aghast at his statement. I had always regarded going to AA meetings as akin to attending church. Did I mention that I have no use for religion? I attended church regularly up through my teens. My view of religion was and is that religions are self-serving. They are basically composed of groups of people who have somewhat similar beliefs and who proceed to create a set of rules designed to protect those beliefs. I personally cannot find any compelling evidence or reason to believe or to not believe in God. Logically, the concept of Gad makes no sense to me. My feeling is that it doesn't matter to me if there is or not. If I don't believe in God and there is one, then I am wrong. If I do believe that is a God and there isn't one, then I am wrong. Believing or not believing will not change God and it will not change the way I lead my life. Ergo, if there turns out to be something after death and that something is affected by the way I led my life, it won't have mattered what I believed about God. If there is nothing after life, I won't know the difference.

I decided that, since my attempts at controlling my drinking had failed, I would to go to a couple of AA meetings just to see if I could stomach them. I found the people there that I expected to find, druggies, drunks and criminals with a sprinkling of business people like me. But then we usually find what we expect, don't we?

I'll skip the gory details and cut to the chase. I have not had a drink since that first AA meeting. I did complete the 90 meetings in 30 days by attending three meetings per day. One before work, one at lunch time and one after work during the week. Did AA cause me to stop drinking? Absolutely NOT! Would I have stopped drinking if I had not attended AA meetings? Very probably NOT! You see, AA has no magic answer for treating alcoholism any more than churches and governments have answers for reducing crime or correcting social ills. If a person is not totally dedicated to stopping drinking, then any program will fail.

Your statistics are useless. Being a statistician, I understand that the use of statistics is useless if the underlying premise is false. Much like stating that the lack of any archeological evidence of telephone wires in the ruins of ancient Rome proves that the Romans had cellular telephones. A statement of true fact is turned into a seemingly true falsehood by a false underlying premise.

You set out to prove that AA is ineffective. One could just as easily prove that government is ineffective. After all, no government program has ever achieved its stated goal. Gun control, the "War on Poverty", the "War on Drugs", "Prohibition" and all others have not only failed, they have actually exacerbated the problem they were intended to "fix". Most other "fixes" suffer from the same malady. I do believe you will find that the failure for diseases treated by the medical community is about the same as the failure rate for AA attendees. Science has probably killed as many people over the ages as has religion, not to mention the biggest killer of all, governments. I believe if you will check the facts, you will discover that more people were murdered by their own governments than were killed by all other causes combined (including wars) during the 20th Century. Does that mean we should focus on these failures? Should we eliminate government, science, religion? Rather, perhaps we should focus on any and all successes regardless of origin and try to build upon them.

So why did I stop drinking after attending AA meetings when I would otherwise have not? Because the other attendees, through sharing their own stories, helped me begin to understand where my problems lay. Those people weren't preachers or doctors or politicians or teachers telling me how to live my life. They were people in the same boat with me sharing their stories of failure. Yes, FAILURE! No one ever told a story of success. Even people who had not had a drink (or used any other mind-altering substance) in years did not talk about their success. They all talked only about how they came to be attending AA meetings in the first place. What AA did for me (and does for others) is to open my eyes to the causes of my failure. For example, I had a small epiphany about my dry cleaners. It suddenly occurred to me that I had selected and tenuously stuck with a mediocre dry cleaning establishment that just happened to be next door to an excellent liquor store. I began to see how I was subconsciously undermining my own efforts to stop drinking. After all, it saves money to buy liquor in larger containers.

You see, non-alcoholics tend to believe that alcoholics are people who are just weak. That alcoholics lack sufficient willpower to control their drinking. Because of the social stigma, alcoholics come to believe that willpower is the only solution. What one can learn by attending AA meetings is that willpower has nothing to do with the problem. Anyone who tries to stop drinking by exercising willpower will almost inevitably fail miserably in their effort, which discourages them from future efforts. I saw it happen over and over. But, then, I'm just a sample of one with anecdotal evidence

If you want to make a real study of the effects of AA, try following the results of AA attendees who have decided that they are willing to do whatever it takes to stop drinking and measure their success rate. You see, the people who enter into any program to be "cured" of their affliction are highly unlikely achieve success. There is no magic answer to abusive drinking. Perhaps, someday, a cure for this illness will be found. In the interim, what's wrong with people who have problems finding some solace in attending AA, attending church services, attending social club meetings or doing anything else that causes no harm to their fellow citizens?

In the future, you might try taking your sample data from the same population as that of your hypothesis. Just because 95% of all shark attacks occur within 200 feet of a shoreline does not mean that one has only a 5% chance of being attacked by a shark in the middle of the ocean.

Or, you can just blow this message off as the ranting of another ignorant person.

Best regards,

Jim L.

Hello Jim,

Thanks for the letter.

I will ignore your attempt at proof by anecdote. For every story about someone who just loves A.A., and found happiness in A.A., I have one or more stories where A.A. harmed people — often badly harmed them. The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence".

This is one of the key statements in your argument:

Your statistics are useless. Being a statistician, I understand that the use of statistics is useless if the underlying premise is false.

That is a giant "IF". What about the cases where statistics are not being misused? What about good statistics? Not all statistics are bad. They are only bad if a dishonest propagandist is manufacturing faked numbers, or an incompetent analyst is starting off with a false premise. As a statistician, you should know how to produce good, valid numbers and honest reports. You have not devoted your career as a statistician to just making up lies, have you?

You are trying to ignore the fact that some good doctors, even a Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous, carefully tested A.A.-based treatment in controlled studies and found it to be a disaster.

You are painting with a very broad brush when you try to dismiss all statistics about the A.A. success rate.

And what "underlying premise" is supposedly false? That is the propaganda trick of assuming facts not in evidence. There is no false underlying premise when doctors test A.A.-based treatment to see what it actually does.

It is very simple: What if somebody says that Purple Goop cures a certain disease? You decide to test it. Get a bunch of people who have the disease, and randomly choose half of them to get the Purple Goop. See what happens. If more people who got the Purple Goop recover than untreated patients who recover on their own, then the Goop works and helps to cure the patients. But if more people who got the Goop die, then the Goop is poisonous and is harming the patients. That is not fake statistics. It is very simple, and very valid, and that is how the FDA tests medicines.

And Doctor George E. Vaillant, who just loves A.A. and who became a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous, found that A.A. increased the death rate in alcoholics. That is not worthless statistics. You just wish that it was.


Those were very properly-done controlled studies, not faked statistics.

This paragraph features some genuine double-think:

You see, non-alcoholics tend to believe that alcoholics are people who are just weak. That alcoholics lack sufficient willpower to control their drinking. Because of the social stigma, alcoholics come to believe that willpower is the only solution. What one can learn by attending AA meetings is that willpower has nothing to do with the problem. Anyone who tries to stop drinking by exercising willpower will almost inevitably fail miserably in their effort, which discourages them from future efforts. I saw it happen over and over. But, then, I'm just a sample of one with anecdotal evidence

Who is weaker than someone who is "powerless over alcohol"? Like Step One teaches?

You are parrotting the usual A.A. rap about how sad it is that those ignorant non-alcoholic people put a social stigma on those poor long-suffering alcoholics whom nobody understands... Which is a bunch of bull. In the end, those people who survive alcohol addiction are those people who do exercise will power and they just choose to quit drinking, and then they do it, and they stick to it (just like how I did).

Whether they also choose to waste their newfound spare time in a cult religion is largely irrelevant. You can join Scientology, or the Moonies, or the Hari Krishnas, or Jehovah's Witnesses, or the Pentecostals, or Alcoholics Anonymous, and they will all tell you not to drink alcohol.

This statement is invalid, and if you are a good statistician, you should know it:

If you want to make a real study of the effects of AA, try following the results of AA attendees who have decided that they are willing to do whatever it takes to stop drinking and measure their success rate.

That is a self-selected population of special cases. That will only reveal what happens with people who have decided to quit drinking and devote their lives to a cult religion. And that will just show what happens with a group of people who "are willing to do whatever it takes to stop drinking".

So that will not be a test of A.A. or A.A. effectiveness. Rather, it will be a study of what really deciding to quit drinking will do.

I agree that deciding to quit drinking, and then really doing it, produces good results. Heck, that is how I got sober.

Please notice that strong will power is required to accomplish that goal. A recovering alcoholic needs to have such strong will power that he will "do whatever it takes to stop drinking". That invalidates all of the A.A. dogma about being "powerless over alcohol", and how sobriety isn't a matter of will power.

Look at how how goofy and contradictory the A.A. dogma is. On the one hand, you claim that "willpower has nothing to do with the problem", and then on the other hand, you say that newcomers must "do whatever it takes to stop drinking" and "go to any length to achieve sobriety", which requires the exercise of strong, determined, will power.

And then on top of that, the recovering alcoholic cannot take credit for his own good behavior. He cannot say that he is staying sober by using his own intelligence and will power. He must give the credit to somebody else, like the A.A. group or "Higher Power" or "The Program", and say that they are keeping him sober. So he must use his own will power and determination to stay sober, and then he must say that he isn't doing it, somebody else is. And they call that "rigorous honesty".

By the way, "whatever it takes to stop drinking" is really very simple: Just don't put any more ethanol in your mouth.

Just don't take that first drink, not ever, no matter what.

That works every time.

(Practicing cult religion is not required for sobriety.)

Lastly, I did not just "set out to prove that AA is ineffective" (so you can ignore everything that I say). That is the propaganda trick of ad hominem — just attack and criticize the speaker, and imply that people should not believe the speaker because of something or other.

If you know anything about statistics and logic, then you should know that my motives and preferences are irrelevant. If I were collecting facts and statistics about how well penicillin works on various diseases, then it would not matter whether I love or hate penicillin. What matters is the true facts.

Whether you believe it or not, I actually started off thinking that A.A. was the biggest and best self-help organization in the country. I changed my mind when I was confronted with real experiences and real facts that told me otherwise.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Being surrounded by a group of people who keep
**     telling you that you are powerless over alcohol,
**     and that your will power is useless, is not
**     getting "support". It is getting sabotaged.
**     With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

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

Canada Goose goslings
The Family with Two Very Young Goslings

You can see the Egg Tooth on these two babies. The Egg Tooth is that light-colored piece on the fronts of their beaks. The Egg Tooth is a sharp-edged tool that infant birds in the eggshell use to break the shell and get out. The goslings will shed the Egg Tooth within a week of hatching out. You only see it on very young baby birds, like these new-borns (new-borns? new-hatchlings? new-hatched?).

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Date: Wed, August 11, 2010 5:48 pm     (answered 25 August 2010)
From: "Aldis J."

Dear Agent Orange,

I am no web or advertising expert, but I feel your home page needs a grabber. Some sort of sensational headline to pique interest and let them know where you're coming from.

While it is great and humble to put in the subtitle which idetifies that your site is one man's take on the situation, that's basically all people see unless they have a reason to look further, while you're burning patience. Based on the title and subtitle, one could assume they were looking at some dry, scholarly paper.

Even the existing table of contents would do, if you made it come up on the top of the home page without any scrolling at all. The title and subtitle could simply be compressed a bit. "Twelve biggest lies!" "Twelve biggest secrets!"

Hello Aldis,

I've also been thinking the home page could use a redesign, whenever I get around to it. I've been thinking about it, but don't have any great ideas.

Any readers got some ideas?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Men in general judge more from appearance than
**     from reality.  All men have eyes, but few have
**     the gift of penetration.
**        ==  Machiavelli

[The next letter from Aldis_J is here.]

BLOG NOTE: 25 August 2010.

It gets stranger and stranger. I woke up hearing, on the news this morning, that Lindsay Lohan has been released from rehab after just 23 days in there. The powers that be announced that she was not "displaying the usual symptoms". She wasn't going through withdrawal, they said, and she wasn't suffering from Bipolar Disorder.

Very strange.

First off, if Lindsay Lohan really was suffering from Bipolar Disorder, then a 12-Step drug and alcohol rehab program would not be the appropriate treatment for such a mental illness. Are those rehab staffer "counselors" trained and licensed psychiatrists? I think not. So sending Lindsay to "rehab" if they believed that she was Bipolar would be illegal — practicing medicine without a license — as well as quackery, giving her grossly wrong treatment: 12-Step cult religion for a mental disorder.

But the rehab facility followed the reverse logic. They decided that since she was not Bipolar, they should release her. Huh? Say what? (And a 12-Step treatment center is not a mental hospital, entitled to keep the mentally-ill people.)

Well, at least the story isn't boring. I wonder what comes next.

Date: Thu, August 12, 2010 4:52 pm     (answered 25 August 2010)
From: "Aldis J."

I believe your analysis of the AA success rate vs the rate of natural remission leaves something out. When someone goes to AA, that is a signpost of trying to quit. However, we have no way of knowing what proportion of untreated alcoholics try to quit. So it's 5% of all untreated alcoholics, whether or not they tried. In fact, out of the other 95%, there may be at least a few who are waffling around on the idea of going to AA, since it's still the culturally accepted norm.

I read some site or other which purported to analyze your analysis of natural remission vs. AA's triennial surveys. It claimed that you (Agent Orange) had misread the graph on the triennial surveys because someone arbitrarily decided one wasn't really trying unless they continued to attend meetings for a month. After a month, 19% of attendants remain, so the actual rate of AA remission is 5%/19% or 26%. However, the mere fact that you're comparing people who went to an AA meeting (even if only once) against ALL untreated alcoholics already skews the result in favor of AA, without any similar standard separating out only those untreated alcoholics who tried whatever it is they do, for one month.

Hi again, Aldis,

I reinterpreted that graph, and talked about it again, just a few days ago, here, so I'll point you to that.

The biggest point to make again is that a whole bunch of people were missing from that survey: all of the people who dropped out before the survey was done. So we can't really calculate any remission rate from that graph.

You are right about the invalid comparison of all alcoholics versus those who went to A.A., even once. Motivation to quit is the single biggest determining factor in getting sober. I was just reading Herbert Fingarette's book Heavy Drinking, and he mentioned the fact that people who got just one day of "treatment" did almost as well as those who got the whole course of treatment. Either that first day of treatment is really magical, or the real cause of sobriety is the decision to quit drinking, which happens before treatment starts (which is why people choose to go to "treatment" in the first place).

I know it's the latter. People decide to quit drinking because they are suffering so much, and are fed up with it. And then they really do quit drinking. Whether they also go to "treatment" or 12-Step meetings seems pretty irrelevant.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There is no royal road to anything.
**     One thing at a time, all things in succession.
**     That which grows fast whithers as rapidly;
**     that which grows slowly endures.
**        ==  J. G. Holland

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

Canada Goose family with goslings
The Two Very Young Goslings and Their Parents

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[From Facebook:]

Wednesday, August 25, 2010 at 2:19pm

Rick W.

Just got done reading agent green's site. wow anybody with a brain that practices Honesty, open mindfulness and a willingness to learn facts can tell right away the thing is just more bad logic and bad propaganda. im just curious to know what emails and rebuttals from you that were left out. the site seems real spottie.

Hi Rick,
Thanks for the note. Here are some more links where we have debated or discussed that stuff:




Have a good day now.
== Orange

[The previous letter from Anthony is here.]

Date: Fri, August 13, 2010 11:00 am     (answered 8 September 2010)
From: "Anthony V."
Subject: RE: Peter Braunstein

Hi Orange,

Thanks for responding to my letter...and also thanks for publishing on your website. I do not have any information about the Stepper you are referring to.

Hi again, Anthony,

I think the way that I wrote that question was confusing. I was talking about my 12-Step child-molesting "counselor", and then I meant to ask if you had any more information about your guy in New York. Sorry about the confusion. I don't expect that you could know any details about my guy over here on the West Coast. Heck, even the local people don't know about the story, because the local TV stations and the newspaper never reported it.

I also wanted to let you know that I have a pamphlet called 'AA Guidelines, Cooperating with Court, DWI, and Similar Programs'. FYI, if you don't know... the purpose of these Guidelines is to assist in reaching an informed group conscience. In the pamphlet it states that AA has been cooperating with law enforcement agencies since 1942, when members from San Francisco AA started bringing meetings into San Quentin prison at the request of Warden Clinton Duffy. According to the pamphlet, this led to AA's cooperation with court systems, including direct communications with judges and law enforcement officials. The pamphlet goes on to say that the sole purpose of this all is 12th step work, and goes into detail on how AA 'shares' information within court systems. The article also points out how probation and parole officers, as well as judges, often require people involved in alcohol-related offenses to attend AA meetings.

That pamphlet sounds interesting. Can you xerox it, or scan it into a computer file?

As relates to the Braunstein case, I found it interesting that law enforcement would not want to know who, if any one else Braunstein victimized in the rooms. As I mentioned, there was never any mention in the extensive media coverage that the police were investigating other possible victims, or that fact that Braunstein even attended meetings. You would think that if Braunstein was a known serial stalker and predator, and had attended meetings for many years, the police would be interested in such matters, to see if he had victimized others, especially in light of the above article. My take on the whole thing is that the law enforcement does not want to publicize the involvement of criminals in this society because they work hand-in-hand with the meetings to keep an eye on parolees and sentenced offenders, so this is a way of returning the favor by not publicizing the criminal actions of some of its members. Also, there are many members of the police and the media who are Steppers, so that may be a factor also.

I think that you make some good points there. Certainly, the failure of the media and the police to investigate or publicize the criminal activities of 12-Steppers is far more than a coincidence. I think that some of it might be that some authorities think, "Well, that group is good for some people, so let's not make trouble for it." But the cover-up goes far beyond that. Like I was saying before, the local TV news and newspaper had a field day with priests molesting children, and schoolteachers, both male and female, who had student sex partners, and Boy Scout leaders who molested children. We heard every gory detail of those stories, for weeks and months. But the story of my 12-Step counselor who lectured us on how to live clean and sober lives, and then went home and snorted cocaine and looked at child pornography on his computer, and then raped his step-children, was never reported. I had to hear about it through the grapevine. Strange, very strange.

The pamphlet is a scream... contains references to videos such as 'It Sure Beats Sitting in a Cell', and 'AA — rap with us', as well as to the many AA front groups such as the Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) and driving Under the Influence (DUI). They even provide guidelines to court programs on how to deal with "alcoholic" (their quote) offenders, and how to identify AA members which are best suited with cooperation with such programs.

Yes, that sounds interesting. And I think I saw one of those videos. That is ringing a bell in my memory.

Thanks again, and have a nice weekend.

You have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There are some who employ words only to disguise their thoughts.
**        ==  Voltair, French philosopher

[The next letter from Anthony, about this issue, is here.]

Date: Fri, August 13, 2010 12:50 am     (answered 8 September 2010)
From: "Michael L."
Subject: Thans for your website, please email back!

Orange Papers,

I have recently looked at your websites and have been intrigued. I agree with almost everything you say about AA. I am an active member for about four years now. I have found a lot of sick people in AA. but I do think that the spiritual program of AA makes me a better person The book says things like, "If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience." (95) Also, the book says "never talk down to an alcoholic" or "make it clear he is not under pressure." (95,91) Unfortunately that is not what you hear at meetings sometimes. Instead you hear things like "sit down and shut up" or "you're just not willing yet" or "90 in 90" or "call your sponsor everyday."

I just finished a college class on cults and the characteristics that cults share do not seem to exist in AA at least AA in respect to the book. Some people in AA do exhibit a degree of cult like behavior. The characteristics of cults usually were: violence, encouragement to leave family and friends, and an all controlling leader. The book of Alcoholics Anonymous is the exact opposite of all of those characteristics. I have found the book to be amazing and sometimes the fellowship to be hurtful and condescending and I must admit sometimes cult like. I appreciate your writings because I have devoted much of my life to AA and I am responsible to read the arguments against it. I find truths in your writings and have been a victim of some of the behavior that you point out. However, I do find the spiritual program (self-examination, confession, prayer, and restitution) to have made me much more useful and loving to my family and friends. I would enjoy correspondence with you to find out your take on the book independent of the fellowship.

Thank you

Michael L.

Date: Fri, August 13, 2010 1:12 am     (answered 8 September 2010)
From: "Michael L."
Subject: clarification

Regarding my last email It would have been more true to say that I agree with a lot of what you say instead of I agree with almost everything that you say. Also I should point out that the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, while extremely sick in some cases, has helped me in ways that I could never describe. I look forward to corresponding with you.

Michael L.

Hello Michael,

Thank you for the letters. I am glad to hear that you are getting better.

Well, starting at the top, about cult characteristics in A.A., I have to disagree. You should read the Cult Test. There, I have collected 100 of the standard features and characteristics of cults, and A.A. obviously displays the vast majority of them.

Now I understand that your average neighborhood A.A. meeting does not seem as fanatical as a Moonies or Scientology meeting. You will often meet some very nice people there. But they still start every meeting by reading the dogmatic lies of Bill Wilson from pages 58 through 60 of the Big Book, declaring that Bill had "rarely seen a person fail", except for the defective souls who didn't Work The Program right and "thoroughly follow his path", and who were "constitutionally dishonest", and "born that way".

And then the 12 Steps are nothing but Frank Buchman's practices (not "spiritual principles") for recruiting and indoctrinating newcomers. The Steps induce feelings of powerlessness, inadequacy, and guilt. Then the Steps make people so irrational that they imagine that the noise in their heads is The Voice Of God, telling them what to do.

So you aren't more than five minutes into the meeting, and they have already recited a whole bunch of harmful, irrational Oxford Group cult dogma. Yes, it's a cult.

Introspection is all fine and well. I recommend it. But you do have to be careful how you do it. The A.A. routine of constantly finding fault with yourself is very damaging, and even drives some people to suicide. If you are really doing a "searching and fearless moral inventory", then you should list all of your good points too. But the 12 Steps just say, "wrongs", "defects of character", and "shortcomings". Constantly putting yourself down is closer to a mental illness than it is to spirituality.

About: "If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience." (Big Book, p95.)

Yes, Bill Wilson wrote things like that. That is another standard bait-and-switch trick. Sound very easy-going and tolerant and open-minded when recruiting, and then turn dogmatic later, and tell the new recruits that A.A. is the only way. I've described that in detail several times before. Look here:

Also see the Cult Test item, 11. Insistence that the cult is THE ONLY WAY.

Have a good day now, and take care.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Thus Have I Heard
**      "I am" is a conceiving;
**      "I am this" is a conceiving;
**      "I shall be" is a conceiving;
**      "I shall not be" is a conceiving;
**      "I shall have a physical form" is a conceiving;
**      "I shall be formless" is a conceiving.
**      Conceiving is a disease,
**      conceiving is a tumor,
**      conceiving is a dart.
**      By overcoming all conceivings, one is called a sage at peace.
**         ==  the Buddha, as translated in In the Buddha's Words
**         from More Daily Wisdom, edited by Josh Bartok, Wisdom Publications 
**        (http://www.wisdompubs.org)

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Last updated 8 March 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters188.html