Letters, We Get Mail, CXCI

Date: Sat, September 11, 2010 12:41 pm     (answered 15 September 2010)
From: "James G"
Subject: Re: TV promoting XA


I finally have a moment to spare and I thought I would drop you a line. How are things going in Portland? I have to say I am pleased to see that you are replying to email regularly again, and I am especially pleased to see the pictures of the goslings.

I read the following letter on your most recent letters page and it occurred to me that I might be able to put together a film that highlights your point — I think you answered the point very well; I am not sure anyone in AA would know how to actually hijack a TV, but in terms of programmes like the West Wing, Sopranos, etc, covertly promoting the Steps,

I am sure between us we can find a good few examples.

Let me know what you think.

Take care,


[Then James quoted the letter here, that asked about A.A. controlling the TV.]

Oh, now that sounds interesting. And the following letter, after the one that you quoted, was about Cagney and Lacey, and that show's plugging 12-Step meetings. And I commented about seeing a show in the 'fifties (1950's, that is,) that pushed the idea of going to meetings.

There are so many programs that have promoted A.A. — E.R. and Hill Street Blues are two more that come to mind. There are so many. That will be a good research project, getting the less-famous ones. A collection of video clips of all of those programs selling A.A. would really be an amusing (or nauseating) video.

Then there is this rap, just below the list of fake studies:


Have a good day now.

== Terry

I found a few more links:


And a refutation of the Hallmark made-for-TV movie "My Name is Bill W." could take up an entire video in and of itself.

But it might be fun to harp on the fact that, while Frank Buchman was attending Nuremberg Nazi Party Rallies in 1934 and 1935, and attending the 1936 Berlin Olympics as the personal guest of Heinrich Himmler, the Bill and Bob team was recruiting more cult members for him in Akron...

But that isn't what the Hallmark movie showed...

Have a good day now.

== Terry

Date: Sat, September 11, 2010 12:41 pm     (answered 16 September 2010)
From: "James G"
Subject: Re: TV promoting XA


Sorry to take so long to reply but I am struggling to find enough clips to make a decent film. I was wondering, perhaps you could ask the visitors to your site to recommend/point us in the right direction? I think the more we can get the more impact the film will have?

Anyway I trust you are well.

Kind regards,

James G

Okay, readers,

Can you wrack your brains and remember plugs for A.A.?

This is what I can remember, just offhand:

  1. That show from the 1950s that I described above. Name unknown.

  2. Hill Street Blues. This one was especially unrealistic, in that the fat cop was at an A.A. meeting, giving a hard time to a 13th-Stepper who was trying to sexually exploit the vulnerable women at the meeting, telling the guy to knock it off or else. That left the viewers with the mistaken impression that A.A. meetings are self-policing, and that the newcomer girls are actually protected from sexual exploitation, which couldn't be further from the truth.

  3. E.R. This one was outrageous, and went on for years. Nurse Abbey was an alcoholic, and Dr. Carter was a pill-head, and both of them were forever running to a 12-Step meeting after a relapse. We are supposed to believe that, after spending a fortune on their modern medical education, they chose cult religion and quackery to treat their personal health problems.

  4. The West Wing. Described in this link: https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-random.html#West_Wing

  5. 28 Days. A girl, played by Sanda Bullock, spends 28 days in rehab after making a scene at her sister's wedding and crashing her car.

  6. Clean and Sober. A guy with a cocaine problem tries to hide from his problems in a 12-Step-oriented treatment center for 28 days and ends up getting converted into a true believer by a "tough-love counselor".

  7. The Days of Wine and Roses. A pathetic piece of Stepper propaganda where a guy first introduces his wife to a life of drinking, and then becomes such a devoted Stepper that he just lets his wife go out and die of alcohol addiction for the sake of his own sobriety.

  8. The History Detectives. In one episode, they "discover" everything but the truth about A.A. The episode is described here.

  9. Cagney and Lacey. Described above.

  10. A one-off TV show, name unknown, about a cop who goes to a brothel to have a good time, not revealing that he is an off-duty cop. He discovers that the girls who work there hold 12-Step meetings during idle times, to deal with their drug and alcohol problems. He joins in, because he has a drinking problem too. Then some corrupt cops show up to shake the girls down for bribes, and the cop who is there reveals that he is an old Gold-Shield cop, and threatens to report the corrupt cops to Internal Affairs if they ever show up there again. He heavies them out and drives them away. The girls are first shocked and scared that they have been entertaining a cop, but he assures them that he doesn't work vice, and this isn't his jurisdiction anyway, and he is only there for a good time. The madam of the house decides that they could use a cop friend as a protector, so he is welcome any time, free of charge. The show ends with them conducting a 12-Step meeting where everybody talks about their drug and alcohol problems. As you can guess, this show is quite a sentimental fairy-tale.

And if readers have any film clips or video snips of such things, that would help James with the video.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     One of the most striking differences between a
**     cat and a lie is that a cat has only nine lives.
**        ==  Mark Twain (Samuel Longhorne Clemens) 1835—1910

[The previous letter from Fred is here.]

Date: Tue, August 17, 2010 2:31 pm     (answered 20 September 2010)
From: "Fred"
Subject: Re: Powerless

Happy Birthday Orange. Would you care to share how to got to where you are today?

Hi Fred,

Thanks for the good wishes.

That is actually a huge question. I could write a book on that subject. (In fact, I think I almost did.) I have covered that question from a lot of viewpoints, many times, in pieces here and there. So first off, let me point you to the usual lists:

And then, when I ponder the question, "How to get to where you are today?", a few more things occur to me:

  1. Absolute determination. Yes, will power. The stuff that Bill Wilson said we don't have any of, and can't have any of. Yes, that much-denounced "self-will". I was determined to not die that way — of alcohol poisoning, that is. I was, to reuse that old line one more time, "sick and tired of being sick and tired", and didn't want to do it any more. I was sure that I wasn't going to relapse, because "Failure was not an option." (And I quit smoking at the same time, with the same thought.)

    Do you remember the movie "Apollo 13", starring Tom Hanks as an astronaut? Well another great character in that movie was the leader of the ground crew, Gene Kranz, played by Ed Harris. I remember Harris lecturing all of the engineers and ordering them to go into a room and think and talk things over, and not leave that room until they had figured out a way to bring the astronauts back alive. Then he voiced those immortal words: "Failure is not an option!"

    Somehow, that slogan slowly crept into my brain and made itself at home, and became a part of my thinking. That is how I feel about sobriety now. Failure is simply not an option. There is no question about it. I'm doing other things with my life now, and going back to that misery is simply not going to happen. I can't predict the future, but that one is not going to happen. Period.

    So, how to help other people? Well, obviously, anything that strengthens people's will power is a good thing. SMART teaches things that "enhance motivation", which is another way of saying, "build up will power". So that's one good place to start. (I don't want to slight SOS or Lifering or WFS or HAMS or any of the other groups or methods. It's just that I've never been to their meetings, so I don't know how their teachings or methods work on that.)

    This is just the opposite of the A.A. teachings that you have to "surrender" in Step Three and turn your will over to something else, some vague "Higher Power" who can be anything from a doorknob to a bedpan.

    (Another recent article came up with a new one: Parakeet. Yes, you can have a parakeet as your "Higher Power". No joke, that is what the author said. I really want to hear how Polly Parakeet is going to make people quit drinking, and keep them sober, and manage their unmanageable lives for them. Never mind talking to them in Step 11 and giving them secret work orders and the power to carry them out.)

  2. Realistic thinking. It helps me to be realistic about how much pain and suffering and damage drinking and smoking really caused. That gives me more incentive to not go back there again.

    It also helps me to think, "If I go back to drinking, I will end up dying in pain and misery, sooner rather than later." That really takes the shine off of the temptation.

    This one is tough and tricky. Bill Wilson raved about "rigorous honesty" on page 58 of the Big Book, and alcoholics in A.A. are expected to be "rigorously honest" about their faults and "wrongs" and "defects of character" and "moral shortcomings", and everyone is supposed to look at their wild times and fun drunkalogues and declare that it wasn't any fun...

    But A.A. is not honest and realistic about how well A.A. works, or how the 12-Steps work, or what they actually do.

    A.A. also fails to look at external factors causing alcohol abuse, like poverty, child abuse, alcoholic parents, wars and bad environments. A.A. tries to shove it all on the individual alcoholics, and say that it is all their fault, and their spiritual short-coming, which is very unrealistic. No man is an island. We are all in this together, and I think it helps to see the big picture, and see how those other things contributed to my alcohol abuse, and made me feel the way that I did.

    Now none of those external factors is an excuse for drinking. I don't want to get into self-pity and proclaim that it was all so unfair that I had a mean alcoholic parent who messed up my mind, so I might as well get drunk and forget the whole thing. Nope. I just want to note how inevitable it was that I would feel odd and out of sorts, and try to fix myself by self-medicating. (See the study of the Cerebellar Vermis.) When I see what caused what, then I can dump the guilt and say, "It really wasn't my fault. I don't have to spend the rest of my life confessing and feeling guilty."

    But if I were stupid enough to go back to drinking, knowing what I know now, then that would be my fault.

  3. And then there is the old Lizard Brain Addiction Monster. I know that I've mentioned this one many times, and it's in the lists above, but I'll mention it again, because it was especially important in the first year or two of being off of alcohol and cigarettes. Recognizing when old Lizard Brain was trying to talk me into drinking and smoking, and seeing how phony and unrealistic his game was, really was a life-saver.

    When you see that "your thoughts" are not really your thoughts at all, and "your desires" are not really your desires, that helps to detach from those thoughts and the temptation loses its power over you.

    You can also detach from any guilt. When you see that the temptation to drink or smoke is just a stupid toad brain demanding some feel-goods, then you don't have to get into the self-denunciation routine of talking about how you have such bad thoughts.

  4. No compromise. No half-way measures. That bears some explanation, I know, because it sounds dogmatic and extreme. The problem was, back when I was smoking and drinking, I would tell myself things like, "Well, yeh, it hurts my health a little bit, but nobody's perfect. I need a cigarette and a drink right now, to kill the pain and feel better. I'll just have to put up with a little damage to my body." I knew what ideal I wanted — really good health, and good mental clarity — but then I settled for not getting it, by rationalizing that a little departure from perfection was okay.

    Now, I'm not so willing to compromise. Now I'm not settling for anything less than the best that I can do. I don't have any more time to waste on not being healthy, and not getting better.

    (I know that Bill Wilson also bragged about "Half measures availed us nothing" on page 59 of the Big Book, but that was just more hypocrisy. Bill Wilson was nothing but half-measures: smoking like a chimney, doing drugs, seducing all of the pretty women who came to A.A. meetings, and stealing all of the money and fame, and lying about almost everything, while bragging about his "spiritual experience" and rationalizing, "We are not saints.")

  5. Lastly, but certainly not least, and not to make light of it, this really is the answer:

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

      That is the answer to all questions about drinking, or "just having one".

    • Just don't smoke that first cigarette, not ever, no matter what.

      Likewise, this is obvious.

    • Play the tape to the end.

      Imagine the situation as a movie on videotape. Don't just think about the next hour or two, and how much fun a little drinking may be. Play the tape all the way to the end, and see the full-blown relapse and readdiction and sickness and shame and poverty, and how disappointed you will feel with yourself, and how hard it will be to quit again...

      That works for me.

    • Failure is not an option!

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**      Don't compromise yourself.
**      You are all you've got.
**        ==  Janis Joplin (1943—1970), American singer

UPDATE: Also see this reader's addendum to the "Play the tape to the end" idea:

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

Canada Goose mother+ goslings Carmen's Family
Carmen is, of course, the gosling who is cuddling up to the mother's side. And the gosling who is standing is my little friend "the light-colored one". The father is nearby, just off-screen.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

Date: Tue, August 17, 2010 4:36 pm     (answered 21 September 2010)
From: "VICKI H."
Subject: Orange county, CA?

AA saved my life and that of my family (I have 2 children with 2 and 10 years sobriety. It worked for me. I'm sorry you feel you have to spend so much time justifying your position. You can't argue with success. My son came in at 21 and is now an attorney, a Captain in the Army and a father of two. I am closer to my family of origin than I ever dreamed possible. I have 21 yrs of sobriety and have a full time successful career. My Mother thanks God for AA every day. I will pray that you find happiness and a life beyond your wildest dreams as well, and not be so consumed by hate and anger.

God Bless!!

Hello Vicki,

Thanks for the letter. I would suggest that you saved your own life, probably by controlling your behavior and quitting drinking. Congratulations on your sobriety. And congratulations to your sober children who also quit drinking by using their inner strength and will power.

And while you are doing well, and have apparently found happiness in A.A., other people are not. The list of A.A. horror stories just keeps growing.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The plural of "anecdote" is not "evidence".

Date: Wed, August 18, 2010 11:03 am     (answered 21 September 2010)
From: Tim

I recently happened upon your well-researched compilation and have enjoyed it immensely. There's certainly much to criticize and, as targets go, Alcoholics Anonymous is a pretty soft one. Still, I wonder if you're being completely fair when you exclude so much readily available information which tends to demonstrate the transformation (softening ?) of Bill Wilson's "spiritual/religious" position over the years. In this regard, I recommend an April 1961 Grapevine piece entitled "The Problem of No Faith," as well portions of a 1954 letter included on page 34 of "As Bill Sees It." To me, the former is very nearly a mea culpa for some of the rigidity of earlier writings/views — as he reflects sadly "in the early years, I almost ruined the whole enterprise [presumably the fellowship itself] with my arrogant views on religion." Something to that effect. In the latter, he specifically mention Buddhism as he calls for a broad acceptance of all manner of spirituality. Many Buddhists, of course, do not believe in a personal God, and many do not believe in god at all as that term is ordinarily understood by mainstream western religious types.

It's been my experience that more than a few A.A. members — some old timers and some new guys — hold to Spinoza's god, or Einstein's god, or the god of the Deists, or no god at all. If, like me, you don't believe in a personal god (even if you believe in god) the problem of the "god steps" never presents itself. I have no problem "making a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of god as I understand him" because the god I happen to understand doesn't give a rat's ass about a squabbling species on a speck of cosmic dust all but lost in the vast ocean of the universe. With great ease I make this decision as I regard it as a meaningless exercise because "the great spirit" will neither acknowledge nor accept the assignment.

Anyway, I find most of your observations interesting and not too far off the mark. I just wonder if you couldn't do a better job. If you're goal is to arm people with good information I'd recommend you caution people as an old guy, then 35 years sober, cautioned me in 1980: "Look, kid, you'll here a lot of bullshit around here — christ, after the 1st Step it's all mostly bullshit anyway. You need to be like a great whale in the ocean; he needs to take in a million gallons of salt water to enjoy a hundred pounds of krill — or plankton or whatever the fuck they eat. Do the same around here and you'll do alright."

Thanks and keep up the good work. A little criticism never hurt anybody, and I find it all pretty interesting.


Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2010 14:15:04 -0700
Subject: Re:
From: [email protected]
To: Tim


> I recommend an April 1961 Grapevine piece entitled "The Problem of
> No Faith," as well portions of a 1954 letter included on page 34 of "As
> Bill Sees It."

Before I even get started on answering your letter, I would need to see copies of those things. Any chance you can scan them and mail the images to me?


== Orange

Date: Wed, August 18, 2010 2:59 pm     (answered 21 September 2010)
From: "Tim"
Subject: RE:

an attorney and therefore pretty stupid, i'm still trying to perfect "post-its," so scanning and sending is way beyond my technical range. good thing i don't work for NASA. for the grapevine piece you can google "bill wilson, april 1961 grapevine, the dilemma of no faith." that's how i found it when it was recommended to me. the other thing is short and i'll type it in its entirety in the bottom margin.

You know, i dropped out of Georgetown my first semester back in 1971 and went on a ten year run which took me from Mexico near the Guat border, to Europe and North African, to Afghanistan and elsewhere. In 1980, with bruised heart, broken spirit and forgotten dreams I limped into the rehab that helped me save my own life. Returned to college as a 29 year old freshman, finished up and went on to law school--became a prosecuter/D.A. if you can believe it. God, if there is one, must truly have a twisted sense of humor. Anyway, to this day I simply don't know if A.A. actually saves anyone or if those who are truly ready to try ANYTHING simply end up in A.A. Shrug--all I know is "so far so good" as far as I'm concerned.

Life's way to short for me to quarrel with you, debate the topic, or give a shit one way or the other. You've hit the high notes, for sure, and many of the people in A.A. are way out cats; but there's plenty of guys like me who, like the whale, just take in all the water. Maybe it's all self-hypnosis and totally unnecessary, but I'm not taking any chances. And it's usually good for a laugh even if the people are pretty kooky. And, trust me, it's gotten wierder over the years. Whatever.

Also, though you might find it hard to believe, there are many in A.A. who don't give a shit what Bill Wilson thought, what Frank Buchman thought, or what ANYONE thinks. They're on their own journey and they know it. Many, like me, have only this to say about the so-called god stuff. And I paraphrase: "Listen, you'll almost never hear me talk about my god, my higher power, my beliefs or my prayers. There's a reason for that. First of all, it's none of your business. Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, I don't think it's very helpful — to you. As my old friend Protagoras, the pre-Socratic Greek philospher once said — 'of the gods i know very little. The subject matter is far too complex and my life far too short.' "

Cat was an early agnostic.

Anyway, I think the April 1961 Grapevine piece is worth reading. It's the ONLY time I've ever heard of Bill Wilson coming close to saying "I fucked up."

Here's the quote from the book "As Bill Sees It,"

While AA has restored thousands of poor Christians to their churches, and has made believers out of atheists and agnostics (NOT THAT I'VE EVER SEEN), it has also made good AA's out of those belonging to the Buddhist, Islamic and Jewish faiths. For example, we question very much whether our Buddhist members in Japan would ever have joined this Society had AA officially stamped itself a strictly Christian movement.

You can easily convince yourself of this by imagining that AA started among the Buddhists and that they then told you you couldn't join them unless you became a Buddhist, too. If you were a Christian alcoholic under these circumstances, you might well turn your face to the wall and die.
letter 1954

Date: Wed, August 18, 2010 3:20 pm     (answered 21 September 2010)
From: "Tim"
Subject: FW: AA History — The Dilemma of No Faith — Bill W., 1961


i had a dopey teenager help me with this link. after this, i'm outta ammo. i couldn't find the other thing, so you'll need to trust me that it's word-for-word from p. 34 of the book "As Bill Sees It."

to follow-up my earlier observation concerning wilson, many people i know think he was a mental patient. and they regard the best parts of the big book and the 12 and 12 as fully plagiarized — kind of the reader's digest version (for dopes) of all
manner of eastern and western philosophic and political thought. hell, you've got everything from Buddha, to Confucious, to Saint Augustine, to Benjamin Franklin.

Whatever. It is what it is. I survived it and so have countless others. And I never woke up in the morning saying, "I wish I hadn't gone to that A.A. meeting last night. Look at this shit.

Be well.

Hi Tim,

Thanks for all of the input. I'm glad that you survived Dr. Wilson's and Dr. Bob's treatment, but explaining that you survived a doctor's treatment is hardly a ringing endorsement. It reminds me of damning with faint praise.

Thanks for the link to the Grapevine article.
Now that is intesting. The first thing that I see is, even as Bill Wilson is denouncing arrogance, he exudes arrogance, and claims that his organization, that he founded, is the only way to survive alcohol.

We can also take a fresh look at the problem of "no faith" as it exists right on our own doorstep. Though three hundred thousand did recover in the last twenty-five years, maybe half a million more have walked into our midst, and then out again. No doubt some were too sick to make even a start. Others couldn't or wouldn't admit their alcoholism. Still others couldn't face up to their underlying personality defects. Numbers departed for still other reasons.

Bill said that those who joined A.A. "did recover", but he implies that the other people who didn't join A.A. did not make it. "Some were too sick to make it." That is Bill's explanation for people not liking his flavor of cult religion. "Others couldn't or wouldn't admit their alcoholism. Still others couldn't face up..." Bill would not even consider the idea that some people just don't like cult religions, and found sobriety and happiness without Bill Wilson's group.

Even when Bill Wilson was doing a mea culpa, he still insisted that his religion was essential to alcoholics, and without it, they would die:

In AA's first years I all but ruined the whole undertaking with this sort of unconscious arrogance. God as I understood Him had to be for everybody. Sometimes my aggression was subtle and sometimes it was crude. But either way it was damaging — perhaps fatally so — to numbers of non-believers.

Then Bill tells this story:

Here's a recent example of the high cost of spiritual pride. A very tough-minded prospect was taken to his first AA meeting. The first speaker majored on his own drinking pattern. The prospect seemed impressed. The next two speakers (or maybe lecturers) each themed their talks on "God as I understand Him." This could have been good, too, but it certainly wasn't. The trouble was their attitude, the way they presented their experience. They did ooze arrogance. In fact, the final speaker got far overboard on some of his personal theological convictions. With perfect fidelity, both were repeating my performance of years before. Quite unspoken, yet implicit in everything they said, was the same idea — "Folks, listen to us. We have the only true brand of AA — and you'd better get it!"

The new prospect said he'd had it — and he had. His sponsor protested that this wasn't real AA. But it was too late; nobody could touch him after that. He also had a first class alibi for yet another bender. When last heard from, an early appointment with the undertaker seemed probable.

So, because arrogant old-timers did not present Alcoholics Anonymous correctly, the poor guy has an early date with Death. There is no answer but Bill Wilson's church. He just never gets off it.

Then I find Bill's harping on his "faith" rather disgusting. Bill began the article by writing:

The phrase "God As We Understand Him" is perhaps the most important expression to be found in our whole AA vocabulary. Within the compass of these five significant words there can be included every kind and degree of faith, together with the positive assurance that each of us may choose his own. Scarcely less valuable to us are those supplemental expressions — "A Higher Power" and "A Power Greater Than Ourselves." For all who deny, or seriously doubt a deity, these frame an open door over whose threshold the unbeliever can take his first easy step into a reality hitherto unknown to him — the realm of faith.

Oh, right. Those unbelievers don't know anything. They never even dreamed of a realm of superstition. Only the brilliant Bill Wilson knows the Secrets of the Universe.

Again, even as Bill was doing another mea culpa, he was bragging about his faith:

My own spiritual awakening had given me a built-in faith in God — a gift indeed. But I had been neither humble nor wise. Boasting of my faith, I had forgotten my ideals. Pride and irresponsibility had taken their place. By so cutting off my own light, I had little to offer my fellow alcoholics. At last I saw why many had gone away — some of them forever.

Therefore, faith is more than our greatest gift; its sharing with others is our greatest responsibility.

Honestly, faith in what? Faith in Dr. Frank Buchman's theology? Faith in a belladonna hallucination? That's what Bill was selling.

**    Faith is believing what you know ain't so
**     ==  Mark Twain

**    A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith
**    does not prove anything.
**        ==  Friedrich Nietzsche

**     Faith in a holy cause is to a considerable extent
**     a substitute for the lost faith in ourselves.
**         ==  Eric Hoffer

**    The way to see faith is to shut the eye of reason.
**      ==  Benjamin Franklin

**    "I've never understood how God could expect his creatures
**     to pick the one true religion by faith — it strikes me as a
**     sloppy way to run a universe."
**      ==  Robert A. Heinlein, STRANGER IN A STRANGE LAND

This article was from 1961, and Bill had not softened his crazy dogma by much at the end of his life.

In general terms, I know that Bill Wilson changed his focus as the years passed. He learned the hard way that Frank Buchman's cult religion wasn't working, and was not curing his chronic depression. All of Bill's raving about The Promises and "getting rocketed into the fourth dimension of existence" from doing the Twelve Steps turned out to be so much wishful thinking.

Bill turned from cult religion to drugs as the answer. He spend two years tripping on LSD, and also experimented with leuko-adrenochrome and niacin and who knows what other experimental drugs. Bill said that LSD gave him the same wonderful religious feelings as he had gotten from belladonna in Charlie Towns' hospital in 1934. And Bill became the candyman, and went around turning on everybody that he could. He gave LSD to his minister Rev. Samuel Shoemaker Jr., and his favorite priest Father Edward Dowling, and his secretary Nell Wing, and his wife Lois, and a bunch of the other early A.A. members. He did that until the A.A. leadership was freaking out about Bill Wilson disgracing A.A. by turning it into a drug society. There is a striking similarity between what Bill Wilson was doing, and what Timothy Leary was doing over at Harvard.

Well, that is definitely a "softening" of his religious attitudes.

Personally, I don't care what religious beliefs somebody has, or what kind of a God he believes in, if he doesn't become dogmatic and fundamentalist and obnoxious about it, and try to shove it in my face. Which is precisely what Bill Wilson did to the people around him, and his books, the Big Book, and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions still do today.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Secular schools can never be tolerated because such schools have
**    no religious instruction, and a general moral instruction without
**    a religious foundation is built on air; consequently, all character
**    training and religion must be derived from faith ... we need
**    believing people.
**      ==  Adolf Hitler, April 26, 1933, from a speech made during
**          negotiations leading to the Nazi-Vatican Concordant of 1933

Date: Wed, August 18, 2010 9:44 am     (answered 21 September 2010)
From: "Adanna C."
Subject: Thanks and keep up the good work!

Thanks for producing such well thought out, factual, information on AA and also on Cults and their mechanisms. Its refreshing to hear someone seek TRUTH, challenge generally accepted notions and not just join the bandwagon so they can comfortably 'fit in'. I am not an AA member or an alcoholic or substance abuser but years ago I read through the 12 steps and found a few of them 'mildly discomforting'. I remember thinking to myself 'Let me just not be an alcoholic so I don't have to follow and understand this stuff'.

To say 'oh he obviously hasn't been an alcoholic, member or went to AA meetings or else he wouldnt be saying what he is' is plain ridiculous. Do I have to experience a heart attack to know how it happens or treatment for it? I just need the facts.

I have found that people generally just like fantasies and are too lazy/cowardice to challenge a generally held belief. But if you don't, others besides yourself suffer due to misinformation and if you have a conscience you'd feel obliged to do something about it.

To say 'why doesn't he just state his name instead of hiding behind A. Orange if he is so truthful' is ridiculous because whoever your are or will be in future does not change the facts. It doesn't matter whether you're a pro wrestler who dresses like a ballerina and wears makeup or sitting in a jail cell or average joe working 9-5 to support a family. The truth is the truth no matter who speaks it. Whatever name you gave yourself has no bearing on the validity of your claims.

I wish there were more people like you. I'm sick and tired of being seen as 'off the handle' or 'loser conspiracy theorist' just because I don't join the crowd. Despite me giving facts and testimony to claims I make, those expressing disbelief can never give a factual rebuttal. Because I'm not christian something is wrong. Because I think 911 was done purposefully to create a dumb reason to invade Iraq I'm wrong. Because I think oxygen and ozone therapy can kill cancer cells over chemo and aid healing of many illnesses I'm wrong. Because I think Princess Diana was set up to be killed I'm wrong. Because I think Egypt/Kemet was mostly a black civilisation I'm wrong. If I'm wrong then I'm wrong. Prove it. All I want is the truth.

*NOTE*: For any 'dissenters' who may have problems with comprehension I am *NOT* implying that A. Orange agrees with any of the aforementioned theories expressed. These are my beliefs personally that I have used to emphasize where I am coming from. Do NOT think that because he chooses to place my email content on his site that he supports any of them.

You know what amazes me about most of these 'dissenters'? They first say you are wrong. You respond with facts and concise rebuttals. Then they reply and somewhere along the way they make statements that go against what they said in the first place (typical behavour of cult inducted people) — THEY FORGET. Then you show them that they commit the same acts they accuse you of and where they are being hypocrites — NO COMMENT. They can't prove otherwise but yet they hold on to their beliefs and call you names or label you. There is a difference between being misinformed and spreading misinformation (for which I think you still carry a weight of responsibility) and deliberately spreading misinformation off of the naivete and emotional crutches for your own personal gain.

They tried to block your email? Talk about respect of free speech. Imagine what would happen to you if you really put your name and face up there. No wonder you're writing under an alias. Who could blame you. People need to understand they THEY alone can find the solution to their problems. It starts with choice first. Then it starts with the right information. Then you must have the right attitude about what you are doing and continue from there.

I've seen the abuse of power and misuse of authority displayed too many times in my lifetime to not question anything.

I was wondering if you specialised in an area of study (degree programs) that can help a person practice debating techniques and undertand statistics or if you are self taught. I'm just considering doing some tertiary study somewhere along the lines of activism. Thanks again.

Trinidad and Tobago

Hi Adanna,

Thank you for the letter, and the compliments.

  1. I have found that people generally just like fantasies...
    Yes, really. The desire to believe, and the wish that it was all true, is often intense. Without that desire, cult religions would wither and die. Dr. Arthur Deikman wrote a great book about cults, and in it he said:

    Wanting to believe is perhaps the most powerful dynamic initiating and sustaining cult-like behavior.
    The Wrong Way Home: Uncovering the Patterns of Cult Behavior in American Society, Arthur J. Deikman, M.D., page 137.

    And I understand it. A great heroic adventurous fantasy beats the heck out of boring, depressing ordinary existence (especially when your life really is boring and depressing).

    I love Lord of the Rings, and part of me wishes that it was true. I'll play Gandalf.

    Now that is all fine and well for entertainment. But we shouldn't be using fairy tales as treatment for drug and alcohol problems.

  2. why doesn't he just state his name instead of hiding behind A. Orange
    Yes, they say that every so often. I've actually revealed my birth name many times. It is Terrance Hodgins, and I'm now living in a little town called Forest Grove, near Portland, Oregon. I still continue to use the "Orange" pen name because I've been using it for so long.

  3. You know what amazes me about most of these 'dissenters'? They first say you are wrong. You respond with facts and concise rebuttals. ... They can't prove otherwise but yet they hold on to their beliefs and call you names or label you.
    Yes. Arianna Huffington once said that a fanatic is someone who ignores all facts that do not agree with his chosen opinion. And there is a lot of fanaticism going around. A lot of it. Not just in cult religions and suicide bombers, but in A.A. and in politics, and even in business and economics.

    There are actually rich and powerful people who believe that the best way to restore America to greatness is to not pay the American workers much, and even to move all of our factories to China where slave labor and child labor will work for a few cups of rice a day. That is crazy economic dogma that ignores the facts. They don't explain who will pay taxes then. It sure won't be the middle class, because there won't be one. It can't be the poor — they don't have any money. And they don't want the rich to have to pay taxes. So who is going to pay off the National Debt? Or do we just let the USA go into default, like a South American banana republic? That won't make America great.

    Oh, and when the USA goes into default, that makes the dollar worthless, which means that we can't buy any more oil from the Arabs. Oops. It's going to be kind of hard to drive around with no gasoline. No driving means no commuting between suburbia and a job in the city, if somebody still has a job. No driving means no trips to the shopping mall. No driving means nobody trucks food into the supermarket. Suburban real estate will become worthless because nobody can live there. That will create the greatest real estate bust in the history of the world. The current popping of the real estate bubble will look like nothing compared to what comes next.

    That doesn't look like a great America. And yet, in the upcoming election, there will be a bunch of candidates whose agenda is making sure that the rich don't have to pay taxes, and who fervently believe in "globalization", and "outsourcing". That is some crazy belief.

  4. they make statements that go against what they said in the first place (typical behavour of cult inducted people)
    Yes. Like, "We must be rigorously honest, except that we will keep the historical archives locked and sealed so that nobody can learn the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous."

  5. They tried to block your email? Talk about respect of free speech.
    Yes, and that was AOL. Now I still don't know for sure what was happening there. Somebody wrote to me and said that AOL screwed up big time and was blocking a lot of people. I couldn't learn anything about it because when I sent letters to tech support, asking what was going on, those letters got blocked and bounced back too. Oh well, AOL is fading fast and will soon be irrelevant.

    Speaking of irrelevant and censorship, Yahoo was worse. In the early days of the Orange Papers, I had it hosted on Yahoo Geocities. One Sunday morning, I found that everything was erased and my account was cancelled. When I asked the support staff what happened, they just said that I should read the user agreement. I can only guess that somebody complained that they were "offended" by my criticizing their favorite cult religion.

    Well Yahoo got theirs. When Microsoft tried to buy them out, Yahoo screwed up the deal and now Yahoo stock is only worth half as much, and they are fading fast. Soon, I guess, their major business will be censoring the Internet for the Chinese Communists.

  6. I was wondering if you specialised in an area of study (degree programs) that can help a person practice debating techniques and understand statistics or if you are self taught.
    Self-taught. My major was biology. I actually got interested in debating techniques from reading A.A. lectures, especially the crazy diatribes in Big Book and Bill Wilson's second book, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, and seeing the profusion of propaganda tricks and logical fallacies in the text. I got started on the Propaganda and Debating Techniques web page from reading Carl Sagan's Baloney Detector in his book, The Demon Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark. And then, after that, it was just a matter of continuing to expand the list.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "We've arranged a civilization in which most crucial
**     elements profoundly depend on science and technology. 
**     We have also arranged things so that almost no one
**     understands science and technology.  This is a
**     prescription for disaster.  We might get away with it
**     for a while, but sooner or later this combustible
**     mixture of ignorance and power is going to blow up in
**     our faces."
**       ==  Carl Sagan

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

Canada Goose family with goslings, napping
The Family of Nine, taking a nap
Notice the goslings stretching out their legs. They are just trying to relieve growing pains.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Wed, August 18, 2010 11:09 pm     (answered 22 September 2010)
From: "Scott C."
Subject: Freedom of information act?

G'day Orange

Hows things? I just wanted to say thanks for all of your hard work it truly is amazing and a real eye opener. AA in Australia is no different to anywhere else in the world. i'm going to bore you with another AA horror story.

your site was pointed out to me by someone who went to AA and claimed 7 years sobriety but smoked pot every day and then turned around and criticised people on doctor prescribed medication(?), the same bloke desperately wanted to sponsor me but i kept refusing. after about 14mths sober i stopped smoking, 2 weeks after i had stopped this bloke called past my house for a visit and i was outside with him and he offered me a cigarette. when i politely declined and said i had not smoked for 2 weeks, he punched me in the face for "being a smart arse". i walked away from AA not long after that because the whole time there, something did not feel right. i kept hearing "you've got IT" but no one would tell me what IT was. i got told to "keep an open mind" and "THINK,THINK,THINK" but when i asked a question i was told to UTILISE NOT ANALYSE. Double standard or what.

Anyway about a year later i had a drink. (i have just spent the last 2 weeks at work here reading the website and i found a letter earlier this morning where you said that a drink is usually a premeditated act, a bad paraphrase i know.) now nothing bad happened (so much for the progressive disease THEORY) and i can now drink in moderation BECAUSE THE REASONS (not the character defects) that were causing my self-destructive drinking have been dealt with by medication, removing myself from a bad relationship and going to the CORRECT counselling for the problem. I have a great life today, a decent job, all my friends who i never lost when i was drinking and who were very supportive when i did stop for a while and a fantastic partner. LIFE IS GOOD!!!

Now to the point (sorry for the rant), have you considered or has anyone else, trying to get those sealed archived documents at AA head office opened under the freedom of information act? i am not sure if that is possible because i only briefly read about the act earlier today and i think under the Australian act that it may be possible but am unsure if under the U.S. act that it would be possible.

Just a thought and if they hide behind some privacy law, then what about an online petition ?

Anyway congratulations on the website and congratulations on the 10 years of sobriety .

Have a ripper Day Mate ! ,all the best

Scotti Campbell

P.S feel free to print my fullname , but not the email address as it is a work address. cheers !

Hi Scotti,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments. Congratulations on your recovery. I'm glad to hear that you are feeling better, and have found a solution to your problems.

And your story is welcome. No worries about rambling. It's good to hear what is happening down under. And the smoker punching you for telling him that you quit smoking is something else, isn't it? Calling you a "smart arse" for telling him that you had not had a cigarette in two weeks. So much for all of the slogans about "Live and Let Live", "Don't take someone else's inventory", and "Keep your own side of the street clean"...

A.A. really has a thing about tobacco. It may come from Bill Wilson's own tobacco addiction, which he defended in the Big Book. Even my own 12-Step-oriented counselor advised me not to quit smoking when I quit drinking. "If you put too much on your plate, something will spill off." That was just about the worst advice anybody has given me in the last ten years. Really. Nobody else advised me to commit suicide.

Fortunately, I didn't listen to him, and in less than two months, I will have ten years off of tobacco. How sweet it is. It really feels so much better that it is literally a different life. Not just feeling better; my whole life is different. Where I go, how much I get out, how much physical activity I engage in, it's all different.

Oh, and congratulations on quitting smoking. That is really a big one. It will make a big difference in your life. I personally consider quitting tobacco just as important to my health as quitting alcohol. Alcohol will kill you quicker, but tobacco just slowly grinds you into the dirt for decades, and changes the whole tone of your life, and brings you down, and makes your life less than it could be.

About the Freedom of Information Act: Alas, it only works on government agencies. We can force government bureaucracies to open their records because they are essentially owned by us, the taxpaying citizens.

But the FOI Act doesn't work on private corporations, or non-profits, or churches, or private individuals. They can keep all of the secrets that they want, and they do. There is even a special phrase in the law for them: Businesses can declare that something is a "trade secret", and they don't have to reveal it. Even in a court trial, a judge is required to make efforts to keep trade secrets confidential.

By the way, Scientology uses such language to keep their activities secret. They declare that practically everything is a big secret, and you can't hear about it unless you have paid $200,000 to have your brain audited, and get prepared to hear the big secrets.

If I remember correctly, the Australian Government investigated Scientology and decided to bar them from setting up shop in Australia. I know that they investigated the founder Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, and found him to be an insane paranoid schizophrenic with delusions of grandeur who claimed to have died and come back to life twice. And I seem to remember that the official report on Scientogy contained some harsh criticism like "fraud" and "robbery". I'm pretty sure that they outlawed Scientology in Australia.

Smart move. Unfortunately, things work a little differently here in America. You can get away with a lot of stuff if you call it your racket a religion. A lot of stuff. Like keeping secrets, and having several wives, or robbing, enslaving, and exploiting your followers, or dabbling in politics and raising funds for candidates.

The only two things that come to mind that you cannot do as a religion in America are:

  1. Take drugs
  2. Kill your children
The Indians are not even legally allowed to eat Peyote cactus as part of their religious ceremonies. Never mind the fact that white people were allowed to drink wine for communion during Prohibition; the Indians can't have their cactii. Likewise, Hippies were not allowed to have churches with psychedelic sacraments.

And then there is a local cult, right here in this city, fundamentalist "Followers of Christ", who kill one of their children every few years by refusing to take them to the doctor when they get sick. The followers only believe in healing by prayer and laying on of hands. Two such parents were just convicted of manslaughter, and the father got sentenced to two years in prison and the mother got probation (probably so that she could care for the surviving children). And then, just two months later, another two parents just got indicted for killing their kid. Some people just won't learn.

But other than that, here in the USA, you can do just about anything if you call your thing a religion or a church. Especially keep lots of secrets. So A.A. is in no danger of someone forcing open the door on those secret historical archives. (Oh and note that, while A.A. claims that it is not a religion, the lawyers for A.A. have claimed the protections of a religion when it suited their purposes. So they play it both ways.)

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some
**     things the general public does not need to know and
**     shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the
**     government can take legitimate steps to keep its
**     secrets, and when the press can decide whether to
**     print what it knows.
**       ==  Katharine Graham (now deceased owner of the
**         Washington Post) at a 1988 speech at CIA headquarters

Date: Thu, August 19, 2010 12:47 am     (answered 22 September 2010)
From: "Scott Campbell"
Subject: hostage taking? explained

Hey orange

Scotti again i was reading more letters (busy day at work hahaha!) and this one on letters page 180 stuck out

Date: Wed, July 7, 2010 11:38 am (answered 13 July 2010)
From: "Fred S"
Subject: hostage taking?

Hostage taking was explained to me that we come into the rooms broken and lonely so we latch onto people. it would apply to rehab romances as well, but generally it happens that some people are so happy to have new sober friends they become possessive / obsessive and push themselves or jump onto anybody that they can,

To my knowledge it does not refer to 13th stepping as such, more so rehab romances and newly sober friends/other newcomers.

Hope that helps fred out.

Have a ripper day boys !

Cheers scotti Campbell

Hi again, Scotti,

Thanks for the clarification.

And have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If misery loves company, misery has company enough.
**        ==  Henry David Thoreau, Journal, Sept. 1851

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Last updated 26 November 2014.
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