Letters, We Get Mail, XXI

[Thu, August 5, 2004, W.S. wrote:]
Subject: Wow!

Hello. I am absolutely amazed. What an incredible amount of work you have done. I have just begun to explore the site, and will continue to do so. I would suggest that you need to be more careful in your use of quotation marks. There are instances in which you enclose your interpretations of the thought processes of others, as you imagine or infer them, in quotes. This can be misleading to the less critical reader, and could be interpreted by the critical reader as an attempt to deceive.

Hi WS,

Thanks for the letter. I agree about the problem with such remarks. Unfortunately, there doesn't seem to be any 100% clear way to do it — nothing that I can think of. Sometimes I italicize such remarks, or print them in a different color, or enclose them in quotes, but none of those things guarantees that the remarks will be understood as interpretations.

When we speak, we often indicate such a mode change by changing the tone of our voice, or even mimicking the voice of another person. But that doesn't work in print.

I have the same problem with paraphrasing, too. I have had at least one reader complaining that my paraphrasing was not a literally correct quote. I don't know of any foolproof way to indicate the mode in which things are said.

I am 20 years sober, AA. For part of that time I was minimally active in AA, and found myself suffering from anger, depression, fear, jealousy, and "dysfunctional" personal relationships, and finally contemplating suicide, but I thought I'd get drunk first! Went to a meeting, and have since been active in the program.

Your arguments regarding the relationship between AA and the court system are right on target. My home group is an active one, we have 14 meetings a week, and so see many of the individuals who are sentenced to AA. There is currently an unspoken rule that anyone who wants their attendance sheet signed needs to be there for the majority of the meeting. I think that the general feeling is that we do have something to offer, and we want what we have to offer heard. But this is really a "policy" that flies in the face of the tradition that AA is not allied with any (etc.), and that AA is a program of attraction rather than promotion. I will suggest at the next business meeting that we tell those who have been "nudged by the judge" that we will sign before or after the meeting, whether they attend or not. I have a little problem with signing for times I didn't see them at the location, as that is a lie, right? Seems like the right way to do it to me.

As to the affiliation of AA with treatment centers ..... well you are right. Go to treatment, get sent to AA. My stepdaughter is a crack addict, sent to long term treatment, and was told that if she wanted to stay clean she needed to go to AA / NA. She didn't, and stayed sober about a month. She wasn't offered any other alternative (that I am aware of). I can tell you this: the only alternative she would have been comfortable with would have been one that told her that her problems were someone else's fault.

How long have you been sober? How's your sense of humor?

Thanks for all of the compliments. I've been sober for over 3 3/4 years now, 4 years in October. That includes being off of all drugs, and cigarettes too. Thank God I finally got free of that horrible nicotine addiction. (Free at last, free at last, Thank God Almighty I'm free at last.)

My sense of humor is pretty good. Sometimes I amuse myself by writing anti-A.A. jokes. See them here.

I noticed in one of your responses to an email that you admitted to the idea or sense of some sort of spirituality. Great. Keep your mind open.


Yes, it's hard to explain, but yes, I do believe in a "Higher Power" of the universe, some kind of universal superconsciousness. (Not "sub", "super".) I just don't believe in Santa Claus or Aladdin's Genie who will deliver miracles on demand.

I just wrote a vague something about spirituality in response to a previous letter, here.

Thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, August 5, 2004, 2nd letter from Web S.:]
Subject: Patty cake, patty cake, baker man,.....?

At one university, a bunch of doctors and professors were puzzling over the fact that all alcohol and drug rehabilitation programs seemed to have about the same rates of success and failure, no matter what the treatment was. All of the programs that they were studying had about a 93% failure rate (by their counting methods), which left about a 7% success rate. Those professors and doctors were trying to find what treatment methods worked best, and what would save the most lives, but with all of the treatment programs getting the same low scores, it didn't seem to matter what the treatment was.

So, for a scientific experiment with a wacky sense of humor, the doctors and professors designed a new treatment program for drugs and alcohol, and put it to the test. The treatment program consisted of getting a bunch of alcoholics and drug addicts together for a weekly meeting, which started with playing patty cake with each other. You know, the children's nursery rhyme where you pat your hands together:

Patty cake, patty cake, baker man,
Bake a cake as fast as you can...


Ah yes, you would ask about that. That is the single hardest-to-find reference in the whole web site.

I am relying on my own memory there. What I remember is, around 1989, I had two magazines in my hands that contained articles about alcoholism, recovery, and Alcoholics Anonymous. (Like so many other people, my battle with alcoholism has been a long one.) The first magazine was the Utne Reader, November-December 1988. The second one — I can't remember what it was, and am still looking for it. That magazine contained the patty-cake story. Computer searches have found nothing. The Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature has no listing for patty-cake. I went to the library and found that old issue of the Utne Reader, so my memory isn't totally blown, but I still haven't found that other magazine. I shall continue searching.

Incidentally, that copy of the Utne Reader is great. It's worth going to the library and finding it. The cover features Opus the Penguin from Bloom County at a Herringholics Anonymous meeting, saying, "Hi. My name is Opus. And I am a herringholic. I admit I am powerless over fish innards and that my life has become unmanageable..." The focus of the magazine is, "Are you Addicted to Addiction? A skeptical look at AA and other 12-step programs."

The magazine contains a bunch of articles by a variety of people, including Charles Bufe and Herbert Fingarette, and then the article in favor of A.A. is by an anonymous woman whose story reads like, "At first I didn't like A.A. and thought that the religious stuff was a bunch of nonsense. But corny and wierd as it was, I went back every week. I was desperate. I began consciously working the steps shortly after confessing my depression to my Al-Anon group. Finally I surrendered and was transformed and now I experience endless bliss, serenity, and gratitude. I keep coming back; it works." The story is a clear description of the process of conversion to a cult religion, not the process of quitting drinking or drugging.

Anyway, I shall continue to search for the source of that patty-cake story.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, August 4, 2004, Allen wrote:]

What is, in your opinion, the way to have one's spouse see AA for what it is, and to run as far and as fast as possible from these animals in humane costume.

The spouse above, my wife is (was?) well educated and bright — she has decided that her drinking was a problem, read midlife crisis, and her parents paid for her to attend Alcohol Treatment Program that has her converted in 45 days to AA Cult.

Is there a simple way for her to see AA is not "The Light And The Way."

She is starting to sound evangelical about AA.

I have been doing much reading including your site and science tells me my fears for my wife's mental health and our family's survival are real. I believe these people should be stopped — would love to have my wife see what they are and turn her intellect lose on them. What is the most sensible concise piece on AA.


Hi Allen,

The question of how to make people see the light is a tough one. It really depends on whether the person in question really wants to see the truth, or is already committed to believing in the cult.

If she is already over the edge, I would recommend Steve Hassan's book about how to get loved ones out of cults: Releasing the Bonds: Empowering People to Think for Themselves

But if she is still able to think for herself, you might try one of these three short files:

  1. The Twelve Biggest Secrets of A.A.
  2. The Twelve Biggest Lies of A.A.
  3. What's Not Good About A.A.?

Good luck, and have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, August 11, 2004, Rob G. wrote:]
Subject: spiritual not religious

You should really be ashamed of you self ,your have the nerve to bash a community organization that has helped over 2million alcoholics achieve sobriety , if you hate aa so much why do you so much time thinking about it?

The claim that A.A. has helped or "saved" 2 million people is a gross exaggeration, one without any basis in fact. That claim is just one of the standard A.A. lies. Even one of the members of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Inc., Prof. George E. Vaillant, who tried for 8 years to make A.A. look good in a test, had to report that A.A. had not accomplished anything good, and that in fact it had an "appalling" death rate.

Just because a cult manages to attract a bunch of people for a while does not mean that the cult saved them, or even "helped" them. Just ask the members of Jim Jones' People's Temple or the Heaven's Gate cult...

Read the file on The Effectiveness of the 12-Step Treatment if you want the truth about A.A.'s success rate in "helping" alcoholics.

Just because you see some sober people in a room or at a convention does not prove that the meeting made them get sober. A.A. routinely steals the credit for people's hard work to save their own lives.

And the reason why I have spent a lot of time on these web pages is because I have friends in recovery, and I didn't see anybody else telling the truth about some of these issues.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Date Thu, August 5, 2004 10:56 am
Subject re: your site

Hello Agent Orange.

i like your website/book. i am a graduate of over 16 rehabs at only 19 years old (total 2 years of in-time). ex-heroin and crack addict and what-have-you. anyway, while at rehab i was forced to go to twelve step meetings and found they were only effective if you wanted to meet fucked up chicks. anyway i found the meetings excruciating..all of these self-fulfilling, embarassingly opaque bromides spouted like gospel at frequent intervals.. i just couldnt let myself go to the point where i could allow that kind of bullshit to make sense to me and i cringed when i thought of the type of idiotically duped personality who would feel enlightened or connected when hearing such drivel. so i havent been to any meetings in two years.. and havent relapsed since i stopped going (i would relapse frequently when attending).. i now have a good job, whereas i used to live under a bridge by a canal.

my suggestion for you is that you should condense the most important/poignant/shocking elements of your book and convert them into easily digestible bites conforming to user-friendly document shaping guidlines (i.e. diamond shaped text blocks, paragraph breaks between unrelated sections) and display links to them prominently at the top of your webpage. even though the content is scintillating it is off-putting to be presented with so much information and links on one page. then separately allow people to download the text of the entire book or browse it online, as i dont think the internet is a good medium over which to read things in book format. and if the user, unfamiliar with the layout of the books and unable to glean enough information from the text of a link about the information it points to, the content of the site will be spread too thinly and important information will be overlooked by the majority of people who are browsing.

thanks, moe

Hi Moe,

Thanks for the letter.

I keep thinking about condensing some stuff for position papers or something. I like your ideas about layout. I'll have to work on that.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, August 11, 2004, Diana C.:]
Subject: Italian reader

Hi, Agent Orange,

I am your Italian reader, and big fan, and Italian promoter, from Rome. I just wanted to comment on a paragraph of your response to Ian, in Letters XV:

You said, "I had no good reason to use. I had not gone through anything emotionally jarring." That strikes me as one of the mysteries of addictions. Sometimes you don't get the standard list of reasons, like child abuse, sexual abuse, traumatic experiences, or poverty. Why should well-treated rich people's kids suddenly turn into hard-core addicts? And yet they do.

About mysteries. I guess my husband, who is an ex-heroin addict and an active alcoholic, is what you might call a "well treated rich people's kid" — but his addiction doesn't strike me as mysterious. Maybe we tend to see things as mysterious when we don't really look into them. When I first met him, he had just recovered from his heroin addiction. Anyway, he was feeling good, so it seemed, he was working and ready to commit himself in a marriage or something like it. He introduced me to his parents, and the whole atmosphere was so cool, and he kissed his mother on her cheek, and the mother had cooked a good lunch, and was smiling, and everyone looked happy and it really looked like the perfect family. The only problem is that I soon found out it was all fake, it was all pretense, it was like an act they would put up with each other and with anyone else. So, I enquired more about their family and background, and found no child abuse, no sexual abuse, no poverty — you are right — only crazymaking behaviours and soulmurdering techniques. As I kept asking my husband about his childhood and later addictions... I also found out he had always been living a double life — the perfect son and the perfect addict — and managed to keep them apart for many, many years, without his parents ever noticing anything strange. I had not read Laing or Bateson back then, but you did not have to be a genius to realize that these three people were eating bread and double-bind for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Now his father is dead, and we have lunch with his mother every given sunday. Frankly, after I spend a few hours with her, when she puts up her act and my husband and I have to comply, I feel a desperate need of a fix myself. Now one might say: see, but you don't go and drink a bottle of chianti like your husband, so it's genetic! Yet if you looked into my story and into my childhood, you wouldn't need to come up with genes and receptors to explain that... What I found out it's that trauma can be organized and stored in many different ways, in the mind and body of a child. So what worked for him as a child, to escape pain — pretend and get a fix — didn't work for me, as I had to defend myself from assaults of a different kind, in a different kind of environment.

Maybe this was inappropriate, but when I read the words "mysteries" and "genes" associated with addictions and self-destructive behaviours, I can't help feeling like a punch in my stomach. What's mysterious about it? Come with your genes and have lunch at my mother in law's!

I keep reading the documents on your site and stay your biggest fan and supporter, hoping this was not too out of line.



Hello again, Diana,

Thanks for another informative letter. Not too much out of line. I can really relate to the image of the family scene where it is all fake and pretend. That is just so common in alcoholics' families. The children pretend that everything is okay, because Daddy will get mad if somebody tells the truth about how things really are....

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Sun, August 15, 2004, Gary J. wrote:]
Subject Re: "The Heresy of the Twelve Steps"


I read the article, The Heresy of the Twelve Steps, online.

I am a recovering addict, as well as a non-denominational Minister.

I disagreed with your article for the reason that the 12 step programs, though they claim to have, and may or may not have a spiritual/christian origin, they have had a success in helping people address and stay clean from addictions over the 70-odd years they have existed that the 'church' in its 2000 year history cannot match.

Hi Gary,

Thanks for the letter. I must, however, dispute that statement. There is no evidence that A.A. has any such kind of a success rate. They have been lying about their success rate for more than 60 years, and have never achieved the kind of success you are talking about. Read this. A.A. is nothing more than a cult religion that passes itself off as a cure for alcoholism. And Narcotics Anonymous is the same thing.

I do agree with most of the statements in the article about how the 12 steps tend to deviate from 'standard' Christianity on many points. However, given that there are some 38,000 denominations (divisions) of Christianity, with all their 'isms' and 'schisms', all preaching and teaching something different from one another, it would seem to me that the 'Christian' churches with all their wildly conflicting (with other denominations) theories, concepts, opinions and traditions and doctrines about the Creator and how he relates to man can't poin't a finger at anyone and cry 'heresy'.

Baloney. That is an attempt to use the debating trick called Escape via Relativism "it's just one opinion versus another, and one opinion is just as good as any other opinion." Nonsense. That is just another way of saying that there is no truth, and nobody is right, and nobody is wrong.

Just take the dozen largest Christian churches, like the Catholics, the Lutherans, the Church of England, the Episcopalians, the Baptists, the Methodists, and six more of the largest churches, and you will get a fair standard for just what constitutes mainstream Christianity. You can ignore the other 37,988 sects and splinter groups. Just because someone hangs a cross on the wall and attracts a few hundred followers does not automatically make him an authority on Christianity, empowered to redefine Christian theology at will.

If the Christian church is/was/could be successful at addressing addiction/recovery, then there would be no need for AA, NA, and the other 12-step organizations. The fact that they exist and succeed where the church has not is a pointed reminder that, on this matter, in most cases, the Church has just plain failed!

Sorry, but that is bad logic. Just because standard-brand Christianity does not supply an easy answer to alcoholism or drug addictions does not make 12-step cults into good organizations. There is no need for another cult.

Also, the purpose of churches and religions is not to treat alcohol misuse or drug addictions. It isn't their job. You are mixing apples and oranges. You might as well complain that the churches have also failed to supply us with cheap gasoline or fix global warming.

That whole rap is just a game of spiritual one-up-manship, claiming that A.A. is a better religion than the others. That is the standard cult behavior of Denigration of competing sects, cults, or religions.

I beleive from my own personal attendance and experience with these programs, and experience in starting and operating a halfway house program for those new in recovery, that the 12 steps, though they may or may not be doctrinally flawed in some people's point of view, work.

Actually, all of the real evidence says that they do not work. Just because you see some people recovering does not prove that the 12-Step meetings caused the recovery. Again, it is just like this:

  1. A bunch of people went to a Baptist church for years.
  2. During those years, many of the women got pregnant and had babies.
  3. That proves it: Going to Baptist churches causes women to get pregnant and have babies.

The real reason why people recover from alcoholism and/or drug addictions is because they get sick and tired of being sick and tired, and decide to quit wrecking their health and killing themselves.

I also beleive, and it was reflected in the policies of my halfway houses, that regular attendance and participation at a good church is just as vital to long-term recovery as attending the 12 step program meetings.

Again, I would challenge that, and say that committment to sobriety is what is required, not the meetings of a cult religion. You are being confused by appearances — the people who really wanted to recover and get their lives straightened out went along with the religious 12-step program that was shoved on them, because they had been fooled into believing that it was somehow necessary for sobriety. (That's what the cult keeps telling them.) The people who decided to go get high didn't bother with the 12-step meetings.

So you actually have the logic exactly backwards:
Sobriety causes people to go to 12-step meetings, and drinking and doping causes people to go back to the bars for more booze, or over to the dope dealer's house...

Further more, I beleive that ultimately, on the highest sptritual level, there is no conflict between the 12 steps and the core so-called Christian beleifs.

You've got to be joking. You just stated up above that you had to agree with most of my statements that the 12-step theology departs from standard Christian philosophy, and now you don't see any conflicts? There are immense conflicts. Alcoholics Anonymous is just Frank Buchman's crazy cult religion with a new coat of paint on it, and Buchmanism was decidedly unChristian, and the contemporary ministers and priests said so, loud and clear. The Catholic Church even banned Frank Buchman's organization.

I did enjoy your article, and though I do not entirely agree with it, I found it to be both well researched and educational.

Respectfully yours,

(Dr.) Gary J.

Oh well, thanks for the letter, and have a good day anyway. And good luck on your recovery.

== Orange

[Sun, August 15, 2004, Jerry B. of Ohio wrote:]
Subject: THANK YOU!

I just wanted to take a minute to say thanks for reaffirming everything I ever felt about twelve-step bowel movements. I was stupid enough to get sucked into AA/NA about twelve years ago, and I was never so miserable in my life.

Something just didn't feel right about it from the beginning, and naive me bit the bait to keep going back. In retrospect, I had less esteem at the end of it than when I walked in. It just seemed like it was misery perpetuated. Emotional beatdown was the order of the day, and nobody ever really seemed that happy, resigned to a life of dredging up character defects, real and/or imagined through inventory taking of the elders. Then magically, Santa would show up and I would get laid, have a lot of money, and have respect the world over. At the time, I worked in radio, and it wasn't even thirty days before my anonymity got smoked and was being asked for t-shirts and Van Halen tickets.

Turns out I have bipolar disorder. The whole thing about not taking meds really hit home, as I really thought there was something else going on, and was discouraged by the deacons, as the "our way is best" was the thing. What hurt even more is that nobody was even astute enough to see that I may have been suffering with it to point it out.

Anyway, I recently met a woman who has been sober in AA for twelve years. I thought at first that it might have been my jaundiced view coloring my picture of AA, but she brought it all back home. She worried that I was an alcoholic because I like to go have a few beers every now and then. It got ugly because she has such low self-esteem due to the beating down and programming instilled in her. She constantly lamented how she could not differentiate between fact and fantasy. Basically, she has such low self-esteem because she can't handle the fact that a nice guy likes her. Her previous relationships have been stellar. Men with lots of years in the program who manipulate and treat her poorly. She constantly did inventories, a nice way to constantly focus on what's bad in her life. She broke it off because she felt emotionally unequipped, and during the discussion, she told me that she had a spiritual rebirth because of it. She was less than pleased when I asked her which step gives rebirth after treating somebody like shit.

So, thanks again for your article. I definitely needed that.

Jerry B.

Hi Jerry,

Thanks for the thanks, and glad to hear that you are feeling better.

Now what's it going to take to make that woman feel better?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Thu, August 12, 2004, Robert M. wrote:]
Subject: Quick question

Hi. I came across your website sort of by accident, and I have to admit that you've done a (technically, if not factually) impressive job putting this site together. My question is: why are you spending so much time and effort trying to put down AA (or any 12 step programs it seems)? Were you once in AA or what? I felt the same way you seem to when I first came to AA, and eventually it has saved my life. But even if it hadn't, I would just have left and called it quits. I don't understand the effort you seem to put in, unless you have some resentment about it.

Hi Robert,

Ah yes, typical stepper language — "have a resentment". As if that explains everything there is to know about the mind and motivations of a stereotypical alcoholic. If he has a resentment, then you don't need to concern yourself with what he is actually saying. You can safely ignore that because Bill Wilson wrote that you are axiomatically spiritually wrong if you get disturbed, right? (That is a variation on the propaganda and debating trick of ad hominem — just find fault with the messenger, and ignore the message.)

When you say that you "felt the same way ... when I first came to AA", but eventually you became a believer, and came to believe that it "saved your life", do you realize how chilling that sounds to the rest of us? You are describing the process of religious conversion or brainwashing.

They changed your thinking and convinced you that they had saved your life (so now you owe them your life). But you are the one who quit drinking. You saved your own life. Nobody but you holds your hand every Friday night, and nobody keeps you from drinking but you. You now choose not to drink alcohol, and that is your choice, and you deserve the credit for your recovery, not some cult. Congratulations on your sobriety.

The answer of why put so much work into it is simple: If it is worth doing, it is worth doing right. And it is worth doing right because I have friends in recovery, and I am in the "recovery community", and I see a real need for somebody to tell the truth about the nutty stuff that is going on in the name of drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

The steps are really just common sense, and are nothing new to 12 step programs. I'm getting more and more into Buddhism, and am surprised how similar some of the ideas are.

Sorry, but the 12 Steps are a set of practices for converting people into true believers in a cult religion. There is nothing common-sensical about them. They were developed by the fascist cult leader Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman and his Oxford Groups cult back in the nineteen-twenties and -thirties, and Bill Wilson simply copied them when he set up his own cult after he got kicked out of the Oxford Groups. The 12 Steps don't even mention sobriety or recovery, do they? They are all about confessions and guilt induction and surrendering to the cult, and inducing feelings of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency.

There is no similarity between the teachings of Frank Buchman, or his practices which are embodied in the 12 Steps, and the teachings of Gautama the Buddha. Buddha taught people to be moral and responsible for their own actions. He never said that you were powerless over alcohol, so you should surrender your will to a "higher power" or a religious cult or a bedpan. Buddha also never taught people to expect a "Higher Power" to grant wishes and deliver miracles on demand:

  • 2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
  • 3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
  • 7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

Buddha never taught that "God" is like Santa Claus or Aladdin's Genie — a Being who will bring the goodies if the children are good and please Him by performing the right rituals (like confession).

Buddha never taught that "Higher Power" would take care of your will and your life for you just because you "surrendered" and "Turned It Over".

And Buddha never taught that God is a fascist dictator who demands that you follow his orders every day or else He will kill you with alcoholism:

  • 11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.

"Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world..."
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Working With Others, page 100.

We are not cured of alcoholism. What we really have is a daily reprieve contingent on the maintenance of our spiritual condition. Every day is a day when we must carry the vision of God's will into all of our activities.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, page 85.

Unless each A.A. member follows to the best of his ability our suggested [Bill Wilson's required] Twelve Steps to recovery, he almost certainly signs his own death warrant. His drunkenness and dissolution are not penalties inflicted by people in authority; they result from his personal disobedience to spiritual principles [Bill Wilson's cult religion practices].
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 174.

In A.A. there is active still another form of association, a form of which the world is today in great doubt. It has its virtues, nevertheless, especially for us of Alcoholics Anonymous: I am speaking of dictatorship. In A.A. we have two dictators, and we profit and grow through both. One is John Barleycorn, who is never very far from the elbow of each of us. The other is the Father of Lights, who presides over all men. God is saying to us, "Learn my will and do it." And John Barleycorn is saying to each of us, "You had better do God's will or I will kill you!"
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age William G. Wilson (1957), page 225.

And Bill Wilson's long-time secretary Nell Wing quoted him as saying:

Then, too we have a dictatorship — and how! God constantly says to us, 'I trust you will find and do my will.' John Barleycorn, always at our elbow, says, 'If you don't conform, I'll kill you or drive you mad.' So we have all the advantages and more, of the modern dictatorship.
Bill Wilson, quoted in Grateful To Have Been There, Nell Wing, page 22.

Frank Buchman's religion and Bill Wilson's interpretation of it resembles selling your soul to the Devil in trade for sobriety a lot more than it resembles Buddhism.

I'm not criticizing or anything, just curious as to the motive for investing so much energy into this effort. Thanks.

Robert M., RN
Clinical Informatics Coordinator
Nursing Research & Development

For more on the answer to "why?", read the introduction, and also this bait-and-switch trick, and also this for a little more information about "why?".

Thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

== Orange

[2nd letter from Bob:]

Date Tue, October 19, 2004 11:14 am
Subject RE: Quick question

Thanks for your response; still don't quite understand your motives, but I hope you find what you need whatever way you choose. The 12 steps (once I took all the religion-which I grant was probably in them originally- out of them) have certainly worked for me, and I'm as close to an atheist as you can get. Anyway, keep up the good work; everybody needs a "mission" and I certainly admire your energy.


Hi again, Bob,

Actually, this isn't really a "mission", more like a hobby. For the last 6 months I've been concentrating on the history of the Oxford Group, having fun finding accounts of Frank Buchman at the Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies...

My big mission in life at this moment is to improve my guitar playing.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, August 12, 2004, Jess wrote:]

great info! thanks!

Hi Jess,

Thanks for the thanks, and have a good day.

== Orange

[Fri, August 13, 2004, S.A.H. wrote:]

you clearly do not know what you are talking about. keep ranting though it is your privledge.


Would you care to be specific about what it is that I don't know?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Mon, August 16, 2004, Kat H. wrote:]
Subject: oh boy

Dear Orange,

My my what a resentment! To put so much energy into disparaging something that has been cited as one of the greatest testaments to the last centuary.

Hi Kat,

Congratulations. You started off with seven propaganda tricks in just your first two sentences. That is an unusual accomplishment:

  1. Sarcasm and Condescension, and
  2. Ad Hominem too:
    "My my what a resentment!"
    You imagine that "having a resentment" automatically makes somebody wrong. But it doesn't, in spite of the sermons of Bill Wilson.
    • Would you just smile gratefully while a quack doctor poisoned one of your children with voodoo medicine, because you didn't want somebody to think that you "had a resentment"?
    • Do you imagine that it is wrong for me to object to friends getting fed misinformation and cult religion in the place of medical treatment for addictions?

  3. Use of the Passive Voice: Something 'was done' by some invisible, unnamed people: "...has been cited as ... greatest..."
    Has been cited by whom? Who are they? What do they know? How honest are they?

    I can easily reverse that trick and say, "Alcoholics Anonymous has been criticized for being completely ineffective." (Should I also say that the critics are some of the most knowledgeable people in the field of alcoholism treatment?)

  4. The Big Lie, as well as
  5. Gross Exaggeration and
  6. Unsupported Claims, and
  7. Vague, Undefined, Grandiose Language:
    A.A. is "one of the greatest testaments to the last centuary." [sic. sp.]
    What is that supposed to mean, really?
    What on earth is a "testament to a century?"
    Do you have any good evidence or facts to back up such a grandiose claim?
    For 60 years, A.A. promoters have been bragging that A.A. is the greatest thing, based on no actual facts at all. That is the Big Lie.

God only knows how much peace and serenity you have gained by making this your mission but I'm sure if you directed your god given intelligence into something more creative and life giving that you would experience the promises that god has given us through the twelve steps.

Okay. That is the clever use of some more propaganda tricks:

  1. Sarcasm and Condescension, again:
    "God only knows how much peace and serenity you have gained by making this your mission..."

  2. Petitio Principii, Assume Facts Not In Evidence:
    "...I'm sure if you directed your god given intelligence into something more creative and life giving..."
    Who says that telling the truth about alcoholism, recovery, and Alcoholics Anonymous is not creative and life-giving? I get emails from people who say that it did help them in their recovery...

  3. Assume Facts Not In Evidence, again:
    "the promises that god has given us through the twelve steps..."
    God did not give us anything in the Twelve Steps.
    Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman gave us a strange, twisted fascist religion — the Oxford Groups — in those cult practices that he developed, and then William G. Wilson simply copied the entire cult and made it his own. The Twelve Steps are nothing but Buchmanism. Even Bill Wilson said so.

  4. Association, also known as The Glittering Generality, and
  5. Wrap Yourself In A Higher Power:
    • "God knows..."
    • "peace and serenity..."
    • "creative and life giving..."
    • "...the promises that god has given us..."

I have experienced nothing but a sense of self and personal freedom through working the steps and being an active member of AA in meetings and service. This has made me a productive human being and able to widen my personal circle to others outside of meetings. I wish you all the best and will pray for you, this is not an empty statement, nor is laced with sarcasm or superiority.

  1. Not laced with sarcasm or superiority? Baloney. Just look at how you began your letter with sarcasm and condescending put-downs. You're full of it.

    So that is an example of the propaganda trick of Minimization and Denial, as well as Reversal of Reality --

    • "I'm not being sarcastic, no, not me."
    • "I'm not being superior, even though I receive promises and gifts from God, and you don't get any — so there!"

  2. And of course you are just overflowing with the Glittering Generality, all of those flowery words.

  3. And then you will pray for me. Not condescending and superior?

  4. You are also trying to use the propaganda techniques of Proof By Anecdote and Testimonials and Stories. You offer your personal story as "proof" that the Twelve Steps and A.A. actually work great.

  5. You are also using Confusion of Correlation and Causation. You declare that because you are enjoying life, the Twelve-Step program is responsible for it. How do you know that your current happiness was not caused by your decision to quit drinking alcohol, and quit wrecking your health?

    It is quitting drinking that does the magic, not the 12 Steps.
    Would you still be healthy and happy if you were guzzling whiskey by the fifth every day, while faithfully doing the 12 Steps?
    Of course not.

The human language is a wonderfully pliable tool as is the bible and many words mean many different things, you have mastered these tools with a great deal of skill, good luck in finding the truth beneath the politics.

sober today and loving life

Actually, Kat, you have done a pretty darned good job of learning how to bend language to your own ends, too. Just look at all of the propaganda tricks you have used in your letter.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[2nd letter from Kat:]

Date Tue, October 19, 2004 3:08 pm
Subject Re: oh boy

Dear Orange,

I'm am truly sorry that you took what I said 'loaded with sarcasm, superiority etc' I actually did not have that in my heart or mind when I wrote to you but as I know with texting, and emailing it is hard not to read into something without any tone or inflection.

I know what I know because I've lived it both inside and outside the AA rooms. I spent 18 months doing it my way after 7 years in AA and all I can say is that for me, it doesn't work. I'm sure you will recieve plenty of support from professionals and individuals supporting you in you quest. There are always sceptics and people that benefit from the failure of something beyond their control, especially ones they can't charge for. . My concern is that someone who needs AA, someone for whom AA would open the doors of a healing journey so that they feel they can rejoin the human race again, might find your website first and die without a chance at a life.

AA may not be the answer for everyone, one of my friends in Cairns works in a rehab and does not subscribe to the 12 steps, we are still good friends and he has sent some people to me tht he would rather back over with his 4x4, some of them stay, some of them go, but I have yet to see someone who's gone back out from AA and come back in with news of a better way, and lets face facts AA is usually the last stop for people after shrinks, doctors, numerous tests and alternative therapies.

Thank you for you reply, and I will still pray for you, I'm saying that with a bit of a smile on my face cause I imagine the first time you heard tht from me it touched a nerve.

Have to go start study now am running on relationship breakup anger and I'm getting shite loads of work done, must keep tapping into this for the next couple of months, till graduation.

God bless

Hi Kat,

Thanks for the response. Sorry to take so long to answer.

Look at the slogans and twisted thinking that they are teaching you: "I spent 18 months doing it my way after 7 years in AA and all I can say is that for me, it doesn't work."

Drinking isn't "doing it your way". Alcoholics Anonymous has poisoned you with self-contempt, and made you doubt your own mind, and your own inner virtue. That is the standard cult characteristics
67. Don't Trust Your Own Mind, and
11. Insistence that the cult is THE ONLY WAY., and
84. You can't make it without the cult., and
13. Induction of guilt, and the use of guilt to manipulate cult members, and
43. Create a sense of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency, and
2. You are always wrong.

If you relapsed, it was because you started believing the yammering of the stupid little lizard brain who was grumbling about wanting to feel good, and insisting that having just one, or just a few, was quite okay. That was doing it his way, not your way. Check out that link.

Remember that the lizard brain is not you. It's just the walnut-sized brain of a dumb lizard who lived 60 million years ago, just a moronic thirsty little toad who cannot understand that getting drunk on ethyl alcohol may feel good tonight, but it will have very bad side effects after a while.

The way that I stay sober is by recognizing the mind games that lizard brain tries to pull on me, and telling him to get lost.

You know what? I am doing it my way. I mean really. "My way", my ideals, what I have always wanted to be, is unaddicted and clean and clear-headed and on a spiritual high. Even while I smoked like a chimney for 30 years, and drank like a fish for 15 years, my way, what I really wanted to be, was unaddicted. And that is where I have finally ended up. So doing it "my way" is really okay.

Then you bring up a big important issue when you say, "A.A. isn't for everybody." Well who is it for? Who decides who will get forced into the meetings of the A.A. cult religion, for their own good?

The U.S. Constitution says that NOBODY can get forced into a religion, but it happens every day in drug courts and traffic courts.

Besides, considering the staggeringly high death rate and failure rate of A.A., how can it really be good to send anybody to A.A.?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Date Tue, August 17, 2004 9:45 am
Subject Oh Yeah

Forced to go AA when 17. Too well educated at 17 to buy the line.

Run a google search on THIQ and UAB.

These sites might be informative as to recent analysis of "natural cure" — quitting on your own, and "disease" — genetic aberrance in enzyme system effect of which is not life long but can be made life long by drinking.

I still go to AA and I tell everyone I know about this site.

B H.

Hi. Thanks for the tip and support. Am checking those references.

And have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, August 19, 2004, Kevyn wrote:]
Subject: Penn & Teller: Bullshit! AA

Don't know if you know about this or not, but Penn & Teller are taking on AA this week on their Showtime series, "Bullshit!"

There's even a video clip on their website:


that features an interesting statistic: AA's 5% success rate, the same success rate of people doing it on their own.

Now where have I seen that statistic before... hmmm? Oh yeah! On Agent Orange's website!

Word's getting out...

Hi Kevyn,

Thanks for the heads-up. That should be interesting.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Fri, August 20, 2004, Gabi P. wrote:]
Subject: aa

why so biiter against aa?

This is getting repetitious, but once again, try reading these: the introduction, and also this bait-and-switch trick, and also this.

And then I think I would have to say that I find it utterly contemptable, as well as criminal, for somebody to foist quack medicine on sick people while proclaiming that it is the best treatment in the world, and charging accordingly (like $15,000 for 28 days at Hazelden or the Betty Ford Clinic).

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Sun, August 22, 2004, Dick B. wrote:]
Subject: It's getting better and better

Far be it from me to claim we agree on everything you say, but I think the Orange papers do a great service. More and more you are being specific about the known history. More and more you are citing topical writings and works. More and more you have moved in on the aberrations which flowed from Bill's said origins as an atheist, non-Bible student, non-church goer, and not always quite "with it" with his depressions, spiritualism, money-grabbing, new thought meanderings, affinity to William James's strange 'higher powers," LSD promotions, womanizing, unwillingness to concede what really went on in Akron A.A., picking up universalism, book sales, and "spirituality" as his primary object, and ignoring his own original strength and zeal as a one-on-one helper of drunks.

Hi Dick,

Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for the thanks.

Incidentally, I hope you had the joy of viewing Penn & Teller's program a day or two ago which came closer to an accurate appraisal of today's A.A. than written, or claimed.

Alas, I missed it. Perhaps somebody taped it, or even better, grabbed it with their computer and made an MPEG movie out of it.

Dick B.

There's a really simple solution that worked in the 1930's and can work today: (1) Abstain. (2) Resist temptation. (3) Acquire better principles of living. (4) Seek God's help. (5) Hang out with like-minded people. (6) Keep busy with worthwhile projects. (7) Get enthused about helping other drunks and addicts out of their despair and self-destruction.

Thanks and have a good day.

== Orange

[Tue, August 24, 2004, Gary G. wrote:]
Subject: CULT

My opinion is that you think you know us. This fellowship is not Bill Wilson. Its is a multitude of me's and you dont even know me.

Hi Gary,

You are simply trying to dodge the issues. When people are sentenced to A.A. by the judge, they are not sent to you personally, they are sent to Alcoholics Anonymous The Organization. The same goes for people who seek treatment for alcoholism, only to get sent to A.A. meetings, or N.A. meetings for other substance misuse problems. (I speak from experience, so I do know something about those meetings and "the multitude of you's".) So it is about A.A. and N.A., not you.

In addition, have you *ever* stood up in an A.A. meeting and announced that, since Bill Wilson was a lunatic, we should all just ignore the first 164 pages of the Big Book, and develop some new ideas about recovery that are based on sanity and common sense? I think not. Have you ever openly declared that the Twelve Steps are bunkum, bilge, and flapdoodle? I think not.

So you are trying to have it both ways. When I criticize the insanity of Bill Wilson's proclamations, you respond that Bill isn't A.A.. But when I'm not looking, you will go back to praising Bill Wilson and his program, and declaring that he created the greatest organization for recovery in the world, a path that leads to God, etc... And you will begin every meeting by reading the Twelve Steps out loud and saying "These are the Steps that we took", won't you?

What appears obvious is you. Pretty "base brain" feeding that ego of yours. I would apologize for the last two lines but something tells me you're going to respond to this OPINION, hence adding credibility.

Actually, I'm having a hard time responding to that, because it is incomprehensible gibberish. Are you trying to declare that I am just on an ego trip? If so, you are doing a poor job of it.

When I quote all of the doctors who have found that A.A. is a failure as a treatment program for alcoholism, that isn't ego. That's facts.

If I were really interested in ego and self-aggrandizement, I would at least use my real name so that I would get the credit, like how Bill Wilson did.


Now that is an attempt to use the propaganda trick of Escape Via Relativism "It's just one opinion versus another; nobody is right and nobody is wrong because we don't know the real truth, etc...."
Not so. We really do know some things for sure:

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Tue, August 24, 2004, Martin R. wrote:]
Subject: Interesting

I have read your piece with great interest. Without being rude i.e. I am being rude who are you? are u an academic or just a regular guy whatever that may be.

Hi Martin,

The question isn't rude. I am pretty much "just another guy". I am not an academic, although I have excellent credentials: I dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley in 1966 when I changed my major from Biology to LSD.

Anyway thank you for raising the veil on the 12 step tradition which has unfortunately gripped psychiatry in the US and currently duping psychiatry in the UK.

Thanks for the thanks, and have a good day.

== Orange

[Wed, 25 Aug 2004, G. Steve wrote:]
Subject: comfort

Dear Agent,

In the past few weeks I have been spending hours of time searching for different perspectives and opinions concerning the negative aspects of AA. I've read several of your articles and have taken comfort from them because of my terrible need for "Deprogramming." When time permits I will write to you and try to describe some of what has happened to me — which I'm quite confident will reinforce the views you have documented. For now I feel obligated to tell you that knowing that there are others that feel the way I do has been a tremendous help to me. I have experienced loneliness as a result of choosing to leave AA and the "Fellowship" as most of the people that I've known for many years were met there. Even though I was a very likable and generous fellow, once I walked away I was labeled some kind of monster.

Hi Steve,

Thanks for the letter.

That shunning of splitters and dropouts is, unfortunately, just classic cult behavior. They fear dropouts — they fear that it might be contagious. See Scapegoating and Excommunication and Enemy-making and Devaluing the Outsider. That is one of the things that I really dislike about cults: They often make otherwise-okay people act like cads and jerks and regular ass-holes.

I have been sober for over a year now after getting drunk again and have had a lot of sober time before this as well.... But this time I have not attended AA meetings or had anything to do with the "Program." In this past year I have managed to become employed and was recently promoted to Operations Manager overseeing the company that I work for, gotten on top of my finances, furnished a modest apartment very comfortably, made a few "normie" friends, have repaired the relationship with my family, began lifting weights again...and so on. My life is becoming very calm and a s???re and very much free of conflict or shame.

Congratulations on your sobriety.

I could probably write a book on the betrayal and abusiveness I've come to know in AA but for now I just want to thank you for your honesty, your teaching me to say "have a nice day anyway" and your intelligent writing and perspective. You have obviously put a tremendous amount of time and thought into your work and I want you to know it has not been without social benefit. Please don't stop what you're doing and let me know what I can do to assist you in any way. I have developed a sincere respect for you and truly owe you thanks.

Yours Truly,

PS: If you could, please let me know other resources that you may find helpful to my "Reprogramming" It would be greatly appreciated and welcome. Love and Comfort to you A Orange

Thanks for all of the compliments.

See the new page of links for a list of most of the good web sites and resources that I know about.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Fri, 09 Jul 2004, Drew wrote:]

Did yahoo ever give you an explanation as to why your web page was shut down?


Hi Drew,

Not really. Yahoo Geocities just sent a form letter that suggested that I review the user agreement. I am left to guess that they must have considered something that I said "controversial", and that perhaps a true-believer stepper cried that he or she was "offended" by something that I said.

Apparently, Yahoo does not allow people to tell the truth if it is offensive to somebody.

Funny how some people will exploit American freedom (like the Internet and freedom of speech) to make a billion dollars, and then once they get theirs, they want to take that freedom away from other people.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Much later, April 2007:
That is doubly true now that Yahoo is helping to censor the Internet for Communist China.

[Fri, 23 Jul 2004, Helena wrote:]

Dear agent orange...

you are so right about AA, it fosters dependency and if you don't adhere to the group's expectations you are shunned. They don't want to free thinkers... Just a bunch of people clinging to each other with clichés....

thank you for your work

Hi, Helena,

Thanks for the thanks, and have a good day.

== Orange

[Mon, 26 Jul 2004, Todd S. wrote:]

Dear Mr. or Ms. Whomeveryouare:

Let me begin by stating that A.A. saved my life. That is, without A.A., there probably wouldn't have been a beckoning, attractive and "humane" rehabilitation center for me to check myself into in the year 2000 — and without that rehabilitation center — I most likely would have continued to smoke crack until I died. A.A. afforded me the ultimate prize: Life. That is, A.A. allowed me to take a breather — it allowed me to put down the crackpipe for a moment — stay alive — and regain my faculties. A.A also introduced me to the idea/fact that I am not alone — that I am not the only one fighting the ills of addiction. I can't begin to tell you how much meeting and interacting with fellow addicts and alcoholics has helped my psyche'. A.A. also lead me to God. I believe that God lead me (a former agnostic, who always leaned towards the idea of a God) to A.A. and A.A. lead me to God.

With that said, and in as much as A.A., indeed, did save my life, I can now tell you that I no longer attend A.A. services. I could go on, "infinitum" as to my decision — but it would be redundant — as most of my reasons have been cited by you on your web-site.

The reason I am writing is to ask you this:

How much is A.A. currently making on their books? (I haven't been able to find a figure on the Internet)

Their set-up is unbelievable. "......Cunning and baffling.....". A baffling amount of money being made by cunning (semi-well intentioned) charlatans.

I look forward to your reply.


Hi Todd,

Thanks for the letter.

Honestly, I think you are giving credit to A.A. where credit is not due. It is great that you got a "beckoning, attractive and 'humane' rehabilitation center" to detox in, but A.A. is not responsible for that. That treatment center would have been there anyway, no matter who dominated the field of alcoholism treatment. And the treatment might have been better.

If history had been different, we might have the Keeley League, or the Women's Chistian Temperance Union, or The Washingtonian Movement, or the Salvation Army, or Keswick, or the Emmanuel Clinic, or any of several other groups, dominating the field of drug addiction and alcoholism treatment and running the treatment centers. And we might be a lot better off, as a result, too.

A.A. routinely claims that they single-handedly invented the field of the treatment of alcoholism and addictions, but nothing could be further from the truth. All that Bill Wilson did was claim the credit for the work of other people. Basically everything that is good about Alcoholics Anonymous was stolen from somebody else. See my short write-up about the history of other, earlier, alcoholism recovery organizations or "movements" here.

Now, about the money from the Big Book:
It is hard to get exact numbers because the A.A. headquarters does not like to release financial information to the public. The GSO (General Service Office) is, however, required to file some documents with the IRS in order to keep their non-profit status, so we can piece together some numbers.

They rake in a few million here, and a few million there. According to their 2002 financial statement, they had $6 million in the bank, just a comfortable little reserve, down from $10 million in 1998.

I hear that in 2000, the book sales income was about $9.7 million (profit $6.6 mil), and contributions were $4.5 million. Total operating expenses (above direct costs of publication) were $10.7 million.

Also, the American A.A. headquarters — A.A.W.S. — Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. — collects "royalties" for the out-of-copyright Big Book from many foreign countries, and even committed perjury in courts in Mexico and Germany and got A.A. members sentenced to prison to protect that income. The copyright on the Big Book is invalid, null and void for several reasons, but that isn't what the A.A.W.S. representatives told the judges in those foreign courts. (Because the copyright is invalid, you can download your own copies of the Big Book over the Internet for free, here.)

But above all, when discussing the finances of A.A., remember that A.A. is a funny organization — sort of like a loose confederation. It has many branches, front groups and subsidiaries that are not legally connected. They are connected only by a common desire to promote the 12-Step religion. (Although they may have financial connections, like Hazelden being the biggest reseller of the publications of A.A.W.S..)

The big money does not go to the A.A. headquarters in New York, it remains one level down in the pyramid, in the hands of the front groups and promoters like the Hazelden Foundation and the Betty Ford Clinic, entities that charge $15,000 or more for a 28-day-long A.A. meeting. That is a lot more money than they will ever make from selling a $6 book to somebody.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, 18 Aug 2004, Steve K. wrote:]

dear agent orange,

I am an addiction trained psychiatrist that was sent by a state run impaired physicians prog to a 12 step oriented rehab with a special program for health care professionals for treatment for my addiction. After 11 wks of so called treatment and approx $30,000 out of pocket expense I decided to leave the prog AMA when they recommended that I be transferred to another facility for long term (9-12 months) care.

This recommendation was made after I relapsed during my 3rd weekend home visit. In retrospect I believe I was set up to relapse altho ultimately I'm the one who did pick up and no one forced me to use. I was told that I was "very compliant but had not surrendered"

I just came across your interesting and illuminating web site today but have been aware of Peele's website 2-3 yrs. I did successfully avoid 12 step coercion for the past 3 yrs until recently when my medical license was at stake

Now I am fearful of losing my government position and medical license and find myself obsessively reading as much sensible anti-AA web material as I can find. My guess is that my whole experience may be headed toward our judicial system.

I'm wondering if you know of any folks who have had similiar licensing problems and if you have any advice

Hi Steve,

I hear about such cases, but do not know any names just off-hand.

Check out:

Also as I'm telling you all of this I am wondering who you are and what is your background. Obviously you are a bright and articulate person who has done a lot of work on this subject


Thanks for the complements. About who I am, see this previous response.

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Tue, August 24, 2004, Eva P. wrote:]
Subject: your site

Hi, I am totally impressed with the enormous amount of effort you've put into that site, In fact it makes me wonder which of the 12 step groups it is you are convincing yourself with all this that you don't need.

All the best

Hi Eva,

That is the logical fallacy of making false assumptions — Assuming facts not in evidence.

If you wrote an essay warning people about the poisonous effects of Reverend Jim Jones' cyanide koolaid, would you be trying to convince yourself that you didn't need Jim Jones' People's Temple church?

Your remarks are also a pretty obvious put-down, just another ad hominem "You are just trying to convince yourself that you don't need A.A., so I can safely ignore everything you have said."

Have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Wed, August 25, 2004, Corinne wrote:]
Subject fear

you went to alot of work to "try" to make AA into something it is not. What are u so afraid of?

Hi Corinne,

Would you care to be specific? What do you think I have made A.A. into that it is not?

Have a good day.

== Orange

[Thu, August 26, 2004, Rod W. wrote:]

Mr. O

Loved your AA website. I just finished watching Penn & Teller give us a good bashing on Showtime — wonderful stuff. It is sorta a cult, and I'm kind of a member (13 years). But why don't they want my money like other cults? $1 an hour? Not exactly a get rich quick scheme. And as for the courts sending us new recruits... who needs 'em. You take 'em. Do keep up the good work. Don't want to hang with the kind of crybabies who cater to your spin anyhow. Humorless.

Rod W.

Hi Rod,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments (even if some of them were back-handed).

About the money — Not all cults are obsessed with making money. Most of them are, but not all.

In general, most cults spend most of their time on two major activities:

  1. making money
  2. recruiting and indoctrinating new members

"Most cults" means "more than 50 percent of them".

But being money-grubbing is not a universal characteristic of all cults. That is why the money question is only one of a hundred cult characteristics in the cult test. There is a lot more to the definition of a cult than just being obsessed with making money.

When we think of the money-grubbers, names like Scientology, the Moonies, Jim Jones's People's Temple, and the Hari Krishnas immediately come to mind. But then we have seen some other really deadly cults like

— who were not particularly interested in money. They just made enough to get by on. Their big interest was in other things, like dying and going to Heaven.

The street variety of A.A. is also one of the cults that is not interested in making money. They just want your will and your life (that's Step Three).

Institutional A.A. (Hazelden, The Betty Ford Clinic, etc.), on the other hand, where they charge $15,000 or more for a 28-day course of indoctrination in the 12 Steps, is extremely money-grubbing. On an hourly basis, they must be about as expensive as Scientology, and just as ineffective, too.

Read this letter from a woman who got burned by such treatment centers again and again. Read this very recent letter from another guy who got bilked out of $30,000.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

P.S.: Humorless? Read my jokes.

[Sun, August 29, 2004, Scott C. wrote:]
Subject: AA Big Lie

Hello Mr. Orange,

My dad has attended AA since 1989. He claims to be a Christian and so do I. But AA breaks the first commandment.

I have pointed out to him spiritual and logical errors with AA but he responded in standard — Big Lie technique — fashion.

I am enjoying your web site.

Scott C.

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the letter.

You are right about A.A. breaking the first commandment. It is absurd to tell people that they can worship anything as their "Higher Power" — a bedpan, a motorcyle, a doorknob, or a "Group Of Drunks".

And then, I get told by the A.A. true believers that worshipping that kind of a material God is just an introductory thing — it's a training-wheels God — that the beginners will eventually Come To Believe in "The One True God" of Alcoholics Anonymous. But that doesn't make things much better — that just makes it a bait-and-switch stunt where

And then there is this obnoxious propaganda from the Hazelden Foundation that teaches us to dump our current religions, and just believe in the Alcoholics Anonymous "spirituality":

"Alcoholics Anonymous is a spiritual program, not a religious one. ...
Ideally, religion helps you achieve spirituality, but if it doesn't, then set it aside for a while."
The Way Home, A Collective Memoir of the Hazelden Experience, Hazelden, 1997, page 109.

I'm not sure how you are supposed to reconcile that with the first commandment.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

[Mon, August 30, 2004, Scott S. wrote:]
Subject: Thanks for the interpretated version

Just a letter of appreciation to you for posting this on the web. I have been in recover for 4 years now and never heard of these steps from this light. I was one of those brainwashed at one time, or at least I was attending meetings. I just never could accept what they were saying though. They (A.A.'s) always said I was still fighting it, hahaha. Seems funny I have been out of their program for 1 1/2 years and haven't slipped yet. I feel stronger now than ever. I found real answers with my Lord Jesus Christ. I hope this doesn't offend you.

Hi Scott,

Thanks for the letter, and no, I am not at all offended by mentions of Jesus Christ. I like the guy too. I have to keep telling some A.A. members that I am not an atheist; I just don't believe in Santa Claus or Aladdin's Genie who will magically grant all of your wishes if you grovel before him. Christ's suffering on the cross alone should be enough to teach them that, but no, they just don't get it. Oh well...

Incidentally, if you liked the 12 Steps Interpreted, then you will probably love The Heresy of the 12 Steps. That is where I specifically go after the conflicts between Christian philosophy and 12-Step philosophy.

I teach an overcomers class on Wednesday nights at church and am going to be using this material. Please keep my email, I would like to correspond with you sometime. I also really enjoyed your website, at least what I have seen of it so far. Would you please send me the link to it, I lost it. I was able to view this information by signing up to the newsgroups on windows but, something has went haywire and I lost access to the newsgroups. Also I am unsure how to sign back up for them. It was mere luck the first time. Stay in touch with me if you would.

Your brother in Recovery,
Scott S.

Okay, you have my email address and the web site address from the signature and the links. Enjoy, and have a good day.

== Orange

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