Letters, We Get Mail, CCCXXVI

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Date: Fri, September 14, 2012 1:26 pm     (answered 15 September 2012)
From: "Stephen R."
Subject: Are the jedi knights a cult?

Good evening, Orange

Hope you're well. Glad to see the site still up and running. You prompted me to leave AA/NA back in 2005. Had a pretty major relapse in 2010-11, but have been clean nearly 18 months again. Who knows what would have happened had I stayed "in the rooms" (clean & serene? permanent relapse? exactly the same thing as happened anyway?), but I'm glad I left. These days I look at it like "what's the point in recovery, if I have to spend my life going to some depressing meetings filled with people talking nonsense and insisting the only way to freedom is to do exactly what they reccomend?". Hope that makes sense — I'm just glad that I'm defining recovery on my own terms, and no one elses. As long as I'm free from addiction, I know I'm moving in the right direction...

Hello Stephen,

Thanks for the letter. I'm glad to hear that you are doing well.

I also did the big relapse routine, many years ago. Quit drinking in 1987, and started again in 1990, and kept it up for 9 more years before I quit.

You are right about not being able to guess what might have happened IF...

I find it more productive to just try to understand why it happened. I know that in my case there was a lot of stuff like believing that I had it under control now, and could handle just one or two. And returning to drinking felt like returning to the good old days, and I was free again, free to do what I wanted to do...

It took me some years to discover that I wasn't free at all.

Anyway, slightly silly email, and feel free to not respond if you like (for I don't know if you're a star wars fan...) , but do you reckon, according to your cult test, that the Jedi Knights were a cult? I'm going to argue they were, and I'm going to use the first 10 points of your cult test to make that argument...

1. The Guru is always right.
The Jedis score a 6 — Yoda, as the Jedi grandmaster, generally gets the last word. People defer to him, and his opinion is influential. However, his proclamations can be questioned, and even outright ignored. For example, in A Phantom Menace, Obi Wan Kenobi advises Yoda that he will train Anakin Skywalker (despite Yoda prophesising that his training will bring great danger...) with or without Yoda's permission. The fact alone that he clearly needs to ask Yoda's permission is enough to imply that the masters word is virtually final; however, the fact that Obi dare to test his masters word by threatening to directly disobey would imply that there is some room for dissent in the Jedi ranks.

2. You are always wrong.
The jedis score a 7. Whilst characterising its lower ranking members as inherently stupid, weak etc does not seem to be a defining characteristic of jedi training, there are moments when such tactics are used. See Yodas patronising of Luke, in Empire Strikes Back. See also Obi constantly admonishing Anarkin in Attack of the Clones, whenever Anarkin questions his "authority".

3. No Exit.
The Jedis score a 10 — to leave is to go to "the dark side", the worst thing a jedi can do.

4. No Graduates.
The jedis score a 10 — even in death, they remain jedis, as per the ending of Empire, when yoda, anarkin and obi are all looking down, from the afterlife, on Luke.

5. Cult-speak.
The jedis score an 8 — they have terms & ranks which are largely meaningless outside of their circle, and which enforce their beliefs. However, they can be understood by non-devotees.

6. Group-think, Suppression of Dissent, and Enforced Conformity in Thinking
hmm, unknown (I'm actually not much of a star wars geek...!)

7. Irrationality.
The jedi score a 10 — they act completely irrationally throughout the entirity of the prequels. They prophesize grave danger, but then ignore obvious warning signs of danger (such as anarkins increasingly unbalanced behaviour and noticeable dissatisfaction with the jedi way, or palpatines blatant manipulation of the democratic system to create a fascist dictatorship...).

8. Suspension of disbelief.
The jedi score a 10 — The whole idea of "the force" relies totally on setting aside "what you think" and just "believing you can". "Do or do not...there is no try" advises yoda, whilst training luke to use his mind to lift heavy objects, in return of the jedi, or luke switching off his targeting computer to rely solely on instinct/the force in order to blow up the first death star.

9. Denigration of competing sects, cults, religions, groups, or organizations.
The jedi score a 10 — the "sith", the dark side of the force, is characterised by the jedi as purely evil, yet the sith believe themselves to be good. Personally, I see them as two competing sides of the same cult religion coin, both equally evil. The sith seem in support of an evil, imperialistic fascist dictatorship, whilst the jedi are equally in thrall to the terrorist "rebel alliance", whilst also supporting an un-elected monarchy in the form of Princess Leia and Queen Amidala — to be honest, I can't get behind either of these causes.

10. Personal attacks on critics.
Dunno about this one — but I reckon Yoda might have a hernia if he read what I'm saying about his little religion...

So, what say you, AO?

Thanks for reading...

Now that is a very interesting question. You actually bring up a bunch of good points, even if in a joking manner.

It is obvious that George Lucas copied a lot of ideas from a martial arts school like Zen archery or Zen swordsmanship — especially the swordsmanship, obviously. In those schools, the master is teaching both mental arts and also a physical skill that applies the mental skills. And yes, there is a lot of similarity to a cult, but there are also some crucial differences that are in later Cult Test items, like lying and deceptive recruiting.

George Lucas also borrowed from medieval fairy tales where the knights were noble and brave and pure of heart, and the princesses were beautiful and virtuous and proper and chaste. And you are right about nobody questioning why Princess Leia got to be a princess, and the other girls didn't.

1. The Guru is always right.
Yes, Yoda is always right.

2. You are always wrong.
That's the way it looked when Yoda was giving Luke Skywalker his training.

3. No Exit.
I beg to differ. I seem to recall that Luke could flunk out and quit at any time. And if he did, Princess Leia was the other candidate for trainee as a Jedi knight who could bring down Darth Vader.

4. No Graduates.
Disagree. Luke did graduate.

As far as the dead knights all standing around smiling, well, that is just a rehash of primitive Christian mythology where the dead are the same in death as they were when alive. That strikes me as wishful thinking from people who are afraid of dying. They want everything to stay the same.

In defense of George Lucas, I guess there wasn't much else that he could do there. He needed that image as a theatrical device. Just showing three foggy clouds hovering over Skywalker would not carry the same impact. The audience wouldn't even get it.

5. Cult-speak.
Yes, they had their own language. However, there is a crucial difference there: In cults, they "load the language", and words take on two or more meanings. There is the normal, innocent, outsiders' definition of a word, and then there is the new meaning that only the cult insiders know. Like "giving oneself completely to the Lord" really means "practicing prostitution to get the cult more money and male members."

6. Group-think, Suppression of Dissent, and Enforced Conformity in Thinking
I don't see that so much. Now Yoda was insistent that he was right, but that isn't exactly the same thing. Conveniently, the script never presented Yoda with a question that he couldn't answer, and Yoda was never wrong, so nobody disagreed with Yoda. And as you pointed out, Obi Wan Kenobee was allowed to disagree with Yoda (even if it did turn out to be a disastrous mistake).

7. Irrationality.
Yes. The whole idea of "The Force" is irrational and magical. A friend of mine hates the Starwars series because he says that George Lucas destroyed science fiction. Up until Starwars, things in science fiction stories had to obey the laws of physics. Not any more.

In fact, after Starwars, a whole new school of fiction came out: Fantasy and Science Fiction. (There was even a magazine by that name.) Before Lucas, the sword-and-sorcery crowd never mixed with the science fiction crowd. They had contempt for each other.

8. Suspension of disbelief.
Yes. And this was one of George Lucas's biggest mistakes. He obviously didn't really spend much time in a Zen monastery. The Zen master does not ask the students to believe without doubts — that comes from medieval Christianity, not Zen. The Zen master will ask the student what he believes, and then proceed to dismantle and destroy those beliefs. The Zen master will show the student that his whole belief system is just a construct that he made up to try to make sense of the world, and the construct is a house of cards built of mistaken ideas. The Zen master will destroy every belief and leave the student with nothing, at which point he might just wake up and start seeing what is really before his eyes.

Zen, like many of the other Eastern religions, is based on seeing and experiencing, rather than on believing and blind faith.

In the improbable scene in The Empire Strikes Back where Yoda levitates the spaceship, Yoda was exhorting Luke to stop doubting. "Do or do not. There is no 'try'." In a way he was right. If we continue to tell ourselves that we just cannot do something, then we probably won't be able to do it. Again, the belief that you cannot do something is just another belief that the Zen master wants to destroy.

In Zen archery, when the master tells the student to put on a blindfold and then shoot an arrow and score a bulls-eye, the student will probably think, "This guy is crazy. He really thinks that I'm going to score bulls-eyes blind-folded? Not gonna happen." The student won't hit the target until he gets rid of those negative thoughts.

But that is a very different thing from, "Believe without doubt that the Lord sent an angel to me with golden tablets that say that I'm the New Prophet. And the Lord said that I get to have four wives, so I can marry the cute little teenage girl next door, in spite of the fact that I already have an old bag of a current wife... And then I get to marry two more young cuties after that. Believe it, my children. Have faith."

9. Denigration of competing sects, cults, religions, groups, or organizations.
Yep. Every good story requires a villian. Demonizing the enemy is required for a good war. The Starwars series would be boring as heck if everybody just got together for an ecumenical council and exchanged ideas. (In fact, I remember just that kind of criticism of Dune. The movie began with an interplanetary labor conference that the movie critics found to be very boring.)

10. Personal attacks on critics.
I don't see that one so much. In fact, I can't remember any "critics". What I remember is mortal enemies who tried to kill the Jedi and innocent by-standers, like Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers. We never saw a newspaper reporter asking Yoda about his teachings, and criticizing them like you are doing...     :-)

There is much more in the following 90 questions that will distinguish the Jedi Knights from a cult. These are things that the Jedi Knights didn't do:

  • 13. Induction of guilt, and the use of guilt to manipulate group members.
  • 23. Dual Purposes, Hidden Agendas, and Ulterior Motives.
  • 24. Aggressive Recruiting.
  • 25. Deceptive Recruiting.
  • 27. You Can't Tell The Truth.
  • 30. The End Justifies The Means.
  • 31. Dishonesty, Deceit, Denial, Falsification, and Rewriting History.
  • 32. Different Levels of Truth.
  • 34. The Group Implants Phobias.
  • 35. The Group is Money-Grubbing.
  • 36. Confession Sessions.
  • 41. Disturbed Guru, Mentally Ill Leader.
  • 42. Disturbed Members, Mentally Ill Followers.
  • 43. Create a sense of powerlessness, covert fear, guilt, and dependency.
  • 44. Dispensed existence
  • 45. Ideology Over Experience, Observation, and Logic
  • 46. Keep them unaware that there is an agenda to change them
  • 47. Thought-Stopping Language. Thought-terminating clichés and slogans.
  • 48. Mystical Manipulation
  • 51. Members Get No Respect. They Get Abused.
  • 52. Inconsistency. Contradictory Messages
  • 54. Front groups, masquerading recruiters, hidden promoters, and disguised propagandists
  • 55. Belief equals truth
  • 56. Use of double-binds
  • 57. The group leader is not held accountable for his actions.
  • 66. Calls to Obliterate Self
  • 67. Don't Trust Your Own Mind.
  • 68. Don't Feel Your Own Feelings.
  • 75. New Identity — Redefinition of Self — Revision of Personal History
  • 76. Membership Rivalry
  • 77. True Believers
  • 78. Scapegoating and Excommunication
  • 80. It's a con. You don't get the promised goodies.
  • 81. Hypocrisy
  • 82. Lying. Denial of the truth. Reversal of reality. Rationalization and Denial.
  • 83. Seeing Through Tinted Lenses
  • 91. Use of the Cognitive Dissonance Technique.
  • 94. The use of heavy-duty mind control and rapid conversion techniques.
  • 95. Threats of bodily harm or death to someone who leaves the group.
  • 96. Threats of bodily harm or death to someone who criticizes the group.
  • 97. Appropriation of all of the members' worldly wealth.
  • 98. Making group members work long hours for free.
  • 99. Total immersion and total isolation.
  • 100. Mass suicide.

Now I realize that there are also a lot of items where the Jedi Knights do resemble a cult:

  • 11. Insistence that the group is THE ONLY WAY.
  • 12. The group and its members are special.
  • 15. Indoctrination of members.
  • 28. Cloning — You become a clone of the group leader or other elder group members.
  • 29. You must change your beliefs to conform to the group's beliefs.
  • 33. Newcomers can't think right.
  • 38. An Impossible Superhuman Model of Perfection.
  • 39. Mentoring.
  • 49. The guru or the group demands ultra-loyalty and total commitment.
  • 50. Demands for Total Faith and Total Trust
  • 58. Everybody else needs the guru to boss him around, but nobody bosses the guru around.
  • 59. The guru criticizes everybody else, but nobody criticizes the guru.
  • 71. We Have The Panacea.
  • 73. Magical, Mystical, Unexplainable Workings
  • 79. Promised Powers or Knowledge
  • 84. You can't make it without the group.
  • 87. Channelling or other occult, unchallengeable, sources of information.
  • 90. Newcomers Need Fixing.
  • 92. Grandiose existence. Bombastic, Grandiose Claims.
  • 93. Black And White Thinking

Still, I think the virtues of the Jedi Knights outweigh the negatives. But if someone actually tried to recruit me into the Jedi Knights, I'd start demanding some proof of claims, like levitating a spaceship, before I'd believe anything.

And if it turned out that the old Jedi Knights were robbing the new inductees of every penny they could get, and turning the new female members into sex toys, and living lives of debauchery and indulgence while exhorting the young members to work harder and have faith, then, I'd definitely say that the Jedi Knights was a cult.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There is no rational argument that can address the claims of
**     a group of people who claim absolute authority from an invisible
**     man whose voice is heard only in their heads.
**       ==  PZ Myers, biologist and associate professor
**               at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

[The previous letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Meatbag ]

Date: Fri, August 31, 2012 12:38 am     (answered 16 September 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: A rather interesting article

I found this article on a site I occasionally write for:

It seems like she doesn't quite buy everything AA sells, but she's also not quite at the point of realizing it's all bullshit. I think part of the problem is there are no alternatives that cater to people with both a mental illness (she has schizoaffective disorder, bad enough to prevent her from working) and an alcohol problem. I know there is the theory that all alcoholics have an underlying mental illness, but there's something about the prefix "schizo" that tends to drive people away. Even though people on the schizophrenia spectrum are more likely to be victims of a crime than perpetrators. And the Sinclair Method might be a possibility, but is there much information on how naltrexone interacts with other drugs?

Not that AA is terribly good for people with mental illness, either. See the medication issue, for instance. At the very least, I hope she's found good people in AA. Genuinely good people, not people that'll abandon her the moment she quits or relapses. I'm thinking of linking her to that lizard brain article you wrote. She might get curious and check out the rest of the site. Even if she doesn't, she'll probably find that article helpful.

Hi again, Meatbag,

I find that story very sad. She relapsed, and all that she could think was, "I must work the A.A. program harder." She hasn't realized that she is wasting her time on bullshit that doesn't work.

Well, it doesn't work to make people quit drinking, or make them happy and sane. But it does work to make people neurotic and frustrated and depressed, and prepare them for suicide.

I hope she does learn something from the Lizard Brain web page.

I don't know how Naltrexone might interact with other drugs.

Date: Wed, September 5, 2012 3:42 am     (answered 16 September 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: Re: Commentary on Amy's letters

My recorder is an ICD-UX200. It does 22 hours even on the highest quality setting.

Heh, my dad and I enjoyed some schadenfreude (thanks to Avenue Q, I can't even use that word without the song of the same name popping in my head) over Moon's death. My dad is an ex-reverend. Reverends don't tend to like cults that aren't theirs. The more I read about Moon, the more I'm glad he's dead. Is it a little too much to hope for that he took his cult with him? And why do men like him live into their 90s, when so many good people die young?

Yes, good riddance to Rev. Moon. I don't know whether his cult will now die out soon. Some cults wither and die as soon as the phony guru dies, and some endure. I think it depends on whether a Number Two steps up and seizes control, like David Miscavige taking over Scientology.

As for that law that lets farmers kill geese on their property, I can understand why it exists. The geese are a threat to the farmer's livelihood, after all. But it is sad, and there's probably a more humane way to deal with the problem. It's kind of difficult for a peaceful solution to be cheaper than $27/year, though.

Yes, I understand the problem that the farmers have. It is outrageously arrogant, though, for the white men to come here and steal all of the land from the Indians and the wildlife, and then complain that the geese are feeding on "their land".

And wow, that "wildlife expert" sounds annoying. One of the few benefits of living in a red state is hipsters like that are rare.

Right. They are a special breed, found only in a few places. Portland is really infested with them. The TV spoof "Portlandia" is really right on.

I never understood this great division that so many put between man and animal. As far as I'm concerned, if beaver dams are natural, so are the structures humans build. We're animals, too, after all. And if an animal knows how to thrive in a human-dominated environment, what's the problem?

Yes. And in addition, when people say that I should just "let Nature take its course", I say, "I am." It is natural for me to love and want to care for those cute little fluff-ball goslings. It's just in my nature. I am also not a being that is separated from Nature. I'm part of it too. So it is in the nature of this world for an old hairy ape-man to come along and occasionally scoop up orphaned baby birds and care for them.

And that isn't an exaggeration. There are also videos on YouTube showing a dog that adopted goslings.

UPDATE: 2012.11.25: 60 Minutes just ran a story about a wildlife photographer who specializes in videotaping lions. He has more movies of lions than anybody else in the world. He also has footage that shows a cheetah caring for an orphaned baby monkey. Scientists didn't believe the story about a cheetah adopting and caring for a baby monkey until they watched the tape.

And then I am reminded of the stories of "wolf-boys", ferrel children that were adopted by packs of wolves and raised by them. Some of those stories were actually true, not just legends, particularly the story of "Cal", the California ferrel child, which is well-documented. They even made a movie of that one.

Cal was three years old when he got separated from his parents and lost in the woods. If I remember the story right, his parents were driving through the forest in California when they crashed the car and were killed. The baby survived the crash relatively unharmed and walked away. None of the first responders realized that there was a missing child. He was cared for by wolves until he was discovered and captured by adult humans when he was a teenager. Yes, they had to capture him because he was completely wild and running with the wolves. They named him "Cal", short for "California Ferrel Child". They had to teach him everything about how to be a "civilized" human, starting with how to speak English and wear clothes. But he learned. He actually ended up going to college, I think at the University of California.

Odds are, this "wildlife expert" would also complain that I don't feed my cats the absolute best food out there. Sorry, but I don't want my cats to eat better than I do. And if Alley wants organic, free-range meat, she's free to hunt her own. So is Titania, for that matter, but she just sees the outside world as nothing more than cat TV to be enjoyed from the comforts of home.

Yes, organic catfood is something that I haven't heard of yet, but it probably exists.

And I don't know if you got that link I sent you, but if you didn't, here it is:

As you can see, she's at the point where she's questioning AA, but not quite at the point of leaving it. I did give her a little nudge by linking to your lizard brain page. I figured she would find that helpful no matter what she ends up doing. And it seems like she did find it helpful. My guess is she's eventually either going to leave or become a part of the Newcomer Rescue League, since she seems pretty well aware of what AA's problems are.

Yes, I wish her luck.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Men and nations behave wisely once they
**     have exhausted all the other alternatives."
**         ==  Abba Eban (1915—2002)

[The next letter from Meatbag is here.]

May 28, 2012, Monday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Goose family with goslings
Another new Family of 5
They are coming to me for munchies. The parents obviously know me, and are quite tame and trusting, even though I don't recall when I saw this family of goslings before.

Canada Goose family with goslings

Canada Goose family with goslings

Canada Goose family with goslings
The new Family of 5, getting some rolled oats

Canada Goose family with goslings
The younger new Family of 4, eating some bread.

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[The previous letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Meatbag2 ]

Date: Fri, September 14, 2012 10:44 pm     (answered 16 September 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: Another Bullshit Comment from the Peanut Gallery

Yay, another Amy letter and a hilarious letter from the pro-UWP guy Steve!

You know, I'm pretty sure I heard Fox News compare Obama to Hitler the other day. But I'm not going to track down a clip on youtube or anything. Why? I don't willingly subject myself to hate speech. Besides, I'm pretty sure this guy has already seen that broadcast. You can't reason with people who won't take their blinders off. And I find it rather amusing that he thinks an organization that would be at least moderately conservative in most other countries is a liberal fanatical organization. Try meeting some Greens or actual Communists. Or if that's too hard, check out the Social Justice Warriors on Tumblr (most of whom actually are rather rabid).

As for Amy, well, if you don't mind, I'm going to steal my psychiatrist's armchair for a while. I wonder how many of these people who claim you're miserable or fighting your own demons are actually projecting. Maybe they're getting sick of having no free time thanks to endless meetings, so they assume you must spend an equal amount of time presenting the case against AA. Maybe they envy the fact you get time to feed the geese. Or they're white-knuckling their sobriety even with AA's "help", so they assume you can't possibly be sober and happy without AA. I also presume Amy has Peril Sensitive Sunglasses, so it's not so much that she won't read your links. It's that she can't without the sunglasses going completely opaque.

Also, one of the other writers at Queer Mental Health wrote a poem:

I must admit. I don't entirely understand it. Maybe because I've never had addiction issues. Perhaps you know something about this poem that I don't. Also, if you click the writer's name, you'll see other things she wrote. One of those is her AA story. I've tried linking directly to it before, but I don't think any of those emails reached you. Something in the link must have set off a filter you have.

And in non-AA-related news, my cat Alley killed a goldfinch the other day. I'm glad we don't live close enough to the lake for gosling and duckling-killing to be an issue. The bad part is there used to be two goldfinch in the backyard. She killed someone's mate. And batted the corpse around like a toy before she ate it. Obviously, humans aren't the only animals who get a lot of joy out of taking a life. I can believe killing birds is a cat's instinct, but batting the dead prey around? I think I accidentally taught her that with actual cat toys. I wonder if the birds assumed Alley was harmless because she spends a lot of her time sleeping on the glider. Alley seems to space out her kills. Assuming she's actually showing me all her kills. Damn, Alley, you're making it hard to be a bird-lover.

Well, that was kind of depressing. Anyhow, it's way past my bedtime. So off to bed with me. I hope that goldfinch doesn't haunt my dreams.

Hello again, Meatbag,

Thanks for the letter and the comments. Yep, I have to agree about Amy's complaints about how unhappy I must be. That is a common Stepper attitude: We must be terribly unhappy if we are criticizing A.A. Just totally miserable, and about to relapse any minute now. The concept that people can be quite happy as they reject quackery seems to be a taboo thought. Oh no, you can't be happy. You can't be happy unless you are doing the 12 Steps.

Yes, it does sound like projection, now that you mention it. And there is also an element of denial like, "You can't possibly be happy with not drinking and not going to A.A. meetings. And not confessing how bad you are? Oh no. Just playing in the sunshine and feeding cute fluff-ball goslings? You must be miserable."

Speaking of which, it's going to be well over 80 degrees here today, and the sky is already totally clear and cloudless at 8:24 AM as I listen to "Dawn of the Dead" [Grateful Dead] on the radio. So it will be another day of sunshine and feeding geese and ducks.

Yes, Amy's statement that she won't follow links and read things is so revealing. Can't risk exposure to contradictory information. Of course that is precisely what Bill Wilson criticized in the Big Book: "contempt prior to investigation".

I think Steve's real problem is that he can't reconcile his fun times in UWP with the idea that UWP had some very nasty underhanded objectives. How can something that is so much fun be so bad? Now the bitter anger towards "liberals" is something else. I don't know where that comes from.

About the cat batting the dead bird around: Alas, that just seems to be in the nature of cats. They are notorious for playing with their food before eating it. I don't think you taught that. Just the opposite. Cats enjoy playing with cat toys because that allows them to indulge their instinct to play with little furry or feathery creatures.

It's just really basic brain programming. I remember someone talking about how behavior is encoded in the DNA. Some people were wondering how cats could possibly come pre-programmed with all of the techniques for catching mice. Another biologist answered, "They don't. All that the cats need to have programmed into them is a desire to chase and catch little furry things. After that, the mice will teach the kittens everything they need to know about how to catch mice."

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 next letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Christin ]

Date: Sat, September 15, 2012 6:07 pm     (answered 19 September 2012)
From: "Cristin"
Subject: What's not good about AA -response

Hello my name is Cristin and I just read an article entitled "Whats not good about AA".

I'm not sure if this is who I can contact but I'm going to try.

I read through it all and I agree COMPLETELY about the backwardness of the 12 step program but I was still left puzzled as to the correct pathway to sobriety. I mean I know that in order to solve a problem it first needs to be identified, but then usually there is then a solution provided and I was wondering what you propose instead ?

As I said before I was thrilled to see someone else thought the same thing about the meetings and 12 step program as I do. Again though, I'm unsure of the solution.

Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Hello Cristin,

Thank you for the letter, and you sent it to the right place. I'm glad to hear that you are thinking clearly about recovery.

The issue of "first recognizing that there is a problem" is so simple. It's as simple as saying, "Drinking has gotten to be a problem, and it's messing up my life, and I want to cut down or quit." That's it. And you don't even have to say that you are an alcoholic. You just notice that alcohol has gotten to be more pain than pleasure, and you decide that you want to change something in your life.

A.A. makes such a big deal out of "first admitting that there is a problem", as if all alcoholics are "in denial", and refuse to admit that alcohol is killing them, because they are all such insane morons who won't admit the truth, and who are "constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves". Not so. That is just the A.A. stereotype of the "bad alcoholic" again. (Look here for much more about the stupid alcoholic.) I'm happy to say that we are not all like the stereotypical A.A. alcoholic.

Now on rereading your letter, I see that the "first recognizing that there is a problem" can also apply to A.A. itself, and you could be asking what is a better solution to bad treatment of alcohol problems. Happily, I have a whole bunch of ideas about how to quit drinking, or cut down, and I wrote them down here: How did you get to where you are? There you will find lots of links to many discussions of what works, and what has helped me and other people.

This section of the main menu page also lists other information and better possibilities:

An Alternate View On Recovery:

Have a good day now, and good luck. And don't hesitate to write back if you have more questions.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Drunkenness is the vice of a good constitution, or a bad memory;
**    of a constitution so treacherously good, that it never bends till
**    it breaks, or of a memory that recollects the pleasures of getting
**    intoxicated, but forgets the pains of getting sober.
**       ==  Charles Caleb Colton (1780—1832), English writer and clergyman

May 30, 2012, Wednesday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Female Northern Pintail Duck
Female Northern Pintail Duck
This little duck has grown increasingly tame. Day after day, she sees me feeding the geese and ducks and not hurting them, so she is comfortable with approaching me and asking for some munchies.

This girl is a story by herself. Most of the Northern Pintail Ducks are very wild and timid, and quack and fly away in fright when I come near. But this girl didn't. She remained, and watched me. She stayed a safe distance out in the water where she wasn't in any danger, and watched while I put out piles of rolled oats and some pieces of bread. I walked along the shoreline and put out a small pile every so far, and behind me, other ducks and geese closed in and feasted as soon as I got a safe distance away from the food. The Pintail duck saw this, and saw that I wasn't killing and eating any of the ducks or geese. One day, she got up the courage to go with the other ducks and get something to eat. That worked out okay, so she became increasingly tame, and eager to come and get some munchies, day after day. Then one day, she got up the courage to approach me and ask me to toss her some bread. I did, and she happily ate it. After that, we were friends. By the end of the summer, she was so tame that I could walk up to where she was sleeping, and she would just open one eye, and say, "Oh, it's you," and close her eye and go back to sleep.

You can see more pictures of her here:

Noisy Frog
These little frogs have such enormous croaks that when I first heard them, I thought that they must be something huge like big fat ten-pound Bullfrogs. Actually, when I first heard them, I wasn't even sure what kind of an animal was making such a sound. It sounded much larger than a frog's croak. Think bass guitar — a really low note, not like a frog's squeek or mid-range "ribbet". I was wondering if some fat mammal like a nutria was making that sound. Big deep bass croaks would roll across the pond, and reverberate and resonate and echo back. I didn't know what was creating such a sound. I was rather surprised to discover that those huge croaks were coming out of a small frog about the size of your hand. What a sound machine.

Frog croaking
Frog Croaking

Canada Goose goslings
Two of the original Family of 6 Goslings
The one on the left is the baby of the family. It's much bigger now than the tiny cute little fluff-ball that it used to be, but it's still much smaller than its siblings. But it will catch up to them eventually.
Notice how the guy on the right is growing feathers already. The baby of the family on the left is still covered with baby down.

Canada Goose goslings
The new Family of 4 Goslings, eating some oatmeal

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Craig ]

Date: Tue, September 18, 2012 10:08 am     (answered 20 September 2012)
From: "Craig"
Subject: your comments on AA

Dear Mr. A Orange,

You must be really popular — because I've never heard of you and I've only been sober 25 years.

I wonder if you have a sponsor and a home group because you sound like 'Self Will Run Riot' if I've ever heard it, ha ha.

AA will be fine with or without you — Thank God

May you live long enough to make amends and to see that probably no one has done more to help the still suffering Alcoholic, than Clancy.

May God Bless You & Keep You Until Then !!!

Craig :-)

The temporary good is enemy to the permanent best.
-*Bill Wilson <http://www.quoteland.com/author.asp?AUTHOR_ID=1524>*

Hello Craig,

Thank you for the letter, and congratulations on your many years of sobriety.

Unfortunately, the rest of your letter is an exercise in illogic. My fame, or lack of it, has nothing to do with the A.A. failure rate, or the many negatives of A.A. participation like the sexual exploitation in A.A., or the relapse rate, or the death rate. Your personal years of sobriety do not in any way prove that A.A. treatment of alcohol addiction actually works, or that A.A. is good for people. And your membership in Clancy's cult is evidence of the opposite.

If you believe that A.A. is good for treating or curing "alcoholism", please answer this one simple question that no A.A. defender has ever answered honestly:

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

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

No qualifiers are allowed, like, "We will only count the people who worked the program right, or we will only count the people who really tried, and kept coming back." Everybody counts. No exceptions.

No excuses are allowed. When the doctor gives a patient penicillin, and it fails to cure the infection, the doctor doesn't get to say, "But he didn't work the program right. He didn't pray enough. He didn't surrender. He held something back in his Fifth Step." No excuses.

So what's the actual A.A. cure rate?

HINT: the answers are here and here and here.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Just because people say that they are working for a good cause
**     does not make them good people. Remember that both the Nazis
**     and the Communists were "working for good causes."
**     So was the Medieval Catholic Church that burned girls and men
**     to death at the stake for "witchcraft" and "heresy",
**     while the Pope sold indulgences and Bishops' offices.
**     And they all still claimed that they were trying to get people
**     into Heaven — their kind of heaven, some kind of heaven.

[The previous letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Meatbag3 ]

Date: Tue, September 18, 2012 4:31 pm     (answered 20 September 2012)
From: "Meatbag"
Subject: Re: Another Bullshit Comment from the Peanut Gallery

Ah, I see you found my emails.

I guess it is ironic that I would say Alley is free to hunt her own food, then complain when she actually does it. But it's not like cats really take their human's complaints into consideration. She can kill all the birds she wants as long as she doesn't bring it in the house. But I don't have to like it. At least she doesn't half-kill animals and bring it in like some previous cats did. When a cat does that, they expect you to finish the job. It's their way of teaching those big two-legged hairless kittens how to hunt.

Hi again, Meatbag,

Yes, that is one of the drawbacks of having predators as pets. Obviously, if I am going to care for goslings, I can't also have cats. And the only kind of dog that I could have is a herding dog, one that would want to round up and herd the goslings. Actually, that could be handy.

It's actually kind of interesting to see how different my cats are. Titania is so domesticated, she might as well be a dog. She even used to play fetch. I tried playing fetch with her the other day, but it doesn't seem like she's in to that anymore. Maybe she's too old for fetch. Like I said, she never tries to go outside, let alone hunt anything. The most I've seen her do is dig up an earthworm and leave it wriggling on the porch. Yeah, she's kind of a weird cat. Although apparently being dog-like is normal for ocicats. She looks like an ocicat and acts like they're supposed to act, so I think she is one. I don't have a pedigree or anything, since she was that one stray who decided to move in.

Interesting. I never heard of "ocicats" before.

As for organic cat food, I've heard of vegan cat food, so anything's possible. Not that vegan food is very good for an obligate carnivore. On that note, I've encountered self-righteous internet vegans who own cats. Why would you own a cat as a vegan, especially if you're the sort of vegan who tells people off for eating meat? Why not get a bunny or a bird or something else that's a herbivore? Maybe get a horse if you're rich enough. I kind of wish I was rich enough for a horse.

Oh yeh, anything's possible. I'd bet that you can even sell crystal therapy for cats to some new-age owners... :-)

"Does your cat seem out of sorts? Run down? Sleeps a lot? Your cat needs some magical Crystal Vibrations..."

Yes, if you are a vegan, why keep a pet carnivore? Kind of a conflict of interests, there.

And I do see your point about geese vs farmers. As far as Indians go, I do remember reading about a state (I'm pretty sure it's one of the Dakotas) auctioning off a tribe's sacred land not too long ago. Yeah, how about I take the Vatican through a shady contract and auction it off?

Yes, that is really sad. Some states seem to still be very anti-Indian. One of the Dakotas comes to mind for that.

In addition to dogs adopting goslings, there's a couple of dogs who adopted deer fawns. It seems like quite a few animals like to adopt the cute babies of other species. Maybe it is natural. Either that, or the evils of humans adopting cute baby animals rubbed off on the dogs when they were domesticated. I wonder which is more likely.

Yes, I think it is natural. There is such a huge variation between individuals in a species. It isn't just humans where some individuals are blood-thirsty killers, and some are compassionate care-givers. And there are also some ducks and geese who will adopt strays and orphans, while the vast majority do not. And some geese are so nasty-tempered that they will bite orphaned baby goslings and drive them away. There is a lot of variation.

As for where Steve's anger towards liberals and "liberals" comes from, I think it's Fox News and talk radio. They're experts at manufacturing outrage, and they tend to be the ultimate anti-fans of Obama. Seriously, I don't think and talk about Obama nearly as much as these guys do, and I'm gonna vote for him.

Yes, that talk radio inciting anger is a real problem. It's sad that so many people would rather be angry than be sensible. In general, it seems like talk radio creates far more smoke and fire than light.

Speaking of talk radio, I rode with my mom to that Warm Springs place today. I think I damaged my hearing during the ride, since I had the volume on my mp3 player high enough to drown out her talk radio. At this rate, I'll be deaf when I reach your age. As for Warm Springs itself, it actually isn't too bad. It's roughly as patronizing as your average college. Which isn't bad at all going by disability services standards. They don't trust you with your own meds, though. You start out having to go to the nurse's station every day, and they eventually trust you with a week's worth of meds. This might not be a bad thing for me, since I'm not good at remembering to take them on my own.

Good luck with that. Don't you hate it when they pull the superior condescending routine? Shades of Big Nurse (One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest).

The other thing that sticks out to me as being all that different from a college is it's apparently possible for a parent to request that their kids not be allowed off-campus without supervision. I guess that is necessary for some disabilities, but it seems like any parent can do that. I think my mom trusts me enough for that not to be an issue for me, though.

Anyhow, time for some relaxation. It's been a long day. Too much time spent in a closet-sized space with not very ergonomic seating.

So relax and work on your health. And have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Isn't it odd, how the politicians and pundits who lament the loss
**     of "American values" and "Christian values" do not hesitate
**     to launch hateful whispering campaigns and lying smear attacks on
**     their opponents when their election seems in doubt?

[The next letter from Meatbag is here.]

[ Link here = https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html#Tom_H ]

Date: Thu, September 20, 2012 12:08 am     (answered 21 September 2012)
From: "Tom H."
Subject: Minor Statistical Problem

Meetings today are packed full of people with court slips, and people who attend to pick up chicks, (13th steppers) and people who attend that their partners or relatives have forced them to attend. These people who are in the attendance are many times in the majority of attendees. These people are simply "gamers" They have no intentions of getting sober than the man in the moon. Their failure fate isn't the failings of the program but of people that don't want to be there anyway in the first place, I know this well as I was a "gamer" for 12 years before I got sober. Today I have been sober for over 12 years. IT wasn't the steps or the big book or program at all, I didn't work the steps or have a sponsor at all. I got sober on my own because I had to piss in a bottle or go to jail, The meetings also gave me somewhere to go when I has packing my pants with a load of shit. AA did not "make me " stop drinking" but it sure gave me somewhere to go. Today I think AA is pure bullshit but somewhere it did assist me in becoming sober. For those that really want to get sober and have gone down the path, looking at deaths door usually are more motivated to go to meetings and count days that can add to sobriety. AA can only assist if you are serious about quitting drinking. AA does not make anyone quit drinking but gives a person somewhere to go when they are toxic and crazy.

Hello Tom,

Thanks for the letter.

  1. It is true that A.A. meetings are full of people who have been forced, coerced, shoved, pressured, and blackmailed into attending A.A. meetings, and those people do pull down the averages. But who came up with the idea of such coercive recruiting? Bill Wilson, who learned it from the Oxford Group. Ebby Thacher, Bill Wilson's "sponsor", was also the victim of court-ordered religious meeting attendance. A.A. has been doing that since day one. So it isn't like once upon a time A.A. had a wonderful success rate, but that is now being ruined by those "bad" coerced recruits. Nope, A.A. never had a good success rate, and they have always been doing coercive recruiting. So the A.A. failure rate really is the A.A. failure rate. The coerced recruits aren't to blame.

  2. You and I both know that A.A. actively encourages the courts and rehab centers to send more new victims to A.A. So in a way, the failure of those coerced people IS the failing of A.A. If and when A.A. actively resists such coercive recruiting, and tells the judges not to do it, and refuses to sign any more court slips or rehab attendance slips — ever — then A.A. can claim to be innocent, and an injured party whose averages are being pulled down by undesired attendees, but not until.

    It is outrageous for A.A. to do everything they can to get more coerced attendees, and then complain that the coerced attendees are pulling down their averages. That really takes some brass balls. (I've heard that argument before; A.A. routinely uses it as an excuse for the bad A.A. failure rate. A.A. defenders claim that the coerced newcomers don't really want to quit drinking, and they won't work the Steps right, and they won't surrender, etc., so it isn't really A.A.'s fault.)

  3. Congratulations on your 12 years of sobriety. Coincidentally, I'm just a month away from 12 years, too. And both of us quit drinking without doing the 12 Steps or joining a cult religion or believing in a lot of crazy nonsense. Both of us quit because we had to. It was quit drinking or die. That's quite an incentive.

  4. To say that A.A. gave you some place to go is about the weakest possible excuse for A.A. existing. If that is all that A.A. really offers us, then A.A. can be replaced by a free coffee shop for homeless people.

    Unfortunately, there is a lot more to A.A. than just a friendly meeting where you can get a cup of coffee. A.A. has a lot of baggage.

    That stuff does more harm than good.

  5. I agree that A.A. does not really make anyone quit drinking. We do it ourselves, or we don't do it ourselves, as the case may be.

  6. Again, if all that A.A. gives people is some encouragement, then A.A. can be replaced by a free coffee house. Literally. And in fact, there are such things. Here in Portland, there is a place called "Nightwatch", which is just that. Come most any evening, and get free coffee and pastries and listen to speakers talking about how they got off of alcohol or drugs. It is definitely not A.A., but does what A.A. claims to do: Give free coffee and moral support to the alcoholics and addicts, and encourage them to get better.

    And you know what the terrible irony is? Nightwatch is sponsored by a church (and helped by additional government funding), but they don't shove God down people's throats, or start and end with praying. They don't even mention God, and they never pray. Now Nightwatch is really "not a religion".

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     To say that we are powerless over alcohol is as stupid and wrong
**     as saying that children are powerless over candy bars. While the
**     temptation to consume may be strong, none of us is powerless.

May 30, 2012, Wednesday: The Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Goose goslings
The new Family of 3

Canada Goose goslings
Three goslings from another family

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle, one of the breeding pair

three drakes
Three drakes. These guys are hybrids, or mongrels, whichever term you prefer. They are part Mallard Duck, and part some kind of domestic duck. They look so similar that I think they are brothers.

three drakes
The guy on the right is another hybrid, a mixture of Mallard and some gray domestic breed.

[The story of the goslings continues here.]

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Last updated 27 December 2013.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters326.html