Letters, We Get Mail, VII

Snorks wrote:

Hello Orange,

I like your site. I was in AA and Al-anon in the 1980's. Got what I needed out of both groups, and drifted away.

After reading about the 24 hour concept of AA and how God delivers you from drinking, I thought of the New Testament, when Christ made the blind see and lame beggars walk. If God as Christ could and did do those things, then why not remove a disease of drinking permanently? I do agree that AA's presentation of God and His Works is awful. Truly awful.

One thing bothers me though. Which was B. Wilson — a lazy parasite or a severely depressed man? Depression does present itself as laziness. Was he a lazy parasite when he wasn't depressed? Or was he always depressed?

One question for you — what drove you to be so passionate about AA? I am just curious because I know how much work is involved in writing pages and coding web pages. I did read the intro. Was it what you saw happening in AA?

I have enjoyed reading your pages. I did like the pages on critical thinking aka propaganda of AA. Critical thinking is crucial for understanding and for discernment.


Hi Snorks,
Thanks for all of the compliments.

The short and sweet answer about "why?" is indeed in the intro. That's 100% autobiographical. So is the routine about A.A. "treatment" at the end of the Bait-And-Switch web page.

Beyond that, it's just the frustration of seeing friends get sold a bill of goods, rather than something that helps or works.

As far as the question of Bill being lazy, or depressed, or both, I don't know if I can really split the two out of his behavior and figure out just how much was due to each. And you are right about the two looking similar, so that it's easy to confuse one for the other. And then I would add the cigarette smoking. It robs all of your energy and makes you less physically active, too. And Bill was such a heavy chain smoker that he died of it. That's definitely the biggest slow-down.

Well, have a good day.

— Orange

[letter 2 from Snorks:]

Hi Orange,
Thanks for your reply.

I can understand about your frustration about AA being one thing and turning out to be something else all together. Too bad you can't report it to your local consumer fraud center.

My experience with AA was "don't ask, don't tell". I have a mental illness, so as long as I didn't talk about it, I was fine.

I went to a non-traditional AA meeting. We met at lunchtime in a government building. We used one of their conference rooms. Since it was at lunch, there was no meeting after the meeting. Since it was a conference room, there were no pictures, no slogans posted, and no literature. What there was, was when someone brought some.

In the twelve years I was in AA, I DID NOT own a Big Book or the 12x12. I didn't have a sponsor either. Basically, everyone assumed that everyone else went to evening meetings. They used the lunch group as a back up to the real deal — the evening meeting. I also never went to an evening meeting. Since they never asked about my program, I never told them about my lack of program.

Since I was a double winner, I went to Al-anon as well. But Al-anon wasn't set up to handle someone like me nor the three men in the group. I have a brother who drinks too much. Two men had wives. One man had a daughter. We also had one woman with a son. Al-anon was really meant for wives of alcoholics. No more and no less. I guess the rest of us had to go some place else.

My knowledge came from the pamphlets that I glommed onto and some Al-anon books. I also took notes at the meetings. That's how I learned the steps.

Why I left — intolerance of mental illness. As long as I remained silent, and left most of the program, I was fine. But there were those slogans: "My best thinking got me here." My best thinking did get me there since I was seeking treatment for my mental illness. AA was suggested as a place to go to augment my treatment. (Not by my doctor though. He was neutral.)

"No one ever died from feelings." I lost one friend and one relative to untreated depression. They killed themselves when their feelings overwhelmed them.

"You're right where you're supposed to be." I am supposed to be sane. I am supposed to be in treatment working on getting sane. I am not supposed to be in a room with other people telling me NOT to take my meds.

Then there was the discussion of the evils of anger. Anger is good. Focused anger is what people use to get better. You need it for fuel over the hard places to getting better.

What is cunning and baffling is mental illness. That is the real deal. All this talk of sanity and insanity over drinking is stupid. Few people in the meetings understand what those terms really meant. I believe in God who restored me to sanity. He did it by inspiring people to be doctors to treat others. He did it by inspiring people to look for a cure. He did it when people discovered some drugs did help people become sane. I do not believe that a 12-step program is a cure for mental illness, which is a disease of the brain.

But I do believe as you do, B. Wilson had a mental illness or at least a disease of the brain. I also believe that the Big Book needs to be updated. After all treatment for people has progressed from the dark days of the 1930's. Then you drank, got religion, went to the nut house, and got electro-shock therapy.

Today, we have more choices and more humane ways to become well.

Sorry about writing so much. I came upon your site when I was researching cults. I always thought AA was a type of a cult.

Take care,

Hi Snorks,

Hey, don't apologize for writing so much. It's great. I love it. You make more sense, as a supposedly insane person, than a lot of the allegedly sane people that I have to deal with.
(Look two letters down for a sterling example of sanity...)

Congratulations on your recovery, and definitely have a good day.

— Orange

--- Joan wrote:

Dear Agent Orange,

I am a 4th year Social Work student in Canada. I have to complete a 4 month practicum placement in a local agency, and, by choice, I chose a 12 step treatment program (of course, this was partially due to the complete lack of choice!)

So, here I am.... only 1 week in and I am going nuts! I feel like they are wanting to convert me, and see that I "come to believe". I am wanting to help the clients in recovery, but fear that if I offer alternatives for them, I will sabotage their time there.. and afterall.. I am only a student.

I am questioning whether or not I can truly learn an skills there, apart from being able to critically evaluate the program from the inside. Your papers are giving me the support I need right now,

Thank you,

Hi Joan,
Thanks for the compliments. Glad to hear that somebody gets something out of all of those pages occasionally.

And I really know how you feel about them wanting to convert you and make you come to believe. That's one of the things that they did to me that made me write all of the Orange Papers. And the thing that is really maddening is when they deny it and say that they aren't trying to make you believe anything.

I too feel really funny about campaigning against A.A.. They repeat the Big Lie about how it helps so many people so much that you start to believe that maybe at least a few people benefit from it, so if a friend is getting indoctrinated into believing all of the standard dogma, like the disease theory, and spiritual diseases, and a spiritual experience being the cure, am I really doing him a favor by telling him the truth, contradicting all of that stuff? Would I hurt him by taking away his "support system"?

That seems to be part of the strategy: "Don't complain about us brainwashing people into our religious cult unless you have a program that works better. Our religion that we won't call a religion has saved millions of lives."

That's where I have to just fall back on the numbers in the file on the Effectiveness of 12-Step Treatment, and remember that A.A.'s score on rigorously controlled tests seems to always be zero...

Thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

— Orange

"Pitch Black" wrote:

Skimmed your absurd website. I'm surprised you didn't mention the "second gunman in the grassy knoll" we keep at every AA meeting. You think you're going to stay sober, huh? You've got two big years, do you? Taking walks in the woods keeps you sober, does it? hahahahaa. My friend, I wish you luck, because you're going to need it. Alcohol is so much more powerful than you realize. You better keep hammering away at that web site. Knock out a few hundred more pages, because that hatred of AA is the only thing keeping you sober. Please, answer my letter. Divide it up, sentence by sentence. Insert 5,000 pages of paranoid, double-talk between each line. At least you'll stay sober while you write it. But, remember, John Barleycorn has plenty of time, years and years worth of time. And then, what're you going to do?

Pitch Black

Hello, Pitch Black,

I don't really need to analyze your letter to see that you haven't offered a single fact to back up your accusations and sweeping statements.

You start off with an ad hominem personal attack, equating me with a JFK conspiracy theorist. Then you sneer at my two years of sobriety. Then you warn me that alcohol is much more powerful and smarter than you are, and is out to get me. Then you end your letter with a little fear mongering — the monster will get me in the end because I'm not staying sober the A.A. way.

[You find it hard to believe that men actually get together and conspire to make money? It happens every day. It's called a business corporation.
Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Incorporated, is most assuredly a profit-making corporation. And they have shown that they will go to great lengths, even commit perjury and hurt faithful A.A. members in two countries, to make more money.]

The part that I like the best is your sarcastically sneering at my two years of sobriety. You prove what a cult Alcoholics Anonymous really is. When all of those coins are handed out at A.A. meetings, you applaud and cheer for people who have 30, 60, or 90 days, or 6 months, or 1 or 2 or 3 years of sobriety, don't you? But you aren't really cheering for their accomplishment in keeping themselves sober, are you? You just showed us that you sneer at 2 years of clean and sober Time. It means nothing to you. Obviously, what you are really cheering for is people's Time as members of the A.A. cult, "Working The Program".

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[second letter from Pitch Black, 20 January 2003:]

I skimmed your "Us Stupid Drunks" section There is no evidence that Lincoln ever said that line about sending the other generals a case of whatever Grant drank. But, he certainly never said anything about them "getting off their asses."

You really should know better than to try to prove a negative. Did you live with President Lincoln in the White House during the Civil War years, and monitor every conversation Lincoln ever had during those years? If not, then how can you be sure that Lincoln never said something? He might have spoken while you were out of the room.

But before we go any further, you have dodged the question I asked you in the last letter:
Why do you applaud and cheer for people getting two-month coins at A.A. meetings, but sneer at two years of sobriety achieved outside of A.A.?
Please answer that question.

Now, back to Lincoln. This is Carl Sandburg, quoting Lincoln in his famous biography of Lincoln. President Lincoln is speaking to John M. Thayer, a brigadier from Grant's army:

"One day a delegation headed by a distinguished doctor of divinity from New York, called on me and made the familiar complaint and protest against Grant being retained in his command. After the clergyman had concluded his remarks, I asked if any others desired to add anything to what had already been said. They replied that they did not. Then looking as serious as I could, I said:
      "'Doctor, can you tell me where General Grant gets his liquor?'"
      "'The doctor seemed quite nonplussed, but replied that he could not. I then said to him:
      "'I am very sorry, for if you could tell me I would direct the Chief Quartermaster of the army to lay in a large stock of the same kind of liquor, and would also direct him to furnish a supply to some of my other generals who have never yet won a victory.'"
      Lincoln handed Thayer a friendly slap on the leg, lay back in his chair, had a laugh, and resumed:
      "What I want and what the people want is Generals who will fight battles and win victories. Grant has done this and I propose to stand by him. I permitted this incident to get into print, and I have been troubled no more with delegations protesting against Grant. Somehow or other I have always felt a leaning toward Grant. Ever since he sent that message to Buckner, 'No terms but unconditional surrender,' I have felt that he was a man I could tie to, though I have never seen him."
      The secretaries, Nicolay and Hay, noted that when overzealous people had accused Grant of intemperance, Lincoln's reply was, "If I knew what brand of whiskey he drinks I would send a barrel or so to some other generals."
Abraham Lincoln, The War Years, Carl Sandburg, Volume II, page 120.

Now we can still quibble over the "get off of their asses" phrase... I forget where I heard that. I shall search further tomorrow.

Later on, while engaging in your own Ad Hominen attack against Bill W. (I spelled that right, didin't I? I mean, I notice in your mail that the first thing you always do with your unfriendly correspondents is accuse them of an Ad Hominen attack) you mention that he wrote the Big Book during a bout of severe depression. This is untrue, as you point out in another section of your self-indulgent website. Bill's depression dated from after 1940, and was caused, again, according to your twisted logic, by his guilt over killing his best friend, Hank.

Quite wrong. Please actually read what you are criticizing, rather than just "skim" it (as you called it) and then go off half-cocked with your head full of misimpressions. I said that Bill's second book, "Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions", was written in the middle of his 11-year bout of deep, crippling clinical depression. "12x12" was written around 1950 to 1951, and published in 1952. That was right in the middle of Bill's depression.

You also misunderstand the nature of Ad Hominem. It is not just criticizing someone. It is attacking a person, rather than attacking his statements. It is attacking someone personally because you cannot argue with or refute his statements. Ad Hominem is: When he has the facts on his side, you attack his appearance, or his manner of speaking, or his taste in music, or some other irrelevant detail of his person. (And perhaps throw in a little name-calling, too.)

For example, in your next paragraph, just below, you accuse me of having a resentment. That is a common stepper stunt. That is an Ad Hominem attack. Steppers have this strange idea that anyone who feels a resentment is automatically wrong. Nothing else need be said, and you don't need to pay any attention to what he actually says. If he has a resentment, that makes him automatically always wrong in the minds of steppers. That is probably because Bill Wilson wrote:

Resentment is the number one offender. It destroys more alcoholics than anything else. From it stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have been not only mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 64.

But with the alcoholic, whose hope is the maintenance and growth of a spiritual experience, this business of resentment is infinitely grave.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Chapter 5, How It Works, page 66.

It is a spiritual axiom that every time we are disturbed, no matter what the cause, there is something wrong with us. If somebody hurts us and we are sore, we are in the wrong also.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William Wilson, page 90.

The truth is, whether someone has a resentment, or is angry, has nothing to do with whether his statements are actually true. Whether I am happy or unhappy, or resentful or cheerful, has absolutely nothing to do with whether Bill Wilson was a lying fraud.

(Oh, and you really should keep Wilson's sermons in mind as you rage at me...)

I'm afraid your website is too long even for you to get a handle on! But, keep on writing. Another 10,000 pages, and you just might get this AA resentment out of your system.

But, have a nice day, anyway!

Pitch Black

I have a handle on it. You just need to learn how to read.

[third letter from Pitch Black, 20 January 2003:]

Dear Orange-pulp:

Regarding, "Us Stupid Drunks"

Now, let's get this one straight. It's ok for a guy to command the Army of the Potomac and be a drunk, but it's a scandal for a depressvie to write a book?. Can't follow my logic? That's because I'm extrapolating from your zany website. As part of your Ad Hominen attack on Bill W., you imply that the big book is a monstrosity partly because it is written by a man in a depression. Wow, what a slam at all your readers/supporters who happen to be depressed. I guess a depressed person is incapable of doing anything useful. I think you owe all your depressed readers an apology. But, let's leave that alone for a minute, and think about General Grant. Are you so certain that he was a great general? I can only imagine how you'd rip him apart if he were the topic of your hateful website, rather than Bill W. Let's not forget Cold Harbor, shall we? How many men slaughtered? 7,000 in about 15 minutes, wasn't it? "Grant, the Butcher", they called him. If you ever decide to uncover the truth about the Civil War, instead of just going over and over the same ground on AA, just think of how many millions of pages you could write. Here, let me get you started: (I shall use quotations, to put words in your mouth, even though you never said this. It is a propaganda trick you often use.) "Grant, after a lifetime of failure, manages through bribery and murder to get appointed commander of the Army of the Ohio. He nearly loses the war thanks to his bungling at Shiloh, then takes more than a year to conquer Vicksburg. All during this time, he was actually in communication with the Senate plotting to have Lincoln assassinated so he could take over. After manipulating his way to the top, he drags the war out through all of 1864 and much of 65, so that he can get his assassin, JW Booth into position for the kill. After the War, he spearheads the impeachment of Andrew Johnson, and takes over soon after. His administration occupies a singular place in American history for malfeasance and corruption. And in a final slam at truth, honor and dignity, Grant buys off his biographers, and is held blameless." Well, that's all for now. I leave it to you to fill in all the nasty details. You do it so well.

Well Pitch, that is one mighty fine conspiracy theory you have there. Now all you need to do is find some actual evidence to support your theory. Do you perhaps have a book written (or co-written) by Ulysses S. Grant that describes in detail how he is planning to assassinate Lincoln? Do you have a letter from General Grant to John Wilkes Booth, in Grant's handwriting, giving the kill order? Do you have any old files that show how Grant's plot unfolded? Do you have any financial records from Grant's cabal? Do you have letters from his associates that denounced his treasonous behavior?

That's the difference between your story about Grant and my story about Bill Wilson. I have the evidence. I have lots of evidence, starting with the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous, where Bill Wilson described his plans and even gave detailed instructions for how to hoodwink more people into joining his organization (chapter 7). And then we have Bill's second book, the hateful, twisted, Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, which clearly reveals the depths of Bill Wilson's madness. And we have Bill's attempt at a cover-up of what he had done, Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age. And we have two biographies that are based on the autobiographical tape recordings made by Bill Wilson before his death — Bill W. by Robert Thomsen, and Bill W., My First 40 Years, by The Hazelden Foundation. And then we have the history of A.A. according to the headquarters staff: Pass It On. And we have letters from Henrietta Seiberling and Clarence Snyder. And we have old financial records from the earliest days of The 100 Men Corporation, and Works Publishing. We have various sundry documents from other early A.A. members. And we even have a signed, notarized, statement from Doctor Bob's daughter Sue Smith Windows that says that Bill Wilson stole the copyright of the Big Book, and also stole the money that had been collected to publish the book.

Get together that kind of documentation to support your theory about General Grant and you will become a famous historian very quickly.

The big difference between Bill Wilson and General Grant is that Grant didn't start a cult religion and write books full of bombastic, grandiose lunacy that is supposed to save the lives of alcoholics, but kills them instead. General Grant isn't killing alcoholics today, but Bill Wilson is. That's why I'm writing about Bill Wilson, and not General Grant.

Think of your AA website, and your dirty little tactics. If there are 10 interpretations of an event, you shall accept the one that suits your beliefs, and ignore all the others. If there are 100 scientific studies published, you will ignore the ones that refute your position, and state and restate, and restate, and restate, ad infinitum the one that fits your paradigm. If someone has heard of a letter (written by a trustworthy guy!) that may or may not have existed that purports to slander BIll W. you will accept that fictional document, and ignore 100 actual documents that disprove your point. You, Orange-pulp, are a medieval man. You have accepted a perfect universe, one that damns AA on every score, and, like Thomas Aquinas, you sit in your cubicle fitting every phenomenon into your neat little sphere. Congratulations! You are RIGHT! And, there's nothing that anyone, anywhere, can say to disprove you.

And have a really nice day!

PItch Black

You speak of "10 different interpretations of an event." That is another common line that I hear from steppers, as if truth is just a matter of having an opinion or an interpretation, and one opinion is just as valid as any other. It isn't.

Even Professor George E. Vaillant, Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., recognized that when he analyzed the results of his 8-year long test of Alcoholics Anonymous treatment of alcoholics. He wrote:

...there is compelling evidence that the results of our treatment were no better than the natural history of the disease.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 283-286.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, pages 349-352.

The phrase "compelling evidence" is precise scientific language that means that the evidence forces Professor Vaillant to come to just one conclusion. There is no room for wishful thinking, or for another 9 opinions. Facts are facts.

And that's how it is when you have alcoholics dying. Whether they are dead isn't just a matter of your opinion versus my opinion. And Vaillant plainly stated that A.A. failed to help them, and they died.

And that's that.

Last but not least: you say,
"If there are 100 scientific studies published, you will ignore the ones that refute your position..."

Quite wrong. I have collected every valid test of the effectiveness of A.A. that I could find. And there aren't many. Also, I am still waiting for some A.A. true believer to send me even one report of a valid test of Alcoholics Anonymous treatment that shows A.A. to be good, effective, treatment for alcoholism. I have been inviting such submissions for a long time now, and have received nothing. So have at it. Send me something. There are no good randomized controlled studies of the efficacy of A.A. treatment that show that A.A. actually works, or saves lives that I know of, not even one. All of the valid tests say that A.A. does not work, and A.A. kills alcoholics. Even A.A. Trustee George E. Vaillant got that result when he did his 8-year-long test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics.

How you do a good randomized controlled study is:

  • Get a large bunch of alcoholics from somewhere, the more the better.
  • Randomly, evenly, divide them into two groups.
  • Send one group to A.A..
  • Do nothing with the other group. Just send them home and ignore them. Let them drink all they want. That's the control group that gets no "treatment" for alcoholism.
  • Check on all of those alcoholics at least once a year, for as many years as possible, preferably for at least for five or six years, and see how they are doing. Count how many are dead, and how many are still drinking too much, and how many are abstaining, and how many are drinking moderately. Also check their arrest records and see who got repeatedly re-arrested for public drunkenness or for drunk driving.
  • Then compare the results from the control group to the results from the A.A. group to see what effect A.A. really had on the alcoholics.

That experiment has been done a few times, and the results were that A.A. did nothing good. It made the alcoholics worse, and even killed them. Cult religion just is not a good treatment program for alcoholism. Go read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment.

For your information, what I don't want to receive is phony, faked, studies that are just propaganda intended to fool people into thinking that A.A. works, like the so-called studies that show that people who go to A.A. meetings drink less than people who go to bars. Well of course. That isn't a test. Those people are self-selecting groups. People who want to drink go to bars while the people who want to be sober, and have been made to believe that A.A. is somehow necessary for sobriety, go to A.A. meetings.

That is like discovering that the girls who join convents and become nuns get pregnant less often than the girls who go out with the boys on Saturday night, so nuns' prayers must have a magical birth-control effect.

Please don't submit articles like "Spirituality: The key to recovery from alcoholism" or "The Spiritual Dimension of Healing". Those things are not tests or experiments at all. They are just some more deceptive propaganda.

And please don't forget the question,
Why do you applaud and cheer for people getting two-month coins at A.A. meetings, but sneer at two years of sobriety achieved outside of A.A.?

Please answer that question. Thank you.

Have a good day.

— Orange

[fourth letter from Pitch Black, 24 January 2003:]

Dear Orange-pulp:

My apologies. You're quite right. You were referring to 12 Steps and 12 Traditions, not the Big Book when you referred to Bill as a "raving lunatic." But, you still didn't answer my objection to condemning all depressives, now did you?

I did not condemn all depressives. You are misquoting me again. What I said was that it was grossly dishonest and phony for Bill Wilson to write that 12X12 was a manual for how to live happily by using the Twelve Steps, and that working the program had not had any ill effects:

A.A.'s Twelve Steps are a group of principles, spiritual in their nature, which, if practiced as a way of life, can expel the obsession to drink and enable the sufferer to become happily and usefully whole.
Many people, nonalcoholics, report that as a result of the practice of A.A.'s Twelve Steps, they have been able to meet other difficulties of life. They think that the Twelve Steps can mean more than sobriety for problem drinkers. They see in them a way to happy and effective living for many, alcoholic or not.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 15-16.

But dependence upon an A.A. group or Higher Power hasn't produced any baleful results.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 38.

Bill Wilson hid the fact that he was actually so unhappy, so mentally ill, so depressed, that he was completely disabled and under the care of a psychiatrist — Dr. Harry Tiebout.
No baleful results indeed.
The 12 Steps really made Bill happy and usefully whole, didn't they? After 16 years of Working The Steps, all he could do was lay in bed and stare at the ceiling all day, or just sit in his office and hold his head in his hands all day long. But he didn't bother to tell his readers about that part of the story, did he, while he was telling everybody to Work The Steps? That's what I was condemning. The deceit, the dishonesty.

I shall answer your question about my "sneering" at your two years of sobriety, but first, let me address a few of your issues. First, let's take your comment about Lincoln having made the statement while I was "out of the room." Any historian knows that you have to be able to prove that a quote was rendered, not that a quote was NOT rendered. Even you know better than that. If one uses that standard of historical accuracy, anything goes. They use that sort of logic down on the "right" side of AM radio. You are quite right that Sandburg told that story. You might wish to look at the copyright of Sandburg's book, while you're at it. It's quite, ... how shall I put it? ... old. Recent scholarship shows that the story is apocryphal.

Hold on right there. That's another one of those sweeping, unsupported statements. Show me the evidence. Cite the documentation. Whose "scholarship" shows that Sandburg's biography of Lincoln is inaccurate, and that the story is apocryphal?

A little further down in this letter, you accuse me of using innuendo. You just gave us a great demonstration of innuendo right there:
"You might wish to look at the copyright of Sandburg's book, while you're at it. It's quite, ... how shall I put it? ... old."
Since when does the publication date of Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln determine whether it is a good biography? Abraham Lincoln is getting a little old now, too, you know.

You make those dramatic statements but you never supply any evidence to support your statements.
I'm beginning to suspect that you are just using "Propaganda Technique Number 2" a lot: just make stuff up.

Show me the proof.

As for you telling me that I'm "quibbling" about your "get off their asses" line, I"m afraid that is NOT quibbling. It is typical of your whole strategy to play fast and loose with the facts, add in any old innuendo, to make a point. You give yourself away, and I'm sure your more intelligent readers can see it in a second. Let's take a simple example. You blame Dr. Bob for his daughter's unhappy marriage. She was under his Hitlerian fist. The poor dear! But, your standard for everyone else is so high! For we mortals, you demand that we stand on our own two feet, take responsibility for our own actions, etc. etc. You grasp at any item that will further your argument, and because of that you are a fraud and a liar. So, please go and "research" whether Lincoln told people to "get off their asses." Something tells me you won't waste much time on that project. And, after your research shows you're wrong, will you edit that out of your website? No, like Pilate, what you have written, you have written!

So you think what Doctor Bob did to Sue is okay? You think that shoving a constantly-relapsing, philandering old drunkard on his daughter against her will was the act of a wise, sane, compassionate man? Do you really think that someone who would do that to his own daughter is qualified to tell everybody else how to live?

And you want more research on Lincoln and Grant's whiskey? Here is some more:

Of course, Mrs. Lincoln served wine to guests on formal occasions, and it was often remarked that the President, despite his moral support for temperance in the military, chose not to enforce such a policy. Nothing he said in this regard was as well known as his joke about sending Grant's brand of whiskey to other generals in the field. Obviously, if he was a total abstainer himself, he was not eager to impose that standard on everybody else.80

80. See, in general, William H. Townsend, Lincoln and Liquor (New York, 1934), and Harry M. Lydenberg, "Lincoln and Prohibition: Blazes on a Zig-zag," American Antiquarian Society Proceedings, n.s., v. 62 (1952), 9-62; Swett, in Reminiscences of Abraham Lincoln, Allen T. Rice, ed., 8th ed. (New York, 1889), 462-63; William O. Stoddard, Inside the White House in War Times (New York, 1890), 59-61.
Lincoln In American Memory, Merrill D. Peterson, pages 247 & 430.

T. LYLE DICKEY, [later] a judge of the Illinois Supreme Court . . . , at the time of Grant's famous Vicksburg campaign [May-July, 1863], was on the General's staff as chief of cavalry. Judge (then Colonel) Dickey had been sent to Washington with private dispatches for the President and Secretary of War. Lincoln and Dickey had been intimate friends for years, and during the latter's visit to the former on that occasion, Dickey remarked, "I hear that some one has been trying to poison you against Grant by reporting that he gets drunk. I wish to assure you, Mr. President, that there is not a scintilla of truth in the report."
      "Oh, Colonel," replied the President, "we get all sorts of reports here, but I'll say this to you: that if those accusing General Grant of getting drunk will tell me where he gets his whiskey, I will get a lot of it and send it around to some of the other generals, who are badly in need of something of the kind."
--Francis Fisher Browne
A Civil War Treasury of Tales, Legends, and Folklore, B. A. Botkin, page 243-244.

Are you going to claim that new "scholarship" has discredited those authors too? Is all of that apocryphal too?

As far as research showing AA's efficacy, or lack thereof, every medical text I've encountered posits that AA does not lend itself to a scientific study, since the members are anonymous, don't sign any register, are not listed, etc. etc.

Once again, show me the proof. What "medical texts" said what? I want quotations, citations, book names, author names, page numbers. Or are you just making stuff up?

And you are really shooting yourself in the foot there. It isn't a matter of "A.A. not lending itself to scientific study".
The faith-healing A.A. Twelve-Step program just flat-out does not work. Period.
Voodoo medicine and faith healing do not work. Period.
That's why A.A. cannot pass any real tests.
That's why the true believers like you spread the story that A.A. works in some magical non-scientific way that cannot be measured or detected.

How do you count an AA member? If he comes once, leaves, and comes again, leaves, and then gets sober, is he a failure twice and a success once? This one guy would be counted as a 67% percent failure rate, yet in actuality, he's a 100% success. You reject this logic, obviously, and hammer us to death with that single study from the Harvard Newsletter. Are you certain that study was truly accurate? It flies in the face of my 15 plus years of observation. Has it been repeated? Don't these kind of studies need to be repeated? So, you accept this study unquestioningly, because it fits your paradigm.

Your logic about 'the 67% problem' is faulty. I'm not counting anything that way, and neither did Professor Vaillant or anyone else that I'm citing. Of course you do not count them, or uncount them, every time they walk into or out of "the rooms".

I told you how to do a controlled study in the previous letter. You count and measure all of the people in both groups at the end of the test, and you compare the A.A. group to the control group to see what effect A.A. had on the A.A. group.

It's really very simple. You are just trying to create confusion to mask the fact that A.A. does not have a success rate. (It just has a failure rate.)

Precisely what have you seen in your "15 years of observation"? You again indulge in some vague hand-waving. What percentage of the newcomers actually got sober?
(And you have to count all of the newcomers, too. No excuses.)

If the total success rate was 5% or less, then that's just spontaneous remission at work, again. The number of additional people who quit drinking, above and beyond the spontaneous remission rate, is zero. So that gives A.A. a success rate of zero. It's very simple. So instead of just declaring that you have seen stuff, please tell us what your success rate has been for the last 15 years.

By the way, I challenged you to come up with even just one valid randomized controlled study of A.A. that showed that A.A. works to cure or save alcoholics — that shows that A.A. is an effective treatment program for alcoholism. You seem to be ignoring or evading that challenge. Instead, you claim that some unnamed medical books say that you can't figure out what the A.A. success rate really is.

If you are going to ignore (or duck) the opportunity to show us the success rate of A.A., then please do not again accuse me of
"If there are 100 scientific studies published, you will ignore the ones that refute your position..."
What ones that refute my position? Show me the evidence. Never mind 100, show me just one.

Then, you blithely assert that MOST people are able to recover on their own. Well, maybe some of them do. I never said that nobody recovers on their own.

Yes, MOST. Not "some", most, like 80% of them, do it on their own. Recovery without voodoo medicine or faith healing is the tried and true method that works for most successful people.

However, has it ever occurred to you that any study that actually asks the person in question for an assessement of his/her drinking is bound to be flawed? Aren't alcoholics notorious for lying about their drinking? Isn't it likely that if you contacted a known alcoholic and asked him how his drinking is progressing that he's going to tell you that "all is well?"

Dishonesty in answering questions is always a problem that researchers must watch out for. However, you overlook the obvious fact that the people in both the A.A. group and the non-A.A. group are probably equally likely to fib about their success or failure, so the effect of prevarication is likely to cancel out.

And some things are pretty hard to hide, like being sick unto death from drinking. People who are sick and stinking and hung-over aren't going to fool the researchers when they claim that they haven't been drinking at all. And if they aren't sick or hung-over or showing any ill effects from alcohol, and can easily fool the researchers, then how much could they really be drinking?

Besides, the dead ones find it very difficult to lie and fool the researchers about their current status.

You are again just trying to confuse the issue, and obfuscate the simple truth that A.A. does not have a success rate.

Why are you so willing to believe anyone who says that they've recovered on their own, yet are totally unwilling to believe anyone who says that they have recovered in AA? Why do you believe and validate every person who relates an AA horror story, but reject every person who says that AA is wonderful and saved their lives? Why do you use this double standard? Maybe you can answer that question for me, — in less than 5,000 words, and without citing George Valiant and the Harvard Newsletter, please.

I do not reject every pro-A.A. story. Read the file of "What's Good About A.A.?" Read the earlier letters. What I object to is things like people making illogical jumps to conclusions, like:

  1. I went to A.A. and then quit drinking.
  2. Therefore A.A. works.
Item one does not prove item two.

Try this: What if someone says:

  1. I went to Satanic ceremonies where we offered up blood sacrifices to Satan, begging Him to help us quit drinking.
  2. Right after that, I quit drinking.
  3. Therefore, praying to Satan, and making sacrifices to Satan, really works great for getting sobriety.

Are you buying that? I'm not. But it's the same bad logic: Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc — "It happened after something, so it was caused by that something."

You accuse AA's of being inflexible, and yet you are the most doctrinaire person I've ever encountered. Let's take an example. In your twisted medieval mind, AA is a "total failure." People who drop out of AA fail because of AA. People who die after being exposed to AA die because of AA. People who die without going to AA die because AA was the only game in town and they preferred dying than going to AA. AND, people who go to AA and get sober, are kidding themselves. They really got sober by themselves, and their attendance at AA was just a coincidence, — something like a "rabbit's foot", I think you said. So, AA is a total, utter, comlete failure and abomination. WOW. I remember reading about this strategy of argumentation. It's called the "Big Lie" and its master proponent was none other than Adolf Hitler. If you said that AA had some problems that needed ironing out, then everyone in AA would agree with you. And you'd hate that, would'nt you? So, you construct this monstrous conspiracy theory to satisfy some weird obsession. Of course you don't see that, do you? This website is dedicated to truth, justice, and the American way!

You are trying to dodge the obvious truth that A.A. is basically a superstitious program, one that is based on dabbling in the occult, and one that tries to use faith healing to cure a deadly problem. That's why it doesn't help people. That's why they die. Teaching people to believe in the goofy dogma of A.A. does hurt them, and even makes some of them die early. Professor George E. Vaillant, Class A Trustee of Alcoholics Anonymous, clearly showed that, remember?

Constantly repeating the untrue story that A.A. works great is the Big Lie.

One thing that I can't help but notice is your total lack of evidence to support your statements. You just complain about mine. You complain that I quote doctors and professors and other knowledgeable people too much. But you don't quote or cite anybody or anything. You have not provided any evidence that A.A. works — you just say it works because you wish to believe that it works. Where's the evidence? Where's the proof?

What is your success rate?

You are also trying to avoid the obvious fact that A.A. has gone out of its way to suppress any alternative, competing methods of recovery. That isn't the American way.

Now, finally, the answer to your question. I didn't sneer at your two years of sobriety, although it may have seemed that way. It is quite an accomplishment, actually. I was sneering at your smug confidence that you have beaten the game, and you did it all by yourself. I applaud the two-year man in AA because he still realizes that he's not out of the woods. He knows that alcohol is a subtle foe, and that he has to treat the mental illness one day at a time. You, in your arrogance, think that you've conquered it all by yourself.

In other words, yes, you are sneering at my two years, because I'm not showing the proper fear, humility, and subservience.
I am not a good cult member.
You say that I am "arrogant" for not needing superstition and paranoia in my life.

You think two years is a long time, but it is not long for John Barleycorn. He's still got your number. And, you can accuse me of fearmongering, because, my friend, there's much to fear!

You are anthropomorphizing again, and you really are also using fear-mongering. There is no such monster as John Barleycorn who is immortal, and who never rests, and who is stalking me in the dark, waiting to get me. You are just trying to scare the children with stories of the bogeyman, again. (You really should go write scripts for Hollywood slasher movies.)

I've been sober many, many years longer than that, and I've seen arrogant guys like you... (and like me, for that matter) fall to alcoholism. If you do drink again, I pity you. It will be pretty hard for you to come crawling in to AA after all the slander you've heaped on a program that has saved millions of lives. It will take a lot of humility, and I wonder if you've got it.

Pitch Black

Even if I did return to drinking, I would not go to a voodoo medicine cult to get help. But don't worry. I'm not really in as much danger as you think. It's the A.A. people who relapse into binge drinking so much, remember?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.
And don't forget to tell us what "scholarship" has rendered Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln obsolete.
And don't forget the list of quotes from the medical books that declare that the success rate of A.A. cannot be determined.
In the mean time, I'll go find some more quotes from Abraham Lincoln.

— Orange

[Pitch Black's fifth letter, 26 January 2003:]

Dear Orange Pulp:

I don't think I can beat you up like this any more. It's really not right. I'm just going to point out that you have failed to address several points that I made in my last letter. The reason for your failure to address my questions is because you ARE WRONG, and you know it After all, you asked me to address my comment about sneering at your two years of sobriety. I did as you requested, forthrightly, and directly. So, let me repeat my points, and give you one more chance to address the issues.

Beating up on me? Very funny. You haven't scored any points yet. I asked you for some facts and you have not come up with one. I've already read this letter, and I see that again you just make wild claims. You still have not supplied a single fact, quotation, or citation to support your statements. Are you allergic to books and libraries?

1. I asked you to comment on your quote of Lincoln that he told his generals to "get off their asses." I see that you have not addressed that issue at all, but rather, have sent me a list of undated material, the authors of which, undoubtedly read Sandburg. So, let's leave it at that. You are an amateurish historian. I notice that you cite a book called "Civil War Tales, Folklore, and Legends." hahahaahahahahahahhaha..... You're really hurting me, here man!.. Which of those three things is the quote listed under? Is it a TALE, FOLKLORE, or LEGEND? Listen, it's not really worth our while to argue this one. You're making a fool of yourself. Frankly, it's a great quote, and we all wish Lincoln actually had said it. I read in several sources that it has been found to be untrue. If I find the source, I'll send it along. Meanwhile, have you deleted the line about "asses?" It is an insult to our greatest national figure, you know.

Oh, now that's really funny. You feel called upon to turn into a super-patriot and gallantly defend the honor of President Abraham Lincoln? I don't think he really needs your help.

As far as the "get off of their asses" phrase is concerned, I told you that I was still looking. Have you gone to the library and gotten any quotes about Sandburg's scholarship, or quotes from medical books on the efficacy of A.A. yet?

Which "several sources" found the story about Grant's whiskey to be untrue, and HOW did they determine that it is untrue? Can't you remember anything? Can't you give us even a little vague hint about who discovered what, and when and where and how? (When you challenged me, I came up with three quotes in a couple of days, remember? So let's get with the program, shall we?) Just because somebody comes along and says that Carl Sandburg was wrong doesn't prove anything... His documentation and references must be better than Sandburg's. I'll definitely be waiting for your report.

The story in the book that you criticize would pretty obviously fall into the category of "tale", since it involves a real historical figure and friend of Abraham Lincoln, Judge/Colonel T. LYLE DICKEY, and was reported by another named person, Francis Fisher Browne.

I notice that you have simply ignored the other quote and its many references. Are you going to claim that they are all bad historians, too? You claim that they all "undoubtedly read Sandburg". Where is your evidence for that? And what's wrong with that?

  • You just slander Carl Sandberg while providing no evidence whatsoever that Carl Sandburg was mistaken.
  • Then you try to pass off your assumption that Sandburg was wrong as a reason to proclaim that everybody else is wrong too. That's a demonstration of the propaganda technique of Petitio Principii — assuming facts not in evidence.
And, as they say in the television infomercials: But wait! There's more!

Of course, the rumors about Grant's habitual drunkenness existed during the war, as evidenced by Halleck's insinuations during the early war years and by Lincoln's acknowledgement that whatever Grant was drinking should be distributed to other generals, too.
The Longest Night; A Military History of the Civil War, David J. Eicher, page 659.
Simon & Schuster, New York, 2001.
ISBN 0-684-84944-5   E470.E35 2001   973.73 E34L 2001

But I suppose you are going to say that Eicher was corrupted by Carl Sandburg too, right?

And feast your eyes on this old quote. It just gets better and better:

Finally, in July 1862, when General Halleck was called to Washington as General-in-Chief, Grant was put at the head of the armies of the West. There was much opposition to him. Men came to the President urging his removal. Lincoln shook his head. "I can't spare this man," he said; "he fights." Many good people complained that he drank. "Can you tell me the kind of whiskey?" asked Lincoln, "I should like to send a barrel to some of my other generals."
The Life of Abraham Lincoln; Drawn from original sources and containing many Speeches, Letters, and Telegrams hitherto unpublished and Illustrated with many reproductions from original Paintings, Photographs, etc., by Ida M. Tarbell
Volume 3, page 144.
Published by The S.S. McClure Co., 1895, 1896, 1898, 1899.
Copyright 1900 by McClure, Phillips & Co.
Reprinted by the Lincoln Historical Society, New York, MCMII
Dewey call number: B L736T v.3

Are you going to tell us that Mr. Tarbell was corrupted by Carl Sandburg back in 1895? Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln was not published until 1936.

Besides, do know what this whole argument is? It is the propaganda technique called Nit-Picking, as well as Divert Attention. You keep hammering away at the Lincoln quote as if the worth of Alcoholics Anonymous will be determined by whether Abraham Lincoln said that he wanted to send a barrel of Grant's whiskey to his other generals who had yet to win a battle, or whether Lincoln really said that he wished his generals would get off of their asses and go win some battles. You pointedly ignore the important issues like Bill Wilson's insanity and dishonesty, and just want to argue about General Grant and Abraham Lincoln.

So let's get back to some relevant issues, like Bill Wilson the raving lunatic, and Bill Wilson the felonious thief, and Bill Wilson the phony holy man and cult leader, and Bill Wilson the stock swindler, and other fun stuff like that...

2. Did Dr. Bob tie his daughter up and force her to walk down the aisle with that guy? Wasn't she over 18 years old? When Dr. Bob "shoved" him her way, didn't she know how to say "no"?

Ernie Galbraith,
"A.A. Number Four",
the constantly-relapsing philanderer whom Dr. Bob forced on his daughter.

She did say "no". She fought with her father for years over Ray Windows. She was in love with Ray, and only wanted Ray. Dr. Bob didn't like Ray because he was just a regular, rather unspectacular high-school kid. Dr. Bob got the bright idea of using the older man Ernie Galbraith, A.A. Number Four, to split up Susan and Ray. He asked Ernie to show an interest in Sue, to horn in and break up Sue and Ray. It worked. Ray was 31 when Ray and Sue were only 17, so Ernie was able to just heavy Ray out and scare him off.

But Ernie Galbraith was an alcoholic philanderer. Having him "show an interest in" Sue was really like having the fox guard the henhouse. Any farmer stupid enough to do that should not be surprised to find his plumpest hen eaten. The teenage girl Susan was pretty defenseless against the well-practiced older charmer Ernie. So he seduced her and took her for himself. Doctor Bob bitterly complained that Ernie had "double-crossed him."

Read Children Of The Healer; The Story Of Doctor Bob's Kids, by Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows.

Also see the write-up under the Cult Test item "Disturbed Gurus".

In an earlier letter, you sarcastically asked if he was a fascist who forced his will on her. Yes, that's about the right description of his behavior. Sue wrote:

He grabbed me. He would grab me by the arm and dig those fingernails into me. And he'd give me that look.
Children Of The Healer; The Story Of Doctor Bob's Kids, Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, page 49.

He told me that "as long as you live in my house, young lady, you're going to do as I say." It was the old Vermont chill — he could do it with that voice and those steely blue eyes.
Children Of The Healer; The Story Of Doctor Bob's Kids, Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, page 33.

He was a cruel petty tyrant — somebody who groveled like a naughty little boy before his wife as she searched his pockets for liquor every time he came into the house (read his story in the Big Book, "Doctor Bob's Nightmare"), but who was a harsh, cruel, autocratic tyrant to his children. That's the classic petty tyrant — a weak man who gets his jollies by lording it over someone else who is even weaker, like children. (Or like shaky, weak, detoxing alcoholics, whom he made surrender on their knees before him.)

Dr. Robert Smith, 1949.

Sue wrote about her earlier childhood:

The paddle Dad used on us came from a game that had a ball with it. One end of the paddle was big and one end was little. Dad used the little end, the part that hurt like the dickens. Mom would use the big end; it didn't hurt so much for some reason. Well, Dad found out and he whittled it down so that both ends were the same. He always kept that paddle on an inside shelf of the bathroom closet. It was about a half-inch thick. Like I say, when we got it, we knew it.
Children Of The Healer; The Story Of Doctor Bob's Kids, Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, page 49.

What kind of a sick sadistic alcoholic child-abuser sits around whittling a paddle with which to beat his children, carving it so that it will cause more pain?

And there is more, lots more, like the daughter of Susan and Ernie ended up getting pregnant at 16, and then, several years later, killed herself and her own young daughter with Ernie's shotgun in a double murder-suicide. Neurosis and insanity ran rampant in the Smith family.

Go read:
Children Of The Healer: The Story of Dr. Bob's Kids
Bob Smith and Sue Smith Windows, As Told to Christine Brewer
Parkside Publishing Corp., Park Ridge, IL, 1992.
Hazelden Information Services, Center City, MN, 1994.
ISBN 1-56838-3126 or 0-942421-48-5
Dewey: 362.292 SM52C
LCCN: 92-64114

3. Was the famous Harvard study repeated? Did they interview their subjects in order to get their information? You, yourself admit that there is a problem with that approach. Admit that this study is FLAWED, and stop citing it like it's gospel truth.

How do you know it was flawed? You keep making these wild accusations, supported by no facts at all. Why don't you go argue with the Harvard Medical School? All they do is teach doctors and save lives, but what does that matter? I'm sure that you know much more about medicine than they do, right? When did you receive your doctorate?

To answer your other questions, the article in the Harvard Mental Health Letter was a report that simply stated what the situation was, as they saw it, as they summarized current medical knowledge. It was not the results of one individual scientific experiment that might need to be repeated for verification. If you don't like their conclusions, then complain to the Harvard Medical School. Personally, I feel much more comfortable trusting their opinion, rather than yours. (They do not seem to have such a propensity for just making stuff up, or making unsupported claims.)

4. You keep demanding a scientific study of AA's success. However, in the absence of a fascist state, how can we gather our research for this study that you demand? IT CANT BE DONE!!! CAN YOU HEAR ME?? IT CANT BE DONE!! Stop asking for what you know can't be produced.

Now you are really losing it. That is pathetic.

A few letters earlier, you accused me of ignoring something like a hundred scientific studies that reported positive results for Alcoholics Anonymous, and of just picking a few that reported bad results.

So I asked you to show me some of those allegedly positive reports, or even just one.
You didn't.

And now you claim that the studies cannot be done without making our nation into a fascist state?

  • Well, the NIAAA was able to do Project MATCH without plunging the USA into fascism, wasn't it?
  • Professor George E. Vaillant, Trustee of AAWS, was able to do his 8-year longitudinal study of A.A. treatment without having storm troopers goose-stepping down Pennsylvania Avenue.
  • And Dr. Jeffrey Brandsma managed to conduct his 5-year long study of the outpatient treatment of alcoholism without moving Nazis into the White House.
  • And then, even without the help of the Gestapo, Dr. Diana C. Walsh and associates managed to conduct a test that allowed alcoholics a limited choice of treatment programs. That solves the problem of the unconstitutionality of sentencing people to A.A., because A.A. meetings are religious ceremonies. If you give them a choice between A.A. or some rational, non-religious kind of treatment, then you aren't violating their civil rights. The results were: those who chose AA still did the worst (about as bad as those who were assigned to AA).

So your lame excuse that we cannot test A.A. without making the USA a fascist state is ridiculous. It is doubly ridiculous when we consider how steppers love to have the judge sentence drunk drivers to go to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings. Fascism and violation of people's civil rights doesn't bother you then, does it?

Besides, you accused me of ignoring something like a hundred scientific studies that existed. Where are they?

5. Why won't you accept anyone's experience at face value, UNLESS it corresponds to your notions of reality. Why do you deny that AA ever works for anyone, when thousands of people claim it works for them right now? You didn't address your double standard?

I don't accept anecdotal evidence and testimonials as proof of anything because they are completely unreliable and worthless, that's why. We've been over this before. Testimonials are nothing but stories like:
"I was sick. I drank Dr. Bummer's Green Snake Oil® and then I got better. So that green snake oil is really great medicine, and it really works good."
The speaker has no way of knowing whether he got better because of the snake oil, or because his body just healed itself, just the same as it always does.

That's why the FDA demands rigorously-controlled randomized tests and studies of drugs and treatments, and will not even consider testimonials, stories, or anecdotal evidence as proof of efficacy.

We discussed testimonials in the previous letter. Such bad logic is called Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc. That means, "It happened after something, so it was caused by that something." That is, of course, invalid logic, just jumping to conclusions, and seeing cause-and-effect relationships where none exist. It is just like "Every morning, the rooster crows. Then the sun rises. So the rooster's crowing makes the sun rise."

Even worse, the way that A.A. uses testimonials is biased and dishonest. If someone quits drinking, then A.A. and the Twelve Steps get the credit. If someone relapses and dies drunk, then the individual A.A. member gets all of the blame.
It's a "Heads I win, Tails you lose" con game.

And, A.A. routinely disavows any connection with the failures. The drop-outs and failures are stubbornly ignored when you count your "thousands of people [who] claim it works for them". You always say something like, "Well, they didn't do the program right, so they don't count."

Likewise, how about this logic:

1.) Joe did his Fifth Step and quit drinking. Therefore, The Fifth Step works to make people quit drinking.

2.) Paddy and Jackie did a bunch of Twelfth-Step recruiting work, and then they relapsed and went out and died drunk. Therefore, the Twelfth Step works to make people go out and die drunk.

That's anecdotal evidence, and proof by anecdote. Do you find that acceptable?

In addition, the stories in the Big Book are just so much cherry-picking. Bill Wilson never told what really happened with Big Book authors who relapsed. When early Big Book authors relapsed and died drunk, their stories were simply silently replaced. Think about Henry Parkhurst, Florence Rankin (the second A.A. woman), and Ernie Galbraith, all of whom wrote stories for the Big Book about how A.A. had saved them from alcoholism. When they went out and died drunk, Bill didn't bother to report what actually happened to them, did he? No, Bill just quietly replaced their stories with some more stories from other people who raved about how A.A. had saved their lives. That is grossly dishonest. And that makes such testimonials completely worthless.

It's just like your refusal to answer my question about "What is your success rate?"
You stubbornly refuse to discuss hard numbers, and instead just wave your hands in the air and claim "it works for thousands"...

And, while we're at it, here are a few more questions for you:

And, while we are at it, stop right there.
The propaganda technique you are now trying to pull is called Divert Attention. You are trying to change the subject to avoid dealing with all of the points you have lost.

Before we go off on a tangent, there is a lot of unfinished old business:

  1. How do you rationalize Bill Wilson writing that 16 years of Working The Steps and being dependent on Alcoholics Anonymous had produced "no baleful results" while the truth was that he was so depressed that he was completely nonfunctional and under the care of a psychiatrist?

    But dependence upon an A.A. group or Higher Power hasn't produced any baleful results.
    Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, page 38.

  2. You stated:
    "every medical text I've encountered posits that AA does not lend itself to a scientific study..."

    And I said:
    'Once again, show me the proof. What "medical texts" said what? I want quotations, citations, book names, author names, page numbers. Or are you just making stuff up?'

    You have been noticeably silent on the subject.

  3. You said:
    "It flies in the face of my 15 plus years of observation..."

    And I asked:
    Precisely what have you seen in your "15 years of observation"?
    You again indulge in some vague hand-waving.
    What percentage of the newcomers actually got sober?
    (And you have to count all of the newcomers, too. No excuses.)

    You have been noticeably silent on the subject.
    Don't you even want to brag about your great success rate?

    What is your success rate?

  4. I said,
    "You are trying to dodge the obvious truth that A.A. is basically a superstitious program, one that is based on dabbling in the occult, and one that tries to use faith healing to cure a deadly problem. That's why it doesn't help people. That's why they die."

    You haven't answered that.

  5. Don't forget the answer to: "What expert historians have proven that Carl Sandburg's famous huge multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln is now obsolete and unreliable?"

  6. And don't forget: "Where are the hundred scientific studies that you accused me of ignoring?"

Now, I guess we can look at your new questions:

6. Do you think tobacco addiction and alcohol addiction are the same things, basically? It seems that virtually everyone who used tobacco becomes addicted to it, but a minority of people who use alcohol develop problems. You don't believe that we alcoholics have any underlying problems? We just overdid it, and got hooked. So, just get unhooked, and all is well? I think you're kidding yourself. But, I like to think I'm open minded. Convince me.

You are not even making any sense there.

What does tobacco addiction have to do with alcoholics having underlying problems, besides the fact that tobacco makes alcoholics' health problems even worse? Of course getting unhooked will improve the situation. But what's your point?

If you are trying to imply that I don't know that alcoholics often have other problems besides drinking too much, then you have it exactly backwards. I'm the one who has been objecting to some fundamentalist steppers telling my friend not to take his medications. If you had bothered to read the cult test, you would know that. I have repeatedly criticized A.A. for failing to deal with underlying medical or psychiatric problems, and telling people not to take their medications, and just insisting that the Twelve Steps will fix everything.

Ah, but there is really one more twist to this thing in your mind, isn't there?
It's what actually started this whole long exchange of letters. You were reading the file "Us Stupid Drunks" and flipped out when I actually said one good thing about one alcoholic — General Ulysses S. Grant. You couldn't handle that. You couldn't handle me criticizing Bill Wilson's stereotype of alcoholics that says that all alcoholics are selfish and manipulative and resentful and self-seeking and examples of self-will run riot and instincts gone astray... The "underlying problem" that you are hinting at is SIN, isn't it? It's "sin", also known as "moral shortcomings", also known as "character defects". That's the underlying problem that you hint that I am ignoring, isn't it? You want to claim that all of those nasty criminal alcoholics must go to A.A. and confess their sins in order to get just a "one-day reprieve from death", right?

You imagine that nobody can recover from alcoholism unless they get religion and get down on their knees and start confessing everything to God, don't you?

7. You aren't true to your own logic either, I think. You tell people to get sober by themselves. But when people say they can't, you tell them to go to one of the alternative AA's. Are you sure they're not "cults" also? Maybe you better start researching them. Also, if you admit that there are, indeed, people who can't get sober by themselves, then why do you claim that everyone who goes to AA and gets sober, basically DID do it by themselves. Would they have done it by themselves if there was no AA to go to? Isn't this a weakness in your case?

  • I said that I got sober by my own efforts, without any group.
  • I said that "Do It Yourself" was the way that most successful people do it.
  • The Harvard Medical School said that 80% of the successful quitters do it alone.
  • And, when a previous correspondent challenged me to come up with a program that works as well as A.A., I said, "That's easy: No treatment. Nothing. Do It Yourself."
    Nothing, no treatment at all, works just as well as Alcoholics Anonymous.

But I never said that everybody had to do it that way.

I have repeatedly, even in letters to you, said that the support of a group of friends can be helpful, and that a change of environment, to get out of old habits, can be helpful, and I recommended that people check out other groups like SMART, SOS, WFS, and MFS, to see if they like them, and to see if they can be helpful.

So why aren't those other groups also cults?
That is a wonderful question. I'm so glad you asked.

Well, just to give you a very short list of the most obvious items:

  1. They don't say that you have to go to their meetings forever.
  2. They don't push insane, irrational dogma, voodoo medicine, and faith healing.
  3. They don't claim that they can make you hear the voice of God, telling you what to do, and giving you the power to do it.
  4. They don't try to make you feel guilty by demanding that you make lists of every sin you ever committed, and every wrong ever done to another person.
  5. They don't make you confess your sins to another group member.
  6. Their meetings are not public confession sessions.
  7. They don't push superstition as medical treatment.
  8. They don't demand that you surrender your will and your life to the group.
  9. They don't demand that you become dependent on the group.
  10. They don't induce phobias — they don't tell people that they will die drunk if they quit the group.
  11. They don't induce feelings of powerlessness in members.
  12. They don't tell you to get a sponsor who will supervise your indoctrination.
  13. They don't tell people with mental problems not to take their doctor-prescribed medications.
  14. Their organizations weren't founded by, and their doctrines weren't created by, a psychotic who suffered from delusions of grandeur and a narcissistic personality disorder.
  15. Likewise, their primary books and manuals are not the ravings of that psychotic.
  16. Their organizations are not just off-shoots of an old cult religion.
  17. They do not teach that you can just make up any old God or "Higher Power" of your own choosing, and pray to it, and get great results.
  18. They don't say that your mind is defective and that your thinking is alcoholic, so you should just let your sponsor do your thinking for you.
  19. They don't claim to have a panacea.
  20. They don't claim to use supernatural powers.
  21. They don't claim that they get Guidance from God.
  22. They don't claim that they are "Seeking and Doing the Will of God".
  23. They don't try to saturate beginners with their dogma by demanding that beginners do 90 meetings in 90 days.
  24. They don't claim to have The One And Only Way.
  25. They do not demand that you pray to God or some other "Higher Power".
  26. They don't bombard you with slogans, thought-stopping clichés, and in-group lingo.
  27. They don't consider the first 164 pages of their books to be so holy that those books cannot be changed, corrected, or updated, even one tiny little bit.
  28. They don't claim that God guided their leader to write the group's book.
  29. No hero worship. They don't have holy gurus like Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob.
  30. They don't practice deceptive recruiting.
  31. They don't practice coercive recruiting.
  32. They don't pull a lot of bait and switch stunts on you.
  33. They don't have programs that look like carbon copies of standard brainwashing programs.
Want more? I've got lots more, like 70 or 80 more...

Go read The Cult Test for further information.

Basically, Pulpie, I think you're off the wall. You have a deep hatred of AA, and you've channelled all this energy into this website. I must admit that it has its attractions, and God knows AA could be improved.

My "deep hatred", as you call it, is basically my objection to A.A. and N.A. hurting my friends with cult religion and voodoo medicine. Knock it off, and quit doing deceptive recruiting and coercive recruiting, and quit telling everybody that a superstitious faith-healing cult is the best way to treat alcoholism, and we won't have anything to argue about. I have said many times that I don't care if some crazy burned-out old alcoholics want to huddle in church basements and convince themselves that they are the Chosen Children of God...

But, I think that this will be my last message to you for a while.

So you are just going to use the hit-and-run tactic? Just make a lot of wild unsubstantiated accusations and sweeping allegations, backed up by no evidence whatsoever, and then run away? Not even going to stay around long enough to supply any facts to support your statements? I still haven't seen one single quote, or one single citation in support of anything — not one reference, and not one document or book. Nothing but hot air.

Aren't you even going to give us one single report of a valid scientific experiment — a randomized controlled study — where Alcoholics Anonymous showed good results? Not even one, out of the hundred that you accused me of ignoring?

I'll allow you the last opportunity to kick the hell out of me. I think your readers, — if you have any other besides me — will see the underlying flaws in your reasoning. And, I hope that one day, you too will see how twisted your thinking is.

Very funny. Get off of your self-pitying routine. (What is it they say in A.A.? "Get off of the Pity-Pot.") You bring your suffering on yourself. I didn't force you to come here and embarass yourself by making foolish statements.

As for your sobriety, congratulations on your two years, but I believe that 10 years is really necessary to prove the point.

Ten years is necessary to prove what point? To whom?
Do you think that sobriety is a show, or a contest?
(Yeh, it's called "Chutes and Ladders". One slip, and you slide all the way back down to "Start", and have to give back all of your accumulated tokens. He who dies with the most tokens wins.)
Is your goal in life to prove that your cult is The One And Only True Cult Of God by staying sober longer than your critics?
Even if you were to stay sober longer than everybody else in the world, it would not prove that A.A. members are really Seeking and Doing the Will of God.

A lot of us stayed sober for two years, only to fall later on.

Yeh, I hear that happens in A.A. a lot.

I dot care if you've got quality sobriety, or dry drunk sobriety. Honestly, I think I'm off the beam much of the time myself. So, hold onto my email address, and I'll do the same. In 10 years, I'd like to see what kind of tune you're singing. My experience tells me that you'll find that old John does exist. He's not "out there," he's "in here" and we're in much deeper trouble than you think.

Pitch Black

Thanks for the little hex, the prediction of my downfall.
Do you stick needles into voodoo dolls when you do that?

[Pitch Black's sixth letter, 26 January 2003:]

I made an error on my most recent letter. Instead of saying "undated material," I should have said, "material dated no later than 1934."

Pitch Black

This is odd. So what does the year 1934 have to do with biographies of Abraham Lincoln? Did they decide to change the history of the Civil War that year?

Or are you just using some innuendo and implying that Carl Sandburg was a bad historian, and that all subsequent historians are so incompetent that they only read Sandburg and are all contaminated by him, so no history written after Sandburg's famous huge multi-volume biography of Abraham Lincoln was published is any good at all? Do you really expect us to believe that all good historical scholarship came to a screeching halt in 1934? No modern historian reads anything but Carl Sandburg?

Your argument, dear sir, is absurd, right down there on the level of Bill Wilson's brain-damaged logic.

Besides, I already came up with the quote from Ida Tarbell that was published in 1895. Unless Carl Sandburg had a time machine, he couldn't have misinformed Mr. Tarbell.

Incidentally, the volumes that I have in my hands say that Carl Sandburg's biography of Abraham Lincoln — The War Years — was published in 1936, 1938, and 1939, not 1934. But that is a triviality now.

How long will I have to wait to hear from you just what "scholarship" proved that Carl Sandburg's biography of Lincoln is wrong, and that the story of President Lincoln joking about sending lots, cases, or barrels of General Grant's whiskey to his other generals is apocryphal?

'Til Hell freezes over?

Oh, and now you also have to prove Ida Tarbell wrong, too.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[Pitch Black's seventh letter, 29 January 2003:]

Orange pulp:

I have two points.

1. I never said Grant was NOT a drinker. He clearly was.

I never accused you of saying that Grant was not a drinker.

Also, Lincoln certainly responded to criticism of Grant by saying "I can't spare this man, he fights." What he clearly did NOT say was that they should "get off their asses."

But you did say that Lincoln never said that he wanted to send Grant's whiskey to his other generals so that they would win some battles. The second sentence of your second letter was:

"There is no evidence that Lincoln ever said that line about sending the other generals a case of whatever Grant drank."

Since you have now cited 5 or 6 accounts of this exchange, and not one of them contains that line, when are you going to edit it out of your website?

I have. I'm now using Carl Sandburg's quote, which you have failed to discredit.

How much "research" are you going to do before you admit that your attribution is (another) lie?

Not a lie. I was simply recalling a humorous story from memory. There is a big difference between remembering a joke with different wording than some book uses, and a deliberate lie. After all, I'm not accusing you of lying for saying,
"There is no evidence that Lincoln ever said that line about sending the other generals a case of whatever Grant drank."
I'll shrug that off as a simple, honest, uninformed, mistake.

But since you prompted me to go to the library and look up several different versions of Lincoln's joke, I'll use Carl Sandburg's version of the story — at least until you prove that Carl Sandberg was wrong. I'm still waiting for your evidence that Sandburg was wrong. Oh, and now, that Ida Tarbell was also wrong. And Merrill D. Peterson, and Francis Fisher Browne, and David J. Eicher...

And, while we're at it, what is the proper path to take with regard to a quote like that? To leave it in place while you search for it, or to take it out until you find it? Any reputable historian would never publish a quote like that without a single source. But, you're not a reputable historian, are you? You're a quack.

I never claimed to be a historian. My web site is about Alcoholics Anonymous, the quack treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction, and cult religions, not the history of the Civil War.

But, I prefer that you leave that line in place. Anyone reading your website, and seeing my comments will immediately recognize that my point is valid, that Lincoln would never use an _expression like that, and the fact that you have left it in your website in spite of its obvious inaccuracy is a beacon, shedding light on your whole crazy mindset. As I said before, you are doctrinaire, utterly unwilling, and unable to admit that anything you say can possibly be wrong.

I have never made any such claim.

Please look that trait up in the DSM and see what diagnosis we come up with for you. Grandiose? Narcissistic? Borderline personality? I wonder how your family, (if you have one) puts up with your perfection all the time. If your website is any guide, it must be pretty tough living with a guy like you, who is absolutely never wrong. Sort of Dr. Bob-ish of you, don't you think?

Okay, now that you have gotten that textbook example of an Ad Hominem attack out of your system, perhaps you can get around to answering those unanswered questions from the previous letter, all of which are far more important than President Lincoln's joke about General Grant's whiskey:

  • Produce those quotes from all of those medical books that you referred to when you said that "every medical text I've encountered posits that AA does not lend itself to a scientific study."

  • Cite those alleged 100 scientific studies of A.A. that you accused me of ignoring:
    "If there are 100 scientific studies published, you will ignore the ones that refute your position, and state and restate, and restate, and restate, ad infinitum the one that fits your paradigm."
    Heck, I'm easy. Just give me 20.
    Can't you even come up with 10?

    Remember that they must be valid scientific studies, not dishonest pseudo-science or deceptive propaganda.
    Oh, and the reason that I have to repeat the truth so much is because you stubbornly refuse to get it. You seem to have a problem that A.A. calls being in denial.

  • Explain Bill Wilson's writing that he had gotten "no baleful results" from many years of practicing the Twelve Steps and being dependent upon an A.A. group, when he was actually so mentally ill and depressed that he was completely crippled and non-functional, and under the care of the psychiatrist Dr. Harry Tiebout when he wrote that remark.

  • In your "15 plus years of observation" of A.A. that you bragged about,
    What has your real success rate with all of the newcomers actually been?
    That's a very simple question, so why won't you anwer it?
    You must know what your success rate has been.
    Your brain works, doesn't it? Your memory works, doesn't it?

  • And you still haven't responded to the statement:

    "You are trying to dodge the obvious truth that A.A. is basically a superstitious program, one that is based on dabbling in the occult, and one that tries to use faith healing to cure a deadly problem. That's why it doesn't help people. That's why they die."

And then I will add one more question:

  • Is your behavior here an example of what 15 years of Working The Steps turns somebody into?

2. Ida Tarbell is a woman.

Pitch Black

Ah, so you know all about Ida Tarbell? Did you know about her history of Abraham Lincoln all along? What is your game?

— Orange

[ Pitch Black's eighth letter, January 31, 2003: ]

Dear Orange:

Please don't publish this letter on your website.

Sorry, but I never promised not to print your letters. And after seven of them, it's a little late to start now. Besides, I still have not printed your real name or email address, so you still have your anonymity.

Now, if you were a patient in a treatment program who would get in trouble for telling me what was going on there, then that would be a very different matter. But that isn't the case here. I've already posted seven of your letters, and you didn't object, so I might as well finish the series.

I don't want to debate with you anymore. To sum up about the Civil War: You correctly pointed out that I claimed that there was "no evidence" that Lincoln made the "case of whiskey" remark. I mis-spoke. There is ample evidence that he said it, and you have provided excellent sources.

Then I guess you also misspoke when you called me a "a fraud and a liar" and a "quack" historian, right?

However, I have read in several modern sources that the story, which is admittedly wonderful, is probably not true. If I ever come upon the source, I'll send it to you. However, you have every right to publish the story, as is. I'm sort of surprised, however, that you do not recognize that modern historical research methods are vastly superior to those of 100 years ago. Sandburg was great for his time. But, he isn't assigned in the colleges anymore.

There you go again, with character assassination, innuendo, and grand, sweeping, statements that are supported by no facts whatsoever. You just won't quit doing it, will you? (Don't you notice that repeating pattern in your behavior?) You still have not come up with one single fact to support your attacks on the scholarship of Carl Sandburg, but you continue to slander him.

Besides the obvious fact that we can use computers to archive, search and index large amounts of information much faster, just how have "modern historical research methods" become "vastly superior"? The truth is, we have exactly the same historical source documents about Lincoln available today as existed 100 years ago. Abraham Lincoln has not written or spoken anything new in the last century, because he's been dead. We still use the same English language, and the truth is still the truth, and a lie is still a lie. So what has changed so much?

And do you have some surveys of college American history teachers that tell us what texts they use in their courses today, and what they used many years earlier, to show that Carl Sandburg has fallen out of favor? Do you have a survey of college history teachers' opinions of Carl Sandburg?

I'm glad to see that you have taken the "asses" line out of your website, as that was clearly not supportable by any evidence.

"...clearly not supportable by any evidence"?
As Carl Sagan said, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."
I am still looking. It's only been two weeks, and I've already come up with 5 quotes that you insisted didn't exist, and I do also have other things to do with my life. But I haven't found the exact quote that I was remembering, so I'll use Carl Sandburg's quote for now.

And speaking of quotes, I'm still waiting for some from you — the scientific studies of A.A., and the medical books' statements, remember?

As far as Ida Tarbell is concerned, she is a famous "muckraker" who wrote "The History of Standard Oil," which led up to the Supreme Court case that broke up the monopoly in 1911. I wasn't aware of her Civil War writings.

This exchange of letters has lost its allure for me.

Lost its allure? Do you think that this is all just a game? People are dying over this stuff. People are really getting hurt by Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, their misinformation, their ineffective superstitious 12-step treatment of alcoholism and drug addiction, and the crazy proselytizing members who want to shove their cult on every victim they can get — and all you care about is "the allure of the debate"? What kind of a sick ego trip is that? You think that you can just parrot a stream of standard A.A. misinformation for fun, until the thrill is gone, and then run away? What kind of "spirituality" is that?

I think we know where we stand on the issues.

No, I don't know where you stand. I am beginning to suspect that you suffer from some kind of a psychiatric problem, and don't really stand anywhere on anything. There does not seem to be very much correlation between the words that come out of your mouth and the reality that is around you.

In a previous letter, you said that I had not scored a single point. I certainly hope that you give me a bit more credit than that. And I sure won't give you a score of zero, either. But, win, lose, or draw, I would like to bring it to an end amicably. Good luck with your future endeavors.


You have not scored a single point because you have not produced a single fact to support any of your statements, nor have you have even supported your statements with any good, logical arguments. You have not come up with one single quote or citation or reference, or any evidence of any kind. You haven't even tried.

Your statements about Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholism, and recovery are obviously all wrong and you haven't made any attempt to support or defend them.

You seem to think that it's fun to blow a lot of hot air, and make things up, and say whatever you want to say, and attack people's character and call them liars, and then just change the subject when challenged and asked to prove your statements.

And now you are going to just run away, rather than answer the questions. That is the behavior of a very dishonest person, or a mentally ill person, or the kind of person that Bill Wilson described as:

...men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; they seem to have been born that way. They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty.
The A.A. Big Book, Alcoholics Anonymous, 3rd Edition, Chapter 5, "How It Works", page 58.

You do not score debating points by refusing to answer the important questions like
"What is your success rate?"

But I must thank you for your letters. There is just nothing that I could ever have written that would have so clearly shown our readers just what a horror Alcoholics Anonymous really is, and what 15 years of Working the Steps does to people's minds. Oh, and also what kind of a sponsor they are in danger of getting if they try the A.A. program.

— Orange

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 5 September 2012.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters7.html

Copyright © 2016,