Letters, We Get Mail, LXXII

Date: Thu, September 14, 2006 11:01 am
From: "Z"
Subject: Hello

I'm writing this letter because for years there are things I've wanted to say about addiction and AA. First I would like to premise my comments with a little background.

I was on the short list to die from alcohol and drugs when I started to attend AA. I truely felt I had zero alternatives and was unable to really comprehend much at the time. I spent 16 active years in AA and sponsered litterally hundreds of people, hearing at least one hundred fifth steps, attending a minumum of 7000 meetings. I was a complete and total expert on the big book having read it at least fifty times and the assundry side readings. I started the largest AA meeting in my small but famous city(second home after San Francisco). And was sought after for my story. Widely quoted for my observations and on my way to true AA stardom even at four years of sobriety when I toned it down some for fear of my ego losing control at the time. Even once spoke one the radio coast to coast for two hours about sponsership. And my AA sponser was one of Bill W. closet friends and is still alive and one of my friends to this day.

Let me be clear that I did not say all this to gain any kind of wuwu. I said it because I'm an above average intelligent individual (despite my spelling of which I refuse to correct to impress you )with more than a passing experience of AA. And thus feel I'm better able to speak on the subject than most of you. Arogant, perhaps, but if you can match my credentials then go ahead and attack if you feel thats necessary.

My own conclusions about AA are fairly rational, but first some observations about AA:

There is no doubt that its claimed success rate is abysmal. They used to threaten us with the statistics of three percent ( which reminded me a lot of my one experience with Amway, when they said that only those that really had the balls for it etc...) And I ran a store for an AA club as well (no I did not really have another life at the time)and saw the chip distribution myself which does not even take into account the multiple chip getting of the oldtimers.

Hello Z,

Thank you for this letter. You have obviously put a lot of thought and effort into this..

"...multiple chip getting of the oldtimers"?
Hmmm, now that is one that I had not heard of before. We all know about the beginners who get several of the one-day coins, one per relapse, but I had not heard of old-timers getting extras.

Well, in any case, the sales of coins (chips, medallions, whatever name you like), is just a rough indication of what is happening.

The kicker is that three percent is less than the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholism, which various doctors have estimated to be anything from 3.5 to 18 percent. (Personally, I think 5% per year is close to the truth.) That is what percentage of the alcoholics recover by their own efforts, alone, on their own.

A.A. is getting less than that success rate.

It is absolutely a Christian based philosophy and says as much in its history and certainly its modus operandi.

Um, no, I have to strongly object there. No way is A.A. a Christian religion. It is the religion of Dr. Frank Buchman, the Oxford Group. It isn't Christian at all — Buchmanism is grossly heretical. Check out The Heresy of the Twelve Steps.

I am reminded of Dr. H. A. Ironside, who wrote a criticism of Frank Buchman's religion in the nineteen-thirties. He spoke of Buchman's doctrines and practices,

I claim you could have all of these if Jesus had never left the place that he had with the Father before the foundation of the world, if He had never been born at Bethlehem, if He had never sweat drops of blood in Gethsemane, if He had never hung extended a bleeding Victim on Calvary, if He had never shed His precious blood, and never come forth in triumph from the womb, for this entire system is one that begins with man and ends with man.

The same statement applies to Alcoholics Anonymous and its practices and beliefs. None of the 12 Steps or Traditions would go away even if Jesus Christ had never been born. Nothing at all would change. A.A. theology just isn't based on Christianity or the teachings of Christ at all.

Now I know that Dr. Bob was a bit of a Jesus-freak, but that still doesn't change what Buchmanism actually is.

As far as cult is concerned all the oldtimers used to say quite freely that it was before it became an issue. In fact one of the most popular sayings in AA in the old days was "Of course it's (meaning the "program of AA") brainwashing, but my/your brain needed washing".

Like most organisations it tolerates no dissent and gives the old big book head nod to the "our hats are off to you" if you can do the turn about and drink like normal men. This to mean we are liberal about others and thier outsider opinions.

There are many aspects of AA that are correct in my opinion. Both the rational recovery guys and AA believe there to be addiction as a real problem. And both of them in my opinion are using the same basic technique to address the problem. One side talks about the voice of addiction calling you and the other says the same damn thing. They supposedly differ on how to address the issue while both sides attack the other. Neither side wishing to see some value in each other.

I disagree, but go ahead...

Heres what I have observed;

The meetings served as a common ground for support. When tackling a huge personal problem that is life threatening, support in the form of others experiences, helps relieve the issolation issue that addicts commonly experience. This is good.

Sponsers are not necessarily a bad thing but most of them were awful. The tough love f--- you attitude I fought against from day one and was not part of the original AA groups thinking. It was horribly damaging to heap guilt on the helpless. I started saying that people could resume their sobriety just like their drinking and their previous experiences were very valid. AA as whole felt that previous sobriety interuppted was lost and only good for mea culpa. As though years of sobriety were a tangible form of currency. They can defineately indicate some distance and set up for sanity but certainly do not 100% gaurantee it.

Sponsers as friends helped quite a bit and my sponser who is sober for nearly sixty years never worked the steps of AA because in the early days it just wasn't important. So I think finding like minded friends who agree to help one with so called issues is a good thing to help one rebalance. How could you think experienced friends sypathetic to and understanding of your situation would be bad. However there is such a thing as enabling (saying "there there" kind of thing) and these people need to be aware that to some degree the tough love of only the truth about an addiction is valid. It does not need to be delivered in some kind of s--- or get off the pot attitude.

As I said both sides are saying esentially the same thing when it comes to recovery. Don't drink. The RR side seems to only be now recognising the value of support groups. People get lonely and isolated by addictions and many times as not return to the life of addiction oddly enough for comfort and support. AA is notorious for itits inability to help the newcomer, despite its outreach activities. Not the primary reason, but one of which is the turn over rate is so great that its a lot like combat where the veterans ignore the green recruits because the causualty rate is so high and they have little of value to say or status.Many groups infact a few baned ones thought of sobriety time as a strict higharchy.

No, Rational Recovery is not "recognising the value of support groups." Just the opposite. The founder of Rational Recovery Jack Trimpey disbanded the meeting organization because he saw it turning into a cult. The problem was that the people who really wanted to quit drinking and recover did, and left the group, and got on with their lives. The people who wanted to spend the rest of their lives in meetings and "recovery" stayed in the meeting groups. Eventually, that process of distillation yielded meetings that were full of people who were not recovering, and they were not good influences on the newcomers.

So Trimpey disbanded the groups.

AA has helped a lot of people but the thing you do not see is how many recover and then disenchanted drift away from AA but stay sober or relativly balanced. I investigated it to the best of my ability and found to my admittedly anecdotal input, that there were at least 20 times as many that had used AA as a way toward normalcy and were maintaining after many years some with and some without a spiritual or religious bases to their lives. And since my contact was in following individuals there is no way to verify or denie this claim. They just aren't in touch with any part of these debates. By the way a lot of oldtimers are just bored away from the meetings or have seen some of downside to AA and realised they did not really need it still (they got beyond the status of chip conquest and yes I know the good for the newcomer theme song as well as did they).

That whole "help" thing has yet to be proven, or even supported with good evidence. A.A. still gets a very poor success rate, basically nothing more than the normal rate of spontaneous remission — which is the success rate of people who go it alone — while doing other nasty things like raising the death rate. What the valid testing of A.A. that has been done showed is:

My bottom line is that I believe, and have never heard a cogent argument to the contrary that wasn't gobeldegook, that addictions are a break down of the inherent flight or flight mechanism. In fact alcoholism should in my opinion be called fearism. I think the basic mechanism is that the emotionl sensitivity is turned up higher or is reacted to more by those individuals who posses the so called addictive personalities. It may be that some combination of factors emphasize the emotional imbalance. This over sensitivity is caused by or causes or is in conjunction with a completely selfcentered attitude toward oneself. Which coincedentally is the root of all evil. Evil is nothing more than a selfcentered attitude sufficiently twisted to put ones own desires above anothers, to what ever degree one descends. I mention evil because the main body of alcoholicss are not good people as a whole when they enter the program.

I see it in much simpler terms, like being in pain and wanting to kill the pain. And then wanting to feel good and have some fun.

The steps have some value. Addressing past ghosts and cleaning them up relieves emotional pressure. And addmiting one is curently powerless over their emotional reaction to the world when one starts out is a good idea(not to the world). After all it is the emotional response that leads to the drinking (feel good Feel bad etc..).

I have to disagree. Introspection and self-examination are all fine and well, but A.A. confession sessions have messed up people's minds and even driven a few people to suicide.

Believing in a higher power for salvation is inherently flawed for the purpose of recovery or life for that matter. And it is the major flaw in AAs philosophy and why there are so few oldtimers around and so few recoveries.

The AAs have a philosophy of nonresponsibility for life. They'll deny it but it is evident by the constant claim of continued insanity. You see if God HP forgives you on a daily bases and is controling your life you don't need to. Once a Muslim I knew told me that they had made there differences with another person that they were fighting with know to God thus absolving them of any earthly responsibility. Did not help the other injured party. The program allows this continued idea of permanent unhealthy but somehow after confession acceptable behavior. Most of the people who leave AA in my experience are tired of dealing with people who make a permanent excuse of imature and even outright evil behavior. Their Gurus are those that can quote the best AA and be funny and concerned with others in the programs welfare. I was amazed to find so many oldtimers universally angry, not to mention the prozac issue. Continued permision at a support group level to behave in a manner inconsistent with acceptable societal standards is certain to cause confusion. The motto of AA should be "I am not responsible." because I am still sick.

Because of its lasie fare attitude and its nonaccountability, it ends up reinforcing the original source of the defects of character that led to drinking in the first place. You can not call some one on their publicly confessed bullshit and if you do the most expected of them is a confession and and asking for God to put them right. Some achieve this end through selfexamination. The reality is personal responsibilty and efforts and personal accountability to standards of ethical and moral behavior are the antidote to selfcentered fear.

Remember though a belief in God does not hurt, nor does prayer for guidance, nor does meditation, as long as one takes full responsibility for their lives and directions.

Really its pretty simple. Get rid of the source of your fearful and negative emotional response.
Recognise your current confusion and indeed temporary emotional response powerlessness.
Clear the head first(vitamins, vacation, trauma detox center?), talk to others with the same experience to follow in their foot steps and use their experience (thats a good AA idea).
Clean out the past ghosts(another good idea), even a confesion and written inventory to begin to see the seeds and ghosts that contribute to ones current dilema.Talking it out with a trusted friend not sponser(no power positions).
Making amends not apologies is a damn good idea to free ones head(AA again).
Lead an exemplary life with a compassionate basis. Both because we need it in this world and it will directly confront the original selfcentered insanity that lead to drinking and keep it away in the future. This includes helping others to recover or to build houses in Africa or to smile or etc... Don't hide from life anymore get out and do things and leave the results up to whatever in the sense that things might be Karma, Gods plan, Chaos theory.

If your going to insist that your good enough to do without help and with egos out of control as addicts are, then the old rube of doing what your doing and keep getting what your getting.

That does not mean that addicts should join a group or do 12 Steps from an old fascist cult religion. It just means that they should change their habits.

Take the spiritual excuse language out of it all and AA has some really good and effective points and experience. Please also remember Bill was alone for the most part with everyone looking to him for answers. He was far from great, but man with that kind of ego and fear I think he did alright under the circumstances. By the way almost no 3rd stage or last stage alkies every recover. Volunteered for 8 years in a last chance detox center and in all those years all the volunteers and staff I talked to said unversally that they had know maybe one if any to recover. I saw one attend a meeting a few times (the damage is usually to great).

AA probably will never change and a lot of you anti AA guys are universally afraid of some of the steps that talk about amends and inventories. You anti AA people always couch everything that AA has done and yes achieved as worthless. That is a gross oversimplification.

Whoa! That is itself a gross oversimplification. I am not opposed to amends and introspection. I just don't like cults that make people wallow in self-denigration, guilt, negativity, and feelings of powerlessness.
That is very harmful, and often makes people worse.
It even drives people to relapse and death.

Without some of the steps I think many would not have achieved sobriety and without AA many would have died without the comraderie. So the vitriolic attacks solve nothing.

Hold on! Whoa! You are assuming facts not in evidence. A.A. has a zero-percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission, remember? So there is no sense in talking about the people whom the Steps or the meetings or the "comraderie" "helped" or made sober.

The vitriolic attacks are because I think that it is a despicable, unforgiveable crime to lie to sick people about what might heal them, and how well a suggested cure really works. That is what Bill Wilson did, and many of his followers are still doing it.

It's just like discovering that a quack doctor is foisting completely fake cancer cures on your mother, and he knows that his cures are ineffective fakes but he does it anyway. How would you feel if you discovered that?

In fact, just as you all claim AA kills and I'm sure it has as I've seen it, well I saw EST and Scientology kill a few addicts as well with essentially the same philosophy you can overcome by bull force thinking.

Yes, and I have great contempt for EST and Scientology too. Read The Cult Test.

But your assumption that non-Steppers just push "bull force thinking" is inaccurate and a gross over-simplification. (And a stereotype.) Read The Lizard Brain Addiction Monster for an example of my thinking on the subject of addictions and recovery, and how you can change your thinking to save your life.

So I ask you guys? really don't we want the best life for us and other addicts/people.

Please watch out for the plurals. I am one guy, alone. Nobody else speaks for me.

I definitely want the best for addicts and alcoholics. I wonder about those people who insist on shoving a failed program on sick people. They seem to have another goal.

Then we should stop recriminating each other. You guys forget that your playing with human lives here, this isn't some esoteric debate. The more you shout the more you are likely to leave everyone confused and vunerable to death.

You still sound like you are defending quack medicine. If a cure is completely ineffective and even very harmful, then it should be criticized, loudly, and people should be warned about it.

And steering people away from something that does not work is not going to leave them "confused and vunerable to death" — not any more than they might have been before. In fact, it is likely to encourage them to invest their time and energy in something that might help them more.

Yeah I did not write a book here. And i don't feel like debating point by point as you look for flaws in my thinking. Really it's not important.

The question should be how do we synthesis this for the best for everybody. And get the profiteers out of it (what AA had hoped to do). All your anger is warranted but not helpful and there is the real possibility that it is contributing to human suffering and death. What do say to finding the unvarnished truth of the best of the best. I mean I love Hendrix but not all his songs.

A friend of the lost.

Well, Z, what is there that is good that can be salvaged from Alcoholics Anonymous?
I mean, something with a zero-percent success rate in making people get sober doesn't have anything to offer.

I did write a file called "What's Good About A.A.?", but the problem is that there is no great cure in there. As one reader commented, he could get all of that stuff in other places, in other ways.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

[2nd letter from Z:]

Date: Tue, October 31, 2006 8:58 am     (answered 12 May 2007)
From: "Z"
Subject: Re: Hello

Hmmn I'm impressed by your cogent thinking. I would respond to you on assumtions I think your making. You seem resonable enough to lucidly consider them.

Firstly when I refered to you in the plural I meant the others that would read this as well.

Okay. Hello again, Z. Sorry to take so long to answer this; I'm way backlogged in answering email.

Okay I think the anecdotal evidence of one person trying to hold Rational Recovery support meetings and disbanding them because it attracted too many other negative and non addicted persons is hardly sufficient evidence that they do not work. After all group therapy and support are used commonly for other mental heath issus. I'm thinking that it has not been explored effectively and used with some controls. The challenge being that one does not exactly know what kind of controls and how or who should decide such a thing.

It wasn't just "one person" — it was Jack Trimpey, the founder of Rational Recovery. He saw his groups filling up with non-recovering people, and he decided that the meetings had become an unhealthy environment. The regular old-timers who wouldn't recover were a bad influence on the newcomers.

Yes, group therapy is used for a lot of things. But I really wonder about its usefulness for getting people to quit doing drugs and alcohol, or quit smoking. Maybe a support group is okay for consoling people who are going through a divorce, or grieving for a dead loved one, and it helps them to have a sympathetic audience, but the efficacy of "support groups" for treating alcoholism or drug addiction has not been proven. There is no success rate there.

I'm reasonably certain that the occasional intervention of AA's toward their fellows has resulted in the maintainace of recovery beyond the spontaneous remission rates.

You are sure, huh? I'd like to see some good supporting evidence. All of the valid tests of A.A. have shown it to be a complete failure. We were just talking about that again, here and here.

Heres the thing there are holes in the comparrison you gave. One is that it is impossible to compare the two as equals. How are you certain beyond a reasonable doubt that a significant percentage of those in the 12 steps are not clean because of one or more factors provided for in the "Program". I've witnessed Alkies use the program to recover in times of dire need. To say that it did not occur is counter to my own eyewitness accounts that were significant in number especially in the early stages of recovery. Clearly I've seen people stay sober when without the meetings/sponser/fellowAA they would have resumed drinking at least for a time. And due to its addictive nature I'm not willing to state that they would have had spontaneous remission, are you? To use one statistic, that regretfully is impossible to verify, to dismiss the entirety of AA's recovery rate is a little over the top.

You are assuming a cause and effect relationship where none exists. Just because some people quit drinking and also go to a few A.A. meetings does not mean that the A.A. meetings caused them to quit drinking.

It is likely that what caused them to quit drinking was their "dire need". Knowing that you will die if you don't quit drinking provides some real motivation.

Being told by a doctor that you are going to die if you don't quit drinking can clarify the mind in a wonderful way. It worked on me.

If A.A. really caused people to quit drinking, then groups of alcoholics who go to A.A. should quit drinking in greater numbers than other alcoholics who don't go to A.A.. They don't.

Frankly niether I nor you know for sure what is actually happening. The three percent rate of recovery AA used to claim was based on fear tactics of recovery centers not AA. Because of the nature of AAs anonimity and no roll taking who the hell knows what the truth is. And the spontaneous recovery statistics you quote are so far different as to render them highly suspect if not invalid.

Again, alcoholics who go to A.A. don't quit in any greater numbers than alcoholics who quit alone. That one fact means that A.A. does not work at all. Alcoholics Anonymous just steals the credit for the people who were going to quit anyway.

So to conclude that support groups of a personal interactive nature are invalid is not a reasonable stance.

Well then please show me some valid tests that show that they really do work to get people to quit drinking. How about just one valid properly-done Randomized Longitudinal Controlled Study that shows that such support groups really work to get alcoholics to quit drinking and stay quit (like for a year or more)?

Every valid test that I know of showed just the opposite. A.A. made things worse — more binge drinking, more arrests, more expensive hospitalizations, more deaths.

The Alcoholics Anonymous teachings like Step One — powerless over alcohol — have disastrous effects.

To state that there effectivness in their current format is suspect I think is a most supportable acccusation. As I stated before the steps are defineately of some use.

Again, please show me some evidence to support that assumption.

Have people killed themselves over them? Yes I would agree with that observation. As I said before they have value but when applied by some really sick bastard who feels that the world should either my AA way or the Highway they are a terrible device. As applied currently they suck to a great degree and in the hands of confused amateurs they are probably leathal and admitedly drive some away into the final stages of the disease(yeah I know some don't even agree it is a disease).

And that is a terrible problem.

I can not tell you how many times I intervened on the behalf of the brow beatten (which does make your point). However with the right and comfortable guidance I talked about the steps(with some change on my part) became a useful and forgiving tool that really helped alot of people or at least it seemed to me by the way they became better adjusted(plain happier) and stayed sober. Accountability and relief of past fears are a good device to help in emotional balance. And the knowledge that we are not alone in our mangled past is extremely usefull and should not be discounted out of hand. I still maintain that it is a disorder of the fear and flight mechanism an anxiety(manic) disorder.

Again, there is NO EVIDENCE that the 12 Steps work to do anything good.

As an aside to this I've noticed that the many spontneous recovered people who stayed sober cleaned up their acts as well as those who truely followed the steps. The connection needs to be researched more to reveal if there are significant and useful tools in these behavioral changes.

I think that "cleaning up your act" is a natural result of quitting drinking. It just goes with the territory. Quitting drinking is itself the first part of cleaning up your act.

I did a lot of that. It is not any coincidence that three weeks after I quit drinking, I quit smoking. And then I worked on a lot of other stuff. It was all the result of the decision to live a better life, rather than die from alcoholism.

By the way I was probably not clear when I said that AA is Christian. I did not mean as in beliving in Christ I meant in the monothestic belief in forgivness for actions.

Uhh I should not have used the Rational Recovery name when what I meant to say is that some of the alternate recovery groups are starting to use the idea of group meetings. My mistake.

Okay. Yes, SMART and WFS come to mind as new meeting groups. Part of the reason why they are a good thing is that groups are mandated by the legal system. When people get sentenced to meetings for things like DWI, it is good to have some SMART meetings available as an alternative to the 12-Step meetings.

And then there is, of course, the advantage that SMART is based on some sane concepts, rather than Frank Buchman's cult religion.

There is still the danger that the meetings could become clogged with chronic meeting addicts. Only time will tell.

Trust me when I tell you the oldtimers like to collect the big number chips in quantity so as to get the most attention. Seen it for years and years.

Wow. I wish I could get accurate documentation on that. That will really skew the charts of coins handed out, which are already pretty bad. Adjusting the numbers for old-timers collecting multiple coins will reduce the long-term A.A. success rate from miniscule to microscopic.

In conclusion throwing out the baby with the bath water is just not sensible. You simply do not have enough facts to claim that there is no value in AA. I've seen value there. Does it have the answer well hell no if it did you and all the other addicts would be sober right now and AAers. And I am in agrreement with you that as it is currently applied it certainly is causing damage. More damage than help I'm not willing to say as I truely don't know. As I said originally I believe that there is a possible synthesis.

Excuse me, but there is no baby in the bath water. What you have seen is some people enjoying the cultish cameradery and having fun with spiritual make-believe. That may be fun, but it still does not work as a sobriety program.

Similarly, confusing people and making them believe that they quit drinking because they did some of the 12 Steps, or making them believe that they got "spiritual" because of some of the 12 Steps, does not mean that the 12 Steps actually do anything good.

I'm going to attack the idea that a mere shift in thinking will work as if that were the case there would no longer be evil in the world and we could reeducate criminals in a matter of days and jeez psychotics could be cured as well. Okay that is a little outrageaous, but that s my point. And how do you know that your own spontaneaous recover is not the real factor behind the change your thinking theory? See what I mean. The very arguments you are using against AAs effectivness can just as eaisily be turned against you. I'm not saying there is not value in RR as wel but it obviously does not have all the answers either.

Parts of that don't make much sense.

What is this "shift in thinking" talk? I did not say that I recovered by a "shift in thinking". If you are talking about the Lizard Brain Addiction Monster, that is not a shift in thinking. That is merely a technique for recognizing that a primitive part of the brain will talk a lot of bullshit to you to try to get you to indulge in some "feel-goods". Recognizing what is happening there is a big help to avoid relapsing, but that is all that it is.

In another letter, I was saying that the Addiction Monster idea is of no use if somebody just does not wish to quit drinking.

I never offered that as a panacea. It's just an enormously helpful tool for avoiding relapse — for avoiding getting fooled again by the yammering of the base brain.

Now talking people into really wanting to quit drinking or doping is a whole different problem. Some of the teachings of SMART are good for that, but there is still no panacea.

And some aspects of the Addiction Monster idea are helpful too — particularly the problem that the Lizard Brain will panic and scream at the idea of you really quitting drinking forever. It will start yelling "No more feel-goods, ever?! I will die! You will die! Life won't be worth living!"

If someone can see through that, and understand what is happening there, it can really help them to quit drinking.

But there is still no panacea.

Lastly I would like to throw out the idea that sobriety in and of itself may not be fully indicative of quality of life.

I totally agree with that statement. Adolf Hitler never drank alcohol at all. He was an abstemious non-smoking, non-drinking vegetarian. A lot of good it did.

I've seen parts of the steps really help some people. Just to dismiss this out of hand behind a comparrison that is impossible prove is not worthy of the truth that may lay somewhere inbetween.

The Steps are inherently psychologically harmful. They induce feelings of guilt, shame, powerlessness, dependency, and inadequacy. Precisely HOW did they "help" people?

And do remember that the AAers who shove the program on people do so out of their own fear of falling back into active alcholism.

Yes. And that is one of the big problems with Alcoholics Anonymous.

It is rarely a memonic for mind control, but some are caught in the ego kick after awhile. Can't win an oscar but can be big guy at local AA meeting kind of thing.

Yep, be a big frog in a small pond, just like Bill Wilson. If you can't really succeed in life, if you can't be sane or happy, you can at least be the King of the Drunkards.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  O God, that men should put an enemy in their mouths to steal away
**  their brains!  that we should with joy, pleasance, revel,
**  and applause transform ourselves into beasts!
**    ==  SHAKESPEARE, Othello, (1604-05), 2.3.291

Date: Thu, September 14, 2006 2:30 pm
From: "Randolph N."
Subject: credit where credit is due

please credit Kurt Vonnegut for the wonderful term and definition of "granfalloon."


Oh wow, far out. I really like Kurt Vonnegut, but had no idea that he coined that term. Can you tell me where, which book?

Thanks, and have a good day.

== Orange

*          [email protected]       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      https://www.orange-papers.info/      *
** "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
** It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
** == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

Date: Fri, September 15, 2006 6:08 am
From: "Randolph N.quot;
Subject: Re: credit where credit is due

Love your informative site by the way. I have a father that is 36 years sober with the AA program. Does that make me a cult child?

The term comes from Cat's Cradle. It has many more terms that you would find useful.

Keep writing. It may be the only thing that saves us from cults and propaganda.

Please read my latest postings at the Poets Against the War website: http://poetsagainstthewar.org/displaypoem.asp?AuthorID=7345#453083815

After reading those, scroll up to read more. I have 130 poems posted.

You can find out more about me at: http://www.myspace.com/zenrnez


P.S. I've never met someone named after a color. :)

Actually, Randy, I am named after a fruit, like in mixing apples and oranges.

I'm sure that you must have heard of hippies being named after fruits back in the sixties and seventies.... Strawberry? Cherry? ...

And then there was Dandelion and Sesame...

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**         "No damn cat, no damn cradle"
**             ==  Kurt Vonnegut

Date: Thu, September 14, 2006 6:10 pm
From: "Dave"
Subject: Thanks!

I got out of rehab in Aug and have been attending AA meetings ever since. I have been attacked, ridiculed, etc. for asking basic questions regarding my own will power. Talk about a cult and people terrorizing me!

Thank you for your site that lets me know I am not "insane".

AA and the 12 step program is nothing more than an attempt to brainwash and prey on losers!


Hi Dave,

Thanks for the thanks, and yes, you are not crazy. They are.

Take care of yourself, and have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  People whose own lives are not worth living desire
**  the power to control other people's lives.

Date: Thu, September 14, 2006 11:38 pm
From: "lorraine"
Subject: hi

Hi mr Orange,

I'm a new member of A.A and i came across your papers on the analysis of the program. I wondered what other ways are there to over come alcoholism? Also ive been to Alanon as i had habitual partners who had drinking problems, my end result of Alanon was to get rid of the offending husband that was causing the chaos in my family. Although they wont say outright to get rid of a bad spouse, its left up to the individual to come to the conclusion. Because i have been among adictive behaviours all my life the reality of these behaviours seem tottally normal.

The concept of A.A and Alanon is to see your own reactions as to these behaviours so you can change the way you think to one thats much healthier (which is basically "look after yourself " and you will be better able to look after your children so they learn a healthier way of living ) not everybody grasps the concepts, because they twist the interpretation around to suit themselves (thats their will over others and manipulated outcomes to suit themselves)

I don't believe in religion but i do think something else is at work in the other 90% of our brain thats apparently not used.

I also think if we cant see it (higher power) it doesnt mean it doesn't exist.

I dont see the air i breathe but its there.
I cant see wind but i can feel it.
I cant see electricity as it flows without apparatus or a lightning strike , but the light still goes on when i flick a switch.

So the higher power thing doesn't mean you just sit and listen to voices in your head; it means if you have a situation where you are faced with confrontation from someone you can choose to nut off and be confrontational or you can remain calm and state your case whilst not giving away your personal energy. Do it with respect for yourself and you feel calm or disrespect and feel irritable for days afterwards about the situation. A.A teaches me how to deal with resentment and anger, wanting forgivness is not about forgiving the person who did wrong, its about freeing me from the anger and resentment that bonds me to the person who did me wrong, its like why should i carry his crap around to bug me all the time.

So when it says let go and let god, it means toss it to the universe cos you cant make someone sorry for things they did, you can only look after yourself.

And the reason the steps get you to reiterate all you've done to hurt people is because without cleaning your own garden of weeds how can the good stuff grow (and were all guilty of hurting people in our lives). Its not a cop out because you do have to make amends to those people where appropiate. When it comes to all the other groups that take on the 12 steps i do have to agree with you , its all got out of hand as you cant cure Diabetes, Hiv, there doctors departments.

I really enjoyed your views and i can see how you percieve it all, for me it works and i feel better than i have for many years although i agree its not for everybody, a lot of people need medical help and the 12 steps can only help after doctors have got them as well as possible.

I'd love to hear from you and thank you again for the great reading.

Yours sincerly,
Lorraine L.
(new zealand)

Hi Lorraine,

Hey! A Kiwi! (Isn't that what the Aussies call them?)

Nice Lord of the Rings movies, really nice.

Thanks for all of the compliments. I'm glad you enjoy the reading.

Let's see, first big question: "what other ways are there to over come alcoholism?"

Actually, A.A. isn't really a way to overcome alcoholism. It has essentially a zero percent success rate, above normal spontaneous remission. That means that the A.A. success rate is just the same as the success rate of people who quit alone, on their own. So A.A. doesn't improve on the success rate any.

But A.A. has a bunch of nasty side effects, like causing a much higher rate of binge drinking, and a much higher death rate.

A.A. is many things: a social club, a religion, a cult, but it isn't really a way to overcome alcoholism.

There are several other groups or methods that get the same or better results than A.A.. Here is my list of favorites:

The essence of any recovery or sobriety or quit-drinking program is:

Just don't drink any more alcohol, none at all.
Just don't take that first drink, not ever, not for any reason.

I just wrote a big long letter about various recovery methods and techniques yesterday, so I'll refer you to it, here.

Have a good day now, and don't hesitate to write again if you have any more questions.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Gandalf said, "The little orks don't like
**   humor. They cringe in pain at the sound of
**   laughter. And they really can't stand it when
**   you poke fun at them. So they howl and growl
**   and scowl and get all bent out of shape."

Date: Fri, September 15, 2006 10:34 am
From: "Daniel S."
Subject: Have to Disagree

I have been in numerous different settings of AA in many different states and I have never seen what you are describing.

Hello Daniel,

Thank you for the letter. Alas, as Carl Sagan liked to say, "Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."

Many other people have seen what I am talking about.

As for your accusations of "you can't leave" I will have to say that I have been to numerous meetings where individuals are confused if they are an alcoholic. Everytime that issue comes up, it is always suggested to think about your life when you were drinking and if you feel that you can control it now, go out and try controlled drinking? It is always followed with, no one can tell you if you are an alcoholic unless you believe it yourself.

Actually, people are told that they can leave anytime they want, but they will end up dying drunk in a gutter if they do.

  • "If you leave, you'll come back on your knees."
  • "Work the Steps, Or Die!"
  • "Do The Steps or Die."
  • "Share Or Die."
  • "Talk Or Die."
  • "Change Or Die."
  • "If you don't work a Fourth you'll drink a fifth."
  • "A.A. is the last house on the street."
  • "A.A. is the Last Stop on the Track."
  • "I must never forget that I have a disease that is insidious — cunning, baffling, and powerful."
  • "Alcohol wants to kill me."
  • "My disease wants to kill me."
  • "If you drink, your fate is jails, institutions, or death."
  • "If you leave A.A., your fate is jails, institutions, or death."
  • "I've been in jails; I've been in institutions; there's only one more place to go."
  • "Some must die so that others can live."

How many of those slogans become self-fulfilling predictions? There's nothing like programming people to fail.

as for recruiting, we are never told to go out and recruit others. If people come to meetings and reach out we offer to help. Besides that AA is absolutely against any type of outside recruiting efforts.

You've got to be kidding. Talk about somebody being in denial. All of chapter seven of the Big Book is a recruiting manual. A.A. is famous for recruiting in hospitals and detox centers. Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob started it in 1935, and it has never stopped. Here's how they got Bill Dotson, A.A. number three, in his hospital bed:

The Man on the Bed
A.A. #3, The Man on the Bed

What is even worse is when A.A. proselytizers tell the judge that A.A. is the best way to deal with alcoholics and drunk drivers, so they should all be sentenced to A.A. meetings. That is coercive recruiting, something that few other cults can get away with.

Such coercive recruiting practices actually began in the Oxford Group, before Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob Smith started Alcoholics Anonymous. Rowland Hazard and Cebra Graves did it to Bill Wilson's sponsor, Ebby Thacher, in 1934, to recruit him for the Oxford Group. Bill and Dr. Bob just continued the practice.

In addition, you are ignoring the many A.A. and N.A. members who work in detox centers and shove all of the clients into 12-Step meetings. They are essentially paid missionaries.

You should read the Cult Test items about Aggressive Recruiting and Deceptive Recruiting.

I feel that you have some major issues with AA that drives your website. But Many of your accusations are far fetched and thought up. Maybe it is the fact that AA talks about GOD which upsets many atheists.


No Daniel, there is a lot more to the complaints about A.A. than atheists objecting to state-coerced religion. That kind of a cheap shot from you reveals just the kind of stuff that I am talking about. You cannot deal with the situation except by sneering at critics, and hinting that they are all just atheists who don't like God?

I have gone through your page and really can't agree with much of it. I only see a cute page that was thought up in one's head. Though I have met many recovering alcoholics from AA I have met very few from any other form of therapy or medication. I truly believe that your issue has more to due with religion and God than that of AA.

You are doing it again: "If you criticize Wonderful Holy Alcoholics Anonymous, it's because you are against God."

Well A.A. is not God. A.A. isn't even close to being God.

And A.A. isn't the One And Only True Religion, either. In fact, the A.A. religious doctrines are quite heretical.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**   Rev. Jim Jones said, "Drink the red koolaid. It
**   has cured millions. RARELY HAVE we seen it fail...
**   But then again, the green koolaid is good too.
**   Take what you want, and leave the rest."

Date: Fri, September 15, 2006 1:42 pm
From: "Bill"
Subject: Thank you

You and Jack Trimpey saved my life!! Thank you!!
AVRT is so simple yet so powerful. What a concept.
About AA...
I've never been to an AA meeting.
I got close but never could go to one.
The twelve steps just seemed to be so wrong in a way I couldn't put my finger on.
Now I know which finger to put on AA!!
Thanks again.


Hello Bill,

Congratulations on your getting the hang of it. It really is neat and empowering when you realize that you are stronger than the little monster, and you can just over-ride his complaints and demands, isn't it?

But really, I can't take the credit for saving your life. YOU saved your life, and you will continue to do it, every day, for the rest of your life. If I was some help to you in your journey of self-discovery, then great.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Rule your desires or they will rule you.

Date: Sun, September 17, 2006 5:41 am
From: "Cathy N."
Subject: Who are you?

Your site reads like something written by the Unabomber: an angry, literate, pseudo-scholarly rant (with footnotes, so it must be real). All I ask is that you not become conversant with explosives. Other than that, the internet is a great place for ill-researched pseudo-investigation outside of any peer review. So, you have found your calling. Tip: It ain't web design.

Okay Cathy,

You have a good day too.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
** Gandalf said, "The demons of the darkness howl in
** pain when you shine the light of truth on them."

Date: Sun, September 17, 2006 2:26 pm
From: Coast99
Subject: (no subject)

Whomever came up with this information is SICK. ANd they do not understand the disease of alcoholism. If AA didn't work, it wouldn't exist. And it is far from being a cult, and it forces nothing on people. True, as with any disease, some get better, and some don't. MOST do. It has saved many lives.

Hi Coast,

That is a load of false assumptions:

  1. "If AA didn't work, it wouldn't exist."
    "If Scientology didn't work, it wouldn't exist."
    "If The Unification Church didn't work, it wouldn't exist."
    "If The People's Temple didn't work, it wouldn't exist."
    That is what you call a non sequitur.

  2. "And it is far from being a cult, and it forces nothing on people."
    That is simply not true. Read The Cult Test.

  3. "It has saved many lives."
    No it hasn't. When A.A. was put to the test, it was a total failure with a zero-percent success rate in sobering up alcoholics. The few people who got and stayed sober were the ones who were going to recover anyway. All that A.A. does is steal the credit from them. A.A. has no more of a success rate than other alcoholics who go it alone, and quit drinking on their own.

    When A.A. was tested in stringent medical tests, A.A. was actually shown to cause:

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**  but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**  == Dr. George E. Vaillant, currently a member of the A.A. Board of
**  Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**  Anonymous, in The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**  and Paths to Recovery, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**  1983, pages 283-286.

Date: Mon, September 18, 2006 6:53 am
From: "Randolph N."
Subject: my latest posting


Hello, Randolph,

Sweet. I especially like the one about Pre-Emptive War.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  People who murder children by the thousands with
**  "Shock and Awe" bombing are servants of Satan,
**  not servants of Jesus. Jesus said that "Whatever
**  you do unto the least of these, you do unto me."

Date: Mon, September 18, 2006 9:33 am
From: H.

Dear Orange:

Who is Rick Ross? What is his background? What are his qualifications?

Hello again, H.

Thanks for the letter.

The best way that I can answer that question is to refer you to the Wikipedia page on Rick Ross,

When someone in AA tells one that participating in AA is neccesary to stay sober, they are describing themselves and AA. What is really being said is: they need you to participate; AA needs you to participate.
It is no accident that AA tells you that you need AA.

It is far from impossible to solve a substance abuse problem without a support group. If a person deems it necessary to have a support group, there are options that are much better than AA. Of course, AA is not a support group.

The requirement to be an alcoholic is:

Go to an AA meeting and call yourself one. If not, you are "merely" a drunkard. I prefer drunkard.

It may be fruitful to ask oneself a question: Why do I want to get drunk?

Thanks for your site.

Call me "H"

Thanks for some good points.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The movie "Mad Max and the Road Warrior" is actually a documentary
**  — of the future.  You just don't know it yet.

Date: Mon, September 18, 2006 3:40 pm
From: "Mark"
Subject: The "Big Book"

Hey Orange !

Had my 21st anniversary last Friday, and yeah, I'm a cult member. But,....... .....I believe in free speech. I've been reading some of the letters sent to you from the assortment of Voo Doo AA nutcases who are offended that you have found a way to stay sober without AA. They should spend more time reading the book "Alcoholics Anonymous". By way of example, ..page 95, last paragraph, "If he thinks he can do the job in some other way, or prefers some other spiritual approach, encourage him to follow his own conscience".

As I mentioned in my previous letter, I support your right to stay sober any way you see fit ! I also support the right of drinkers to drink, this is America after all.

If passing on your experience helps just one Alcoholic to get sober, I think you and your web site have done a great service ! Keep up the good work !


Hi again Mark,

Thanks for the input, and congratulations on your 21 years. It sure does feel good to wake up in the morning without a hang-over, doesn't it?   :-)

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The future has already arrived. It's just not
**  evenly distributed yet. == William Gibson

Date: Tue, September 19, 2006 12:21 am
From: "Aaron S."

Your site seems seriously flawed. I think you rely too heavily on flawed logic to make your arguments. Your logic seems flawed because it is fueled by frustrated anger, instead of cool detachement. Logic cannot explain everything. According to pure logic nothing should exist because the idea of a primal cause presents a paradox. Logic cannot explain life or God. God is beyond all logic and understanding. Trying to prove or disprove the existence of God with science is like trying to look backwards into your own brain by turning your head. I'm not saying that you don't believe in God, I don't think you really divulge that information. What I am saying is that if your arguments against A.A. are true, then every form of spirituality, when put under the same scrutiny, is a huge lie. Obviously, I do not agree with this.

Hello Aaron,

Thanks for the letter. I have to disagree with your take on logic. First off, it does not matter whether you are angry when you use logic. (A.A. really has a thing about how you can't be angry or "have a resentment". That is just the standard rule of "Don't feel your feelings" — "Feelings aren't facts".)

Next, logic is a process of examining facts and then drawing conclusions from them, using deductive or inductive reasoning.

Logic does not conflict with God or religious beliefs. It is not the job of logic to "explain life or God."

When dealing with things in the realm of spirituality, numbers, statistics, and yes even our known laws of the universe no longer apply. The only thing that matters is your own direct experience.

Ummm, no. What if your own direct experience is that monsters are coming through the walls to get you, but no one else can see them? (Delirium tremens)?

Having said that, people seem to be quite adept at fabricating thier own spiritual experiences and I think that this is where most of your critism towards A.A. is aimed at. You think that everyone is lieing to themselves.

That is certainly a big part of it.

While I cannot speak for other people in the program, I can say with 100% certainty that God has directed me to this program, and that by working this program I will have a much more spiritually fullfilled life. This might be hard for you to accept, because this statement cannot be validated by any outside source. You can throw all the statistics of failure rates of A.A. at me that you want, it cannot change the fact that I know that it has worked for me. My own direct experience with God is something that cannot be argued over. I cannot prove or disprove to anyone that I am lying, telling the truth, or just plain crazy.

The fact that you enjoy believing that God directed you to Alcoholics Anonymous does not save the life of one other alcoholic.

If A.A. has such high failure rates, I believe that it is because any spiritual road is a hard one to travel. It requires dedication and gut wrenching self honesty. Our society is by and large very secular in nature and most people are simply not equiped to deal with the long and winding path to God. Why? I have no idea. Life would be alot easier if God just made us all perfect from the beggining. However this does not seem to be the case.

There is a simpler explanation for the huge A.A. failure rate: A.A. is a hoax and does not work to sober up alcoholics.

And sorry, but A.A. is not a path to God. God isn't that dishonest.

I urge you to stop trying to convince people not to join A.A. It is very easy for alcoholics to fall into denial and obviously difficult for them to continue going to meetings. Some people may be able to stop thier addictions by pure will alone, but unless addiction is replaced by spiritual awakening, it will only be replaced by more negative and destructive behavior. Every being has a spiritual side to them, addictions crush this side and disconnect them from God. They become like leaves in the autumn and eventually wither, crumble, and die. Or they become like zombies, unfeeling, souless versions of thier former selves.

You can talk about "spirituality" all you want, but A.A. still does not sober up alcoholics, so there is no sense in steering them to it, or not telling the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous.

I hope that you print this letter on your page, so that I can see you ruthlessly critisize it. Maybe you will bring up some good points. I acctually hope that you completely rip into it. I find that the best discussions I have are a often with people that have a completely different point of view than me. Just try not to sink into the type of emotionally fueled bashing or rediculous semantical arguing that I see all over the internet, especially in forums. Disagreements can bring a greater understanding of the truth to both sides. Automatically countering whatever someoone else says to bring about a sense of 'beating' them is a pointless waste of energy and only serves to put more hate into the world. We all live in the same house so please don't shit on the living room floor.

Okay, your wish is granted. I do not practice censorship.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  "There were alcoholics in the hospitals of whom A.A. could
**  touch and help only about five percent. The doctors started
**  giving them a dose of LSD, so that the resistance would be
**  broken down. And they had about fifteen percent recoveries.
**  This was all a scientific thing."
**  === Nell Wing — PASS IT ON, page 370.
**  (Nell Wing was an early secretary of A.A. and Bill Wilson.)
**  Apparently, for treating alcoholics, LSD works three times
**  better than cult religion.

Date: Tue, September 19, 2006 2:02 am
From: "Bill C."
Subject: Hello

Just found your site.

At a perfect time when I'm wondering about my place in AA as an "agnostic outsider." Some days are tougher than others :-)

Thank you.

Bill in Lake Worth, FL
Semi-retired newspaperman

Hi Bill,

Thanks for the compliment and the praise.

You know, if you are feeling uncomfortable in A.A., you would probably feel more at home in SMART or some of the other alternative groups. And you might want to check out this list of alternative groups where you will probably find some kindred minds.

And have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*  If you have to pray for some "Higher Power" or "God" to save you
*  from alcoholism, why is that called a "Self-Help Movement"?

Date: Tue, September 19, 2006 8:09 am
From: Rusty
Subject: update

Hey Orange I see you are still stirring the pot as I am here in Albuquerque. I assume you got my book as I see you mentioned Burney and Jude Thadeus in one of your rants.

I came from a cult called mom and dad and when I got to AA they told me to pour coffee and I said no, I have never had a cup of coffee and did not come here to be your waiter. The next day they told me to wash the ashtrays and I said no I have never smoked in my life. Needless to say I got off to a shaky start in recovery in Palm Desert Calif. They told me that if I could SURVIVE the AA fellowship I had half the battle won. So many think AA was started to GET you sober but it was not.

I have shared this in meetings and the gurus go crazy. At the 5 year AA Convention with 50,000 in the stadium announce that Bill Gates and Oprah have set up a bar outside and are giving $100,000 cash to anyone who comes out and takes a drink. How many do think will take that drink. Hell just go back in and raise your hand as a newcomer.

Sober in AA since my first meeting but my first meeting took place the day before I went to AA. It was the meeting with ME. The rest are a piece of cake. I am pretty good at saying things in meetings that make people THINK. Not to be an AA lemming. I drive the old timers goofy and I like it. Sober for 20 years and the world is a safer place.

Keep doing

Hi Rusty,

Thanks for the letter and the experiences. Congratulations on your 20 years of a healthier and happier lifestyle. Now that I think about it, I realize that I'm only 3 days away from my 6th anniversary (I'm answering this on October 17.)

And when I think back, I realize that I also had the first meeting with myself before I went to A.A. — both times. I have quit twice, once 18 years ago, when I stayed sober 3 years, and then 6 years ago (and still sober), and both times, the process was: first, decide to quit drinking, and then later, go to an A.A. meeting and declare my decision.

This last time around, I was 2 weeks into sobriety before I got to an A.A. meeting. In fact, I never got my "Just For Today" coin this time around, because I had more than 30 days of sobriety when I finally got to a meeting that gave away coins, where some guy asked, "Is anyone here in his first 30 days of sobriety?". Well, I was over 30 days, so I didn't raise my hand. :-)

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  Fanaticism consists of redoubling your effort when
**  you have forgotten your aim.  == George Santayana

More Letters

Previous Letters

Search the Orange Papers

Click Fruit for Menu

Last updated 23 September 2009.
The most recent version of this file can be found at https://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters72.html