Letters, We Get Mail, IX

[ 10 Feb 2003, Alvin C. wrote: ]


Sounds like someone REALLY got a burr under your saddle!

Yeh, I get pissed off when steppers hurt my friends with misinformation and cult dogma.

You have all the sympathy that I can muster my friend. Being a retired military of the Viet-Nam era, your "agent orange" analogy/connection is very appropriate, since the effects of THAT particular agent didn't appear until years later.

I'm not sure that I follow your logic.

So... AA "didn't work" for you. Boo hoo. That's life, suck it up!

Wrong. I have repeatedly stated that I did not waste much time on the 12-Step program.

  • I never "completely gave myself to the program."
  • I never surrendered my mind, my will, and my life to the cult (Step Three).
  • I never got a sponsor, I didn't do the Twelve Steps, and I don't believe in the Big Book or Bill Wilson.
  • I quickly figured out that A.A. and N.A. were just another cult religion, and voted with my feet. I walked out.
  • It wasn't a matter of the 12-step program not working for me. I decided that the program didn't rate my life, or my mind, or my soul.
  • I used a simple common-sense "do it yourself" program that worked great, and is still working great: just don't drink.
  • And I thank God for giving me the brains to not believe in Alcoholics Anonymous. I feel immense Serenity and Gratitude when I think about that one.

I/We don't say "it works for EVERYBODY", or that it's the be-all of all programs.

Actually, steppers say that all of the time. That's how they rationalize using counselors, therapists, judges, police, and parole officers to force more people into the 12-step A.A./N.A. cult.

Pamela D. calls it "FORCING US TO GET HELP."

I've already covered the issue of A.A. claiming to work, and claiming it is The Only Way before, in one of the previous letters.

Maybe RR, or some of the other programs wouldn't work for me...I've seen enough and heard enough to know I ain't interested when someone or something depends more on bashing what works "5% of the time" (your quote), that on showing me something positive. My friend, I've had one heart attack, and I didn't debate the treatment or the drugs that were given to me for recovery of that malady.

YOU may not have bothered to investigate whether the drugs or treatment you were given were really good medicine, but SOMEBODY sure as hell did. Otherwise, you would be dead.

The drug manufacturers and the F.D.A. had to do a lot of expensive testing to prove that the drugs and treatment you were given were really effective. On average, it costs about $300 million to get a drug through the entire approval process. Everything you got to save your life had passed through that filter.

A.A. has never survived any such examination. It has alway been proven ineffective and worthless. It has even been shown to harm and kill patients.

And who gave you that medical treatment that saved your life?
An A.A. sponsor with a couple of years of practice in quack 12-step faith healing?
Or a genuine certified doctor with many years of real medical training and education — somebody who has been thoroughly tested and examined for a lot of years?

And when you had your heart attack, did you choose to go to the Alcoholics Anonymous faith healers to have them pray over you and do a miraculous faith healing, or did you go to a real doctor?

I also HAD prostate cancer. I did the research, took the action, and follow up regularly. I DID have the time for research on that, just like I did on MY alcoholism. AA works for me. Plain and simple.

What works for you? Just what works?

Please explain precisely how voodoo medicine and cult religion keep you sober.

And how do you know that you aren't just another person who is being fooled by quack medicine? Have you read Dr. David Duncan's story about quack medicine?

I would suggest that what really works to keep you sober is your refusal to put a glass of alcohol to your mouth and drink it. The rest is just a superstitious hobby that you waste your spare time on.

Your confusion about what works for you would not matter except that you steppers then do an illogical jump to the conclusion that it will also work for lots of other people, "So let's go tell the judge to force all DWI's into A.A., because everybody knows that A.A. is the best, most successful alcoholism treatment program..."

And then, when you do your Twelfth Step work, you tell the ignorant, desperate, sick people that cult religion is the best cure for alcoholism, with no doubts in your mind about the truth of what you are saying, because you have convinced yourself that quack medicine and faith healing are what really works for you. You never tell new prospects something like,
"Well, actually, I don't have any valid evidence that all of that praying and confessing in meetings is really good for anything. I just like to believe that it works, and I enjoy the social club."

If something else work(s)(ed) for you, I'm more than happy for ya. Keep on doing what YOU are doing, even if it includes the attempted trashing of what's been shown to work for a great many. Nope...I ain't gonna trot out statistics on ya, figures don't lie, but liars do figure...go figure, haha.

No, it has not ever "been shown to work for many." Not even close.
That is the Big Lie of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Even your own AAWS Trustee Professor George E. Vaillant showed that it does not work, and it kills alcoholics. He was trying to prove that A.A. worked, but he ended up proving that it does not work at all. And he even said so, when he wrote up the results of his 8-year-long study of A.A. treatment in his book The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery.
And he wrote that the death rate in the A.A. treatment program was "appalling."
After 8 years of A.A. treatment, 29% of his patients were dead. A.A. had the highest death rate of any kind of a treatment program that he examined.

  • You aren't going to trot out any statistics because you don't have any.
  • You see all of the people dropping out and disappearing from the meetings. You know that the A.A. clubhouse has a revolving door on the front of it, but you stick your head in the sand like an ostrich and refuse to see the truth, and then laugh about the statistics.
  • You are in denial.
  • You know that at least 95% of the newcomers are gone at the end of the first year. That's just what the A.A. G.S.O. reported. The truth is probably worse than that. The ABC News program 20/20 quoted an A.A. spokesman as saying that 95% of the newcomers do not even return for a second meeting.
  • You know that any newcomer to A.A. has less than one chance in a thousand of becoming a 20-year old-timer, but you hide from that fact, don't you?

You're a rank amateur as far as I'm concerned in the AA bad-mouth game. Please see other (in)famous characters such as a "Mr. Ken Raggae" and another that comes to mind who goes/went by the name of "Rev(?). Colin James". Do you write comedy professionally?

Most Sincerely,
Alvin C.

What does "rank amateur" mean, or have to do with it? The truth is the truth, no matter who says it.

Did you know that the word "amateur" means that you do it for love, not money? "Amateur" has the same root as the French word "amour". So I tell the truth for the love of it. Now that isn't such an insult, is it?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[ 11 Feb 2003, Mike S. wrote: ]

in reading some of your propaganda, it occurrs to me that you would present a better image of yourself, and possibly of whatever agenda you are trying to promote here, if you were to simply highlight your own good deeds, if you can find such, instead of slinging mud at everyone else.
      You come off as very judgemental, yet you profess to not be an athiest or agnostic, one must conclude then that you believe in something. I don't see that you are disagreeing with spiritual growth, yet I certainly cant see any evidence of such growth based upon what you have written.
      I havent discovered what it is you are attempting to acomplish, perhaps you are just rambling. If so, it is a very decent ramble. Then you would just be a rebel without a cause, just like most alcoholics for the first several years of recovery... so, I guess you are exactly where you are supposed to be... unless of course there is some goal associated with all this mud slinging... perhaps you are campaining for president of AA? LMAO.

Mike S.

There is no wrong way for me to stay sober,
and no right way for me to drink

Hello, Mike,

When you ask that I only highlight my good deeds, what you are really asking is for me to quit saying negative things about Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, and the whole 12-step cult religion. You are asking me to stop telling the truth about them. Sorry, no deal.

I would not have so much reason to criticize A.A. if it would quit:

  • Deceptive recruiting.
  • Coercive recruiting.
  • Spreading misinformation about the nature of alcoholism and addiction.
  • Spreading misinformation about what works to help alcoholics and addicts.
  • Lying about the A.A. success rate.

Spiritual growth does not consist of fooling people into joining you in your favorite superstitions, like Bill Wilson teaches in chapter 7 of the Big Book.

You can't figure out what my agenda is? I have said it repeatedly. Look at the previous letters.

Have a good day anyway.

— Orange

[11 Feb 2003, Al B. wrote: ]

You have no idea what you are writing about. Are you an Addict? You have missed the point and miss informed beyond reason.

Misinformed? Which of my citations or references is wrong? I research very carefully.

Why so much angry?

I don't like cults that harm my friends.

If the program helps but one person.

Flip the logic over: If it kills just one person...

Well, A.A. does kill. A.A. has clearly, repeatedly, been shown to kill. What about that?

There are no other programs with any better success rate.

Totally wrong. A.A. doesn't have a success rate; it has a failure rate, and a death rate.
Go read the file, "The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment."

Good luck. I hope you find happiness.


Thanks for the good wishes. I've already found happiness. You have a good day too.

— Orange

[ 18 Feb 2003: Second letter from Al B.: ]

Why flip the logic around? To prove your point? The point as I see it is that addiction is a physical, psychological, and spiritual condition. I believe that is all AA is trying to help out with. Sure its a bit dated but show me a religion that is not. All religion that carry any dogma are cults so AA is another one? So what. I guess if you really want you can beat up anything. Are you an addict. I am and have not practiced for over four years. I believe the Spirit set me free. This was before ever going to a meeting. When I did go I was surprised to learn that mine and Bill s experiences were quit similar. So no I don't believe everything I hear at AA but some things do make sense. About your friends that died I am sorry to hear that. If it was because of an addiction that is even sadder. One thing that I did get from AA is that the life I live today is "Happy Joyous and Free" and wether that has anything to do with AA really is not that point. I am very grateful for my sobriety. I hope that you loose no more of your friends to addiction and that your life continues to be a happy one.

Love Life And Laughter


  • Why flip it over? Because you have to count both the harm done to the many, as well as the benefits provided to the few.

    It is grossly dishonest and deceptive to only point to a few success stories while ignoring 20 times as many people for whom the program did not work, and whom the program actually hindered in their attempts at recovery.

    I dislike having to constantly repeat myself, but steppers don't seem to read anything unless you shove it in their faces. So, once again, one of the leaders of A.A., AAWS Trustee Prof. George Vaillant, found that A.A. had the highest death rate of any treatment program that he examined during his 8-year long test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics. He called the death rate in the A.A. treatment program "appalling".
    The A.A. program was raising the death rate, not lowering it.
    That's why you have to "flip it over", and ask how many are being killed.

    I can believe that A.A. and cult religion really do help some people to quit drinking — a rare few.
    But the same program kills other people — more than it saves.
    Remember that the results that Prof. Vaillant got from eight years of A.A. treatment of alcoholics was a 5% success rate and a 29% death rate.

    Out of the one hundred alcoholics whom Vaillant tracked through A.A. treatment, only 5 got and stayed sober for all eight years, but 29 of them got and stayed dead.

    That is nearly a 6 to 1 kill-to-success ratio.

    What kill ratio do you consider acceptable?
    Will you say, "It's okay if we kill three or four other people with our misinformation, and our stupid cult religion, and our ineffective faith healing, if we save just one..."?

    And remember that those terrible numbers came from somebody who loves Alcoholics Anonymous, and is one of the leaders of A.A.. Prof. George E. Vaillant is so crazy that he thinks that we should send all alcoholics to A.A. anyway, even if it will kill them. Vaillant says:
    " The point is that if one cannot cure an illness, one wants to make the patient less afraid and overwhelmed by it."
    That's A.A. at work: give them comforting fairy tales as they die.

  • No, not all religions are cults. That is just a standard A.A. cop-out answer — minimization and denial. Very few religions are cults. Go read The Cult Test.

  • The A.A. program is not "a bit dated." It is just plain wrong. It was wrong in the beginning when Bill Wilson adopted Frank Buchman's fascist cult religion and made it into A.A., and it is still wrong now. A.A. is a cult religion that preys on sick alcoholics, not a therapy program. Alcoholics Anonymous has a zero-percent success rate above normal spontaneous remission, or even less.

  • I am grateful for my sobriety, too. And I've had some quite remarkable experiences in my life, too, but they don't make me want to shove a dishonest, deceptive, cult religion on my friends.
    My spiritual experiences don't make me want to practice coercive recruiting on helpless people.
    My spiritual experiences don't make me prattle hundreds of mind-numbing slogans.
    My spiritual experiences don't make me want to pull bait-and-switch stunts on sick people.
    My spiritual experiences don't make me want to practice deceptive recruiting techniques on strangers.
    My spiritual experiences don't make me believe in the religious ravings of a genuine lunatic.
    I have serious doubts about any so-called "spiritual experience" that does make people do such things.

  • You say you had a spiritual experience just like Bill Wilson did? Wonderful. So did I. Which hallucinogenic drug did you use? I used LSD and other psychedelics. And Bill Wilson used belladonna to get his big vision of "the God of the preachers", you know. (You did know that, didn't you?) Then Bill Wilson also used LSD in his later years, and liked it.

    • Oh, and you may claim that you didn't use drugs to get your vision, but if you got that spiritual experience while detoxing and going through withdrawal (from anything), then you most assuredly did use drugs to get your experience.
    • And if you got that vision from an overdose of something, then you used drugs.
    • And if you got that vision from being sick from having done stuff for years, then you most assuredly did use drugs to get your experience.

    Now mind you, I do not just automatically dismiss all drug-induced visions as invalid, any more than I would dismiss all deliberately-induced visionary experiences that were triggered by fasting, meditating, chanting, praying, breathing exercises, Sufi dancing, or yoga. But let's be rigorously honest here, and tell it like it is. (The Big Book, page 58)

Have a good day.

— Orange

[ Mon Feb 10 2003, Warren P. from Australia wrote: ]

Thank you for your web site. It has really opened my eyes.

My sponsor in AA is a true believer Wilsonist. He told me every morning to pray on my knees on a made bed for God to "show me the truth about my alcoholism". Two hours later I was at your web site. How's that for guidance?

Now that's funny. Thanks for the compliments.

I got to your site because I wanted to search about Herbert Spencer's AA quote. Google returns your site pretty high on the list for a search on "Herbert Spencer Alcoholics Anonymous".

Bless Google. It took a long time to bubble up to that status.

Three years ago I was told the quote attributed to Spencer could not actually be found in any of his work. There are other web sites out there asking where the quote comes from. So I was wondering how sure you are about the source you attibute it to (Principles of Biology)?

You know, that is an on-going problem. I have flip-flopped a couple of times on that one, going from taking it at face value that it was a correct quote, to also thinking that it was a misquote, and saying so. Then I got an email from a woman who insisted that it was in Principles of Biology, but she couldn't give me the page number because her books were packed, in storage, because she was in the process of moving. I went to the public library and actually found the real thing, a genuine first edition, two-volume 1864-1867 printing of Principles, and searched it. I did not find that quote, but I found some other stuff close enough to it to convince me that he probably did write it. See the quote at the start of the Religious Faith web page. (And the idea that he considered as not supported by a single fact was the idea of Creationism.)

And then there is much like this:

Either the multitudinous kinds of organisms that now exist, and the still more multitudinous kinds that have existed during past geologic eras, have been from time to time separately made; or they have arisen by insensible steps, through actions such as we see habitually going on. Both hypothesis imply a Cause. The last, certainly as much as the first, recognizes this Cause as inscrutable. The point at issue is, how this inscrutible Cause has worked in the production of living forms. This point, if it is to be decided at all, is to be decided only by examination of evidence. Let us inquire which of these antagonist hypotheses is most congruous with established facts.
Herbert Spencer, Principles of Biology, Volume 1, page 332, published 1864 to 1867.

Spencer repeatedly stressed examination of the evidence, looking at the facts, and not jumping to conclusions without careful examination of all of the evidence. One of his biggest complaints about those who advocated the divine creation of all of the individual species was their stubborn refusal to consider all of the evidence before them.

I went back and searched again, in response to your letter, feeling that it must be somewhere in those two volumes. Still no luck.

Then something funny happened: I told the librarian that those precious first edition books were not locked up in the Rare Books room of the library; that they were publicly available. She took the matter to the head librarian, and they promptly locked up the books and now I can't touch them until next week at the earliest (after they do some repair work to the bindings), and then only under the watchful gaze of a librarian, for a few hours, a few days of the week.

Oh well, I shall keep on looking. I did manage to get First Principles, Universal Progress, and a couple of books about Spencer, which I am scanning now. (And I'm not going to tell the librarian that the First Principles book is also nearly a century old (1912, fourth edition) until after I'm done with it.)

Second, do you have a quote proving his attitude towards alcoholics, or do you simply infer it from what a Darwinist would believe?

I read a bunch of stuff that implied such an attitude, but can't pull up a quote right now, because I can't touch the books. But in general, one of the things that really impressed me was just how clearly Spencer understood the principles of evolution, through many dimensions, even without any knowledge of the workings of DNA. (He simply called the innermost workings of the cell "inscrutable", which was certainly an accurate description of the situation then.) He repeatedly stressed the idea that genetic mistakes or defects were quickly erased from the population by death, and while that was a harsh fate for the individual, the species and life as a whole was improved by the process. And he spoke of that happening with both the lower animals and man.

But I don't know if I made it clear that he would not have had contempt for alcoholics. He would not have said that they deserved to die. He would have regarded them just the same as he regarded the slowest rabbit in the field, whose fate is to become dinner for the wolf. (And you know, that is still really happening. About half of the alcoholics eventually wise up and quit drinking, but the other half don't — they die. Mother Nature is still slowly culling something out of the species. My sick joke about the Übermensch Project is not entirely a joke.)

My interest in this is because in Australia, a favourite tactic of Wilsonists is to accuse anyone of "contempt prior to investigation" who doesn't understand or appreciate their religion.

Yes, that is indeed why Bill Wilson put that quote in the book.

In addition, the argument that "You can't know the truth about our religion until you have tried it for a while" is common to channelled religions and such cults. By "channelled" I mean channelling messages from dead people or other spirits as exemplified by the teachings of the American actress Shirley MacLaine. I talked about that in the file The Heresy of the Twelve Steps. The cult claims to have special knowledge that is accessible only to those who do the cult's practices — chanting, praying, meditating, Scientology-style mind processing, whatever. The gotcha is: if you try their religion for a year, to find out how their receiving messages and wisdom from the beyond really works, then you will become as brainwashed as they are.

Alcoholics Anonymous is undoubtedly a channelled religion that dabbles in the occult — Step Eleven explicitly tells us to pray and meditate until we hear God talking to us and telling us what to do. That is no different than a "medium" who goes into a trance and imagines that he hears the voices of the dead talking to him. — Oh, and that is what Bill Wilson fancied himself to be — a skilled medium who heard the voices of the dead.

Apart from all your other criticisms of the big book, I think using this quote from a secular thinker in direct opposition to its real context to be quite fraudulent.

I agree.

In Australia, I think we are a little bit lucky in that there are two major schools of thought in AA. One set are the complete Wilsonites. The others are those of us who say: First step, third tradition, don't pick up the first drink. This is borne out of scepticism of American religion. (I want to say "a very prudent and very healthy scepticism", but I don't want to be rude). Numbers on each side are about equal, but it's hard to be sure, since the latter group are usually less vocal about it. I think they don't want to upset the Wilsonists lest they need them one day. Most members find the meetings of the other camp intolerable.

Now that's interesting. There are no such two camps in the U.S.A., but that seems like it would be a good thing. However, the alternative groups like SMART, SOS, WFS and MFS seem to be growing rapidly.

I noticed that on the rational recovery web site, the attitude seemed to be that drinkers are complete moral degenerates, therefore they make extremely bad company for someone seeking to take full moral responsibility for their behaviour. I wonder where you stand on this.

I'm so glad you asked that. That has to be one of the best questions I've received. (At least, the best in my opinion.) I like that question because it hits on the very core issues of what is addiction, and what is an addict.

Both A.A. and Trimpey's Rational Recovery essentially say that addicts are selfish and immoral. Trimpey has the honesty to just say it straight out front. A.A. takes a deceptive round-about bait-and-switch path of first declaring that you have a disease over which you have no control, and then they morph it into a moral issue of "moral shortcomings", "defects of character", and sin. You can't win either way.

I strongly disagree with both of them on that point. From where I see it, we are all just trying to make it through the night. We are all just trying to feel good. And it is not immoral to want to feel good. See the file on The Lizard-Brain Addiction Monster for more on that.

When we ask why people use drugs, cigarettes, and alcohol, the first answer is, "Because they feel bad, and want to feel better." (See the file "Rat Park, and Other Children's Stories" for more on that.)

Some forty percent of all alcoholics and drug addicts were abused children. One of the bad side effects of child abuse is that the children learn to shut down their feelings, in order to avoid feeling so much pain. It's just a basic survival strategy. Unfortunately, that also cripples the child's ability to feel pleasure or joy. And it becomes a fixed habit, or way of living — a mind set that is cast in concrete because of genuine brain damage. Then, sometime in their youth, someone gives them a taste of alcohol or drugs, and they discover that they can use chemicals to change how they feel, to open up and loosen up and make themselves feel ecstatic or joyous as small children again, like they once could, and that's that. They are like born addicts — sold on it instantly. They feel like the discovery of getting high is the biggest revelation in their lives — the most advanced, intelligent, technology there is — "Better Living Through Chemistry" — and they will endure extreme hardships and privation to get high again and again... We all know about that story. And they are not trying to "escape from life", as the old cliché says; they are trying to get into life — to get back to being fully-functional, feeling, beings.

It is not immoral for those injured children — young adults — to want to self-medicate and fix what's broken. Unfortunately, the drugs that are available on the open market are terrible because of their bad long-term side effects. Alcohol, tobacco, heroin, speed and cocaine — they are all killers. In addition, such mental damage is really a psychiatric problem as well as an organic disorder, and it is a disorder for which there is no simple appropriate drug treatment. At best, drugs can only treat the symptoms, not fix the disorder.

That still leaves the other sixty percent of the addicts and alcoholics who are getting high for some other reason besides child abuse. Often, those people suffer from some physical illness, either in the brain or the rest of the body, which they are trying to fix by self-medicating with street drugs. Doctors are increasingly aware of just how many addicts and alcoholics have underlying psychiatric problems and other medical disorders. When the doctors get those patients onto the right medications, the drug and alcohol problems disappear. (Unfortunately, it isn't all that easy — sometimes the "right" medications don't exist yet.) Some doctors go so far as to declare that all cases of alcoholism and drug addiction are really Dual Diagnosis cases — that there is always some underlying psychiatric or physical disorder at work. In a way, such an attitude makes sense. Someone who insists on killing himself with drugs or alcohol really does need his head examined.

Then there is the genetic factor in alcoholism. There is no doubt in my mind that it exists. I have watched it at work in me for many years now, and have seen how it changed how I reacted to alcohol over the years (from "didn't like it and didn't want it" to "one drink is highly readdictive — instant readdiction, in fact"). Now the genetic factor alone does not force anyone to drink, but it does make them far more likely to become an addicted alcoholic. Combine that with the child abuse that comes from having an alcoholic father from whom you inherited the gene for alcoholism and you get a real double whammy.

I also suspect that when the human genome is really fully decoded, that we will discover that there are some funny genetic twists in other kinds of addicts besides alcoholics. I mentioned Kenneth Blum's work on "The Reward Deficiency Syndrome" in the file "The Hazelden Coffee War". He discovered that some people are born unable to feel enough pleasure to feel really satisfied. And it seems to be a genetic disorder. It is literally like the Rolling Stones song, "I Caint Get No Satisfaction... Though I try, and I try, and I try..."

In a way, all of this stuff is just common sense. Those addicts must be using drugs and alcohol and getting high for some good reason. They must be getting something out of it. Some of them may be crazy because of organic disorders or psychiatric disorders; others may be insane because they've been doing drugs and alcohol for far too long; but there has to be some practical reason why so many people feel compelled to use drugs and alcohol to excess. When you say, "The answer is, to feel good," someone always asks, "Well, why can't they feel good without drugs? Is there something wrong with them?" The simple answer is a resounding "YES!"

Now, back to the issue of the morality or immorality of getting high: I have known a great number of people who routinely used a little pot or beer to brighten up their days, and they were wonderful people, not immoral at all. And the vast majority of them never got addicted to anything other than coffee and cigarettes.

Heck, the Grateful Dead concerts were infamous for being some of the most stoned parties on Earth. And they were wonderful. And they were also popular with the concert guards for being easy jobs — just nice, happily-stoned, non-violent parties. One guard that I talked to said, "I just do this on weekends for extra money. I really work in a bookstore. But I just dress up in a rent-a-cop uniform, and stand around looking official, and then collect my pay and go home. We love Grateful Dead concerts because there is never any trouble. The people just get high and groove on the music."

But we also know of that junkie whom you can't trust at all. Don't let him know where you live or everything you own will disappear. And we all know of some alcoholic who gets drunk and terrorizes his family. But what I think we are really objecting to most is the bad things that they do while they are stoned, not whether they get high. We also object to the apparent loss of control of one's life from using too much of something. And we object to having to watch people slowly committing suicide before our eyes.

I think that we have to adopt an attitude of "people are responsible for their actions, drunk or sober, stoned or straight." If someone gets drunk and commits a crime, the sin is in the crime, not in the getting stoned. It isn't a sin to get high, but drunk driving, picking drunken fights, terrorizing and beating women and children, stealing, mugging, and other such things are.

And if someone says that they just can't get high and not do those things, then the simple answer is, "Then don't get high on that stuff. Being drunk or stoned is no excuse. Period."

And as far as the morality of addiction itself is concerned, I think that addiction is just using something until your mind and body become habituated to it, and it becomes extremely difficult to stop using it.
In and of itself, addiction seems to me to be no more immoral or moral than falling down and breaking your arm. It's just something that happened. It's what you do with the rest of your life that is the measure of the man; not whether you fell down.

I found quitting drinking to be quite a struggle with the brain damage and emotional instability of the early days. Many drinkers have lost their family and friends and are lonely. I liked AA meetings for this reason. My favourite times in AA have been at AA as social club. I believed it really helped me.

I totally agree there. The company of other people who also want to stay sober is often very helpful. It is true that sometimes you just don't find the simple "Been there, done that" kind of understanding and acceptance anywhere but in a group of other ex-addicts. I've often said that A.A. would be a nice social club, and even a helpful self-support group, if we could just dump Bill Wilson, the Twelve Steps, the Big Book, the irrational cult religion nonsense, and the medically incorrect information about alcoholism.

Personally, I'm going to SMART meetings for just that reason. That is, to a great extent, what they are. They are full of refugees from A.A. who couldn't stomach the A.A. program but who still want a recovery self-help group. (Now SMART is also about teaching some common-sense techniques called Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (from Dr. Albert Ellis), but the simple, sane, self-help group idea is the most important thing that I see there.)

And then there is just the element of hope that such groups offer. Seeing people who have succeeded in their quest for sober, unaddicted lifestyles is inspirational to the newcomers. I am surprised to find that some people find just my existence to be helpful to them, because I have a couple of years now, and they look at me and think, "Well, if he can do it, then maybe so can I." Happily, that doesn't even require me to be any great fountain of wisdom. All I have to do is keep on breathing, and stay sober.

Lastly, do you know the line in the book "Alcoholics Anonymous" where he says "we hope no one will consider these self-revealing accounts in bad taste" (p.29). I do find them to be in bad taste, although I'm not quite sure why. Can you shed any light on why Wilson thought the accounts may be construed as bad taste?

I suspect that that is just a hang-over from the Victorian era — the idea that one does not air one's dirty linen in public. I suspect that Wilson considered the stories to be too raw for general public consumption, in spite of the fact that they were really highly sanitized and stylized. The early A.A. members imagined that the book would be mostly read by men, and that the faint-of-heart ladies probably shouldn't read it. Doctor Bob didn't even want women in A.A., because, back then, everybody knew that ladies didn't become alcoholics.

I know what you mean by finding the Big Book stories to be in bad taste. I think the underlying reason is because they have been carefully crafted to sell the A.A. philosophy and ideas about alcoholism, as well as the Alcoholics Anonymous organization and the 12-step religion. They are actually propaganda. They were all carefully hand-picked and edited to make them consistently support the dogma that was advanced in the first 164 pages. Then they were sold as "true stories", and as realistic pictures of alcoholism and recovery, which they are not.

They also insult the reader's intelligence. Some are pretty moronic. Many follow the same dumb formula of "I drank too much and was totally out of control, and life was hell, until a wise, kindly missionary from A.A. gave me the Only Answer, which I was reluctant to accept because I was so stupid, but I finally did wise up and accept A.A., and then we all lived happily ever after."

And in the third edition, the story by the "Indian" is undoubtedly a forgery. (See Join The Tribe, page 474.) I lived in New Mexico for over 20 years, and knew hundreds of Indians (Native American peoples), everybody from the intelligent and literate governor of a pueblo down to the street drunks in Taos, and every last one of them spoke better English than that fake Indian in the Big Book. Also, when Indians do speak different English than white men, it isn't the kind of grammatical errors you find in that Big Book story. Real Indians call that kind of talk "Tonto-ese" because it's the kind of fake Indian talk that Tonto spoke on the Lone Ranger programs (radio and television). Apparently, that was the only kind of Indian talk that the white guys at AAWS in New York knew (or thought they knew), when they fabricated that story, probably in 1975 or 1976, so that's what they used. It is just painfully obvious that the story was not written by an Indian, or even by anyone who knew much about Indians.

I suspect that the reason you find the Big Book stories to be in bad taste is because you get the vague feeling that someone is trying to feed you a load of bullshit while telling you that it's a delicious steak dinner.

Have a wonderful day...

— Orange

[ 15 Feb 2003, Bob B. wrote: ]


I love your site!

I attended my first A.A. meeting 24 years ago. I have been sober 23 of those 24 years. I had several binges during that time which was used against me by Thumpers and Old-timers to "Keep Me In My Place". 15 years was the longest continuous sobriety I've ever had. To sum it up I've been sober almost 3 times as long as I ever abused booze but I have no "equity" in the program because I went out and tied on a 4 day bender a year ago.

I am convinced that critical thought is a necessary tool in the search for the truth. Objectively used of course.

There are three types of individuals present at A.A. meetings.
1. Those incapable of critical thought because they never learned what it was or how to use it to search for the truth.
2. Those who come to A.A. with their critical thought process still intact and inevitably walk out the door within the first year. (95%)
3. Those who come to A.A. with critical thought intact but are brainwashed into believing it is of no use. I was #3.

Is A.A. dangerous? Your darn right it is! Is it productive in keeping people sober? I have yet to discover 1 grain of evidence to support that theory. Is it anti-science and anti-intellectual? Of course. That is its most powerful weapon against the truth!

I have been reading your site for over a year and have noticed it keeps getting busier and busier.

A.A. is going down fast! I predict within 10 years it will descend from its "Only Program That Works" status to being the butt of jokes at cocktail parties. It's already sliding downhill at an increased pace thanks to people like yourself, Ken Ragge and Dr. Jeffrey Schaler amongst others.

Keep up the good work.


Hi Bob,

Thanks for all of the compliments. I'd never considered myself in the same league as Dr. Schaler, but it's certainly flattering.

Have a good day.

Oh, and by the way, congratulations on the recovery after the slip. — On getting back on the wagon after 4 days of binging, I mean. I know how hard that is to do, because it took me 9 years to get back on the wagon. How I wish it had only been 4 days.

— Orange

[ 2nd letter from Bob B., Fri 28 Feb 2003: ]

Hi Orange,

Thanks for printing my letter.

Hi Bob. You're welcome.

In response to your question about how I was able to sober up multiple times after Short Binge Drinking Episodes", I would refer you to a study I believe was done at Harvard. But I can't be positive. It basically stated that binge drinking was an extremely common occurrence amongst regular A.A. members. That was also my experience but since this particular study wasn't a double blind study I really can't ascertain it's validity.

The double-blind test is the holy grail of medical testing.
Alas, a double-blind test of an A.A.-based treatment program is impossible. By definition, a double-blind test is one where neither the patient nor his doctor knows whether the patient is getting the real medicine or a placebo. (Another doctor or a pharmacist who won't talk puts the pills into the patients' pill bottles.) Someone would have to be totally deaf and blind to not know that he was in an A.A. meeting, getting A.A. "treatment". The best that can be done in testing A.A. is a randomized longitudinal controlled study. That's still a valid test, but it isn't "blind".

After my last bender I was introduced to an A.A. member through my Big Book Thumper sponsor. My Sponsor was so brainwashed he was unable to understand exactly what myself and (call him Mr. Q) were talking about.

This gentleman and I spoke for three hours non-stop. Here are the points he emphasized for me. He also had twenty years of sobriety, but he figured this stuff out three months after he had initially joined the A.A. program.

1. Alcoholism is NOT a disease it is in fact a behavioral problem!

2. He asked me to question EVERTHING in The Big Book. And by using logic and reason I would be capable of discerning the truth from the B.S.

3. Sobriety is MY responsibility!

4. Use honesty in all my actions and words guided by reason, logic and objectivity. Of course this is an ideal, we are all subjective in one way or the other.

5. Ask lots of questions at A.A. meetings. It drives old-timers and Big Book Thumpers nuts. Most of the time they are so brainwashed they have lost the ability to think objectively.

6. Always be prepared to help another drunk. An interesting point here is that when I last got drunk not a single one of my A.A. "buddies" would come to help me out or even visit me in detox. Their attitude was "that will teach him. When he crawls back here on his hands and knees, we'll let him back in. Incidentally, I did in fact return to that meeting and I ended up pissing everyone off sooo much they threw me out.

So much for "Love and tolerance of others is our code".

7. In essence, live well and abstain from drinking at all times. It's that simple!

Once Mr. Q placed the responsibility for my life upon my own actions I felt like a great weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I felt empowered! The most heinous lie told at A.A. meetings is that the individual is "Powerless over alcohol". This disempowerment lasted almost twenty three years for me. It prevented me from taking responsibility for my own life and actions. Dr Jeffrey Schaller pursues this topic in more depth on his website. I'm sure you are familiar with it.

There are several meetings here in Florida where this new way of thinking is starting to take root. You are permitted to talk about any subject you want to. Sponsorship is discouraged, and if you make a statement you MUST be able to back it up with reason and logic. At the beginning of the meeting you are warned that a failure to do so could result in you being "ridiculed mercilessly". Needless to say , thumpers and old-timers usually only last one meeting.The meeting is more about philosophy as opposed to "scab picking". In other words endless A.A. self-flagellation.

This movement is picking up speed! I don't go to many meeting anymore but when I do it is my purpose to try to protect "newcomers" from all the crap that's thrown at them.

I certainly don't allow people to pawn their A.A. propaganda off on me!

On a final note. I know you have read this book because I saw it on your reading list. But I will mention it again because it really helped me put this whole A.A. mass movement in it's proper perspective. The book is "The True Believer" by Eric Hoffer. If people read that, after attempting to wade through the contorted twisted "logic" that Bill Wilson promoted, membership in A.A. would probably drop by 30% overnight.

Here's my program in a nutshell!

1. Does what this person is saying make sense?

2. If this information, is in fact true, is it possible to apply this knowledge somehow in my day to day existence?

That's all I need combined of course with abstinence from alcohol.


Orange, that nine years you spent out drinking after your "slip" was worth it! Your experience enabled you to get where you are today. I don't believe it would have been possible any other way! You have placed yourself in a unique position to help others but only because of you knowledge COMBINED with you experience. "There is no free lunch"!

Keep up the good work!

Bob B.

Thanks for a great letter. Sorry to take so long to answer, but I've been battling some nasty cold or flu germs. Nothing serious — just enough of a hassle to get me behind on my work and remind me that we really do live in a biological world where there are some little bugs around whose idea of a real good time is eating me for dinner.

Yes, that book by Eric Hoffer is really a jewel, isn't it? It's an all-time classic. Few books have such a high ratio of truth to filler material. For the benefit of those readers who haven't seen it, The True Believer is just an unimpressive-looking little book, published in 1951. But book covers can be deceiving. Hoffer lived through World War II, and saw the rise of the Nazis, and describes a lot of that phenomenon in the book. But he goes a step further, and ferrets out the characteristics of religious or pseudo-religious mass movements in general, which of course includes cults. It really is a classic, a timeless book that sounds like it might have been written last week about the current cults. Highly recommended.

That guy "Mr. Q" sounds great. It really is a shame that such good, wise, knowledgeable, advisors are so rare. I get the feeling that you had to wait 20 years to meet him.

Those new meetings you are describing sure sound a lot like the SMART meetings that I like to go to. They are also intellectual free-for-alls, cross-talk encouraged.

Oh, and about my 9-year "training session" — it may well be true that I couldn't have arrived at my present situation by any other path than experience, but with a wry smile I have to say, "That really wasn't what I had in mind." Oh well, I guess it's like that old saying, "If life hands you a lemon, make lemonade."

Thanks for the letter. Have a good day.

— Orange

[ 19 Feb 2003, Alistair B. wrote: ]

What a sad site.
AA has it mostly right: religion is a shackle (though it doesn't have to be); spirituality does indeed free us to make connection with the Living God.

How ironic that the sadness, the smugness at imagining you have exposed something, and the ill-concealed anger and bitterness of your attack on AA is precisely a product of modern day religion. No truly spiritual person would construct a site like yours.

You do not seem to understand spirituality at all.

Indeed, your revealing nom-de-plume, (Special) Agent Orange, exemplifies the sadness of your soul. Are you unaware that Agent Orange is a chemical defoliant, one of the nastiest, deadliest, most heartless and unforgiving pieces of chemical evil humanity has created? Not only does Agent Orange destroy God's Creation, it also deforms and maims the innocent unborn. I do hope you were unaware of this when you adopted Agent Orange as your disguise.

I pray that you may find peace healing and wholeness before you are consumed by your woes.


A.A. has it right? Please read the file "Spiritual, Not Religious", and then

  • Explain to me exactly how Alcoholics Anonymous is "spiritual", rather than "religious".

  • Please explain precisely how "religion is a shackle", and how you consider Alcoholics Anonymous to be better than all of the other religions.

  • Please tell me: What's wrong with all of the other religions, ranging from the Catholic Church to the Baptists? How do they keep us from connecting with the Living God?

  • Please explain how your so-called "spiritual" attitude is anything other than religious bigotry.

You believe that I cannot be spiritual because I am angry at some quack doctors and cult religion fools hurting my friends who are in recovery?

Do you accuse Jesus Christ of being "unspiritual" because He got angry and swung a whip and drove the money-changers from the Temple?

Jesus raged at them, "It is written in the scriptures that God said, 'My temple will be called a house of prayer for the people of all nations.' But you have made it into a hideout for thieves!" And then the whip came down.
(Mark 11:15. Also see Matthew 21:12 and Luke 19:45.)

Was Jesus' behavior "unspiritual"?
Did Jesus Christ not know what "spirituality" really is?

I don't think you know what spirituality is. You have been hoodwinked into thinking that spirituality is just sitting around, smiling and grinning mindlessly, and yammering about how you feel so full of "Serenity and Gratitude". That isn't spirituality; that is blissing out on spiritual make-believe.

True spirituality requires living life to the fullest while staying committed to the highest of principles, not running away from the agony and ecstacy that is real life. True spirituality requires that you feel all of your feelings, including anger. (Now that does not mean that you fly into a rage and throw a temper tantrum. Keep it under control. But if you don't feel some anger when your friends are being hurt, then you are crippled inside.)

It is actually the height of unspirituality to sit on your duff and do nothing when something is terribly wrong. And there is plenty wrong with A.A. shoving its cult religion on people who are trying to save their own lives. There is nothing spiritual about the gross dishonesty and deceit of Alcoholics Anonymous.

And I know all about the defoliant Agent Orange. I helped to keep Americans from being poisoned by it, back in the seventies. I've explained that name before. See this previous letter.

Have a good day.

— Orange

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Last updated 28 September 2013.
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