More Big Lies
by A. Orange

Adolf Hitler's Big Lie technique is alive and well in America. The Alcoholics Anonymous propaganda mill never stops cranking out lies and deceptions, and planting them in every journal it can.

We are talking about BIG Lies here, not some small error, or a minor misunderstanding of the details, or even a slight exaggeration. We are talking about blatant lies, things like saying that Alcoholics Anonymous works great, and saves millions of lives, when it really has a success rate that approaches zero, and the writer knows it.

Check out these examples of the Big Lie:

Are we making the most of Alcoholics Anonymous? (The Last Word)

by Peter Armstrong
[Peter Armstrong is President and Chair of the Board of Renascent, a Toronto-based "resource center for the prevention, education and treatment of addiction to alcohol and other drugs".]
The Journal of Addiction and Mental Health, Jan-Feb 2002 v5 i1 p16(1)

... some critics characterize AA as coercive, moralistic, punitive, religious and exclusive. Some depict it as a cult. Still more unfortunately, some of these mistaken opinions infect otherwise scientific endeavours and public policy, with the result that AA and the treatment it inspires are being marginalized and minimalized.
      What an utter tragedy of lost lives and wasted money.
      It may be useful to review just what AA is and what it has accomplished in its 66 years.
      AA and AA-inspired programs are the treatment of choice among occupations that require assured success (autoworkers, law enforcement officers, transportation workers and doctors), as well as privately owned American hospitals, which must deliver successful outcomes, within a context of cost-efficiency and accountability.
      Studies by independent authorities, notably Harvard psychiatric professor George Vaillant and the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, show that AA works.
      Given AA's broad and long-term success, its unmatched cost-efficiency, its adaptability, affordability and accessibility, and given the scarcity of precious health care resources, should it not be government policy and practice to maximize use of the 12-Step option? To educate addiction and other human services workers about AA and its offspring? To build more programs and services around the 12-Step model?

What a pack of lies and deceit. A.A. does not work at all, it doesn't have a success rate, and Professor Vaillant proved it.

Professor George E. Vaillant of Harvard University is a Class A member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.. He is one of the leaders of A.A., and one of the biggest promoters of A.A..
Professor George E. Vaillant is not an "independent authority" at all.
Do you think that Peter Armstrong knows that? He should, since he is pretending to be an authority on alcoholism treatment programs in general and on A.A. in particular.

While working at the Cambridge-Sommerville [Massachusetts] Program for Alcohol Rehabilitation (CASPAR) back in the 1970s and 1980s, Dr. Vaillant conducted an 8-year-long clinical test of A.A. treatment of alcoholics, enthusiastically trying to prove that A.A. works and is a good, effective treatment for alcoholism.

Much to his dismay, Dr. Vaillant instead clearly showed that A.A. kills alcoholics.
And Dr. Vaillant candidly reported those results in his book The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, in 1984. (He had to accurately report the results; his work was funded by the U.S. Government, and he had to turn in a report that truthfully stated what results came from spending millions of taxpayer dollars.)

Do you imagine that Peter Armstrong bothered to read Dr. George E. Vaillant's book? Well, if he did, he saw this:

To me, alcoholism became a fascinating disease. It seemed perfectly clear that ... by turning to recovering alcoholics [A.A. members] rather than to Ph.D.'s for lessons in breaking self-detrimental and more or less involuntary habits, and by inexorably moving patients from dependence upon the general hospital into the treatment system of A.A., I was working for the most exciting alcohol program in the world.
      But then came the rub. Fueled by our enthusiasm, I and the director, William Clark, tried to prove our efficacy. ...
      ... After initial discharge, only five patients in the Clinic sample never relapsed to alcoholic drinking, and there is compelling evidence that the results of our treatment were no better than the natural history of the disease.
Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism, but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling.
Once again, our results were no better than the natural history of the disorder.
The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns, and Paths to Recovery, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1983, pages 283-286.
The same text was reprinted in Vaillant's later book, The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1995, on pages 349-352.

  • Vaillant's A.A.-based treatment program had no better a success rate than several other treatment programs that he examined, or even a group of alcoholics who got no treatment at all.
  • As Vaillant plainly stated, his A.A.-based treatment program "failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism." ("Natural history of alcoholism" means what usually happens to untreated alcoholics.)
  • A.A. didn't work; it didn't save any alcoholics. A.A. was no better than no treatment at all.
  • And it was even worse than that, because, after 8 years of A.A. treatment, 29% of Vaillant's patients were dead. That is nearly one out of every three patients, dead.
  • Vaillant's A.A.-based treatment program had the highest death rate of any treatment program that he examined. Even Professor Vaillant called the A.A. death rate "appalling".

But Peter Armstrong didn't tell us about that, did he?

And here is the extreme insanity of Prof. Vaillant and his love of Alcoholics Anonymous:

  • Even though Vaillant proved that A.A. didn't work and didn't help the alcoholics to avoid death, Vaillant still insisted on sending all alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous anyway, so that they could get "an attitude change" by "confessing their sins to a high-status healer".
    [No, that is not a joke or an exaggeration.]
  • Vaillant said that he wanted to play mind games on his patients by combining "the best placebo effects of acupuncture, Lourdes, or Christian Science with the best attitude change inherent in the evangelical conversion experience" to "win their hearts and minds".
    [And no, that is not a joke or an exaggeration, either.]
  • And Vaillant even recommended using non-logical mind-control techniques like "systematic indoctrination and repetition" on the patients, to "effect significant attitude change", rather than any kind of common-sense approach like "explanation of risk and rational advice by physicians." (See pages 286-291, or pages 352-357 of the new book, Revisited).
  • Vaillant was obviously, blatantly, pushing his favorite irrational cult religion, not promoting a working cure or treatment for alcoholism.
  • Vaillant even said point-blank that he did not intend to heal or cure the alcoholics at all:
    "The point is that if one cannot cure an illness, one wants to make the patient less afraid and overwhelmed by it."
    So that they can die as "less afraid and overwhelmed" members of Vaillant's religion, is what he really means.
  • And Prof. Vaillant also wrote:
    "AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the world over."
    " the absence of proven scientific efficacy, critics are legitimate in suggesting that mandated AA attendance may be criticized as a failure of proper separation between church and state."
    The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, George E. Vaillant, page 266.

But Peter Armstrong didn't bother to tell us that part of the story, did he?

I can only conclude that either

  1. Mr. Armstrong wishes to fool us into using the government's power to expand his adopted cult religion, or
  2. He's only in it for the money.

Mr. Armstrong also said that a study, or studies, by the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism "show that AA works." If Armstrong is referring to Project MATCH, the NIAAA didn't say that, either. What they said was that all of the treatment programs that they tested scored about the same success rate. But without a control group — another group of similar alcoholics who get no treatment — which Project MATCH lacked, we don't know what, if any, the real success rate of any of the various treatment programs was. For any treatment program to claim success, it must score better than the rate of spontaneous remission.

  • How many of those alcoholics would have simply gotten sick and tired of being sick and tired, and just quit drinking alcohol, without any "treatment" program at all?
  • Many, for sure, but how many?
  • Without a control group, you can't say for sure, because you can't measure it.

In addition, Project MATCH lavished so much money and attention on the patients ($27 million worth) that the treatment that the patients received was anything but typical A.A. treatment. Project MATCH even paid the patients money to "Keep Coming Back!" to more treatment sessions, which is something that Alcoholics Anonymous doesn't do for alcoholics.

I am also forced to conclude that the following paragraph is a deception and a lie:

AA's friends in the treatment sector have also tested outcomes. For example, studies by Renascent, a Toronto-based resource centre for the prevention, education and treatment of addiction to alcohol and other drugs, show that up to two-thirds of residential clients achieve lasting sobriety two years post-treatment. The key to their success is involvement in AA. A literature review by Rick Csiernik at the University of Western Ontario clearly identifies 12-Step residential treatment as an important, effective and cost-efficient approach to the illness. "AA works," says Ontario addiction specialist Dr. Graeme Cunningham. "The science is there."

The science isn't in there. The cult dogma is in there. And the author is simply citing his own fudged "studies by Renascent" (read: "pieces of propaganda"). Peter Armstrong is the President and Chair of the Board of Renascent. And then the "literature review" that he mentioned is a joke — it's just another piece of propaganda. The authors of such "literature reviews" only cite articles that they like — other articles that are also favorable to Alcoholics Anonymous — in other words, more pieces of deceptive and dishonest propaganda. Such "literature reviews" are completely worthless for determining whether Alcoholics Anonymous really saves alcoholics or kills them.

All of the good, randomized tests with control groups that have ever been done on A.A. — in other words, all of the properly-done tests of A.A. — have shown that A.A. does not work at all. In fact, A.A. was actually far worse than no help at all —

  1. A.A. increased the rate of re-arrests for public drunkenness;
  2. A.A. increased the rate of binge drinking, and
  3. A.A. increased the death rate from alcoholism.
  4. A whole year of A.A. treatment was no more effective than a single hour of a doctor telling the patient to quit drinking or he would die.
  5. And Dr. Diana Walsh found that A.A. just messed up a lot of patients and made them more expensive to treat in a hospital later on.

For Armstrong to claim that "up to two-thirds ... achieve lasting sobriety two years post-treatment" is absurd. Nobody gets that kind of a success rate (66%) except by engaging in some Enron-style accounting and cooking the books by cherry-picking the patients, or not counting the failures and drop-outs, or both. A 3.5 to 7 percent success rate in achieving lasting sobriety is the norm — which is also the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics. That's how many alcoholics will just quit drinking anyway without any treatment or any "support group" at all.

And watch out for the word games: Armstrong only told you what percentage of his "residential clients" stayed sober, not what percentage of the incoming patients actually quit drinking and stayed sober. Do patients stop being "residential clients" if they go out on a binge? Are relapsers kicked out? Probably.

That is actually a very common treatment center stunt. They tell you that "graduates" have a sixty or eighty percent success rate (for maybe a month or two after "graduation"), but they don't tell you that only 10 percent of the patients who start the program actually "graduate". They don't tell you that the so-called "treatment program" is really just a system for filtering out those few alcoholics who are ready and willing to quit drinking now — and then the treatment center and A.A. will take the credit for their sobriety when they quit, but will refuse to take any of the blame for the other 90% who don't "graduate".

And why does he only give us an upper limit — "up to two-thirds"?
"... up to two-thirds of residential clients achieve lasting sobriety..."
What is the lower limit? How bad does it get? How few achieve sobriety when things aren't working so well?

That's the propaganda trick of Lying With Qualifiers. "Up to two-thirds" could really mean "We usually get five percent, but we might get two-thirds some day, if we get lucky".

Why doesn't Armstrong report that "at least ten percent of all of the alcoholics — including those who were coerced into the treatment against their will and didn't really want to quit — always got sober for at least two years"?
Why not? Because they didn't, that's why.

(Now how can I say that so confidently without even seeing his lists of patients?
Easy — because nobody gets a success rate like that unless they cheat by either cherry-picking the patients going in, or not counting the failures coming out, or both.)

Mr. Armstrong also contradicted himself. He began his editorial by saying of alcoholics:

Finally they discover AA and are lit up with hopeful sobriety.
      Members start to recover; they notice that everybody seems to be recovering; they swell with pride at the supremacy of AA. But their hopes are deflated once again when they discover that even with AA's stunning success, and with all the research and other treatments developed since its inception, most alcoholics die, either directly or indirectly, from the illness.

Yes, that is it. Most of the A.A. members still die from their alcohol problems, in spite of the allegedly-wonderful results that Armstrong claims to have gotten from his A.A.-based treatment program.

So how can Armstrong use phrases like "the supremacy of AA" and "AA's stunning success" when the majority of the A.A. members die anyway? What stunning success? (That's the propaganda trick of "Assume the Major Premise".)

I have to keep asking myself, just what kind of people does it take to deliberately deceive us this way in critical matters of life or death?

What kind of a man would knowingly hand you a jar of gunk that had poisoned a bunch of people and tell you that it is good medicine that cured many people, so why don't you eat some of it? (Oh, and "Pay me thousands of dollars for it", too.)

Some of the motivations of the A.A. promoters are easy to understand. Armstrong also wrote in that same editorial:

Last year, for example, 600 volunteers contributed more than 25,000 hours to Renascent. Five hundred individuals, unions, foundations, corporations and families added donations in cash and in kind totalling $1.87 million.

And Armstrong didn't even mention what the public health care and health insurance systems pay into his little empire, or what he actually charges his patients for "treatment".

It's a very profitable scam, isn't it? The Big Lie pays big. It's just amazing how much money you can make by selling quack medicine and cult religion.

From out in the West we get this:

Nov. 13, 2004 — CHEYENNE, Wyo. — A pill that fights obesity and helps patients quit smoking won't be the ultimate cure to these problems, some Cheyenne doctors say.

The new "super pill" also could help curb drug and alcohol abuse, but local physician James Haller said he's still skeptical. He said Acomplia, also known as rimonabant, works by affecting the brain's transmitters, taking away the compulsion for things like food, cigarettes, drugs and alcohol.

He said the drug by itself would only serve as a short-term crutch for addicts.

"It's one resource in addition to things like Alcoholics Anonymous," he said.

He added even if Acomplia gets federal approval, he probably won't prescribe the drug. He said patients might use the pill as a way to procrastinate getting into a treatment program of some kind.

Since he runs the alcohol and drug program at United Medical Center-West, Haller said he sees the effects of addiction on a regular basis. He said treatment and counseling programs are still the proven method for beating addiction.

Haller said an alcoholic who regularly goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is 95 percent likely to remain sober a year later. He added the number drops to 15 percent for people who try to quit a substance without any help.

"(Acomplia) may be a nudge to get them to stay away from that first drink," he said. "But by and large, it's not the solution. You're just substituting one more drug for another."

Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, (Cheyenne, WY), Nov 13, 2004.

Outrageous. Never mind how well the new drug Acomplia works for weight loss or reducing cravings for drugs and alcohol — I don't have any opinion on that — how could Dr. Haller be so misinformed and so far off base about the effectiveness of the A.A. program? Dr. Haller says that Alcoholics Anonymous has a 95% success rate, but that is the exact opposite of the truth — A.A. has a 95% drop-out rate. Even the A.A. headquarters has documented that. And Dr. Prof. George Vaillant, who is a member of the Board of Trustees of Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., likewise documented a 95% failure rate of Alcoholics Anonymous treatment of alcoholics.

The article says that Dr. Haller runs "the alcohol and drug program at United Medical Center-West", so Haller must know what the real A.A. failure rate is. It's impossible for him to not see the failure rate of his program, and since he is such an enthusiastic booster of Alcoholics Anonymous treatment, he is obviously using it on his patients. So what's with this doctor? Is he a true-believer member of the A.A. cult who just can't stand to see people using medications to treat alcoholism? It sounds like it, because he parrots the standard A.A. anti-medications slogan — "You're just substituting one more drug for another" — as if all drugs and medications were just the same.

But can you get high on Acomplia? I don't think so.

So drugs aren't all the same, and taking doctor-prescribed medications is not the same thing as getting stoned on illegal mind-altering drugs.

Claiming that all drugs and medicines are just the same is an example of the propaganda tricks of "The Fallacy of One Similarity" and "False Equality". It is also moronically simplistic thinking. I expect better from medical doctors.

Was Dr. Haller also lying with qualifiers?:
"an alcoholic who regularly goes to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings..."
Does that mean that if an alcoholic relapses and stops attending A.A. meetings, that he doesn't count? So Dr. Haller only counts the few remaining success stories in computing the success rate of his A.A.-based treatment program?

Probably, because that's what the other treatment centers do. And that's the only way he's going to get a 95% success rate for Alcoholics Anonymous.

And then Haller said that people who quit without A.A. only have a 15% success rate. Where did he get that number?

In the short run, going it alone has only a 5% per year success rate — that is, the normal rate of spontaneous remission in alcoholics — but the Do-It-Yourself method gets that success rate year after year after year, so in the long run, the no-treatment, no-support-group, go-it-alone method gets over a 40% success rate. (That is, 80% of the half of the alcoholics who eventually achieve long-term sobriety do it alone, on their own. One half of 80 is 40.)

So how could Dr. Haller be so ignorant of those facts? Or was he just not telling the truth? The article says that he runs a drug-and-alcohol treatment program. Is he lying and only in it for the money? Or is he a hidden member of Alcoholics Anonymous and a true believer who thinks that lying to people and deceiving them to get them to join A.A. is doing them a favor?

Also see the twelfth letter file for another fudged "study" that ostensibly showed that "A.A. works."

And also see Robert Fiorentine's "study" of Los Angeles-area treatment programs that concluded that 12-Step meetings cause people to abstain from drugs and alcohol.

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Last updated 20 January 2014.
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