Letters, We Get Mail, CLXXXI
by A. Orange

[The previous letter from Green is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters181.html#Green ]

Date: Fri, July 2, 2010 7:27 am     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: Green Papers commented on your wall post...

Green Papers commented on your wall post:

"The graph is very simple. The researchers went into different AA meetings and asked the people there how long they had been attending, the results for those within their first year were plotted on this graph by monthy averages for all the data. So it shows, 19% of people were in their first month, 13% their second, 10% in their third and so on up to 5% in their twelfth month. Orange claims the 5% of people in their twelfth month indicates that 95% had left after a year (oblivious to the fact that the other 95% in the survey was comprised of those with less than a 11 months time attending meetings). Agent Orange is in need of a math lesson.

This survey is the other source for Orange's purported 5% success rate. The graph actually shows that 26% of people who try an AA meeting for the first time are still attending AA after the first year, the attrition is from 19% (those in their first month) to 5% (those in their twelfth), and therefore around 74%.

Check it out yourself (pages 11 and 12):

Hello again, Green,

The graph may be very simple, but it is also very wrong. A huge chunk of the numbers is missing. You say that "26% of people who try an AA meeting for the first time are still attending AA after the first year..."

No, that is wrong, dead wrong. The truth is, "26% of those who happened to still be attending A.A. meetings on the day that the triennial survey was conducted were still around at the end of the year." The vast majority of the newcomers had already dropped out before the triennial survey was conducted. Trying to use that survey as proof of A.A. retention is futile and grossly inaccurate because the survey did not count the dropouts — it only counted the people who were still there at the meetings when the survey was done.

When people come to only one A.A. meeting, and are disgusted by the cult religion atmosphere and the mindless slogan-slinging and the illogical program, and don't come back, they don't get counted in a triennial survey. There are 1095 days in three years, so the odds of a one-timer getting counted on the one day of a triennial survey are less than one in a thousand.

  • And then there are the people who come to two meetings and then don't come back. The odds of them getting counted are only 1 in 547.
  • A three-timer has only a 1 in 365 chance of being counted.
  • A four-timer has only a 1 in 273 chance of being counted.
  • A five-timer has only a 1 in 219 chance of being counted.
  • ...and so on.
  • Even someone who comes to 30 meetings before quitting A.A. has only a 1 in 36 chance of being counted in a triennial survey.

(Incidentally, I went to A.A. meetings for 3 months, three or more times a week, and I was never counted in any triennial survey.)

So the real first number in the graph is missing. The people who were counted as "in their first month of sobriety" were only a small remnant of the newcomers who came and went during the three years before the survey was conducted. There should be another point in the graph, a very high number over on the left side that shows all of the people who came and then walked away in disgust in the year before the survey was conducted. Then you would see that the people who remained at the one-year point were only a tiny percentage of the newcomers.

The only thing that graph proves is that A.A. has a high dropout rate. It is impossible to accurately determine the retention rate without the missing information.

Also, this statement is incorrect: "This survey is the other source for Orange's purported 5% success rate."

No, I have several sources for the 5% number. And that 5% number is not the A.A. success rate. It is the A.A. retention rate for the first year. Dr. Vaillant proved that the A.A. success rate was zero, remember?

There is no evidence that those people who were still going to A.A. meetings after several months were really sober. They may have been sneaking drinks between meetings. The survey results just said that some people were still attending meetings, not that they were sober.

And then they may relapse. People in A.A. constantly relapse and drop out and return to a lifestyle of heavy drinking. They may go out after several days, or several weeks, or several months, or several years. Or they may put a gun in their mouth and pull the trigger after doing the 12 Steps for 20 years.

Nell Wing, Bill Wilson's secretary, wrote:

"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, Bill Wilson's secretary, quoted in
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, (1957), page 370.

It would appear that, for treating alcoholics, LSD worked three times better than A.A. cult religion.

Bill Wilson described the A.A. recruiting and retention rate as:

You have no conception these days of how much failure we had. You had to cull over hundreds of these drunks to get a handful to take the bait.
Bill Wilson, at the memorial service for Dr. Bob, Nov. 15, 1952; file available here.

Francis Hartigan was Lois Wilson's (Bill's wife's) private secretary. He wrote a biography of Bill Wilson where he described the difficulties that Bill Wilson and Doctor Bob experienced in the very early days of A.A., in 1935 in Akron, Ohio:

We have to wonder why both the Wilsons and the Smiths did not simply give up. Today the nation's best alcoholism treatment centers report success rates ranging from 25 percent to 50 percent. During Bill's stay in Akron, he and Bob calculated their success rate to be about 5 percent, and among the few who seemed to catch on, not all of them were able to maintain consistent sobriety. The first edition of AA's Big Book, published in 1939, contains the personal recovery stories of many of AA's earliest members. Some years later, Bill made notations in the first copy of the book to come off the press, indicating which individuals portrayed therein had stayed sober. A good 50 percent of them had not.
Bill W. A Biography of Alcoholics Anonymous Cofounder Bill Wilson, Francis Hartigan, pages 91-92.

So 50 percent of the first-edition Big Book authors relapsed and returned to drinking? That has to be another reason why Bill Wilson almost completely replaced the original set of autobiographical stories when he published the second edition.

Bill Wilson went on to say:

At first nearly every alcoholic we approached began to slip, if indeed he sobered up at all. Others would stay dry six months or maybe a year and then take a skid. This was always a genuine catastrophe.
Alcoholics Anonymous Comes Of Age, William G. Wilson, (1957), page 97.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*          orange@orange-papers.org       *
*      AA and Recovery Cult Debunking     *
*      http://www.orange-papers.org/      *
**     "A well conducted professional study" showed that
**     "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
**     after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
**     Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'"
**        ==  Dr. Ron Whitington — Chairman General Service Board,
**            AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

Date: Fri, July 16, 2010 1:33 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: Green Papers commented on your wall post...

Green Papers commented on your wall post:

"I put forward Vaillant's statement: "Half of the stable remissions, but only two of the chronic alcoholics, had made 300 or more visits to AA.", one of many where he indicates how his research shows better outcomes for the alcoholics in the study who attended AA. You refuse to respond to my arguments where I've shown the pages in Vaillant's book which show that AA helps, but instead you claim propaganda on my part, that's ad hominem.

Ironically, your strawman argument that AA has only a 5% success rate (based upon distorting Vaillant's research and trying weakly to pass off the Triennial Surveys as something they aren't), is viciously biased propaganda.

I note you haven't responded to my request for you to remove your erroneous 95% attrition claim from http://www.facebook.com/l/8cd30;orange-papers.org. Here's a bit of reading to help you understand:





The statement that A.A. has only a 5% success rate is not a "straw man" argument. (Please learn what the words mean before you try to use them in accusations.) Saying that A.A. has a 5% success rate is giving A.A. far too much credit. Five percent was the indicated retention rate from the survey, not the success rate. Dr. Vaillant proved that the real A.A. success rate was zero. A.A. does not increase the sobriety of alcoholics at all. It just takes the credit for those people who were going to quit drinking anyway.

Even Bill Wilson said that, in explaining how successful A.A. recruiters were merely lucky enough to find people who were already on the verge of quitting drinking:

As a matter of fact, the successful worker differs from the unsuccessful one only in being lucky about his prospects. He simply hits cases who are ready and able to stop at once. Given the same prospects, the seemingly unsuccessful person would have produced almost the same results. In other words, you have to work on a lot of cases before the law of averages commences to assert itself.
'PASS IT ON', The story of Bill Wilson and how the A.A. message reached the world, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc. staff, 1984, pages 251-252.

As I explained in my previous message, the way that A.A. did the triennial survey was fatally flawed, and failed to count the vast majority of the newcomers who soon quit A.A., so the triennial survey does not and can not prove any retention rate. The only thing that triennial survey shows is that A.A. has a bad dropout rate. It is not possible to determine the A.A. success rate or the retention rate from that survey.

I have commented on the broken logic in Loran Archer's post earlier, here. A.A. is not a pill for cancer, and you don't (and can't) test A.A. the way that the FDA tests medications.

Lastly, the argument about the people who go to 300 A.A. meetings is also brain-damaged. Dr. Vaillant knows better than that. After admitting that A.A. was a total failure, with an appalling death rate, Vaillant just had to sugar-coat that bitter pill, so he started jabbering about how people who went to a bunch of A.A. meetings drank less than the other people who went to bars for their meetings. That is confusion of causation with correlation (another logical fallacy). Dr. Vaillant knows what constitutes valid proof of the efficacy of medical treatment, and he knows that such bad logic isn't it.

We can use the same brain-damaged logic to "prove" that Scientology or the Moonies work as a cure for alcoholism:

"Those Scientologists who went to 300 Scientology meetings (and gave all of their money to Scientology for more auditing) drank less alcohol than the other ordinary people who went to pubs and bars, or sat at home watching TV and drinking beer. So that proves that Scientology is the best cure for alcoholism."


Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "...AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically
**     indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the
**     world over.  ...in 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."
**     == A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant,
**     The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 266.

[The next letter from Green is here.]

Date: Fri, July 2, 2010 5:39 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Leanne P."
Subject: Hi

Thank you so much for these insightful papers, it is really helping me.

Do these come as a book (paper/hardback)


Hello Leanne,

Thanks for the compliments, and I'm glad to hear that you are benefitting from the web site. There is no dead-tree edition of the Orange Papers. I suggest that people download all of the archive files so that they will have the entire website, and then burn a CD copy of the web site.

The archive files are listed on the main menu page, here.

Instuctions on how to burn the CD are here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**                         Of my merit
**     On thet pint you yourself may jedge;
**     All is, I never drink no sperit,
**     Nor I haint never signed no pledge.
**        == James Russell Lowell (1819—1891)
**          The Bigelow Papers, Series 1, No. 7, Stanza 9

Date: Fri, July 2, 2010 5:00 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: Anne I. commented on your wall post...

Anne I. commented on your wall post:

"I spent years in AA & very few people stayed. There was a group of about 50 old-timers who preyed on all the newcomers at the area's meetings. I also saw plenty of criminal activity. My experience w/ AA speaks the truth: a God fraud cult. "

Hi Anne,

Thanks for the post. I trust that you are doing well. So have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If you don't run your own life, somebody else will.
**        ==  John Atkinson, educator

Date: Thu, July 8, 2010 2:04 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Daniel S."
Subject: Diener

In this quote, Diener seems to say AA has some positive aspects to it. I emailed him for clarification.

Does Diener think AA is good or evil?

Just as you misportray and misunderstand AA, so you misportray and misunderstand the Oxford Groups. NEITHER of these movements is just an oppressive regime, 'brainwashing' and bilking the innocent. Both movements point to very real problems in society, and both offer solutions plausible to many. In both movements, long-term affiliation is voluntary, though exposure and early indoctrination is often coerced. Most important, neither of these movements is unique. The Oxford Groups was only one of MANY protofascist movements in the U.S. in the 1930s, and AA is only one of many such movements today.

Daniel S.

Hello Dan,

Thanks for the question. And I have one too. You emailed Paul Diener? I thought he was dead. So does everybody else who has contacted me about him. Do you have an email address for him? Please send it.

My impression from that quote is that Paul recognized that fascist movements were often helped along by legitimate grievances. Like the Nazi Party was helped by the massive inflation of German currency during the Weimar Republic, and the crushing terms of reparations that Britain and France forced on Germany in the Armistice treaty. The angry German citizens had real grievances, and good reason to be angry. But Paul didn't say that fascist movements were a good thing. In fact he often railed against fascism, like in Central America, where he worked for a while, and saw his friends killed by death squads.

Diener said that protofascist movements "offer solutions plausible to many." He didn't say that they were right, just that the solutions sounded plausible to many. Likewise, the current Tea Party also offers solutions that sound plausible to many angry people, while other people think they are nuts.

Here, Diener explained his attitude about A.A.:

        Not all movements thrown up by the spiritual tide have, or will, become political and fascistic. Indeed, most remain merely diffuse protofascist cults — like the Oxford Groups, or AA, or the various Jungian cults, or the cultic formations that have embraced the mystical ideas of Heidegger.

        Such protofascist movements are not great dangers, by and in themselves. AA is NOT a great danger in the U.S. today.

        But AA IS a protofascist, spiritual movement, and its expansion serves as a warning signal to us. AA is important for what it tells us about where our culture is heading.

        To focus ONLY on AA — and, worse, to distort and lie about AA, to wildly exaggerate its 'dangers', only to promote some other variety of right-wing thinking — is pernicious.

        What is required is that we step back, and put the mythical concepts of 'addiction' and 'spirituality' in historical, cross-cultural perspective. We need to see 'addiction' as a core concept of the Spiritual Tradition, which emerged in the West when the Industrial Revolution first began to falter, around 1870.

        Will 'addiction' professionals ever do this? Probably not.

        Semmelweis won no prize for medical research.

Date: Thu, July 8, 2010 2:27 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Daniel S."
Subject: RE: Diener

it seems to me diner is opposed to what AA symbolizes in our culture and what the addiction treatment industry is lacking. i dont see anything yet that strikes me as him saying that AA is somehow bad in itself.

im curious. im not defending AA. trying to form my own opinion. thanks.

Dan S.

Diener saved his biggest bullets for the treatment industry, which he saw as total quackery, and slightly veiled fascist philosophy. For instance:

        The latent function — the REAL function — of the anti-drug advertising blitz was to increase 'drug hysteria' amongst the American middle class.

        And, indeed, the most brilliant success of this anti-'addiction' campaign was the media announcement that the campaign had failed!

        For this supposed 'failure' demonstrates to the middle-class that the government tried to go about things nicely. It advertised and advised, it informed and cajoled.

        But the little Untermensch bastards living in Black and Hispanic ghettos didn't listen, did they?

        The obvious conclusion is that 'playing Mr. Nice Guy' does not work with genetically-flawed scum.

        Hence, the government is now justified in turning to means a bit more 'drastic', no?

        The billion dollar advertising campaign has been a success. It has increased bourgeois drug hysteria. And it has paved the way a bit more towards a Final Solution to the 'addiction' problem.

But Diener still held A.A. in contempt.

For instance:

        Well, you can't have it both ways.

        You can't hand out the 'spiritual' literature to the suckers who are ordered by the judge to attend your occultic get-togethers, urging them to read the miracle-words in order to be transformed,
        claim that these words really have no special importance when critics quote them back at you.

        'Conference approved' means really, really, really 'spiritually powerful stuff', no?

        In fact, as Antze points out, the formal ideologies of all these cultic groups are taken quite seriously by acolytes and gurus both:

        "Self-help groups are more than encounter clubs or confessional societies. Each claims a certain wisdom concerning the problem it treats. Each has a specialized system of teachings that members venerate as the secret of recovery. These are often codified in a book or recited in capsule form at the start of each meeting.
        [These are] the very feature these groups take most seriously.... A group's teachings are its essence [although] on the surface these ideologies often appear shallow and incoherent.... "

        Antze, Paul 1976 "The Role of Ideologies in Peer Pyschotherapy Organizations: Some Theoretical Considereations and Three Case Studies", The Journal of Applied Behavior Science, 12 (3), p. 324.

        AA is one of the case studies included in this article.

No, Paul Diener did not have a positive view of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Cure the evils of Democracy by the evils of Fascism!
**     Funny therapeutics!  I've heard of their curing syphilis by
**     giving the patient malaria, but I've never heard of their
**     curing malaria by giving the patient syphilis.
**         ==  Sinclair Lewis, It Can't Happen Here

Date: Thu, July 8, 2010 2:47 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Lisa A R."
Subject: comment

Sounds like a drunk that couldn't commit to the AA program and is therefore.. Still drunk.

Ah, yes. Thank you, Lisa, for reminding me of where the minds of A.A. members still dwell.

So, people who disagree with your religion and your religious cure for alcohol abuse are "drunk", huh? What a neat way to dismiss 99.97% of the human race as less "spiritual" than you are.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Man is the religious animal. He is the only religious animal. He is
**     the only animal that has the True Religion — several of them. He is
**     the only animal that loves his neighbor as himself and cuts his
**     throat, if his theology isn't straight. He has made a graveyard of the
**     globe in trying his honest best to smooth his brother's path to
**     happiness and heaven.  
**           —  Mark Twain (1835—1910)

Date: Sat, July 24, 2010 3:26 pm
From: "Lisa A R"
Subject: Re: comment

I have no idea what you are talking about.

Date: Sat, July 24, 2010 3:29 pm     (answered 31 July 2010)
From: "Lisa A"
Subject: Re: comment

I have nothing against any one. I apologize if I have offended you

Hello Lisa,

I am not offended. More like amused. First, you have to attack the speaker personally, rather than discuss the facts, because that is how cults refute bothersome information. Then, you have to apologize for doing so, because that is Step Nine.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Things are in the saddle,
**     And ride mankind.
**       ==  Ralph Waldo Emerson [1803—1882] Ode Inscribed to W. H. Channing

Date: Fri, July 9, 2010 5:26 pm     (answered 17 July 2010)
From: "Gene Z."
Subject: RE: Alternate Views

Thanks Orange. I'm in Nashville TN at this time and am on a VFW computer. PBR and country music. YEEHAAW! Thank you for you continuing effort in finding truth. Sometimes it can be a real son of a bitch.

Hi Gene,

Thanks for the thanks, and you have a good day too.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Always do right — this will gratify some and astonish the rest."
**         ==  Mark Twain (1835—1910)

May 19, 2009, Tuesday: Day 19, continued:

Carmen the Canada Goose gosling
This photograph makes Carmen's coloration look lighter than it really is.

The white spots on her back are flakes of oatmeal. When they eat, goose children can be just as messy as human children, just throwing their food around. So some of the oatmeal got from the ground to her back.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

Date: Tue, March 2, 2010 10:15 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Howard W."
Subject: Pathetic narcissistic drivel



This blog is hilarious.

Hi Howard,

Thanks for the tip. That is a lot of stuff to go through. I see that I am mentioned a bunch of times, and called a liar often. His debating style seems to be to ignore most of my points and then nitpick and misquote me, and then supply flawed and false information as "proof" that I am wrong.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

Now that I've had the time to read a little bit of it, I found this interesting:

About 1/4 of the way down the page, there is an entry for Thursday, February 11, 2010. McGowdog is very unhappy about this quote:

"Our 1992 Survey showed that only 5% of newcomers to AA are still attending meetings after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic. Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'"
— Dr Ron Whitington, Chairman of AA Australia General Service Board
Comments made in AA Around Australia, Spring Edition, 1994; Commenting on a survey of more than 100 of Australia's AA groups

Which actually isn't my quote. What I printed was:

**     "A well conducted professional study" showed that
**     "some 5% of newcomers are still attending meetings
**     after 12 months. This is a truly terrible statistic.
**     Again we must ask 'Where does the fault lie?'"
**        ==  Dr. Ron Whitington — Chairman General Service Board,
**            AA Around Australia, Spring Edition No 90, October 1994

That is a tiny difference — except for the credibility of the source.

CORRECTION: 2 July 2011: I discovered that I did print that first quote, once, in the file on The 12 Biggest Secrets of A.A.. Most other times, I used the second form.

Then McGowdog went on to complain that he couldn't find anything about Dr. Ron Whitington. He said that he used the link that I provided, but I didn't provide any link. I just said that Dr. Whitington's statement was printed in "AA Around Australia". I don't know where he got the link, or what link he was using. So anyway, he found a bunch of irrelevant stuff, and complained that he didn't find anything about Dr. Ron Whitington.

Then McGowdog tried Google, and found various repetitions of the quote. And complained about that.

Then he finally tried the obvious, and wrote to the Australian A.A. organization and asked them about the quote. First, they reported that,
"We have looked at Conference reports back in 1992 and 1993 to find no record of such a claim."

Why did they look in the 1992 and 1993 archives when the quote is from 1994?

And then, finally,

Hello again McGowdog.

Indeed, we have located in the archives a copy of the quarterly newsletter "AA Around Australia" — the source that you cite.

It includes a copy Dr Whitington's opening address at the '94 Australian General Service Conference of AA, in which the statement appears: "Our 1992 Survey showed that only some five per cent of newcomers to AA are still attending meetings after twelve months."

So the attribution of the quotation is accurate.

And then, in the next sentence, they started the minimization and denial tap-dance:

Whether or not the deduction made from the survey data is accurate may be open to debate.

Let me suggest that, almost a generation later, that there is no current evidence to either confirm or refute that this is currently the case.

What is important is that today, the Fellowship of AA continues to offer alcoholics a solution that works for thousands of people in Australia.

Never mind the fact that the leader of A.A. said that a well-conducted professional study produced those results. Now there is supposedly "no evidence".

And only "thousands" of people are helped by A.A. in Australia? That is a very tiny number. What happened to the McDonald's-style commercials like "Millions served"?

Should I even ask the question of how they determine whether someone was "helped" or hurt by A.A.?

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     There are no greater wretches in the world than many
**     of those whom people in general take to be happy.
**         ==  Seneca

Date: Sat, July 10, 2010 9:55 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Cynthia F."
Subject: who are you?

I would really like to know on what you base your opinion that the 12 Steps of AA don't work to cure alcoholism?

I and millions of others have used them and are free from a disease that had us hopelessly in its grip for many years.

I have 22 years free. I was at a conference last weekend where there were 65,000 recovered alcoholics from around the world. Almost 600 of them had more than 40 years of sobriety from working the 12 steps.


Hello Cynthia,

Who am I? The answer to that is here.

There is a lot of evidence that A.A. does not work. First off, read the file on The Effectiveness of the Twelve-Step Treatment. All of the medical evidence is in there. So is the historical evidence where Bill Wilson said that A.A. didn't work.

Also see this: Professors Reid K. Hester and William R. Miller (UNM, Albuquerque — Center for Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Addictions, Dept. of Psychology, University of New Mexico), rated treatment modalities by success rate. Here are the results:

The most successful treatment is "Brief Intervention".

Notice how "Twelve-step facilitation" is so far down the list that you have to look for it. It's number 37 out of 48. Also notice how 12-Step treatment has a negative success rating — the "Cumulative Evidence Score" is a minus 82, while the best treatments are rated positive 390 and 189.

"Brief Intervention" consists of a real doctor talking to the patient for usually less than one hour, questioning him about all of the ugly details of his drinking and telling him that he will die if he doesn't quit drinking. One time. That's it. No long counseling sessions, no great guidance, no on-going advice, no shoulder to cry on. And no 28-day treatment program. No years of A.A. meetings. Just one "Dutch Uncle" session and it's over. And that's the most effective thing going.

That kind of puts the whole expensive "drug-and-alcohol treatment industry" to shame, doesn't it?

The fact that 65,000 people attended a convention in Houston simply proves that A.A. is a popular cult, possibly the most popular cult religion in the USA (if you don't count Mormonism as a cult religion). I don't think Scientology or the Moonies can get quite that many members to a convention.

If Scientology managed to get 65,000 Scientologists to attend a convention in Houston, would that prove that Scientology really works and Tom Cruise is right about everything, and Scientology is the only valid cure for drug and alcohol problems?

Note that a bunch of people going to a convention does not prove that a cure for a "disease" actually works. And alcoholism is not a "disease", either. If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. is guilty of practicing medicine without a license.

The fact that some people have 20, 30, or 40 years of membership in the cult does not mean that the cult practices (the 12 Steps) are keeping them sober. It just means that they spend their spare time doing cult busy-work while they keep themselves sober. The vast majority of the people who do the 12 Steps do not stay sober, so it can't be the 12 Steps that keep people sober.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     If alcoholism is really a disease, then A.A. sponsors are
**     guilty of practicing medicine without a license. They are
**     also guilty of treating a life-threatening illness without
**     having any medical education or training.  They have never
**     gone to medical school, and never done an internship or
**     residency, and yet they presume to be qualified to make
**     life-or-death decisions in the patients' treatment. That
**     is what you call quackery.

Date: Sun, July 25, 2010 8:48 am     (answered 2 August 2010)
From: "Cynthia F."
Subject: Re: who are you?


I am sorry you had such a bad experience with AA. Shoving AA down anyone's throat is not what the founders had in mind.

I had 9 years sober when I stopped going to meetings. I returned to meetings after 14 years sober because the quality of my life is vastly improved when I go to meetings.

You're obviously a highly intelligent person. I wish you the best in your recovery.


Hello again, Cynthia,

If you are enjoying the meetings, then all that I can do is wish you well.

You should know, however, that shoving A.A. down the throats of victims is exactly what "The Founders" had in mind. The A.A. council-approved book Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers describes how Dr. Bob and Bill Wilson shoved their Oxford Group cult religion "treatment" on A.A. Number Three, Bill Dotson, when he was in the hospital in Akron, Ohio:

... they thought it a good idea to have a preliminary talk with his wife. And this became part of the way things were done in the early days: Discuss it first with the wife; find out what you could; then plan your approach. It should be noted, as well, that the alcoholic himself didn't ask for help. He didn't have anything to say about it.
Dr. Bob and the Good Oldtimers, Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc., 1980, pages 82-83.

Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob actually felt entitled to shove their own cult religion on other alcoholics regardless of the patient's wishes or beliefs — "for his own good" — the patient didn't get any say in the matter.

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     The A.A. Plan: "Search out another alcoholic and
**     try again. You are sure to find someone desperate
**     enough to accept with eagerness what you offer."
**       ==  The Big Book, William G. Wilson, page 96.

Date: Mon, July 12, 2010 1:10 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "vincent r."
Subject: wilson july 17 1952 oiuji board letter

Hi Mr. Orange,

Great job on the website. Just wondering if you could email me a text of the full letter from wilson to father dowling on july 17, 1952 (the one where he talks about receiving help from the netherworld writing the disturbingly neurotic 12+12). Any other interesting tidbits you may have found since your last website update would be appreciated also.


Hi Vincent,

Thanks for the compliment. I think I have a xerox of that page, somewhere in my files, which are still in a storage locker. I still have to hire a truck and crew to get the rest of my stuff moved to my new home. I'll see if I can find it then.

In the mean time, the letter is in The Soul of Sponsorship: The Friendship of Fr. Ed Dowling, S.J. and Bill Wilson in Letters, edited by Robert Fitzgerald, S.J., pages 59 and 116 (footnote). Hazelden Pittman Archives Press, Center City, MN, 1995.

Perhaps your library has it, or you can get it through an inter-library loan. That's how I got it.

As far as other tidbits go, I don't have any new ones since I updated the web site yesterday afternoon.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "But I have good help — of that I am certain.
**     Both over here and over there."
**        ==  Bill Wilson, claiming psychic aid in a letter to
**            Father Edward Dowling (July 17, 1952)

Date: Tue, July 13, 2010 12:27 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Christopher K.B."
Subject: Take It Easy, Friend...

Man, I just came across your rant against AA. I take it you have been pretty badly mangled by alcoholism one way or another. At least you have clearly read the book, though I don't believe you understood much of it. Your tone of rage seems to suggest that you are exactly where many of us have been on the first day we came wandering into AA — pissed off, looking for gaps in the logical systems, holding forth like a man among men. Excellent! Right where you ought to be — a "mental defective" if there ever was one. Now read on...note that by step 10 it is acknowleged that by {then] you will have been restored to sanity. Stick around the fellowship, and you can shed that mantle of anger, hopelessness and contrarianism. You may not believe it yourself, but even you can get well in AA. My advice to you: shut the hell up now and get yourself a sponsor.

Good courage to you, friend. Anytime you need us, you can count on us reaching out a hand to you.


Hello Chris,

You have not offered one speck of evidence that A.A. actually works or does anything good. That is typical. You ignore the A.A. failure, and just attack critics and declare that they are defective because they are angry at fraud. ("You have a resentment.") You are doing a good job of proving that A.A. really is a cult.

I consider it a despicable crime to foist quack medicine on sick people and lie to them about how well it works. Why aren't you angry about that? What is the matter with you? Don't you have any moral standards?

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Being surrounded by a group of people who keep
**     telling you that you are powerless over alcohol,
**     and that your will power is useless, is not
**     getting "support". It is getting sabotaged.
**     With friends like them, you don't need any enemies.

Date: Mon, July 26, 2010 7:23 am     (answered 2 August 2010)
From: J. Christopher K.B.
Subject: Re: Take It Easy, Friend...

Hello Orange.

I can only offer what aa has done for me. I drank recklessly and without regard for 25 years and struggled to quit through many so-called solutions to absolutely no avail. Close to death, it was aa that saved my life and has worked for me without relapse or a desire to drink for over two years.

I empathize with your perspective — I came in with my own pessimistic ideas about how aa was not going to work. I am a PhD in cultural and evolutionary anthropology. I came in a militant atheist eager to kill everyone's God as a personal favor. But I found myself so devastated by the disease that I was willing to listen. Four months in, I was doing the work asked of me, just completed a 5th step, and sat in Haiti on fieldwork wanting a drink for two days. Then the third day in, the obsession to get drunk was lifted and has not been back for two years.

Before aa, I couldn't rub two sober days together. I know it saved my life, and I can't say if it would do the same for you. I know that the bitterness and anger you seem to harbor are a choice you are making, and a choice I once thought I had to make as well. But, and I only speak for myself here, aa gave me a way out of that life.

Good luck and good courage to you, Orange.


Sent from my Verizon Wireless Phone

Hello Christopher,

Your argument for A.A. is a good example of Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc — "It happened after 'X', so it was caused by 'X'", as in:

I was sick as a dog, drinking all of the time, and doomed to a miserable death, but then I decided to quit drinking, so I went to Scientology and they straightened out my head with a bunch of expensive auditing, so that proves that Scientology really works great, and is the best cure for drug and alcohol problems.

Or, my favorite,

Joe Blow here was sick as a dog and talking about what he wanted on his headstone, until he drank 5 bottles of Dr. Phineas T. Farnsworth's Magic Snake Oil Elixir and now he's up and chasing the pretty girls around the block. So that Dr. Farnsworth really has great medicine.

Such anecdotal evidence is worthless for establishing whether a treatment or cure really works. Only proper testing will reveal if a medicine or treatment actually works. And when A.A. was put to the test, it failed miserably.

You are overlooking the fact that you were sick until you quit drinking alcohol, and then you were okay. You finally quit drinking alcohol when you really wanted to, not when you just half-assed just-sort-of wanted to. You finally quit drinking when the suffering from it got to be too great. The same thing happened with me, too.

Then some cult recruiters came along and got you when you were vulnerable. Fortunately, I wasn't that vulnerable. I had some previous experience with cults, and saw what they were doing.

Have a good day and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Humans always do the most intelligent thing after every
**     stupid alternative has failed.
**        ==  R. Buckminster Fuller

Date: Mon, July 12, 2010 8:22 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "John"
Subject: CLXXIX

Hi Orange,

I don't think you would let those e-mails from Tom H. get you down, but just in case-don't let them. You provide a very important and admirable service for those of us who end up in the clutches of AA. The one thing that upset me most was when he said that the taxpayers are supporting you. Well, I believe you served your country and you earned your disability payment through your service. Anyway, keep up the good fight.


Hi John,

Thanks for the note. I don't let Tom get me down, not too much. I notice the funny political bias where it's a national tragedy to have the government giving money to the little people. Benefits for veterans? Government support for low-income housing? Terrible, terrible. But for some odd reason, those unhappy critics are silent when it comes to Wall Street bailouts and corporate welfare and tax holidays for the rich. Hundreds of billions of dollars gone, wasted, to benefit the rich. I cannot even calculate how many hospitals and schools and universities and bridges and highways that could have paid for. Or foreclosed houses for the little people.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Pay your taxes so the rich don't have to.

Date: Tue, July 13, 2010 2:03 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "chris g."
Subject: Thanks

I guess I'm supposed to call you orange lol. I ran across your site tonight and have been reading for about an hour now. I appreciate the obvious hard work and critical thinking that you have put into it.

I was clean and sober for 7 years and decided to relapse. Yes, I made a conscious decision to go "back out." Although I can see some issues that could come from drinking again I'm actually doing okay compared to my old habits. I am seeing a therapist and we have spent a lot of time talking about the ways that AA/NA has damaged me mentally, emotionally, and of course spiritually. Obviously it's difficult to go to your sponsor with questions and concerns about the fellowship and expect objective answers. When I had a problem with the fellowship I was always told it was ME who wasn't understanding and wasn't working hard enough.

My inspiration for finally splitting from 12 step groups is my last sponsor. After preaching honesty and taking me through all 12 steps he got arrested in a stolen vehicle which I'm almost positive he stole. I should have known better because he was a sketchy character, but he always said the best things in meetings and I felt like I needed a hard core guy like him for my recovery to really take off.

My first sponsor tried to get me involved in a pyramid scheme 6 months after he started sponsoring me. Every time I called him about a problem he would try to sell me on the scheme. He even called NA his "warm market".

Anyway, I'll stop trying to make this e-mail a clone of your site. I just wanted to thank you for speaking out about how AA and NA are hurting people more than helping them and I also wanted you to know that I support you not only because I beleive in what you're saying but because I've lived it. I will share the link whenever possible.


Hi Chris,

Thanks for the letter and the compliments.

Isn't it incredible what kind of behavior gets condoned under the slogan that "we are not saints"? All that I can say is, "No, they aren't." And it is crazy to think that shoving a bunch of alcoholics and drug addicts into a meeting room and making them do some goofy practices from an old pro-Nazi cult religion will make them into better people.

I wish you luck with your moderate drinking. Some people do just fine with it, you know. We discussed that many times before, like here.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Success is simple. Do what's right, the right way, at the right time."
**          ==  Arnold H. Glasgow

Date: Tue, July 13, 2010 10:35 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "wendy f."
Subject: Cult of the Hugging Saint

Why do you not mention Amma Cult of the Hugging Saint. It certainly fulfills all the criteria.

Hello Wendy,

Thanks for the letter. I didn't mention Amma because I had never heard of her before. She seems to be a new one (relative to the cult leaders of the 'sixties and 'seventies). Yes, that sure looks like a cult to me. Especially that part about having a goon squad that goes around beating up the people who criticize Amma.

I found some interesting links:

  1. http://cultofhuggingsaintamma.wordpress.com/
  2. http://cultofhuggingsaintamma.wordpress.com/2009/06/30/delusions-of-amma-
  3. http://ask.metafilter.com/134042/Is-Amma-the-Hugging-Saint-a-benevolent-guru-

A Google search for "Amma Cult of the Hugging Saint" will give you many pages of links.

This quote is revealing (from the third link):

They believe her to be a full-blown avatar, a la Krishna. Ok great, but why don't they come out and say that to the uninitiated? Seems to me if you felt she was an all powerful, physical incarnation of god, then you'd be fucking tell everyone that. "We don't because it will scare off people too quickly." They actively don't mention this to n00bs until they are primed. This sort progressive disclosure is sort of a hallmark of shady shit to me.

Yes, different levels of truth, with the real truth only revealed to the inner circle, is a standard hallmark of a cult. It's in the Cult Test. As a beginner, you can't find out what the real truth is, or what you are getting yourself into, because they won't tell you. As L. Ron Hubbard said,

"... new followers or potential converts should not be exposed to [the language and cosmology of the group] at too early a stage. 'Talking whole track to raw meat' is frowned upon."
Cults In Our Midst, The Hidden Menace In Our Everyday Lives, Margaret Thaler Singer with Janja Lalich, 1995, page 71.

And this is ominous: "the rejection of anything from her previous life that she now associates with 'negativity'." That is in the cult test too:
75. New Identity — Redefinition of Self — Revision of Personal History

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**  The fact that there are many fools who tell lies does
**  not mean that there isn't such a thing as truth.

Date: Tue, July 13, 2010 1:55 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "REBECCA M."
Subject: Orange papers

Thank you for your research and commentary on the AA tenets! I am wondering, what is your background? Two other women and myself are attending AA meetings but are agnostic and your writings hit the spot!

Thank you again.
Rebecca M.

Hello Rebecca,

Thanks for the thanks. I'm glad to hear that you are getting something out of my web site.

My background is highly varied. I went from being a straight-A student in high school to dropping out at Berkeley in the psychedelic sixties. And went from the Air Force to years in a hippie commune in the mountains of northern New Mexico to learning computer programming at Los Alamos, the birthplace of the A-Bomb. And also did a long stint with drinking and smoking too much.

Background. What a funny word.

I have answered that "who are you" question in a variety of ways before. Here is the list.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    "The most fundamental form of human stupidity is forgetting what we
**    were trying to do in the first place."
**      == Friedrich Nietzche

Date: Wed, July 14, 2010 11:55 am     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Thor H."
Subject: Retarded lizard logic

I'm not sure but I think you've missed a logic I use often: "since I'm gonna quit next day, I'm gonna get really loaded this time", find the bottom perhaps.

Best regards, Thor

Hello Thor,

Thank you for the letter. That is a good one. I seem to vaguely remember having thought that myself a few times. I'll add that to the list of excuses for not quitting today.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         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, July 15, 2010 1:03 pm     (answered 18 July 2010)
From: "Jeff C."
Subject: Fwd: Proof AA's don't even TRULY believe the disease concept

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Jeff C.
Date: Thu, Jul 15, 2010 at 3:28 PM
Subject: Proof AA's don't even TRULY believe the disease concept
To: stanton@peele.net

Dr. Peele:

First off, you are a personal hero of mine and a much-needed voice in the addiction world. After two decades of systematically disassembling my life because i was taught beginning at age 19 that I was a "diseased" and "powerless" person and any thoughts I had of taking control of MY OWN life were foolish and arrogant, I've been reading *The Diseasing of America* and your website. Absolutely brilliant stuff. I have now made the decision that I am a 37 year old grown man and boogey man known as "the disease" can't dictate my moves on this planet. I also take solace that confidence in my own ability is not a liability but, rather, a gift that *celebrates* who I am.

Anyhow, I think the biggest proof we have that AA's don't really believe that they have a disease is evidenced in no coordinated effort to *cure* the disease. I'm not talking about "treating" or "arresting" the "disease;" I'm talking about an actual eradication of it, whatever "it" is — which of course they still can't answer either.

Alcoholics Anonymous boasts a world-wide membership of around 2M (though I'm guessing that is ~85% USA and Canada). But there's no coordinated efforts of inebriates in church basements and smoke-filled club houses who are attempting to pool resources to physically *cure* what ails them? Hogwash! If only half of AA's members contributed $5 to the "cure" then that would be $5M toward research on curing this "thing." Could you imagine a room full of cancer-survivors or diabetics getting together every night of the week yet nobody in the group looking for ways to network, pool resources, and *physically cure* their malady. Of course they would be spearheading the effort for a cure because they are the ones most in peril. But alcoholics, because they don't really believe they have a disease but it is PC to pay lip service to it, have no such fundraising effort.

Or could it be, just possibly, that they are afraid that if we truly began researching how to cure "the disease" we might just find that we can't cure what doesn't actually exist?

Again, thank you for your great work and feel free to post this on your website or forward as needed.

Jeff C.
Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY

"A horse doesn't care how much you know until he knows how much you care."

Hello Jeff,

Thanks for the letter. You make a darned good point. If it's a disease, why no big campaign to cure it? We have yellow-ribbon campaigns for every nasty disease from cancer to diabetes to Parkinson's Disease. I remember when I was a kid, the March of Dimes worked on curing tuberculosis. And then there was the big campaign against polio.

And by and large, the doctors are winning, too. They keep on conquering one disease after another. But with alcoholism, the A.A. people just sit on their duffs and declare that alcoholism cannot be cured, and "medications are only a band-aid on the problem."

That is very strange behavior. I don't think that they really want there to be any cure for alcoholism except "join A.A., go to meetings, get a sponsor, read the Big Book, and do the 12 Steps." They are afraid of being left behind. That is not a cure; that is a cult.

If we came up with a real working pill for alcoholism, that would destroy A.A., and I don't think they want that. I am reminded of what Aldous Huxley wrote about how Freudian psychoanalysis would be rendered obsolete by medicines that treat mental illness, and how the Freudians were not happy about that.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     At least two thirds of our miseries spring from human
**     stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and
**     justifiers of malice and stupidity, idealism, dogmatism
**     and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religious or
**     political idols.
**        ==  Aldous Huxley

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Last updated 27 September 2013.
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