Letters, We Get Mail, CCXCIII
by A. Orange

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters293.html#Frank_W ]

Date: Mon, February 6, 2012 2:29 pm     (answered 6 March 2012)
From: "Frank W."
Subject: Bateson and Alcoholism

Hi, Always keep going back to your great site.

Have you ever read Bateson's article on alcoholism?


[Local copy here: the_cybernetics_of_self.doc]

Also I did some research into AA. Apparently the people who publish the big book are a rehab in New York state for the very rich. I found this through Company House in UK which has registers of accounts. However check it out as I don't have the relevant report to hand.


Hello Frank,

Thank you for the document. That paper is another example of "Pseudo-intellectual Bull". That is a style of propaganda that sounds very educated and academic, with lots of big words and citations of other propaganda, but it's all bullshit.

The author starts off by Assuming The Major Premise. He wrongly assumes that A.A. actually works to make alcoholics quit drinking, which it doesn't. His opening sentence is untrue:

The Cybernetics of "Self": A Theory of Alcoholism

The "logic" of alcoholic addiction has puzzled psychiatrists no less than the "logic" of the strenuous spiritual regime whereby the organization Alcoholics Anonymous is able to counteract the addiction.

Then the author goes on and on, talking about how we will need a new science, "a new epistomology", to explain the magical, mystical, unexplainable way that A.A. works. But since A.A. does not work, it's all bullshit.

That is just as dumb as declaring that we cannot understand the mysterious way in which Cinderella's Fairy Godmother cures poverty, so we need a whole new science to explain the magic.

All of the rest of his paper is irrelevant. He goes on an on about "philosophers" and "cybernetics and systems theory", which just goes to show that this paper really is Pseudo-Intellectual Bull.

Then he reveals that he is a true believer in the cult:

My debt to AA will be evident throughout — also, I hope, my respect for that organization and especially for the extraordinary wisdom of its cofounders, Bill W. and Dr. Bob.

That explains why he is writing this nonsense.

Then he gives us some more strange lunacy about

  1. "If the sober life of the alcoholic somehow drives him to drink or proposes the first step toward intoxication..."
  2. "If his style of sobriety drives him to drink, then that style must contain error or pathology;..."

That is flat-out crazy. Being sober does not lead to drinking. A sober lifestyle doesn't lead back to alcoholism.

Then he really loses it:

3. An alternative hypothesis would suggest that when sober, the alcoholic is somehow more sane than the people around him, and that this situation is intolerable.

Alcoholics who aren't drinking are more sane than normal people? So extremely sane that they cannot stand to be the only sane guy in an insane land? This guy is living in La-La Land. I know that I read that plot in a few science fiction stories. For starters, there is H. G. Wells' The Country of the Blind.

This author is also, of course, introducing the standard cult characteristic of The cult and its members are special. He continues to declare that alcoholics are special, and extra-sensitive:

I think that Bernard Smith, the non alcoholic legal representative of AA, came close to the mark when he said, "the [AA] member was never enslaved by alcohol. Alcohol simply served as an escape from personal enslavement to the false ideals of a materialistic society."1 It is not a matter of revolt against insane ideals around him but of escaping from his own insane premises, which are continually reinforced by the surrounding society. It is possible, however, that the alcoholic is in some way more vulnerable or sensitive than the normal to the fact that his insane (but conventional) premises lead to unsatisfying results.

What rubbish.

Then the author declares that he is going to ignore reality, so that he can go off on a flight of fancy:

There are, of course, many instances in which people resort to alcohol and even to extreme intoxication as an anesthetic giving release from ordinary grief, resentment, or physical pain. It might be argued that the anesthetic action of alcohol provides a sufficient converse matching for our theoretical purposes. I shall, however, specifically exclude these cases from consideration as being not relevant to the problem of addictive or repetitive alcoholism; and this in spite of the undoubted fact that "grief," "resentment," and "frustration" are commonly used by addicted alcoholics as excuses for drinking.

Well of course sick alcoholics drink to kill the pain. But this author is going to ignore that so that he can expound his favorite "theory of alcoholism".

Then this guy just goes on and on with the most ridiculous nonsense:

The friends and relatives of the alcoholic commonly urge him to be "strong," and to "resist temptation." What they mean by this is not very clear, but it is significant that the alcoholic himself — while sober — commonly agrees with their view of his "problem."

What they mean isn't very clear? It's very clear to me: "Don't drink so much alcohol. Resist temptation."

Then the author gives us more standard cult dogma: The alcoholic is powerless over alcohol:

He believes that he could be, or, at least, ought to be "the captain of his soul."1 But it is a cliché of alcoholism that after "that first drink," the motivation to stop drinking is zero. Typically the whole matter is phrased overtly as a battle between "self" and "John Barleycorn." Covertly the alcoholic may be planning or even secretly laying in supplies for the next binge, but it is almost impossible (in the hospital setting) to get the sober alcoholic to plan his next binge in an overt manner. He cannot, seemingly, be the "captain" of his soul and overtly will or command his own drunkenness. The "captain" can only command sobriety — and then not be obeyed.

Bill W., the cofounder of Alcoholics Anonymous, himself an alcoholic, cut through all this mythology of conflict in the very first of the famous "Twelve Steps" of AA. The first step demands that the alcoholic agree that he is powerless over alcohol.

Again, we get the stereotype of "the alcoholic" who just cannot quit drinking. But the truth is that more than half of them do, and without any cult involvement, or "support group", or "help".

Then the author gets into the really vicious cult indoctrination:

This step is usually regarded as a "surrender" and many alcoholics are either unable to achieve it or achieve it only briefly during the period of remorse following a binge. AA does not regard these cases as promising: they have not yet "hit bottom"; their despair is inadequate and after a more or less brief spell of sobriety they will again attempt to use "selfcontrol" to fight the "temptation." They will not or cannot accept the premise that, drunk or sober, the total personality of an alcoholic is an alcoholic personality which cannot conceivably fight alcoholism. As an AA leaflet puts it, "trying to use will power is like trying to lift yourself by your bootstraps."

So you have to "hit bottom", and despair of your life, and surrender to the cult. You are not "promising" (as a new cult recruit) until you are broken down and defeated and remorseful. And will power is supposedly useless. Of course that is totally untrue. Will power is a life-saver.

Then we get more cult religion lunacy:

Implicit in the combination of these two steps is an extraordinary — and I believe correct — idea: the experience of defeat not only serves to convince the alcoholic that change is necessary; it is the first step in that change. To be defeated by the bottle and to know it is the first "spiritual experience." The myth of self-power is thereby broken by the demonstration of a greater power.

Most people think that a spiritual experience is something like seeing God or an Angel, or seeing your own immortality, or getting a glimpse into the Cosmic Workings of the Universe. But in A.A., collapsing from alcohol poisoning is a "spiritual experience".

And there is no "myth of self-power". Again and again, the cult wants to break you down and make you powerless.

Then the author goes off into La-La Land again and argues that sobriety — or at least, sobriety without Alcoholics Anonymous — is a kind of insanity:

In sum, I shall argue that the "sobriety" of the alcoholic is characterized by an unusually disastrous variant of the Cartesian dualism, the division between Mind and Matter, or, in this case, between conscious will, or "self," and the remainder of the personality. Bill W.'s stroke of genius was to break up with the first "step" the structuring of this dualism.

And of course Bill Wilson was supposedly a genius when he copied the practices of the old Oxford Group cult.

Then the author wastes a couple of pages with drivel about "What is the world? What is thinking?", which has nothing to do with just not drinking any more alcohol.

Then the author gives us more A.A. cult dogma, talking about "Alcoholic Pride". His definition of "pride" is totally goofy, and doesn't match the definition in the dictionary at all:

I shall therefore proceed to examine the "pride" which is characteristic of alcoholics to show that this principle of their behavior is derived from the strange dualistic epistemology characteristic of Occidental civilization. A convenient way of describing such principles as "pride," "dependency," "fatalism," and so forth, is to examine the principle as if it were a result of deutero-learning1 and to ask what contexts of learning might understandably inculcate this principle.

(2) After the alcoholic has begun to suffer from — or be blamed for — alcoholism, this principle of "pride" is mobilized behind the proposition, "I can stay sober." But, noticeably, success in this achievement destroys the "challenge." The alcoholic becomes "cocksure," as AA says. He relaxes his determination, risks a drink, and finds himself on a binge.

This is again a bunch of baloney, and he is again pushing the A.A. stereotype of "the alcoholic". Some alcoholics do relapse by thinking that they can "just have one now", and "I have it under control now, so I can drink a little bit," but that is not a universal description of sober alcoholics, and sober alcoholics do not all backslide and relapse because they have "pride" in their ability to stay sober. Again, the author is just trying to postulate that alcoholics cannot get themselves sober, and they all have faulty thinking, and they cannot live without Alcoholics Anonymous.

Then the author tries to claim that A.A. has the fix for the problem:

AA does its best to insist that this change in contextual structure shall never occur. They restructure the whole context by asserting over and over again that "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic."

There is a huge difference between needing to abstain from drinking alcohol for the rest of your life, and needing to spend the rest of your life in a cult.

Then the author again gives us the A.A. stereotype of "the alcoholic", declaring that their thinking is crazy because they have "pride":

(4) The challenge component of alcoholic "pride" is linked with risk-taking. The principle might be put in words: "I can do something where success is improbable and failure would be disastrous."

(5) The principle of pride-in-risk is ultimately almost suicidal. It is all very well to test once whether the universe is on your side, but to do so again and again, with increasing stringency of proof, is to set out on a project which can only prove that the universe hates you.

Then the author goes on for another couple of pages of nonsense that have nothing to do with not drinking alcohol, jabbering about things like "Pride and Symmetry":

Pride and Symmetry

The so-called pride of the alcoholic always presumes a real or fictitious "other," and its complete contextual definition therefore demands that we characterize the real or imagined relationship to this "other." A first step in this task is to classify the relationship as either "symmetrical" or "complementary." 1 To do this is not entirely simple when the "other" is a creation of the unconscious, but we shall see that the indications for such a classification are clear.

That drivel has nothing to do with reality. The author goes on for four more pages of that gibberish about "alcoholic pride". It really sounds like he forgot to take his medications.

Then we get something concrete again: "Hitting Bottom". The author thinks that "hitting bottom" is a good thing that will lead alcoholics to Alcoholics Anonymous because people who are sick, weak, and vulnerable from "hitting bottom" are easier to manipulate:

Hitting Bottom

AA attaches great importance to this phenomenon and regards the alcoholic who has not hit bottom as a poor prospect for their help. Conversely, they are inclined to explain their failure by saying that the individual who goes back to his alcoholism has not yet "hit bottom."
It is possible, however, that "bottom" is reached many times by any given individual; that "bottom" is a spell of panic which provides a favorable moment for change, but not a moment at which change is inevitable. Friends and relatives and even therapists may pull the alcoholic out of his panic, either with drugs or reassurance, so that he "recovers" and goes back to his "pride" and alcoholism — only to hit a more disastrous "bottom" at some later time, when he will again be ripe for a change. The attempt to change the alcoholic in a period between such moments of panic is unlikely to succeed.

Then we get some really rich stuff: the theology of Alcoholics Anonymous. This is obviously more "Pseudo-intellectual Bull".

(1) There is a Power greater than the self. Cybernetics would go somewhat further and recognize that the "self" as ordinarily understood is only a small part of a much larger trial-and-error system which does the thinking, acting, and deciding.
(2) This Power is felt to be personal and to be intimately linked with each person. It is "God as you understand him to be."

(3) A favorable relationship with this Power is discovered through "hitting bottom" and "surrender."
[Wow. The Nazi A.A. God is pleased when you hit bottom and surrender to him, huh?]

(4) By resisting this Power, men and especially alcoholics bring disaster upon themselves.
[Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.]

(5) But — and this is important — the Power does not reward and punish. It does not have "power" in that sense.
[Oh really? Well that blows the idea of God saving you and taking care of your will and your life for you in Step 3.]

(6) The first two "steps" of Alcoholics Anonymous taken together identify the addiction as a manifestation of this Power.
[Say what??!! Addiction is a manifestation of the Higher Power "God"? This is lunacy.]

(7) The healthy relation between each person and this Power is complementary.
[I won't argue with that. Having a healthy relationship with your "Higher Power" sounds good.]

(8) The quality and content of each person's relation to the Power is indicated or reflected in the social structure of AA. The secular aspect of this system — its governance — is delineated in "Twelve Traditions" 1 which supplement the "Twelve Steps," the latter developing man's relationship to the Power. The two documents overlap in the Twelfth Step, which enjoins aid to other alcoholics as a necessary spiritual exercise without which the member is likely to relapse.
[The first line is ridiculous. Someone's relationship with God is not indicated or reflected by his status in Alcoholics Anonymous. That is cult talk. A.A. oldtimers are not necessarily any closer to God than the beginners.
The 12 Traditions are just some more rules that Bill Wilson made up one day. The 12 Traditions declare that the group is more important than you are, and that their so-called "principles" come before yours. And of course you must go recruit more members for the cult, the same as in Step 12.]

(9) Anonymity. It must be understood that anonymity means much more in AA thinking and theology than the mere protection of members from exposure and shame. With increasing fame and success of the organization as a whole, it has become a temptation for members to use the fact of their membership as a positive asset in public relations, politics, education, and many other fields.
[Well this one is dead. There is no anonymity any more. We all know the last names of lots and lots of famous A.A. members.]

(10) Prayer. The AA use of prayer similarly affirms the complementarity of part-whole relationship by the very simple technique of asking for that relationship.
[That sure is a fancy way of saying that we ask Santa Claus to bring the goodies.]

(11) In one characteristic, AA differs profoundly from such natural mental systems as the family or the redwood forest. It has a single purpose — "to carry the AA message to the sick alcoholic who wants it" — and the organization is dedicated to the maximization of that purpose.
[More PR fluff. Their biggest primary purpose lately is to make more money, and they have committed perjury against A.A. members in Mexico and Germany to get it.]

Then the author goes back to La-La Land, and jabbers incomprehensible nonsense for pages:

The Epistemological Status of Complementary and Symmetrical Premises

It was noted above that in human interaction, symmetry and complementarity may be complexly combined. It is therefore reasonable to ask how it is possible to regard these themes as so fundamental that they shall be called "epistemological," even in a natural history study of cultural and interpersonal premises.

The answer seems to hang upon what is meant by "fundamental" in such a study of man's natural history; and the word seems to carry two sorts of meaning.

Then he spends another page in La-La Land, and I shall ignore the nonsense.

Then this is a little bit interesting: After having spent too many pages selling the standard A.A. stereotype of "the alcoholic", the author now says that he didn't mean to apply it to all alcoholics:

Limitations of the Hypothesis

Finally, the above analysis is subject to the following limitations and implications:

(1) It is not asserted that all alcoholics operate according to the logic which is here outlined. It is very possible that other types of alcoholics exist and almost certain that alcoholic addiction in other cultures will follow other lines.

And he denies what he pushed earlier:

(2) It is not asserted that the way of Alcoholics Anonymous is the only way to live correctly or that their theology is the only correct derivation from the epistemology of cybernetics and systems theory.

Then we get more high-falutin' nonsense:

(3) It is not asserted that all transactions between human beings ought to be complementary, though it is clear that the relation between the individual and the larger system of which he is a part must necessarily be so. Relations between persons will (I hope) always be complex.

(4) It is, however, asserted that the nonalcoholic world has many lessons which it might learn from the epistemology of systems theory and from the ways of AA. If we continue to operate in terms of a Cartesian dualism of mind versus matter, we shall probably also continue to see the world in terms of God versus man; elite versus people; chosen race versus others; nation versus nation; and man versus environment. It is doubtful whether a species having both an advanced technology and this strange way of looking at its world can endure.

That is fear-mongering: "Oh! We are going to go extinct! Our world is going to end!"
Well, unless you join A.A., that is. And he ends his paper on that fearful note.

Thanks for the paper. That is really a classic piece of pro-A.A. propaganda.

About the publishing of the Big Book: I don't know about any expensive treatment center in the woods of New York that publishes A.A. books. The closest thing that I know of is "High Watch", a rehab farm in upstate New York that was owned by Bill Wilson. The story is here:

Perhaps you are thinking about the famous treatment center called Hazelden, in Center City, Minnesota. They are not only a famous, very expensive, 12-Step spin-dry facility, they are also the biggest publisher of 12-Step books in the world (even more than A.A., by far), and they are also the biggest distributor of A.A.W.S.-published "council-approved" literature and books. (If you go to the bibliography and search for "Hazelden", you will find a lot of their books.) I'd appreciate anything you find on the New York facility, just to figure things out.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex,
**     and more violent. It takes a touch of genius — and a
**     lot of courage — to move in the opposite direction.
**        ==  E. F. Shumacher

Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 4:12 pm
From: "Frank W."
Subject: Re: Bateson and Alcoholism

Thanks for a great reply! The scary thing is that the idiot Bateson is regarded as a sort of guru amongst the Cybernetics people probably second to Stafford Beer. I like Cybernetics and my main aim is keep it away from the cult nonsense of people like Bateson.

I'll see if I can dig up that reference bout the clinic or maybe it's the one you mentioned.

Thanks again.


May 27, 2009, Wednesday:

Canada Goose family More of the Family of 9

Canada Goose family
Canada Goose goslings of the Family of 4+1 munching oatmeal
The small yellowish one with its head up is the adopted orphan.

Canada Goose family
Canada Goose goslings of the Family of 4+1 munching oatmeal

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters293.html#Mark_S ]

Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 1:32 pm     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Mark S."
Subject: Letter from Aldous Huxley to George Orwell

Letters of Note is an attempt to gather and sort fascinating letters, postcards, telegrams, faxes, and memos. Scans/photos where possible. Fakes will be sneered at. Updated as often as possible; usually each weekday.

Tuesday, 6 March 2012
1984 v. Brave New World

In October of 1949, a few months after the release of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four, he received a fascinating letter from fellow author Aldous Huxley — a man who, 17 years previous, had seen his own nightmarish vision of society published, in the form of Brave New World. What begins as a letter of praise soon becomes a brief comparison of the two novels, and an explanation as to why Huxley believes his own, earlier work to be a more realistic prediction.


Trivia: In 1917, long before he wrote this letter, Aldous Huxley briefly taught Orwell French at Eton.

(Source: Letters of Aldous Huxley; Image: George Orwell (via) & Aldous Huxley (via).)

Wrightwood. Cal.
21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals — the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution — the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology — are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful. My own belief is that the ruling oligarchy will find less arduous and wasteful ways of governing and of satisfying its lust for power, and these ways will resemble those which I described in Brave New World. I have had occasion recently to look into the history of animal magnetism and hypnotism, and have been greatly struck by the way in which, for a hundred and fifty years, the world has refused to take serious cognizance of the discoveries of Mesmer, Braid, Esdaile, and the rest.

Partly because of the prevailing materialism and partly because of prevailing respectability, nineteenth-century philosophers and men of science were not willing to investigate the odder facts of psychology for practical men, such as politicians, soldiers and policemen, to apply in the field of government. Thanks to the voluntary ignorance of our fathers, the advent of the ultimate revolution was delayed for five or six generations. Another lucky accident was Freud's inability to hypnotize successfully and his consequent disparagement of hypnotism. This delayed the general application of hypnotism to psychiatry for at least forty years. But now psycho-analysis is being combined with hypnosis; and hypnosis has been made easy and indefinitely extensible through the use of barbiturates, which induce a hypnoid and suggestible state in even the most recalcitrant subjects.

Within the next generation I believe that the world's rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience. In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World. The change will be brought about as a result of a felt need for increased efficiency. Meanwhile, of course, there may be a large scale biological and atomic war — in which case we shall have nightmares of other and scarcely imaginable kinds.

Thank you once again for the book.

Yours sincerely,

Aldous Huxley

Hi Mark,

Thanks for the letter. Now that is indeed very interesting, especially since some A.A. true believers keep on repeating Bill Wilson's bragging that Aldous Huxley said that Bill was the greatest social architect of the 20th Century.

Aldous Huxley's vision of the future was rather foreboding. There was not a hint of Bill's Wilson's "great social architecture". There was however, a hint of using the under-handed Oxford Group—A.A. mind games to make people like their subservient positions in society. Huxley foresaw authoritarian leaders using hypnosis to make the slaves love their servitude. The trance-inducing practices of Step 11 are very close to self-hypnosis. And the rest of the A.A. theology, where alcoholics have to "surrender to Higher Power" in Step 3, and "follow the dictates of a Higher Power" in Step 11, teach surrender and subservience. Then the guilt-inducing practices of Steps 4 through 9 make people believe that they really deserve to be groveling slaves. What a clever program for making people into slaves who like their slavery. (And they even imagine that they are more holy and spiritual for being an obedient slave.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     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

[The previous letter from Andrew_S is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters293.html#Andrew_S ]

Date: Sun, March 4, 2012 1:11 am     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Andrew S."
Subject: Re: AA's Problems

An AA supporter writes in to you, AO, and says, "You are totally wrong. I would not be sober without AA. I owe my sobriety to AA."

You address this and say, "Hey, you are working with the law of small numbers. You are confusing correlation and causation. You may have spontaneously gone into remission. You are supplying anecdotal evidence. You are using vague terms like "spirit" and "soul" etc."

Hello again, Andrew,

That sounds accurate. And you really are confusing correlation and causation.

Fundamentally you are doing the same thing as AA; you are setting yourself up as an authority on addiction THAT HAS MORE INSIGHT INTO THE ADDICT'S LIFE THAN THE ADDICT HIMSELF.

Yes. I understand the mechanics of brainwashing and religious conversion. Do you?

You are destroying the feeling of empowerment within the addict by acting as an external authority.

Baloney. Addicts do not get a "feeling of empowerment" by being told that they are powerless over alcohol, and insane, and sinful, and flawed, and full of defects of character, and cannot ever recover.

And it isn't me who is the "external authority". You are completely reversing reality. It is the 12-Step religion that says that you are powerless over your problem, and you must find a "higher power" outside yourself to make you quit your bad habits:

Remember that we deal with alcohol — cunning, baffling, powerful! Without help it is too much for us. But there is One who has all power — that One is God. May you find Him now!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, Into Action, pages 58-59.

Once more: The alcoholic at certain times has no effective mental defense against the first drink. Except in a few rare cases, neither he nor any other human being can provide such a defense. His defense must come from a Higher Power.
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, Chapter 3, More About Alcoholism, page 43.

This is wrong for three major reasons:

1) The addict has experiential data that you are not privy too. You are relying on conclusions drawn from data other people collected and conjecture and assumptions about the addict's life. The addict is relying on a wealth of subjective insight into their own life. It is condescending and intellectually dishonest to say that you are an authority on their life without even meeting them.

What you call "experiential data" is nothing other than the old propaganda trick of testimonials. The snake oil salesman gets some people to tell stories of how the wonderful snake oil healed whatever ailed them, and nobody ever gives a testimonial that says that the snake oil didn't work. So the saleman is also cherry-picking, and using proof by anecdote.

"The addict" has some experiences, but no experimental data. He did not conduct a randomized longitudinal controlled study on a large group of alcoholics where he compared A.A. treatment to no treatment for several years to see which works better. No way can he declare some facts like, "After 8 years of A.A. treatment, 5% of my patients were continuously sober, 29% were dead, and 66% were still drinking."

What "the addict" has is only his own experiences of getting indoctrinated and made to believe that cult religion really works good. If he quits drinking, he credits A.A., and if he doesn't quit drinking, he is pressured to blame something else, like himself, for not "working a strong program." That isn't experimental data. And it isn't even good "experiential data".

That is no different than famous celebrities like Tom Cruise or Kirstie Alley raving that Scientology restored them to sanity, and made her lose 40 pounds, too. And its just like Lisa Marie Presley (the daughter of Elvis) claiming that Scientology saved her from drugs. They have the same kind of anecdotal evidence — not experimental data — declaring the Scientology is the answer. But I don't believe that their stories prove that Scientology has the answer to all drug and alcohol problems. Do you? Why not? After all, they have "experiential data" that says that they went to Scientology, and gave Scientology a truckload of money, and Scientology messed with their minds, and now they say they are very, very happy, thanks to the interplanetary genius Lafayette Ronald Hubbard. Who are we to disbelieve their "experiential data"?

By the way, the FDA rejects anecdotal evidence as proof of the efficacy of a medicine. Just flat-out rejects it, because it is completely unreliable. Patients are easily fooled into believing that they were healed by things that didn't do it.

I am reminded of a case of medical fraud that Dr. David Duncan reported: Some con artists were running a fake "kidney clinic" for end state renal disease cases. They gave no real valid medical treatment. Their "operations" consisted of just cutting the patients' skin and then suturing it back together. Nevertheless, most of their few surviving patients, and the families of the deceased, swore that they got excellent medical treatment. Dr. Duncan said,

That some of the people who receive ineffective or even harmful treatment will recover anyway and will in most cases credit the treatment for their recovery is the rule rather than the exception in all areas of treatment.

That is why personal "experiential data" is worthless for determining whether a medicine or treatment actually works.

"The greatest enemy of any one of our truths may be the rest of our truths." William James. I am positive that there are people that AA has helped; if you are objective, you must admit that. It contradicts theories that you hold a strong faith in, but it is almost certainly true.

Just counting those people whom you believe A.A. helped, without looking at the harm to others, is cherry-picking. How did you count the numbers of people whom A.A. indoctrination harmed, and drove to relapse or suicide?

Your use of the word "faith" is inappropriate, and a reversal of reality. I do not "hold a strong faith" in "theories". I look at the evidence, the actual results of years of Alcoholics Anonymous indoctrination, and I count the bodies.

  • Faith is belief without evidence, like belief that ghosts will talk to you in a séance, or the belief that A.A. is the best treatment for alcohol abuse.
  • Medical science is looking at the facts and adjusting your treatment accordingly. John Maynard Keynes said it perfectly: "If the facts change, I'll change my opinion. What do you do, Sir?"

Fundamentally, you have appointed yourself doctor to the masses. Except that your prescription to avoid AA is given out willy-nilly to everybody without examining their medical history, current condition or how they responded to prior treatment.

No, I do not claim to be the "doctor to the masses." Don't be ridiculous. I do, however, notice that I understand how cults work, and how they fool people into believing untrue things, like the fable that joining an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties will "help" people to quit drinking alcohol. So I tell what I know.

2) Many of the major components of good mental health are subjective. If a person feels subjectively fulfilled, is full of hope and feel as if they meet life's challenges, they have met many substantial criteria of being mentally healthy. In my opinion, people who may be diagnosed as sick by the powers-that-be can transcend that. In other words, if a person with Down's Syndrome (incurable physical condition that affects the intellect) can effectively cope with the existential dilemma that life has given them, they may be mentally healthy despite their objective medical condition.

By that goofy logic, someone who is very, very happy while he gets drunk and beats up his wife is mentally healthy, and "subjectively fulfilled". He may even be "full of hope", and "feel as if he can meet life's challenges". Will you label him as healthy, while "the powers-that-be" diagnose him as sick?

What about my child-raping Stepper counselor? He was happy and subjectively fulfilled as he snorted cocaine and screwed his step-children. "The powers-that-be" diagnosed him as more than sick; they put him in prison. And he didn't "transcend" that "existential dilemma that life had given him".

I argue that if a person subjectively feels that AA is helping them, it is counter-productive to browbeat them into believing that they are wrong. You may actually take away something that they hold dearly.

I do not "browbeat" sober people into believing that they are wrong. I do, however, argue with the true believers who insist that A.A. works great and has saved millions. Somebody's "subjective feelings" that A.A. works are not evidence that A.A. really works. The fact that one person raves that he really loves A.A. is not evidence that A.A. is going to make other people healthier.

And what about the people who feel like committing suicide after years of A.A. indoctrination? What about the people who don't get sober? What about the people who have bad cases of depression and inferiority complexes from years of confessing how bad they are? Would you like to talk about how A.A. has "helped" them? You don't talk about those people, but I get letters from them all of the time.

As an atheist who detests organized religion, I run into this problem with my own behavior constantly. I could never be a Muslim, but that doesn't mean that I should dedicating my life to converting Muslims to atheism.

So? So why are you defending and promoting a cult religion?

3) Past general results do not automatically contradict past specific results.

That sounds true. Averages and specific single items are different things.

What if one out of a thousand people responded to AA perfectly? It would make it a shitty therapy option for the general public BUT A COHERENT OPTION FOR THAT ONE PERSON.

And how do you propose to identify that one lucky person and force ONLY HIM into the Alcoholics Anonymous religion?

And I agree with you: AA should never be forced on people. Personally, I don't recommend AA to people and haven't been to a meeting in months.

So why are you defending A.A. with these arguments?

Addicts generally need less authoritative bullshit, not more. I know that your intentions are good and that you don't mean any harm, but when you tell an addict that they have wasted their life attending AA and that everything they believe is true is actually false, you are setting yourself up as an authority in a game of "Big Me, Little You".

Hey, I'm just telling the truth to some people who have been lied to for years. Why do you object to me telling the truth?

Addicts need to feel as if there is something to lose. They need to feel as if they are empowered to change. Paradoxically, AA provides that to some people even though it contradicts aspects of AA theology.

Addicts have a feeling that they have something to lose: their lives. And most addicts are not so down and out that they have already lost their jobs and marriages and children and career and reputation and everything they own. They still have those things to lose too.

And feel that they can change?

  • "You are powerless over alcohol." Or "powerless over our addiction".
  • "Once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic."
  • "You can never recover. You are always just recovering."
  • "Work a strong program, or your fate will be jails, institutions, or death."
  • "You are full of defects of character and moral shortcomings and wrongs that make you drink and drug."

You don't have the authority to tell someone who is happy in AA to quit. You aren't a doctor. You aren't a scientist. You don't have these people's medical records. You haven't spoken to them. You haven't proposed an alternate treatment based on their problems. You are just a busybody giving them unsolicited advice.

I do not tell people in A.A. to quit. I do, however, criticize those A.A. members who lie to the newcomers about how well A.A. actually works, and what the real history of A.A. is, and what A.A. really is. And I dispute the grandiose A.A. claims of success.

And I do suggest alternative treatments that are less harmful and more realistic, and much better:

The healthiest attitude is: despite the efficacy of the treatment I use, the efficacy of my counselors, and the obstacles that life gives to me I WILL BECOME HEALTHY AND FULFILLED.

Yes. That is what I did. I got myself sober in spite of a bad "treatment program" and the 12-Step nonsense.

  • So why should we foist the 12-Step religion on sick people when they have to get themselves clean and sober in spite of A.A.'s inefficacy?
  • Why should we tolerate treatment programs that are based on Bill Wilson's 12-Step religion?
  • Why should we tolerate a legal system that sentences people to A.A. meetings?
  • Why should we tolerate A.A. propagandists who misinform the American people about how well 12-Step treatment really works?

Telling an addict, "You are stupid for believing in AA" is just another moral judgment that they don't need. It's an impediment to becoming healthy.

I don't recall ever telling an addict that he was stupid for believing in A.A. In fact, it is Alcoholics Anonymous that tells people that they are stupid. See: "Us Stupid Drunks"

I actually feel some sympathy for people who have been hoodwinked and deceived by the A.A. cult. A.A. has some powerful brainwashing techniques, and it's easy for people to get sucked in and fooled.

I recall numerous times when I told people that if they were enjoying their A.A. meetings, that it was okay. Like here. And definitely check out the Newcomers Rescue League

Be smart, AO. Don't set yourself up as an authority. Keep your sense of humor and your common sense and stay small as David fighting Goliath.

Well, alas, I do seem to be an authority on some things. I don't see anybody else in the world who has researched the Oxford Group and Moral Re-Armament and how it morphed into A.A. like how I have. (Dick B. is good, but he won't look at the Nazi side of the Oxford Group. He thinks that the Oxford Group was a gift from God; I think it is much closer to a gift from Satan.)

Then there is the issue of a cult, and what is a cult.

Then there is addiction and recovery. I have learned a lot about how that works, too.

I'm not going to put on a display of false modesty and pretend that I don't know anything.

Fuck the Church. Fuck the State. Fuck AA. If you think you are an authority on my addictions, fuck you too.



You have a good day too, Andrew.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     He who attempts to make others believe in means which he himself
**     despises, is a puffer; he who makes use of more means that he
**     knows to be necessary, is a quack; and he who ascribes to those
**     means a greater efficacy than his own experience warrants, is an imposter.
**         ==  John Caspar Lavater (1741—1801), Swiss theologian

[The next letter from Andrew_S is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters292.html#Peter_F ]

Date: Mon, March 5, 2012 6:20 am     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Peter F."
Subject: Which Intervention is Best for Addicts — Brief, Long-term, or None?


Peter Ferentzy, PhD
Author of Dealing With Addiction — why the 20th century was wrong

Thanks, Peter.

Oh, does that have a familiar sound to it. In "treatment", I also got that routine of "You don't know anything. Your thinking is flawed. Trying to get intellectual on us now, are you?"

And I quit my bad habits and addictions in spite of them, not because of anything they did, or taught. In fact, I quit all of my addictions and bad consumption habits except tobacco two weeks before the treatment program started. Three weeks later, I also quit the tobacco. Then my "counselor" advised me not to quit smoking: "Don't put too much on your plate, or something might spill off."

That was some of the worst advice that I have ever gotten in my life. Fortunately, I ignored it. I now have 11 years off of everything, including the tobacco, anyway.

By the way, I actually got "Brief Intervention", and it seems to have worked. Two months before the "treatment program" started, a good doctor who worked at the free clinic gave me a 45-minute appointment where he questioned me about my drinking in detail, emphasizing the bad parts, and poked and prodded and examined me, and then summed it all up by saying, "Quit drinking or die. Choose one. I'm not going to waste my breath repeating myself. You're a grown up boy now, and you can make your own choices. You know what the situation is, so go do whatever you are going to do. Although I will say that it would be a shame to see you die when you have so much love to give."

I thought that over for a month, and bought a few more cases of beer, and drank on it, and thought about it some more, and then finally quit. And like I said, that was over 11 years ago. So chalk up one point for Brief Intervention.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "We, the people of the United States, despite our status
**     as one of the most technologically advanced nations on the
**     face of the earth, remain among the most ignorant about the
**     world we live in.  And yet we continue to hold forth that we
**     have some sort of divine right of intervention, where a nation
**     of some 300 million is self-empowered to dictate to billions
**     of others the terms in which we all coexist on the planet."
**       ==  Scott Ritter (the weapons inspector)

[The previous letter from Grass_Fire is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters292.html#Grass_Fire ]

Date: Mon, March 5, 2012 6:48 am     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Grass Fire"
Subject: RE: your web site about AA

You seem to genuflect at the altar of Harvard. It's a good thing we have Harvard to do our thinking for us huh?

Hello again, Grass Fire,

I don't really worship at the alter of Harvard, although I've cited a few studies from the Harvard Medical School. I just have a small amount of respect for actual doctors who really finished college and medical school, and who know something about their subject.

That beats the heck out of worshipping at the temple of Bill and Bob and Buchman, and claiming that a bunch of quacks and religious cult true believers know more than "these doctors and priests and ministers and psychiatrists"... (The Big Book, 3rd Edition, page 473.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     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.

May 27, 2009, Wednesday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Goose family
Mama and Babies of the Family of 7. This is actually the "7" part of the Family of 9.

Canada Goose family
The Family of 7.

Canada Goose family browsing
Geese browsing on the slope by the marina

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters293.html#Louise_McC ]

Date: Tue, March 6, 2012 2:39 am     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Louise McC."
Subject: Thanks!


I"ve been in AA for 18 and a half years, overall 22 years around 12-step cults (I came into Alanon when I was 22). I have just left. I started reading your website about 2 years ago but only read a bit and was afraid as I thought I would drink if I left (the usual old story).

I feel such relief to have left but also so angry that I have wasted all that time in my life doing this ridiculous shit that doesn't work. I was in a dreadful cult AA group in London for a year when I first got sober. That was so damaging, I ended up with clinical depression and it has taken me years to recover. I have had depression over and over again and I believe it was from stuffing down my feelings, especially anger.

I feel like I've wasted so much of my life, trying to get better doing this stupid 12-step stuff that has only made me worse — more guilt-ridden, more fearful. My whole problem has been about shame and guilt from a violent, neglectful Catholic upbringing and lack of assertiveness and doing these bloody stupid "love everyone and look for what you've done wrong in your life" steps has been so counterproductive.

I don't want to waste the next 20 years of my life being angry — I want to get on with my life — but I wish I had left many, many years ago.

I'm so glad you said that getting rid of ego is a load of rubbish. I think it is too.

Thank you for your great work, keep it up!

Best wishes,


Hello Louise,

Thank you for the letter and all of the compliments and kind thoughts. I'm glad to hear that you are escaping from the madness.

I really know that feeling of "I wish I had quit sooner, and not wasted so many years." Yes, I wish I had quit drinking and smoking decades sooner. But the truth is, we can't get it together before we can get it together. We aren't ready until we are ready. The Zen people have a saying like, "A rose blooms in its own time." We can't make the rose hurry up and bloom sooner.

So I have to just let the past go, and not regret the past, and try to not be angry about it, and turn my attention to the present, and be here and now.

Have a good day now, and a good life.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**      There is a tide in the affairs of men,
**      Which taken at the flood, leads onto fortune.
**      Omitted, all the voyage of their life,
**      Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
**      On such a full sea are we now afloat,
**      And we  must take the current when it serves,
**      Or lose our ventures.
**        ==  William Shakespeare (1564—1616)

Date: Tue, March 20, 2012 2:48 pm
Subject: Re: Thanks!
From: "Louise McC."

Hey, thanks for this... I really appreciate you writing back. And the anger is passing now, and my sense of humour has returned. Hooray!

I like the Zen analogy about the rose, I'll remember that.

I am really enjoying my freedom, my good, functioning mind that I trust now, and the fact that I'm a worthwhile, good person, not a defective one.

Have a great life too.


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