Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXXXIX



[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#iamnotastatistic ]

Date: Fri, February 10, 2012 11:45 am     (answered 21 February 2012)
From: "iamnotastatistic"
Subject: WHO Europe says that AA is ineffective

Hi Terrance,

I just read this paper by the World Health Organization in Europe which states that both 12 Step facilitation and Alcoholics Anonymous are ineffective!

I've extracted the relevant parts and added it as a pdf.

The link to the original paper is:

http://www.euro.who.int/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/43319/E92823.pdf

Regards,
Iamnotastatistic

*Attachments:*
WHO_says_AA_is_ineffective.pdf
Size: 491 k
Type: application/pdf

Hello again, iamnotastatistic,

Thanks for the information.

I found these lines interesting:

Although Project MATCH found a significant positive impact of treatment and no differences in outcome between 12-step facilitation therapy designed to help patients become engaged in the fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous, a 12-session cognitive behavioural therapy designed to teach patients coping skills to prevent a relapse into drinking, and a motivational enhancement therapy designed to increase motivation for and commitment to change (132), the mesa-grand study found evidence of ineffectiveness of 12-step facilitation from 6 studies and of ineffectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous from 7 studies (109). An additional systematic review of 8 studies found no studies that unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of Alcoholics Anonymous or 12-step facilitation approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or alcohol-related problems (133).

109. Miller WR, Wilbourne PD, Hetema JE. What works? A summary of alcohol treatment outcome research. In: Hester RK, Miller WR, eds. Handbook of alcoholism treatment approaches: effective alternatives, 3rd ed. Boston, MA, Allyn and Bacon, 2003:13 — 63.

132. Babor TF, Del Boca F K, eds. Treatment matching in alcoholism. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2003.

133. Ferri M, Amato L, Davoli M. Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12- steps programmes for alcohol dependence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2006, (3):CD005032.

  1. First off, the very first sentence there is incorrect. Oh, the WHO report is correct. They correctly reported misinformation. The guys who ran Project MATCH are still making groundless claims of success. (See their web site for more lies.) They conducted a very badly designed and run study without any control group that cherry-picked which patients went into which treatment group, and then they paid the patients to "keep coming back", and then they got muddled results where nothing worked any better than anything else, and then they crowed that "treatment works!". But without an untreated control group, they do not know what, if anything, worked better than no treatment at all. Project MATCH was just a waste of $26 million. It proved nothing other than the fact that incompetents who aren't really looking for the truth can waste a lot of money. (Also see this documentation, where the Project MATCH leaders actually declared that a goal of the so-called "Twelve-Step Facilitation" was to make the patients believe that A.A. is the only way.)

  2. The first citation, by Prof. William R. Miller, is from a real expert in the field. He is either the leader or one of the leaders (I'm not sure which) of the Center for Alcohol, Substance Abuse and Addictions, Dept. of Psychology, University of New Mexico at Albuquerque. And near as I can make out, Professor Reid K. Hester is also a leading light there. They have done a number of studies and books together. The two of them are famous for their studies of alcoholism and what works as treatment. And what they have found does not please the 12-Step crowd, or the "12-Step treatment industry" racket. They have found that 12-Step treatment is one of the least effective ways of treating alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction. (What else could you expect? How can cult religion be a "treatment" for a "disease"?)

    1. Professors Reid K. Hester and William R. Miller rated treatment modalities by success rate. Here are the results:
      http://www.behaviortherapy.com/ResearchDiv/whatworks.aspx

      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. And A.A. is just below that. 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. 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?

    2. A researcher at that UNM center wrote telling me about a study of "spiritual healing" that they did that found that such "treatment" does not work at all. orange-letters101.html#Miller

      Spiritual direction in addiction treatment: Two clinical trials, Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, Volume 35, Issue 4, Pages 434-442. W. Miller, A. Forcehimes, M. O'Leary, M. LaNoue

    3. I got this book from the library:
      Controlling Your Drinking: Tools to Make Moderation Work for You, by William R. Miller and Ricardo F. Muñoz, PhD.
      In spite of their hefty academic credentials, they have written a non-technical book that is loaded with practical advice. And they clearly leave the total-abstinence/moderation question up to you. And they have a bunch of techniques for reducing your drinking, rather than just totally quitting.

      Prof. Miller's biography (on the back of his book Controlling Your Drinking), says:
      Prof. William R. Miller is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of New Mexico. He is the author of numerous books, including Motivational Interviewing, a modern classic in the field of addiction treatment. Dr. Miller's research, which focuses on providing a broader and more effective range of treatment approaches for people with alcohol and drug problems, has been supported by a 15-year Research Scientist Award from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. He is a recipient of the international Jellinek Memorial Award for excellence in alcoholism research.

  3. The last citation from that WHO article refers to the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. They have some pretty heavy condemnation of 12-Step treatment too:

    A recent review by the Cochrane Library, a health-care research group, of studies on alcohol treatment conducted between 1966 and 2005 states its results plainly: "No experimental studies unequivocally demonstrated the effectiveness of AA or TSF [12-step facilitation] approaches for reducing alcohol dependence or problems."
    We're addicted to rehab. It doesn't even work., By Bankole A. Johnson, Sunday, August 8, 2010
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/06/AR2010080602660.html
    Also see this information about Prof. Bankole A. Johnson of the University of Virginia, here.

  4. Oh, and while I was searching for works by Prof. Miller, I stumbled across an article by the International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction that criticized previous pro-A.A. articles — articles that claimed good results for A.A. — for many failings like bad math, no control group, mixed teachings (teaching 12-Step superstitions in CBT courses), cherry picking, self-reporting, and unrealistic environments. See: orange-letters247.html#Clark_M

Of course, the 12-Step proselytizers ignore all such evidence and continue to chant, "A.A. is the best way. A.A. is the only way. Work the Steps or Die!" And that is why it's a cult, not a cure.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**
**    "Not only had we failed to alter the natural history of alcoholism,
**    but our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."
**      ==  Dr. George E. Vaillant, formerly a member of the A.A. Board of
**    Trustees, describing the treatment of alcoholism with Alcoholics
**    Anonymous, in "The Natural History of Alcoholism: Causes, Patterns,
**    and Paths to Recovery", Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA,
**    1983, pages 283-286.
**
**    "This battle never ceases to amaze me. People seem to be much
**    more inclined to believe what they hear from non-experts
**    because it's what they'd rather hear."
**       ==  Prof. Jennifer Francis, of Rutgers University,
**              speaking about global warming
**           New York Times, Dot Earth, "Experts: Big Flaw in
**             Will's Ice Assertions", 27 Feb 2009
**
**  (And the "recovery movement" seems to have the same problem.)





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Michael_H ]

Date: Sat, February 11, 2012 10:01 pm     (answered 22 February 2012)
From: "Michael H."
Subject: very interesting stuff

Dear Orange-

I've been sober 6 years via A.A. but have many reservations about if, how and why it works. Although I am completely agnostic in spiritual matters, I seem to cling to this fear that if I leave A.A. I will drink one day. Now, this fear isn't totally irrational given my track record. I have been in and out of A.A. for years before finally sticking to it and staying sober. There seemed to be a direct correlation between attending meetings and staying sober. Believe me, I never wanted to go to meetings (and still don't) but I am convinced they help. I first got sober for five years through A.A. I stopped going to meetings and within 9 months I drank. Then I stayed sober a year while going to A.A. I stopped going to meetings and was drunk within 6 months. And a third time I stayed sober a year through meetings, stopped again and was drunk within 3 months. I consider myself a reasonable guy. I believe in modern science. But his correlation from my own real world testing has convinced me to keep going to meetings. I sometimes even strike it up to superstition. I am not above admitting this.

I am part of a home group that has seen and experienced the low success rate. It seems over the past 6 years only about 20 — 30% of us are still sober. I am not refuting your 5% rate but am simply providing my observation from one meeting that averages about 40 in size in the past year.

I don't believe in a higher power but I do believe the companionship and sharing with like-minded people suffering from the same issue is helpful and has played a major role in my recovery. Of course I happened to find a group of cynical, sarcastic and profane alcoholics like myself who like to poke fun at the "put the plug in the jug" true believers.

One other interesting facet is that I also suffer form bipolar disorder II. So I do take meds and my sponsor has told me go for it and he's on anti-depressants anyway. I think alcoholism and BPD are natural companions (the booze quieting the screaming madness if you will). But the AA pals I hang with are also manic-depressive, neurotic and "deep" (depraved). So I think the AA group I hang with helps address both of my disorders in one fell swoop. So, at the end of the day, it might be the placebo effect but I think in my unique situation I have found a formula that is truly therapeutic. For the first time in my life I actually enjoy the meetings too (okay, mostly the fellowship afterwards).

My overall point is that I don't disagree with the facts you have presented (how could one). Yet there are also some of us that may have benefited from the program. I am not sure if I would stay sober without it. There is something to that feeling of anticipation that heals as well. Something to look forward to. (Or as my sponsor says the "shit, i can't relapse I gotta make the coffee on Tuesday).

Just some random thoughts from a cynical bastard who thinks A.A. works if you find the right mix — which is NOT easy.

Mike

Hello Mike,

Thanks for the letter, and congratulations on your years of sobriety. I also think you sound like a reasonable guy. You seem to be happy with your support group, so enjoy. Have a good time. That's okay. Especially when you aren't drinking the koolaid. You don't have to leave. In fact, you sound like a good candidate for membership in the Newcomer Rescue League.

About your fear of leaving: That is normal. A.A. induces a lot of fears and phobias, all intended to make people stay in the group and obey the commandments ("Work the Steps"), and believe what they are saying. Of course they want you to believe that you are sober because of A.A. (rather than by your own efforts and self-reliance and determination), and that you will die if you leave A.A. That is just standard cult practice. Here are the Cult Test items for that:

  1. Question 34. The Cult Implants Phobias.
  2. Answer 34. The Cult Implants Phobias.

By the way, the fact that you relapsed when you quit going to A.A. meetings is probably not a coincidence. You probably quit going to A.A. meetings at about the same time as your resolve to stay sober wavered. Quite possibly, you started to feel depressed and you thought that the whole routine wasn't worth the bother any more, and you just wanted to feel good and have some fun, so you quit going to A.A. meetings and started drinking again at about the same time, for the same reason. Thus both the relapse and quitting A.A. were caused by a common underlying reason. It wasn't a matter of not going to A.A. meetings causes people to drink.

(And my evidence for that is that I now have 11 years sober, and haven't been to an A.A. meeting in 10 years.)

By the way, giving the credit to A.A. sounds like the logical fallacy of False Attribution, and also Confusion of Correlation and Causation — giving the credit for a good thing to something that actually had little or nothing to do with it. Like A.A. promoters are quite happy to talk about how A.A. members are much healthier and more clear-headed now that they aren't drinking, and they can keep a job now and they have money in their pockets, and they don't get arrested as often, and on and on, and then they conclude that A.A. has really benefited the members immensely. Actually, no. Quitting drinking alcohol caused all of those good things, not A.A. The A.A. meetings and theology didn't do any of it.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     I thank God that He chose to give me a working brain, rather
**     than just a lump of dense, unthinking meat between the ears.





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#John_M ]

Date: Sun, February 12, 2012 5:55 am
From: "John M."
Subject: Man charged with groping women he met through AA

Yeah, I know. Shocking ain't it.

Gee, haven't I heard something like that before? Somewhere...?

Oh well, have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "Give me chastity and continence, but not yet."
**         — Saint Augustine (354—430)


Date: Tue, February 28, 2012 8:17 pm     (answered 5 March 2012)
From: "John M."
Subject: Re: Man charged with groping women he met through AA

Even funnier is the discussion.

http://neighbors.denverpost.com/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=19938423&p=2368048#p2368048

Ah, thanks for the link.





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Jackie_P ]

Date: Sun, February 12, 2012 9:47 am     (answered 22 February 2012)
From: "Jackie P."
Subject: Wow

I just stumbled across your "Orange Papers." Wow.

What has made you so angry and bitter at AA? And at the idea of God, for that matter?

I've been a member of AA for 29 years, and I can assure you it is not a cult. No one lured me to AA, I went (and stayed) of my own choosing. I still have contact with my family and am a productive member of society. I don't live in a commune, sleep with the leader (or as a leader, sleep with new members), break the law in the name of AA, or give all my money to it. People in AA do not control me — some misguided members may try, but they soon find out it doesn't work.

In fact, it is because of AA that I have better relationships with my family members, am a law-abiding citizen, can hold down a good job and am responsible and accountable for my actions.

I'd be willing to have a reasonable discourse with you at any time on this subject.

Jackie

Hello Jackie,

Thanks for the letter, and I'd also be happy to have a reasonable discord, any time.

You are suffering from one big misimpression: I am not angry at God. I have no quarrel with God. I know full well that God and Alcoholics Anonymous have very little to do with each other. God did not have a hand in writing the crazy theology of Alcoholics Anonymous, Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman did.

Now then, let's start our reasonable discourse with the single most important fact: What is the actual A.A. cure rate?

What is the REAL A.A. success rate?

Out of each 1000 newcomers to A.A., how many will pick up a one-year sobriety medallion a year later?
Or even several years later?
And how many will get their 2-year, and 5-year, and 10-year coins? Ever?
How about 11 years and 21 years?

(HINT: the answers are here and here.)

By the way, it's very fortunate for you that you found a good group. Have you never attended any meetings of Clancy I.'s Pacific Group, or any of its clones? — Midtown Group, Road to Recovery, Foxhall Group, etc.?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "WHEN a pretension to free the world from evil ends only
**     in a new proof of the danger of a fanatic to the commonweal,
**     then it is not to be marveled at that a distrust is aroused
**     in the observer which makes sympathy impossible."
**          ==  Sigmund Freud

[The next letter from Jackie_P is here.]





May 27, 2009, Wednesday:

Great Blue Heron Beethoven the Great Blue Heron


Great Blue Heron
Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, windblown


Great Blue Heron
Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, windblown

[More gosling photos below, here.]





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Virgorich ]

Date: Mon, February 13, 2012 12:16 am     (answered 23 February 2012)
From: VIRGORICH
Subject: you seem to have developed a bias ......

I enjoyed the information but .... will be guarded in sharing it .... cause I dont know to what degree it may be contaminated ........

Hello Virgorich,

I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the information. But "contaminated"? I go out of my way to make sure that every stated fact is correct. I mean really. And I try to have every fact supported by good documentation. Check out the bibliography.

Now I agree that I am not a neutral, disinterested, observer. I feel a lot of contempt for the criminals and con artists who sell cult religion quackery to sick people and lie to them about how well it works. Those sick people are my friends and acquaintances, and I care. But I don't allow my emotions to get the best of me. I won't falsify data or fabricate lies to support my position, the way that the 12-Step racket does.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**    Carl Sagan's rule: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence."
**    The far-fetched claims of Bill Wilson that Frank Buchman's cult religion
**    could cure alcoholism have not been backed up by even a little ordinary
**    evidence, never mind some extraordinary evidence.

[The next letter from Virgorich is here.]





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Matt_D ]

Date: Mon, February 13, 2012 8:14 am     (answered 23 February 2012)
From: "Matt D."
Subject: Why would you take the time to bash AA? AA has saved thousands of lives. Please reply.

An Honest and Ethical Approach to Debt Freedom

Kindest Regards,

Matt D.

Financial Consultant

Hello Matt,

I criticize A.A. because it has not "saved thousands of lives". A.A. is a fraud that just lies about its success rate in sobering up alcoholics. A.A.'s claims of having saved thousands or saved millions are bogus and completely untrue. We have discussed this so many times before that I'll just point you to a few of the discussions:

  1. Results of doctors' clinical tests of A.A..

  2. Bill Wilson's and other early A.A. members' own admissions that A.A. didn't work.

  3. A recent letter where the World Health Organization said that A.A. didn't work.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     Foisting ineffective quack medicine on sick people is not
**     a wonderful noble act of self-sacrifice to help others;
**     it is the reprehensible behavior of a damned fool.





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Grass_Fire ]

Date: Mon, February 13, 2012 10:28 pm     (answered 24 February 2012)
From: "Grass Fire"
Subject: your web site about AA

http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-intro.html

Dear A. Orange,

I have some real problems about your cynical treatise on AA in the introduction page.
Alcoholics and drug addicts suffer years of mental delusion even years after stopping drinking and/or taking drugs.
The AA 12 steps saved my soul.
It is not a cult.
The Big Book of AA was divinely inspired.
A cult is usually a misguided group of followers who devote their lives, spirit, money, anything they have, to a guru or leader. The cult is often marked by the leader leading his followers over a cliff.
Think, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Marshal Applewhite (Heaven's Gate) and the like.
AA bears no resemblance to these leaders and their cults.
AA asks you to put a buck in the basket IF YOU CAN SPARE IT for coffee and rent for the church for the meeting space.

I did my 12 step work in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The meetings were no nonsense, no bullshit noise pollution.
I do agree with you that there is a lot of nonsense. But the AA Big Book meetings I did my 12 step work with are disciplined and they teach you to grow up and stop blaming your problems on AA or other people. I knew many people who would otherwise be dead. I also knew of other people who left and turned their backs on God and died, sometimes by suicide.

People at Big Book step study meetings are not allowed to talk unless they had completed at least the 5th step. The steps are done according to the way they are laid out in the big book.

If people do not recover it is not because of AA. It says clearly in the big book MOST CHRONIC ALCOHOLICS ARE DOOMED. That is telling the truth. In large part it is because people will not get honest with themselves.

The book recounts an experience of Dr. Carl Jung who told a patient he was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. But Dr. Jung also told him that once in a while alcoholics of the hopeless variety have a "religious" experience that leads them to recovery.

Bill Wilson even solicited money from the Rockefeller Foundation. After thinking about it, Rockefeller turned him down because he thought money would corrupt the good that AA was doing.

Just like anything else, you get out of AA what you put in to it.

*** MOST IMPORTANT *** AA is not a place you GO but a thing you DO.

It works, it really does. It gave me peace and solace. I finally got humble enough to do the 12 steps as they're laid out in the Big Book after an incident where I was charged by the police for trying to take out revenge on someone (nonviolently but with telecommunications). It had been 8 years since I had taken a drink. But I was still suffering from mental delusion. The 12 steps expelled that delusion from me. I speak in prisons to men trying to find an answer. They always appreciate it. That's the giving it away part.

Write back if you want. I hope you found peace and solace in whatever way you chose to get sober. The 12 steps is not the only way. But it has been the right path for a lot of people.

Best Regards,
Dave

Hello Dave,

Thank you for the letter. Well, you really drank the koolaid, didn't you? All of these statements are blatantly untrue:

  1. Alcoholics and drug addicts suffer years of mental delusion even years after stopping drinking and/or taking drugs.

    That is only true if they were insane before they started drinking, or if they suffered from major brain damage from drugs and alcohol. There is no mental illness that is cured by the A.A. religion.

  2. The AA 12 steps saved my soul.

    Practicing Frank Buchman's old cult religion does not save people's souls. Sorry.

  3. It is not a cult.

    A.A. is most assuredly a cult. A.A. is obviously, screamingly, blatantly a cult. Read the Cult Test, both the questions and the answers: The Cult Test, and Alcoholics Anonymous as a Cult

  4. The Big Book of AA was divinely inspired.

    Get real. That is more evidence that A.A. is a crazy cult, just like your claim that A.A. saved your soul. The Big Book is the evil teachings of Dr. Frank Nathan Daniel Buchman, as regurgitated by a mentally-ill man with delusions of grandeur and a narcissistic personality disorder.

    If any "higher power" inspired the Big Book, it was Satan, not God. See the file The Heresy of the Twelve Steps for more about that.

  5. A cult is usually a misguided group of followers who devote their lives, spirit, money, anything they have, to a guru or leader. The cult is often marked by the leader leading his followers over a cliff.
    Think, Jim Jones, David Koresh, Charles Manson, Marshal Applewhite (Heaven's Gate) and the like.
    AA bears no resemblance to these leaders and their cults.

    Wrong. A.A. has a huge resemblance, like the charismatic cult leader Bill Wilson selling Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion as a cure for alcohol abuse, and deceiving millions of people.

    Just yesterday, there was a discussion of someone wanting to make "Stepping Stones" — Bill Wilson's house in Bedford Hills — into a national historic site. I had to comment:

    That would be a lot like making Lafayette Ronald Hubbard's house a national historic site. For those who don't recognise the name, "L. Ron Hubbard" was the founder of Scientology. He and Bill W. had a lot in common: Both were stoned crazy psychopaths who foisted fairy tales and cult religion on sick people and claimed that they had made the medical discovery of the century. Both did more harm than good. Neither produced anything that actually works. Both were literally insane (their psychiatrists said so). And both died very rich as a result of selling nonsense to sick people.

    And I could have continued with, both men founded cults that pretended to have a cure for a medical problem, and both caused people to waste a lot of time and money on quackery, and both men were heartless monsters who gleefully decieved and exploited sick people.

  6. I do agree with you that there is a lot of nonsense. But the AA Big Book meetings I did my 12 step work with are disciplined and they teach you to grow up and stop blaming your problems on AA or other people. I knew many people who would otherwise be dead. I also knew of other people who left and turned their backs on God and died, sometimes by suicide.

    You are once again broadcasting the standard A.A. stereotype of "the alcoholic": According to Alcoholics Anonymous, alcoholics are all "selfish and sinful and dishonest and in denial and manipulative and childish and on and on and on..." Nope. Alcoholics are not all carbon copies of William Griffith Wilson. See this file for much more on that: The "Us Stupid Drunks" Conspiracy

    You do not know whether people would be dead if they didn't do the practices of a cult religion. Now I agree that many people would be dead if they had not quit drinking (including me), but there is zero evidence that participation in a cult religion saves people's lives. In fact, the evidence is that cult religion makes them die more, and commit suicide more too. And binge drink more, and get rearrested more, and get more expensive hospitalization. Look here: Results of doctors' clinical tests of A.A..

    Lastly, people who leave A.A. have not "turned their backs on God". The arrogance of Alcoholics Anonymous, to equate A.A. and God, is just collosal. So much for the much-bragged-about A.A. "humility".

  7. If people do not recover it is not because of AA. It says clearly in the big book MOST CHRONIC ALCOHOLICS ARE DOOMED. That is telling the truth. In large part it is because people will not get honest with themselves.

    Well the Big Book is wrong. Approximately 50% of all drug addicts and alcoholics quit their self-destructive habits, and the vast majority of those successful people do it without joining A.A. or any other cult religion. They just quit. Look here:
    http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.html#Harvard_Mental
    The claim that chronic alcoholics are doomed unless they join A.A. is just cultish fear tactics — more evidence that A.A. really is a cult.

    Then the put-down that people will not get honest with themselves is just more cultish denigration of people and instilling guilt, doubts, and powerlessness. And of course you are also pushing the cult teaching that "The Program is perfect, it's just the people who are imperfect." And, "The Program doesn't fail people; people fail the Program."

  8. The book recounts an experience of Dr. Carl Jung who told a patient he was an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. But Dr. Jung also told him that once in a while alcoholics of the hopeless variety have a "religious" experience that leads them to recovery.

    That entire story is probably apocryphal. There is no documentation or reliable evidence to support the fable. Dr. Carl Jung was not in the habit of scaring his patients with death threats. That wasn't his style. It was Bill's doctor, Dr. William D. Silkworth, who did that. We just discussed that before, just recently, here:
    http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters286.html#Jung

  9. Bill Wilson even solicited money from the Rockefeller Foundation. After thinking about it, Rockefeller turned him down because he thought money would corrupt the good that AA was doing.

    Wrong. Again, that is just Bill Wilson rewriting history. Rockefeller did put money into it. He supported both Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob with stipends ("outside contributions"), and he contributed his employees for the original Alcoholic Foundation Board of Trustees. The one thing that Rockefeller did not do was trust Bill Wilson with a large sum of money. For good reason. When Charlie Towns trusted Bill Wilson with a lot of money to publish the Big Book, Bill Wilson stole the money.

  10. *** MOST IMPORTANT *** AA is not a place you GO but a thing you DO.

    All that you are doing is demanding that people do the practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties.

  11. It works, it really does. It gave me peace and solace.

    The fact that you enjoy the cult religion routine does not mean that it works to save the lives of alcoholics. In fact, A.A. is a total failure that just raises the death rate. Even A.A. Trustee Dr. George E. Vaillant said so.

    We have discussed this many, many times before, so I'll just point you to the discussions:

    1. Results of doctors' clinical tests of A.A..

    2. Bill Wilson's and other early A.A. members' own admissions that A.A. didn't work.

    3. A recent letter where the World Health Organization said that A.A. didn't work.

  12. Just like anything else, you get out of AA what you put in to it.

    That is just an escape. Blame the alcoholic if he doesn't quit drinking by practicing an old cult religion. Don't blame the cult religion. Never admit that the cult religion routine doesn't work to save alcoholics' lives.

  13. The 12 steps is not the only way. But it has been the right path for a lot of people.

    Actually, the numbers of people who have recovered because of doing the A.A. practices is vanishingly small. The claim that A.A. has saved or "helped" or sobered up thousands or millions of alcoholics is a lie and a fraud, pure and simple. Look here:
    http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-effectiveness.html#Bob_memorial

Now you did make a few true statements, but even they need some explanation:

  1. People at Big Book step study meetings are not allowed to talk unless they had completed at least the 5th step. The steps are done according to the way they are laid out in the big book.

    Only properly-indoctrinated cadre are allowed to speak, so that the brainwashing is not impeded.

    The 12 Steps are still just Bill Wilson's rewrite of Dr. Frank Buchman's old Oxford Group cult practices. Look here:
    http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-rroot030.html

  2. It had been 8 years since I had taken a drink. But I was still suffering from mental delusion.

    I'm sorry to hear about your mental illness. You do realize, don't you, that A.A. is not qualified to practice medicine and treat mental illnesses? That would be a felony, practicing medicine without a license. A.A. members are not licensed doctors or psychiatrists. So, did A.A. members treat your mental illness? (Please give names and dates and places so that I can forward the information to your district attorney.)

  3. AA asks you to put a buck in the basket IF YOU CAN SPARE IT for coffee and rent for the church for the meeting space.

    True, but that is hiding the other arms of the Alcoholics Anonymous octopus. They only ask for a few bucks in the basket at the A.A. meetings, but down the street is a 12-Step treatment center that is staffed by A.A. members, and they demand $10,000 or $20,000 or $30,000, or even $40,000 for 28 days of indoctrination in Frank Buchman's religion. And of course they teach that A.A. is the only way. Then they give you a "free" Big Book, and send you to A.A. meetings. (That is a pretty expensive "free" book.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

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





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

Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, taking off
Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, taking off

Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, flying
Beethoven the Great Blue Heron, flying
Yes, Beethoven is very much an urban heron, quite happy in the middle of the city.

marina
The Marina
That is the Marquam Bridge, up in the air, and the Ross Island Bridge is in the middle of the picture.

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





[The previous letter from Andrew_S is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters289.html#Andrew_S ]

Date: Tue, February 14, 2012 12:11 am     (answered 24 February 2012)
From: "Andrew S."
Subject: Re: AA's Problems

I stated: "Any rational, objective survey of AA is going to find a little bad, a little good and a lot of mediocrity because that is the reality of social institutions. That's why AA can continue; if it were obviously evil and drove masses of people to suicide immediately, it couldn't survive that long. Rather, it subtly influences people and causes real harm here and there, willy-nilly, to relatively small percentages of people."

You replied:

"You are doing it again, right now. The argument "a little bad, a little good" is another attempt at Escape via Antirationalism, and Escape via Relativism.

And the line about suicide is a dishonest exaggeration. I never said that A.A. caused "masses" of people to commit suicide. I said that A.A. raises the suicide rate in alcoholics. How many suicides do you think is okay?

Your argument that A.A. only harms "relatively small percentages of people" is without foundation. What study or test or survey established what percentage of people were harmed by A.A. dogma and false teachings? Again, how many suicides, or how many girls raped, constitutes only a ""relatively small percentage" which isn't worth worrying about?"

In the above exchange, you misunderstood me. I wasn't exaggerating your claims or defending AA. I was demonstrating that an objective view of AA would include a great deal of mediocre results, some poor results and some good results. Thus, an unscrupulous debater could cherry pick good results from the survey as a whole to characterize the overall survey as a defense of AA (as you have with me). This would be similar to someone picking out the very few things that you admit are good about AA and characterizing you as an AA defender. You're not an AA defender — you're openly hostile to AA — but you are objective enough to give "the devil its due".

Hello again, Andrew,

Every time I find a flaw in your logic, you claim that I "misunderstood you".

I still stand by my statement that trying to use the argument of "some bad, some good" is an attempt at Escape via Relativism. And it's also Confusion of Correlation and Causation. The fact that you can find some sober people at an A.A. meeting does not prove that A.A. has done anything good.

Of course you will find some sober, recovered alcoholics in any randomly-selected group of alcoholics. But that is not evidence that A.A. did anything good for them. A.A. tries to claim that credit for all instances of spontaneous remission (while never claiming any of the blame for the sick people).

I would characterize a small percentage as an order of magnitude smaller than the primary statistic at hand. If the natural remission rate of alcoholism is 50%, then a program that increased or decreased that by less than five percent would have a "small" effect.

That doesn't make a lot of sense. An order of magnitude smaller than the "primary statistic at hand"? What are you talking about?

And if your debating style distorts information and uses logical fallacies, then that effects how I interpret your message and the credibility of that message. Truth and lies exist on a continuum; if you feel morally justified to twist the truth, exaggerate, drag in the Nazi party every time you have an emphatic point to make, distort the arguments of people who disagree with you and demonize a vast heterogenous group of people, then why wouldn't you feel morally justified to lie?

I don't use logical fallacies. Nor do I distort or twist the truth.

And I'm not demonizing you. I just notice that your thinking is confused and relies on a lot of logical fallacies, like imagining that A.A. is okay because people need "a compelling origin myth" and "the expense of providing comprehensive health care for everyone is greater than the cost of AA meetings" — as if A.A. meetings provided health care, which they don't.

The references to the Nazis are quite justified when somebody, like the 12-Step cult religion for example, is selling a philosophy that is derived from an old pro-Nazi religious group that was founded by a guy who went to Nuremberg Nazi Party rallies and Sieg-Heiled Adolf Hitler.

If I were just gratuitously mentioning the Nazis, that would be an obnoxious propaganda trick. But there is nothing gratuitous about the involvement of the Nazis in Alcoholics Anonymous history and philosophy. Bill Wilson even wrote:

How persistently we claim the right to decide all by ourselves just what we shall think and just how we shall act.   ...   We are certain that our intelligence, backed by willpower, can rightly control our inner lives and guarantee us success in the world we live in. This brave philosophy, wherein each man plays God, sounds good in the speaking, but it still has to meet this acid test: how well does it actually work? One good look in the mirror ought to be answer enough for any alcoholic.
Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, William G. Wilson, pages 36-37.

So, because you goofed before, and made some mistakes, you must now choose slavery, and let your sponsor and the other old-timers do your thinking for you and tell you what to think and what to do. You don't even the the right to decide what you will think.

Then Bill Wilson wrote:

Follow the dictates of a Higher Power and you will presently live in a new and wonderful world, no matter what your present circumstances!
The Big Book, 3rd Edition, William G. Wilson, page 100.

Just follow the orders of your superior. That is the Nazi philosophy.

I stated: I believe that contemporary science has very few meaningful things to say on how to solve sickness of the soul and spirit. It wouldn't surprise me if everything we believed about addiction was contradicted in two or three generations. That is not an appeal to irrationality ? that is a pragmatic view of contemporary science.

You replied:

"Sickness of the soul and spirit"? Don't you mean mental illness, like depression or bipolar disorder, or Narcissitic Personality Disorder? And brain damage from ethanol poisoning and malnutrition? Or are you making another appeal to irrationality, and trying to claim that spirits get sick? Are there spiritual bacteria and viruses? Evil spirits that overwhelm and take possession of good spirits? How do spirits get sick? When and where has "spiritual sickness" ever been established, besides in the Oxford Group and in Bill Wilson's demented mind?

Again, you are looking for a straw man to beat. When science cannot answer questions, we must use imprecise words. Was it illogical to use the word "element" before the invention of chemistry? No. Alchemy was a necessary predecessor of chemistry. We must use the words "soul" and "spirit" until there is a more precise word based on empirical facts. It would be foolish to deny that the soul and spirit exist; as foolish as denying the existence of matter before the science of a chemistry.

That is another irrational argument. You are trying to posit the existence of "spiritual medicine" with no evidence except a straw man argument. Yes, your own counter-argument is a straw man argument, propping up primitive alchemy as a straw man to beat up. And you suggest that because the medieval alchemists didn't know a lot about chemistry, that modern doctors do not know much either. (That is exactly the same argument as an A.A. booster used in an irrational promotion of A.A. back in the year 2000, here.)

You are trying to imply that someday in the future, when we learn more, we will discover the world of the spirits, and spiritual sickness. Baloney. We've already done that one for the last four or five thousand years, at least. Shamen were shaking rattles in the faces of sick people, trying to expel evil spirits, for at least five thousand years before Sir Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Now the rattle-shaking routine is out of fashion, simply because it does not work, and antibiotics do work.

You have a reductionist view of the human body and mind. From the interior, from introspection, we feel our souls and our spirits. Indubitably, they are part of our minds and emotions; we give them special vernacular names, though, because they are so important. It is what makes great art inspiring. Its what gives religion and spiritual exercise its pull on the human heart. Love itself is a product of the spirit and soul. Our dreams and aspirations come from our souls and spirits.

There is not a single solid fact in that paragraph. You are giving me an airy-fairy argument and trying to imply that it has something to do with medicine — specifically, that such fluffy grandiose language has something to do with curing alcoholics of a "spiritual disease" that is causing them to drink too much alcohol.

And you have not explained how your "spiritual disease" differs from mental illnesses like depression or bipolar disorder.

Really these are just shorthand for everyday phenomena that we know through introspection into our emotional states rather than through medical science. It doesn't mean they must be scourged from everyday speech because they are illogical, Spock.

Shorthand? No, superstition. Your emotional states are not "spirituality". You are failing to distinguish between psychology and "spirituality". You are making Bill Wilson's big mistake of claiming that emotional events are "spiritual experiences".

Science does not have a model yet that shows how the physical processes of the brain results in a thought. They can show stimulation in certain areas. They can show neurons firing, but no one knows how to translate those into thoughts. Does that mean that thoughts don't exist? That's why Skinner proposed black box psychology; you could avoid having to conceptualize internal states if you postulate the brain as a black box with inputs and outputs.

Now that is an appeal to ignorance, another propaganda trick. Lack of knowledge in one area does not prove the existence of something else. Even if doctors and neurologists had no idea how neurons firing results in thought (which isn't true), that would still not prove or even hint at the existence of a "spiritual disease" that makes people drink too much alcohol.

By the way, we do understand how neurons firing produces thought. Maybe you don't understand it, but a lot of other people do. We have CAT scans and MRIs now, and have mapped out a great deal of the functioning of the human brain. And we can easily see how thought stops when certain parts of the brain die.

Just because the current model of neuroscience can't explain exactly how a thought occurs, doesn't mean that they don't exist. I am certain that I have had thoughts. Just because we can't measure the soul, or weight the spirit doesn't mean that those words don't mean something. Perhaps you can paraphrase soul as "the mental seat of human empathy, faith in oneself and hope".

Again, that is more nonsense. You are trying to argue that because you are ignorant of neurology, that "spirit" exists. Baloney. And doctors and neurologists can explain the functioning of the brain. Your ignorance is not their ignorance. Your inability to explain something is not their inability to explain it.

Your argument is just like somebody claiming that, because he is ignorant of meteorology and physics and the workings of the climate, that lighting proves that the Thunder God Thor really does exist. Nonsense.

I'd bet that you also cannot trace signals through the logic gates of a computer. I doubt that you know how to logic your way through the circuitry, and say, "Because this gate put out a negative signal, this following gate put out a positive signal, and that led to the computer 'deciding' to jump to the subroutine where it prints an 'A' on the terminal." Such a lack of knowledge of the internal workings of a computer does not prove that the computer has a soul or a spirit, either.

(In fact, I am the only man that I personally know who has actually done that. I repaired a few computers that were built way back before the invention of the microcomputer chip, back in the days when the CPU was just a huge bunch of early 7400 series TTL chips. I didn't find any soul in there, just a lot of silicon logic gates and wires.)

Now I'm not saying that there is no such thing as spirit — that is a different argument. I'm saying that your logical fallacies and bad arguments do not prove the existence of spirit.

What you are demonstrating is that you want to believe. Your belief is not based on evidence or logic, it is based on a deep-seated need to believe.

I have suffered a sickness of the spirit and soul. In empirical terms I would describe it as: "listlessness, lack of affect, despair, lack of pleasure, lack of self-esteem, irrational guilt, anxiety, fear etc. (even a clinical description uses vague words like despair and anxiety)" From the inside, sickness of the spirit seems like a more accurate description.

What you are describing is mental illness, not a "spiritual disease". It sounds pretty much like a textbook case of depression and an anxiety disorder. Have you seen a doctor, or specifically, a psychiatrist? If not, why not?

Please do not waste your life, getting quack medicine in a cult, when you could see a real doctor and get real help and be happier.

I mean really. See a doctor. Do not trust the 12 Steps of Buchmanism to fix you. In fact, the guilt induction routine of listing and confessing all of your sins and moral shortcomings and wrongs will make your depression worse. Don't do it. See a doctor.

And, by the way, many respected psychologists, therapists and philosophers use terms like "mind", "identity", "soul" and "spirit" which are large general concepts that defy easy definition. If you use precise terms while talking about something you don't know about, you are still talking about something you don't know about. Similarly, a person can use vague terms to precisely describe the relationship between vague concepts.

Now you just arguing that because some people use words like "spirit" or "soul", that such things are real. That is another logical fallacy. It's called Reification.

We use lots of words and expressions for vague concepts. That does not make those vague concepts and expressions into real things. I remember Tracy Kidder's book The Soul of a New Machine, which was the story of two teams of whiz kids creating a new computer at Data General Corporation. That book does not prove that computers have souls.

I asked you: "Similarly, when was the last time you visited a credible science website that had a laundry list of "propaganda techniques" listed prominently? Just linking a well-reasoned argument to the propaganda technique it happens to be closest to is misleading and petty. Nearly any thesis or argument can be tainted like this."

You replied: "Actually, there is a web site that is totally devoted to logical fallacies and debating tricks. I learned a few things from it. I shall have to search to find it again."

If the essence of debate on empirical evidence was accusing your opponent of "propaganda tricks", then every science website would have a section like that to the neglect of the subject of study. You could be a great scientist by just refuting your opponent with a list of faulty arguments. You'd save a lot of time, too, you wouldn't have to actually study atoms or electrons or whatever, you could just memorize debate tactics.

That is again nonsense. You are just objecting to my noticing that you used a lot of logical fallacies and propaganda tricks to try to push the idea that A.A. is actually okay after all.

You are aware of what you know. Sometimes I don't think you are aware of what you don't know. Medical science is nowhere near to a cure for alcoholism and drug addiction. A dozen cures have passed in and out of vogue in the last fifty years and I am sure that contemporary best practices are not that far away from the Freudian talk therapy of 100 years ago i.e. sympathetic listening to another human's problems.

That is another illogical argument. The lack of a "cure" proves nothing about alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction.

There is no "cure" for "alcoholism", because there is no such thing as the "disease of alcoholism". That is just like complaining that modern medicine has no cure for eating too much fattening food. Both drinking too much alcohol and eating too much fattening food are behavior — very unhealthy behavior, really bad behavior that can even result in death — but it is still just behavior. Drinking too much alcohol is not a disease, and eating too much fattening food is not a disease.

And the cure for both is actually very simple: Change your behavior. Just stop doing it.

Now quitting and staying quit is much more difficult when the drinker in question is suffering from mental illness like depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder or bipolar disorder, or Narcissistic Personality Disorder like Bill Wilson had. Then it is much harder for someone to change his behavior, but having a competent psychiatrist treat the mental illness can help a lot.

I have only pointed out aspects of the human condition to you. They are tragic and crazy-making. What are they?

  • -Coercion and exclusion are a part of most groups
  • -Most groups, bad ones and good ones, engage in groupthink
  • -The best treatments for alcoholism seem to be relatively ineffective
  • -People are willing to be deceived in return for something to believe in
  • -No one ever went broke underestimating the gullibility of the general public
  • -The average person would rather conform than be rational
  • -About 90% of anyone's day-to-day life is bullshit

None of these are a justification or rationalization for the existence of AA, the Christian Scientists, the Scientologists, the UFO nuts, the Hare Khrishnas or Raelians. It's a list of the objective reasons why they exist. It's descriptive, not prescriptive.

And, here's my big argument, the human condition is so fucked up that we need to accept that other people accept lies and illusions and build their lives around them. While science might encapsulate truth and reason, an individual scientist might dedicate themselves to an area of research that is completely discredited in a generation. Does that mean they lived their life in vain? No. Because it is presumptuous to assume that the values I live my life by apply perfectly to someone else. It may actually be unhealthy to try and persuade people to abandon the lies that sustain their lives (sick or healthy). I forgive people in AA for lying to themselves and others, just as I forgive religious people for the folly and anxiety they have caused with their lies. At the end of the day, the healthiest attitude toward the heaping piles of bullshit that litter our lives may be "Whatever." Allah is the only way! Whatever. Flouride is turning us communist! Whatever. Rarely have we seen... Whatever.

Ah, thank you. That is indeed the "big argument". That is the Nazi attitude towards the human race, you know. And it's the Communist attitude too. Both of them believe that the average human is too stupid to manage his own life and think for himself, and he should be ordered around by a superior, either a Nazi Führer or a Communist Commissar. That attitude is called "elitism". Both the Bolsheviks and the Nazis thought that a small elite cadre should make all of the important decisions, and the common rabble should just obey them.

And of course the stupid masses should not be told the truth. There is no need for that. Sometimes the truth is even inconvenient. The ordinary people should just get a comfortable standardized fiction or fairy tale, like a "compelling origin myth" (Der Volkishe Beobachter or Pravda or The Grapevine).

Such an attitude is the antithesis of belief in democracy. In a democracy, we believe that the voters should be told the truth, and they should be educated and well-informed so that they can vote intelligently and make wise choices.

Yes, in the USA there are some cynical politicians who say, "Let the voters have their crazy causes and their silly superstitions and their wacked-out beliefs. That makes them easier to manipulate and control, and it is downright dangerous to try to educate them. They don't want to know the truth. It makes them angry. Like Jack Nicholson famously said, 'The truth? You can't handle the truth!' Let them happily wallow in ignorance and delusion. Leave them their fairy tales."

I disagree. I think we should tell them the truth. Some of them will be unhappy about it and will squirm and wiggle in discomfort as their favorite ox gets gored and their favorite superstitions get challenged, but I still think we should tell them the truth.

And we should not tailor our treatment of mental illnesses and addictions to accomodate the superstitions of a cult from the nineteen-thirties. There is still zero evidence that foisting fairy tales and cult religion on sick people helps them, or makes them recover. The evidence is that such fraud makes them sicker, and even makes some of them die.

Have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
**     "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people
**      will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained
**      only for such time as the State can shield the people from
**      the political, economic and/or military consequences of the
**      lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use
**      all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the
**      mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is
**      the greatest enemy of the State."
**         ==  Joseph Goebbels, Nazi Minister of Propaganda
[The next letter from Andrew_S is here.]





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