Letters, We Get Mail, CCXCIV



[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#Xtina ]

Date: Tue, March 6, 2012 9:05 pm     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Xtina"
Subject: Curious

Hi Mr. Orange,

I came across your website a while back while researching some of the AA traditions. I visit it from time to time and rummage through some of the links and letters. I myself am a member of AA — However I am not writing to you for the reason of defending AA, or changing anyones beliefs. I have no interest in that — The website is very well researched and often quite factual — but much of the writing (please do not take offense) does have a sway to it as being a matter of opinion rather than experience. Obviously it has a feeling of "personal agenda" — So my question (as the subject line is titled "curious" in this email) is this:

Why have you put such an extensive effort into this website?

I tried to project answers for little while tonight before writing this email — I imagined perhaps that you lost someone close to you, or maybe you yourself were a member — but even then, I could not even imagine putting even half of the amount of effort into something. For instance, I had a 2 family members who were murdered some years back, and a book came out which was tasteless and detailed the murder in a public forum — Then — a radio show aired which joked and mocked their brutal murders — I was completely twisted with anger — beyond belief — I wrote letters, left scathing book reviews, considered contracting killers lol (which would not have helped my sobriety) — even contacted a few lawyers — but after a few months I no longer had the fuel to keep at it. I find your dedication to this quite interesting, almost fascinating — You may actually be far more dedicated than the actual members. I am most interested to learn why. It is a rather odd hobby, you must admit. But perhaps it is just a hobby-

My apologies if your personal bio is already on the site and I did not see it. I am very curious to hear of your experience. I do have one crit for you — Perhaps a re-design is in order soon to break down some of those links into a simpler format :)

Sincerely,
xTinA

Hello xTinA,

Thank you for the question. Yes, there is already a biography on the web site, but it is distributed here and there in bits and pieces, and not easy to find.

So here you go:

  1. Who Are You?
  2. How did you get to be where you are?

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     Lying is a hateful and accursed vice. We have no other tie
**     upon one another, but our word. If we did but discover the
**     horror and consequences of it, we should pursue it with fire
**     and sword, and more justly than other crimes.
**        ==  Michel E. de Montaigne (1533—1592), French essayist

[The next letter from Xtina is here.]





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#Taylor_W ]

Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 9:47 am     (answered 8 March 2012)
From: "Taylor W."
Subject: Hey Orange

Orange,

Just a couple/few random thoughts I had while re-reading your back letters. You know, the letters actually compose a more reader friendly way of digesting information. When I say "reader friendly", I mean friendly to those who shy away from walls of text, and for better or worse, that seems to be most folks. Also, as you've pointed out, nothing you say could possibly illustrate the true Serenity of steppism as wonderfully as the heinous e-mails you get.

Hello Taylor,

Thanks for the letter. And yes, I just couldn't make up that stuff.

Anyhow, there were actually two things in particular I wanted to mention and share my thoughts on if you don't mind. Although, I fear I won't quit when I should.

I think it's interesting, and perhaps misinformed, that so many people seem to believe that writing for, and updating this website is the pinnacle of your existence. And that is must be an absolute joy for you. I hope you'll forgive me armchair psychology, but I believe that this assumption has it's basis in the fact that most of those people would tear out their own teeth for a chance at the kind of attention, good or bad, that you garner. I am not asking you to disclose anything here, mind you. But if it were me running the Orange Papers, I would be tired. It wouldn't be a joy, it would be a burden to bear, made tolerable only by the e-mails from people who say I'd helped them. In my mind, this is a much more realistic scenario. And the fact that it could be termed a "labor of love", or perhaps a "noble burden", makes me wonder why so many Steppists can't understand your purpose? Is "service" not of great importance to all who wish to achieve sobriety? Why, it's almost as if they're confused by something that's not self-serving.

You are quite right. It's just a job. It's a dirty job, but somebody has to do it. The thrill was gone a long time ago. And it is service, especially a service to the sick people and the coerced people who need to know the truth.

And it is not an absolute joy. What is an absolute joy is taking care of those cute little fluff-ball goslings. That is what tickles the cockles of my heart. I'd really rather be doing that, and I love it when the weather allows me to get out to the wetlands and feed the geese, like I did the day before yesterday.

I'm kind of hoping to find some more orphans this year. Now I have mixed feelings about that: The best thing that can happen is that no little goslings get orphaned. The second best is that I find the little orphans before they die.

Something else I see come up often, and I felt this same way at one point, is people accepting that AA is a cult, but not understanding what it's ultimate purpose is. You've done a much better job of addressing the various non-monetary factors involved, and also done an admirable job of explaining how some of those aims are much more dangerous than simply wanting money. However, it's my opinion, that not unlike any given organism, organizations also have an inherent desire to propagate themselves. It's like a virus, in this sense. It may have no greater purpose than simply continued existence, and trying to infect more people when it has the resources.

It's the frog and the scorpion. It's simply their nature.

-Taylor

Yes, you have described the problem precisely. Institutions have a strong self-preservation instinct. They have to, or they die out. The ones that have survived for a while are good at survival and reproduction. It's no different than basic biology in that sense.

And some of them really do resemble viruses, don't they?

And often, the institution forgets or even betrays its original purpose, just to go on existing. Witness the Catholic Church covering up and permitting criminal child abuse for centuries. And torturing and burning girls as witches in the Middle Ages. And burning astronomers as heretics, and suppressing new knowledge for centuries, and preventing advances in medicine. I know that wasn't their original mission, but that's where they ended up.

Similarly, A.A. did not start off intending to exploit and victimize alcoholics and misinform them about alcohol abuse, but that is where they have ended up. They have sunk to suing A.A. members and committing perjury in order to preserve their illegal income.

Now I know that Bill Wilson intended to make a bundle of money off of the alcoholics, and loved being worshipped as a prophet, but I think it's fair to say that most of the early A.A. members were idealists and religious believers who thought that they were creating a great new thing. Alas Babylon.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     It finally dawned on me that just because one's motive
**     isn't money doesn't mean one's motive isn't selfish.
**     (There is more than one form of profit.)
**        ==  Janet S.





Flash forward to present time: Sunday, March 04, 2012: Fernhill Wetlands

Canada Geese family The tame flock of Canada Geese at the Fernhill Wetlands. I see 17 geese. Included in this picture are several ducks and Seagulls and one Coot.

The geese are back. The big Canada Geese flew south for the winter, and they just returned. (The small Alaskan geese, properly called "Cackling Geese", stayed here for the winter, and they will fly north soon.) And I know it's the same large Canada Geese as we had here last year because they are as tame as can be. At the start of last year the geese were very wild and timid and you couldn't get any closer to their babies than a hundred feet, or they would run for the water. I spent all of last summer taming them and getting them over their fear of humans, and getting them accustomed to getting munchies from humans, and brother are they accustomed now. They are quite fearless, and also quite hungry. They don't hesitate to approach me and ask for handouts. Also, some of the geese are last year's babies that have grown big. They have pretty much known me all of their lives, so they see no reason to fear me.

On the other hand, there is a flock of about two hundred Cackling Geese who are wild and timid as can be, and I cannot get near them. I can't even feed them, because they won't come close enough for me to throw food to them.


Canada Geese pair
A pair of Canada Geese
As you can see, they are tame enough to walk right up on the land in front of me and hope that I will feed them. Yes, they know me from last year.

Canada Geese tend to be creatures of habit, and they will return to the same territory year after year, as long as it's a good place to be. So the babies that were hatched and raised here last year will probably keep coming back here for their whole lives. —Which can be as long as 20 years, by the way.

UPDATE: 2013.01.14: I ran into a story of a goose living 100 years. The goose was passed down through a farmer's family generation after generation, and the goose was 100 years old and sitting on the nest with yet another brood when she was killed by a horse kicking her. So Heaven only knows how long these geese can really live, if they are lucky.


American Coot and Mallard Duck
American Coot and Mallard Duck
Several pairs of Coots are a new addition to the flock at the wetlands. They just showed up during the winter. They are quite feisty and will stare down a much larger Seagull over food. My book on birds says that Coots like to hang out with ducks, and that is true here.

[More gosling photos below, here.]





[The previous letter from Hetu-Ahin is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#Hetu-Ahin ]

Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 4:19 pm     (answered 15 March 2012)
From: "Hetu-Ahin"
Subject: 12 steps for sane 'lunatics'

Dear Organe,

What's lunatic about this version of the twelve steps without 'God?

Hello again, "Hetu-Ahin"

Now this is interesting. You send me 12 steps of your own creation, and try to imply that they have something to do with a religious organization called "Alcoholics Anonymous" that declares in its holy book that God is the only answer. Obviously, what you have sent here is not the official "council-approved" A.A. theology. And this is not what people get indoctrinated with when they are sent to A.A.

Nevertheless, let's look at your steps.

  • 1. We admitted we could not control our drinking, nor do without it, that our lives had become unmanageable.

    I disagree with the assumption of powerlessness — "could not control". That is not accurate. "Did not control" is accurate. But then, suddenly one day, lots of people do start controlling it, including me. And they do it without Bill Wilson's religion, or any confession of powerlessness. They just decide to live. They are not powerless.

  • 2. We came to believe that others who had had or understood our problem could help us return to and maintain sanity.

    Believing that untrained incompetents can be trusted to fix potentially fatal medical and psychiatric problems is a very dangerous belief. Sometimes it is suicidally foolish.

    In A.A., mentally-ill people who never got proper treatment for their own problems are suddenly assumed to be qualified to treat other people, just because they have been members of a cult religion for a few years.

    Years ago, somebody sent this line to me:

    A flawed idea that AA is built upon: The idea that a deeply flawed person will cure another deeply flawed person. A dynamic fraught with peril.
    == Anonymous

  • 3. We decided to accept what they said and act on their suggestions as far as possible.

    Again, you are trusting some people who never went to medical school and never got trained in counseling or rehabilitation. The only qualifications other A.A. members have is that they drank too much alcohol, and then they joined a cult religion, and now they say that they are sober and sane. Many of them are of course mentally-ill criminals and very dangerous people.

  • 4. We made a searching inventory of our bad feelings, of those aspects of our own character that had contributed to these and of the harms we had done. We noted occasions where we had done well and were glad of these.

    This is still just Frank Buchman's fault-finding routine. What about all of those people who drank for reasons that were not due to "our own character", like child abuse, rape, and physical pain? Or schizophrenia or Bipolar Disorder? How much confession is necessary to cure those things?

  • 5. We showed the inventory to at least one other person and discussed it with them.

    This is still just a confession session. Is the other person an ordained Priest who is sworn to secrecy on a Bible? Is the other person a trained and licensed addictions counselor?

  • 6. We accepted our moral and personal weaknesses, and accepted that they needed to change.

    This is again just Frank Buchman's guilt-inducing routine.

  • 7. We became willing to admit those weaknesses to others, where appropriate, and to listen with open mind to any advice that they might offer.

    More confession and guilt induction. And again, those other people are not necessarily qualified to be giving advice. Why would you want to accept advice from just any random mentally-disturbed Tom, Dick, or Harry?

  • 8. We became willing to make amends to those we had harmed.

    This sounds almost okay, although it is still part of the guilt-induction routine.

  • 9. We made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.

    It is good to clean up the wreckage of the past, where possible, IF the other person wants it. Lots of people don't want to be pestered by a guilt-ridden nutcase who insists on apologizing for everything. Especially not when those apologies are usually followed by a relapse and more of the same behavior that he is apologizing for now. Who wants to hear it?

  • 10. We continued to take personal inventory, when we were wrong promptly admitted it and when we had done well, recognized this.

    This is still just another line that says that we will continue to perform the cult practices that were listed in the earlier steps.

  • 11. We adopted a practice of meditation and one of reflection upon our place in the world and how we could contribute to it.

    Meditation is a fine thing, if practiced properly. But "reflection upon our place in the world and how we could contribute to it" is not meditation. The goal of meditation is to quiet down the mind and center and stop thought, not to go on a big ego trip where somone concludes that "God wants me to be a prophet and go save all of the alcoholics!"

  • 12 Having come to our senses as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

    This step assumes that the goofy practices outlined above will restore somebody to his senses. There is no evidence to support such an illogical assumption. Have you ever done a randomized longitudinal controlled study to see what those practices really do to people after several years?

    Again, there are no "principles" in the 12 Steps. They are cult religion practices, not principles.

Cheers,

Hatu-Ahim


Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 5:55 pm     (answered 15 March 2012)
From: "Hetu-Ahin"
Subject: Crazy US AA?

Dear Orange,

You wrote:

"By the way, yes, A.A. is very crazy in the USA. In spite of their jabber about Freedom of Religion, you would start a civil war with your secular talk if you did it in American A.A. meetings. Remove God from the Program? No way in Hell."

That depends on which meetings in the US you go to. Go to any of the substantial number listed here and you would be welcome:
http://www.agnosticaanyc.org/worldwide.html.

A.A. has token agnostics like how racist corporations have token Negroes.

While tradition 3 is not respected by Toronto Intergroup, it is in the US, and the Toronto agnostics have not been delisted from New York.

The story of the atheist and agnostic A.A. meetings getting delisted from the A.A. meeting schedules by the religious bigots is here: http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters241.html#John_McC

According to my non-believing friends on the AAAA sites, the reception of nonbelievers in nonagnostic AA groups varies from group to group. Civil war threatens only in some of them.

Cheers,
Hetu-Ahin

Again, every group that discriminates against atheists or agnostics proves that A.A. is a hypocritical cult religion, not a cure for alcohol abuse. There is a big gap between theory and practice. And claiming that only some groups are nasty to the agnostics and atheists is standard alcoholic minimization and denial.

You really should read chapter four of the Big BookWe Agnostics — again, and see how Bill Wilson teaches that all of those nasty agnostics and atheists need to get converted to his beliefs:

If, when you honestly want to, you find you cannot quit entirely, or if when drinking, you have little control over the amount you take, you are probably alcoholic. If that be the case, you may be suffering from an illness which only a spiritual experience will conquer.
      To one who feels he is an atheist or agnostic such an experience seems impossible, but to continue as he is means disaster, especially if he is an alcoholic of the hopeless variety. To be doomed to an alcoholic death or to live on a spiritual basis are not always easy alternatives to face.
      But it isn't so difficult. About half our original fellowship were of exactly that type. At first some of us tried to avoid the issue, hoping against hope we were not true alcoholics. But after a while we had to face the fact that we must find a spiritual basis of life — or else. Perhaps it is going to be that way with you. But cheer up, something like half of us thought we were atheists or agnostics. Our experience shows that you need not be disconcerted.   ...
      Lack of power, that was our dilemma. We had to find a power by which we could live, and it had to be a Power greater than ourselves. Obviously. But where and how were we to find this Power?
      Well, that's exactly what this book is about. Its main object is to enable you to find a Power greater than yourself which will solve your problem.
The Big Book, William G. Wilson, pages 44-45.

So, you only think that you are an agnostic or an atheist. You will eventually learn that you aren't. You are merely "confused about certain theological terms that you don't understand". So cheer up. After a while, you will get converted to Bill's beliefs, and you will learn that Bill Wilson is right about everything after all.
(Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     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.





[The previous letter from Andrew_S is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#Andrew_S ]

Date: Wed, March 7, 2012 7:48 pm     (answered 15 March 2012)
From: "Andrew S."
Subject: Re: AA's Problems

AO,

You want to have it both ways. If AA is indeed a religious organization that is being illegally foisted upon criminals by the government, then it deserves the same social and moral deference that other religions receive.

Hello Andrew,

A.A. gets such deference, precisely because it is a religion. A.A.W.S. and the General Service Board and The Grapevine are registered non-profits. Do you see A.A. paying taxes? They don't. Do you see any laws restricting what A.A. can preach? There aren't any that I know of. A.A. can even advocate treating a deadly disease with the practices of an old cult religion. Legally, A.A. gets all of the benefits of a religion.

Because A.A. is a religion, it is illegal to sentence people to A.A., and it's illegal to sell A.A. as a cure for alcohol abuse.

I personally assume that it is better to fight anemia with iron pills than with prayer, but the Christian Scientists think otherwise. I am certain they are wrong, but as a citizen of a civilized society that celebrates free religion, I don't have the right to interfere. I can criticize, but mostly I have to assume that the people involved have consulted their conscience and have found a way of life that works for them.

I agree with the first part: If some goofy church wants to substitute prayer for iron pills, there isn't much that we can do about it. Although there is a fine line there: If some parents are killing their children by depriving them of iron, then the parents can be sent to prison.

Here in Portland, we have a goofy church called The Followers of Christ Church that does not believe in doctors or medical care. They only believe in faith healing — lots of prayer. They will not take their children to a doctor when the children are sick. As you can imagine, they kill a kid every so often. The district attorney has gotten fed up and prosecuted some parents, who were convicted of manslaughter, and the father got years in prison and the mother got probation (so that she could care for the surviving children). Now, the state is prosecuting yet another pair of parents because they did it again. Now obviously, those parents have crossed a line between freedom of religion and murder.

You second line, with the phrase "found a way of life that works for them" is without basis. Obviously, that "way of life" isn't working for The Followers of Christ Church.

I am not preaching defeat. I am preaching objective, detached acceptance of other people's spiritual beliefs, no matter how poorly-founded, irrational or nonsensical.

What does that mean? Anybody can believe any silly thing? Anybody can do anything if he believes in it? That has nothing to do with the practical problem of helping sick people to quit drugs and alcohol.

If alcoholics are free people with normal intellects, they can handle the humbug and superstition of AA. 95% of them do, and never return to the rooms after a year. Most people can sniff out bullshit, and AA is a prime example of bullshit.

Why should people have to "handle the humbug and superstition of AA"? Better to just walk away from it, and use something else that actually works, rather than raises the death rate in alcoholics.

AA is on the legal side of fraud, along with multi-level marketing, get rich quick real estate speculation, penny stocks, unnecessary vitamin supplements and bottled water (in the USA tap water is generally as safe and tasty as bottled water). If someone attends, and they find they like it, and believes in their own conscience that they need it, we do not know enough about their personal life to contradict them.

You are right that A.A. is on the ragged edge of legality, and it's a scam.

Your second line is another lame attempt to push acceptance of cult religions as a medical treatment. What you are advocating is having mentally-ill people choosing cult religion because "they find they like it", and "believe they need it". With that argument, you could sell anything from voodoo to cannibalism.

As I have said before, I agree with your empirical evidence. I just don't agree with your hostile tone or the idea that AA is a deliberate fraud executed by criminal masterminds. Really, AA exemplifies the same sort of social cohesion and wishful thinking that you see in religion, business, education and sports.

Not a deliberate fraud? Americans spend $20 billion per year on the "recovery industry", and that money just accidentally falls into the pockets of con artists who sell cult religion as a quack medical treatment? The crooks are just fantastically lucky, and never conspired to get the money? Baloney.

The "doing" mind thinks as the basketball player goes to the line: I am the world's best basketball player and I never miss a free throw. The "training" mind thinks during the practice session: I miss 42% of my free throws thus I need to practice them more.

Is this schizophrenia? Doublethink? Self-delusion? I would argue that lies like this keep us sane and productive. Our capacity to lie to ourselves has been linked to our capacity to be happy. The important thing is to be able to recognize untruths like this as only having a limited practicality and to assess them on flexible, common sense criteria. What is self-esteem but the lie that I am unique and important? Patriotism is the lie that we are special because of what country we are born in. Hope is the lie that things will work out for the best (the biggest lie of all).

This is nonsense. What does thinking about basketball have to do with "our capacity to lie to ourselves"?

Then you argue that lies are a good thing. No, I'm not buying that for a minute.

Now you aren't the only one to come up with that line. Other people have argued that A.A. was "a useful lie." This doctor refuted the arguments: check out: The Useful Lie, William L. Playfair, M.D.

Some people are so lonely, and so without social peers, that AA has a positive effect on them. Can we agree on that statement, AO? Perhaps they're one out of twenty, but they're out there. AA gives them a little flicker of hope that they can help other people stay sober. Yes, that hope is as remote as us seeing our favorite childhood pet in heaven.

Again, you are assuming "a positive effect" without any basis. What Dr. George E. Vaillant found was that A.A. caused an increase in the death rate of alcoholics. So what tests did you do to establish what positive effects come from A.A. meetings? How did you decide that the positive effects outweigh the negative effects? How did you measure those things?

We have a guy named "Still Dave" (as in "I'm still Dave") who is a veteran with alcoholic dementia. In an ideal world he would have somewhere else to go. He doesn't speak. Doesn't interact in the meeting. Probably, he should be institutionalized. This might be his only opportunity to interact with people as peers and equals, not as a case for a social worker. He's fallen through the cracks and the three meetings he attends daily provide him with a comforting layer of socialization and routine.

Most of us can take care of ourselves, I'm worried about Still Dave and what he would do without his daily meetings. In a perfect world, he would have adequate health care, social opportunities and meaning in his life. In our foolish, imperfect world he has AA.

Cheers

Andrew

Get real. We can't end A.A.'s racket, or poor Still Dave won't have anyplace to go? Now that is really a pathetic argument. We don't need a world-wide cult religion deceiving sick people by the millions just so that Dave has some place to go and sit.

Oh well, have a good day anyway.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     Alcoholics Anonymous materials and the testimony of the witness established
**     beyond a doubt that religious activities, as defined in constitutional law,
**     were a part of the treatment program.  The distinction between religion and
**     spirituality is meaningless, and serves merely to confuse the issue.
**       — Wisconsin's District Judge John Shabaz,
**        ruling in the case of Grandberg v. Ashland County, a 1984 Federal
**        7th Circuit Court concerning judicially-mandated A.A. attendance.





[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#Richard_B ]

Date: Thu, March 8, 2012 12:30 pm     (answered 15 March 2012)
From: "Richard B."
Subject: Fraudulent, delusional, or both? Re Letters #293

Richard B. here again. It warmed my heart this morning to see you sticking it to that arch-pseud Gregory Bateson. He and A.A.'s defenders were made for each other.

Here's additional confirmation from a high-quality source.

Nicholas Humphrey in the London Review of Books (6 December 1979) on Gregory Bateson, "Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity" (Wildwood, 238 pp., ISBN 0 00 000097 3):

" ... The text of the book is so unfocused, and many of the ideas so cockeyed, that it requires from the reader immense (and sometimes fruitless) effort to see what it all means.

"While apparently writing for a general audience, Bateson employs technical jargon with an abandon I have seldom encountered even in the densest scientific prose. He uses familiar words in strange places ('the elephant is addicted to the size that it is'), and strange words (pleromatic, exoteric) in places where familiar ones would do. He delights in archaisms (saw — for a wise saying, atomy — for atom) and in ugly neologisms (creatural, characterological, stochasticism).

"And he deliberately lays verbal trip-wires for the reader: 'Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions.' Even sleep? The shock, I suppose, of non-recognition.

"But one of the risks a writer takes in making his reader work so hard is that the reader will keep working even [when] the writer has not adequately prepared the ground.

"If Bateson's text says, 'The buzzer circuit (see Figure 3) is so rigged that current will pass around the circuit when the armature makes contact with electrode at A,' an attentive reader is surely entitled to be puzzled when he cannot find an electrode marked A in the figure.

"If the text says, in talking of acoustic beats, 'The phenomenon is explained by mapping onto simple arithmetic, according to the rule that if one note produces a peak in every n time units and the other has a peak in every m time units, then the combination will produce a beat in every m x n units when the peaks coincide,' the reader is entitled to think twice about m x n and to conclude that Bateson has simply got it wrong.

"And once the reader has realized that he should distrust Bateson's circuit diagrams and his arithmetic, he may be alerted to the fact that he should also distrust Bateson's science."

The reviewer's judgment on the book overall: "pretentious and muddled."

Sad to think that this bird was peddling his wares in Academia for year after year and getting them to pay for it.

I don't know about you, but every time I come across the word "epistemology" in any of its forms I get very suspicious.

Best
rb

Hi again, Richard,

Thanks for the input. That confirms my suspicions. And it leads me to one more question: I wonder whether that guy is just intellectually lazy and dishonest, or does he suffer from some strange kind of brain damage? His thinking is so goofy, and the misuse of words is so extreme and so odd, that I wonder if he isn't exhibiting the signs of a strange neurological disorder. (And he obviously has a history of alcohol abuse, and that kills lots of brain cells.)

  • "Elephants are addicted to their size?"
  • "Science, like art, religion, commerce, warfare, and even sleep, is based on presuppositions."
  • "...when sober, the alcoholic is somehow more sane than the people around him, and ... this situation is intolerable."

I get this creepy feeling that "Something does not compute".

Oh well, have a good day.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     Here's an object more of dread
**     Than aught the grave contains —
**     A human form with reason fled,
**     While wretched life remains.
**       ==  Abraham Lincoln, letter to Andrew Johnson, Sept. 6, 1846.





Flash forward to present time: Sunday, March 04, 2012: Fernhill Wetlands

Mallard Ducks
A pair of Mallard Ducks

Carp feeding
Carp eating bread

Greylag Goose
Gus the Greylag Goose and his mate
Gus has gotten himself a Canada Goose wife. This should be interesting. We will get some offspring that are a little too heavy to fly very far.

Gus has been here all winter. He wanted to fly away with the other geese when they flew south for the winter, but no way was that going to happen. He just can't fly — not much further than about three feet — he's just too heavy.

Gus acts like he read Jack London's Call of the Wild. Gus is so determined to become one of the wild geese. He just wants to go wild. He has no desire to be a domesticated goose, and he wants nothing to do with people. Alas, his attempts to be a wild goose border on the comical when he is so fat and heavy that no matter how hard he flaps, he cannot lift up off of the water and fly, and all he can do is sit in the pond and honk forelornly when his buddies fly away.

The funny-looking goose that is swimming away from Gus and his mate is the other odd one. It looks like a halfbreed — half Greylag, and half Canada Goose. It could be Gus's child from last year. I first saw it last year when it was much smaller, and I thought that it might be an immature female Greylag. Apparently, I was half right.

2012.04.19: An additional note:
It turns out that this female was Gus's mate last year too. I was just comparing pictures of Gus from last year and this, and realized that the same female Canada Goose is with him both years. (Especially look at the shape of the white patch on the side of her head.) So she flew south for the winter, and then returned to him in the spring. Canada Geese mate for life, so that isn't a total surprise, but it is still a bit of a surprise.

Also, that funny-looking halfbreed is almost certainly their child.

Greylag Goose
Gus and his wife on 2011.07.20, eating bread

[The story of Carmen continues here.]





[The previous letter from John_H is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.info/orange-letters294.html#John_H ]

Date: Fri, March 9, 2012 5:54 pm     (answered 15 March 2012)
From: "John H."
Subject: RE: Hello (long overdue reply, emphasis on long)

Hello Terrance,

I'm sorry it's taken me so long to get to this. My name is John H. and I live in Shelbyville, Tennessee. I am not an alcoholic but I love the program of AA. I am an active Al-Anon member and at one point recorded AA speakers at a local speaker meeting for nearly five years until I burned out.

Hello again John,

Thanks for the letter.

I encountered Jack Kennedy at a meeting in Tullahoma Tennessee where he ranted about Bill Wilson and his character defects. Most in the audience, including me, (at the time) knew nothing of Bill's infidelities even though his ego was legend. After he finished his two hour harangue I went up and shook his hand and asked if I had detected a resentment or two. He immediately denied any resentment against Bill. He had gotten sober in AA. He claimed to be a professional investigative journalist throughout his talk. I only heard later that he lived in Franklin, Tennessee. He had talked the guy with him into buying new recording equipment so that they could sell the CD's. I think he sold about four CDs that night. I know the guy who was with him but only run into him at recovery events. I'll have to ask for more Jack K details if I'm fortunate enough to see him again. My wife's sponsor bought one of the CDs and I think it ended up here but that would require a search.

My wife has been in and out of AA for years but in 2004, after nineteen years of attending meetings on and off she finally did something others in AA do. She got a sponsor and worked the steps. Today she's going on 8 years of good sobriety and is very active. Similarly I'm very active in local and online Al-Anon.

It is good that she is not committing suicide by bottle. Very good.

There is, of course, no reason to believe that her getting a sponsor and "working the Steps" caused her to quit drinking. To think so would be assuming a cause-and-effect relationship where none exists. The usual cause of such sobriety is that she finally decided to really get sober, because she wanted to, so she did. She did it by just not drinking any more alcohol. She got a grip on herself and changed her behavior. My congratulations to her. I know that changing old long-established bad habits, like addictions, is really difficult.

And then she also wasted a lot of her spare time doing the practices of an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties because somebody deceived her and fooled her into believing that the cult religion routine was good for something.

My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. I found myself spending time in hospitals while she underwent surgery and chemo. Many hospitals now have WiFi for those of us who wait while someone else gets treatment. One day while looking at Youtube videos I came across Penn and Teller's "That's Bullshit". I now have a much greater appreciation for BS. One of the videos begins with Penn (I think he's the one who talks" taking AA on. He starts by saying something like, "Hello my name is Penn and I haven't had a drink in 46 years. In fact I'm 46 years old and I've never had any alcohol". After that he launched in to a tirade about AA. That's when the BS began. When he said he had never had alcohol my immediate thought was, "Why do you have an opinion?" I figured he was just mouthing someone else's agenda.

That is the logical fallacy called Spurious Delegitimization of Evidence or Criticism. You don't have to be a member of a group to have an informed opinion of the group. Remember that you are not a member of Alcoholics Anonymous, either.

I was never a member of the K.K.K. or the Communist Party or the Nazi Party, but I have strong opinions on them, too. And I know some things. I'm not just forming opinions out of ignorance. Also, I'm not a Catholic, but I have strong opinions on many Church doctrines and practices, and the historical track record of the Church, ranging from child abuse to burning girls as witches.

The Penn & Teller criticism of Alcoholics Anonymous is quite accurate. Proclaiming that doing the guilt-inducing practices of an old cult religion from the nineteen-thirties will make people quit drinking alcohol is bullshit.

Back to Jack's presentation. I was a bit taken aback by his revelations however I started doing my own investigation, mostly on the internet of course. It turns out that Bill's infidelities were widely known in the General Service Office. Part of my information also comes from your web site in that I learned that one of the reason's Tom P broke from AA and founded AAA was his disenchantment with the remaining founder. Bill's lack of sainthood is also discussed on the AA History Lover's (Yahoo) email list so Jack's revelations were really nothing new for many people who had gotten sober in AA and remained that way in the program (Steps).

Yes, being a sexual predator is just one of Bill Wilson's many crimes.

What it finally came down to for me was a couple of theories, probably not worth mentioned but I will. I think that if Dr. Bob had lived another ten years the movement probably would have split up. I also think that the extremely flawed Bill Wilson was a visionary. AA stories are full of mentions of people who carried a good message but couldn't stay sober. They talked the talk as did Bill. Jack K said Bill begged for a drink on his deathbed. I think that's false but it's not important to me. If he did, so what? I think the flaws of Bill Wilson will prevent him ever becoming the "Jesus" of AA. Many naive members of AA worship Bill but I've not been able to find anything in his writings or audio files where he suggested he be worshiped.

Your idea that Bill and Bob would have split the organization is interesting. There is no evidence that I've seen, but that's an interesting idea. Clarence Snyder certainly would have split A.A. if he could have.

About Bill Wilson's demands for a couple of shots of whiskey on his deathbed, that comes from the log book of the male nurse who tended to Bill Wilson at the end. That log book is in the A.A. historical archives. The story is documented in Susan Cheever's biography of Bill Wilson My Name Is Bill; Bill Wilson — His Life And The Creation Of Alcoholics Anonymous. Ms. Cheever was allowed access to the secret locked and sealed A.A. historical archives because she could be trusted to not reveal anything really bad.

We discussed that more

  1. here, and
  2. here, and
  3. here, and
  4. here.

Now the real question for me is, "Did Bill Wilson drink at other times?" Some people have written to me and said that Bill Wilson never got much more than a year of sobriety. The other A.A. members covered up his relapses in order to save the legend and perpetuate the fairy tale story of Alcoholics Anonymous. Maybe that is one of the secrets that the A.A. headquarters is keeping hidden in the locked and sealed historical archives.

Before he died, Bill Wilson made a long, rambling set of audio tapes where he told his story. (Those tapes are part of what is hidden in the locked and sealed archives.) Bill's admirers used those tapes for two favorable biographies of Bill Wilson, Robert Thomsen's Bill W., and the Hazelden foundation produced an "autobiography" called Bill W., My First 40 Years. They finished with this cryptic line:

There will be future historical revelations about Bill's character and behavior in recovery that will be interpreted, by some, as direct attacks on the very foundation of AA.
Bill W., My First 40 Years, William G. Wilson, Hazelden, page 170.

Remember, that "autobiography" was written by Hazelden staff members, using a set of autobiographical tape recordings that Bill Wilson made before his death. So just what are they hiding in the sealed A.A. archives? What else is on those tapes? I am eager to hear those "future historical revelations".

And that isn't even counting Bill's tripping on LSD for a couple of years. Now personally, I don't regard taking LSD to be the same thing as drinking alcohol. They are different drugs, with different effects. But a lot of people regard taking LSD as losing your sober time.

For any movement to become a cult there must be an object of worship, a master list of members, dues and some sort of loyalty requirement. I've been observing and studying AA as a non-alcoholic (former heavy drinker) for twelve years and I see none of the above. Looking up the word "cult" at Dictionary dot com produces about four meanings none of which seem universal to AA.

Sorry, nope. That is not a list of requirements for a cult, even though A.A. has most of those things. The only one that is obviously missing is the "master list of members". But such a list is just not needed.

  1. Object of worship? How about: A.A. theology (as copied from the Oxford Group), the Big Book, the A.A. mythology that A.A. is some kind of gift from God, the 12 Steps, the Founders, A.A. history, and basically A.A. itself. Oh, and theoretically, A.A. members are supposed to worship "God", too, even if "G.O.D." is really just a doorknob or a Group Of Drunks.

  2. Dues? Yes, but they are mostly voluntary. Although I was at one A.A. meeting where the group secretary angrily passed the basket around the room three times, demanding more money, because the yield wasn't to her liking.

  3. Loyalty? Oh yeh. "If you leave A.A., you die." And I've gotten several letters where people complained that, after they quit A.A., A.A. members stalked them and tried to get them back.

Now, for a real list of cult characteristics, see The Cult Test.

By the way, I hung out with another cult for a while. They were named "Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism". They had no dues, and no official membership list, and you just went to meetings and chanted "Nam-Myoho-Renge_Kyo" seven days a week. You chanted for world peace, and you chanted for money, and for a new car, and for a new job, and for a new apartment, and for whatever else you wanted. Just chant. All of the time. Get out your wish list and chant. That is the answer to everything. They were of course stoned crazy. But they still had no dues and no official membership list. And you didn't have to sign a loyalty oath, either.

Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism actually resembled A.A. in a lot of ways: They claimed to have a panacea, crazy as it was: just chant. They went to meetings all of the time, even seven days a week (just like 90 meetings in 90 days). They had some crazy beliefs that came from an old cult religion. They had no rational or logical explanation for how chanting would achieve all of those things and give me everything I wanted; they just insisted that "It works. Try it." They claimed that they were very open-minded and ecumenical, and you could belong any other church or religion while you chanted. At the same time, I was taught that the Pope was one of the ugliest and most evil men on Earth. And they went recruiting every day, asking people, "Would you like to go to a Buddhist meeting?", not explaining that Nichiren Shoshu was not really Buddhism, it was a chanting cult.

About the definition of a cult:

Cult (Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Second Edition, 1993.)
n.

  • 1. a particular system of religious worship, esp. with reference to its rites and ceremonies.
  • 2. an instance of great veneration of a person, ideal, or thing, esp. as manifested by a body of admirers: the physical fitness cult.
  • 3. the object of such devotion.
  • 4. a group or sect bound together by veneration of the same thing, person, ideal, etc.
  • 5. Sociol. a group having a sacred ideology and a set of rites centering around their sacred symbols.
  • 6. a religion or sect considered considered to be false, unorthodox, or extremist, with members often living outside of conventional society under the direction of a charismatic leader.
  • 7. the members of such a religion or sect.
  • 8. any system for treating human sickness that originated by a person usually claiming to have sole insight into the nature of disease, and that employs methods regarded as unorthodox or unscientific.

A.A. matches all of those items, especially number 8.

Likewise,

Cult (Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, 1993.)
n

  • 1: religious practice: WORSHIP
  • 2: a system of beliefs and ritual connected with the worship of a deity, a spirit, or a group of deities or spirits
    <the ~ of Apollo>
    <the earth ~>
  • 3:
    • a: the rites, ceremonies, and practices of a religion : the formal aspect of religious experience
      <dissent occurs in all three fields of expression of religious experience, in doctrine, in ~, and organization — Joachim Wach>
    • b: Roman Catholicism: reverence and ceremonial veneration paid to God or to the Virgin Mary or to saints or to objects that symbolize or otherwise represent them (as the crucifix or a statue) — called also cultus; compare DULIA, HYPERDULIA, LATRIA
  • 4: a religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious
    <an exuberant growth of fantastic ~s>;
    also: a minority religious group holding beliefs regarded as unorthodox or spurious : SECT
    <provided a haven for persecuted ~s>
  • 5: a system for the cure of disease based on the dogma, tenets, or principles set forth by its promulgator to the exclusion of scientific experience or demonstration
  • 6:
    • a: a great or excessive devotion or dedication to some person, idea, or thing
      <the ~ of success>; esp: such devotion regarded as a literary or intellectual fad or fetish
      <the ~ of art-for-art's sake>
    • b: the object of such devotion
      <square dancing has developed into something of a ~ --R.L.Taylor>
    • c:
      • (1): a body of persons characterized by such devotion
        <America's growing ~ of home fixer uppers — Wall Street Jour.>
      • (2): a usu. small or narrow circle of persons united by devotion or allegiance to some artistic or intellectual program, tendency, or figure (as one of limited popular appeal)
        <the exclusive ~ of those that profess to admire his esoteric verse>

Again, A.A. matches several of those descriptions, and especially matches definition 5.

AA says it doesn't hold the patent on sobering up drunks and that drunks have gotten sober in all sorts of ways. AA just happened on a solution that worked for many who wanted to become sober and stay that way. One thing seems evident to me is that the only person who can bring about any type of recovery in an addicted person is that addicted person himself. Through a series of events in the 1930s this was revealed to several people and it took off from there. Tens of thousands of people have achieved some form of sobriety in AA and the Twelve Steps have propagated to other venues.

Actually, no. A.A. did not "just happen on a solution that worked for many". A.A. has never worked. Bill Wilson lied. Look here.

I strongly agree that "the only person who can bring about any type of recovery in an addicted person is that addicted person himself." And that is why A.A. is not only useless, but harmful. Instead of teaching people how to get a grip and fix their own lives, A.A. teaches that alcoholics are "powerless over alcohol", and cannot recover without a "group" saving them, and that they must "surrender" and expect "Higher Power" to remove their shortcomings and defects of character.

The only thing that was revealed to several people in the nineteen-thirties was the fact that Dr. Frank Buchman could live in luxury by selling a pro-Nazi cult religion to the suckers. Bill Wilson liked the look of that so much that he got in on it too, and he never had to work a straight job again, either. He got a house in the country, and a Cadillac car, and a ton of money, just for writing books that sold Frank Buchman's cult religion to drunkards.

Now you are claiming that "tens of thousands" of people have achieved sobriety in A.A.? But A.A. claims that it has two million members. By those numbers, only about one in a hundred A.A. members is really sober.

Furthermore, you are ignoring spontaneous remission. Alcohol addiction has about a five percent per year spontaneous remission rate, so out of two million alcoholics, you should get 100,000 people just sobering themselves up each year, without any 12-Step nonsense. A.A. doesn't get to claim the credit for them. Those are the people who would have sobered themselves up anyway. And they often get sober in spite of A.A. teachings, not because of them.

I haven't had much time to go back to your web site. I work long days, even at 67. I am in the radio communications business and service police departments and do work for broadcasters. Some of the work I do can be seen on Youtube.
http://www.youtube.com/jhettish
I have no plans to retire from the business I've had for over 28 years. My wife of 21 years is younger than me and needs health insurance so I work to keep bringing it in. I also love my business.

Ah, radio. That's nice. I spent my career in various aspects of electronics too.

I'm not sure why I wrote so much. I guess I just felt like it. Who would have thought that one of the most important classes I ever would take would be typing. I may be an Al-Anon member but tomorrow morning I'll be at the same place I've been for the last eight months. I'll be at a men's AA meeting in Tullahoma, Tennessee. Tomorrow afternoon I'll be working with a flight instructor taking a biannual flight review. I will also try my best to live my life tomorrow by the principles embodied in a set of twelve suggestions that somehow sprang from the mind of an out-of-work stock speculator in 1938.

John

Actually, John, those "twelve suggestions" sprang from the mind of a renegade Lutheran minister from Pennsylvania who raved about how much he liked Adolf Hitler.

(Oh, and Bill Wilson was not a stock speculator. He didn't have the money required to speculate in stocks. Bill Wilson was a Wall Street hustler who sometimes recommended stocks to speculators, and sometimes participated in stock swindles.)

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             [email protected]        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*
**     "...AA certainly functions as a cult and systematically
**     indoctrinates its members in ways common to cults the
**     world over.  ...in the absence of proven scientific
**     efficacy, critics are legitimate in suggesting that
**     mandated AA attendance may be criticized as a failure
**     of proper separation between church and state."
**     == A.A. Trustee Prof. Dr. George E. Vaillant,
**     The Natural History Of Alcoholism Revisited, page 266.





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