Letters, We Get Mail, CCLXXIX
by A. Orange

[The previous letter from Luke_D is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Luke_D ]

From: "Luke D."
Subject: Re: incredibly thorough failure
Date: Sat, December 17, 2011 7:48 pm

Let me make a little mission statement of my own then, regarding our young correspondence. I aspire to have a conversation with you in which no tricks are made and new understanding is possible for either/both of us. Are you interested in participating in this with me?


Hello again Luke,

Yes, a discussion based on facts, rather than misinformation or propaganda tricks is often informative.

Let's start with the single most important fact of all:

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.)

Obviously, if A.A. does not actually sober up the alcoholics, then it is useless.

Have a good day now.

== Orange

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

[The next letter from Luke_D is here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Scott_J ]

Date: Sun, December 18, 2011 11:10 am     (answered 26 December 2011)
From: "Scott J."
Subject: Your web page

I have never read a total bunch of b/S and misinformation. You should be ashamed of yourself . I could say so much about your site. But your misleading page is not worth any more of my time. I hope you seek the help your needing.

Hello Scott,

No, I am not ashamed of telling the truth about A.A. and addiction and recovery. That is a good thing to do.

I notice that your letter was devoid of any actual facts. Would you care to pick out some specific issues where you think I am wrong, and provide your version of the truth? May I suggest:

  1. The real A.A. cure rate.

  2. The actual cult religion roots of the 12 Steps.

  3. The insanity of Bill Wilson and Dr. Bob.

Of course, you should provide supporting documentation and verification of facts, and that means something more than the "Council-Approved Literature" where A.A. prints things that say that A.A. is wonderful.

Have a good day now, and a Happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.
**        ==  Senator Patrick Moynahan

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#MK ]

Date: Sun, December 18, 2011 8:00 pm     (answered 26 December 2011)
From: "M. K."
Subject: AA doesn't work.

Hey...I agree....AA doesn't have the best odds in generating sobriety amongst the populous. After triangulating the results of surveys between three 'friends' and myself...the rate of continued sobriety was between 12 and 13 percent(12.334251). That is...3 years or more. The suicide rate was almost a dead even 5 percent. I don't know what meetings you have observed, but the meetings we took note of pushed attendeding college, taking prescribed medications, and sure as hell never mentioned Jesus. If just 'quitting forever' was possible...AA wouldn'd exist. After asking 200 AA members if they could just quit forever, would they have ever attended AA...100 percent said no. Why doesn't God tend to starving children? Are you fucking joking? Is this really a shadowy attack on all religion using AA as a figure head? Yeah...AA is shitty. Every true AA member I've ever met will tell you that. And I've toured AA meeting in Kiev, China, Japan, and Mexico(my Mexican spanish is awful...but still I was there). You're killing more people by shying them from the one thing that might help them. Oh...you might get raped. Well...screw Catholics. Your full of shit. People who are truely addicted can't quit without help. What is the solution? And don't say will power. Science disproves that. 'Cunning, baffling, powerful,'....yes...to the true addict, that's exactly how it manifests in your subconscious. Loser..loser...loser...are Etheopians losers because of where they were born? Must be, according to you.

Fuck you,

Hello M.K.,

Thank you for the letter.

  1. Starting at the top, I don't know what mathematical operation you call "triangulating". Triangulating usually means using trigonometry to locate something on a map.

    Apparently, you are trying to say that you and three friends did some informal surveys and you averaged them. That is meaningless number-fumbling without a lot more information, and proper standards.

    Four people questioning the other people around them is not a large enough sample to provide any kind of evidence that A.A. works. That is the common logical fallacy called The Statistics of Small Numbers.

    You are also doing Observational Selection. You and your three friends only questioned the people who "kept coming back", didn't they? You didn't survey all of the people who relapsed and disappeared, did you? If so, how could you do that? How could you track down and find and question all of the people who only came to a few meetings, and were appalled by what they saw, and left?

  2. This line also reveals bad statistics:
    "After asking 200 AA members if they could just quit forever, would they have ever attended AA...100 percent said no."
    You only asked cult members whether they agreed with the cult doctrines. Just because they are convinced that they cannot do it alone does not prove that they cannot do it alone; it proves that the cult indoctrination works very well indeed. It is called "Phobia Induction" — convince them that they will die without the cult.

  3. Then the suicide rate that you declared is a disaster. Five percent dead from suicide? Five percent of what? And over how many years? Are you really telling us that one out of every 20 A.A. members commits suicide, and you think that is okay?

  4. It is nice that you tell people to go back to college, but lots of other meetings don't. Check out the Northern Illinois area's attitude on that, here.

  5. Then this line is classic:
    "If just 'quitting forever' was possible...AA wouldn'd exist."
    Baloney. That is like saying, "If achieving sanity alone was possible, then Scientology wouldn't exist." Both A.A. and Scientology will continue to exist because some people really like cult religions.

    The facts are that the vast majority of those people who recover from alcohol abuse and alcohol addiction do it without Alcoholics Anonymous or any other cult religion or "support group" or "treatment". The NIAAA's 2001-2002 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed over 43,000 people. Using the criteria for alcohol dependence found in the DSM-IV, they found:

          "About 75 percent of persons who recover from alcohol dependence do so without seeking any kind of help, including specialty alcohol (rehab) programs and AA. Only 13 percent of people with alcohol dependence ever receive specialty alcohol treatment."

    And the Harvard Medical School reported that 80% do it alone. A.A. is quite unnecessary.

  6. Then you complained that I am attacking all religions. No, I am not. I am merely pointing out that some people's "beliefs" are little more than childish superstitions. Like those A.A. members who think that God will save them from drinking alcohol while he allows children to starve to death by the millions. What makes you rate such favored treatment? (Ego, ego, ego...)

    What you really need to do is re-examine your beliefs and understand that God does not provide miracles on demand, not even to starving children or Jews dying in Auschwitz. And certainly not to alcoholics who are too superstitious and lazy to quit drinking on their own, and who demand that a "Higher Power" do the quitting for them.

  7. And again, here is the standard Stepper's complaint that I am killing alcoholics by telling them the truth about A.A.:
    "You're killing more people by shying them from the one thing that might help them."

    Baloney. A.A. is not "the one thing that might help them." That is the standard cult characteristic of "Insistence that the cult is THE ONLY WAY" (See the Cult Test question here, and answer here.)

    Again, A.A. does not work. So steering people away from something that does not work is not hurting them. I have a long list of such accusations where Steppers declare that I'm doing a terrible disservice to alcoholics by telling them the truth, and you made the list. Look here.

  8. RE:
    Oh...you might get raped. Well...screw Catholics. Your full of shit.
    It isn't the Catholics who are screwing the underage girls. It is things like Clancy Imusland's Pacific Group and Mike Quinones' Midtown Group, both of which are militant subsects of Alcoholics Anonymous. And then there are plenty of other groups doing it too, in Miami and Minneapolis, and Washington State, and Arizona... and more.

  9. Then you returned to your previous misinformation:
    People who are truely addicted can't quit without help. What is the solution? And don't say will power. Science disproves that. 'Cunning, baffling, powerful,'....yes...to the true addict, that's exactly how it manifests in your subconscious.

    Wrong, wrong, and wrong. What "science" has proven is that the vast majority of the alcoholics who get sober do it alone, without A.A. or any other "help" or "treatment". And A.A. does not work, and does not improve the sobriety rate of alcoholics. That is what science has proven.

    And there are plenty of other much better self-help groups for getting sober. Here is the list:

  10. This is brain-damaged logic:
    Loser..loser...loser...are Etheopians losers because of where they were born? Must be, according to you.

    I never said that the Ethiopian people were losers. Where do you get that?

    Apparently, you are trying to claim that being born with a gene that increases the chances of having problems with alcohol is the same thing as being born black in Ethiopia. Those two things have nothing to do with each other, and they aren't even similar problems.

  11. Lastly,
    Fuck you,

    You really should do something about that resentment.

Have a good day now, and a Happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     If you want to make someone angry, tell him a lie.
**     If you want to make him furious, tell him the truth.
**       ==  author unknown

May 24, 2009, Sunday:

Canada Geese family with 2 goslings
The Family of 2 new goslings, begging for more munchies
This is the family with two new goslings that I was seeing five days earlier, here. These little babies grow so fast that you can see a big change in just five days.

Canada Geese gosling
A gosling of the Canada Geese family with 2 new goslings, begging

Mallard Duck
Mallard Duck

[More gosling photos below, here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Vijay_R ]

Date: Sun, December 25, 2011 12:57 am     (answered 27 December 2011)
From: "vijay R."
Subject: Changed my life

You have opened my eyes. Thank you.

Sent from my iPad

Thanks for the note, and you have happy holidays too.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "Now I know what it's like to be high on life.
**     It isn't as good, but my driving has improved."
**     == Nina, on "Just Shoot Me", 13 Jan 2006.

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Andrew W. ]

Date: Mon, December 26, 2011 2:48 pm     (answered 26 December 2011)
From: "Facebook"
Subject: New message from Andrew W.

Hi Orange — was just browsing the site, more specifically the 'what's not good about AA page'
and noticed that under point 15, AA is dishonest, seemingly all the links to the perjury cases are dead links; more worryingly some of them, including all those to Mitchell K links, now go straight to about.com's 'alcoholism' page, seemingly written by an AA true believer as the 12 step groups are proposed as more or less the only solution, with other groups being relegated to an afterthought page. Just thought I'd let you know.


Hello Andrew,

Thanks for the tip. It appears that an A.A. true believer took over the alcoholism section of About.com, and deleted all of Mitchell K.'s stories about the A.A. headquarters suing A.A. members over the fraudulent copyright on the Big Book. Wow. Those Steppers sure don't believe in Freedom Of Speech, now do they? Censorship all over the place. "Only Council-Approved Propaganda allowed."

That's okay; I have all of Mitchell K.'s stories archived, and will change the links to local copies. (And it's fixed now.)

I also see that "aapubliccontroversy.com" has gone away. So be it. I have that archived too. But I see that a few other web sites still have Mitchell K.'s stories mirrored, like:

  1. http://gsowatch.aamo.info/bl/blmitch22.htm
  2. http://www.silkworth.net/gsowatch/bl/blmitch22.htm

UPDATE: Also see these local archived copies:

  1. Mitchell K. 12: The Saddest Day In A.A. History
  2. Mitchell K. 13: German Court Date Delayed
  3. Mitchell K. 15: Open Letter to A.A. Members
  4. Mitchell K. 20: The A.A. German Court Case
  5. Mitchell K. 21: German Court Orders A.A. Books Destroyed
  6. Mitchell K. 22: Threats By Alcoholics Anonymous World Services Attempt Cutting Off a Members Right To Communicate with the Fellowship
  7. Mitchell K.'s appeal to the membership, 1998

Have a good day now.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     To treat your facts with imagination is one thing,
**     but to imagine your facts is another.
**         == John Burroughs

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#ghostuc ]

Date: Fri, December 23, 2011 5:03 pm     (answered 29 December 2011)
From: "ghostuc"
Subject: AA and bad advice over the net.... oh and stinking Jews.

So you are Mr. Orange that has this website totally condemning AA, twelve step support groups and spirituality?

For quite a while now I've been hearing from a sponsee about your wisdom and expertise on addictions and recovery. Pardon me but I never took the time to check your intellectual wisdoms out on-line nor your scientific and academic beliefs of being perfect, all knowing, having all the absolutes, all the answers, while being totally obsessed seemingly with trashing AA...12 groups, all the people, and throwing the baby out with the bath water, till now. Your advice should come with warnings about just staying home alone or 'locked in a closet' and 'simply withdrawl' from whatever then all will be well. Well, he, Bruce, died because of taking your on-line advice, somewhere amongst all your diatribe and hubris. Words have power and bad advice can kill. Sick people confuse easily and tend to not listen to experience and reason. I told him I'd take him to the local hospital to kick but he insisted on reading your website apparently for quite a while then turning his back on his physical support group and family then decides to do things his own way, on his own, and from advice and methods over the internet. It is never good for a chronic addict to simply kick or withdrawl by 'themselves on a couch.' I take it you also support on-line groups in secular situations over the 'old ways.' Not to worry, now both YOU and AA and other 12 step groups, hospitals, many in the health fields, churches too, are equally guilty of "killing people." Yes, I've been doing some reading at your site. If AA kills by coercion, falsie information, cult-like stuff, mis-information and etc., then I guess people like you do too. Must be hell playing God and not believing in a "Higher Power." And apparently not out in the trenches trying to help people, just merely playing god and ridicule others. Well, but Jews.

I don't accept those AA tokens and don't abide by every word or precept of AA. In fact I research everything and trust no-one... especially so-called professionals and over-educated idiots. I've got 22 years clean. I don't worship Bill W. Today we are lied to and mis-led and mis-informed on just about every thing, everything, out there. AA is not perfect, people are not perfect, science is not perfect, supposedly there are "no absolutes' especially in recovery or psychiatry but many profess nothing but that and having pure facts and absolute knowledge.

You've done a good job at research though. You should do the same in exposing those Jews and Zionist you seem to be so concerned over. They are a bigger threat to this nation and our freedoms, life, than booze and dope. Booze and dope are just a few things in this Zionist-Israeli controlled land now that cannot be traced back to some Zionist or Jewish activity, or movement, or some groups wishing to further oppress us all under their Jewish police state. Yes, you should expose them and reason why people/academics/scholars that don't agree with Jews or Zionist, that dare to write historical facts that contradict the Jewish version over things like WW2 are imprisoned down to all their research material burned, confiscated and banned. Yes, you should be doing research on something like that, unless you are one of those kinds of fascist liberal Zionist supporters that seem to condemn anything that even comes close to anything concerning the poor Jews, and their money making, trademarked, holocaust that is still beat to death today in hearts and minds of the ignorant that believe modern media, all those Jewish lies... like six million killed... human soap... and Jews not wanting to rule the world ... when that is what their "World Zionism" and Israel is all about. So pardon me I also disagree with your apologetics and defense over the poor poor Jews that control every aspect of American lives today and turning us into a damn Zionist led police state where our politicians and media won't dare make a negative comment about the Jew or stinking Israel.

What is the only country in the world that has attacked an American battle ship killing american soldiers and nothing was done? How many of our so-called allies spy on us and steal billions of dollars of American tax dollars every year and has for generations? Who rule the Federal Reserve? Who totally controls all American media? Hollywood? Congress? Wants us to lose our freedom of speech and freedom of religion? Why is a Menorah allowed in the White House and on the National Lawn but a christian cross is not? OH, that is a sign of control by Israeli Mossad and Israel

Well, I know you won't dare do such a thing, can't piss off the masters. But please add disclaimers to some of your intelectual and absolute scientific cure-all information.

Oh, and have a great day. Even though it will just be a half-honest one..

Hello "Ghostuc",

Thanks for the letter. It says so much that there isn't really much to answer.

So you hate me and "the stinking Jews", huh? You and Mel Gibson should get along just fine. You can go to A.A. meetings together and tell each other that you have all of the answers.

I won't even waste any time on your crazy Hallocaust denyer rap. The history of World War II has been very well documented by many excellent authors. The facts are available to those who wish to learn the truth.

You are very mistaken about my attitudes about Israel. I have repeatedly criticized the Nazi treatment of the Jews, but I have also repeatedly criticized the Israeli treatment of the Palestinian people — and for basically the same reasons.

  • Nobody has the right to wipe out a whole people just because they are the wrong race or religion.
  • Nobody has the right to steal somebody else's land and claim that God gave it to you.
  • Nobody has the right to herd a whole people into concentration camps and ghettos and starve them to death.
  • The fact that somebody was mean to your people 70 years ago does not give you the right to do it all to somebody else now.

Look here and here.
In fact, I got censored off of DigitalJournal.com for comparing the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Warsaw Ghetto, where machine-gun-toting soldiers went around killing people with impunity. They wouldn't allow me to say that.

Your story about "Bruce" is unbelievable. You are actually trying to claim that he died clicking his mouse, reading my web site, and detoxing on his couch, rather than going to a hospital? Unreal. Tell me more. Please send me a scan or xerox of his obituary — the whole newspaper page, please. What city? When? What was he addicted to?

UPDATE, 2012.08.30: Well, here it is 8 months later, and I still haven't seen the obituary. I suspect that "Bruce" does not exist.

I have in fact repeatedly warned people about the dangers of detoxing at home, alone, and told them to go see a real doctor (not an A.A. sponsor). Look here and here. I guess that you only read a few paragraphs of the file The Effectiveness of 12-Step Treatment, and didn't read any further. You also misunderstood what I was saying. I was not recommending detoxing alone. I simply said that it is how most people do it. And it is. And that's how I did it, too.

This line is simply too good to pass up:

I take it you also support on-line groups in secular situations over the 'old ways.'

Yes, I reject "the old ways" like blood-letting, the snake pit, burning girls at the stake as witches, throwing virgins into the volcano, and the use of voodoo rattles and chants and incantations and prayers and magic spells as cures for diseases.

Then, congratulations, you made the list of accusers:

Not to worry, now both YOU and AA and other 12 step groups, hospitals, many in the health fields, churches too, are equally guilty of "killing people." Yes, I've been doing some reading at your site. If AA kills by coercion, falsie information, cult-like stuff, mis-information and etc., then I guess people like you do too.

It is simply amazing how quick Steppers are to claim that telling the truth about Alcoholics Anonymous, alcohol addiction, and recovery "kills people".

Oh well, have a good day and a Happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**   "When in the company of deluded people,
**    keep your own counsel."
**        ==  Buddha

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Afraz ]

Date: Tue, December 27, 2011 9:48 am     (answered 29 December 2011)
From: "Afraz A."
Subject: Just a quick question

The masters of propaganda and misinformation, how do you think they learn all the techniques? Are they naturals or are they somehow self taught?

Hello Afraz,

Thanks for the letter and the questions.

I think that most of the propagandists and politicians learn from older politicians and propagandists. There are plenty around to learn from — old politicians, TV evangelists, and various other promoters and rabble-rousers.

Probably the most famous propagandist was Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Information (or Propaganda). And personally, I suspect that Karl Rove studied him. It is too much of a coincidence how many of Goebbels' tricks Rove used.

There may be a few "naturals", but I think that the "naturals" are really sociopaths and pathological liars who enjoy deceiving people because it makes them feel smarter than the ordinary people whom they are fooling, and more powerful. I think that the average person who wants to be a politician or an evangelist has to learn the techniques.

Btw I just completed reading the "propaganda and debating techniques" part of your site. Do you think "spin doctors" use exactly the same techniques to mislead the public.

Oh yes, absolutely yes. A politician, or his assistant "spin doctor", is just somebody who has learned how to use those tricks. The young up-and-coming politicians learn the propaganda tricks and techniques from the old politician masters who are often their mentors. And I learned lots of those tricks from listening to the politicians. I have literally listened to politicians giving speeches on TV, and then quickly wrote down two or three more tricks to add to that file.

And what was amusing was also learning a few tricks from "Toby", the resident spin doctor on the TV program "The West Wing". That show was good for exposing politicians' tricks. Toby always had another spin and another trick up his sleeve. (Look here.)

If you were to recommend one book to get a completely full and thorough understanding of propaganda and debating techniques which book would it be?

Oh, that is a very tough question. I don't recall one book that had all of the answers, or listed all of the tricks and techniques. My list is actually the longest one that I've seen. (Although there is a web site somewhere that also lists a zillion logical fallacies. Google "logical fallacies".)

If you go to the bibliography (here), and search for "propaganda", you will find several books about propaganda techniques.

  1. Some of them, like The Fine Art of Propaganda: a study of Father Coughlin's Speeches, just list a few favorite techniques. Father Coughlin used just seven tricks constantly.

  2. How To Lie With Statistics, by Darrell Huff, just explains statistical tricks and deceptions.

  3. Beyond Hypocrisy: Decoding the News in an Age of Propaganda; including A Doublespeak Dictionary for the 1990s by Edward S. Herman, was especially good for understanding the evening news.

But I don't recall one tells-all book.

Thanks for your help.


You are welcome.

Have a good day now, and a Happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     "Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people
**     can be made to see paradise as hell, and also the other way round,
**     to consider the most wretched sort of life as paradise"
**         ==  Adolf Hitler

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#George_M ]

Date: Wed, December 28, 2011 7:46 am     (answered 30 December 2011)
From: "George M."
Subject: Atlantic Group NYC

From: An Ex-AG'er.

I was very interested to read "Miss_A_Nonymous"s take on AG and Clancy. I spent several years in AG, left at the beginning of 2011, tried to go back in October, but quickly left AG and AA.

In addition to the great stuff that Miss A Nonymous notes in her responses to your questions, I'd also note the steering committee structure of AG. Unlike most AA groups that are run by business meetings that any member can attend, AG has a steering committee that until recently comprised all the former overall group chairs, who were members for LIFE. They've recently revised that so the old timers have to rotate off after about 10 years (but curiously they never actually seem to rotate off). Radically different from most AA groups, and radically different from AA tradition which holds regular rotating leadership to be the ideal. The AG steering committee makes ALL the decisions and is designed deliberately to prevent change (the old timers on the committee are quite honest about that). Direct democracy as practiced in most AA groups is far too dangerous for an authoritarian group like AG — most members would do away with "AG attire" required of anyone who speaks — suits and ties for the men, business casual for the women. The steering committee structure prevents the group from voting on stuff like that — best they can do is vote for a new group chair, once a year. In about ten years you might just get some change. Of course, by then the vast majority have moved on to gentler groups.

I also added some of my own comments to your questions to Miss A Nonymous:

Sexual exploitation? I know that Clancy is famous for using A.A. as his harem, and his grand-sponsee Mike Quinones in Washington DC was even worse. Which leads to, breaking up marriages?
This was not my experience in AG. The women of the group always seemed very protective of each other, particularly of new women & would agressively tackle any man perceived as being exploitative.

Finances? Was there anything funny going on with the money? How do the highest bosses of the Atlantic Group make a living?
AG always has more money than it needs to cover expenses and a prudent reserve. It gets distributed to the usual Intergroup, GSO etc on a pretty regular basis. The steering committee (I got to go to steering committee meetings for a couple of years) is quite obsessive about tracking money. I never saw even a whiff of impropriety. The money gets counted at the end of each meeting, double checked by a second person and a form filled in. Accounts are kept by 2 people and distributed at steering committee. Very little chance of wrongdoing. A couple of folks on the steering committee are obsessed with making everyone pay at least $2 per meeting — never quite understood why since the group has so much anyway.

Deceptive recruiting? What mind games are played on the newcomers to get them in and convince them to stay?
I wouldn't call it any more deceptive than the rest of AA. Presenting the Big Book's 1930's version of alcoholism as accurate and scientific is pretty deceptive — but that's another topic.

The biggest mind game played in AG is the emphasis on obedience to the sponsor. Most of AA talks about sponsor's guidance or suggestions. AG talks about "directions" — if you don't obey your sponsor's direction (i.e. do what s/he tells you to do without question) — it means you're "in self", and if you're "in self" you're going to drink and if you drink you're going to hospital, jail or the graveyard.

Then there's the constant pressure to go to a meeting every day (an AG meeting that is) and to do service, service, service and more service. And then after meetings and service there's fellowship, fellowship and more fellowship. Not doing any of the above means your not following direction and you'll probably up and drink and die.

And everyone in AG knows that the old AA saying "a meeting is a meeting" doesn't apply. There's AG as the gold standard for solution based sobriety, some other good meetings that focus on the big book and the solution, and then all other meetings where lies are told and people condemned to alcoholic deaths. The newcomer is left in no doubt that some other AA meetings are positively dangerous and they'd best stay in the AG fold (or they'll drink and die, no pressure!).

Success rate or drop-out rate?
I'd agree with Miss A Nonymous. The vast majority of people who come through the doors of AG run away and never come back. The hardest thing I found was to try to stay in AA and connected to AG sponsorship without making AG my life. Wasn't possible. AG has an "all or nothing" mentality that forces all but the most enthusiastic out. Most people in AA in NYC think the group is off the rails authoritarian and give it a wide birth.

Telling people not to take their doctor-prescribed medications?
I'd say this is pretty controversial in AG. It flares up periodically that some sponsors are telling their sponsees to stop taking their meds. I'd say most people would say that is wrong and this gets voiced frequently, especially at the beginners meeting. In my "sober family" (that was linked in to Clancy way up the chain), it was definitely not acceptible — my sponsor did pressure me to pressure one of my sponsees not to start some medications — "better to work the steps and apply them to your problems than to cover them up with medications."

Claims of spirituality and a special connection to God?
AG's biggest thing is to be more authentically AA than everyone else — and by implication to have a special connection to God that other groups don't have. There's no mistake in AG that AA is all about finding a connection to God, there's also no mistake that the ONLY way to do that is to work the steps as they're outlined in the first 163 pages of the Big Book. No deviation (except for the whole sponsorship thing — that doesn't get a mention in the first 163 pages). The AG way is for a sponsor to sit down with sponsee and read the big book aloud — marking up the "Warnings, promises and prayers" exactly as their sponsor had marked up theirs. You can look at people's big books and find exactly the same underlining and margin notes as their sponsor and their grand-sponsor.

Hope this is useful,


Hello George,

Thank you very much for the information. It is enlightening and educational.

Have a good day and a Happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
**       ==  Henry David Thoreau, Walden. I, Economy

May 24, 2009, Sunday, Downtown Portland, Waterfront Park:

Canada Goose Goslings
The Goslings of the Family of 2 new ones

Canada Goose Gosling
Gosling of the Family of 2

Canada Goose Gosling
Gosling of the Family of 2

[The story of Carmen continues here.]

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Peter_F ]

From: "Peter F."
Subject: Addiction Beat: Will Nixing the Tough Love Culture Foster a New Wussie Generation? Please ...?
Date: Wed, December 28, 2011 3:35 pm     (answered 30 December 2011)


Happy new Year!

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

Hi again, Peter,

Thanks for the article. You make some good points.

I love this line: "...to take a cue on sensitivity and enlightenment from some of the more progressive members of the outlaw biker community."

Yes, we should at least learn to be as civilized as outlaw bikers, shouldn't we?

Have a happy New Year.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     Force, violence, pressure, or compulsion with a view
**     to conformity, are both uncivilized and undemocratic.
**       ==  Mohandas Gandhi

[ Link here = http://www.orange-papers.org/orange-letters279.html#Andrew_S ]

Date: Mon, December 26, 2011 2:41 pm     (answered 3 January 2012)
From: "Andrew S."
Subject: AA's Problems

Dear Agent Orange,

I love your site. It is my firm belief that self-honesty and reason are the best tools for any psychiatric recovery. Your ideas have confirmed a great deal of my gut instincts about AA. Despite that, I feel a certain amount of respect and tolerance for AA and work a successful program of recovery within it.

Hello Andrew,

Thank you for the compliments.

I don't have a sponsor. I don't work the steps (I prefer to think that I have control over my life). I am an avowed atheist. The greatest joy I receive in the program is the chance to help other alcoholics and to socialize in an alcohol-free atmosphere. AA has been most helpful when I've been at my lowest; I anticipate leaving it when my abstention becomes second nature. I realize that many of these ideas directly contradict AA dogma; I have been lucky and my group has practiced "Live and Let Live" and "Take What You Need and Leave the Rest" with me.

Congratulations on your recovery. I'm glad to hear that you think for yourself.

You do realize, don't you, that you are not doing the A.A. program? So you defending the A.A. program and claiming good results for it is kind of illogical.

The most damning accusation is that AA doesn't help alcoholics recover. I am not going to argue with the studies you have cited. In some ways, though, I think the criticisms are based in an overly reductionist view of what a 'successful program' is. I agree that survival rate and remission rate are very important, but we also need to look at the cost of the program and the overall utility and happiness a person receives. I think most old-timers would self-report a high degree of social happiness and spiritual fulfillment. My personal experience is that old timers receive a great deal of happiness and satisfaction from this program. A good part of that is probably from what you call the "good things about AA" i. e. hope, social life, emotional expression, etc. Also, it appeals to certain personality types: introverted, resentful, in need of certainty and group cohesion. I would be happier about your conclusions if there were more data, particularly longitudinal studies encompassing 30-40 years. I believe that AA is benign when the happiness and utility of the committed members is weighed along with the lack of impact on remission.

I agree that the results of the A.A. program are a very important factor — in fact, the most important factor. If A.A. doesn't make the alcoholics quit drinking and save their lives, then of what use is it?


we also need to look at the cost of the program and the overall utility and happiness a person receives

Excuse me? What "utility and happiness"? The carefully-done properly-performed tests of A.A. established that it raises the rates of binge drinking, and costs of hospitalization, and rate of rearrests, and the death rate. That is not a benefit or utility or happiness.


My personal experience is that old timers receive a great deal of happiness and satisfaction from this program.

Well of course the old-timers enjoy the status of being a big frog in a small pond, and pretending to be so spiritual while getting admired by the young. The same is true of any cult.

It's kind of like picking on volunteer fire departments. If empirical evidence demonstrated that Volunteer Fire Departments tended to take more resources to maintain than they preserved through firefighting, it would still be nearly impossible to disband the ones that already exist.

I don't follow the logic there. I never heard of a study that showed that volunteer fire departments were worthless, and didn't save a lot of valuable property.

And again, you are trying to slip in the assumption that A.A. works, at least somewhat. Volunteer fire departments really do work to put out fires, but A.A. does not make alcoholics quit drinking.

And volunteer fire departments are not cults that tell people that they must surrender their wills and their lives to "higher power", or to their sponsor and the group.

There isn't a consensus in psychiatry about what causes compulsions. There seems to be a genetic component. There seems to be a brain chemistry explanation. The hard part is figuring out a theory or model that is robust enough to explain a great deal of individual cases while still being simple enough for a layman to use in their recovery. There certainly isn't a scholarly consensus on what role environment and willpower play on this complex disease with many different manifestations, or if a causal explanation (e. g. other people triggered your resentments) is therapeutic . There's no simple answer to the question, "How should I view this strange compulsion to harm myself?"

Now that sounds true and realistic. Unfortunately, cult religions are no good at curing compulsions.

And mental illnesses like Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder really should be treated by real doctors and real psychiatrists, not by cults with quack cures.

Also, brief intervention is dependent on regular medical care and a medical emergency acute enough to get a doctor involved. The medical care is often unavailable to working class individuals. I think it can be taken for granted that the expense of providing comprehensive health care for everyone is greater than the cost of AA meetings.

I disagree with your assertion. Brief intervention is brief intervention, period. Getting regular medical care is a very good thing, especially for sick alcoholics who really need it, but that is not part of the definition of brief intervention, and that is not part of Brief Intervention treatment. Brief Intervention means one hour or less with the doctor. Brief Intervention has nothing to do with on-going medical care.

By the way, are you trying to imply that A.A. will still work okay on people who don't have access to good medical care? There is no evidence to support that assumption.

Also, the information in these studies has a certain granularity. A person leaving at eleven months for a single drink should be counted differently than the person who leaves at one month and never sobers up.

That is true, but that is not a flaw in the studies that I have cited. Besides, what alcoholic relapses and quits A.A. and has only one single drink???

I don't call one single drink a relapse. That is a "slip". And if the alcoholic in question has only one single drink, then I guess he is then sober forever after. So he didn't really relapse at all, did he?

I do not believe that AA is a cult. You have a certain lack of generosity when appraising AA. I think that many of the attributes would apply to any secular or religious group; they are habits that successful groups cultivate in order to survive and persuade new members to join. I do agree that it is laziness and a breach of Constitutional rights to coerce defendants to attend. To me AA would be about a 4 or 5 on a 1-10 cult scale; about the same as the Episcopalian Church.

You may not believe that A.A. is a cult, but it still is. The evidence is overwhelming. Please read the Cult Test, both the questions and the answers. A.A. scores far, far, higher than the Episcopalian Church.

We agree that forcing anybody into any church or religious service in blatantly illegal and unConstitutional.

The human soul has a strange attraction to rigamarole and ceremonial trappings. We need origin myths for the important things in our lives. When we are often at our weakest, we need symbols and pageantry and some higher authority that can give us illusory clarity. I do not begrudge other people their crutches; I have too much tolerance for our human comedy to do so. It is almost unfair to use reason and logic to criticize spiritual organizations; they must create a culture that appeals to the head and the heart. You only have to appeal to logic and reason.

If you need myths and ceremonies and pageantry, go join a religion that doesn't promote the practices of an old pro-Nazi cult religion from the nineteen-thirties. Go join some group that won't mess with your head with brainwashing techniques.

This line is especially troubling:

When we are often at our weakest, we need symbols and pageantry and some higher authority that can give us illusory clarity.

Everybody from Adolf Hitler to Rev. Sun Myung Moon and David Koresh and Rev. Jim Jones were "higher authorities" who gave people "illusory clarity". No thanks.

This is totally invalid:

It is almost unfair to use reason and logic to criticize spiritual organizations;

Baloney. That is the propaganda trick called Escape via Irrationality. Just because some con artist who sells superstitions calls his racket "spiritual" does not mean that his fraud cannot be criticized with logic and reason.

Even the most spiritual of organizations or programs should make some sense on some level, in some way. "Spiritual" organizations should not be messes of fraud and lies and deceptions and quack medicine and telling underage girls to have sex with the oldtimers in order to learn how to have "sober sex", or priests diddling the alter boys. Even common sense tells you that isn't spiritual.

Any human endeavor is full of hypocrisy, contradiction, confusion and abuse of office. However, I can't successfully criticize medical treatment of alcoholism because the American Medical Association has political problems. You can do so with AA because it offers the all or nothing pronouncements and superhuman models of behavior that a spiritual program must offer. Similarly, it would be unfair to attack the morals of a secular rationalist like Henry Kissinger in order to discredit the philosophy that you've adopted as a framework of values. Religion is supremely easy to disprove; it is very difficult to create a rational alternative that satisfies the same needs.

That is the propaganda trick of minimization and denial. You imagine that we should accept the faults of Alcoholics Anonymous just because everybody else in the world is also flawed and evil?

Again, there are much better choices available. Here is the list:

In some Kurt Vonnegut novel (hocus-pocus?), the American government gives everyone a second random arbitrary middle name. The middle name is supposed to encourage people to feel a kinship with other people. Spontaneous clubs take advantage of this and it helps American society. Vonnegut has a recurring theme: practice love and tolerance for benign foolishness and outrage toward dangerous foolishness. I think the only difference between you and me is that I think this is benign foolishness, not dangerous.

"Encouraging kinship", as you call it, has limited usefulness in helping people to kick their addictions and save their own lives. It is good to get some moral support, sometimes, but that doesn't work to make alcoholics quit drinking alcohol. If it were that simple, then there wouldn't be any problem with alcohol abuse or alcohol addiction. Just put them in a group and give them some feelings of kinship.

And if what you desire is just some moral support from a group of friends who are also in recovery, there are plenty of non-cultish recovery groups like SMART, SOS, and Lifering that won't tell you that you must conduct a séance and "Seek and Do the Will of God", while they also tell you what a hopeless worthless sinner you really are. Never mind telling people not to take their medications, and just trust God and the 12 Steps to heal them. And driving people to relapse or suicide. Remember Dr. George Vaillant's report on A.A. treatment: "...and our death rate of three percent a year was appalling."

So yes, you are correct in assuming that I do not consider Bill Wilson's reissue of Dr. Frank Buchman's cult religion to produce benign results.

Thank you for your insight,

Andrew S.

You have a good day too.

== Orange

*             orange@orange-papers.org        *
*         AA and Recovery Cult Debunking      *
*          http://www.Orange-Papers.org/      *
*       http://www.Orange-Papers.org/forum/   *
**     One Stepper declared, "My stability came out of trying to
**     give, not out of demanding that I receive."
**     Serving humanity is all fine and well, but what if you are humbly,
**     lovingly, spiritually giving out cups of cyanide koolaid?
**     No matter how generous and loving and unselfish you are
**     while you hand it out, it's still cyanide koolaid.

[The next letter from Andrew_S is here.]

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Last updated 26 May 2013.
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