Crash This Poll

OK. I've really had it. I cannot get my head around why the Skeptics and New Atheists bloggers do not treat the religious, faith-healing takeover of an entire field of mental health with the same level of alarm and righteous advocacy that they bring to subjects like Creationism in science class and homeopathy.

 

It's not that I don't think the subjects they cover are important – and we all have our bailiwick. But the plain fact is that the 12 Step addiction treatment industry is a prime case in point for why it is so dangerous to allow crackpot science and religion to influence public policy. If you want a fantastic example for what can go wrong if you let the Creationists influence the curriculum, this is it!

 

Addiction is such an enormous crisis because our primary treatment for it is a program of spiritual awakening. Spiritual Awakening — for chrissake.

 

So, what's with the dead air on the subject, from the rational community? The bloggers and science writers, like PZ Myers  – people who fight to keep religion out of public policy? This is religion in public policy on a epic scale, and it's an apocalyptic disaster! A while ago, I went on a polite little campaign to see if I could get Stinkin' Thinkin' on the skeptics' blogrolls, but haven't had any luck.

 

Why are we out here on the outer fringes of crankland?

 

I have a few theories about this: It could be that addiction is just a subject that no one really wants to touch. It's messy, and everyone knows someone who's been through AA, or someone who's life has been saved, or has their own addiction issues. Or maybe it's just not as fun as antagonizing the odd creationist school board member. Perhaps they don't realize that AA is religious, and just take AA at its word that it's an altruistic group that offers suggestions and community, and saves lives – and that you don't have to believe in god. Could it be that we really are a bunch of cranks?

Why do skeptic bloggers ignore the 12 Step industry?

We really are cranks.
Creationists are just more fun to pick on.
Genuine ignorance.
Addiction is too scary.
They really believe in the Higher Power.
Web Polls

46 Responses to 'Crash This Poll'

  1. true believer says:

    I have not been to a meeting in 45 days. Today I was informed by an AA that called that I am drinking. They said “You are not going to meetings so you are drinking”. This was news to me because to my knowledge I had not drank and have remained sober. At this point I am sure going to a meeting would be detrimental to my well being.

    AA is a dangerous cult of true believers. There is no reasoning with them. Logic and science do not apply.

  2. Susan says:

    As a person who follows both this blog and numerous skeptic/atheist blogs, it baffles me as well.  I think it is a combination of all the choices (except the cranks :), and also the perception of lack of a better answer. 

  3. SoberPJ says:

    OK, so I am going to imagine I am a skeptic writer and someone comes to me with the idea for an article that will blow the treatment industry out of the water. What do I think?

    1. There's no way the 12 Step treatment industry is a huge scam. I mean c'mon, they help soooo many people. Aunt Gerty on my second cousins side was a mess and now she is a sweet old lady because of AA.

    2. What do I get out of this? My favorite thing is taking jabs at XYZ, not pulling the rug out from under drunks and drug addicts. Are you sure you're not just a little angry at them for something?

    3. The only big stories are when people go INTO rehab, not what they do there or when they come out. There's no story there.

    4. I don't want to mess with them. They're kind of wacked you know and I don't want trouble.

    5. It's just not that important. Society doesn't really care what happens to a few drunks and druggies that are at the bottom rungs anyway. Now, if Lindsay Lohan or Paris Hilton get raped or kill themselves because of bad advice, THEN we have a story !!

    Sad, but true…

  4. DeConstructor says:

    It is very simple-

    The AA faith simply lies. About everything. Lie upon lie upon lie.

    Understandable, but ironic due to the fact this may be one instance when the Freudian description of "denial" might fit in the recovery world.

    The real medical community does not want to touch addiction. To do so would be to admit they have been monumentally wrong for the last 70 years, would cut off the supply of money coming in from insurance, and would have credibility issues come up about the medical industry.

    The medical, judicial, and social service comunities just continue to dump needing, vulnerable people to the crazys in the basement, and somehow ignore the bloodshed that is caused by this ill concieved plan

  5. howlermonkey says:

    While there are probably a lot of reasons that AA isn't touched by mainstream skeptics, I'm going with the "addiction is too scary" theory as the main one.

    Addiction is too scary because it is very complex – nobody really understands what it is or how it works (though Peele is looking in the right direction at least). The disease model is simplifying and comforting for people in and out of AA. Nobody wants to admit that 1) People can become addicted to ANYTHING and 2) people usually choose a path to addiction when it appears to be the best option available.

    I also think that if you scratch the surface of addiction, you'll find that we are a nation of addicts. We're addicted to television, to junk food, to "rehabilitation," to dreams of super-stardom, to all kinds of things that we use to mask the fact that we have mostly become robots serving someone else's addiction to obscene wealth.

    But this doesn't make good television or good party conversation. Addiction is one of those things we've agreed as a culture not to talk about, not really anyway. That can change, but  the only way it can is if we keep talking about it seriously, keep rejecting bromides and keep demanding real answers.

  6. AllyB says:

    From the research I've done it's my opinion that substance addiction is less of a disease and more of a self-inflicted injury, (due to the fact that abusing a psychoactive substance causes the GABA producers and receptors to malfunction, sometimes to a very debilitating degree which will still have neuro-chemical effects for years after the abuse stops) usually caused by an unconscious attempt to self-medicate an underlying psychological issue.

    Some people may be more physiologically susceptible to this "injury" than others on a genetic level but in most cases addiction continues in families for psychological reasons (ie growing up with substance abusing parents can fuck you up).

    Any serious treatment approach will take a two-pronged approach. You have to acknowledge and treat the "injury." Cravings which can last for years aren't psychological they are a physical manifestation of malfunctioning brain chemistry. Diet, vitamin supplements and medication should be used here. Then once that side of things is taken care of the psychological issues can be addressed. Counselling can be used, not necessarily addiction counselling, help for the underlying issues will be much more helpful. But in general supportive family and friends are the most beneficial so depending on the underlying issue and what has happened during the addiction period the counselling needed may be very minimal.

  7. AndyM says:

    I put it down to moral cowardice. It's probably harder to be smug and self-righteous about criticising something that has gained itself the reputation of being the only available life-raft for poor lost souls. They may think it's more likely to make them look like callous villains deriding the attempts of desperate people to get well than as champions of honesty and truth.I noticed that when Richard Dawkins did a series debunking pseudo-scientific and "spiritual" therapies he settled for easier targets and completely ignored the addiction recovery industry.

  8. Rick045 says:

    I don't follow skeptic or atheist blogs regularly, but I think perhaps a similar thing might apply with some of these so-called cult experts. I've read some of Steve Hassan's work, and I respect the guy. He certainly knows the Moonies inside and out because he's been there and done that in the same way many of us lived AA. I think he's plenty smart enough to see the parallels between AA and other cults, but he still does not consider AA a cult. My opinion is that the biggest reason he does not is because it might hurt his business, and his business is selling himself. I'm not sure if the same thing could apply to those blog sites or not, but it might be something to consider.

    I think AA is simply still too much of a cultural third rail to touch for many people, even these bloggers that ftg is writing about. I think that will change in time. Many might consider us something of a fringe group, but that doesn't make us cranks. I think most of us here are deeply passionate about this because we've lived it. We have studied it thoroughly from the inside out in ways that most people simply never will. It's no fun to be accused of killing alcoholics simply for telling the truth about AA, but we are used to it because we've been at this for a while. I think this whole issue may simply be a bigger can of worms than those bloggers want to open at this point.

  9. Commonsense says:

    @AllyB – "addiction is … more of a self-inflicted injury." I like this problem-solution perspective! Thinking about it, Bill W. came up with his proposed solution (i.e. a specific and intense "spiritual experience" which was later abandoned for a vague "spiritual awakening") before defining the problem (i.e. drafting and vetting the Big Book.). As a result, the ideas/concepts outlined in the Big Book try to explain and support his preconceived solution. Thus, AA was/is a classic case of when you only have a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  10. raysny says:

    The Humanists have done more to challenge AA and support alternatives than any other group and have been for years.

    The SOS movement began with an article in the Summer 1985 issue of FREE INQUIRY magazine, the leading secular humanist journal in the USA.
    http://www.sossobriety.org/james%20christopher.ht

    Humanists Challenge Alcoholics Anonymous Monopoly

    September 12, 2007
    http://www.americanhumanist.org/news/details/2007

    I tried talking about AA with my local atheist group, but there was one older member who credits her sobriety to AA, claims she never had to pretend to be a believer, but she most likely could have gotten away with anything 20 years ago.

    I'll bet there's one in most groups. Most just don't care because it hasn't affected them, they think of it as a voluntary organization and there are so many more bigger battles.

  11. howlermonkey says:

    There's a big question at the bottom of all this. Is substance addiction different in any important way from non-substance addiction? Gambling, spending and food addicts have all the same problems with relapse and  withdrawal that heroin addicts do. So what do these activities all have in common?

    Or to put it differently, is there a simple physiological reason (like GABA producers) for all the psychological phenomena of addiction? I'm skeptical… ;-)

  12. LUCY says:

    @TB – I'm drinking too, according to the people at my old home group. I find it interesting to be castigated without the benefit of a hangover since I haven't touched the stuff. 

    AA scares people into staying, and scares people into defending it. If a person is guided by fear, then he or she keeps quiet about a disbelief in God (which is the likely explanation for RaysNY's atheist friend). Intimidation is a good way to keep members from questioning beliefs.

    I would get half of the room saying, "AA is so amazing because even a lowly atheist can stay sober using our infallible program."

    And the other half of the room confrontationally telling me that AA was the kind of organization that only God could create and I must be sick or arrogant to feel otherwise. A couple in that other half even invited me to keep my mouth shut because I was destroying AA (more fear tactics to keep people quiet)

    The problem is that an atheist has to lie to himself to stay, something I got tired of doing.

     

     

  13. speedy0314 says:

    ftg,

    too be fair (& Ray rightly points out), the 'Humanist Community' has been at the forefront in public criticism of AA (see "Free Inquiry" magazine's AA expose just a few months back) & the ACLU hasn't shied away from taking the higher-powered bull by the horns when push came to shove on a number of occasions.

    that said, it is rare for high-profile skeptics (like Myers, or — perhaps more notably — Barbara Ehrenreich whose most recent book explodes the myth of irrational exuberance & 'faith-healing' that 12X12 is quite literally founded on) to speak even a vaguely ill word on the fantasy that is 12X12. perhaps they've bought into the "12X12 is CBT by another name" defense, perhaps not. my theory on it is two-fold:

    1 – unlike 'Creationism' & the tens (if not hundreds) of millions of evangelical types who support the cause, AA isn't even a drop in a puddle of educational piss; Myers, Sam Harris, Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Lisa Randall, Carl DeGrasse-Tyson — they've all got their marbles invested in getting the country's youth interested in genuine science again; that starts in the classroom; problem is, those kids develop bad drinking/drugging habits OUTSIDE the classroom & the treatment for that is decidedly non-scientific. "12X12 as CBT" satisfies types like Myers, Dawkins, Michael Schermer, etc. — types who think having a third wine at a book signing is "going over the top"; worse, they haven't even bothered to look beyond the ridiculously transparent veneer of 12X12's ultimate quackery.

    2 – AA is just not nearly as big & influential an organization as its adherents (& even us non-believers) think it is; i forget the actual figure, but the World Health Organization puts the number of alcohol abusers / alcohol-dependent people at somewhere close to 200 million; AA's own membership figures are minuscule in comparison; AA takes itself very seriously & promotes itself to death, but outside of the US nobody seems to be paying much real attention.

    still, i had heard a recent radio interview with Ehtrenreich who was hit with the 12X12 as quackery question & duly side-stepped it (her response going something along the lines of, "It's hard to view it as a bad thing.").

    send the poll results to pharyngula & put it to Pee-Zed directly. he can be quite the advocate when presented with convincing evidence.

    best,

    speedy

  14. tintop says:

    speedy's number two is, I think, correct.

    "Hard to view it as bad ting". Inertia. AA survives on inertia.

  15. Ed says:

    Being as how I’m both a dry drunk and a humanist/athiest, therefore, twice twice the crank (According to the Dogma and Gospel of St. Bill), I’m gonna say none of the above, or all.

    I am going to make a guess that quite a few are either ‘Friends of Bill W” or know one.

    Being one, regardless of your common sense, you can’t speak ill of the “Program that saved your life”.

    And knowing one, carries with it a “Don’t rock the boat” attitude.

     

  16. Speedy,

    I betcha that more people have AAs among their families and friends than they do creationists. And also that more people run into AAs every day than they do creationists. I also bet that more people have tried AA than have tried Creationism. I really believe that you'll find way more AA advocates on any given school board than you will find creationists, too. And if not outright advocates, then at least people who find AA benevolent and noncontroversial. Even the most rational people won't bat an eye when it comes to allowing AA to infiltrate the school systems.

    Just on a whim, while I was responding to you, I looked up my local public school system, and found that their go-to outfit for addiction assessment is a 12 step promoting organization. It can't be a coincidence that the first public school website I looked at promotes AA coercion. You know what they say about coincidence…

    Not only that, but I found something really alarming, as I perused the website: They posted a pdf of the exam students have to take in order to earn their "Heath" credits. It requires them to attend 3 AA meetings. Check it out (scroll down to #3): http://www.pps.k12.or.us/files/education-options/

    Here are their requirements: <a href="http://www.pps.k12.or.us/depts/tag/highschool/health.pdf” target=”_blank”>http://www.pps.k12.or.us/depts/tag/highschool/health.pdf

    You're right, quoting Ehrenreich: Even the smartest people have been hornswoggled.

  17. Wonderist says:

    I think it's actually very simple: The gnu atheists who are out there in the spotlight are being outspoken and unapologetic about what they have experience with — and it so happens that they don't have much experience with addiction recovery.

    It is not that they are scared of it, or that they don't care, or anything like that. It's just that they don't know much about it. For example, they (myself included) don't know much about the alternatives, and so they don't have a strong argument at hand. It's much the same reason that Western atheists don't bother much with Hinduism or traditional Chinese superstitions; we simply don't know enough about it. We're more familiar with Christianity and to a lesser extent Islam. However, there *are* groups in India taking on Hinduism and various other superstitions, because they *do* have the necessary experience.

    So, IMHO, if you would like to see more attention paid to addiction recovery, I believe the best way to do that is to speak up about it yourselves, loud and proud and unapologetically in any venue you can find. It would also be a big help if there is an existing alternative support group/organization that is willing to take on a critical and unapologetic stance against AA. Don't just provide an alternative; that's not enough. You have to take on strong arguments against AA, and start spreading them around. Gather statistics to show the real harm of it, for example. Write articles for various websites, like HuffPo or whatever. Get the word out. Make a shitstorm out of it.

    Don't wait for the big guns like Dawkins or PZ to take up the slack. They don't know what to do, it's not their angle. It's your angle, so pick up the slack on your own. Write a good rabble-rousing article and then bring it to the attention of PZ, Coyne, or Ophelia Benson. They would definitely promote it in solidarity. But don't expect them to write it. Not going to happen.

    IMHO

    • Thanks for the response, Wonderist,

      I think it's actually very simple: The gnu atheists who are out there in the spotlight are being outspoken and unapologetic about what they have experience with — and it so happens that they don't have much experience with addiction recovery.

      As I said in the post, we all have our bailiwick. Addiction recovery is ours, and I definitely don't expect anyone to give as much attention to the subject as we do, especially if they're not knowledgeable or experienced. I just wonder why we're so far off the skeptic radar, considering how deeply addiction effects almost everyone on earth.

      Am I wrong in thinking that, despite their lack of personal experience, most skeptics would repudiate any spiritual cure for anything? I mean, would a skeptic who's not an expert on, say, OCD or schizophrenia, hold back criticism if the primary treatment were prayer?

      If you, Wonderist, don't know someone who's been through AA (and either failed at it or become insufferable or sicker because of it), or have been through it yourself, you'd be surprised to know how much bogus conventional wisdom you probably believe about addiction.

      It is not that they are scared of it, or that they don't care, or anything like that. It's just that they don't know much about it. For example, they (myself included) don't know much about the alternatives, and so they don't have a strong argument at hand. It's much the same reason that Western atheists don't bother much with Hinduism or traditional Chinese superstitions; we simply don't know enough about it.

      I don't think that analogy quit hits the mark. I mean, when we talk “alternatives” here, we are not doing the equivalent of replacing one superstition or belief system with another. We are talking about replacing the religious program, with one that is based in sound science and research. We want to see this spiritual program eliminated as an option in the court system – from public policy in general. Right now, our primary approach to treating addiction in this country is religious (as an atheist yourself, you must get that there's really no realistic difference between spiritual and religious, at least as far as public policy is concerned). The mission isn't to shuffle delusions or belief systems; it's to reclaim an entire branch of medicine from religious crackpots.

      So, IMHO, if you would like to see more attention paid to addiction recovery, I believe the best way to do that is to speak up about it yourselves, loud and proud and unapologetically in any venue you can find.

      Well, yes… Many of our members advocate at every opportunity, on public forums, comments sections, etc. And, of course, the entire membership of our blog is loud, proud and unapologetic. We do encounter a great deal of censorship, however. And, well, we do have a blog!

      The fact that our advocacy often meets with censorship is one reason we would like to at least be included on a blogroll.

      It would also be a big help if there is an existing alternative support group/organization that is willing to take on a critical and unapologetic stance against AA. Don't just provide an alternative; that's not enough. You have to take on strong arguments against AA, and start spreading them around. Gather statistics to show the real harm of it, for example. Write articles for various websites, like HuffPo or whatever. Get the word out. Make a shitstorm out of it.

      Oh ho! Yes! Well, HuffPo is very 12 Step friendly. Do not doubt that we have battered on those doors, among others. If you are a Pharyngula reader, then you must be aware that HP has a very strong pro-quackery bias. Our comments in response to such bullshit as the 12 Step Buddhist, among other AA, Al-Anon, Angles and Unicorns woo, are routinely deleted. My account was deleted without explanation after I challenged one of their 12-Step bloggers – and yes, I was polite and stuck to the facts. It's the sticking to the facts part that seems to be the issue over there.

      Don't wait for the big guns like Dawkins or PZ to take up the slack. They don't know what to do, it's not their angle. It's your angle, so pick up the slack on your own. Write a good rabble-rousing article and then bring it to the attention of PZ, Coyne, or Ophelia Benson. They would definitely promote it in solidarity. But don't expect them to write it. Not going to happen.

      Like I said, I'm definitely not expecting anyone else but us to take on the addiction treatment industry. That's what WE do, and we've been kicking ass at it for a couple of hears here. I don't want anyone to take up the slack. I just want to be in the club.

      I don't want anyone else to do what we do, but it would be awesome if we were part of the community. We're fighting the good fight, too.

  18. JOHNNY CRASH ...NYC. says:

    AA doesn't help anyone its a total scam … the whole self help business would make P.T Barnum so jealous its total snakeoil at its best … heres why ..

     

    1 -It doesnt cost the courts anything to make you go to a meeting since the program doesn't work you will be back in court ensuring a perpeual legal system working and people are the fuel …

    2- HMO's love AA it doesnt cost them anything either … and since it doesnt work they can write you off after what two REHABS ?

    3- Oh yeah Rehab doesnt work either eating carbs drinking coffee and being in a circle with a bunch of lunitics pointing fingers at each other doesnt work either

    I can go on and on but will digress heres what would work … Professional Therapy not God Counseling or Religious Conversion

    Meds thats right meds …. read them and weep prescribed by professionals not recovered alcoholic hacks in matter of fact people who are members of AA should loose medical licences for quackery … if they mix faith healing with science … and I have seen that a hundred times

    Um …. Jail … thats right jail drive while drunk jail no AA Jail forget AA no way send people to the pokey take the car and license no chances … watch how fast people dont drink and drive so many say "hey ive never been caught ill skate the first few times …" take it away send the to the pokey watch how people grow up fast no exceptions …

    back in the Early days of America the town barber was a doctor he would bleed you to cure you get that bad blood out …today we have AA … same dam thing in the 21st century …its a total embarresment and medical science should outraged … DR Silkwood was a quack no way he would have a license today ….

     

    Ma Bad turned into a rant sorry

  19. speedy0314 says:

    ftg,

     

    in complete agreement with Wonderist here.  and i'm not so sure your initial speculation (some of my best friends are Creationists / AA's) is borne out as thoroughly as you might think by offering up the one school's methods as an example.

     

    you and i both know it's got nothing to do with "no coincidences" & everything to do with empirically verifiable numbers.  i lack the numbers & the inspiration to get the numbers for either faction.  i do recall Sam Harris repeatedly referring to statistics about nearly 60% of Americans believing that the bible is the literal word of [g]OD™ & another 30 – 40% believing that jesus christ was going to be returning to earth (thereby initiating the apocalypse) in their life-times.  google videos for 'Sam Harris' & you'll get the figures straight from the horse's mouth.

    AA is just too f**king stupid & unmotivated (by design) to generate that kind of fanaticism.

     

     

    speedy

  20. tintop says:

    I think that word that applies is"  gullible.

    If not gullible, then, following the line of least resistance and going along to get along.

    The gullibility is enhanced by apathy.

    My advice is:  you had best take care of it yourself.  if you don't , someone is going to "help" you, as in:  For what we are about to recieve oh lord, let us be truly thankful.

  21. Speedy, Idunno. It was totally random. I thought: I wonder what goes on in my local public school system, and there it was: 3 AA meetings to pass Health class. It's not even controversial. But let someone try to get ID into our PPS around here… I can't even imagine it in this town. It just wouldn't happen.

    Let's pick another PPS at random and see what they've got. I bet we find more AA than Intelligent Design.

  22. AllyB says:

    We're part of Penn and Teller's community. :D
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8tPNgHrIkgo&fe

  23. Ben Franklin says:

    http://www.orange-papers.org/Minority_Opinion_App

    This document is on Oranges website and says a lot.

  24. speedy0314 says:

    ftg,

     

    "<span>Let's pick another PPS at random and see what they've got. I bet we find more AA than Intelligent Design."</span>

     

    actually, let's not.  i'm prepared to cede this debate to you, because i don't really give a s**t either way.  neither 'Creationism' nor 12X12 bulls**t belong in ANY school, public or private.

     

    i guess the larger point is that 'teaching' creation/intelligent design alongside natural selection in a science classroom is such an obvious perversity that academics & other interested lay-types fight it very publicly.  with 12X12, the 'perversity' isn't quite so obvious — thanks largely to what tintop correctly identifies as a socio-cultural "inertia" here in the US.

     

    you kind of have to go through the 12X12 wringer to really 'get' how dumb, destructive, and downright backwards it is.  if richard dawkins had developed a drinking problem & then tried AA for a year or two, "The God Delusion" would be a VERY DIFFERENT book.

     

    hitchens has nothing but enmity for AA, but no one takes him seriously because his right hand constantly has a glass of scotch in it.  doesn't make his point any less dead-on & cogent, it just gets the air taken out of it because AA has done such a good PR job.

     

     

    a final two cents,

     

    speedy

  25. I think this is is exactly right:

    i guess the larger point is that 'teaching' creation/intelligent design alongside natural selection in a science classroom is such an obvious perversity that academics & other interested lay-types fight it very publicly.  with 12X12, the 'perversity' isn't quite so obvious — thanks largely to what tintop correctly identifies as a socio-cultural "inertia" here in the US.

     

    you kind of have to go through the 12X12 wringer to really 'get' how dumb, destructive, and downright backwards it is.

  26. AnnaZed says:

    I had held out great hope for Hitchens, who is fearless, but now that he is actually dying I think that his plate is full just holding on the is antitheism in the fact of obnoxious people prying at him.

  27. DeConstructor says:

    There is a hope for Bill Mahar. I know from experience that he pulls material from the discussion boards at HBO.

    He does have the balls, and the ability ot do it properly.

  28. "There is a hope for Bill Mahar."

    Oh, he is so getting an email that he will never see.

    Crash this suggestion box:

    suggestions@disbeliefnet.com

  29. AnnaZed says:

    Maybe post something here:
    http://www.hbo.com/real-time-with-bill-maher/inde

    Ray is a master at stirring up message boards. I wonder if he's rabble-roused on this one (Ray are you out there)?

  30. AnnaZed says:

    This writer, Maia Szalavitz,

     

    http://healthland.time.com/author/maiasz/

     

    has a lot of potential. She has already written a book exposing teen boot-camp abuse and I saw her post on this site (scroll down and look at the comments):

     

    http://neuroshrink.com/2010/09/20/amen/

     

    saying flat out that 12-step is not supported by data.

     

    Here’s her email:

     

    maia@helpa­tanycost.c­om

  31. mr. mike says:

    I think the skeptics don't know because most outsiders don't know the contents of the 12 steps….I first read them while doing security for a hospital which had detached rehab section and I was amazed at all the God speak. Before then I had supposed it was some sort of group therapy, but reading the steps explained why so many AA groups work out of church basements. Just as the Xenu story is killing Scientology, the 12 steps are the embarrasment which can be used to delegitimize AA and all the knockoff groups.

  32. AnnaZed says:

    I can recall the first time that went to an AA meeting in New York City and I was absolutely stunned by reading the steps ~ blindsided, amazed and angry too.

    People reached out their hands to me to join hands and say The Lord's Prayer (wtf!) and I almost spit at them. I am a real atheist (the real thing not some waffling agnostic) and all religious utterance makes me gag. I will go ahead and give near universal offense by unequivocally stating that it is my opinion that any person who professes any belief in any god is an idiot. I was so angry to go to this place seeking help with my dangerous and intractable drinking problem and being handed a load a mealy mouthed crap about god that I was trembling. I will never, ever forget it. I thought to myself "This is it? This is all there is to help me, these praying fuckers?" I sat through the meeting then had coffee with some people that I knew who took great pains to explain to me that AA was "spiritual not religious." I told them to go fuck themselves because if there is anything I hate more than religious nut-jobs, it's liars.

    About a year later my extreme alcohol abuse had me very sick and very despairing. So I went back. There was no place else to go. I set my most most deeply held beliefs aside and parroted that spew and read and read and re-read those steps for years. I was so terrified of the alternative that I betrayed myself, my intellect and my very being to transform myself into a stepper.

    A few years ago I got in contact with an old friend. One of the things that she told me was that in the time since I had seen her one of her three sisters had died. I knew immediately which one it was, the one with the severe alcohol dependence issues. She had killed someone in a car while driving drunk by actually driving off of the road and into someone's house. Certain to be sent to jail she killed herself a week or so later (I have no idea why she wasn't in jail at the time). I can remember talking with her years and years ago about drinking too much and being scared and feeling like I couldn't stop and she spoke disparagingly and angrily even back then about AA and "those religious fuckers."

    Readers of this blog will already know how bitterly unsympathetic I am to drunk drivers of any kind, beloved sisters of my friend or not; so I'm not making excuses for anyone's criminally bad judgment in getting sauced and driving across someone's lawn into their living room and killing them. I wonder how many get-out-of-jail-free AA passes she had collected in the almost two decades since I had seen her. I wonder what would have happened if there had been anything offered to her to help her with her terrible depression, her abusive husband and her dangerous and clinical alcohol dependence besides a bizarre religious cult? She had already been to AA and rejected it back then when she and I talked about it (it must have been around 1980), whether mandated by a court or through her own efforts I don't know. My friend told me that she "always hated those AA prayer meetings."

  33. Rick045 says:

    @Ben Franklin, thanks for posting that link. I guess most of us here are already familiar with those internal battles between the purists and the heretics. It's still interesting to get a glimpse of the actual dialogue.

    "As a minority we would like to ask the majority the rhetorical question. How many real alcoholics should we sacrifice in order to pander to atheist and agnostics who are successfully sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. The fact is that if you are a real alcoholic and therefore beyond human aid, it is impossible to be sober in AA as an atheist and agnostic unless you are not a real alcoholic but rather a heavy drinker who can stop or moderate given a sufficiently strong reason."

  34. violet says:

    re: creationism: I tihnk that i get sorta into this fantasy world where people really think like me. i mean my ex, my friends, my family–we're all liberals. so when i see a teacher read a book that talk about why god thinks were all special, i just cannot even deal. not that the special book has to do with creationism. but the god thing is alive and well in pschools all over the US…

  35. violet says:

    if you can discern meaning from y above post, well, then you are awesome. i a, an impulsive typist/poster. pschools=public schools.

  36. AnnaZed says:

    "As a minority we would like to ask the majority the rhetorical question. How many real alcoholics should we sacrifice in order to pander to atheist and agnostics who are successfully sober in Alcoholics Anonymous. The fact is that if you are a real alcoholic and therefore beyond human aid, it is impossible to be sober in AA as an atheist and agnostic unless you are not a real alcoholic but rather a heavy drinker who can stop or moderate given a sufficiently strong reason."

    Rick045, thanks for lifting this quote. AAs occasionally do tell the truth just like a broken clock tells the right time twice a day and I would say that the Mt. Rainier Group AAs who drafted this minority report are more than usually rigorously honest actually. What they believe is so crazy that really, who would believe it. Not only does AA demand a very special belief in a very special sky fairy that does very specific tricks on demand it also demands belief in a very specific (and certainly not medically demonstrable) thing called a "real alcoholic." Not only is it bizarre, it's dumb, but this is still the gold standard for treatment in this country. It's disgusting.

     

    By the way this campaign to generate special lying, waffling, manipulative texts just for atheists and agnostics has been being waged for a long, long, long, long time. My last sponsor who was a pillar of the “free thinkers AA” splinter group, and though not an atheist herself a great believer in attempting to included the godless in her religion (probably on the theory ~ carefully concealed ~ that they would one day see the light of the church of the higher-power); so I am very familiar with all of these arguments. Anyway, this is an old argument and really the production of conference approved “literature” that attempts to prevaricate, manipulate and obscure the obvious religious intent of Big Book theology is just an extension of the lies and the template for the religious bait-and-switch outlined in the “We Agnostics” Chapter of the Big Book itself.

     

    You know what’s also galling about that particular belief as expressed by the earnest souls of the Mt. Rainier Group; if I were to listen to them ~ given that I successfully abstain from imbibing any intoxicants at all (ever) and am a doctrinaire atheist ~ I could use their logic as a pretext to make myself really sick. I am reasonably sure that were I to start moderate drinking that the potential for unleashing a dangerous and possibly life-threatening episode of alcohol abuse is so high that all sound medical advice urges me to not risk it. Yet AA, in its wisdom, because I do not worship any god tells me absolutely an unequivocally that I must not be a “real alcoholic” so actually that I am in no danger at all.

     

    That my friends, is the medical help that millions of Americans are offered everyday for this far-reaching and intractable problem.

  37. Ben Franklin says:

    What is interesting in reading this is that the authors are called "the minority". How much of a minority are they? I know there are varying degrees of hardcore members in each group but the beliefs the "minority" espouse are to some extent dogma expressed by ALL groups. It comes down to if this is the "real AA" and are you a "real alcoholic". This a very convenient form of Sophistry that allows an AAer to avoid argument.

    Another thing about this article is one person ( of course it is own opinion and doesn't express the view of AA) actually tells some truth about the effectiveness of AA, when he states "we went from rarely have have we seen a person fail to hardly ever we see a person succeed" The first part of his statement was never true. The second part is amazing in that you actually have a stepper admit that AA is ineffective. He even bandies about the "less than 5%" term. All the steppers I have "debates" with never admit this. Of course this is like the triennial surveys where the authors think this is only for internal use and will never see the light of day where the normies live.

  38. tintop says:

    That quoted rant is, simply, drivel.

    There is only one criterion for "real alcoholic": membership in AA.

    "heavy drinker" is, most of the time, a euphemism for drunkard.

  39. DeConstructor says:

    @Ben Franklin-

    That is an amazing document.

    It has tremendous value for people trying to avoid being forced to the AA faith. The simple fact it has "condfidential" stamped all over it, to me, says links to it should be sprinkled all over the internet. :)

  40. AnnaZed says:

    That my dear DeConstructor is an excellent point.

  41. SoberPJ says:

    Why would you have to label a public document "Confidential" ? Confidential between which parties? An independent, non-regulated, non-organized group of a fictional organization and the non-governing, governing body? I thought AA was wide open with no secrets and rigorous honesty for all. Someone must have thought something like, " if members see this they will be very upset. So, let's mark it Confidential and send it directly and secretly to the grand powers in NY." Like that will somehow help to not piss off the atheists and un-real alcoholics when they see it – and they will see it because that's how it works. Whacked.

  42. mr. mike says:

    "….I thought AA was wide open with no secrets and rigorous honesty for all."

    – SoberPJ

    You want rigorous honesty from a group where last names are never given? Where the basic facts about the structure of the organization, the number of people enrolled, the number of sober members, even who wrote the "Big Book", are either lied about or omitted entirely? Such an organization would inherently have an "outer party"; i.e. the AA that everybody knows, and an "inner party" which actually sets the agenda, creates the propaganda, and keeps the outer party in line. The Mt. Rainier document is a small chunk of the inner party trying to impress the central hub of the inner party with their orthodoxy while demanding that the rest of the inner party follows their example. None of the people in the outer party either know, nor probably care about this ideological fight; most probably do not suspect that there is a small group controlling AA behind the scenes.

  43. DeConstructor says:

    This should be logged under the community politics page, but unfortunately I somehow cannot log into it.

    We, here at ST, need to really learn something from the ass kicking the democrats just recieved. They were too nice, and did not engage in negative campaigns early or strongly enough.

    If this ad would have be nationally televised two or three weeks ago, the election would have been far different.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWICCBGFons

    We must remember this in the area of substance abuse, because we at ST are carrying the torch for the world to see. It is OUR responsibility to be the disinfecting sunlight on the underworld shaky practices of the AA faith and their profitable business arm, the recovery industry cartel.

    No other community is taking on this responsibility, and people are continuing to die because the misinformation promoted by the AA faith is not being challeged.

    We cannot afford to be nice, or worry about hurting the serenity of the AA evangelists.

  44. Oh wow, Decon, I almost posted that very ad here last week.

  45. speedy0314 says:

    @ DeConstructor:

    i'd promised myself to leave this thread be, but i have to say both points you make are cogent & dead-on (i.e., the pusillanimity of the democratic party & "bringing it" when it comes to the Step-bots).

    heckuva job, harry reid.

    speedy

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