A few days ago, I wrote to Ed Brayton, author of the awesome blog “Dispatches from the Culture Wars” on Science Blogs to see if he’d be willing give my Feminist piece a look, and he surprised the bejeebus out of me by responding. And today, he put up a post and opened the topic up for discussion on his blog! Go visit, please.
So, Ed agrees that this subject should be addressed in skeptic circles, but takes issue with my belief that “I would have died without AA” is a thought-stopping cliche. When I wrote that, I knew how provocative that line would be, especially because I know that there are people who would be dead had they not done something to overcome their addiction. Believing that it was literally AA that saved one’s life (as opposed to the assertion of one’s free will over ingrained habits and behaviors, or the decision to do something, whatever it is) prevents people from being able to think critically about it. They literally believe that outside of AA await jails, institutions, and death — and whether that’s true or not, believing it’s true is all that matters. Poking holes in a belief system that is keeping someone alive is not very nice.
A variation on this is the arguments that AA members, or people in the field, use to stop any criticism: “An alcoholic might read what you wrote, decide not to go to AA and die!”
So, I wanted to address that issue right up front, because it seems to be the thing that gets in the way of a genuine exploration of this issue. The bottom line is that if we are concerned about the one guy who might die because we criticize AA, we also have to be concerned about the many, many more people who have died of their addictions because we are not having this conversation.
Thank you, Ed.