Archive for the Plain Reason Category

I knew it!

Is The Alcohol Message All Wrong?

And if you want examples of bizarre beliefs and weird customs, you need look no further than our attitude to drinking and our drinking habits. Pick up any newspaper and you will read that we are a nation of loutish binge-drinkers – that we drink too much, too young, too fast – and that it makes us violent, promiscuous, anti-social and generally obnoxious.

Clearly, we Brits do have a bit of a problem with alcohol, but why?

The problem is that we Brits believe that alcohol has magical powers – that it causes us to shed our inhibitions and become aggressive, promiscuous, disorderly and even violent.

But we are wrong.


In high doses, alcohol impairs our reaction times, muscle control, co-ordination, short-term memory, perceptual field, cognitive abilities and ability to speak clearly. But it does not cause us selectively to break specific social rules. It does not cause us to say, “Oi, what you lookin’ at?” and start punching each other. Nor does it cause us to say, “Hey babe, fancy a shag?” and start groping each other.

The effects of alcohol on behaviour are determined by cultural rules and norms, not by the chemical actions of ethanol.

Read the whole thing…

h/t WatchSurvivingStraightInc



Why AA Is Not A Valid Treatment Approach, And Why We Aren’t Obligated To Treat It As Such


“The irrationality of a thing is not an argument against its existence, rather, a condition of it”

– Frederich Nietzsche

I had a teammate on my college baseball team named Jake who wore an unwashed Billy Squire concert t-shirt under his uniform for the better part of thirty games. Our uniforms, including what we wore underneath them, were standard issue. One particularly cold Saturday, while getting dressed in our hotel room prior to boarding our bus to a double-header, he had discovered that he had failed to pack a long-sleeved undershirt – so he slapped on the Billy Squire shirt, because the black sleeves matched the colors of our team. The rest of the shirt was hidden by the uniform. That day, both a hit streak and a superstition were born.

He first wore the shirt in mid-March, and by early April, that shirt was a most odor-ridden, offensive piece of cloth. He even packed it for road games a separate plastic bag, so it wouldn’t compromise his other clothes. By the time May rolled around, we were hesitant to sit next to him on the bench. It became a running joke. We may have questioned his hygiene, but nobody questioned his belief that the smelly undershirt somehow made him play better.

Athletes and coaches are notorious for their superstitions. Bill Parcells, the onetime coach of the New York Giants football team, arranged for an airline pilot to come out of retirement and fly his team to the Super Bowl, because he was the same guy who had flown them to the championship game a few years earlier. A game that they had won. Wade Boggs, a baseball player, ate chicken before every game. Their beliefs were proven true. Parcells’ Giants won that second Super Bowl, and Wade Boggs is sitting in the Hall of Fame. I wouldn’t question these guys, any more than I (or any of my teammates) would have questioned Jake. We knew as an undisputed fact that it did work for him, because we saw it first hand. It worked, because he believed it worked — and if he believed it worked, we all believed it.

I’m a big sports fan, and I even have a few superstitions myself. Still, if I were a coach or a hitting instructor, I wouldn’t teach that a player should always eat chicken before a ballgame, or go weeks without washing his clothes. No rational person would, because we know it’s really just bullshit. It’s just something that helps make sports fun, and when superstitions are applied in the right way, they don’t harm anyone.

Of course, sports is not real life. Continue reading Why AA Is Not A Valid Treatment Approach, And Why We Aren’t Obligated To Treat It As Such

“Taking Responsibility”

The Atheist Experience


From the video’s description:

People who overcome alcoholism and other things in life often attribute their success to a “higher power”, but replacing a physical addiction with an emotional one is never a good thing. Matt argues it is far better for people to take responsibility for their own actions and credit for their own achievements. What is The Atheist Experience?

Not God

Below is a response by FTG to a question posed by Pretzl, one of our readers. It is a fairly common question, and I thought the answer was particularly good. Others have suggested we highlight the answer, so I thought that I would post it here.

From Pretzl:

“I am curious… there seems to be a lot of “happy” people in AA.. not allof course but there are those who the program seems to be working for. Is it the G-d thing that bothers so many on this forum?

I’m asking because of the blanket statements made on here.. AA is bad..period. There has to be some happy folks doing it or how could it have lasted so long and the peple I see in there seem to be happy. Everyone on here acts like its all phony–can that be so?

Now if someone says, “I don’t like it because G-d is espoused then I can understand. But how about those who bel;ieve in a G-d–maybe it’ll work for them…seems as though it does.

I don’t know.. seems kinda strange that theres so much anger toward AA when all I hear are people who are living a much better life….”

FTG’s Response:

It’s not that people believe in God. We have no opinion about what people believe. The problem is this:

Of course, AA will insist that you need not believe in God. They say that you only have to believe that you are not the most powerful thing in the universe. There must be something out there in the universe that makes you feel humble. Now, that makes sense for a minute, until you delve into it a little. You might not be stronger, say, than a tank, or even just some guy with bigger muscles than you. And you might not be able to produce as much energy as the sun. You can’t generate a tidal wave by the sheer force of your will. So, if you don’t believe in God, you can at least believe that there are things out there that are more powerful than you. Right?

That is, if, by power, they mean sheer enormity, or the ability to kill you or to generate gravity, then the notion that you’re not the most powerful thing in the universe makes sense. It makes sense only until you get to the part where you must turn your will over to this power greater than yourself. Then you have to ask, “Is there any power greater than myself to make changes in my life?” A lightening bolt can split a tree in half, but it really has only that one schtick. Lightening can’t change your heart or mind or behavior in any meaningful way. You’re the one who does that. There’s nothing more powerful than you are to make decisions for yourself and take action in your life. Except God, if you believe in God.

So, let’s be real. They don’t mean Higher Power ™. They mean God. Nothing but God has more power than you do to direct your life. If a person in AA does not believe in God, they are led to God in deceptive increments.

And once you come to believe that a power greater than yourself can restore you to sanity, even if you can’t bring yourself to call this power “God,” the fact is that whatever you call it (doorknob, G(roup) O(f) D(runks), the tree in your yard, Buddha, your child, plate tectonics) — hear me, now — whatever you call it, it will have to behave the same as every other AA member’s Higher Power ™.

It will have to be able to restore you to sanity and replace your will with its own. Many people’s religious beliefs cannot abide this turning over of will. Even Christianity cannot reconcile this: God gave Christians free will so that they could choose to live in accordance with God’s will. Salvation depends upon self will. The God that Christians believe in does not expend his energy finding convenient parking spaces for them or sprinkling their oatmeal with cinnamon. And imagine going to church and being told that you can believe in your pastor or the congregation until you can believe in God. It’s straight up blasphemy.

I’m just using Christianity as an example, because many of us are familiar with it, but this is not the only spiritual tradition that is utterly incompatible with the idea that a person should reject the divine gift of self-will. So, the premise behind the imperative to believe in a power greater than yourself, whatever you want to call it, is disingenuous, at best, and intentionally deceptive at its core. In order to work the 12 Steps, your Higher Power has to do exactly what every other AA member’s Higher Power ™ does: it has to accept backsies on your free will and replace it with its own, upon request; it has to acknowledge AA’s conception of “character defects,” and have the inclination to consider removing them. You can call it what you want to – call it the Great Spirit, or call it nature, or Yahweh – it doesn’t matter. The choice of superficial characteristics is a distraction from the fact that it better do what it’s supposed to.

So, just to be clear: Yes, the “god thing” is a problem because there is a very specific AA god, and it is revealed dishonestly. If you want proof of this fact, read the chapter on Agnostics in the Big Book. It is a piece of unabashed bait-n-switch salesmanship.

And here’s another problem with the “God thing.”

AA has promoted itself – by deliberately violating their own Traditions – to the point where it has become just another sentencing option in the courts. In order to make AA work for you, you have to undergo a religious conversion. You have to have a spiritual awakening. The courts have no right to sentence people to that. In fact it’s a violation of the First Amendment, and it has been ruled thus by the 9th Circuit. AA has been deemed, by the courts, to be a religions organization, and it has no business in at all in public policy.

Regarding your question about the happy people in AA:

I’m not ever going to argue that there aren’t happy people in AA, or that there are people who genuinely believe that AA has saved their lives, and are personally fulfilled by giving back to the program. They’ve found something that gives their life meaning, and that makes people happy.

Then again, AA member’s happiness is not much of a standard for judging AA’s effectiveness. I mean, Jehovah’s Witnesses are all pretty blissed out when they knock on your door, too.

“New Alcoholism”

“The Wrath of Grapes — The New Alcoholism” by Helen Kirwan-Taylor

Her father knocks back vodka for breakfast, her grandmother was a roaring drunk, and a close relative nearly died from alcoholism last year…So when Helen Kirwan-Taylor started drinking alone and hiding bottles, and her sons began to look at her with pity and disgust, she knew she had a problem. Here she reveals her solution – and no 12 steps in sight…

I remember exactly when it began. ‘Don’t wait until after your kids go to bed to have that glass of wine,’ my friend Lily said. ‘Drink it while you’re putting them to bed!’ And so, rather than speed-reading them the easiest (and thinnest) book on the shelf before rushing downstairs, I brought my glass of chilled Chardonnay into their bedroom, and lingered. Bedtime and drink time became indistinguishable.

Read the whole thing..

So, what will the verdict be? Denial? Not a “real alcoholic”? Killing alcoholics?

“Is AA Right about Human Nature?”

From the message board, humanspirit directs us to a discussion going on over at The Guardian right now. The title of the piece, by Dorothy Rowe is: “There Is No Addictive Personality,” and the question up for debate is

Is AA Right about Human Nature?

The AA philosophy that teaches that alcoholics have a chronic illness which renders them incapable of looking after themselves, and so they must submit themselves to a higher power, prevents them from being able to value and accept themselves. Resolving not to drink again has saved the life of many people, but this is like the situation where a sailor manages to get from his wrecked ship to rocks above the stormy sea but lacks the courage to cross the rocks to solid land.

Thank you, humanspirit!

The Case for Malpractice

Go read this article by Paul A. Toth at The Nervous Breakdown:

Alcoholism, AA and the Medical Industry: Nationwide Malpractice

Toward the end of the comments section, the author poses a topic for discussion:

Question:If alcohol really is a disease, shouldn’t it primarily be treated by physicians?

No one seems to have engaged him on this question yet.

The Excuse AAbuse

An AAer in St Stephen New Brunswick, Kenneth MacKenzie, recently got arrested for drinking and driving, less than three weeks before completing a one year probation for impaired driving. He was not legally impaired, so he was was not charged with impaired driving. He was, however, fined a total of $575 dollars for breaking the terms of his probation.

This part of the story is not too interesting. After all, people use AA as a get-out-of-jail-free card every day, all across the United States and Canada – and, of course, the vast majority go right back to boozing. What I found interesting was this judge was giving this defendant credit for having worked the program:

“Judges normally jail people for breaching probation orders, but Walker credited MacKenzie for the steps he took through AA. The judge gave him until May 10 to pay the fine and surcharge.”

Why would a judge credit this guy with working a program that doesn’t work? It really is astounding. There is a reason AAs feel such a sense of entitlement: because it is given to them. I hope this guy does not kill anyone next time.


From the Comments:

First off there are at least two AA’s
One is AA by the book which turns out to be instructions on how to live your life. When you live life by the instructions the desire to return to drink is gone. (in a nutshell)
The second AA is a place to go socialize. “Pop AA” Which I will speak out against whenever I get a chance. If you’ve read any of my statements to Jonathan you’ll see.
Now here at ST I would like to see which AA you agree with and which AA you don’t.
I’m getting a mixed message.

Cuda, I don’t doubt that you’re receiving a mixed message from us – but I’d like to suggest that it might have more to do with your range, than with any cognitive dissonance from ST.

Plainly, we don’t agree with either version of AA. But there’s a difference, as far as the purpose of ST is concerned, which is this:

1. Pop AA is the villian here. It’s more than just a place to go and socialize. It’s a place to go and get your mind fucked with. Some of these meetings might consist of a loose bunch of people who treat it like a support group (as does Jonathan); but in this country (where Jonathan does not live) Pop AA meetings are cesspools of all kinds of horrible, destructive shit – which we detail here every day. And the reason we butt into other people’s business like this is that it’s not personal business. It’s an industry and an institution, and it has a monopoly on the addictions treatment, and it does enormous harm, with any good being incidental or coincidental.

(I do get the sense that maybe you’re wondering why I don’t, for instance, call Jonathan a twat, though. And that’s because he’s not. He’s a respectful person, and I can disagree with someone without calling them a poo-flinging monkey, or even privately thinking that they are one.)

2. By the Big Book AA is not on our radar, as I said. We might not agree with your spiritual beliefs, but the way you practice AA has never been the subject of this blog. We hassle with “Team Continue reading Cuda:

The Truthiness, The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But The Truthiness

Truthiness noun – 1) the quality of preferring concepts or facts one wishes to be true, rather than concepts or facts known to be true; 2) truth that comes from the gut not books

“The truth only carries so much weight. What we believe to be the truth will trump the actual truth every time.” – Cuda


The above quote summarizes, in a nutshell, AA’s approach to recovery — or their approach to almost anything else for that matter. There is a reason why the endless debates which take place in our comment section will never be end, and that is because the two sides are playing with different points of reference – with one relying on logic, skepticism and rational thought; and the other relying on what they want to believe. Continue reading The Truthiness, The Whole Truthiness and Nothing But The Truthiness