Posts tagged pseudoscience

“Is AA for You?”

The Huffington Post just published a piece reprinting the entire “Is AA for You?” questionnaire. I guess they had to exorcise all the Rational Cooties the Peele article left all over the place.

Though I am not personally in recovery from alcohol or other mind-altering drugs, my own family and friends struggle with the disease. Professionally, I have worked with hundreds of clients with addiction issues and without, and the best litmus test for determining if one is an alcoholic comes from the strong and respectful program of Alcoholics Anonymous and it’s 12 simple questions.

The following list is taken word for word from their pamphlet “Is AA for You?” If honestly answered, you can determine your own disposition. If you answer “yes” to four or more of these questions, you may be in trouble with your drinking.

Jerks.

Thank you, Terra Sigillata

After the Wired article came out, I landed on Abel Pharmboy’s blog, Terra Sigillata, and this post in particular, which, while neutral about AA in general, was complimentary about Koerner’s piece as an example of good science writing. Aware of my bias, and very aware that I’m not a scientist and don’t know from science writing, I asked him: “OMG, WTF!?”

Well, then he came to visit us, and then I visited him, and then today, he wrote a really nice post about Stinkin’ Thinkin’ — and I’m so delighted about that! He also discusses the Stanton Peele response in the Huffington Post.

Welcome Terra Sigillata readers!

AA Plays Doctor [UPDATED]

It’s so interesting how Alcoholics Anonymous members will deny that what happens in AA actually happens there. They know it happens, and they participate in it, either actively or passively (equally bad). They know we know it happens: the mindfucking, gaslighting, isolating, demoralizing, abusive tough loving, passive aggression, and playing doctor.

Within their creepy little bubbles, this stuff is all normal, and I’m sure it sounds reasonable to them in The Rooms. Our “Comments of the Day” show how unselfconscious they are about being freakin’ nuts with each other when they think no one’s looking. And they do know what it looks like to the reality based community, because when it’s exposed, they don’t own it or say, “Damn right, we do that.”

They deny it. They scoff and bluster. They blame the victims. They minimize it.

After reading Sarah’s, Mona Lisa’s and violet’s experiences in the comments, I would really like to know what people’s experience has been: Have you been told to go off your meds? Told not to get any mental health help outside of AA? That the steps are all you really need? That if you’re on depression medication that you’re not really sober? Did you witness this happen to someone else?

[Please, AAs, please resist the temptation to mansplain the official policy to us. We know what it is. Really.]

UPDATE: Recent Tweet from BigBookRecovery:

Click to Embiggen

(Well, not that recent…)

The @#$%&! Huffington Post

The site is a clearinghouse for self-promoting charlatans… I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Sylvia Browne is the managing editor of their Living section. Not a day goes by that there’s not some kind of 12-Step bullshit in the headlines:

Do You Have A Dry Drunk in Your Life?

These 7 characteristics of the “dry drunk” can hit the recovering alcoholic hard in the honest light of sobriety. Because they may not know how to handle these realizations, they may use you as a punching bag for their frustration and discontent.

  1. Resentment at a spouse, parent or whomever that has made them stop drinking.
  2. Realizing that because of their drinking, they may have not realized goals, dreams and potentials.
  3. Wondering if it’s too late, or if they are even capable of achieving those goals or dreams.
  4. Because of their drinking where unable to sustain a loving relationship with a partner and subsequently never experience having a family of their own.
  5. Having to accept the wasted years due to drinking.
  6. Anger at not being able to venture out or challenge themselves for fear of failure. The alcoholic may not have had any normal life experience with failure and success, which in turn would make them stronger and wiser. Instead those years were consequently shut out of dealing with life on life’s terms due to the alcoholic addiction.
  7. Jealous of others for their stick-to-it-ivity, perseverance and strength. Resenting the family member or friend for their dreams and therefore not being supportive, questioning their ability to pursue their passion and dampening their spirit for success.

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.

How AAs Play Doctor

I know from that title that you are probably thinking I have some salacious descriptions of 13ths stepping. Well, get your minds out of gutter, people. I’m talking about playing doctor for real, and discouraging people from taking their prescription medications. It does not just happen, but it is rampant, and it is very common among the more hardcore AAs. “You’re just replacing one drug with another,” is the common line.

Below is a link to a survey done among AA members on their experiences with playing doctor in AA. Almost one-third of members have had another member discourage them from taking their prescribed medications, and an additional 20% know of other members who were pressured to discontinue their medication usage. That is just about half of the AA population. Ask an AA if they have ever seen it, and they become like a witness to a mob hit, and deny having ever seen this type of thing happen.

Alcoholics Anonymous and the use of Medications to Prevent Relapse: An Anonymous Survey of Member Attitudes

Homeopathy, the other Quack Meat

AA and twelve-step treatment is but one little corner of the world of quackery. There is a long list of treatments that fall under under the pseudoscience banner, and high on the list is homeopathy. Simply stated, homeopathic medicine is not medicine, and homeopaths are quacks. There, I’ve put that to rest.

Now that I got that out of the way, I wanted to point the readers here to a blog entry from PZ Myers over at Pharyngula. This is the most read science blog on the internet, and in my opinion is the best. I have found it particularly informative because I am a non-scientist, and he explains things in an understandable and entertaining way. Those who have not read the blog should check it out.

One thing that bothers me as much as pseudoscience, is the suppression of free thought, so when I learned that WordPress had shut down a blog that was critical of homeopathy, based on a complaint from a quack homeopathic doctor – specifically Christopher Maloney – I felt compelled to join in the chorus of protesters. The whole story can be read here at Pharyngula.

Real science is not afraid of being challenged. In fact, this is the basis of peer review and the scientific method, and is how we advance in our understanding. Homeopaths, like AA, avoid real science like the plague. Apparently, they react to criticism in the same way, as well.

Quote of the Day

“You amaze me. Why so bitter and angry ? Why do you feel the need to bash AA every chance you can get. You should know by now there is a big difference between religion and spirituality. I have been a member of AA for almost 8 years — highly involved in service. I am only 26 and am the future if you want to say.

My own
conception of something greater than my self has enabled me to live an incredibly productive life. My Higher Power is so far off the beam than conventional religious beliefs it would make peoples toenails curl. But, above all else it works.

AA does not demand a Christian God. It only suggests a God of your own understanding. So if you read the big book a little closer and lay aside your prejudice, even the biggest atheist or agnostic can recover. If you really want to get technical; if it was not for AA you would not be here. AA is the granddaddy of all 12-Step programs.

love and service,

KB.”

KB, AA, explaining to Cliff Walker at Positive Atheism the difference between Spirituality and Religious.

AAmwaying the Alcoholic

Yesterday, one our readers wrote:

“As to “corporate AA”, I think it would be hard for me to care less than I do. I tried Amway about 15 years ago and ditched it when it became apparent that it wasn’t about selling soap; it’s about getting other people to sell soap for you. The analogy breaks down at that point because I don’t see a significant money trail in AA, but again, I don’t really care. The only money I’m expected to put into AA is the 50 cents in the piggy bank if I want a cup of coffee.

In my experience, AA meetings are a place where I can be with people who used to be desperately sad, hope-less drinkers who couldn’t stop their self-destructive behavior. And now we aren’t like that any more. And some poor schlub who is *now* where I was *then* might ask me how I got from there to here, and I can tell him.”

We appreciate the comment, and sincerity and thoughtfulness with which it was written. I wanted to highlight it, because I know that Amway has been compared to a cult, much like with AA. Cult expert Steve Hassan does not have Amway categorized as a cult (nor does he label AA a cult), but he does believe there are disturbing practices, and he shows how it fits into his BITE model. Like AA, it doesn’t meet all of the criteria, but it does meet most. Read through Hassan’s description of Amway, and see if you find any similarities.

I thought it would be interesting to compare Amway to AA, and in the process I found this analysis of Amway as a cult, written by a former Amway distributor. This person uses the criteria of a destructive cult, set by Robert Lifton. It is plain scary how similar the groups are to one another. Below I’ve taken some relevant parts of this analysis to compare to the AA experience: Continue reading AAmwaying the Alcoholic

Argh!

Caution: You might want to save this for later, if you’re suffering some PTS or still pounding your head on the desk over last week’s Stinkin’ Thinkin’ comments threads.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IBHEsEshhLs]