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 McGowdog” (oh my god, kudos on your Iwo Jima post!) because – well mostly because it’s kinda funny to watch Tony and McGow melt, and also because you guys tend to expose yourselves – and AA – to the thousands of people who read our blog, way better than we can – but seriously, we do it because when we point out how fucked up AA is, you guys land here and insist that we’re wrong, and we have to address that.

Considering where you guys are coming from, I cannot figure out why you’d give a good goddamn about statistics or science or retention and success rates; why you’d bust a vein insisting that what actually happens in AA meetings doesn’t happen.

Now, when Danny was participating here, we had this conversation, and the bottom line was that when we say AA we are talking about AA as it is commonly understood in the world. When you Big Book guys say AA, you mean something different. So, where we agree to disagree is semantic – and it’s such an easy point to clarify that it doesn’t warrant all this shockingly hateful shit from your “team”. It just requires a respectful acknowledgment that when we say AA, we mean different things. When we say it, we mean Pop AA, and when you say it, you mean fundy AA. We did this a long time ago. It’s been established. Reasonable people have agreed (and, Cuda, I thought you were there when we clarified this). It’s not a big deal. It’s a rather small deal, because regardless of what we call it, we both feel the same way about both versions, which is the important thing. In other words, we BOTH feel that AA is a fundamentally religious/spiritual thing, and should acknowledge that that’s what it is, and conduct itself accordingly.

“Pop AA” is just a social club where all that is mentioned here on this site really does happen. Court ordered AA is a shame. It violates tradition and it violates a persons rights. Religion, Cult??? OK I’ll go along with it. Let’s call it a Cult, Let’s call it a religion. I agree with keeping AA and the Courts separate.

Ditto on all of that.

The other AA is a place where (in theory) Alcoholics go to seek help from other alcoholics. The “Recovered” alcoholics share with them the program that worked for them. If they’re interested we’ll give them a chair and show them the coffee pot. If they’re not interested, we’ll show them the door with an invite back if and when they want our help.

We know. We don’t take issue with you on this blog.

The Book will back this up. The Book is seldom used in Pop AA
Pg 96
“We find it a waste of time to keep chasing a man who cannot or will not work with you. If you leave such a person alone, he may soon become convinced that he cannot recover by himself. To spend too much time on any one situation is to deny some other alcoholic ….”

See. The book doesn’t suggest we threaten them with certain death if they walk out the door. That’s “Pop AA” lingo.

But, when A “Real Alcoholic”
http://www.bigbooksponsorship.org/index.cfm?Fuseaction=ArticleDisplay&ArticleID=468&SectionID=131
walks in and is interested in what we have to offer things work.
See, “The Program” of Alcoholics Anonymous is The Steps. The Steps and nothing but the steps. An alcoholic can share experience with the steps. This is what meetings are really for.
Alcoholics helping Alcoholics by sharing what worked for them. Notice I said “Alcoholics”
I said that because AA isn’t for Hard Drinkers, Addicts, Court Orders, Friendless SOBs that are looking for acceptance etc…
It’s for Alcoholics. Open or Closed meetings.

We know! You are not our target. We might not LIKE the Big Book, and we might even think it’s full of woo and hooey, but, so what? Who cares whether we agree with the Big Book or not? The fact is that you guys know that AA, as you understand it, is not all things to all people. And you understand that it’s a religious/spiritual path, and you’d like to keep it that way. We agree with this. In fact, we support this! Unanimously!

However, I will argue with you all day, every day, about the “real alcoholic” phrase, because there are death’s-door, alcohol-addicted people who cannot do By the Big Book work, for any number of reasons. For instance, my own deeply held spiritual beliefs run entirely contrary to the 12-Steps. You can’t just decide to believe a thing you don’t believe – that is, if you really believe a thing as deeply as you believe that there’s is ground under your feet. I think I understand that you guys don’t think that the only way a “real alcoholic” can get sober is through AA, but I think that the phrase itself could do a lot of damage to someone who decides he’s not a real alcoholic based on the fact that, however hard he tries, the 12-steps just don’t jibe for him (and doesn’t understand that by “real alcoholic” you’re talking about something that really doesn’t mean anything to someone who’s drinking himself to death, but could also convince him that he’s not drinking himself to death). To me, this borders on coercion, and I take issue with that. I don’t know, but my hope is that you’d never tell someone who gave it their best and ultimately rejected your AA, that they weren’t really an alcoholic, and tell them that they’re just someone who lacks discipline. I have seen members of Team McGowdog do just that, though, so I’m not too confident.

Then, again, I don’t exactly blame you BBAAs for that, because the term “alcoholic” is really a wash, as far as proper definitions go. That’s why I suggested discarding the phrase “real alcoholic.” It implies some kind of title. In and of itself, it doesn’t mean anything. In common usage, it means someone who is addicted. To BBAAs it means something very specific. So – not that it would ever happen, but – I think it would be very useful for addictions treatment to abandon the word “alcoholic,” to let you BBAAs have it, and instead, speak in terms of addiction.

If I was a betting man I would guess that 80% of people in open meetings and alano clubs aren’t even alcoholic. They’re there because the other people that hang out can’t even explain to them what an alcoholic is.

See above.

Since we seem to be able to agree somewhat

More than somewhat, Cuda. We agree on a lot. And, for the purposes of this blog, we agree on the important stuff. The only thing we don’t share is our beliefs, which are irrelevant to the subject ST.

then we should also be able to agree that if LifeRing was bigger than AA people may be getting sentenced to LifeRing. There they would get fed the same shit that they get fed in Pop AA. Since they don’t do steps I have no Idea what they would call 13th stepping but it would happen nonetheless.
They would use words like “Denial” and threaten others with certain death if they leave.
Everything that happens in AA would be happening in LifeRing. In fact it probably does. We just don’t hear about it because LifeRing doesn’t have a couple million people attending meetings. Notice I didn’t say members there. “Meeting Attenders”
So wherever people congregate for whatever reason some people walk away with a bad taste in their mouth.

No argument from me. If what goes on in AA went on in LifeRing, and if people were sentenced to LifeRing, and etc. and all that, then this blog would be about LifeRing.

But, here, again, you’re defending Pop AA: Yes, wherever you go people will be jerks — or not. But mostly they will be. But if you’re going in vulnerable, and expected to trust, and really have no choice but to trust, then you should also at least be able to trust that you’re not walking into the equivalent of a barroom. AA is like a barroom, but it shouldn’t be — anymore than walking into a law firm should be like asking your criminal cousin for advice, since he knows how to work the system.

So the “Real AA as prescribed by the book with Alcoholics voluntarily sharing Experience and hope with other Alcoholics and staying in the program is different than meetings.

Yeah, we know. And you’re also not lobbying for insurance money and recruiting children, so all’s good.

I’ll believe that ST has a “Live and Let Live” policy which allows free minded adults to do as they please in the program

If by “in the program” you mean “Pop AA,” and, if you mean that we have been about the business here of encouraging people to go to AA meetings and just “run the asylum,” then… dang, Cuda, as much as I hate to say it, I don’t think you’ve actually reading the blog. Are we on the same planet?

I can usually suss out the root of a contention, but, in this case, I can’t. I can’t even believe you said that. I’m sure you’ve never seen us encourage anyone to attend any AA meeting under any circumstances. We’ve never said anything remotely like, “You should go to a meeting and just do what you want!” Or “AA meetings shouldn’t have any standards whatsoever!” This whole blog is devoted to the fact that when you let the inmates run the asylum, they do awful and crazy shit to each other. I don’t know how many times I’ve said that AA needs accountability. I think I say that twice a post. We have never encouraged people to use AA as a support group, or suggested that it should be. We don’t endorse any Pop AA forums (like, oh, if you want to do AA without really having to do AA, go here!). In fact, the only reason “Team McGowdog” is here is that we were trawling at Sober Recovery and pulling examples of the crazy you can find in AA from the 12-Step forum. (And, seriously, you’d be dishonest to claim that McGow doesn’t bring the crazy.)

that works well for them and for others when MA shaves his moustache, stops calling us “Brainwashed” and accepts the fact that AA works well for those that put it into action.
If you admit that AA is different than Meetings and most “Meetings” are AA in name only I’ll concede that There are very cult like tendencies in Pop AA.

Cuda, I’m not negotiating a freakin’ peace treaty. I was asking, in all seriousness, wtf.

I can’t think of anything more ridiculous than demanding that a person “accept” something he doesn’t believe, in order for you to acknowledge something that you believe anyway. I don’t care what you acknowledge. Why on earth do you care whether or not anyone accepts as “fact that AA works well for those that put it into action”? This is just unfalsifiable. And so what? That’s the nature of belief systems. It’s anecdotal, it’s faith-based… that’s the nature of the beast. There are no statistics on who actually gets their 72 virgins.

You’re not our target, and we’re not talking about you. Why do you want us to accept your beliefs? First of all, your beliefs are not what this blog is about. We are not here to support BBAA – or make sense of the mess that AA has chosen to make of itself. That’s your job. But you’re here instead, for some reason (which is the gist of the wtf question I’m asking here).

Second, the very nature of BBAA is that such a thing as a “success rate” is irrelevant. In other words, you can’t prove it, and you shouldn’t care that you can’t. You might as well say that you want someone to acknowledge that they’ll go to Heaven if they believe that Jesus died for their sins, in order for you to acknowledge that the sky is blue – as if your acknowledgment were holding the color of the sky hostage. We can all see it.

If I were your mom, I’d advise you to let it go. We’re on the same side where it matters, and where it doesn’t matter, we have no dogs in the fight. We can debate belief systems like grownups, though, too, you know. If you want MA to stop calling you brainwashed, then maybe Team McGowdog should consider learning how to concede a point now and again. If I were your mom, I’d also tell you that you were hanging with a bad crowd. But, you’ve planted your flag on this hill.