Plain Reason

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.


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 (more…)

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. (more…)

Update: Michael Hawkins, the student who got his blog shut down by WordPress, got his blog back!

Straw Man: A logical fallacy by where a person misrepresents an opponents position in an argument, so it can be torn down.

Among the more frustrating things in discussing AA with a twelve-stepper is that every individual has his or her own conception of what is AA. Most of the resident AAs who comment on this blog are hardcore AAs, and tend to have a more fundamentalist view of the organization. Others use AA as nothing more than a support group. And of course, there the thousands of other interpretations that fall somewhere between the two extremes. (more…)

If you’re anything like me (and H[ocus] P[ocus] save you if you are), you’ll be both shocked & amazed to know that ‘The Grapevine’ (The International Journal of Alcoholics Anonymous) gave me the official “thanks, but no thanks” on my  submission for publication, “12 Rights For AA New-Comers” (12 Rights For New-Comers To AA/12 Step):

Thank you for your e-mail submission to the AA Grapevine.  While I don’t think we’ll be using it, we are grateful for your interest in the magazine and hope you’ll feel free to send us more material in the future.  As you can imagine, we receive hundreds of manuscripts every month and many good manuscripts must be turned down because of space limitations. For more information about the Grapevine, its related items, including subscription information, guidelines for submitting articles, and current Calls for Articles, please see our Website:

Best wishes,

The Editors 
The AA Grapevine magazine

If you’re wondering what the smell coming off the ‘shock & amazement’ expressed earlier is, that’s sarcasm.  I really was under no illusion that The Grapevine had any interest in publishing anything that might actually empower individual AA members.  Still, a man’s gotta do … etcetera, etcetera.

I am curious as to why “The Editors” used the singular ‘I’ followed by the royal ‘we’ in offering up ‘their’ rejection of the material.  There go my dreams of conquering the publishing world starting with a by-line from The Grapevine.

In other news …

I went last night to hear author Eric Maisel speak on his new book, “The Atheist’s Way: Living Well Without The Gods”.  The talk was sponsored by the local Center For Inquiry chapter and — while a little too top-heavy on the snarkiness toward theism & religion in general for my personal tastes — it was still two hours well spent.  You can listen to Maisel talk about his work here:

My ears perked up when Maisel talked about the linguistics of ‘belief’ and how as early as the 19th century academics had identified that it wasn’t the content of the language that was important so much as its ability to be memorable & easily repeated.  After all, what does, “God is good” really say about the probability of the existence of [g]od or an objective understanding of ‘goodness’?  It’s just a good catch-phrase — kind of like, “Utilize, don’t analyze.”  Language and its malleability within the 12-Step experience has long been a hobbyhorse of mine.

One very interesting part of Maisel’s presentation was his suggestion that atheists (existentialists, secular-humanists, non-believers, [fill-in-the-blank]ers) purposefully re-cast mystical language when they are confronted with it.  Specifically, he challenged his audience to ask of someone who claims to have had a ‘spiritual experience’, “What made that experience meaningful for you?”

The substitution is subtle but does, I think, greatly shift the terms of the discussion.

So I offer an open question to steppers, non-steppers, and all those somewhere in between: Is meaningful experience a fair substitution for spiritual experience?  If so, why, and if not, why not?

All input is welcome.

ADDENDUM: All input may indeed be welcome but irrational input will be ridiculed relentlessly for exactly what it is.  Now back to our regularly scheduled trolling … .

ADDENDUM II: Thanks so much for all the effluvia, kids.  It really was terribly invigorating reading all the commentary on this post … that never actually addressed anything in the post (yes, Cuda, I’m thinking of you).  But playtime’s over.  Go troll YouTube or ‘help’ people out in Colorado (again, Cuda, it’s all about you).  This post is officially closed for business.

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