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OverRiding Belief Systems

Discussion in 'General Scientology Discussion' started by Div6, Jan 11, 2008.

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  1. Div6

    Div6 Crusader


    "Since World War II, our military has sought and found any number of ways to override the values and belief systems recruits have absorbed from their families, schools, communities and religions. Using the principles of operant conditioning, the military has found ways to reprogram their human software, overriding those characteristics that are inconvenient in a military context, most particularly the inherent resistance human beings have to killing others of their own species. "Modern combat training conditions soldiers to act reflexively to stimuli," says Lt. Col. Peter Kilner, a professor of philosophy and ethics at West Point, "and this maximizes soldiers' lethality, but it does so by bypassing their moral autonomy. Soldiers are conditioned to act without considering the moral repercussions of their actions; they are enabled to kill without making the conscious decision to do so. If they are unable to justify to themselves the fact that they killed another human being, they will likely -- and understandably -- suffer enormous guilt. This guilt manifests itself as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and it has damaged the lives of thousands of men who performed their duty in combat."

    By military standards, operant conditioning has been highly effective. It's enabled American soldiers to kill more often and more efficiently, and that ability continues to exact a terrible toll on those we have designated as the "enemy." But the toll on the troops themselves is also tragic. Even when troops struggle honorably with the difference between a protected person and a permissible target (and I believe that the vast majority do so struggle, though the distinction is one I find both ethically and humanely problematic) in war "shit happens." When soldiers are witness to overwhelming horror, or because of a reflexive accident, an illegitimate order, or because multiple deployments have thoroughly distorted their perceptions, or simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time -- those are the moments that will continue to haunt them, the memories they will not be able to forgive or forget, and the stuff of posttraumatic stress injuries.

    And it's not just the inherent conscientious objector our military finds inconvenient: current U.S. military training also includes a component to desensitize male soldiers to the sounds of women being raped, so the enemy cannot use the cries of their fellow soldiers to leverage information. I think it not unreasonable to connect such desensitization techniques to the rates of domestic violence in the military, which are, according to the DoD, five times those in the civilian population. Is anyone really surprised that men who have been specifically trained to ignore the pain and fear of women have a difficult time coming home to their wives and families? And clearly they do. There were 2,374 reported cases of sexual assault in the military in 2005, a 40 percent increase over 2004. But that figure represents only reported cases, and, as Air Force Brig. Gen. K.C. McClain, commander of DoD's Joint Task Force for Sexual Assault Prevention and Response pointed out, "Studies indicate that only 5 percent of sexual assaults are reported."

    The proposed "Psychological Kevlar Act" has as one suggested solution propranalol

    Is drugging an appropriate response to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome?
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  2. Vinaire

    Vinaire Sponsor

    Interesting topic.

    I wonder if military may be getting obsolete with war being faught in cities.

  3. Div6

    Div6 Crusader

    On this planet?

    War IS one of the main engines of "survival" for many cultures here....

    The link goes to 10 current Economic fallacies, including:

    "A second fallacy is the idea of war as an engine of prosperity. Students are taught that World War II ended the Depression; many Americans seem to believe that tax revenues spent on defense contractors (creating jobs) are no loss to the productive economy; and our political leaders continue to believe that expanded government spending is an effective way of bringing an end to a recession and reviving the economy.

    The truth is that war, and the preparation for it, is economically wasteful and destructive. Apart from the spoils gained by winning (if it is won) war and defense spending squander labor, resources, and wealth, leaving the country poorer in the end than if these things had been devoted to peaceful endeavors.

    During war, the productive powers of a country are diverted to producing weapons and ammunition, transporting armaments and supplies, and supporting the armies in the field.

    William Graham Sumner described how the Civil War, which he lived through, had squandered capital and labor: "The mills, forges, and factories were active in working for the government, while the men who ate the grain and wore the clothing were active in destroying, and not in creating capital. This, to be sure, was war. It is what war means, but it cannot bring prosperity."
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2008
  4. programmer_guy

    programmer_guy True Ex-Scientologist


    I hope that people will read the entire article that you provide in that link.

    (BTW, I suspect that a lot of people may have never read of Ludwick von Mises nor the Chicago School of Economics.)
  5. Tanstaafl

    Tanstaafl Crusader

    Div6 - Henry Hazlitt has a good book that explodes economic fallacies.
    War is one of the topics he addresses. It's a long time since I read it but he basically makes the point that if war is good for the economy why don't we go around breaking windows and setting each other's houses on fire to boost an ailing economy.

    Reminds me of an original Star Trek episode where two races run a nuclear war computer simulation (instead of blowing up valuable real estate) and people report on a daily basis to be vaporised.
  6. Dulloldfart

    Dulloldfart Squirrel Extraordinaire

    I remember that episode. At the time I even thought it could be a good idea, as I thought it embodied the essence of what war was about--killing off each other's population. Hah!

    Supposedly the "Report From Iron Mountain" pushes the idea that war is good for the economy. I haven't read it for a while.

    War is certainly good for the economy of the powers that be that also ultimately fund economics curricula in universities and economics textbooks. :)

  7. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    I have taken Propranolol to treat a neurological condition. The drug is known as a beta blocker. It did not, aside from a slowing of thinking, have any noticeably beneficial effect, so far as treating or regulating mood. I'll say, however, that the dose I was taking was proscribed to treat the neurological condition, and that as time went on, the dosages increased to combat a tolerance developed for the drug.

    Even though I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, I seriously doubt the efficacy of Propranolol to treat PTSD. At best it might be proscribed to ameliorate neurological conversions of trauma, but it would only be treating the symptom - not the problem.

    The drug did absolutely nothing to manage day-to-day stress or mitigate the effect it had. Such doses that might be thought of as prophylactic - to give to soldiers on active duty a "shield" against the psychological trauma caused in combat - would come with the same reflex slowing side effects I suffered from prior to stopping the drug; one way or another, a recipe for disaster. While it didn't, for me, cease critical thinking, it did slow it.

    This is a drug some surgeons take to steady their hands for meticulous surgery. A combat sniper might benefit from use of the drug, but only to steady his shooting. He'll still remember and be quite affected by the gore.

    That's just my experience. If it works for some people, either in combat, or in a clinical setting, then my experience would prove the exception to the rule. I certainly would not, in any way, recommend this drug to treat PTSD - before, after, or during the traumatic event.

    For the period of time, while I was on the drug, I was also being treated for (Not related to combat but violence of another personal story I won't get into, now.) PTSD.
  8. Div6

    Div6 Crusader


    Welcome to the board and thanks for your insightful post!
    It does not surprise me, your thoughts and experiences with that drug.
    We have seen time after time the snake-oil salesmen (pharma) collaborate with Govt to fleece the rubes. From Nutrasweet (brought to you by Donald Rumsfeld when he was head of FDA) to flouride in the water. In China they had a recent pyramid scheme implode around Ant Farming .

    Do you have any experience with Scientology?
  9. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    My experience with Scientology could only be described as that which anyone from the general public might be exposed to. I've known two members, during their lower echelon years, have been the target of multiple offers for "free" personality tests, and have walked by them demonstrating outside one of their branches over France's "Religious Intolerance", around 2000, when the French government was making distinctions that could have recognized Scientology as a harmful cult/sect and therefore, illegal.

    I've been watching them for years, from afar. The cult - and, at least to my mind that is what it is - is the most dynamic organization of its kind I've ever seen. So pernicious as to intimidate the late Dr. Margaret Thaler Singer into making only a veiled allusion to it in her book, Cults in Our Midst, it operates as a Totalitarian regime within the confines of laws of countries it infests successfully; countries that are ideologically diametrically opposed to Scientology in their political orientation.

    I just saw Frontline - Medicating Kids - on PBS.

    I knew a pharmacological chemist who was very concerned with the FDA, PhARMA, drug companies, et al, who have skirted ethical considerations for what would be allowed. To my mind, the whole of drug policy in America could be completely scrapped - including Schedule 1 and the DEA - and no one would be the worse to have our drug policies completely reestablished from scratch. That, however, is another battle.
  10. Div6

    Div6 Crusader

    Did your friends go on to "upper levels" or did they leave?

    Yes, the CoS is one of the nastier, brutish "cults"....but it seems our social structure orbits around various power structures erected through various ideologies...these power structures do battle with other ones, morph, fall to pieces, and reform again through time. Dr. Singer was singled out by Scn according to their "fair game" doctrine, as she openly opposed Scn.

    I agree..the laws need to change. Decriminalizing drugs would be a good first step.
  11. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    Both of them were roommates, at various times, and both were suffering from what I would consider to be life changing consequences - hence, both found a "home" in Scientology in order to ameliorate their pain. I did not keep in contact with them. I will say, based on everything I know, that they fit the "profile" of a cult target in all respects excepting their financial status. Both were bordering on homelessness. One of them, I had heard, went to L.A. for "further studies." (FLAG, I'm assuming.)

    The other one engaged me in a conversation which, in retrospect, seemed pointedly directed at controlling my perception-of-self (I've done a LOT of study in psychological abuse*) indicating that I reminded him "of a small boy trying to carry too many eggs at the same time" followed up with a suggestion/invitation to hang out with him at a Scientology branch. On a gut feeling that I was in over my head, I politely terminated our acquaintance.

    I agree. Scientology seems to capitalize on the frank openness of our culture, ironically attaching its ideals to social mores and axioms in our society which it uses as fulcrums that leverage its desired positions.

    In many ways, Scientology closely resembles Alcoholics Anonymous, regarding the way in which both persist in spite of a substantial lacking in actual, demonstrable efficacy. I realize that such a comparison paints AA as a cult, and so far as a dictionary definition of the word, it is. AA, however, exists as a relatively benign organization with a porous social membrane and democratic governance, with no strategy, visible or otherwise, that extends into other areas outside the treatment of alcoholism. AA, in its current state of tatters, suffers for its most widely known member, Bill Wilson, who capitalized, himself, off of his fame garnered from founding the organization, as he went onto write the Twelve & Twelve. The book is actually quite insane. The AA Big Book, preceding it, was written by Mr. Wilson and it proscriptions followed with efficacy by founding members who also contributed to it.

    Mr. Wilson, in the latter part of his sobriety, became more and more insane and unstable. AA sought to control his activities with Timothy Leary - specifically his ingestion of LSD which Bill was about to submit as a cure for Alcoholism. In the end he had two groups following him around making sure he didn't tarnish the reputation of AA by either seducing new members or, later on his death bed, taking another drink of alcohol. Apparently, he was not happy with his sobriety by then and was demanding booze. Such a concept as a death-bed relapse was perceived of as a failure and PR fiasco so monumental for AA's well being that people were stationed around the clock to make sure he died sober. The 12&12 is a reflection of that insanity that persists to this day as the book, which makes no sense at all, is read in AA meetings as a remedy for the problem of alcoholism.

    It could be argued that Bill W and LRH, with their authorships of literature on behalf of their known causes, both evolved "cults of personality". AA exists, however, due to a substantial lack of exposure. No one is motivated to expose it because, 1) in the end it causes no harm to individuals it claims to serve, beyond the severity of their admitted condition (alcoholism) and 2) it has no fraudulent aims beyond whatever means individual members might employ to wrest advantage over other members - something that could just as easily occur outside the AA hall, and does.

    That's not to say the tenants of AA can't be exploited by an undifferentiated-ego-mass who fosters stringent demands for group conformity which take precedence over the comfort and well-being of individual members and the society which exists outside of it. I've actually witnessed that happening as one group lost its charter with AA and splintered into its own conception with much more strenuous meanings applied to words than what the founders had initially intended...

    But I digress. Scientology does have a strategy and is run with an authoritarian regime that manages its inner-workings. The facets of the cult extend far past whatever AA would even want, according to AA's by-laws. It is ingenious in its capacity to weather public scrutiny with strategies that seemed cultivated on a psychopathic grasp for Sun Tzu's Art of War.

    *Thread successfully derailed - sort of. The original topic was that of Propranalol being used to control/cure mental illness resulting from the traumas of battle. To my mind the topic inevitably, whatever the intention of such a conception, seems to morph into a euphemism for the original title of the thread which was to override belief systems that stand in the way of the "normal" person's natural inclination to preserve life, rather than destroy it.

    The US army, in order to combat hesitation on the battle-field, now uses, among others, three-dimensional targets which take a distinctly human form, opposing the standard black-on-white, bowling-pin profiles printed to paper sheets in the past. Germany and Japan, in WWII, gave their soldiers methamphetamine to make their soldiers better killers. In Sierra Leone, child soldiers were given "Brown" (What can Brown do for you? It's a combination of heroin and gun-powder placed into an incision on the skin.) and told they will be protected from bullets with it. The same child soldiers were exposed to very traumatic psychological torture designed to desensitize them from the taking of human life, starting in orders given to kill small animals and graduated to the taking of an actual human life, before being sent into battle.

    Cults have dynamically taken the reigns of one's mind and convinced them that killing is simply a matter of "self-protection". What do you have when you act to take away the humanity from someone the guilt and traumatic events impacting them would allow for the normal progression into PTSD? I sincerely hope that we don't wind up with monsters, in the end.
  12. Div6

    Div6 Crusader

    I had no idea about AA at all...but I can see the paralells and your point. "Founders" of movements are the ones that see a goal, and call attention to it and organize around it.....they often outlive that function, and then become "excess baggage". Interesting.

    The Stanford Prison Experiment is another example that shows how relatively easy it is to bypass "reason" in a role playing scenario. In man, thought seems to be tuned to either dominating the environment or escaping domination...but thought is just one aspect of "being"....emotions, sensations, observations and actions all being of even greater import.

    This is one reason I so enjoy this board, George. Meeting intelligent people like you and exchanging viewpoints.
  13. Zinjifar

    Zinjifar Silver Meritorious Sponsor

    I was surprised a couple of years back when I ran into references to the 'Oxford Group' thanks to what might well have been an OSA plant on ARS.

    And it's influence on AA and the '12-Step-Movement' and ties to Crowley.

    I would consider it inconceivable that Ron wasn't aware of it. The similarities to Hubbardism are obvious.

    Not to even mention the obvious 'Oxford Capacity Analysis' :)

  14. Alanzo

    Alanzo Bardo Tulpa

    And then, of course, attempting to dominate him and then escaping his attempts to dominate....
  15. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    I just finished reading a book called Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism and was struck by a particularly keen observation by one of Robert J. Lifton's interviewees. It was something to the effect of "it is a crucial mistake to underestimate or misunderstand one's own as well as others' desire for power."

    Considering the Stanford Prison Experiment alongside Bill Wilson's eventual path to (albeit somewhat mitigated by the people around him) self-destruction it's important to note that Philip Zimbardo, himself, admitted to inner-conflicts about terminating the experiment even though it had proven its results and had certainly caused discomfort.

    Sam Vaknin, in his book, Malignant Self Love: Narcissism Revisited describes what I would consider to be, at least, a corollary condition perhaps suffered by Bill Wilson, known as "Reactive Narcissism" which, however related or unrelated to anything Bill Wilson may or may not have suffered from, resembles certain details known to his life after AA became a self-propelled organizational entity. In essence, Bill Wilson outlived his usefulness by becoming increasingly deluded with his own self-importance. His work, in the early stages of AA, had a very gratifying impact on his psyche. His importance within the group of founding individuals was needlessly heralded, to such an extent the he ceased being a human and, in a few years, became an almost infallible legend, in both his mind, and in the various meeting halls of AA.

    Conversely, in L. Ron Hubbard, I observe a narcissist, who while "claiming" to be an equivalent champion of the human race, if not human condition, had very different initial aims. Power was so seductive to him, a pathological narcissist if there ever was one, that it was Scientology's inception that created for him, a pathological narcissistic space with which to gratify such aims.

    Thank you and it's been as stimulating for me, as well.

    How ironic! The Oxford Group's principles of recovery were, in fact, the Book of James, from the Bible. That's not a widely known fact as AA's 12 steps were conceived of, while not necessarily naming, knowing the facets of religion that have been used to mete out abuse, rather than simple salvation. It's entirely conceivable that LRH capitalized off of this ignorance.

    The fifth step of Alcoholics Anonymous is, "Admitted to ourselves, to God, and to another Human Being the exact nature of our wrongs." This single step causes more consternation for more people than any other simply because it requires such a degree of trust. In some form or another, by cults, the principle ingredients of it are made perverse. Secrets are power. One's secrets known to another are power over another. In Alcoholics Anonymous, the step has a redeeming quality. So much of what is kept secret by the individual is what constitutes psychic/spiritual turmoil. In essence the keeper of his own secrets is so preoccupied with the fear of their disclosure, let alone their weight in toxic emotions like guilt, shame, anger, fear, et al, that revealing them to someone else effectively (assuming subsequent steps are followed) negates the negative impact.

    In cults, such personal disclosure may provide a superficial analgesic to the consternations suffered by the individual who finds, his or her secrets revealed, comfort in his or her acceptance by the group. Unfortunately, by that time the individual is in it for the long haul and making a separation from such a group becomes unfathomable, particularly as the individual finds that the secrets they revealed are increasingly used to induce guilt over non-compliance; used to ensure compliance
  16. olska

    olska Silver Meritorious Patron

    FLAG is in Clearwater, Florida -- not in L.A.

    AA (and its offshoots) is a simple program that makes no claims to be "scientific," promises nothing more than hope and the possibility of sobriety (no amazing supernatural powers as are suggested possible at scientology's "OT" levels), takes no names or addresses, sends out no mail, keeps no written records of the "confessions" of its members, requires no financial contributions other than a "pass the hat" for refreshments and the rent for meeting rooms. It is entirely voluntary, and the only qualification for membership is "a desire to stop drinking."

    Please tell us what are the "close resemblances" you see between AA and scientology.

    Correct me if there is another book, but the Twelve and Twelve, as far as I know, is a publication, in one volume, of the Twelve Steps and the Twelve Traditions which are the foundation of the AA program.

    How is it, in your opinion, that "the book is quite insane"? Please elaborate.

    Interesting that you would paint this as a "PR fiasco" when one of the Twelve Traditions of AA is that they DO NOT PROMOTE but rather gather their members through attraction, not promotion.

    In contrast, scientology parades its "celebrity" members before the public for the express, policy-stated purpose of giving itself a broad appeal to the public and recruiting new members.

    I wonder what you would consider a "PR strategy" or "PR success" as opposed to a "PR fiasco" for an organization that protects the anonymity of its members (including those "celebrities" who attend AA meetings) by refraining from engaging in promotion?

    Exposure of what? please enlighten us on the "secrets" of AA which you feel need to be exposed.

    As part of the AA process, if you will, is to rid oneself of the socially and self-destructive aspects of "ego", could you please explain the term "undifferentiated-ego-mass" as used in the context of your above statement?

    I completely agree.

    "Scientology" has as its socio/political agenda the intent to eventually recruit, take over and run (according to its "management technology") the entire world. This intent is boldly stated in the "tech" and "policy" statements of its founder.

    AA (and its offshoots) exists only as a way for individuals and families to help themselves and each other deal with debilitating addictions. It has no socio/ political agenda at all.
  17. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    Duly noted and thank you.

    Tone and inflection are oft found missing on the internet, but the interrogatory posture your post seems to take hasn't escaped me. Perhaps, however, it is I who am misunderstanding, since, however much you'd like to grace me with your non-combative company, your questions are aimed at confronting an assumed ignorance, on my part. I'll presume it is your aim simply to enlighten my ignorance or politely be enlightened as it is not my aim to provoke quarrelsome interrogation.

    I see manifold resemblances between AA (AA's current structure) and all cults - not just the topic of this board, specifically pertaining to the following aforementioned qualifier: regarding the way in which both persist in spite of a substantial lacking in actual, demonstrable efficacy.

    Now, before you try and pin me down with another straw-man logical fallacy, lets define that last word, efficacy.


    ef·fi·ca·cy /ˈɛfɪkəsi/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation[ef-i-kuh-see]
    –noun, plural -cies.
    capacity for producing a desired result or effect; effectiveness: a remedy of great efficacy.​

    To further qualify that word, as it relates to AA, we need arrive at (I am speaking a bit hyperbollicaly in relations to percentages. You may correctly perceive me as being a bit snarky but just shy of snide.) the step about 40% of all AA prospects arrive at, successfully. Step 2 is, "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

    If sanity is the measure of success that AA stipulates as a goal, implicitly, we need not look too far to find insanity abounding at most AA meetings. Now, don't get me wrong. I am really not concerned with AA's well-being or lack, there of. As a matter of fact, I'll submit that I am completely neutral, on the subject of AA. Of course, you're not going to find too many members who understand the meaning of neutral, in AA halls, because they haven't read to page 85 of the Big Book and have no understanding, whatsoever, that one's neutrality is of paramount importance - the ideal goal, as it were.

    It's safe to say, past the revolving door of the first three steps, the meaning of the title to the chapter, "Into Action", has eluded about 85% of AA's prospects, so far as an implicit instruction meant to be followed closely in order to attain a specific result - that result being sanity. It is small wonder that AA's Big Book is regarded as "The most unread book in AA."

    Now, correct me if I'm wrong, but in the Twelve and Twelve, in Chapter 3 (I don't own the book.) Bill Wilson wrote, "I am a liar, a cheat, and a thief." He didn't write, "was", or that he had "stolen", et al. In relating to his "decision" to turn his life and his will over to the care of God as he understood him, he decided that supporting this crucial AA step took place with an admission. This startling admission, taking place LONG after Bill sobered up COMPLETELY contravenes that essential belief that one would be restored to "sanity".

    Lying, cheating, and stealing are commonly considered morally repugnant. A psychologist might call them "maladaptive." Maladaptive behavior is thought to be symptomatic of mental illness. Mental illness is, by its very definition in the dictionary, insanity. In describing the third step of the book, Bill admits that he is still "uncured".

    Now, before you raise the argument that, in AA, sanity was a semantic interpretation for sobriety, there are many people who fit the clinical definition for sober. Unfortunately, not all of them are sane. The Big Book talks, very specifically, about what sanity really means. On page 82 of the Big Book, it reads, "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half-way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves."

    You may raise the point that I took the quote entirely out of context - that Bill was just alluding to the condition of the identity prior to taking the Third Step. It's immaterial, if you want to argue in AA semantics, however, since the question of identity is immaterial until the fourth step.

    Perhaps Bill was just exhibiting "pride in reverse," then. Perhaps in such remembrance of who he used to be as a sick alcoholic, he was just exhibiting "humility". If I wanted to, I could argue that such ideals are nothing if not simple cliche's wasted on paper in a sea of chaotic word salad, so poorly organized as to be marginally passable as something so arcane that first readings left it completely misunderstood.

    I have heard lore of people who have used the 12 and 12 exclusively. One such individual blew his brains out. I could get on my soapbox and say, "This book is dangerous because it proposes to the newcomer ideas and concepts with no intellectual merit, what-so-ever." I won't, however, simply because, as I stated earlier in this post, I don't care.

    Of course. The eleventh tradition is written in the Big Book and therefore must have always been followed rigorously by ALL members of AA, to the exclusion of lapses in judgment or piously motivated Machiavellian image control. I'm sorry. I am not a saint, as it were, and am therefore prone to making assertions which just outright appear to be illogical in the face of the known rules expected for all members to follow.

    It was certainly just an old wives tale that, when one of its founding members had lost his mind, and he had already ceased being anonymous, that people would want to control his access to booze considering he had reported widely AA was a cure for such a condition.

    If I had posted that Scientology and AA were quite similar in their public affairs rituals, then you'd have grounds for such an argument, but I didn't.

    You don't consider the relapse of a man who is widely known as the founding member of alcoholics anonymous and who swore, quite publicly, about his nostrum for the disease of alcoholism, to be a public relations fiasco for AA, as a whole?

    That's three! Three Straw Man Logical Fallacies!

    I'm not here to expose AA's secrets. I don't believe AA HAS any secrets to be exposed. I don't see any benefit in announcing to anyone that AA is a shadow of what it used to be which survives in the darkness of fringe psychology as a result of a circulation of members who drop dollars in baskets for the privilege of speaking in rambling circles, waiting for that day they can finally hold that chip and get the approval their parents never gave them. I could care less about recalling my anecdotal experiences in AA meetings that have concluded with my disappointment and being told that my disappointment was the "result of being spiritually unfit". I am unhurt by the endless hours I have listened to the monotonous drivel of someone telling the story of their recovery and how, in spite of being sober, they STILL can't keep the number of marriages down they've had, below three.

    What I have said about (most of) AA and Scientology, and how they are in common, is that NEITHER has proven itself a remedy to any known condition either reports to cure. AA survives because no one really discusses AA after they stop going to it, unless it's in a bar to fallaciously observe that "all AA is is a cult." AA's current short-comings, therefore, remain undisclosed. EDIT: I have also posted what I believe to be clear distinctions between the two along with the differences between their respective founders.

    I'll admit, there are a very few groups of individuals who attend AA meetings who actually have achieved that condition known as sanity. Many of these members have 20+ years of sobriety, not between them, but each. Most AA meetings I've been to are lucky to have one such member, who usually speaks up at the end of the meeting to offer his veiled cross-talk directed at someone who 1) he doesn't really like, and 2) resembles the person he used to be when he was sobering up. If they're lucky, they'll exchange phone numbers after the meeting and that person, MIGHT, just be the next elder-statesman sitting, and speaking wisely from the back of the room. Most people in most AA don't make it through their first year. Of those who do, many will leave, having formed an opinion of AA without having ever been through the steps. Of those who attempt the steps, many won't make it past the fifth, and fewer to step 8 or 9.

    Every single one of them will stand up at the end of the meeting and belt out the Lord's Prayer, followed by, "Keep coming back. It works when you work it and you work it 'cause you're worth it." They will then troll for dates, espousing their commitment to working on their issues related to "codependency" - a fairly nebulous psychological condition that is utter fiction (but I've got a copy of codependant no more!) - and leave, minus one dollar with a head chock full of BS cookies...

    It's a reference to a Family Guy episode where Meg joins a cult and is being kept there for Stewie's first birthday party. The undifferentiated ego is one which is undeveloped, and therefore deprived of the development fundamental to "rid oneself of the socially and self-destructive aspects of 'ego'".

    Wonderful! If you completely agree, then how come you tried to make arguments that I had made statements that would directly contravene the latest one which we find ourselves in agreement on?

    Agreed, but if you'd read any of my prior posts more carefully, you'd have found that we were in complete agreement before hand.

    You'll notice that I didn't spare any tone, but it's really not directed at you. I have found the need, in reply to your legitimate questions (however loaded they may have been), couched in seeming obstinate defiance, that were raised to clarify the premise of my erstwhile arguments. In short, I recognize the validity of your questions. I question the spirit in which they were raised.
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2008
  18. olska

    olska Silver Meritorious Patron

    Of course it's your perogative to question anything you wish.

    The spirit in which they were raised was that of wondering why (and more details of how) you would compare scientology and AA, when imo they are so very, very different.

    While it may be true that, as you say, both persist in spite of a substantial lacking in actual, demonstrable efficacy isn't that true of all subjective endeavors (emotional self help programs, religions, philosophies), as well as true of the USA public education system, modern economic theories such as Ronald Reagan's "trickle down" theory, weight-loss diets, and a host of other things and programs that persist despite lack of actual or demonstrable effectiveness?

    As far as I know, AA has always been presented as a subjective program -- that is, its efficacy (capacity for producing a desired result or effect; effectiveness) depends on what the individual does (or not) with the guidelines provided by the program, as well as on faith. True that many do not find it helpful, workable, or to their liking; it would seem that it persists because of those who do.

    I (mistakenly) jumped to the assumption that your comparison of AA and scientology extended beyond the likeness of the two on that one point, hence my questions.
  19. George Glass

    George Glass Patron

    They are similar in that they are both socially oriented groups operating an applied belief system fostered (superficially, at least, for Scientology) for the well-being of their membership/the public who they serve. They both operate on a level which is publicly known, accessible, and perceivable. They are operated, in large part, on the labor and finances of their membership exclusively, receiving little, if any, outside public support. Both are classified by the IRS as non-profit entities. While AA's charter specifically mandates that it is not allied with any sect, denomination, et al, religiously, both are organizational entities which proscribe systems of beliefs for their members to follow, which are based in spirituality and dedicated to the improvement of the individual member through spiritual guidance. Both maintain historical narratives and mythologies, concerning their founding members and many adherents, in both groups, have systems of belief which are bolstered if not predicated by such narratives and mythologies.

    Where as the examples you have sighted for organizations resembling Scientology, simply for being top-heavy, bureaucratic snafus, that dangerously mis-allocate tax-revenues for the furtherance of a select group of people, to the exclusion of the public for whom it is purported they serve, it's quite important to note that Scientology would very, very much like to paint over their imposing rusty structure with a couple of buckets borrowed from none-other than AA.

    Such a deduction is easily made simply reading the Narconon (a subsidiary of Scientology, no?) website: For immediate help with an alcohol or other drug problem, call...


    You're quite right in insisting that both are entirely different organizations and deserve distinct categorizations. AA actually, in spite of its lack of efficacy, has all of the qualities Scientology may only, in every legal since of the word, aspire to. AA, in fact, so far as differences are concerned, is downright transparent in all of its operation. It has no lasting ill-effect suffered by former members. If anything is notable of AA, it provides a respite for the irresponsible and beleaguered to find social acceptance and support that does nothing to ruin the lives of its members. Members of AA are free to come and go as they please and no contract is ever required for such membership. Finally, AA patiently suffers its critics, both inside and out, while Scientology seeks to destroy theirs.