William James was born in 1842 and grew up in an age of rapid advancements in science and industry that promised to unveil the mysteries of the world and relieve man of his physical burdens. He studied medicine at Harvard and soon was teaching courses in physiology. However he is best known for his contributions to the study of the mind, and is considered the “Father of American psychology”. He founded the philosophical school of Pragmatism, which stated that the truth of a statement is nothing more than the usefulness to the person who believes it (a reversal of our intuitive sense). He applied the newly discovered principles of Darwinism to epistemology: the most useful ideas eventually win out.
James built a career out of flipping our intuitive understanding of things, for example he famously claimed: “It is not that we see a bear, fear it, and run; we see a bear and run; consequently, we fear the bear.” He was also interested in religious and paranormal experiences, and was profoundly influenced by a session with a psychic medium who told him things that she couldn’t possibly have known. Though he didn’t believe her claim of communicating with spirits, he was convinced that she had true telepathic powers. It turned out that their maids shared a friendship by which the information was likely gleaned; nevertheless he remained a believer and was an early official of the American Society for Psychical Research, which attempted to apply scientific principals to the study of paranormal experience such as life after death.
In the classical age of physics, the astonishing developments in the theories of electromagnetism and mechanics intensified the problem of determinism (and fatalism). He said: “My first act of free will shall be to believe in free will.” Of course the thorny problem is when you declare otherwise, and perhaps that contributed to the neurasthenia from which he suffered as a young man.
James is best known for his masterwork Varieties of Religious Experience, a detailed and scholarly examination of extreme cases of middle-aged men who found ‘god’ or ‘enlightenment’ in a flash of inspiration after a period of intense depression as they struggled with their impending mortality. James claimed that such experiences had transformative powers and were just as true as any scientific principle, since they provided a deep usefulness and meaning to a man in his time of distress. “The only thing that it unequivocally testifies to is that we can experience union with something larger than ourselves and in that union find our greatest peace.” (VRE p. 380)
James died in 1910, and his philosophy was discredited and mostly forgotten by the time of Einstein’s discovery of General Relativity in 1915, which explained gravity as nothing more than the curvature of space-time in the presence of mass. Perhaps the greatest intellectual achievement of all time, the theory was vindicated soon after it was published by a British expedition to Brazil that showed the predicted deflection of starlight around the sun during an eclipse; “Einstein Theory Triumphs!” hailed the NY Times. (Though both the observation and the initial calculation each contained a large but exactly equal error.) The theory holds little pragmatic value today for all but astronomers and philosophers, though Einstein remarked that once understood, one can’t help but be astonished by its simplicity and beauty – qualities the mathematician admires more than ‘usefulness’. Einstein dedicated most of his career to a grand unified theory of gravity and quantum physics (which are mathematically incompatible). Of course he failed, nor has anyone yet succeeded.
Born again Pragmatism
In the early 1930’s, Bill Wilson was struggling with his impending mortality, and had taken to the common habit of reducing his standards by getting drunk; but there was only so low he could go even when plastered. In the depths of his despair, his friend Ebby Thatcher, who also had a history of excessive drinking, introduced him to both the Oxford Group and James’ Varieties. Both had a profound influence on him. He had his own religious experience when the “Father of Light” appeared to him in a vision. Suddenly he lost his desire to drink.
Wilson was obsessed with Varieties for months, and encouraged everyone to read it. This along with the Oxford Group and Crowley’s Thelema (“Do what thou wilt”) provided the foundations for the 12 Steps and Alcoholics Anonymous. William James is mentioned twice in the Big Book, and is one of only two people mentioned by name (Carl Jung is the other).
James’s Pragmatist philosophy was thereby resurrected in AA theology, which claims that the experience is real and true simply because it works. This reverse engineering of religious enlightenment is taken by the members to its logical conclusion: “AA worked for me and it’s the only thing that ever worked. I buried many friends due to this disease. AA has saved millions of lives. Now I am happy, joyous, and free.™”
In the Pragmatist school, people don’t drink because they are unhappy (as one would naively assume). Instead, they are unhappy because they drink. The mind is warped in the presence of alcohol: “The tragic truth is that if the man be a true alcoholic, the happy day may not arrive…. Most alcoholics, for reasons yet obscure, have lost the power of choice in drink…. We are without defense against the first drink.” (BB p. 23-24) Drinking has become some kind of illness, a claim hard to dispute because most excessive drinkers are not willing to admit the real reasons. The First Step requires the new member to confess powerlessness and the abject failure of will. “No amount of will power he might muster could stop his drinking for long.” (BB p. 155) “The alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so.” (BB p. 62) Relapses are common for this ‘cunning and baffling’ disease.
But most excessive drinkers moderate on their own with or without the help of AA (and AA has been shown to be dangerous for younger drinkers). Furthermore, AA fosters a cycle of bingeing and abstinence that is more damaging to the brain than continuous inebriation. No matter to the AA member who is trained to repeat the mantras: “I couldn’t stop drinking no matter how hard I tried. I almost died. AA helped me when nothing else worked. AA saved the lives of millions. Anyone is susceptible to addiction.” By reciting these lies, the AA member actually creates the disease called ‘alcoholism’ in his own mind and the mind of the vulnerable — lies completely justified by their perceived usefulness and so become Pragmatically ‘true’.
To be clear: Alcoholism (addiction) is simply a lie and a fake disease manufactured by the 12 Step cults. They create the disease and then offer the cure. It’s a scam as old as human history. No surprise that its ranks are filled with criminals and self-professed liars.
“Abandon yourself to God, as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past.” (BB p. 164) Such advice may appeal to the middle aged who are tired of the drunkenness and the repeated dashing of their hopes. “Some of us sought out sordid places… Then would come oblivion and the awful awakening…. Unhappy drinkers who read this page will understand!” (BB. p 151) Many actually take the advice to heart, and make amends with the families that they abandoned to their ‘drinking’. And become upstanding citizens, even if they are also the most persuasive apostles for their cult: “AA worked for me and it was the only thing that ever worked.” In so doing they promote addiction and recruit fresh blood for the organization. And for the Pragmatist, that’s all that matters.
Before the Miracle Happens
But the offer of a Higher Power has little appeal to the young person whose pursuits lean more toward fun and sex than ‘serenity’. They may profess temporary interest, but then return to drinking with the claim, “AA didn’t help me. It just seemed too Christian and moralistic.” Of course, they will eventually return and ‘get it’, even if it takes decades.
The real threat of AA is to vulnerable people sent by the courts or simply in search of companionship, who are immediately taught the self-fulfilling prophecy of doom: “Each AA member is to follow the 12 steps to the best of their ability or face jails, institutions or death.” (12 Traditions) “Death was often near.” (BB p. 107) The newcomer is required to admit ‘powerlessness’ to alcohol and vow to abstain from drinking for the rest of their lives. They are then required to reveal their deepest sins and insecurities with rigorous honesty (a classic brainwashing technique), and then subjected to exploitation and abuse by the cult, and then expected to ‘make amends’ for it. The lucky ones will eventually leave in anger, and the unfortunates will be held up as a testament to the deadly power of their newly diagnosed ‘disease’.
Bill Wilson is infamous for ’13th Stepping’ the newcomers and had to be monitored for that reason. There are numerous web sites dedicated to exposing the exploitation and abuse, even if they still believe his propaganda. They say: “Addiction is real, but AA is not the only effective treatment.”
Seeking the Truth no matter where it lies
AA teaches the Craving Lie: “I couldn’t stop drinking no matter how hard I tried.” If you actually go to a meeting you discover ‘craving’ is actually of little concern for the members. Mostly they claimed to drink because their friends were, or because they were lonely, or for some other simple reason. They don’t claim to struggle with their cravings until after the fact: “As we look back, we feel we had gone on drinking many years beyond the point where we could quit on our will power.” (BB p. 34)
The real truth is that AA is a pagan-theistic cult that alternately idolizes and demonizes its one true god: alcohol. Laugh along with the merry drunkalogs. Nod solemnly at the claims of close brushes with imminent death. Go to your local AA meeting and see for yourself!
The purpose of the cult is to ensure a steady flow of newcomers to abuse and exploit as a continuation of their drinking career. Of course, they can always return to the bars when AA gets boring, and just call it a ‘relapse’ if anyone finds out. Ironically, the newcomer admires the mischief, even if his own life will be offered in payment for it.
People often wonder why AA is so popular as a treatment program when it has never been shown to be effective. The reason is simply AA’s power and influence as a propaganda machine that has infiltrated all levels of the government, entertainment, and medical industries to legitimize modern day demon possession. The 12th Step: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.” AA created the disease and so holds the patent on its cure. Other treatment modalities such as SMART Recovery and HAMS are little more than AA deprogramming operations posing as self-help groups.
Though James’s American Psychical Society was long since discredited, its legacy is continued in medical research organizations such as NIDA and NIAAA. Of course they are about as likely to ever cure addiction as they are to ‘cure’ someone of a belief in Christianity or Communism, even if they seem to be evidence of ‘life after death’.