The Fix has an entertaining debate on the effectiveness of the 12 Step approach between two docs on opposite sides, pro and con. It’s an animated exchange with dueling statistics. You can find it here if interested.

Meanwhile, excuse me for yawning.

It’s hard to believe I once got excited about such debates. Now they just feel like circular exercises in wasting time. Experts launching stat-rockets at one another– “Your approach doesn’t work”. “Yes it does. It’s your approach that doesn’t work.” “My approach works, it’s yours that doesn’t.”

And so on, till the director signals ‘cut’.

Now I have nothing against an author wanting to promote his book. But couldn’t they attract attention with something a bit less pointless? Perch atop a flagpole for a month, or maybe caper naked through the university quad.

Nowadays I often short-circuit the debate by asking the AA critic what he or she thinks works for a sick addict or alcoholic. In the case of Lance Dodes, one of the participants here, it comes down to long-term individual psychotherapy based in a psychoanalytic approach.

That’s right– probably the least results-oriented method ever devised. Common in the 20th Century, at least among the urban educated, but over the years a subject of many jokes. Like the one about the three old ladies comparing their offspring. “My son James is a lawyer and has a very successful practice,” boasts the first. “And he says he owes it all to me.” “Well, my son Louis,” brags the second, “is a heart surgeon, and you know who he says inspired him? Me.”

The third old lady is not to be topped. “My boy Harold has seen a psychiatrist twice a week for years. And you know who he talks about? Me.”

A few months back I provided my visiting mother-in-law with a ride to a noon meeting at the local Alano Club. The place was packed, on an ordinary Tuesday. Why were all those people there? The coffee is just not that tasty. Yet they were getting something out of it that was important to them.

It’s like those media polls that proclaim American youth no longer feel the need for religious faith. To which I respond: then who are all those young people jumping down in their seats on cable TV? I’m supposed to ignore them?

After a while the debate is along the lines of, “Who you gonna believe, my statistics or your lyin’ eyes?”

Oh well. Time for a good book. I recommend Wayfaring Stranger, by James Lee Burke, if you like adventure stories. The author’s in long-term recovery, by the way, and wrote a successful series of novels about a cop who gets sober through AA.

Poor guy — I guess nobody told him it didn’t work.

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