Contempt Prior to Investigation

There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance—that principle is contempt prior to investigation. —Herbert Spencer 

Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous Appendix II page 567

Here is a little piece that ends up in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous, as probably one of the more famous quotes that exists in Alcoholics Anonymous today. That is “contempt prior to investigation”.

Contempt prior to investigationThis particular quote, has a few statements in it, that are certainly worth investigating further. First of all, contempt is defined according to Google as a disregard for something that should be taken into account. How many times have I been too quick to judge something, too quick to come to a conclusion without having all the facts? That is the purpose of this quote, in context to the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. It is in reference to spiritual matters.

Quite often, many of us will judge religion, or spirituality, or in fact, another persons belief system without looking further into the spiritual matter in question. Before disregarding spiritual experiences, investigate them with an open mind.

This quote, in its entirety, states, that contempt prior to investigation is a principle that blocks us against truth and keeps us in the dark. What this quote is saying is, this. Before you claim to know all the facts, or have all the facts, understand that there is always more facts that arise. There is always the other half of the story. So try to be open minded to the facts. When I can do this, when I can be more open minded that I might not have all the facts, then I I become teachable.

For an interesting read on how this ended up in the big book, please enjoy this article that I found on


Bottles were only a symbol

“After all, our problems were of our own making. Bottles were only a symbol.”

– Big book of Alcoholics Anonymous page 103

This is a great statement, when I read it today, however when I first read it, it was really more like eating humble pie. Our problems were of our own making. bottles-659150_640This is a big piece to digest when you first read it. It is true though, and the more I look at it these days, the more grateful I am to know this simple fact.

If my problems are of my own making, then I have something great here. I have an inside problem, which in turn can be solved internally as well. This literally means, the answer lies within. I no longer have to look outward for a solution to my troubles, I no longer have to search. How do I find it within me though?

The answer awaits in the 12 steps. The steps are a solution to the problems I experience in day to day life. Alcoholism, was a result of my internal struggles, the bottles were only a symbol to a much greater problem. Alcoholics Anonymous is an inside job. Time and again, there is reference made to the answers being within us through the literature. If this is true, if the answer really is within, then I have found the answer I have searched outwardly for, my entire life. What a relief that brings.