Musings of Navigating The Finite remainder of life from Porchville, with the hope of a glimpse of The Infinite

Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Throng of Illogicals and Science Denialists Are Going to Storm The Castle

I like Jesse Bering's blog on the Scientific American website.  Whether I agree with him or not I enjoy his writing and he has a good head on his shoulders.  Well this month Jesse got into a tiff with Andrew Sullivan over circumcision.  

Science Denialists and Illogicals Storming
The Citadel of Logic
Jesse doesn't like Andrew calling his penis mutilated.  Well Andrew feel free to call mine anything you wish,  and I will agree with you.  But as I am finding out sticks and stones will break your bones but words will really piss 'em off.  Frankly I kind of believe that one should call a spade a spade, so when I zip it down and have a good look at old pete, well yeah mutilated comes to mind.  But if it will make Jesse feel better, I could call it decorative, designer, avant garde, pretty, aesthetic, minimalist or whatever would be appealing to Jesse's delicate sensibilities.  It makes little difference to me, my delicate sensibilities were hacked off at birth.  It was modified by the best science of the time...I bear the brown racing stripe... ahhh indeed I am a Gomco Clamp Boy!  I could have been on the front of a Wheaties box at the time.     

Anyhow Jesse presents much evidence of the wonders of circumcision.  OK, and he also states that the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP) revised their policy statement on circumcision which according to Jesse:
"The consensus regarding this cascade of new datasets—all of which, they claimed, they went over methodically with a fine-toothed comb—moves the AAP away from its historically noncommittal view and towards a clear stance that the benefits of infant male circumcision now unambiguously outweigh its minimal risks when performed under sterile conditions by properly trained physicians." 
OK so gee I guess I am wrong, circumcision is a really good thing.  Jesse claims that there is a 60% reduction in HIV transfer.  I have read some things about that 60% but OK, I'll give Jesse his 60% reduction.  Then in an ever rising crescendo of hysteria Jesse ends the article with this pearl of wisdom:

"I don’t need someone else to tell me what I should be outraged by, Sullivan, thank you very much. It’s certainly not going to be in response to already stressed-out parents acting sensibly as their child’s health advocate and appealing to the ethical directives of professionals, rather than online blowhards who think that repeatedly referring to an act with an amygdala-fuelled term like “mutilation” makes it so. If you want your child to be at an increased risk of urinary tract infections, herpes, genital ulcers, HPV and HIV, that’s entirely your choice, and feel free to celebrate with other science-denialists sharing similarly misplaced passions. But spare me your righteous indignation over those parents today that fail to see their benevolent, educated decision to circumcise their infant sons as an 'attack on their sexual pleasure at birth.'" 

In case you haven't guessed, the emphasis is mine.  So now I am a science-denialist using amygdala-fuelled terms like mutilation, but good Ole' Jesse here is a paragon of emotional stability.  So let's take a look at what the AAP said in their revised policy statement.  From:  

"Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns, the benefits of circumcision are sufficient to justify access to this procedure for families choosing it and to warrant third-party payment for circumcision of male newborns. It is important that clinicians routinely inform parents of the health benefits and risks of male newborn circumcision in an unbiased and accurate manner."

Again of course the emphasis is mine.  So does the import of this paragraph warrant Bering's accusation of those who would refuse circumcision as science-denialists?  I really have no interest in Bering's and Sullivan's spat but I do resent being called a science-denialist just because I don't agree with Bering.  But OK I'll concede, I am a science-denialist, but grant me this Jesse,  I am a science-denialist with a mutilated penis and a well fueled amygdala. 

Incidentally I have been counseled by people who are against circumcision to avoid the M-word because it is inflammatory.  But because 1)  I am a little pissed at moment, 2) I am only using it in reference to myself, and  3) that is exactly the word that I feel best describes my condition, I believe that I shall use it for one more day. 

OK I said I would give Jesse his 60% improvement in preventing HIV transfer.  From a practical standpoint what does that mean?  One only needs a condom 40% of the time?  In terms of HIV transfer what real value is attained by circumcision?  HIV is no longer a problem?  Ohhh?  Why did we ever have a problem to begin with in the US?  What about Europe?  The best I can gather Europe and the US have about the same rates of transfer.  Shouldn't the European rate be much higher with the 60% reduction in HIV transfer garnered by circumcision?  Circumcision is relatively rare in Europe.  

Regarding HIV transfer, in a practical sense, being circumcised means that on the average it will take you longer to get infected than it would if you are not circumcised.  But the fact remains that if you engage in continual risky sexual behavior and do not use condoms you will eventually become infected with HIV.  So what exactly has circumcision done for you?  You can get circumcised and have to use condoms all the time, or you can stay intact and have to use condoms all of the time.  The choice is yours.  Oh wait, no.  I am sorry, it's not your choice, it is your parents choice.  I apologize for the confusion.   

Note: I posted comments 16, 19 and 43 at Bering's Blog at the link above. 

Well my second foray into the world of circumcision blogging resulted in two of my comments not being published.  Now we all know that I ain't too smart, intellect has never been one of my claims,  but wouldn't that qualify as censoring?  Of course the blog belongs to an individual and it is hers to publish or not as she sees fit, but gee, post a note that comments from illogicals will not be posted.  I could go waste my time else where.  Well here are the two blog posts:

SquintMom, Resources For Evidence Based Parenting, What The Science Says About Circumcision: Part 1 — The Benefits

Her conclusion for the benefits:

"Science Bottom Line:* There is no scientific evidence that strongly supports circumcision in the United States for the sole purpose of preventing disease.** 

**Obviously, this is not to say that there’s no reason to circumcise, nor is it to say that there’s no SCIENTIFIC reason to circumcise in areas with epidemic HIV, etc. The point here is that the argument FOR circumcision in the U.S. can’t be made on the basis of scientific evidence, and must instead be made on the basis of values and beliefs."

SquintMom, Resources For Evidence Based Parenting, What The Science Says About Circumcision: Part 2 — The Risks  

Her conclusion regarding the risks:

Science Bottom Line:* There is no scientific evidence that strongly links routine infant circumcision with appropriate analgesiato physical or psychological harm.** Because there are many options available for managing pain during infant circumcision, however, there’s simply no justification for medical circumcision without analgesia. 

**Obviously, this is not to say that no one is ever hurt by circumcision, or that there are not individuals who wish they hadn’t been circumcised. However, the SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE does not provide support for the argument that routine infant circumcision is harmful. As such, the argument AGAINST circumcision in the U.S. can’t be made on the basis of scientific evidence, and must instead be made on the basis of values and beliefs.

So I thought, cool!  This person did what appeared to be a fair assessment and arrived at the conclusion that the evidence neither supports or refutes circumcision.  OK I can buy that.  So then I started reading through the comments, and I ran into this inquiry by a mother to be:

"Hi. This is my first time commenting, but I’ve been reading your blog for a while. I am pregnant with a boy and am trying to decide whether to circumcise. I posted on the forums, and the women there are very anti-circumcision. It seems like they make a lot of unsupportable claims, though. For instance, they say that there’s no reason for a boy to look like his father, since they won’t be sitting around with their penises out. I think (but I don’t have the scientific evidence to back it up) that children probably get a lot of their early sense of sexual identity from comparing their bodies to those of their parents. A little girl knows she’ll GROW breasts, and a little boy will get a bigger penis like his father’s…but an uncircumcised boy knows his penis won’t look like his (circumcised) father’s penis when he gets older. Also, my understanding is that the majority of white, middle-class boys in the US are circumcised. What would be the effect on a boy’s psychology of looking around the bathroom or gym and realizing his penis is different? Also, what if he’s in high school or college and hears girls making fun of the way an uncircumcised penis looks?"
So we are not talking about religious circumcision,  HIV, HPV, penile cancer, cervix cancer, sensation, child rights, wishes of the adult, or any other issue than appearance. Is appearance a valid consideration for circumcising a child? In my mind no. Appearance does not exceed the right of the individual. But let's put that aside. I can understand this woman’s concern.  So I wrote the following reply concerning appearance:
"Let’s turn your question around. Immigrants from Africa move in next door. They are nice people and they are going to have a ritual circumcision of their daughter. You have been invited to the ceremony. How much weight will the argument hold with you, that if they fail to circumcise their daughter, she will not look like her mother, her grandmother, her aunts, or her older sisters? Valid argument? Would you object, or simply agree that this girl should physically resemble her relatives?
I am circumcised. I have no idea if my father was circumcised. My son was born in 1983 and he was circumcised. Why wouldn’t he? Its what we do. A decision I deeply regret today. I have not seen my son’s penis since he was 5 years old, and I don’t believe that he has ever seen mine. We don’t exactly lounge around in the buff comparing our goods.
In any event if we are going to use the argument of the importance of appearance, then we should actively support female circumcision in Africa because we don’t know how much damage may result by a generation of daughters not resembling the mothers. If that sounds a bit absurd, and I hope it does, then think again about how that argument sounds for the perpetuation of routine male circumcision in the US."

I wrote another comment (which I did not copy) at the end of the comments.  I complimented her on research and presenting a balanced view on circumcision.  I then went into a rant but a well behaved rant and simply asked why it was that I was circumcised in 1949, and  I replied  with "Well ah you know ah hygiene, prevention of phimosis,  ah err ah he will look like his father." In other words nobody knows.  I then went on to provide a rushed, brief, and admittedly not terribly well written history of circumcision in the US.  The point that I was trying to make was that I was circumcised in 1949 because Victorian zealots 60 to 100 years earlier were convinced that masturbation was going to be the downfall of the Western world and some how the practice not only caught on but became medicalized.  The root historical reason for medical infant circumcision in the US is to blunt sexual pleasure for both masturbation and coitus.  

So I posted both comments on SquintMom's blog Thursday night.  They were awaiting moderation for about 24 hours.  I checked last night, the comments were still waiting.  I checked this morning and my comments had vanished. 

SquintMom posted the following comments last night to another person's post.  Normally I would not copy a reply to another person, but in this comment she also indicates, indirectly, why my two comments were censored:

  • "SquintMom September 21, 2012 | 8:18 pm
    Thank you for your comment. I want to make a few things clear: I personally do not take a stance for or against circumcision, though many who have commented suggest that I do. Secondly, religion — the reason many people circumcise — is a force separate and apart from scientific logic. That is to say, a person who would not otherwise believe circumcision is a good idea because the natural state of the male is with a foreskin might choose to circumcise anyway if they believe that it’s a mandate from god as a result of a covenant with Moses or some such. Religion, therefore, becomes its own driving force that can neither be supported nor refuted with scientific literature. This is why, even though the literature leaves ME PERSONALLY (and anyone else looking at JUST the science) at a stalemate, circumcisions will continue to take place among those for whom the decision is a moral one rather than a logical one.

    Reply SquintMom September 21, 2012 | 8:32 pm
    Actually, reading your comment really made me think (enough so that I am posting a second response to it). When I wrote these two circumcision posts, having looked at all the literature, I concluded that I was at a scientific stalemate. As more and more ridiculous comments from intactivists who were citing irrelevant, poorly conducted, or faulty studies started to pour in, I believe I started to realign myself with the pro-circ group simply to distance myself from the throngs of illogicals (a cognitive bias: if they are illogical and I am not, then I must not agree with their conclusion). The ridiculous comparison of male circumcision to female circumcision is yet another failure of logic that works against the intactivists when it comes to speaking to scientists. The fact that someone randomly decided to call the two procedures by the same word makes them no more similar than inflammable (an object that catches fire easily) and inflammable (an object that is not flammable), as I pointed out in an earlier comment in which I addressed the embryological origins of the tissues taken in the two cases.Point(s) being:

    1) Thank you once again for your comment. It’s nice to run across an intactivist who understands that the science does not come out against circumcision, even though ethics very well may.

    2) I hope you occasionally take the time (frustrating though I’m sure it is) to educate fellow intactivists about misuse and misinterpretation of science, and to explain that when a scientist says “The science can’t be used either to support or oppose circumcision in a conclusive way,” said scientist is not necessarily pro-circ, nor is said scientist necessarily saying that ETHICS can’t play a role in making the decision."

    Again obviously the emphasis is mine. OK, now considering my comment posted above regarding the family from Africa, apparently my use of the word circumcision with females is verboten. OK fine. So lets call it Female Genital Surgical Procedure, or let’s call it whatever you want to call it, but I have seen it called female circumcision. My point is the end appearance of the genitals after these procedures have been performed. 

    Does the Male Genital Surgical Procedure change the appearance of a penis?  Yes. 

    Does Female Genital Surgical Procedures change the appearance of the vulva? Yes. 

    Again please remember that we are discussing appearance.  So I would like to know how does what I said in my above comment qualify to this statement:

    The ridiculous comparison of male circumcision to female circumcision is yet another failure of logic that works against the intactivists when it comes to speaking to scientists. 
    How is what I said about appearance a failure of logic? Do both procedures change the appearance of the genitals? Yes.  So how exactly is  a concern about the female appearance in Africa not valid, if concern for male appearance in the United States is valid.  Please show me where my logic has failed. 

    I believe SquintMom has provided the explanation:

    As more and more ridiculous comments from intactivists who were citing irrelevant, poorly conducted, or faulty studies started to pour in, I believe I started to realign myself with the pro-circ group simply to distance myself from the throngs of illogicals (a cognitive bias: if they are illogical and I am not, then I must not agree with their conclusion). 
    So you see all is explained in the end.  How could there possibly be logic in my comment?  As a member of the throngs of iilogicals it would be virtually impossible for me to be logical, for if I were logical then I could not be in the throng of illogicals, but because I am in the throng of illogicals it would illogical for me to be logical.  Ergo to protect the sensitive scientific mind from yet another circular logic problem, SquintMom decided wisely to censor my comments.  

    So let me see if I have this right.  She studies circumcision, garners a gang of references, comes to the reasonable conclusion that:

    "Science can’t be used either to support or oppose circumcision in a conclusive way."
    Then the Neanderthal hordes descended upon her with bad data, bad logic, and bad breath so she decided to align herself with the pro-circ group.

    Elementary my dear Watson.  

    Well SquintMom, I am stupid--I really don't pose a threat to you.  So if you would like to come over and comment, I won't censor your comments, like you did mine.   I don't fear brilliance like you seem to fear the throngs of illogicals.  I do keep a shotgun handy, so if they mob you with their furry smelly bodies, I can dispatch several of them and the rest will run away in fear of the thunder from the gods.   

    Well it is Saturday night, approaching midnight.  Sorry but I must take leave, don my hooded tunic, fetch my pitchfork, axe and torch. I am gathering with the throng over at the castle. We are going to storm the logicals tonight.

    Note: I have been rather liberal about granting validity to people's opinions in this post.  It was for the purpose of the argument at hand, whether their opinions or data had validity or not was irrelevant to my argument.   Most Intactivists (my fellow illogical throng) would not agree with my willy-nilly conceding of points regarding willy and rightfully so.   If you are considering circumcising your son please research this with far more diligence than what I have used in this post.  (Edit: the Edell video below is a good starting point.)   The 60% improvement in the prevention of HIV transfer is hotly disputed.  To me it is irrelevant in a practical sense.  What if it is 20%, do you need a condom?  Yes.  What if it is 80%, do you need a condom?  Yes!  So what do I care what the real percentage is, it is irrelevant if you would like to remain HIV free, ergo circumcision is useless in the prevention of HIV transfer in the US.  The AAP's previous policy said this: 

    There does appear to be a plausible biologic explanation for this association in that the mucous surface of the uncircumcised penis allows for viral attachment to lymphoid cells at or near the surface of the mucous membrane, as well as an increased likelihood of minor abrasions resulting in increased HIV access to target tissues. However, behavioral factors appear to be far more important risk factors in the acquisition of HIV infection than circumcision status. 
    Again, obviously, emphasis mine. 

    Edit 8-31-13:  Here is an excellent video on the foreskin and the ramifications of circumcision:

    YouTube, Anatomy of the Penis: Penile and Foreskin Neurology, Ken McGrath


    This post was created with material from my comments at:

    My previous post on male circumcision:

    EDIT 10-4-12:   Here is an interesting video discussing circumcision.

    Here is another video that rationally explains the legal differences between male and female circumcision.  It does not propose making female circumcision legal, but does question why male circumcision is legal.  It also questions SquintMom's contention flat statement that "The ridiculous comparison of male circumcision to female circumcision is yet another failure of logic that works against the intactivists when it comes to speaking to scientists."  When one looks at the total spectrum of what could be labeled female circumcision and considers the legal ramifications, such comparisons are not ridiculous and to label them so may be indicative of bias.   

    Ironically the principle that American society operates under regarding male infant circumcision is hinted at by a quote by Stalin:

    One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic. 

    It is not my intention to make a ridiculous comparison between circumcision and mass political murder.  But consider this, in the years of my childhood, teens, and young adulthood I have seen exactly one uncut penis.  We should not confuse commonality and social acceptance with morality and ethical behavior.  In a world where circumcision did not exist, you would be outraged to read that some crazy parents had circumcised their infant son.  Yet for the past 80 years American society has circumcised millions of infants without their knowledge or consent.    

    EDIT 10-28-2012:  Upon re-reading this I would also like to take exception to   SquintMom's statement:

    **Obviously, this is not to say that no one is ever hurt by circumcision, or that there are not individuals who wish they hadn’t been circumcised. However, the SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE does not provide support for the argument that routine infant circumcision is harmful. As such, the argument AGAINST circumcision in the U.S. can’t be made on the basis of scientific evidence, and must instead be made on the basis of values and beliefs.
    Emphasis mine.  But in fact, hospital records do show that a certain percentage of circumcisions are botched.  The intactivists claim that the actual rates exceed the published rates and they provide some compelling arguments for the reasons for such inaccuracies.  My God!  Could SquintMom's first sentence be illogical with her second sentence?  If someone is hurt, then is not circumcision harmful?  

    SquintMom's statement is false as it is written.  If the SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE does not provide support for the argument that routine infant circumcision is harmful,  then hospital records are either wrong about circumcision or are not part of scientific evidence.  So are the hospitals lying?  Why would a hospital falsely admit to botching circumcisions?  Are hospital records inadmissible to scientific evidence? 

    Taken at face value SquintMom's statement would indicate that no one will ever be harmed by circumcision-- zero complications, zero botched circumcisions, zero infant deaths attributable to circumcision.   I don't believe that this was her intent, (her first sentence contradicts the second) so I will give her the benefit of the doubt and just say  that her statement was poorly written.  

    If you want to make a positive statement about the harm of routine infant circumcision then you have to make a statement that looks at risk (fancy term for harm) verses benefit.  Here is what the AAP had to say in their policy statement:

    "Evaluation of current evidence indicates that the health benefits of newborn male circumcision outweigh the risks and that the procedure’s benefits justify access to this procedure for families who choose it."
    BTW the intactivists would dispute this statement, but let's not go there, again because it is irrelevant  to my argument.  Looking at the above statement SquintMom's statement is just plain wrong.  The AAP is stating that there is a risk, ergo there is some level of harm, but the potential benefits exceed the risk.  Then employing a little logical jujitsu they state the procedure is justified for families who choose it.   In other words, REMEMBER YOU CHOSE TO DO THIS TO YOUR SON, SO ALL OF THE RISKS AND BENEFITS ARE SQUARELY ON YOU, NOT US.  Because we also state:   (the)"health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns."

    So what is it AAP, should we or should we not circumcise our sons?  It's not like flossing your teeth.  Once its done, its done.  

    So getting back to SquintMom, her statement at face value is false.  There is harm done in a certain number of circumcisions.  Again I will give her the benefit of the doubt and just say that she stated her point poorly.  She probably didn't mean that there is zero harm, but that the benefits exceed the harm.  But for someone who is so scientific, so sensitive to the attacks of furry minded illogicals, who holds the scientific method as paramount, such an omission is far more serious than the blatant denial of science that babbling idiots like me purport.  Looking at her statements again, which statement has the greater weight.

    A.  Obviously, this is not to say that no one is ever hurt by circumcision. 

    B.  However, the SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE does not provide support for the argument that routine infant circumcision is harmful.

    BTW, the screaming capitals are SquintMom's not mine.  

    To paraphrase the words of Rumpelstiltskin from the TV show, "Well dearie, remember logic always comes with a price." 

    If you are going to make claims of how logical and scientific you are, you best make sure that all your statements are logical and scientific.  

    EDIT 7-26-13:  There is a very well written and poignant account of a mother's struggle with the decision for circumcising her sons at Lilly Cannon's Moralogus:



  1. WOW, thats a lot of blog about penis's (?) I will say this, I had to laugh a few times! Keep up the good work! ;-)

    1. Phil,

      The plural is a bitch, isn't it, that's why I prefer pecker, much easier to make a plural and while being somewhat sleezy at least it's not porno, nor clinical, and sounds more mature than pee-pee. Jalombo is a nice term but it has a size connotation that is not always accurate. I have to admit I am a little sick of male members at this juncture. Prefer to write about cosmetic gynecology. Although the destruction of fine art always pisses me off.

      Well this is a bad post, its a pissed off rant which is never good. Glad it give you a chuckle. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  2. There is just no way you can say this is a bad post. It's very interesting and I probably would have been better off reading it bright and early tomorrow morning cause this is all pretty heavy stuff for the end of the day.

    You make an excellent point in noting that SquintMom changed her tune once the hordes descended upon her with their bad breath, bad data and bad logic.

    As I've mentioned before in other posts you've done about circumcision, a lot of decisions are made simply out of ignorance. You do what your ancestors before you have always done. "If it was good enough for dad, it's good enough for me and my son!"

    When I had my son I counted on and trusted my doctors and my son's pediatrician and they all sang the praises of circumcision. Would I do things differently now? I don't know, but I do know that I would make a much more informed decision. Ignorance is no longer a valid excuse!

    1. Well like I mentioned before, when our children were born there was no easy way of researching this stuff. Doctors and nurses have a lot of authority and we were all good sheep and listened to the people who knew what they were talking about. The internet has changed that and people can find a lot of information and of course a lot of lunacy. You have to be discerning no doubt.

      I am angry with my self that when they come and said our hospitalization no longer covered it, why didn't that ring an alarm bell. There was not an ounce of curiosity on my part...its something that you do, like paying taxes or mowing grass. I can't even use the conceit that the lad should look like his father. There was not that much thought put into that on my part.

      Alicia, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    2. You're welcome. I can relate to your comment about not an ounce of curiosity or doing something just because that's the way it's done and the way were were taught, like paying taxes or mowing grass. I know I often think that it's staying inside the box because I always "used" to try to do what was expected or staying within the norm. As we get older though we thankfully get wiser and start thinking more and researching and educating ourselves so we can make better choices. If we had only known then what we know now.

    3. No doubt about it, you take less craps when you are older. But I think the Internet is probably the greatest factor for making people more aware.

    4. Proof reading my comment above, I have stated a falsehood. I find myself, that I take more craps but less crap as I get older.

    5. Omgosh...that was hilarious. Thanks for the giggle!

    6. I too have concluded that the internet has become the Elephant in the Room when debating the Fate of the American Foreskin.

      Alicia & Sextant, I get a sense that you believe that when your sons were born, a strong case could have been made to leave their penises alone, but you did not know the elements of that case. You are being a bit harsher on yourselves than the facts warrant. In the 1970s and 80s, we knew less about the male tender bits and their sexual value than we know now. Once again, the internet has been a major player in this unfolding human enlightenment.

  3. Oy. I think I have to agree with you on this one, Sextant, and also with Alicia. It used to be, at least in my mind, that having a Jewish heritage made the decision simple-- even for non-believers like me. But I've got to admit, on further reflection, Abraham's weird pact with God doesn't make much sense and is kind of creepy. On the bright side, however, snipping the foreskin doesn't appear to have a negative impact on the biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply-- and enjoy it while you're at it. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for mutilated females. Eliminating enjoyment seems to be the whole point of that horrible practice.

    1. Donna,

      It does seem to be a rather odd requirement to show faith, but who knows.

      SquintMom is right comparing circumcision to female genetic cutting is in a way not fair, and it is done for the shock value. I don't know that I would call it ridiculous though, and within the narrow confines of my argument, appearance, I think it was an absolutely fair comparison. None the less for medical circumcision, I think people in the US confuse commonality and acceptance with morality. What was it that Stalin said,

      "One death is a tragedy; one million is a statistic."

      Donna, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Its always a pleasure.

    2. "Abraham's weird pact with God doesn't make much sense and is kind of creepy." I reached your conclusion some years ago on my own. In fact, I call it the weirdest contract in world history. Here's a standup routine I wrote about it, in the spirit of Lenny Bruce:

      “This old dude named Abraham hears a voice in his head saying: ‘Abraham, God here. Gee, I’m sorry you and your wife don’t have kids. I’ll see to it that she gets pregnant. Yea, I know she’s way past menopause, but I can do anything, right? And I promise you’ll have lots of descendants through that kid, forever. Now here’s your end of the deal: you know that bit of skin that hangs off the end of your willy? Well, you’ll have to cut it off. I also want you to do that to every hired man working for you. Also, your descendants will have to do that to their baby boys when they’re a week old. Any descendant of yours who’s got all the willy skin he was born with, well it’s no deal for him. Got that, Abe?’ Now can you believe it, Abe did as he was told and trimmed his willy, even though it’s hard to even think about getting the wife pregnant when it hurts like hell down there, you know. Did Abe use a sharp metal knife or scissors? Forget it, not invented yet. So he probably used a flint knife. And where was God coming from when he told people to cut their kids, thousands of years before anybody knew what germs can do? And here’s the weirdest thing. Abe’s descendants – I’m one of them, by the way – have been reeeeal good about keeping up their part of the deal. We don’t want to get written out of God’s will, you know! And what about God, the big guy upstairs? Well, who let the holocaust happen? And who let the Gestapo point guns at men and boys and order them to down trousers?”

      @Donna: African women heatedly deny that their having undergone FGM prevents them from enjoying their husbands.
      Meanwhile, while a lot of circumcised men are doing fine, some are not, and circumcised men can experience a gradual diminution of sexual pleasure over the life cycle in a way that has yet to be adequately researched.

  4. We did not circumcise my son because his father refused. It has always worried me that a close friend's sisters cervical cancer and untimely death was "blamed" on her uncircumcised husband-but it was suggested.
    I don't know but it gave me thought.
    I hope my son doesn't one day tell us we did something wrong by him on this.
    Right now he'd be mortified to discuss it-maybe that'll always be so.

    Now the really ridiculous thing is I, personally find circumcision more attractive. Which is a rather odd thing to acknowledge, and it just never has seemed to me to be mutilation looking-but did seem it looking at my newborn and considering doing that to him.

    1. From what I have read there is a positive correlation between uncircumcised men and cervical cancer. How strong it is I am not sure. Three things in my mind (not exactly the most scientific place) would reduced the incidence. Condoms, hygiene, and the HPV vaccine. Obviously condom use in a loving monogamous relationship is onerous, and I believe ultimately destructive to the relationship. But I think that 100% condom use in the sowing of wild oats phases for both genders is absolutely required.

      For any one case, I think blaming the husband for cervical cancer is a bit of a long shot. Cervical cancer has a direct correlation to the number partners and family history also. I would imagine that certain types of birth control may have a positive correlation and other factors such as diet, smoking, drug and alcohol use. Cancer is always a tough thing to pin down in specific cases. Well, except lung cancer, which we know has nothing to do with smoking if you listen to the tobacco lobbyist from years ago. An interesting factoid I read years ago, nuns have the lowest rate of cervical cancer, and priests have the highest rate of prostate cancer. There seems to be an asymmetrical relationship.

      Apparently many people both women and men prefer the appearance of a circumcised penis. Myself, well its schlong, and I am not into schongs. From a purely aesthetic ... its still a schong. I guess objectively I can see some point in that argument. However, if my memory serves me right, the ancient Greeks regarded the sight of the glans as pornographic. It was fine for the lads to be out competing in the pure buff, but if the glans was exposed it was cause for embarrassment and shame.

      The only thing I can say in regard to beauty is in the opposite case, in my research on AVS, the before photos (other than the obvious manipulation of tug and stretch sideways, leaving thumb prints) are far more beautiful and interesting than the bland industrial results in the after photos. The destruction of fine art!

      Myself, I prefer function to form. The original 6 cylinder Corvettes were beautiful cars. They just didn't perform worth a shit. So given my choice of a beautiful instrument that provides an F-1 putt putt putt in 90 seconds on the Fujita scale of orgasms, or and ugly apparatus that gives category F-5 trip to Oz with technicolor, confetti, a brass band, and manages to drop a house on the wicked witch of sexual ennui for both partners in 15 minutes...well sorry, but ugly takes the day. Myself being in the former category, I can only imagine the latter.

    2. You find circumcised more attractive because your grew up in the USA. Very few European or Japanese women prefer circumcised. In fact, they go through their lives never thinking of the choice.

      If your son regrets having all the factory installed moving parts, let him trim prune the excess and get on with his life.

      Circumcision and HOV: the only data that matters are HPV rates in the USA, Korea and Israel, versus Japan and Europe. Many of the subjects in recently published studies that excite the AAP and the like, are from the Third World, and live lives whose sexual and other hygiene falls short of what all readers of this blog would expect.

  5. I cannot give an opinion about circumcision...(I could not even spell it) since I have no knowledge on the subject

    1. Kim,

      I think that you are in a rather enviable position. I wished I had no knowledge of the subject. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  6. Wow.. who knew one could write so much about this topic?? I'll admit, my mind wandered because it got pretty long. I'll just say this: that quote you posted from the medical folks sounds kind of wishy washy and slightly pro-circumcision for the sole purpose of convincing insurance companies to pay for the procedure. Back when I was having kids, they came out against routine circumcision. I bet some insurance companies used that as evidence for not needing to pay, hence they had to change their stance and make it wishy-washy. Just my observation, based only on my thoughts and lacking any factual support.

    1. Carol

      Well I can't say that I blame your mind for wandering, this is a pissed off rant, and such rants are usually of interest only to the ranter.

      The AAP policy is a bit obtuse is it not? So what are they really saying? You either circumcise or you don't circumcise. It is not something you do on Mondays, Wednesdays or Fridays. Its not like taking a prescription or flossing your teeth.

      "Although health benefits are not great enough to recommend routine circumcision for all male newborns"

      That is pretty clear to me that they are not recommending circumcision, but if you really want to, well go ahead, and to make it easy for our doctors to get paid we think the insurance should cover it.

      They are still disregarding the rights of the infant. The law allows no other amputations or surgical procedures on infants without strict medical justification. It is an ethical violation for a doctor to perform non-essential surgeries on patients without their permission. I don't care how common or socially acceptable infant circumcision is, it is unethical. There are plenty of men who resent being circumcised without their knowledge or permission. I know because I am one of them.

  7. Two spectres haunt the American medical profession in its role as circumciser to the American nation:

    (1) A judge will rule in favour of a plaintiff who initiates an action under tort law against the doctor who circumcised him in infancyl
    (2) All health insurers will cease covering the cost of RIC.

    The AAP's Task Force carefully crafted its policy so as to head these two spectres off at the public policy pass. Only time will tell if this policy succeeds. Personally, I think that the policy will prove moot, because the American foreskin is coming back into fashion, esp. with mothers.

    1. Roger,

      Thanks for visiting my blog and providing many knowledgeable and insightful comments. I hope you are right, that the foreskin comes back into fashion. Minimalism has gotten old.