OP here

Cecil mentioned that men circumcised as infants do not remember the procedure. This may be the case as far as conscious memory is concerned, but some research suggests that the ability of the brain to feel future pain is increased by the procedure if it is painful.

Quite how long this hyperalgesia lasts is not known; some authorities (admittedly the ones I have in mind were painkiller salesmen) think it lasts into adult life.

This is not admittedly damning evidence against circumcision, just circumcision without analgesia (which according to the study was the norm in 1997).

MODERATOR NOTE: There were two threads on the same topic, which unfortunately went on for several days before I noticed. I have now merged the threads, so there will be some repetition and some hiccups in the flow… Sorry. – CKDH

Good Grief. Just let the kid decide for himself when he is an adult.

Cecil’s answer says:
“According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the evidence for this is conflicting.”

But AAP has apparently changed their position:

But how do you feel about declawing your cat?

Yeah, 'cause most adult men are comfortable asking to have part of their dick lopped off.

I think that’s the point?

Shouldn’t be done. A declawed cat cannot perform a circumcision.

I’ll never declaw my penis.

You should just let them decide when they are an adult.

Exasctly, just like spaying and neutering. If we don’t give our pets the right to decide we’re no better than Hitler.

You can always practice on fruit, first.

I don’t agree Zoid. Leaving animals entire might* be justifiable in an ideal world where people could resist the temptation to breed cute sellable Staffie/Bull mastiff pups while the local shelter was full of 1-2yo examples of the same breed. Sadly we’re not living in that world, and euthanasing healthy dogs and cats because there is nowhere for them to go is, while fortunately rare** where I work, still guaranteed to wreck my day.

*I did a risk:benefit analysis for dogs a while back. Bitches are likely to live longer if spayed. For dogs things are less clear cut; there is a benefit in favour of not castrating until you add in the fact that unneutered dogs are four times more likely to be involved in a road accident and 2.7x more likely to be euthanased for biting a human. Admittedly there is a potential confounding factor in this; if one assumes that owners who don’t neuter their dogs tend to be more irresponsible then they may also be less likely to keep them away from roads and to ensure correct training.

For those that are interested, the total risk of death as a direct result of the choice to neuter or not was ROD 9.3-10.75% (unneutered) vs 1.91-6.73% (neutered) in females, and 1.64-3.08% (unneutered) vs 2.7-8.5% (neutered) in males - the big margin in neutered dogs is because neutering increases the risk of malignant bone tumours, which are more common in some dogs such as Rotties than others. I haven’t been able to find out what proportion of dogs die in road accidents broken down by neutered status, but I’ve heard that euthanasia for behavioural reasons and road accidents are the 1st and 2nd biggest causes of death in male unneutered dogs under the age of 2 years, and although I don’t altogether trust that source the statement does reflect my experience.

**What is sadly not rare is having to euthanase bouncy bull terriers that have been classed as “pit bull types” and thus in the UK can’t legally be rehomed (at least not without considerable expense on the part of the rehomer), or apparently friendly dogs with a history of aggression which could likely have been avoided if the owners had known what they were doing.


Fortunately in the UK declawing (other than for medical purposes) is not only illegal it has for a considerably longer period been considered a mutilation by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons meaning vets would be struck off if they were caught doing it.

As one colleague put it when this came up recently:

“I have a cat that scratches my furniture. I have a wife who spends my salary. I accepted both when the deal was struck.”

I’m sure Zoid was joking.

Rereading it I happily agree that’s the most likely explanation!

Was it the Hitler reference that gave it away? I thought that might be a bit much. :wink:

Cecil’s circumcision column that is currently featuring on the website might benefit from an additional update. It says:

This was, of course, fully accurate at the time of writing, but last year, the AAP issued a new policy statement:

To be sure, this does not make Cecil’s statement squarely incorrect, but it does leave it a bit incomplete. An additional sentence or two recounting the AAP’s new statement would serve the goal of fighting ignorance.

The column in question:

So does Cecil have an update for us on what J.B. (the original OP) and his wife decided for their kid? And if they didn’t cut Kiddo, did he decide for it himself? The kid’s about 18 years old now!

Circumcision is only ever claimed to reduce the chances of a man getting HIV from a woman, one of the rarer directions of transmission, on the basis of three studies of adult volunteers for circumcision. A total 5,400 men were circumcised and a similar number told to wait. After less than two years, 64 of the circumcised men had HIV, 73 fewer than the control group. Several times as many dropped out, their HIV status unknown. Contacts were not traced, so it is not known how many of the men were actually infected heterosexually. Meanwhile, in 10 out of 18 countries for which USAID has figures, more of the *circumcised *men have HIV than the non-circumcised. Studies of other venereal diseases are contradictory.

Actually, the AAP did no such thing. It conducted a highly cherry-picked survey of evidence, then without any kind of cost-benefit analysis announced that conclusion. For example, it had no figures for major complications and death, so it simply ignored them. It said nothing about the structure or functions of the foreskin, and its discussion about the ethics of infant circumcision gave no weight to the rights of the penis’s final owner, an adult man.

You can see a detailed rebuttal of the AAP’s policy here.

On the contrary, reading the AAP’s statement unadorned leaves you more ignorant than before. Medical associations in many other parts of the world (where circumcision is not customary, and the policy is written by men who still have the part in question, and know its value) more or less strongly condemn circumcision.

Cecil’s original statement is highly biased, for example trying to poison the well for Taylor’s study of foreskin innervation, The prepuce: Specialized mucosa of the penis and its loss to circumcision, which was published in the highly regarded British Journal of Urology (1996), 77, 291-295