The Health Benefits of Circumcision: The "Naturalistic Fallacy" gets the boot.

This is a revised copy of my manuscript, submitted for consideration of publication in The Skeptical Inquirer. The Skeptical Inquirer is the main publication of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, abbreviated as CSI (formerly known as CSICOP, for Committee for Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal).

One note about the title: Yes, I am aware that way the term “naturalistic fallacy” is used here is not technically accurate. (See here for further discussion). That’s why I preface it with the phrase “so-called”. In any event, only a tiny number of pedants know the corect meaning of the term anyway.
The Health Benefits of Circumcision: The “Naturalistic Fallacy” gets the boot.

Now that the CSI has officially expanded its role beyond the limits of the paranormal, it’s time to explore other issues where bogus and utter pseudo science prevails against the best legitimate science. One such area is the medical topic of circumcision and its health benefits.

The overwhelmingly popular, politically correct position on male circumcision has for decades been that the procedure is of little or no medical value and that the proper position is to prefer the “natural” alternative. But as we’ve seen in other areas of medical and health issues where “natural” is the favorite buzzword of popular rhetoric, “natural” is not always the healthiest choice. After all, HIV is perfectly natural, but being infected with HIV is surely no one’s idea of healthy living. Tornadoes and hurricanes are natural, too. Ogden Nash perhaps said it best when he observed: “Smallpox is natural; vaccine ain’t.”

While surely the overwhelming majority of us who read S.I. consider natural ecosystems and most other natural systems to be far preferable to at least poorly implemented artificial substitutes, in the field of health care specifically, there are most emphatically numerous improvements upon nature – especially treatments and cures that specifically attack key natural processes of various pathogens, such a vaccines and other prophylactic measures.

The standard position you’ll find on television, the web, parenting magazines, and books is the seemingly sober view propounded by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 1999 that there is little or no benefit to circumcision on health grounds. Even as distinguished a medical expert as Dr. Stephen Barrett, a CSI Fellow, has stated that, although he personally believes in evidence in favor of the health benefits of circumcision, he does not wish to update his site to reflect a disagreement with the AAP, which he still claims reflects the scientific consensus. [sup]1[/sup] His much more up-to-date and more topically knowledgeable peers strongly disagree. Consider, for example, just the recent words of Dr. Joseph D. Dickerman, who writes in the May 5, 2007 edition of the journal Pediatrics:

He also points out that the current AAP position cites six evidentiary reviews in favor of circumcision and only one minor review of extremely slight risk of the procedure (0.2-0.6%). Why hasn’t the AAP let science lead on this issue? In a word: politics. The anti-circumcision lobby is extremely powerful and has raised their voices to a fever pitch against anyone who does not conform to the anti-circ dogma.

The AAP’s position is completely belied by the best and latest medical evidence and should be overthrown, potentially saving millions of lives. The key issue here is that many pediatricians have far too narrow a scope of interest: it would appear that if the health benefits of circumcision do not seem to them to be overwhelming for a male infant or young child, then they’re not sufficiently interested in further data. They may find it outside of their domain of interest and their area of specialty. This seems, based on the surprising lack of willingness to address the issue in a fully and up-to-date scientific manner, to be true even if it potentially means death for a post-pubescent male. It would appear that these AAP pediatricians, with their emphasis on small children rather than adults, are simply the wrong group to consult.

The overwhelming source of pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific assertions that lay claim to by far the largest audience is a pseudo-scientific hodge-podge of often conflicting views propounded by the self-described “anti-circumcision” movement. This group does include legitimate doctors and scientists, but then so do the still-active HIV denialists like Dr. Peter Duesberg and others. So-called “Cold Fusion” and 9/11 conspiracy advocates also include many legitimate scientists. All we can conclude from this is that some legitimate scientists may be found in any advocacy group. We cannot conclude from that fact that all advocacy groups are thereby presenting legitimate science. And the best case in point of bad science from seemingly legitimate sources is the anti-circumcision movement, including groups such as Nocirc.org, CIRP.org, and the – dare I say - oxymoronically named “International Coalition of Genital Integrity” (ICGI). And let’s not forget other ostensibly responsible anti-circumcision advocacy groups with sane-sounding names such as “RECover A Penis” (RECAP) and “End the Horror of Infant Circumcision” (ETHIC).

For those of us who have the type of sense of humor that appreciates what Rev. Ivan Stang, a founder of the laugh-at-yourself pseudo “religion” called The Church of the SubGenius, refers to as “bulldada” – material that is so unintentionally moronic or outrageous that it’s hilarious – the anti-circumcision cults provide a truly rich vein of such wonders.

One example comes by way of anti-circumcision advocate Frederick Leboyer, M.D., author of Birth Without Violence, who wrote in a letter:

Then there’s this from Rev. Carles C. Messick III, H.P.:

Indeed, there is a very rich treasure trove revealing the emotionalism behind the anti-circumcision lobbyists and position, but I’m certainly not suggesting that all or even most of their rhetoric is this outrageous. Far from it! If it were, there’d be no need for this article. No, the overwhelming majority of the anti-circ movement uses professional, sane, and even quite appealing scientific language and arguments. And therein lies the rub. It’s very difficult for the average reader, such as a parent-to-be, to make sense of the conflicting claims and counter-claims when the language looks so similarly respectable and the AAP still prints obsolete and mostly irrelevant position papers as if they represent the best and latest evidence. If the skeptical reader hasn’t noticed the apparent empiricism, the frequent verbal shine, and the careful scientific-sounding discourse of paranormal groups provided by, for one example, The Journal Of Scientific Exploration [sup]4[/sup], then I encourage that reader to explore them. It can be most instructive.

Let’s take a brief tour through the anti-circ claims and see how they stand up to modern scientific thinking.

There is the “argument from evolution”, for example; it’s a form of the so-called “naturalistic fallacy”. The anti-circ people tell us that since we evolved with a foreskin, the foreskin is “natural” and thus “good” and “preferred” by natural selection. But all similar arguments are rather weak in that evolution also brought us through natural selection to be victim to all sorts of natural processes that actively harm us and shorten our lives. If evolution was looking out for “our” best interests, we’d have two hearts, our limbs would have longer moment arms (physics), and far more resilient telomeres that didn’t allow our DNA to unravel so terribly quickly, causing us to age and die at a ridiculous speed. Furthermore, the forces of natural selection “gave” us and our mammalian ancestors foreskins during our vast pre-historical childhood, probably to protect our helpless, naked glans from being injured by rocks and plants and forestation. But the foreskin has always been a near-perfectly welcoming incubator for all kinds of infective agents, not to mention certain other unmentionable items. Yet during our evolutionary childhood, we’d die so soon that the minor protection of the glans was more important overall, since reproduction was more vital for the survival of your genes than staying alive 20 years or so which would allow the infections to get more of a chance to kill you. But what informed male would side with that half of the equation today? In short, evolution has harmed us, not benefited us in this respect. It’s just that at the time, the “solution” worked acceptably well. It does so no longer.

Then there are claims that, although the uncircumcised penis can be an awful source of odor and other unhygienic unpleasantness, it is easy to clean and that this solves this problem simply. All I can say about this is that these advocates either spend an inordinate amount of time in the shower or don’t follow their own current advice. Not to mention the fact that they probably never closely checked up on the hygienic procedures of the uncircumcised sons of their own.

In truth, studies show that most boys and young men just do not follow a penile hygiene plan with any care at all, and it actually gets worse as the boy matures. [sup]5[/sup] And let’s note that that a very large number of men can’t or don’t bathe often enough anyway.

Of course, the classic anti-circumcision canard is that a circumcised man experiences less physical pleasure than uncircumcised men. This is an extremely common assertion. It’s practically the backbone (as it were) of the entire movement. But is it true?

While the issue is certainly debatable (and will continue to be debated on purely emotional grounds long after science has answered the question more or less unequivocally), most of the data I’ve read have indicated just the reverse is true for most men who are in the best position to judge: men who have been circumcised as adults. In fact, some men complain that after their circumcisions, the pleasure is too strong! This is likely because formerly, their glans was usually or even always covered in large part by their foreskin (some foreskins never retract completely, even during sexual relations), but when it was removed, the sensitive glans was over-stimulated compared to their prior state. The exposure of the edge of the glans is of paramount importance to sexual pleasure, thus hiding it under the foreskin should logically, and almost certainly does, result in less net pleasure.

So the burden of proof should, I contend, be turned around. It is the uncircumcised man who probably feels less physical pleasure, although truth be told, the experiences of the two types of men are in some ways too different to draw final conclusions.

Some also argue that parents should not make the decision for their sons. This is trite and misguided, to say the least. What other vital health decisions would anyone argue that parents forgo for their infants? Isn’t a major part of their very purpose in life to make such early decisions? This is particularly true for circumcision, because the maximum health benefits – such as near-perfect prevention of penile carcinoma, drastic reduction in urinary tract infections, and the serious scarring that often accompanies UTI – only accrue if the procedure is performed neonatally. It’s therefore harmful to your sons to wait for them to make the decision (which they’re not likely to even broach with you when they reach puberty anyway, thus forfeiting the decision to the parents after all). All we can say for sure is that a handful of sons will complain no matter which way the parents decide, but that’s no excuse for not choosing wisely when your son is an infant.

But my prime candidates for consideration here are the claims by the anti-circumcision mob that there are few to no health benefits from circumcision. And the bulldada comes thick and fast in that arena, let me promise you!

The first is the falsehood that circumcision provides no significant protection against penile cancer. Let me say right at the start that the incidence of penile cancer is very low in Western societies, but let me also point out that circumcision is an etraordinarily effective prophylactic measure against it. Let me further point out that it’s an odd man who would choose to knowingly increase his odds of having his penis amputated by such a huge margin for virtually no cost. In “The Highly Protective Effect of Newborn Circumcision Against Invasive Penile Cancer” (2007), Schoen, Oehrli, and Machin [sup]6[/sup] demonstrate that, of those with invasive penile cancer where the circumcision status is known, 97.7% of them were uncircumcised. Worldwide, Israel has the lowest number of cases while countries where circumcision is rare can see as much as 4000% higher incidences. In Uganda, penile cancer is the most common cancer among men, and it results in 17% of all malignancies in some areas of Brazil. [sup]7, 8[/sup]

But let’s move to my most vital point: In study after study up through the year 2007 so far, the overwhelming evidence is that circumcision provides a highly effective – though imperfect – prophylactic measure against HIV infection.

Let me say that again: Circumcision enormously reduces the risk of contracting and spreading HIV and AIDS.

If we were a rational civilization, that would end the debate. But surely I need not remind the reader of S.I. that we’re not living in a rational world.

Let’s look at the data.

Here’s a selection from a 2007 article by Dr. Helen Weiss entitled: “Male circumcision as a preventive measure against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases”:

Keratinization in this context refers to the very slight thickening of the skin and glans of the penis that results from circumcision. It significantly reduces the severity or even entirely prevents many diseases that otherwise affect the uncircumcised penis, such as penile carcinoma, HPV and other STDs along with HIV.

There are a great number of articles in the medical journals and in places like MedLine and PubMed that also report these and more favorable findings. In previous years, careful cohort studies in San Francisco reported an 800% reduction in the likelihood of HIV infection among circumcised gay males and their partners whose behavior closely paralleled their uncircumcised cohorts, with similar results in New York City.

And the NIH reported that recent Ugandan and Kenyan studies were suddenly ended prematurely when the overwhelming benefits of circumcision became so obvious that ethical principles demanded that they make the procedure available to everyone in the study. [sup]10[/sup] Many of the anti-circ crowd deny all of these scientific facts, as pseudo-scientific cults are wont to do. Some claim that these results won’t be reflected in the United States and other advanced Western countries, but that, too, is so much bulldada. Not only do the San Francisco and New York cohort studies which found an enormous protective effect against HIV infection still stand, the CDC has also come down on the side of reason and advocated greater consideration of circumcision in the United States. The CDC stated that the very recent result of studies in high-risk men, the adjusted relative risk was at least 71% lower for circumcised men! They write: *“A few men who had been assigned to be circumcised did not undergo the procedure, and vice versa. When the data were reanalyzed to account for these deviations, **men who had been circumcised had a 76% reduction in risk of HIV infection *compared to those who were not circumcised.” [sup]11[/sup]

But anti-circ folks continue to desperately claim these data are not relevant to the United States. And the CDC has an answer for them:

My fellow Straight Dopers and Skeptical Inquirers, we’re talking about a prospective 350% increased risk for HIV in uncircumcised men! Only pseudo-science can explicate the continued carping of the anti-circ circus.

(conclusion and references in next post)

The Health Benefits of Circumcision: The “Naturalistic Fallacy” gets the boot.

(continued):

One might argue – and many do – that condoms are virtually 100% effective, so circumcision just isn’t called for. This is very superficial, specious, and naive thinking in my view. It’s polemically specious because it fails to take into account the great and increasing difficulties being reported by health clinic workers all around the world regarding what is variously called “prevention fatigue” or “condom fatigue”. The fact is, now that the HIV threat and preventative messages are such commonplace phenomena, many, many people are getting bored and fatigued from constantly worrying about HIV that they’ve either tuned out or have decided to ignore the risk because of their prevention fatigue. There is even a large segment of the gay community who’ve embraced the so-called “bareback” movement. Are we just to let them die for their condom fatigue turned fetish? Or should we move to educate our fellow citizens that there is, at the very least, an extraordinarily valuable “backup” precaution known as “circumcision”?

Even among the non-fatigued, there are occasions when passion gets the best of us. Shouldn’t this backup safety method be strongly encouraged to minimize the potential damage? We need only strenuously avoid the impression that circumcision is 100% reliable, and we should continue our condom and safe-sex advocacies all the while. Then society’s best interests will be served by genuine science rather than pseudo-science and political cowardice of the obsolete, 1999 statement by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
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**1 ** Personal correspondence between the author and Dr. Stephen Barrett, 15-Feb-2007

**2 ** Dickerman, J. Circumcision in the Time of HIV: When Is There Enough Evidence to Revise the American Academy of Pediatrics’ Policy on Circumcision? PEDIATRICS Vol. 119 No. 5 May 2007, pp. 1006-1007

**3 ** http://www.geocities.com/HotSprings/2754/quotes.html

**4 ** http://www.scientificexploration.org/jse.php (you may wish to see my satire of their organization, http://members.tripod.com/~ssehome)

**5 ** “Analysis of German Study Shows Penile Hygiene Worsens as Child Matures” on CIRCLIST (http://www.circlist.com/rites/germany.html).

**6 ** Schoen, Oehrli and Machin The Highly Protective Effect of Newborn Circumcision Against Invasive Penile Cancer. Pediatrics 2000;105;e36

**7 ** Owor R. Carcinoma of the penis in Uganda. IARC Sci Publ. 1984;63: 493–497

**8 ** Ornellas AA, Seixas ALC, Marota A, Wisnescky A, Campos F, de Moraes JR. Surgical treatment of invasive squamous cell carcinoma of the penis: retrospective analysis of 350 cases. J Urol. 1994;151:1244–1249

**9 ** Weiss HA. Male circumcision as a preventive measure against HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2007 Feb;20(1):66-72.

**10 ** http://www3.niaid.nih.gov/news/newsreleases/2006/AMC12_06.htm

**11 ** http://www.cdc.gov/hiv/resources/factsheets/circumcision.htm

**12 ** Kreiss JK, Hopkins SG. The association between circumcision status and human immunodeficiency virus infection among homosexual men. J Infect Dis. 1993 Dec;168(6):1404-8.

**13 ** Buchbinder SP, Vittinghoff E, Heagerty PJ, Celum CL, Seage GR, 3rd, Judson FN, et al. Sexual risk, nitrite inhalant use, and lack of circumcision associated with HIV seroconversion in men who have sex with men in the United States. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2005 May 1;39(1):82-9.

**14 ** Telzak EE, Chiasson MA, Bevier PJ, Stoneburner RL, Castro KG, Jaffe HW. HIV-1 seroconversion in patients with and without genital ulcer disease. A prospective study. Ann Intern Med. 1993 Dec 15;119(12): 1181-6.

I think your argument would be aided by actually quoting a few notable examples of the anti-circs ‘desperately claiming’ and engaging in ‘continued carping’. Better still, rewrite those bits to omit the emotive allegations, replacing them facts.

I agree with Mangetout. Does quoting someone who thinks circumcision is a Jewish conspiracy really help your argument? Also, using the word bulldada seriously multiple times. Really?

Was that really necessary? It doesn’t even make much sense. It doesn’t take me very long to clean my foreskin.

For the plus side, I giggled when you said:

Reading it over again, I think you’re presenting the pro-circumcision parts fairly well, but relying far too much on anecdote, ridicule and scorn too much when you talk about the anti-circumcision arguments.

What pseudo-scientific and anti-scientific assertions? Who from the “anti-circumcision” movement is on par with Peter Duesberg?

Seriously now?

I don’t get it. Where’s the oxymoron?

How much time do you believe it takes to clean an uncircumcised penis?

Why is that probable?

Cite?

Thank you for your thoughtful and fair comments. I’ll consider revising my article before resubmitting it for publication, but I’d like to explain my reasoning to see what you think…

To address an earlier comment, I am under space constraints, so I really just cannot go into greater length as had been suggested. I’m right up against it right now.

Also, please note that the Skeptical Inquirer is not a journal – scientific, skeptical, or otherwise – it’s just a magazine. So casual language and anecdote will be very much welcomed rather than disliked, and even ridicule and scorn are not all that out of place in S.I.

With that in mind, do you think you might be inclined to adjust your suggestions?

Oh, yes! A thousand times, yes!

First, you might wish to see this note to Mangetout.

But note also that I immediately go on to insist that such stupidity from the anti-circ side is far from universal, and point out that if they were all that bad, there’d be no reason for my article!

You’re quite right about that. I’ll reduce the number of times I use it to no more than 2.

Well, urologist and doctors working in the area of hygiene I’ve read and spoken with assure me that the majority of uncut men either rarely wash behind their foreskins at all or don’t take nearly enough time and effort in the job. It’s a very serious problem.

And I have one brother whose young sons are uncut because of the anti-scientific position paper of the AAP – I didn’t have all this data assembled in time – and he tells me that he’s constantly nagging at them to do a better job in this regard, but they just do not to so (he himself is cut). If he wants it done, he says, he has to do it himself.

And while that may work out for his very young sons, you and I know that ain’t gonna go on for much longer.

And as I report and cite in the article, according to some studies and contrary to expectations, it seems to get worse as the child becomes an adolescent and adult!

So I can only guess that you’re an exception in this regard. There are bound to many, many millions of you who do a good job in this area, but that’s still a very small minority of uncut men.

Thanks! I kept a few similar puns in there. After all, it’s SI, not Science or JAMA

Can you tell us specifically what serious problem the majority of un-cut men in developed nations are having?

That question represents a non sequitur.

Yes, indubitably. Note that “legitimate” does not translate to “correct” or “thoughtful” or “well-informed” or even “reasonable”. Duesberg himself is a legitimate scientist and even a highly respected one – outside of his HIV/AIDS denialism.

I thought it was quite plain: An organization with no intellectual and moral integrity using that word in their name? Where’s the oxymoron?

See this post

“Hey, Dean! You can’t sneak out on me – come on over here! You know the drill. Drop your pants and let me pull back your foreskin to examine and smell your penis. I gotta closely check up on your penile hygiene to make certain that your dangerously, ludicrously high risk of contracting and spreading HIV and other STDs is slightly lower-- which enormous risk was entirely my own stupid, shithead fault for not spending a measly few bucks when you were a baby to drastically improve your health, safety, and resistance to disease and thereby hugely lowering the odds you’ll one day have to get your dick chopped off for real (unlike what all those ignorant, lying pussy anti-circ cranks stupidly say a circumcision is!), all of which being such a horrific pain that if I’d known I’d ending up doing this every day for my four sons until you all moved out of my house, I’d damn sure have done right in the first place!”

I need a cite for that in a non-professional magazine article?

I need a cite because my readers won’t believe me otherwise but they will believe it if I provide a cite?

I need a cite to establish that the overwhelming majority of men on this planet don’t have frequent access to soap, clean water, and bathing facilities?

I need a cite for the fact that it’s not at all uncommon for men in Europe and Russia to go at least a few days between bathing?

Well, Golly! I better get a cite, pronto!

OK, I read the article, and to be honest, it doesn’t convince me in the slightest.

For example, you describe at length the anti-circumcision movement, how, in your view, legitimate scientists who hold the view that universal circumcision is wrong are either frauds or behind the times. Then, you go on to cite Dr. Dickerman without explaining his credentials - is he an expert in the area or not? The title of the paper he wrote very much sounds like an opinion piece. You need to explain why we should take the word of Dr. Dickerman over the word of Dr. Barrett.

Furthermore, the fixation on taking the opinions of the least savoury aspects of the anti-circumcision crowd, the anti-semites and the quacks, then attempting to paint the whole of the anti-circumcision movement with the same brush, is a serious logical fallacy. You stated that S.I. is an informal magazine, but seriously, if this is considered standard practice, how can we say S.I. is any better than the people they are berating? You yourself stated that there are legitimate scientists who hold the view that universal circumcision isn’t needed - why then go after the easy targets?

Well, isn’t this at odds with the rest of your article? You’re citing experts calling for universal circumcision, yet now here, you’re seemingly happy with just educating those with a high risk of HIV infection of the health benefits of circumcision? Why not just let anyone decide whether they’re in a high risk category, and let them decide to be circumcised in adulthood, as opposed to having the procedure forced on them in childhood?

Sure, how about (quoting from my article):

In “The Highly Protective Effect of Newborn Circumcision Against Invasive Penile Cancer” (2007), Schoen, Oehrli, and Machin [sup]6[/sup] demonstrate that, of those with invasive penile cancer where the circumcision status is known, 97.7% of them were uncircumcised. Worldwide, Israel has the lowest number of cases while countries where circumcision is rare can see as much as 4000% higher incidences. In Uganda, penile cancer is the most common cancer among men, and it results in 17% of all malignancies in some areas of Brazil. [sup]7, 8[/sup]

But let’s move to my most vital point: In study after study up through the year 2007 so far, the overwhelming evidence is that circumcision provides a highly effective – though imperfect – prophylactic measure against HIV infection.

Let me say that again: Circumcision enormously reduces the risk of contracting and spreading HIV and AIDS.

Er, yes you do, if you want your argument to be worth anything. Where do you get the idea that, just because S.I. isn’t a journal, you can write anything without evidence?

Either the case for universal circumcision is so compelling that finding cites to support your arguments is an easy task, or there’s legitimate debate on the matter, in which case you need to rewrite your article.

He asked for evidence from developed nations. How is Uganda a developed nation? How did the study you quote control for things like diet, preventitive health care, carcinogens in the environment etc. ?

Why, I’m quite shocked that a man in the cheap-ass, socialized medicine State of the United Kingdom – which still refuses to fund circumcisions primarily because of budgetary reasons and against the scientific and medical best interests of their citizens – just isn’t convinced in the least by such a sound, rational, scientifically proved-a-dozen-times set of unassailable facts! Who would have ever guessed such a thing might be possible?

I’ve been reliably informed that most of the upper class males – royalty and so forth – almost always are circumcised. But perhaps I was misinformed.

First, as I’ve already pointed out, I am up against very serious length constraints. It has been suggested that may already be too long for publication as is.

Second, I did not spend even a second dissecting any dubious credentials of anyone. In fact, I went far out of my way to insist just the opposite! I proclaimed that there are, as you’ll note, “legitimate scientists” on both sides. Why should I start discussing credentials only with the rational scientists? Why should I do so for someone like Dr. Dickerman, who we can be quite certain has a good reputation or he would not have been published in the most esteemed and widely read professional scientific pediatric medical journal in the world, PEDIATRICS?

Did you not see the explicit and implicit references to his credibility reflected in every word written about him? Perhaps your socialized medicine system has temporarily fallen behind in filling eyeglass prescriptions?

Yes, it must be the eyeglass delays. Damn those doctors living off the public trough!

For did you not comprehend that I did exactly that? A number of times? Pointed out that Dickerman was an exceedingly up-to-date and directly topical expert on the specific subject at hand writing in the most respected professional journal of pediatric medicine just a few months ago?

That I pointed out in contrast that Barrett does in fact agree with Dickerman and myself on all the relevant scientific and medical points but that he was simply – in my personal opinion – far too out of touch? Out of touch because he’s far past his days of active practice and research (he’s a very old man who retired a long time ago), and never specialized in the fields of pediatrics -or- urology -or- STDs -or- HIV/AIDS -or- the circumcision debate, yet Dr. Dickerman has been directly educated in those specialties and researched in several of them?

And finally that, again in my personal estimation, Barrett’s either far too busy or far too concerned with protecting his dry old fogey reputation to dare go up against both the contemptibly evil anti-circ mob and the dunderheads at the APP?

And I chose my words with care when I described them as “the contemptibly evil anti-circ mob”, for many anti-circ nutjob cults have resorted to violence and hateful chanting and shouting and brick throwing and terrorizing genuine scientists – often within mobs of protesters who break into scientific conferences, such as the APP circumcision study group meetings, and force everyone out into the streets, hound and terrorize their families, send letter bombs, and all the rest that one would – or should, at least – expect of these scientifically ignorant and insane monsters?

Did I say eyeglass problems? I’m sorry for jumping to silly conclusions like that, and I’m also very sorry for your blindness. I just didn’t know – till now. Please forgive my oversight.

What “fixation”? How carefully did the person who had to read it to you speak and enunciate? As for “attempting to paint the whole of the anti-circumcision movement with the same brush” and “serious logical fallacy”, may I urge your interpreter to re-read the following passages slowly and clearly for you?

When that’s done, you’ll doubtless with to apologize for making such a teensy, little, innocent boo-boo.

As for the rest of your persuasive counter-arguments…
Okay, I’ve lost my patience with sarcasm, so I’ll just get right to the point:

Your entire set of ideas, bogus, groundless, fallacious pseudo-arguments, and complaints ranks high among the stupidest, most ignorant collections of massively uniformed, uncomprehending, anti-scientific dreck it has ever been my sad duty to acknowledge.

But have a nice day, okay? And good luck with the white cane and the penis amputation. You probably don’t need it anyway…

:smiley:

That made me laugh. I still reported your post, though.

Have a good day.

If this had been the last of your posts I had read in this thread, I might well have done so, but your subsequent ones leave me in still greater doubt that you’re taking anything like a dispassionate, factual approach to the topic.

I realize that it’s not the topic of your piece, but since it seems that you’ve come here just as much to debate as to get feedback on your writing, I’ll ask anyway. What are your thoughts regarding Type I female circumcision and the way it is viewed in western culture compared to how male circumcision is viewed?

For me, it was TLDR in terms of getting to the specific empirical evidence regarding any health advantage for circumcision over non-circumcision. Within that span, however, there was lots of cute and clever and contemptuous comments of a non-data based nature. Thus, my interest petered out around the third quote. Not very convincing.

ambushed, how familar are you with Skeptical Inquirer? I’ve been a subscriber for years, and I can state that they are very heavily referenced and footnoted. A long article can contain up to a full page’s worth of notes and cites. It would certainly help your case, and be entirely in the magazine’s practices and formats, to provide lots of supporting material.