1. Murat says

    One of these days, String Theory should be discussed on the show with the participation of someone who has an idea on what it actually is and why it is not a hoax or something, as opposed to Matt often suggesting it is.

    It seems to be relevant with many other subjects the show covers.

  2. Lokartha Aeris says

    For the folks who have lingering fear or doubt after their de-conversion, I have a few suggestions.
    1) Donate your time to a worthy cause
    2) Commit random acts of kindness
    3) Be good to yourself and to the people you influence/ care for
    Remember if God doesn’t exist then neither does heaven or hell or even an afterlife. If God is not concerned about you while you’re alive, why should He suddenly care after you’re dead? If you can judge yourself as a good person and the people you care about judge you as such then the opinion of an indifferent deity is unimportant.

  3. Mobius says

    From my understanding, saying that String Theory is unfalsifiable is incorrect. It should instead be, it is unfalsifiable – at this time. No one has yet devised an experiment that would distinguish it from the standard model. It is always possible that some advance will make it possible to test some prediction of String Theory that is currently untestable.

  4. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    AFAIK, there’s also several variants of string theory, which complicates matters further when laypeople like us discuss it. Maybe Monocle Smile could weigh in with some expert informed opinion, lol.

  5. Murat says

    I had listened to Micio Kaku lay it out. Nothing in his narrative could tell me why it was not a hypothesis but a theory. But given that Lawrence Kraus and others who master the field of physics value it, then, maybe the reason Matt seems to distance himself from it is because it sounds kind of in line with fictional stuff based on the concept of hope, such as narratives including alternate dimensions, paradise, etc.

  6. Mobius says

    @4 Murat

    Despite its name, String theory is a hypothesis and not a theory in the scientific sense of the word.

    As for the many different versions of String Theory, my understanding is that there is something called M Theory now that postulates that all the different versions of String Theory are merely special cases of an overarching theory.

    AFAIK, none of these are close to being testable at this time.

  7. paxoll says

    Why is it all the great logic and reasoning go out the window with the topic of circumcision? Reduction in sexual transmitted disease is NOT the only benefit. When you go down that road of bodily autonomy when talking about children, you lose the right to give children ANY medical treatment. They cannot make informed consent that is why parents have medical power of attorney over children unless there is a sufficient cause for the doctor to assume that power. This is why medicine is ALWAYS a risk analysis. Do you think giving a newborn antibiotics is a simple decision? Do you think there is not risks involved? No, which is why it requires a doctor to give you a prescription for antibiotics. Then you have that shitty argument that people who support it are doing so because they are justifying their religious belief? You can read minds now? So you are completely insulting the AAP, AAFP, the AUA, and the CDC. If you know much about research, then you know the quality of evidence when it comes to types of studies and analysis. A systematic review, meta analysis is the best you can get. So educate yourselves Also what the hell was that crap argument thrown in there about sex before and after is black and white vs color. WTF. Anecdotes are not data. I’m so f’n disappointed. You guys are usually so much better than that. . I didnt do an exhaustive search, but I’m guessing that other countries medical associations will join those in america on this topic in the future as more research is done.

  8. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    I thought John and Matt did stick to the evidence that they are aware of. Neither are clinicians or experts in this field. Had the caller quoted the articles you’ve referenced then the discussion would have gone in a different place.

    A quick Google has found a number of other credible organisations that disagree with the positions presented in your paper so it’s not universally agreed with either way. The first paper has an alarming conflict of interest declared:

    ‘Conflict-of-interest statement: Authors are members of the Circumcision Academy of Australia, a medical body formed to provide accurate, evidence-based information on male circumcision to parents, practitioners and others, as well as contact details of doctors who perform the procedure.’

    If you’re interested in the ‘Circumcision Academy of Australia’ you might want to read this page:

    Your second article sort of misses the point. It’s not that post-circumcision sex is difficult, or people have problems with it. Rather it’s that pre-circumcision sex is better. I’m not sure that there is evidence for the latter, but no-one is suggesting the former so that’s a bit of a strawman.

    Still, always worth looking at the evidence for medical procedures. Much better than reading ancient scripture.

    – Simon

  9. John Iacoletti says

    Vaprex – a significant number of people have been having trouble with the donate page not correctly transferring to PayPal, so until we can get the problem sorted out, there’s now a Donate button on the website at the top of the page that will take you straight to PayPal. Thanks for your support!

  10. paxoll says

    Maybe list those medical associations you googled? Did you see them on an anti-circumcision webpage that might have misrepresented the position? If you read the statements, are they research based? Finally, what prevents the exact same argument of “bias” they used on the show from being applied to these organizations?

    Yes, conflict of interest statement. While it should cause some extra scrutiny of the information it in no way invalidates the data. Considering a systematic review is not actually their data, the real question is did they really include all the relevant studies, and if you look through their paper you can easily repeat their processes. Its not like trying to reproduce an experiment.

    Next, you use a completely bias organization, with no relevant credentials or peer reviewed papers published, to inform me about the organization? Thats like asking Answers in Genesis opinion on the Society for the Study of Evolution. Seriously.

    Sorry, I did not include the second link as a direct refutation of the crap Matt said. It was included to encompass a broader range of the exact same argument.

  11. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    No you’re right paxoll, I’m referencing radical organisations like ‘The Paediatrics & Child Health Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians’ – quote:

    ‘The Paediatrics & Child Health Division of The Royal Australasian College of Physicians believes that newborn baby boys and young infants do not need to be circumcised,unless there is a medical reason.’

    There are more but I can’t be arsed tracking down their source documents. I’m not trying to argue for or against circumcision. I was attempting to show that your source documents don’t make this debate over. There is disagreement over the science.

    You are correct that a conflict of interest statement doesn’t mean the study is problematic but when you look up who the ‘Circumcision Academy of Australia’ then alarm bells ring. It raises concerns that’s all and yes, I’d like to see more evidence.

    I’m agnostic on the position of circumcision. A quick romp through Google has raised some interesting points. I’m also already circumcised, so it’s no longer a personal issue and my only child is female (and I’m not having more,

    I’ve also got bigger fish to fry in my life than to devote a large chunk of my life researching the literature. Currently I’d go with The Royal Australasian College of Physicians, but that could be a bias I have for organisations that I’ve known to be authoritative.

    – Simon

  12. paxoll says

    So exactly why would you go with The Royal Australasian College of Physicians over the American Academy of Pediatrics? Or the Centers for Disease Control for that matter?

  13. huntertx says

    I called in to the show today and said I would donate, do I have to have a PayPal account or can I use just my credit card for anyone that might know…also just in case any of the hosts are reading this thanks for taking the time to talk to me

    I’ve been looking into how cameras can create the illusion of “orbs” from dust particles, water vapor, insects and pollen for about the past two hours

    Apparently not only is this information very easy to find I ignorantly never even gave it the thought of using a quick google search as I had only listened to my family and friends saying that they were paranormal. And at the time I figured why not believe them, after all these instances had been repeated multiple times with multiple cameras. Most of these instances we captured on camera were in the dark with an infra red camera which apparently is most susceptible to this optic flaw. My mistake for not looking for other and far more likely natural explanations.

    Also if anyone knows if you watch back the video on YouTube, a little after the 28 minute 30 second mark, Matt mentions a talk from a neuroscientist that I should look up but I have no idea how to spell the name of the person who he said in order to look it up and I won’t bother to butcher it here but if anyone knows the spelling or possible spelling of his name I’d appreciate if you could respond and let me know 🙂

    Looking forward to researching into other topics that were recommended to me such as brain disorders, the corpus callosum, and how they nullify/debunk a soul, peppers ghost, how we interpret what we see, and optical illusions

    Something Matt said really stuck with me “You shouldn’t be reaching the conclusions you’re reaching, and perhaps shouldn’t be reaching any conclusions at all because you don’t have enough information.”
    So dissapointed in myself that I used that exact same logic to help myself get out of my old religion but I never thought to apply it to the concept of an afterlife since it’s not connected to a specific religion.

    Thanks so much to the hosts for recommending to me all of these great sources and concepts to look into (even though Matt getting into an argument makes for a much more entertaining YouTube clip lol) which I definitely will look into over the next few days and if I find any thing that doesn’t seem right to me I might call again soon.
    -Hunter from Lavon 🙂

  14. paxoll says

    Oh, also a better presentation of the RACP opinion, which is still 7 years old and might not reflect current research.
    “After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand. However it is reasonable for parents to weigh the benefits and risks of circumcision and to make the decision whether or not to circumcise their sons.
    When parents request a circumcision for their child the medical attendant is obliged to provide accurate unbiased and up to date information on the risks and benefits of the procedure. Parental choice should be respected.”

    I point this out because it matches most medical associations opinions. The important point is “routine infant circumcision” this means the benefit is not so great that it should be pushed onto patients, like vaccines. What it means is that the medical benefit is great enough that parents should be told of the risks and benefits and make their own choice. It also means that doctors have an medically ethical responsibility to 1) give parents that information, and 2) give parents access to the procedure. This is the same medical ethical responsibility doctors have for birth control and abortion.

  15. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    Could be something to do with I’m Australian and I frequently reference The Royal Australasian College of Physicians? Could be I have a bias towards leaving body parts intact – they can always be removed, hard to stitch back on.

    It could be that the CDC references disease reduction and so they have their focus. A quick Google showed they didn’t necessarily endorse circumcision either – just presented the facts on disease reduction (perhaps they do elsewhere on their site)

    And the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t make it sound like a major issue either way.

    In terms of Science this is not like vaccinations or climate change.

    – Simon

  16. paxoll says

    I said it was different then vaccines, vaccines ARE routinely recommended. The ways in which they are the same, is 1) both have risks and benefits, and 2) it is the parents responsibility to make the decision.

  17. Simon & Mrs Wendy Hosking says

    Sorry Paxil, regarding my comment on vaccination, I posted that without having read your comment above. We agree on the vaccine but,
    Possibly our main disagreement is on bodily autonomy. I’m happy to give my child vaccines as there are strong benefits, but not happy to lob off parts of there anatomy when the benefits aren’t as strong.

    – Simon

  18. RationalismRules says

    @simon #9
    That intactivists link is also notable for the least effective troll I’ve ever seen in any comments section – three years after the conversation he goes through and posts lengthy trolling responses to almost every post, and gets exactly zero response (even after a year and a half)! Sad! (but funny)

  19. KK_Me says

    Can Matt please only mention his book once he actually intends to release it?
    I think It’s been in the works for 7 years by now and he’d be better off to just release the damn thing and write a second one instead of rewriting everything.

  20. Nathan says

    As someone who is doing restoration, which is a long slow and difficult process, I wish I had been given the choice rather than my parents just doing it.

  21. Kenny De Metter says

    If you google “atheist community of austin donate” , you get an old page which doesn’t work anyone.
    It appears that Google doesn’t know this yet.
    However, you can go to the website and click the donate button on there ( paypal donation button ).

    Perhaps you could redirect the page to that page , or at least to the aca main page ?

  22. Bret Frost says

    @paxoll Mutilating or cutting bits off a child is different from giving an injection. According to religious types, man is made in god’s image. So god GAVE foreskins to man. Why on earth would anyone with a brain mess with ‘perfection’? If I decided to cut off my kids ears because god told me to I’d be locked up and for good reason. If it is that important that people get mutilated then it should be the person (victim) choosing it for themselves. I long for a world where all religions are banished to dark history and assaults on babies is treated as such.

  23. paxoll says

    So, with absolutely no religious belief being placed in any of the arguments, you decide to made an irrelevant strawman to knock down. Bravo. Btw, was the polio vaccine wrong to give to kids because it caused scarring on the arm? What about a frenotomy? Is that ok because its not easily visible?

    That ridiculousness aside. To address a couple other misinformed bits from Matt’s arguments. Tonsils. Taking tonsils out preventatively was stopped because it’s a procedure with some very severe risks with very little benefit. Similarly the ridiculousness of “chopping the whole thing off” the risks are huge, the loss of quality of life is huge, and the benefits?…

  24. Murat says

    @Nathan #20
    I didn’t even know this was possible.
    What makes you think a restoration is worth the trouble? I’m not saying it couldn’t be, but if the aim is to have increased sexual pleasure and you’re putting money and time into it, aren’t there many more colorful means of obtaining that via same expenses?

  25. johnmaskelyne says

    I think that permanently removing a body part seems like a more intrusive action than leaving an injection scar on one’s arm. Wouldn’t you agree?

    If there are health benefits, then I would want them to similarly substantive in order to justify the action.

    I think only considering the risks of the procedure is probably missing most people’s objection. Snipping off a child’s little finger, even if the procedure were 99.99999% safe, wouldn’t be considered my most people, I don’t think, unless a very, very dramatic health benefit was expected to result.

  26. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne I don’t agree, what is your reasoning? Function? Not according to research. Aesthetics? Everyone can see the upper arm.

  27. says

    John in Wisconsin sounds for all the world like HeadlyVonNoggin AKA Jeremy Christian, who’s been on Dogma Debate a couple of times. Similar inane theories about how history is *just like* what’s in the bible. (If you’re inclined to assume a priori the bible is true and shoehorn anything vaguely applicable into the bible-shaped narrative.)

  28. johnmaskelyne says

    Ah, well this may well be where the issue is then. Sure it’s about function and aesthetics and loss vs alteration and one’s sense of physical self.

    But mostly it is an observation about how people actually feel about things. It may be that you genuinely do not see any distinction between the following scenarios. You receive a call and are told that:
    1. Your child is injured and has a small scar on their arm
    2. Your child is injured and has had the top of an ear sliced off
    3. Your child is injured and has lost a little finger

    However, I would say that I suspect that is an unusual perspective. Most people would feel very differently about 1, I would suggest. I don’t know if you would agree with that?

    If not I’m sure you could run a little straw poll with folks you know or I even suspect some of this is effectively reflected in legal and insurance measures of harm.

    So, anyway, I think that may be why others wouldn’t agree with you if you genuinely aren’t discriminating between harms in a similar way to them.

  29. says

    I’m the caller that asked about circumcision, and I just wanted to clarify a few points:
    – I don’t think circumcision can or should be justified on any religious basis, especially for infants.
    – The exact question I was trying to ask was if circumcision has real benefits, and the most adverse effects of it are experienced when taking the procedure as an adult, couldn’t one argue for doing it to babies, with or without consent, and be doing the right thing?
    – I’ll freely admit that nothing is conclusive when it comes to proof of any beneficial efficacy of circumcision, at least to any degree which might justify the previous argument.
    – I’ll also admit that some of came from a personal need to assure MYSELF that it has some benefits or is possibly justifiable, because I’ve been through it, as the entire (male) side of my family, and virtually every single person that is born and lives in my country.
    – In Israel circumcision suffers no criticism: usually the most you’ll hear about it would be derision to those who don’t go through with it(“those filthy, rotten goyim”), an occasional study or an article about botched circumcisions (not as much as warranted in my opinion) and some people using it as another “proof” of jewish superiority to the rest of humanity.
    – I don’t think I managed to convey everything or argue the point as best as I could (I hardly get to speak any english, and I was very excited, even terrified, to finally be on AXP!), but it’s a moot point: circumcision is immoral when performed on infants, regardless of currently supposedly known benefits. I don’t think you can currently, if ever, justify it, Matt and John made their case very clearly and even if we didn’t exhaust the topic, I’m satisfied.

  30. CompulsoryAccount7746, Sky Captain says

    @Nathan Roe #27:

    I want to be the way I was born.

    Are you planning to restore your fontanels too? Pluck out your teeth?
    That, as stated, is not a viable goal. Which is to say, that’s not your reason.

    a long slow and difficult process, I wish I had been given the choice rather than my parents just doing it.

    It sounds like you resent a choice your parents made for you, and you want to undo that decision – at least symbolically, with the expectation that a minor physical change will cure that resentment or body-image issue.

  31. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne You are missing every relevant point. First you are ignoring benefits of a medical procedure and talking about random body parts and asking them if they have equal meaning because, of course, they have significantly different meaning based on how they function, and how visible they are. Losing the top of an ear is very significant because you look at your face everyday, everyone looks at your face and it is the primary focus of our identity when it comes to physical representation. Losing a finger, is that plus the loss of every day function of that finger. This was why Matts ear piercing BS is wrong, because that has no medical benefit except avoid the trauma at a later date. Sorry, but most circumcisions done at a later date are not voluntarily done for aesthetic reasons, they are medically necessary. These are all really bad analogies.

    How about this, your child is born with an extranumerary toe. The toe is non-functional, its presence will cause minor medical problems because increased pressure on a non-functioning toe will lead to increased infections, some gate problems, and a 1/50 chance of having a serious problem requiring amputation. Should the parents have it removed at birth or let the kid grow up with it and make a decision later. Do you think its the parents decision to make?

    @dd_dent why don’t you read some research on the topic, and read my arguments about the bs that Matt and John spouted during your talk. Sorry you don’t just get to claim something is immoral when arguments against that have been made and no rebuttal has been given. The benefits of circumcision are not inconsequential, they are also not only for sexually active adults. So what gives parents the right to make medical decisions for their children, and what determines when the risk/benefit ratio suddenly makes the decision immoral?

  32. Nathan Roe says

    There are no benefits to circumcision. You have been fed lies and are now spouting them.

  33. johnmaskelyne says

    I hope not! I was responding to your comment that you see no difference between permanently removing a body part – such as a little finger – and leaving an injection scar on an arm. I sort of suspect that you might now feel that is an unusual perspective after all.

    As I said above, it is not a matter of ignoring benefits, as indeed there could be to the removal of a finger, a toe, a testicle, a breast etc. I felt it was missing the point to imply that the loss of any of the above was not a harm in itself and that the only risk to be set against any benefit was the risk of the -ectomy procedure itself.

    In your example, it might qualify as sufficiently subtantive benefit. What is the 1/50 chance of amputation of – the toe or the foot? I don’t think I would be persuaded by the other two and I’m a little unhappy with choosing an abnormality as opposed to a (pretty much) universal.

    Perhaps, to be a little provocative, if we could eliminate breast cancer, how about mastectomies for all female children?

  34. says

    @paxoll Please try to be less dismissive of others. I think your points (valid or not) would be better heard if you’d be less confrontational.
    Your assertion I haven’t done my research is wrong. I wouldn’t say I’ve exhumed everything about it, but I believe I’ve read enough about it to be certain there’s some ambiguity on the actual benefits of circumcision, meaning I found some claims which support it, but nothing as certain as, say, the efficacy of antibiotics or effects of opioids.

    If I thought it had no benefits I wouldn’t have even raised the issue. Why bother? Because when you strip away the possibility of medical benefit, you’re left with purely religious justifications which are, in my opinion, bullshit.

    I’ll just add that it’s unwise to dismiss claims (such as circumcision is good\bad) out of hand, without giving basis to such dismissal. There’s a point to be had about the medical benefits of circumcision, but it doesn’t make it moral when done to an infant. Find a way to justify that to me and I’ll firmly take your side on the issue, because from what I’ve read and seen, I don’t think it is.

    This doesn’t mean circumcision isn’t acceptable in any case whatsoever. There are some medical conditions for which the treatment is circumcision, and not going through the procedure in these cases could pose serious health issues.

  35. says

    someone should ask john from wisconsin why he’s wasting his time and money on a physics degree when the bible is free …

    from my 2008 blog post “silly scientists” (with original audio!):

    … then someone in florence, italy tried to pump water from a deep well, but couldn’t do it. they discovered that no suction pump could raise water higher than 32 feet. galileo noticed this and suggested that his pupil, torricelli, investigate it.

    well, the young scientist thought a long time about it and finally decided to use mercury for his experiment. since it was 13 times heavier than water, he calculated that if atmospheric pressure really existed, the mercury would rise about 30 inches in a glass tube from which the air had been expelled.

    well, filling a 4 foot glass tube of mercury, then inverting it in a half-filled flask, torricelli removed his thumb from the tube. with mounting excitement he watches the mercury fell from the tube, then after a few oscillations caused by momentum, the column settled at a height between …

    guess how much … ?

    29 and 30 inches.

    yet, if men had only noticed carefully a passage from job, they would’ve already known that air has weight.

    you mean the bible talks about it? of course! [chuckling]

    job, the 28th chapter, beginning with verse 23:

    23: god understandeth the way thereof, and he knoweth the place thereof.
    24: for he looketh to the ends of the earth, and seeth under the whole heaven;
    25: to make the weight for the winds; and he weigheth the waters by measure.

    there it is! what a mighty creator god we have, friend.

    — h.m.s. richards, jr., “the voice of prophecy” (circa 1990)

    were john in school 200 years ago, he’d be trying to convince us how the bible confirms lamarckism. the bible always confirms our prevailing scientific theories. it confirmed heliocentrism, then geocentrism. the bible is never wrong, only misinterpreted.

  36. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne again a completely false analogy. Breast tissue in neonates is practically non existent, it would require multiple surgeries throughout the life to remove the tissue responsible. Yet again it would make a huge impact on the persons image with large scars on their chest and a loss of not only their ability to breastfeed but many who that is a significant self identifier. You can compare them quite well by the ones that DO need them medically, how traumatic it is to have a full mastectomy compared to the men who need a circumcision. (BTW i used 1/50 because that is the approximate number of men who will require a circumcision later in life due to foreskin complications I compared the scar on the arm to the circumcision scar because they both represent a risk benefit where there is a physical scar afterwards (for people who think the other risks of medical procedures are somehow insignificant compared to the bodily scar after the fact). I also brought up frenectomy for the same reason.

  37. paxoll says

    @dd_dent I have answered your assertions in previous posting, you didn’t answer mine, so I’m not going to repeat myself.

  38. johnmaskelyne says

    Oh dear. You sound awfully cross, if I may say. Perhaps let’s try this another way around.
    Is there any other body part which you do consider analogous to the foreskin about which we can make any comparison in terms of it being removed?

    In my experience, analogies aren’t identical but alter a variable across the examples. Of course the breast may have a use, as may the foreskin, but let us keep it nice and simple for the sake of argument – breastfeeding is culturally unlikely, all tissue can be removed at once, scarring is minimal and we have a life-saving potential benefit. Are you then happy to routinely remove? I guess not.

    Exactly as you acknowledge, we don’t make the judgment on the basis of the risk of the procedure vs the reward of eliminating the hugely common cause of death in women. No one calls for this because there is more in the mix – the sense of physical self and the impact of the removal of body parts on that.

    Which is what I said at the start and with which you now seem to agree!

    I recall why you brought up scars and – if you look at your replies above – that disagreed that the loss of a finger was any more intrusive than such an injection scar, which surprised me.

    If, by analogy, the only risk of not removing your extra toe is a 1/50 chance that you would have to remove it later then, no, I wouldn’t find that substantive reason.

  39. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne lets stick with reality instead of trying to twist your example to be more appropriate, I gave a very real example, your argument that it is not “normal” is a fallacy. So lets stick with that. Or the frenectomy example I used before that. Your example is wrong on so many levels that it is not worth going further with. I disagreed with your assertion that removing a body part is automatically worse then a scar, you inserted the “finger” example later which I specifically addressed.

    I sound cross/curt, because I see no reason to use flowery or accommodating speech, I’m giving straight direct answers.

    The analogy of the toe, the 1/50 chance is NOT the only risk as I stated.

    Sorry but these posts are feeling less and less honest as I seem to be repeating and making unnecessary clarifications.

  40. Monocle Smile says

    Here’s a quote from the AAP:

    Some research also suggests a reduced likelihood of developing sexually transmitted diseases and HIV infections in circumcised men, and possibly a reduced risk for cervical cancer in female partners of circumcised men. However, while there are potential medical benefits, these data are not sufficient to recommend routine neonatal circumcision of all boys. We recommend that the decision to circumcise is one best made by parents in consultation with their pediatrician, taking into account what is in the best interests of the child, including medical, religious, cultural, and ethnic traditions and personal beliefs.

    I read this as “the data isn’t strong enough to rock the boat.” While I’m not quite as staunchly opposed to circumcision as a parental decision as others, I DO oppose the idea that the parent is being moral or correct in making the decision and parents who don’t are being bad parents.

    Despite your earlier citations, if circumcision really granted a statistically significant advantage medically, then the statements of medical associations would reflect that (a la vaccines).They do not.

  41. johnmaskelyne says

    I’m sort of scratching my head a bit, as I’m not quite sure why you seem to be unhappy to answer but there we are.

    I can’t think what fallacy it would be but as I said above, no, I do think those are sufficiently substantive benefits (if I’m interpreting your 1/50 analogy as I suggested above).

    The reason the “normal” thing is a bit of a wrinkle is that I’m arguing that sense of self and self image are factors, so it muddies it a bit, as the inclination there might be towards the more usual five toes.

    Happy to simplify – if my child had five toes but one had a genetic condition which might make it more prone to infection and a 1/50 chance it would need amputation at some point, no, I would not amputate now.

    Would you, really?

    PS nope – the finger was there in the very same post.

  42. Monocle Smile says

    John from Wisconsin even admits that he’s looking to shoehorn stuff. I was like that for about a year, but it seems like he’s been doing this for much longer. It’s so bizarre that a physics major doesn’t know how to think about things. It’s like he’s never heard anything remotely like the questions Matt asked. Rehabilitating old books is just postdiction and adds zero knowledge.

    Okay, I have a very hard time believing John is a physics major. He’s not right about the big bang theory and Genesis unless you ignore like 95% of the words used to describe each. I’ve heard this “seeing stuff from the surface of the planet” bullshit, and it’s STILL wrong. It’s just desperate apologetics from people who can’t emotionally let go of their precious beliefs. I’m glad Matt went the route of questioning the reason to even attempt to do this silly shoehorning in the first place.

    LOL now John’s arguing that god is too weak to pass on information. John, what effect does your god actually have? It’s Martin’s question all over again…what would a universe without a god look like? Because you’re basically squeezing god into gaps, but gaps that don’t exist.

    And now the free will nonsense, which is a non sequitur AND an appeal to consequences. This has nothing to do with what is real, just what feels good to believe.

    “I’m going to relate this to gambling”
    Argument over. John has just taken apart his entire position and doesn’t know why.

    Oh, fuck, John. “Mysterious ways” means you’re done. This guy has giant piles of feces in his head that he needs to flush out before any more of these discussions can take place.

  43. paxoll says

    ” I think that permanently removing a body part seems like a more intrusive action than leaving an injection scar on one’s arm. Wouldn’t you agree? ”

    “@johnmaskelyne I don’t agree, what is your reasoning? Function? Not according to research. Aesthetics? Everyone can see the upper arm.”

    I did not respond to the finger because it was not part of the question, and it was a false analogy as you mentioned because there is no health benefit, and as I mentioned after you repeated the false analogy…

    “Losing the top of an ear is very significant because you look at your face everyday, everyone looks at your face and it is the primary focus of our identity when it comes to physical representation. Losing a finger, is that plus the loss of every day function of that finger.”

    “The toe is non-functional, its presence will cause minor medical problems because increased pressure on a non-functioning toe will lead to increased infections, some gate problems, and a 1/50 chance of having a serious problem requiring amputation.” Important parts are “increased infections” is an increase risk of antibiotic use and risk of sepsis, “gate problems” can cause long term disability with back and joint problems just as increase urinary infections can cause long term kidney and prostate problems. As for the “normal” thing, both toes and penises are rarely seen by other people, and in the case of circumcision you are arguing FOR circumcision based on societal norms if the person lives in one of the many countries where religion has made circumcision the “norm”. Not a particularly good rationalization.

    @Monocle Smile You are repeating what I already said about the term “routine”. “The important point is “routine infant circumcision” this means the benefit is not so great that it should be pushed onto patients, like vaccines. What it means is that the medical benefit is great enough that parents should be told of the risks and benefits and make their own choice. It also means that doctors have an medically ethical responsibility to 1) give parents that information, and 2) give parents access to the procedure. This is the same medical ethical responsibility doctors have for birth control and abortion.” The research I posted is more recent then ANY of the medical societies statements. I already stated “I’m guessing that other countries medical associations will join those in america on this topic in the future as more research is done.”

    Please stop having me repeat myself. The question that needs answered is this, If circumcision is immoral because a child has bodily autonomy like an adult, how can any medical treatment be given to a child as they do not have the capacity to make informed decisions? If you agree that parents can consent on behalf of their child for medical care, exactly what level of risk/benefit does it become immoral?

  44. Murat says

    I’d like to suggest a different angle on the circumsition thing:

    Of course everyone has the rights to do whatever they like to their bodies (with the exception of suicide, which is in some places “prohibited” by law, and one could be jailed for attempting it) and of course the best path to take is to wait for one to reach the age of consent before acting on their behalf, in case there is no imminent threat to health.

    But… Umm… If there was one part of the male body over which the opposite sex could have the most right to comment about, wouldn’t it be the penis?

    Though late in my adult life, I got to spend time with females who were from countries where circumcisiton was less common, even rare… And a brief summary of what they had to say about is, they tend to prefer it circumsized. Maybe not for actual health & hygiene reasons, but more through a perception of hygiene.

    For it to “feel better” is another thing probably, and Iong ago I had one particular talk about this with a close female friend who had had sex with an uncircumsized man for the first time quite late in her life. She had said it felt different in a slightly better way, but I don’t recall details such as whether she was talking only about vaginal sex, which I don’t suppose was done unprotected.

    Being one who was circumsized at 11, with only a slight and local anasthetic, screaming loud at the surgeon for 20 minutes as he cut pieces, I’d call the experience a tramuatic one at all stages; before, during and after… Jeez… Beats me why the hell it was commonly done that way back then, but I don’t think anyone is putting their child to that kind of an operation nowadays. Far as I know, the ceremony and the surgery are days apart now. Mine was more like that on-location indian ritual best demonstrate in “A Man Called Horse”.

    There were a few odd contradictions and inconsistencies in the remarks and anecdotes by the hosts:

    1) Sex being different like in color as opposed to in black and white “before” circumsition: The person who said that to Matt must have gone through it late, after he’s had sex uncircumsized. Then, underneath that story, may there lie the “reason” to be circumsized so late? If that was because he had had a health issue, then, the story would support the idea of circumsized penis being advantegous health-wise… The only other reason I can think of is religious.

    2) They said keeping it clean would be “equally simple” if you were using a condom, hence, circumsition wasn’t necessary for that. But then, isn’ that, like, pointing at your left arm with your right hand finger? The guy who mentioned that difference to Matt could not have been talking about the difference while using a condom in both cases… So, obviously, both the factor of hygiene and the difference in male pleasure refer to “unprotected” sex as opposed to the one you wear a condom. For couples who are their sole sex partners, the formula is unprotected + uncircumsized; whereas for those running wild it can be either protected + circumsized or protected + uncircumsized (because, at no point, circumsizion can provide you the level of safety a condom can) which makes the “sex in color” analogy totally irrelevant for those who have multiple sex partners.

    Can you really be having way more pleasure with an uncircumsized penis when you are wearing a condom? I don’t think so.

  45. says

    monocle @ 44:

    John from Wisconsin even admits that he’s looking to shoehorn stuff.

    yeah, right outta the gate john admits that he’s just trying to avoid the sadz:

    being a christian and also a physics major, i see a lot of issues where i try and equate science with god, and if i don’t see a connection between the two, then it kinda makes me a little bit nervous.

    this conversation effectively ends when matt asks:

    what reason would there be to believe in christianity if you don’t have any reasonable expectation that the information you have about christianity is reliable?

  46. Vivec says

    Regardless of whether or not you find the difference particularly large, there is a substantive difference between leaving a minor scar and removing a part of the body. If there wasn’t, those two phrases would be equivalent.

    That quibble aside, all I know is that the potential benefit would have to be substantially bigger than anything I’ve ever seen for me to consider having a prospective child circumcised. A 1/50 chance of needing it later, aesthetic preference, and ease of cleaning are not worth the violation of bodily autonomy, by my metrics anyways.

  47. johnmaskelyne says

    Well the finger was there in the next and only other sentence in the post but perhaps that wasn’t clear.

    Which body parts did you have in mind whose removal might be no more intrusive than the injection scar?

    I hope I have been clear about substantive benefits being the key – so if in our example our little toe is now is now suggesting a substantive risk of organ failure or life-threatening sepsis, then those are the very circumstances in which we would amputate.

    In the real world however, it does not appear that such levels of threat are seen from foreskin – as even the article you posted above points out so we don’t reach the same conclusion as in our made up deadly toe example.

    I’m not actually arguing either way on the “normal” bit – as I hoped to express when I said “might” – it’s just an unnecessary and potentially muddying factor (with which you seem to agree!) The example works just as well (and more cleanly) with five toes and a condition, so far as I can see.

  48. johnmaskelyne says

    PS I know it wasn’t directed to me but your point about “access for parents” sparked a thought.

    Can we think of any other amputation or body part removal which would be instigated by parents rather than by a medical professional?

  49. says

    Two things. First related to the show episode and then a little something i want to share.
    Matt mentioned that one person did (seemingly) lose belief in god during a show or debate. Matt is naturally sceptical of such quick results [sic]. I’m however not convinced that it has to be a protracted process. Once the “right button” is pushed, it might be already all over for god. It might just take time to get rid of annoying habits etc that we became indoctrinated with.

    The day of my dad’s funeral i bawled my eyes out in church. He still wanted a church farewell. I was well and truly over god and spirituality by then. I am though thankfull for the lack of faith at that time. It stopped me from having pointless conversations in my head as if talking to him. A few weeks prior to his unexpected death following release from hospital for heart failure, I did tell him that there is nothing after death. I hope it gave him some comfort.

  50. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne Research cannot put every possible outcome in an article. It is assumed that if they state that circumcision reduces urinary tract infections by 90% in infant boys, you can extrapolate on your own all the complications from a UTI such as, or antibiotic use . So yes, real world “levels of threat”. This is why I stated earlier “What it means is that the medical benefit is great enough that parents should be told of the risks and benefits and make their own choice. It also means that doctors have an medically ethical responsibility to 1) give parents that information, and 2) give parents access to the procedure.”

    The toe example is a perfect example of an “amputation” instigated by the parents., regardless of the normalcy of the condition (1/1000 is pretty damn common) it is very irrelevant to the idea of bodily autonomy and morality of parents treating their children.

  51. paxoll says

    Sorry, not “irrelevant”. It is a good example of parents making medical treatment decisions for their children, but it doesn’t answer any of the questions I have asked repeatedly.

  52. johnmaskelyne says

    I’m afraid I don’t agree with that. There are plenty of medical choices where the medical advice is clear and overwhelming (and they have no trouble expressing this). I happen to live in a country with no great history of circumscising and I’m afraid that there are just aren’t calls from medics and policy makers to alleviate the epidemic of foreskin related deaths or organ failures. The profession does not seemingly agree with your lay asesssment.

    Did you think of an example of a body part whose removal would be no more serious than an injection scar?

    Unfortunately, this is exactly where the muddying of “normal” comes in. Whilst we might have sympathy with a parent reducing six toes to five, can you honestly say you would support a parent wishing to reduce five toes to four because they found it more aesthetically pleasing personally?

    As I say, I’m struggling to put my finger on any other normal body part where amputation would emerge from a parental preference, as opposed or form medical necessity on the basis of medical need.

  53. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne removing extra fingers and toes is COMPLETELY parental preference, there is mild medical benefit, probably less then circumcision.

  54. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne my opinion, is the same as the majority of medical societies, so doctors DO say that. The question is why you disagree?

  55. Murat says

    @paxoll #56
    I think circumsizion is such an issue that, when you have a 50-50 position on it based on your information, you lean on the side that matches better with your personal history of things that are commonly associated with religions and traditions.

  56. paxoll says

    @Murat not sure you can call it a 50-50 position, is that based on public opinion? How does personal history of religion and traditions matter to the topic?

  57. Murat says

    @paxoll #58
    I didn’t mean what you got:
    I meant, if YOU have a 50-50 position, which is based on YOUR information, then YOU are more likely to be against it in case YOU have a negative history about religions and traditions, because it IS commonly associated with such.
    I’m not sure that, with the exact same set of knowledge, the hosts would use the exact same remarks on the issue had circumcision not been associated with two major religions.
    Same goes for people’s position on abortion – not “respecting women’s decision to make a decision about abortion” but “abortion” itself: Christians being against it provides more legroom FOR it for those who aren’t advocating a faith-based case.
    I’m just talking about a psychological and quite normal affiliation here.

  58. Murat says

    correction: “women’s RIGHT to make a decision about abortion”, that was intended to be…

  59. johnmaskelyne says

    And that is why, as I have pointed out several times, the issue of “defects” vs “normality” is an extra muddying step (unless you think a foreskin could be considered a birth defect).

    You can see that clearly via the question I asked above – would you support a parent who wished to amputate and reduce five toes to four at their own instigation? I’m assuming, obviously not.

    I think you are misjudging the level of risk that is perceived by the medical community. There is no suggestion of substantive risk of death or organ failure, as suggested above – indeed even the paper you posted opens or conclusion with : “The absolute indications for male circumcision in childhood are rare”

    But, assuming you are not a doctor, us debating our reading of these papers isn’t necessary. I live in a country where there are no regular calls from doctors, policy makers or academics for widespread circumcision. If your understating is correct then we would have to assume an unbelievably callous conspiracy spanning the country who, unlike in all the other cases of clearly evidenced public health issues, from smoking, to reducing salt intake, from obesity to cervical screenings, have mysteriously decided to publish a paper and then do nothing about it.

    Without any disrespect, that is simply incredible – and infinitely less credible than the possibility that you have misapprenhended the risk levels.

  60. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne I think you have a lack of understanding about the difference between what research shows, what doctors should do, and what actually happens, as well as the difference between what is routine and what is recommended. For instance, many doctors still recommend routine removal of the appendix during any abdominal surgery. Surgeons and most doctors recommend appendectomy to anyone with appendicitis. The only absolute indication for appendectomy is a perforation of an acutely inflamed appendix Likewise when you say “absolute indication” for circumcision you are grossly misunderstanding or misstating how medicine works. The facts are doctors are taught hopefully up to date medical information in school. Once they are done, it is up to them to continue to keep themselves updated. Typically this is done out of generalized fear of litigation. But it still takes many years and many studies to convince a significant number of doctors (typically a medical society) to change what they determine to be standard care. When the AAP changed their stance in 2012, the previous 2 evaluations of the topic was done in 1999, and 2005, and not enough new research had been done between those years for them to change their opinion. Almost universally every topic such as this is issued with a qualifying statement saying that more high quality research needs to be done. When the genital wart vaccine was first introduced, it was recommended that doctors offer it, it did not have enough research for it to be recommended as routine to every child, after a while it was changed to recommend all girls receive the vaccine, now it is recommended as routine for both boys and girls. Now, regardless of the fact that this is now recommended for routine application. It will take years for doctors to actually do this in their practices. Likewise, all the new research has shown a medical benefit to circumcision. In places like Africa, this evidence is enough to make routine circumcision in that area a reasonable recommendation. There likely will never be a strong enough medical reason in “first world” countries to push that to routine care unless a super antibiotic resistant UTI bug sweeps across the country. Regardless, the implication is that the AAP is correct and like I said before, more countries are likely to mirror their position.

    Seriously why won’t you address the real topic questions I asked? It is sad that no one at the atheist experience has responded to the specific criticisms I had about this.

  61. johnmaskelyne says

    So the medical profession don’t agree with you at the moment but you believe they will in the future. Well, who knows. Prophecy is a tricky business.

    If that happens then I will certainly take their risk assessments seriously. And we won’t be in the troublesome position of parents having to instigate such operations.

    I’m sorry I thought I had answered any questions you had asked. What did I miss?

    PS I’m afraid I don’t think fear of litigation is any explanation in the UK – that really isn’t the culture here.

  62. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne WTF are you talking about they DO agree with me, or rather I agree with the AAP as do the majority of medical societies. ME- “What it means is that the medical benefit is great enough that parents should be told of the risks and benefits and make their own choice. It also means that doctors have an medically ethical responsibility to 1) give parents that information, and 2) give parents access to the procedure.”

    AAP- 2012 “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.”

    RACP- 2010 “After reviewing the currently available evidence, the RACP believes that the frequency of diseases modifiable by circumcision, the level of protection offered by circumcision and the complication rates of circumcision do not warrant routine infant circumcision in Australia and New Zealand. However it is reasonable for parents to weigh the benefits and risks of circumcision and to make the decision whether or not to circumcise their sons. When parents request a circumcision for their child the medical attendant is obliged to provide accurate unbiased and up to date information on the risks and benefits of the procedure. Parental choice should be respected.”

    BMA- 2006 “The Association has no policy on these issues. Indeed, it would be difficult to formulate a policy in the absence of unambiguously clear and consistent medical data on the implications of the intervention. As a general rule, however, the BMA believes that parents should be entitled to make choices about how best to promote their children’s interests”

    CPS- 2015 “Because the medical risk:benefit ratio of routine newborn male circumcision is closely balanced when current research is reviewed (Table 1), it is challenging to make definitive recommendations for the entire male newborn population in Canada. For some boys, the likelihood of benefit is higher and circumcision could be considered for disease reduction or treatment. Health care professionals should provide parents with the most up-to-date, unbiased and personalized medical information available so that they can weigh the specific risks and benefits of circumcising their son in the context of familial, religious and cultural beliefs. Having the right information will enable them to make the best decision for their boys.”

    These are all the same.

    The questions I have repeatedly pointed out that are the actual topic, the rest of this is completely irrelevant, is “If circumcision is immoral because a child has bodily autonomy like an adult, how can any medical treatment be given to a child as they do not have the capacity to make informed decisions? If you agree that parents can consent on behalf of their child for medical care, exactly what level of risk/benefit does it become immoral?”

  63. Murat says

    If circumcision is immoral because a child has bodily autonomy like an adult, how can any medical treatment be given to a child as they do not have the capacity to make informed decisions? If you agree that parents can consent on behalf of their child for medical care, exactly what level of risk/benefit does it become immoral?

    Finally, a well articulated question to sum up what corresponds to the theoretical debate in daily life.
    Some months ago, I had watched this Aron Ra video where he talked with Lena Nyhus:
    There were a few things that bugged me, and I think the question above touches on them in a different way. Mainly, movements against circumcision seem to consider the practice like the “loss of an organ or limb for faith-based reasons and against one’s will” and they develop the argument using mainly the negative aspects of medical data.
    However, if we get into criteria like age of consent and risk / benefit judgments, the final result should be in line even with how free young adults (or their parents) are when deciding about tattoos or some very common yet quite permanent other changes to their bodies.
    If a 14-year-old can legally walk into a tattoo & piercing parlor and come out looking like the villain from the next Pirates of the Caribbean movie, then, it might be hard to argue that adult parents (who take all responsibilities for their children) can be lead not to decide for circumcision based on debatable stuff.
    (I know that no one in the show even suggested to ban circumcision or something, I’m just referring to some remarks by Lena Nyhus in that other video.)

  64. johnmaskelyne says

    I’m talking about the fact that extracting random quotes from individual papers does not tell us about the general perception of the sector. If I take the later quote from the same BMA report:
    “In the past, circumcision of boys has been considered to be either medically or socially beneficial or, at least, neutral. The general perception has been that no significant harm was caused to the child and therefore with appropriate consent it could be carried out. The medical benefits previously claimed, however, have not been convincingly proven, and it is now widely accepted, including by the BMA, that this surgical procedure has medical and psychological risks (see section 4.4). It is essential that doctors perform male circumcision only where this is demonstrably in the best interests of the child. The responsibility to demonstrate that non-therapeutic circumcision is in a particular child’s best interests falls to his parents.
    It is important that doctors consider the child’s social and cultural circumstances….” does it leave us with the same impression?

    As you said above, advocating circumcision on general medical grounds is not common practice and you felt it would be years before doctors generally came around to your point of view (or that they do secretly agree with you but are afraid to express it for fear of litigation!) They opinion of the profession is clearly not your own, else we would see them acting differently.

    I think I answered your question in my first post. In my view, the parents’ rights to overturn the bodily autonomy of the child and consent to remove a body part occur where there is substantive risk of significant harm. As with other similar situations, this would very likely be recommended by a medical professional in response to a medical need, as opposed to instigated by the parents.

    I think it is fairly consistent, even outside of amputations/ body part removals. Parents get to consent to vaccinations but they don’t get to suggest their own. They can consent to a colonoscopy but it would be bizarre for them to suggest one. It is a fairly risk free procedure to cut some lumps out of various limbs and send them off for biopsies, so perhaps parents would be justified in requesting this preventative measure? I guess not.

  65. paxoll says

    @johnmaskelyne The passage still states that it is up to the parents to decide and the research they are referring to is the oldest and most outdated before 2006. It doesn’t matter your impression of the passage.

    You are also getting very dishonest pulling statements out of context. First I have not advocated for circumcision and none of the positions have said doctors should advocate for it, that would be the same as recommending routine circumcision. Next no I don’t think doctors agree with me but don’t express their true opinions because of fear of litigation. I stated most doctors don’t change their personal practice until fear of litigation, that was also not specifically about circumcision. There is something called standard practice, if a doctor is not practicing how the majority of his peers are, then they better be using up to date research or recommendations from a relevant medical society or they are liable for malpractice. Being in the UK with socialize medicine, I’m guessing that the doctors will not change their practice until the BMA reviews the new research and updates their position on the topic. Even so their official position is that it is the parents decision.

    You still do not comprehend how medicine works “recommended by a medical professional in response to a medical need”, completely ignores preventative medicine. Vaccines are not in response to a medical need. All medicine is a recommendation based on risk/benefit. You have not made any indication on where that risk/benefit line is, risk of UTI is reduced 90% according to the research, UTIs can lead to kidney damage, sepsis and death. It’s rare, but newborns are most susceptible to these complications, so when does the risks and benefits make it suddenly a morally ok choice? If UTIs are reduced by 99% would it suddenly be ok? What about if a new resistant bacteria suddenly sweeps across the country making those rare UTI complications suddenly more common? Is it best to rely on what doctors say? Well the doctors say that is a choice for the parents.

    As for your flippant attempt at an reductio ad absurdum argument, significant research is done on the risks/benefits of stuff like giving children colonoscopies and they have very rational evidence based reasons to recommend for or recommend against giving children colonoscopies based on criteria. So the harm from doing routine screening of children with colonoscopies is drastically greater then the benefit, if the child is having bloody diarrhea then the reverse is true.

  66. johnmaskelyne says

    No, the passage states that it is incumbent on the doctor to only act in the best interest of the child and it is incumbent on the parents to justify their request. And goes on, which you can read, to explain the potential cultural and religious justifications – not to suggest, as you seem to think, that the justification lies in urinary tract infections.

    So you think that doctors do generally agree with you, but refuse to act out of laziness? I’m not sure why you are convinced that they share your views but are concealing or refusing to express this. Certainly I don’t think you have any evidence for that.

    Absolutely, it is best to follow the guidance of medical professionals on where that balance lies. Given that they do not generally recommend the procedure on medical grounds (either existing or preventative, if I must be specific) then I must conclude that they do not clearly see the benefits are sufficient to recommend it and, therefore, I don’t see why we are interested in the parents’ non-expert views.

    I think you seem to be studiously avoiding the actual reasons that these articles spell out for the parents’ wishes being factored in at all – that we are talking of culture and religion – not of medical risk/benefit.

    I’m afraid I don’t see it as a reductio ad absurdum but instead as a case of special pleading on your part. Isn’t that great, and my whole point, that nobody gives a stuff what parents might suggest when it comes to colonoscopies or random biopsies or, in fact, pretty much any other surgery or procedure that circumsicion?

  67. paxoll says

    Again, you are dishonestly assuming my position. I did not say doctors agree with me but are lazy. I said they don’t change their practice. Meaning most doctors will not personally bother to look up the most recent research on circumcision. They will wait till a medical society makes a recommendation, and then they might not bother to change their practice until they know the majority of other doctors around them are practicing that way. So it has nothing to do with agreeing with me. Have you had a child? If yes, then did you go to all the prenatal visits? If you did, do you know that the doctor NEVER brought up circumcision? If no then how can you claim they are not doing what the AAP recommends?

    Next you are simply wrong and everything you say goes to show you seem to have no clue how medicine works. Parents can make good or bad medical choices for their children and yes, parents bring their children into the dermatologist all the fucken time to get biopsies of things they are worried about. So yes they have little chunks cut off their children all the time. The doctor can tell them that it is a benign growth, but even a benign growth has a minuscule risk of being something else, and if a parent insists on having it removed or biopsied most doctors will comply, because even though the benefits are almost non existent, the risk is small as well. A doctor can CHOOSE to say, “sorry I wont do that”, but that rarely happens. Same thing with infections. Many infections do not require antibiotics, but many parents insist on it. Doctors give the parents risks and benefits and then the parents decide and the doctor usually complies even if it is NOT recommended. Luckily most parents do listen to recommendations by their doctor, and in cases where benefits and risks are not hugely lopsided, it is always the position of the medicine that the patient or person making the medical decisions be given information and left to decide. There is no special pleading, you just don’t comprehend how medicine works. This isn’t about doing whatever parents suggest, this is about risk benefits and the ability of parents to have the right to make those decisions most of the time.

  68. Antonio says

    When theists call (and if you end the call in good terms) you guys should tell or ask them to tell their theist friend to let them know about the show and call in if they have any questions too.

  69. johnmaskelyne says

    I think we must have different definitions of lazy – you in the very next sentence say that you believe they can’t be “bothered” to look up research or “bother” to change their practice until they are forced to by peer pressure. Not bothering is, by my definition, being lazy.

    As to whether they agree with you or not I’m very confused about your position. Those that haven’t bothered to look up the research, if they do agree with you it is clearly not based on research. If you are right, then those who have researched, and clearly agree with with your reading of the risks, are simply not bothering to reveal this serious risk of life threatening scale to the parents they treat.

    Most unusual – with everything else they seem fine. Salt, heart disease, smoking, alocohol, BMI, the age women should start having smear tests to balance out the risks of false positives, you name it, doctors are all researched up and ready to make recommendations on solid medical grounds. But this one – it’s just a bridge too far I guess?

    I have children, I have lots of friends with children, I have siblings with children, I have the BMA guidance, I have estimates of current circumcision rates at around 3%. I have no evidence that doctors are regularly recommending the procedure.

    Great, so now we end up right back where we started – that if we are removing a body part there is additional harm over and above the risk of the procedure itself.

    Let me note that (a) in the UK doctors would be very unlikely to put up with such behaviour from parents and (b) I presume you agree that it would be better if parents didn’t infect demand unnecessary biopsies and antibiotics (the latter of which is, as I’m sure you know, causing a major problem with resistant strains).

    So again I am foxed at how this is not special pleading. Here you examples are bolshy parents demanding medically illiterate procedures and getting them (though I find it extraordinary) done because they are hassle and they are paying. You even point out that “luckily” most are not like this – so you clearly agree that this is not a good thing.

    When it comes to foreskins, though, these same parents are to be dressed as the real experts, who have the right of the medical science and are overcoming the ill-informed doctor who can’t be bothered to offer sound advice, even if sepsis and death are on the line. Quite a role-reversal?

    I do think you are for some reason putting this procedure in a box on its own and I don’t think its credible.

  70. paxoll says

    This is not special pleading because ALL of medicine works the same way. You are simply not listening. Doctors are not deferring to parents as “real experts”, no where has that EVER been said or implied in any of these posts. Patients have autonomy, PARENTS have defacto medical power of attorney over their children. Medical research gives information on risks and benefits of all medicine. All medicine has risks and benefits, including quakary which has no benefits and all risks. So there is a spectrum for every single medical decision. Lots of risks with lots of benefits, little risk with little benefits, lots of risks and little benefits, and little risk and big benefits. Throw it onto a big grid, and every medical decision can be theoretically plotted. Take the appendix example. Start with NO treatment because that is a medical decision, High risk of the infection perforating, causing sepsis and death, benefits no exposure to antibiotics or surgery. The recommended treatment is surgery. High risk of surgical complications but rare, benefits a 99.6% cure rate. Alternately you can prescribe antibiotics, risks are reaction to antibiotics, benefits a 73% cure rate. Now, doctors do not recommend antibiotics, but it is much safer then surgery. What doctors DO is tell parents all of the options, and let them decide, because it is THEIR RIGHT. Not because parents are “real experts”. So are you telling me that parents who choose antibiotics are immoral because that is not the doctor recommended treatment? Here is the NHS response at the end you will notice VERY similar wording to the circumcision position “However, studies have looked into whether antibiotics could be an alternative to surgery and as yet there isn’t enough clear evidence to suggest this is the case.” Which is not what the research shows. Yes doctors are “lazy” but I wasn’t saying they agree with me because they don’t have the information and are likely “agreeing” with whatever medical society they choose to follow, which is typically NOT giving the most up to date information.

  71. paxoll says

    Again this is not the topic, the topic is morality. Regardless of whether there is enough benefit to warrent doctors “recommending” it. That is not an argument on the morality of the decision.

  72. johnmaskelyne says

    No I’m very happy witht that principle – as I think I stated in my first post and numerous times since. The point is that your grid is not populated with the assessment of parents. It is populated by the assessments of medical professionals. Clearly parents often have the legal right to listen to sense or not, unfortunately.

    I thought you said that there were substantive risks of sepsis and death, which the doctors couldn’t be bothered to talk about or are ill informed – so the parents demanding circumscision are on medically sound footing, whereas the doctor is not, surely? Or are the parents only right by coincidence in their own assessment of the risks?

    I really think you are being very inconsistent and using your own conclusion as a yardstick – if doctors don’t agree with your assessment of the the sepsis and death risk of not being circumcised, then they are ill informed or lazy. If medical associations agree with you (as you see it) then they are correct. If not, they are out of date. You feel parent-instigated procedures, not prompted by doctors, are an unfortunate reality of which you don’t approve, except in this case. Are you, in fact, an expert with medical training and expertise in this field, that we might reasonably hold your understanding to be such a yardstick?

    Oh sorry, I though the morality point was plain. In my view it is moral to impinge upon bodily autonomy where there is a substantive health benefit for the child. If the action is not even recommended by mecial professionals then this suggests the health benefits are nowhere near the level of substantive.

  73. paxoll says

    You have terrible reading comprehension or are purposefully being obtuse. Never claimed a high risk of anything with or without circumcision. You have repeatedly dishonestly represented what I say. Your moral stance, is completely arbitrary as I have illustrated multiple times and multiple ways. From what I’ve posted and you just posted, circumcision is wrong up until a random set of benefits make a random set of doctors say that they have decided it is “recommended”. Sorry, but I’m not going to continue a conversation with someone who at this point is obviously Trolling.

  74. johnmaskelyne says

    Um, do you want to just search the page for all your comments about UTIs, sepsis and death?

    My moral stance is very probably your moral stance beyond the blinkers of this topic. It’s immoral to chop off someone’s toe, breast, testicle, arm, leg, ear or nose as it is harmful to them, unless there is a substantial health benefit to doing so e.g. stopping gangrene, preventing cancer, stemming catastrophic bleeding or freeing them from being trapped under a big rock.

    You wish to suggest there is a substantive health benefit to circumscision (well up until this post it seems!) but expect us to believe that despite the fact that this is allegedly true, doctors and various medical associations haven’t actually gotten around to catching up to your expertise or can’t be bothered to tell anyone.

    Until the substantive benefits are demonstrated much more clearly than by the reading of some research by some random bloke on the internet, I shall remain unconvinced of those substantive health benefits (though now it seems you weren’t claiming there were singnifcant risks anyhow so I guess that’s case closed).

    You could always conduct an experiment. Go door to door and tell parents that, though doctors don’t generally recommend it and you are not a medic yourself, you’ve been doing some reading and you think you have very good reason to chop off a bit of their kid. Make a note of the reactions?

  75. Gordon Carley says

    Recently my dog was attacked by a big dog and almost died. Her name was Daisy though so obviously you are only half psychic!

  76. factgammon says

    Does anyone have the link for corpus callosum study talk? I would really like to hear that. Thanks!