[extropy-chat] circumcision

Damien Broderick thespike at satx.rr.com
Thu Jan 12 18:02:13 UTC 2006

At 12:12 PM 1/12/2006 -0500, Rafal wrote:

>### One may wonder, what is the reason why humans evolved to have a
>foreskin? For fun? To increase risk of infection and cancer?
>If we knew why we have it the first place, we'd know whether it's
>smart to cut if off.

Of course, the following is not the same, but a similar retort might be 
made to those crazy people who cut their hair, shave their beards, depilate 
their pubic hair, trim their toenails, wash themselves with soap, wear 
condoms during anal sex, clean their teeth with toothpaste...

As far as I can see, though, male circumcision isn't really like any of the 
above, and derives from a surprisingly recurrent practice of 
self-mutilation in many cultures, similar to the votive practices of, say, 
knocking out one healthy tooth, cicatizing face, breast, arms, etc, as a 
kind of tribulation and admission to the tribe as well as an obeisance to 
supposed Higher Powers. Silly, and rather nasty. That it turns out to have 
some unexpected medical side benefits for people living in highly urban 
communities and engaging in sexual practices unavailable to our ancestors 
who were stuck in the same small region with the same small number of 
people for their whole lives, provides no warrant of adaptation.

On the other hand, given the elaborate and cross infecting world we now 
live in, and that circumcision does have this unexpected side benefit, and 
is best inflicted in infancy if at all, it's worth considering for baby boys.

Damien Broderick 

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