24 thoughts on “How soon we forget

  1. Love the fact that you have a certain WEIT book on top of a certain Origin book! Either our angle is different or you have drunk the bottle (was it J & B, I cannot remember) that was hidden in the glass bookcase…?

  2. Dr. Coyne, would you please check your latest rabbi blog? There is a question for you on whether the foreskin is a vestigial organ. Only you have the credentials to review the subject as presented and in the literature and pronounce judgement, as it were. That is, none of the individuals taking sides has your credentials, and it would offer a hope of peace, if you were to weigh in.
    Many thanks.

    1. Ah, the religious and their obsession with sex and picking on sexual organs! Isn’t that like some vestigial sin?

      I think it is unclear which if any function a foreskin has, so it is perhaps premature to deem it vestigial (“seemingly lost all or most of their original function”; Wikipedia).

      I have seen claims on foreskin, if memory serves:

      – being protective (fairly validated by reports of loss or gain of sensitivity in the penis following amputation of foreskin, in turn affecting robustness of male sexual function)

      – affecting how sperm is retained by the female by diverse mechanical action (fairly invalidated, I think, but IIRC the statistics suck)

      – affecting female experience positively by better suited mechanical action so increasing receptivity to sex (perhaps validated, but again the statistics suck)

      – since it has immune system functions, mediate antigen presentation and heighten impregnation success in steady couples (just so story or testable?)

      I hope the biologists present will shoot down the falsehoods here.

      1. There are quite a number of related articles all in the October issues of JAMA, this year. It appears circumcision decreases risk of infection transmission to the male and from the male to the female. Like amputation of other body parts, the younger the age of amputation (i.e., infants vs adolescents vs adults) the more readily the body can adjust, both brain and peripheral nerve anatomy and function. I am not able to read all the details, but it appears the more data is collected and the better it is managed, the more circumcion appears to have a worthy benefit to risk ratio. On the other hand, it isn’t clear to me that the foreskin has anymore use than a supernumerary digit.
        The individuals I’m running across online, though, are atheists. That is the most disconcerting point. I see a trend in which anytime Jews are mentioned, circumcision is raised up as child abuse, and then female genital mutilation is added as though Jews do that, too.
        The best I can figure is that this thought process is unconciously affected by the systematic church-designed antisemitism of some 1500 years ago, ingrained in western society so fully as to be stubborn even in the minds of those who believe themselves to be free thinkers.

        1. “Supernumerary” foreskin – a new low of recognizing and describing human anatomy?

          Indeed, at a guess this situation is like a hand – amputate a small digit and you should decrease risk of infection transmission between hand shakers. You should probably leave only thumb and index finger.

          Similarly you could think of removing the lips for infectious risks of kisses.

          Of course everyone should do that, preferable before age of consent so the more readily the body can adjust, both brain and peripheral nerve anatomy and function.

          Yes, this scenario looks like child abuse, how could it not?

          But I don’t see the connection to religion, except that some religious practicers tend to do this to their children. We should be able to criticize the subject, not the person, without getting the old and tired claim of special privilege of religion thrown back in our face.

          1. Sadly the “old and tired claim” seems necessary, when false arguments like yours pop up. “Supernumerary digit” is a medical/anatomical term. Feel free to educate yourself by looking it up. As for the rest, you seem unintellectually attached to your foreskin to such a degree as to compare its removal with — if I may follow your lead in terms of exaggeration — excising the entire body. Offer a data-based, truly scientific argument, and I will be glad to try to learn from it. Otherwise, based on science, I will stand with the opinions of current researchers, as they actually make sense. The only reason you show to argue otherwise would be nonscientific, so very much like religion. Unscientific religious bias does not get a pass, even for atheists who’ve otherwise given up religion. They — we — of all people should have the courage to develop enough insight to recognize such vestigial remnants of thought indoctrinated into our brains. I’ve done. Perhaps someday, you will, too.

            1. Seems only yesterday that the husband helped in whacking his own peepee as an adult. No problem with pain, was, everything fine and functional? As a semi-interested layperson I’ve seen the reported expert opinion move from side to side a few times.

              There is a problem with things like this where christianity is involved – christians do lie regularly. Christians also want their opinions imposed on all of society. Christians have a strong incentive to produce data supporting the whackification of the peepee, for it is of the jebus.

              Elective surgery without consent should be done only if strongly justified. There are a lot of problems associated with who owns a specific human’s body, given that we each have but one life, ownership of our own bodies seems particularly important.

              1. Please read this article, published only last month, in a well regarded medical science journal: http://jama.ama-assn.org/content/306/13/1479.full.pdf+html.

                One key difference between science and religion is dogma. Dogma doesn’t change — except, perhaps, in mind-spinning view of apologists. Science changes in that new knowledge which contradicts old knowledge can supercede the old knowledge if and when appropriate (i.e., well grounded and showing the ability to predict further data).

        1. Well, there was the time someone asked a mohel (Jewish guy specially trained to do circumcisions) what he’d done with all those foreskins, after so many decades of doing circumcisions. The mohel very carefully pulled out his wallet. “That’s all you have?” he was asked. “Yes, but if you rub it, it turns into a steamer trunk.”

        2. FWIW, fingers and lips can be made into excellent wallets too – they keep a tight grip on the bills, and the wallet can kiss the boss’s ass on payday.

          Since “breasts” are supernumerary and infectious risks, you can milk this joke for ever.

          1. Does anyone else find such comments bringing up the mental vision of lampshades illuminating tattoed numbers on the skin from which they were made? Or soap made from human fat? Or blankets woven of human hair? It wasn’t so long ago, and it, too, found antisemitism convenient, exaggeration for the sake of bullying and intimidation more than just a fun flirt with power.

            1. I call Godwin on that. We’re mostly atheists here I believe, I don’t think your attempts to justify your primitive religious customs are going to get much further than, oh, your efforts to imply that anyone who thinks your religion is as pointless as all the others must be anti-semitic. (I’m just anti-BS, and Judaism, like Catholicism, Muslim, fundies and a host of others are full of it, IMO).

              1. Wikipedia “Godwin’s Law”: “Godwin’s law itself can be abused as a distraction, diversion or even as censorship, fallaciously miscasting an opponent’s argument as hyperbole when the comparisons made by the argument are actually appropriate.[10]” Further, from same artical, your response, above, must be called a fallicist’s fallacy.

              2. “…your primitive religiuos customs….” Fact: I am an atheist. Fact: I happen to know more about Jewish customs, history, and religion than is reflected in your postings.

                Challenge: If you’re going toss out all things grounded in “primitive religious customs”, include marriage, inheritance, and a day of rest, as the latter is the basis for vacations. Silliness “begets” silliness.

                I care not where a concept or custom originates. I care whether it is, in today’s world, useful and appropriate. You may continue ad hominem attacks and religious aspersion casting at me, but that in no way changes the scientific findings related to circumcision. Scream, and the facts will still be facts. Collect data to the contrary, and we’ll talk.

                I’m done.

  3. Alligators are such sweet animals… have you considered “kitteh” boots? jajaja!

    ( To all cat lovers: Sorry, I got out of bed with a sick sense of humor today, I don’t mean disrespect :o) )

    1. I always swore that I was going to make earmuffs and mittens out of Bryxie, because her fur was so luxurious. But naturally I wouldn’t really. I assumed you were joking, so no offense taken.

  4. Some years ago, at Minot, North Dakota’s Hostfest (http://www.hostfest.com/), I learned one can brush a rabbit, cat, dog, etc., turn the fur into yarn on a spinning wheel, and knit apparel with it! So, you can turn your beloved pet into gloves without any harm! I bought a pair of rabbit hair wrist cuffs and matching headband. The cuffs were so warm, I hardly needed gloves — in the North Dakota winter, no less!

    1. I had a friend many years ago who was a hand-spinner. She had Great Pyrenees dogs as guard dogs for her sheep and goats, and she would save the cardings from their coats. Eventually, she had enough to spin into a few skeins, and she made herself a vest from them.

      But, even though she’d washed the skeins before working with them, she said that every time that vest got wet, it smelled like a wet dog. L

    2. My cat has beautifully soft fur and sheds huge quantities of it, I’m sure I could make stuff if I knew how to spin.

  5. YouTube has instructional videos from a variety of sources. And you might find a spinning wheel on Craig’s List or eBay.

  6. “with your snakeskin suit/and your alligator boots/you don’t need a laundrette/you can take it to the vet” – The Clash

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