Science isn’t the primary facet of this debate.

One point of follow-up on the Scottish article I discussed this morning. Further along in the article, this:

“The presumption against male circumcision in Scotland should be lifted,” said Dr Tim Hargreave, a urologist at Edinburgh University and a senior adviser to the WHO.

“There needs to be a policy shift in light of this evidence. Parents who seek circumcision for non-religious reasons should have ready access on the NHS.”

“There is an enormous anti-circumcision lobby that has very real concerns. But you have to separate the science and the evidence from the emotional baggage,” he said.

Isn’t it convenient how easily Dr. Hargreave lumps “real concerns” into emotional baggage, since the science is so convincing? That would be truthful if it were true. Dr. Hargreave’s position, like most who support infant circumcision, falls into the realm of truthiness.

Yes, I’m angry about being circumcised, a fact I admit. That does not change my argument. My “emotional baggage” appears in the tone and lack of patience I sometimes take surrounding the issue of infant circumcision, but there are facts and logic behind what I say. I do not deny the science, instead explaining why it isn’t enough to overcome the ethical concerns and the reality that less invasive procedures exist to resolve medical issues if they arise.

Orac, at Respectful Insolence, has an interesting take on the battle against vaccines that I think can be applied equally to the circumcision debate. I have no idea if Orac would agree with me, but his words speak truth to what I’m trying to say. Consider:

Supporters of pseudoscience … always have the advantage in such events, because the pseudoscientist can throw canards, dubious data, and distortions with abandon and force the skeptic or scientist on the defensive batting the canards aside, so much so that it is very difficult and sometimes impossible for a skeptic to get his message across.

Obviously the pro-infant circumcision lobby would classify me as the pseudoscientist in the circumcision debate, but that doesn’t fit. Skeptic versus non-skeptic is the key. Skepticism to Dr. Hargreave, and presumably most pro-infant circumcision folks, is “emotional baggage”. Circumcision is the panacea for all that ails society. Males should accept that the men and women who came before them and made their decision for them were wise and only acting with the best of intentions. The skeptic sees that this is modern medicine’s version of snake oil. Some people will improve by accident, but most are getting nothing measurable out of it. Does that mean everyone should drink up because it might work? Of course not. But that truth is “emotional baggage,” stifling the debate away from where it should be.

To their credit, the NHS stated that the recent results are not sufficient for it to reconsider its current policy that circumcision is unnecessary and should not be funded.

Thanks to Kip for the Science Blogs link.