November 17, 2021
Last week Intact America named Dan Bollinger as vice chairperson of its board of directors.  Bollinger has served as Intact America's strategic advisor. In this post we will review some notorious incidents in Bollinger's intactivist career.
In 2010 Bollinger authored a study in which he claimed that 117 boys die from causes related to circumcision in the United States each year. Bollinger admitted that the figure was a "rough estimate." His calculation was based on two faulty assumptions. First, he assumed that circumcision must be the cause of a higher rate of male perinatal mortality than female perinatal mortality - despite a significantly higher mortality rate for perinatal boys versus their female peers even in non-circumcising cultures. Second, he assumed that the mortality rate in the first two days of life would continue over the next 28 days. Bollinger's 117 deaths figure has become so ingrained in intactivist culture that some of them believe it's an actual statistic.
In 2011 Bollinger and Robert Van Howe wrote a study in which they reported that circumcised men were 4.53 times more likely to use an erectile dysfunction drug than uncircumcised men. The study was subject to self-selection bias and conflicts with other studies that report no correlation between circumcision and erectile dysfunction. Although Bollinger cautioned that the study was merely "preliminary" and the results should not be extrapolated to the general population, intactivists have cited the study as proof that circumcised men are 4 1/2 times more likely than uncircumcised men to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
In 2019 Bollinger and Georganne Chapin coauthored a paper in which they encouraged the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to add circumcision to a list of "adverse childhood experiences." Ironically this paper refutes itself by citing the CDC website approvingly as a medical authority. One year before the release of the paper, the CDC indicated that there is no high-quality evidence to support the claim that circumcision results in lifelong psychological trauma.
In 2013 Bollinger proposed a tipping point in terms of public acceptance of the intactivist viewpoint. After reviewing social change movements like the civil rights and same-sex marriage movements, he concluded that "once a movement reaches a certain percentage of societal acceptance, this percentage - a tipping point - "signals a dramatic shift in public acceptance of the [social] movement’s alternative proposition." He later clarified that intactivism would need 20-25% of public support to reach a tipping point. We explained why a tipping point is not inevitable, and we discussed factors that differentiate the intactivist movement from successful social change movements. Intact America now claims that 22.5% of Americans oppose circumcision of minor boys, according to their latest survey.  If the survey result and Bollinger's conclusion are correct, that would mean that the intactivist position has now reached the tipping point, and a dramatic rise in public opinion against circumcision is imminent. We remain skeptical.
In 2014 actors Jenny Mollen and Jason Biggs posted photos on Instagram of the circumcision ceremony for their newborn son. On an Intact America post Bollinger wrote, "I imagine young Sid was wishing he had been born to Baptist, Atheist, [sic] Pagan, or any other parents than Jewish parents."  This is unseemly and absurd for Bollinger to assume that a child would hate his own parents for bringing him into the covenant of their faith. Moreover, Jews comprise just 2.4% of the American population,  and Bollinger knows that the vast majority of boys circumcised in the United States have parents who aren't Jewish. So it's rather bizarre for him to imply that religion is the only reason that the boy would be circumcised. As this is the only anti-Jewish remark of Bollinger's that we've seen, it's unclear whether this is an aberration or whether he generally holds negative views toward Jews.
Outside the 2016 AAP Conference Bollinger told Circumcision Choice counter-protesters that he was not responsible for the misuse of his papers, including the infamous 117 deaths statistic. His refusal to take responsibility is not credible given that he has made no apparent effort to educate other intactivists. Moreover he cannot escape responsibility when the organization which he serves has stated that his erectile dysfunction study "shows that circumcised men have a 4.5 times greater change of suffering from erectile dysfunction" than uncircumcised men. He cannot escape responsibility when his organization has repeatedly used his Lost Boys study to assert that "at least 100 babies die annually in the United States." The quote in the previous sentence is not ancient; it comes directly from last week's Intact America press release.
 "Intact America Names Dan Bollinger of West Lafayette, Indiana, as Vice Chairperson of Its Board of Directors"; Intact America; November 10, 2021
 Jason Biggs is Roman Catholic, not Jewish. Jenny Mollen's father is Jewish, and she apparently was raised with Jewish traditions. That neither of Sid's parents is Jewish halachically doesn't change the antisemitic nature of Bollinger's comments; it just adds to his resume of making false assumptions.