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Poisoned pi

Published: March 14, 2023

Updated: April 5, 2023

Today is colloquially known as Pi Day, since the 3/14 date resembles the first three digits of the numeric value of π (pi.) This intactivist Pi Day meme has been around for more than a decade, so it's long time for us to slice it up. With the exception of π and its numeric approximation, every number in the meme is false, misleading, or lacking context.

100% of babies are born intact.

"Your logical fallacy is Appeal to Nature. You argued that because something is natural it is therefore valid, justified, inevitable, good or ideal. Many natural things are also considered good, and this can bias our thinking; but naturalness itself doesn't make something good or bad." For instance: 100% of babies are born without food, without clothes, and without vaccinations.

100% of babies oppose circumcision.

No babies oppose circumcision. No babies support circumcision. No babies have an opinion on circumcision - or anything else for that matter. A newborn has no concept of his penis, his foreskin, circumcision, or sexual activities. A newborn has only needs, not opinions.

According to a 2015 survey of 1,000 American men, 86% of circumcised babies and 67% of uncircumcised babies grew up to agree with their parents' decision.

The foreskin contains 4 feet of blood vessels, 240 feet of nerves, and over 20,000 nerve endings.

Those statistic may seem impressive initially - until we consider that the human body has more than 60,000 miles (316.8 million feet) of blood vessels, more than 90,000 miles (475.2 million feet) of nerves, and more than 7 trillion (that's 7,000,000,000,000) nerve endings.

Moreover, the 20,000 nerve endings number is a myth. The intactivist who invented that statistic used a sample size of one, several dubious assumptions, and inflation to the largest foreskin in the human range. Other intactivists admit that it has no basis in fact.

100% of foreskins belong to their owner.

From a legal perspective nobody owns his or her own body. "There are numerous laws and regulations about what people can do with their own body. For example: It is illegal to put certain drugs in your body. Prostitution in certain places is illegal. Abortion is regulated. Suicide is illegal in most states." In case of a national emergency, the U.S. Congress could reinstate a draft of young men who are United States citizens or immigrants. About 85 countries (43%) "have some form of obligatory military training."

Conservative commentator Michael Knowles agrees. "There is no such person as a vulva owner or any other kind of body part owner." [1]

So NO, foreskins do not belong to their owners, because nobody owns his own body.

PUSHBACK: If nobody owns his or her own body, you can justify FGM, slavery, or any atrocity by that logic.

That's a straw man fallacy. We specifically object to the term "owner" in the meme. We clarified that the statement "nobody owns his or her own body" is specifically a legal perspective. We do not deny human rights. The fact that there are limits to what a person is allowed to do with his body in no way suggests that he lacks human rights. Moreover, the statement, "nobody owns his or her own body" is not intended to act as a justification for circumcision. While we obviously maintain that parents have a right to choose circumcision for their infant son(s), we are not using this article to make that argument. For an ethical perspective, see "The ethics of circumcision."

100% of men and their partners benefit from having a foreskin.

There is no basis for this assertion. Circumcision reduces the risk of a urinary tract infection, especially during the first year of life. Circumcision reduces a man's risk of penile cancer, and cervical cancer for his female partner(s). Contrary to the beliefs of circumcision opponents, the foreskin doesn't facilitate penetration or gliding inside the vagina. The foreskin doesn't protect the glans from infection or keratinization. Science-based studies don't show that circumcision affects sexual pleasure for a man or his female partner.

85% of men in the world are intact, with no problems.

Actually 100% of men in the world are intact. By definition any male who isn't castrated has intact genitals. In 2007 the World Health Organization estimated that about 30% of males were circumcised. A 2016 estimate by pro circumcision researchers offered an approximation of 37.7%.

Evidence from international sources shows that many uncircumcised men do have problems with their foreskin. A 1953 study found that 35% of uncircumcised British soldiers would have benefited from circumcision and 14% needed it. A 1966 study found that 8.8% of young German men had phimosis. A 2016 study reported that 5% of Danish boys suffered a foreskin complication significant enough to require treatment at a medical center. In 2019 President Jair Bolsonaro lamented, “In Brazil, we have 1,000 penis amputations a year due to a lack of water and soap."

250,000 men who were circumcised at birth are restoring their foreskin.

Having been cited by several anti-circumcision sources, this seems to be another questionable intactofact. We've seen no evidence or source for this statistic. Doctors Opposing Circumcision estimated that "more than 100,000 North American men have completed or are currently engaged in non-surgical foreskin restoration." DOC provided no explanation of how they arrived at that estimate. Even if it were accurate, we doubt that 60% of the men who use weights to stretch their foreskin live outside of North America.

Whatever the figure is, it requires some perspective. There are close to 3 billion adult men on earth. If 30% of them are circumcised, that's almost 900 million men. Of that number 250,000 is 0.000277777 - less than 3 hundreds of one percent.

68% of baby boys born in the U.S. and 91% of baby boys born in Canada today have parents who protect their genital autonomy.

Let's assume for the sake of refuting these numbers that "protect their genital autonomy" means leave them uncircumcised. The false 68% figure is based on a 2010 New York Times article which reported a 2009 neonatal circumcision rate of just 32.5%. The article refers to a slide presentation at an AIDS conference by a company that analyzed health care data. A spokeswoman for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) disavowed the statistic. "C.D.C. was not involved in the collection of the data that was cited, nor has C.D.C. undertaken any review of this particular data for the purpose of calculating rates. As such, we cannot comment on the accuracy of this particular estimate of infant male circumcision.” The figure in the slide show did not refer to the overall circumcision rate.

A CDC report estimated that in 2010 the circumcision rate for neonatal boys prior to hospital discharge (normally on the second day after birth) was 58.3%. The report did not include circumcisions performed during follow up visits in medical clinics, nor those performed in religious rituals. Based on a 2020 survey conducted for Intact America, Executive Director Georganne Chapin estimated (to her dismay) that the current rate in the United States is about 75%. No study has been released measuring the U.S. circumcision rate since 2010. Based on influential policy statements by the AAP and CDC and the reinstatement of Medicaid coverage in four states, it's likely that that the U.S. circumcision rate is increasing.

The Canadian Paediatric Society estimated a neonatal circumcision rate in Canada of 32%, based on a 2009 survey.

ZERO national medical organizations in the world recommend infant circumcision.

This is a straw man fallacy. Whether or not medical associations recommend circumcision is irrelevant. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Academy for Pediatrics, American Medical Association, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, Canadian Paediatric Society, Royal Australasian College of Physicians, and World Health Organization agree that newborn circumcision has medical benefits and parents have a right to choose the procedure for their newborn sons. In 2010 the RACP wrote that, "parental choice should be respected."

[1] Michael Knowles; "Not Your Body, Not Your Choice" speech at UNC Greenville (24:26-25:24); Young America's Foundation; April 5, 2023. "There is no such person as a vulva owner or any other kind of body part owner. We are, in part, our bodies. But we do not own our bodies. We didn't make our bodies. We're going to have to surrender our bodies at the moment of our death, whether we want to or not. And in the meantime there are all sorts of things that we might wish to do with our bodies that we're not allowed to do. You might like to be like the guy in San Francisco and shoot up heroin. But in most places, for now at least, you have no right to do it. You might wish to sell yourself into slavery. (People have weird kinks these days.) You have no right to do that - that pesky 13th Amendment will get in your way. You might even wish to kill yourself. I hope you don't, but you might. And most places, for now at least, recognize that you have no right to suicide. If you really owned your body - real, absolute ownership - you would have the right to do those things. But you don't."


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