New Perspectives on Circumcision

Guest Post by Norm Cohen

Did you know that Michigan has one of the highest rates of non-religious circumcision in the world? 83% of newborn boys are circumcised (48,000 annually) at a cost exceeding $10 million per year.  Only West Virginia, Indiana, and Kentucky have a higher circumcision rate than Michigan.

The state of Michigan spends $3 million a year of taxpayers’ money providing 19,000 of these elective surgeries through Medicaid. Meanwhile in California, the circumcision rate has fallen to 23%.

Circumcision is the world’s oldest routine surgery, but still the most common one. It is the only routine surgery performed without a diagnosis, and the only routine surgery claimed to prevent disease. Long before it was claimed that circumcision prevents AIDS, urinary tract infections, or cervical cancer, the majority of American boys were already being circumcised. In every decade since 1860, American doctors claimed that circumcision prevents yet another disease caused by the nasty foreskin. Over 29 diseases were once blamed on it.

The tainted history of American foreskin removal and the growing anti-circumcision movement should prompt skeptical people to take a closer look at America’s foreskin aversion. It’s time to widen our perspectives and put this American tradition into its greater context.

70% of the world does not practice circumcision. This includes all of Europe, Central and South America, Japan, China, India and the rest of Asia, except among Muslims and Jews. The practice of routine circumcision died out in Britain and New Zealand, and it is dying out in Australia and Canada.

Europeans don’t take seriously claims for the health benefits of circumcision. In October 2013 a resolution calling male circumcision a “violation of the physical integrity of children” was passed overwhelmingly by the Council of Europe, the continent’s leading human rights organization. The month before, a multi-national children’s rights group, the Nordic Council for Children, passed a resolution asking Nordic countries to ban the practice for minors.

In March 2013, a letter by 38 top pediatricians from 16 European countries and Canada was published in the journal Pediatrics. It refuted the alleged benefits of circumcision and declared, “Physical integrity is one of the most fundamental and inalienable rights a child has.”

The practice of circumcision around the world raises many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public. There is a need to educate the public about this ancient practice that is generating modern controversy worldwide.

On Sunday, December 7thNOCIRC of Michigan will present, “New Perspectives on Circumcision,” a free event featuring national experts who will share the historical, religious, medical, legal, ethical, and cultural aspects of the unique and controversial practice.

The December 7th event will be held from 1:00 to 4:30 pm in the Michigan League building on the U of M campus (911 N. University Ave., Ann Arbor, MI), in the Michigan Room on the 2nd floor.

“New Perspectives on Circumcision”

The benefits and risks of learning the uncovered truth about history’s most unusual surgery—and why it really matters.

This free presentation features the foremost experts on circumcision discussing many compelling issues for healthcare providers, parents, and the general public that are raised by the world’s oldest routine surgery, which is also the most common one. This poorly understood practice is generating controversy worldwide

Speakers include:

Robert Van Howe, MD, MS, FAAP, Professor and Interim Chairman of Pediatrics at the Central Michigan University College of Medicine. He has lectured and been published internationally on the topic of circumcision and has been a consultant to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the World Health Organization.

John V. Geisheker, JD, LL.M, has practiced medico-legal law as an arbitrator, mediator, litigator, and law lecturer for over 30 years. He is the full-time Director and General Counsel for Doctors Opposing Circumcision, a nonprofit physicians’ organization based in Seattle.

Location: Michigan League Building

  • Michigan Room, 2nd Floor
    911 N. University Ave.
    Ann Arbor, MI
    View map

A flyer about the event may be downloaded here:

The Facebook event page is here:

This event is sponsored by NOCIRC of Michigan.  The state chapter of the National Organization of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) informs Michigan residents about routine infant circumcision. NOCIRC is internationally recognized as the center of expertise on circumcision. It is a non-profit, 501(c)3 organization of health care professionals and children’s health activists.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Thank you,

Norm Cohen

Director of NOCIRC of Michigan

Meet-Up (11/15) – Aquatic Geochemistry

* New Location *

SONY DSCThe Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics is having a meet-up on Saturday, November 15th from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Classic Cup Cafe. Our special guest will be Dr. Rose Cory, Assistant Professor of Aquatic Geochemistry in the Earth and Environmental Sciences department at the University of Michigan.

Dr. Cory’s research is on the chemistry of naturally occurring dissolved organic matter (DOM) in freshwaters.  DOM is responsible for water color, the amount of photosynthesis that occurs in water, and sustaining life because it is the source of energy for bacterial respiration.

Dr. Cory was featured in an article about her recently published paper that concluded sunlight is a dominant influencer of microbial activity in thawing permafrost.  This has implications on the issue of climate change since one of the most potent greenhouse gases is methane which a large part of is sequestered in permafrost regions.

The first part of the event will be for general socializing and ordering refreshments. After which, there will be some announcements, and then we’ll start the discussion at approximately 4:30pm.

There is no cost to attend but donations to cover the guest speaker’s meal and beverages, as well as general group expenses are appreciated.

If interested in attending, please RSVP here.

Classic Cup Cafe





Have some time to kill before the meet-up? Check out the Great Lakes Zoological Society’s “A World of Discovery” located just down the road from our get-together venue.  There is $1 off coupon located on our website.

World of Discovery

Meet-Up (10/25) – The Impact of Information

* New Location *

eytan-adarThe Ann Arbor Science & Skeptics are having a meet-up on Saturday, October 25th from 4:00 to 7:00pm at the Classic Cup Cafe. Our special guest will be Dr. Eytan Adar, Associate Professor of Information and Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, at the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan.

This will be a little different from past meet-ups, but I think it will be a fun topic to learn more about … especially those of us who use the internet a lot.

Dr. Adar’s research is on temporal-informatics which is the study of the change of information—and our consumption of it—over time.   He has had numerous papers published ranging from a variety of topics such as benevolent deception in human-computer interaction, a better way of organizing your internet feeds, the dynamics of web content, and more.

The conversation for this meetup will likely touch on many different topics, but it will have the common theme of how information on the internet is affecting us all.

The first part of the event will be for general socializing and ordering refreshments. After which, there will be some announcements, and then we’ll start the informal Q & A at approximately 4:30pm.

There is no cost to attend but donations to cover the guest speaker’s meal and beverages, as well as general group expenses are appreciated.ClassicCupThumbnail


If interested in attending, please RSVP here or on our Meeup page.


Have some time to kill before the meet-up? Check out the Great Lakes Zoological Society’s “A World of Discovery” located just down the road from our get-together venue.   Admission is just $8 (children 3-11 $5.50).  And there is a $1 off coupon located on our website.

Great Lakes Zoological Society

Saturday Morning Physics Fall 2014 Schedule

Beginning on Saturday, October 11th, the University of Michigan Physics department will begin hosting their weekly Saturday Morning Physics lectures.  The lectures will be held Saturday mornings, 10:30-11:30 AM in 170 Dennison on central campus. These events are free and refreshments will be served from 10:00 to 10:30 AM prior to the lecture.

Designed for general audiences, the lectures are an opportunity to hear physicists discuss their work in easy-to-understand, non-technical terms. The multimedia presentations include hands-on demonstrations of the principles discussed, along with slides, video, and computer simulations.

You can find out more information by clicking here, including parking suggestions and seminar guidelines.

Continue reading

Passenger Pigeon Centenary Exhibit at the Museum

pigeonSeptember 1 marked a somber anniversary:  the centenary of the death of the very last passenger pigeon, a bird named Martha, in the Cincinnati Zoo.

You can learn more by visiting the U-M Museum of Natural History’s exhibit about the passenger pigeon, A Shadow Over the Earth: The Life and Death of the Passenger Pigeon. The display panels for this exhibit have been made available online to other museums through the Project Passenger Pigeon website. To date, 35 museums are displaying UMMNH’s panels! The UMMNH exhibit includes a companion display, The Passenger Pigeon in Michigan, describing the key role our state played in the history of the pigeon.

On Sunday, September 14 from noon to 5 pm, take part in Flight of the Passenger Pigeon an afternoon of special programming including a screening of From Billions to None, a new documentary created for the centenary.

On Friday, September 19, join us at 7:30 pm for the Museum’s annual Farrand Memorial Lecture: Hope is the Thing with Feathers: Americans and Three Birds, by author and film producer Joel Greenberg.

Check out 100 Years Without the Passenger Pigeon, an article in LSA Today by Elizabeth Wason, inspired by the Museum’s exhibit.

And be sure to take advantage of the opportunity to see the Passenger Pigeon page of the double-elephant folio edition of John James Audubon’s The Birds of America (1827-1838), on display in the Audubon Room in U-M’s Hatcher Graduate Library Gallery.

(09/12/14) – RELATE Presents “Science By The Pint”

Science by the PintIf you missed the previous events, you have time to attend this last one for 2014!  The RELATE group (Researchers Expanding Lay-Audience Teaching and Engagement) is hosting their final “Science by the Pint” at the Tap Room of the Arbor Brewing Company (114 E Washington St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104) on Friday, September 12th, from 7 to 10pm.

Listen to student scientists as they provide short presentations on topics of which they are studying.

For more information about Friday’s event, you can visit Science By The Pint.  And to find out more about RELATE, you can visit their website, like them on Facebook, and follow them on Twitter (@RELATEatUM).