Mail Bag: What Issue Does Society Accept Today You Think Will Be Verboten in the Future?

This is a fun question …

Joshua,

I’ve read your stuff for a long time and have two questions I hope you can answer.  One of the amazing things about reading your work is how early you touch on topics that later go on to become national or global news.  You mention something that isn’t on the radar, be it politically, economically, or culturally, only to see it it on the front pages of newspapers within a few years.

My first question: How do you do it?

My second question: The marriage equality movement, the race equality movement, and the women’s equality movement showed how ideas that were once beyond question can come to be found abhorrent.  In retrospect, most people can’t understand how certain views were ever considered acceptable at all.  This comes with many paradoxes and social ramifications.  Looking out into the future, what do you think a future civil rights issue will be?  What is something that goes on today that people will look back on and say, “I can’t believe they did that”?

Les M.

The first question is easy.  It’s a by-product of my work process.  My job is to sit at a desk and look 36 to 60 months out into the future and figure out what probabilistic bets I can place, or investments I can make, that give me very high chances of enjoying returns that exceeds inflation and taxes by a significant margin without exposing me to meaningful wipeout risk.  Many people don’t share this disposition (I saw an advertisement recently for Charles Schwab, saying their new automated service would make recommendations based on how long you intended to hold a stock.  Less than two weeks was one of the options.  That’s madness to me.  I’m playing a completely different game that has nothing in common with what most people think of when they talk about the stock market.  My general rule is that an investment isn’t worth making unless I plan on holding for at least five years.  It makes me a lot more selective.)  Some would, if they could, but they are restrained by practical and institutional considerations (e.g., they work for a mutual fund that measures their performance quarterly rather than over multi-year rolling periods; one of the all-time stupidest things you can do if you want to incentive good behavior).

When you spend a great deal of time absorbing data, understanding how the puzzle pieces fit together, and risking real money on the outcomes, you tend to think a lot about concepts such as lollapalooza (to borrow a concept from Charlie Munger’s mental models) or watch out for things where the stars are aligning.  The more you spot, the better your chances of finding a way to exploit the situation for profit; as blatantly opportunistic as that sounds.  For the past week, I’ve been mulling over a particular industry in my head, trying to come up with an idea of where the demand situation is going to go because if I can estimate it, even within a fairly large range, it could result in a lot of cash flowing into the personal and company coffers.

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As for your second question?  Mark my words. The powers that be have already started moving the chess pieces.  It is inevitable at this point and in the coming decades, you’re going to see the topic slowly brought up until it accelerates in the public discourse.  If you are in your 20ss or younger, and live a normal life expectancy, you will see non-medically necessary, male circumcision for minors (18 years or younger) outlawed in almost all Western Civilization, including the United States, prior to your death.

It will be treated as barbaric as female circumcision despite the parallels being not entirely comparable.  It will be made a felony.  There will be no religious exemptions because it will be considered a fundamental violation of human rights against a child.  Medical professionals who performed the procedure when it was perfectly acceptable will be looked upon with the same sort of revisionary disdain that happened to those who practiced bloodletting or lobotomies to the point that I think it’s a big enough reputation risk were I in the medical profession myself I wouldn’t do it no matter how much money I could make relative to the work required.

You might think it sounds far fetched but, again, I’m in the business of making bets on probabilities.  To put it in terms you can understand – and to demonstrate how convinced I am – I’d bet half my net worth that I’m right on this were there a way to intelligently make the wager without counter-party risk.  The wheels have begun to turn and the course is set.  There is no derailing this train.

It doesn’t matter if you think it’s right or wrong.  It doesn’t matter if you think it’s a good thing or bad thing.  There are demographic, religious, political, legal, and cultural shifts taking place, along with changes in certain healthcare laws, some by design, some by coincidence, that are barreling us toward a tipping point after which opposition to the practice will become a self-reinforcing cycle that takes on the mantle of a human rights movement akin to your aforementioned women’s suffrage or marriage equality movements.  It would require a multi-thousand word essay to break out some of the reasons I think it is inevitable, and some of the amplifiers in play, but I believe anyone who can’t see the clear implications of the numbers has either very little understanding of human psychology and complex systems, the forces aligned against it, and/or doesn’t want to believe it for their own personal, psychological reasons.

At present, a majority of people probably aren’t even paying attention or have paid it any meaningful thought.  (If you feel like entertaining yourself, ask a European person to look at a chart of male circumcision rates in the United States; to compare us to, say, the United Kingdom where roughly 93 out of 100 infant boys are not circumcised with nearly all of the remaining minority made up of Muslims and Jews, frequently from immigrant parents doing it for religious reasons.  The reaction is often one of shock upon seeing that, at one point in the 1980s, certain geographic areas within the United States were circumcising young boys at a rate that approached 85 out of every 100 hospital births.)

  • Adam Miles

    Wow, great prediction that I think will come true. My wife and I agonized over this decision for around a year with our son. I hadn’t given it any thought before, but when we took our birth classes it was definitely an issue being pushed as “we don’t want to make this decision for you, but here are some facts and a video of a newborn being circucised.” We ultimately chose not to, and our son is almost 4 now. There’s never been a time where I’ve thought, “gee, I wish we had circumsised him.” This way, if he really wants to do it, he can make that decision for himself.

    I was surprised at a lot of the information we saw when we were making our decision. It just seemed normal to me, but I was surprised to find out that’s not the case for the whole world. I’ll never forget my father-in-law (kindly) thinking my wife was crazy for not doing it. He said something along the lines of this generation going against the way it had always been. I can’t get the thought out of my head that surely his first American ancestors to get their son circumsised faced the exact same criticism from their parents, just in reverse.

  • Odai

    I’m so glad you said this! For years I’ve thought it ridiculous that you can legally remove up to 50% [1] of the skin from a child’s genitals, and it’s seen as acceptable by most of society.

    People argue that it’s for religious reasons, but you can’t get religious symbols tattooed on your child legally, so why this? Beyond that, why not allow the child to choose it for himself as an adult, as an expression of faith? Why force it on him?

    People argue that it’s cleaner, and while that is true, to me that makes about as much sense as cutting off your ears so you don’t have to worry about earwax.

    People argue that it’s not as bad as female circumcision. Again, true, but why does that matter? It’s bad. It’s a practice invented for no-longer-relevant hygiene reasons, it’s painful, unnecessary, and it can lead to health issues later in life.

    On a different note, although I eat meat myself, I think “flexitarianism” (flexible veganism) is going to be big in the future, although the time span is probably decades. There are various animal rights, health, environmental, and human rights issues that are going to continue to make factory farming unpopular and illegal, and I don’t think it’s possible to farm animals humanely and keep the prices where they are today. So meat will become an expensive delicacy, and meat alternatives will become popular.

    One thing I could see changing this is lab-grown meat, which would sidestep all of the issues of factory farming and allow meat to become even cheaper than it is now. There might be some opposition to it as being unnatural, but I don’t think many people will care.

    1. http://www.cirp.org/library/anatomy/taylor/

  • arebelspy

    I completely agree with this prediction.

    Penn & Teller had an episode of “Bullshit” on this topic for those that don’t understand why the issue is disturbing, or haven’t given it much thought.

  • Abe

    I won’t debate that the practice may be outlawed within this next century; however, I wouldn’t go so far as to describe it as
    Neonatal circumcision and penile problems: an 8-year longitudinal study.
    Fergusson DM, Lawton JM, Shannon FT
    Pediatrics. 1988;81(4):537.

    Circumcision for the prevention of urinary tract infection in boys: a systematic review of randomised trials and observational studies.
    Singh-Grewal D, Macdessi J, Craig J
    Arch Dis Child. 2005;90(8):853.

    Developmental factors of urethral human papillomavirus lesions: correlation with circumcision.
    Aynaud O, Piron D, Bijaoui G, Casanova JM
    BJU Int. 1999;84(1):57.

    Male circumcision decreases high-risk human papillomavirus viral load in female partners: a randomized trial in Rakai, Uganda.
    Davis MA, Gray RH, Grabowski MK, Serwadda D, Kigozi G, Gravitt PE, Nalugoda F, Watya S, Wawer MJ, Quinn TC, Tobian AA
    Int J Cancer. 2013;133(5):1247.

  • EMML

    Odd, as I recall reading recently that they were promoting male circumcision in Africa to fight the spread of HIV.

    • LordSquidworth

      Africa isn’t exactly the Western world.

      They’ve got serious HIV and Aids issues there.

  • Mr.owenr

    Completely outlawed? Meaning that all of the Jews will have to move to whichever place (or entity) left that allows circumcision, taking their economic resources with them.

    • Judaism is an interesting concept in the English language because we use the word to interchangeably describe 1.) an ethnicity, 2.) a culture, and 3.) a religion. From a knowledge conveyance standpoint, it’s terribly inefficient in the same way that English doesn’t differentiate various types of “love” like classical Greek does. (You “love” your best friend, you “love” Pop Tarts, you fall in “love” with someone romantically, you “love” your parents, you “love” your children, you “love” a certain pair of blue jeans. The term means something different in each situation.) Consider that secular-humanist atheist could rightfully call himself a Jew because his mother was Jewish while, at the same time, a white woman born into a Canadian, protestant family could rightfully call herself Jewish upon religious conversion.

      That’s why you can’t say something like, “all of the Jews”. It doesn’t mean anything. How are you using the term? To whom, specifically, are you referring?

      From the context of your question, it sounds as if you are talking exclusively about a minority of Jews identifying as conservative Ultra-Orthodox. If that is not the case, I believe you are vastly underestimating the portion of those with Jewish ancestry in both the United States and Israel who are reformed and/or non-religious; who ethnically and culturally identify with their lineage but are not Orthodox. They don’t, actually, believe that a bush burned in the desert or that things like the Levitical Code are to be taken literally; many brilliant, rational, highly educated thinkers valuing logic above tradition; who can adapt, and thrive, regardless of conditions, just as they have done for countless generations when similar conflicts have arisen.

      Historical examples: When women’s liberation was seen as a basic human right, Israel was one of the first, and only, countries in the Middle East to throw off tradition and offer women full, complete, and equal political, speech, employment, and education rights.

      When equality for sexual orientation came to be seen as a fundamental human right, Israel was among the first in the world to change its laws, ignoring the Torah’s call for execution and embracing minorities with open arms. To put it in as blunt of terms as I can, it is not an exaggeration to say that in nearly every surrounding country, Aaron and I could be put to death, or sent to prison, for simply being who we are. In contrast, if we were in Israel, we could live our lives freely, adopt children, serve in the military, and run for public office. If one of us had been Jewish, we could have sponsored the other one for citizenship and be recognized as a family.

      The same things happened with slavery and banking. When the civilized world decided slavery was a violation of fundamental human rights, the Jews stopped practicing it along with everyone else despite the rules, construct, and value system for slavery getting far more attention in the Torah than circumcision. When the civilized world moved to an interest-based monetary and banking system, the non-Orthodox Jewish men and women threw off the historical prohibitions, rooted deeply in religious tradition, against collecting interest or profiting from money lending. (And I am a direct beneficiary of that today! My family’s biggest individual stockholding is Wells Fargo & Company. Henry Wells and William Fargo were Jewish. Had they not decided the past religious prohibitions were irrational, I wouldn’t be collecting dividends from my cut of the mortgage, business, credit card, and student loans made to millions of customers who want to improve their lives or pursue their dreams.)

      If, as I think is inevitable based upon the things I see lining up at present, the civilized world comes to a consensus sometime in the next 50 or 60 years that taking an infant out of his mother’s womb and ritually cutting off part of his genitals is a form of non-consensual assault akin to binding women’s feet in Ancient China or tattooing a minor in modern-day Wisconsin, then Israel, and most non-Orthodox Jews, will adapt and thrive as they have for thousands upon thousands of years. The minority ultra-conservative wing of the Orthodox population within Israel will be as apoplectic as always, saying it, like everything else that has happened in the past few centuries, is the end of civilization, but the idea that even a significant percentage of those with Jewish ancestry are going to give up their home, country, wealth, influence, dominant culture, and comforts of familiarity, all so they can keep cutting baby penises, strikes me as absurd. There is no such thing as some monolithic group called “the Jews”, there are individual men and women who fit into one or more of the classifications we use to describe the term Jewish; individual men and women with their own value systems, opportunity costs, level of belief in literal interpretation of scripture, etc.

      So, no. If equal rights for women, equal rights for gays, slavery, and the introduction of interest-based banking didn’t spell the end of the Judaism in Western Civilization, I don’t think elective, cosmetic genital surgery on non-consenting minors is going to be the breaking point. Sure, you’ll have some smoke and fury from their version of the Westboro Baptist Church but it’s not very meaningful or representative.

      All that aside, what really catches my attention – and what I can’t stop thinking about as I write this response to you – is that you focus on Judaism. My brain looks at things from the perspective of numbers. Numbers are a language that can give you better clarity into a situation and reveal your hidden assumptions. Why did you think of Jewish people first? That’s very revealing, and fascinating, to me.

      Let me back up and walk you through how my mind instantly re-casts this discussion when thinking about an issue like this because it will be easier to explain what I mean.

      The World Health Organization estimates that roughly 67 out of every 100 men in the world are not circumcised.

      Of the remaining 33 who are, roughly 23 of those are Muslim.

      That leaves only 10 men, of whom virtually all are made up of non-Jewish people in the United States (and to a lesser degree, Australia, or other countries, such as South Korea, where the practice was exported); men who had the surgery because of cultural tradition and social proof that began when John Harvey Kellogg, inventor of Kellogg’s corn flakes, used his influence and money to convince mothers they needed to perform the practice on their sons to prevent masturbation, which he considered a horrific evil (it was the reason he invented corn flakes in the first place – he thought it would lower sex drive so people wouldn’t be tempted to touch themselves. His more pragmatic brother, Will Keith Kellogg, realized what they had on their hands and founded the Kellogg company. He sold stock to investors, built factories, and created one of the biggest American fortunes in history). It then caught on and reinforced itself in subsequent generations as critical mass was met through things like superstition, appeal to tradition, authority respecting tendency, incentive-caused bias (the aggregate profits from circumcision are not inconsequential and make up a nice revenue stream for certain hospitals and doctors) profits et cetera, et cetera.

      Putting those aside, you end up arriving at a figure of less than 1 out of 100 men on the planet who are circumcised because they are Jewish; a mere fraction of those who are so because they are Muslim or were exposed to the ideas of Kellogg. Yet, that is what immediately caught your attention; the sub-routine running in your brain pulled on all sorts of experiences and assumptions you have about the world and assumed that the smallest group, mathematically, to be affected by such a ban would be the most consequential.

      That is really, really interesting to me. Why do you think that is? Do you mentally associate the practice with Judaism rather than Islam even though, in sheer numbers, the latter is exponentially larger than the former? Do you think that all Jewish people are Orthodox? What caused you to go there?

      I’m going to be trying to solve this all day … any insight you want to share into your thought process would be appreciated. There must be some reason that was your first, instinctual, reptilian (to borrow a phrase) response. Why do you think it was?

      • Tyler Phillips

        As soon as I read about a “Jewish” circumcision, I immediately recalled an episode of Seinfeld: “The Bris”. I’ve seen other comedians joke about it too. Perhaps this popular culture stereotype makes it seem more common than it really is. I did not know the statistics of which groups of people perform male circumcision so this comment of yours was an eye-opener.

      • OgedaiKhan

        As an ethnically, culturally, and religiously Orthodox Jew, I am particularly interested in where you see this ending up for the now qualified question “Completely outlawed? Meaning that all of the [religiously Orthodox] Jews will have to move to
        whichever place (or entity) left that allows circumcision, taking their
        economic resources with them.” When push comes to shove, will this minority group “adapt and thrive”, or abandon the western countries of their birth, or is it at all possible that some sort of religious exception will be built into the system? I have my own opinions on the matter, but I would like to hear how you think this will go.

        • I think adaption is most probable given human nature and history.

          If the issue is cast as dealing with competing fundamental, human rights as I believe it undoubtedly will – namely the right of parents to bring up their children in a religious tradition versus the right of non-consenting minors to be free from non-medically necessary, irreversible cosmetic surgery – the latter will win. Advocates will not see it as an infringement of religious freedom, they will see it as a moral imperative to protect helpless babies akin to protecting laws forbidding children from working in coal mines or allowing parents to marry off their kids prior to adulthood.

          Globally, I think there are 3-4 European nations that will be the first in the world to pass laws or hand down court decisions about a decade prior to widespread adaptation as there has already been murmurs in certain medical communities. This will then begin the conversation and mobilize forces already at work.

          In the United States, I expect activists to begin in places like California and Washington, getting local and state-wide bans put in place with significant back-and-forth struggles until you see a resolution similar to those found in cases 1.) involving Jehovah’s Witnesses or Christian Scientists, who don’t believe in blood transfusions and would deny them their minor children, too, were it not for intervention of the courts, and 2.) involving the age of consent, as it pertains to things like marriage or contract law.

          Namely, in the end, the procedure will be banned – sometimes by popular vote, sometimes by court order – on anyone under the age of 18 years old as the child’s rights will be considered more important than the parents’ rights. Most religious teaching will begin focusing on indoctrinating boys throughout childhood, explaining to them that it is a sacred rite of passage to have their foreskin removed as part of the covenant; so much so, many will look forward to it with a comparably elaborate ceremony or celebration developing around the event. Within a few generations, it will be taken for granted that it is how it is done as the historical frame of reference is gone.

          The minority that refuses to comply – you’re talking about an absolute minority of an absolute minority on a total population basis – with what is now seen as a fundamental human right will be treated like religious leader Warren Jeffs, who was imprisoned for behavior considered perfectly acceptable for thousands of years and at one time a core tenant of most world religions. There will be no compromise as they’ll be viewed as abusing kids. In fact, there will be outright approval for criminal punishment both in the broader culture and the (all-inclusive) Jewish community*, just as there was for Jeffs within the LDS community. I’d bet a lot of money on it. There are too many factors lining up that get us there; factors that I don’t see abating.

          ———

          [Footnote: Regarding the last sentence, I say that because only 1 in 10 American Jewish people are Orthodox the last time I checked. Of those, nearly all are concentrated in the New York Metropolitan area. As such, I think it would be a profound strategic mistake to view it as a Jewish-versus-Non-Jewish thing when predicting how it will play out just as most Jewish people in the United States now view other, at one time main-stream religious beliefs as abhorrent; worthy of condemnation and shame.

          In fact, consider that one of the opening missiles in the inevitable conflict was lobbed not by a Gentile, but by the Jewish former mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, who put the first prohibitions in place against the traditional circumcision ceremony when he required consent forms that demanded parents explicitly acknowledge the risk of herpes transmission, and death, when the mohel sucked the blood with his mouth off the genitals of the infant boy; a practice that, almost without exception, is largely unknown in the broader civilization and that once people are made aware it still happens, is viewed with repulsion. Even the Centers for Disease Control has outright condemned it (prior to Bloomberg’s move, there were at least 11 cases of infants contracting herpes from the frequently 60+ year old men placing their mouths on the young boy’s penises during the ceremony, and at least 2 infants who died as a result). While the current mayor is opening a public commentary period on the rules because the Orthodox Jews in New York are still upset about Bloomberg requiring them to get permission from parents to do this to the their child, it won’t matter in the long-run if they win a temporary reversal because it is indicative of what is to come when you realize that it was a Jewish person who saw at least one part of the practice as irrational and barbaric; something certainly not beyond debate nor scrutiny and worthy of government intervention. It is not at all unthinkable to see a majority of American Jews someday supporting age-of-consent requirements with many of them being major proponents and activists toward that cause, as they were in other civil rights movements.]

      • Mr.owenr

        Summary. My hidden code “9/11”

        I think it is the
        recency effect. One of the last things
        in your original post is that “the United Kingdom where roughly 93 out of
        100 infant boys are not circumcised with nearly all of the remaining minority
        made up of Muslims and Jews, frequently from immigrant parents doing it for
        religious regions.” I’m not sure
        about Muslims, but I do know from popular culture that “the Jews”
        circumcise their kids. So my mind
        latched onto that. Then I thought, ‘well
        if not being able to be married is enough to drive out homosexuals into other
        states, and that is a serious financial blow to a state, perhaps a similar
        thing will happen here. If taxing people
        or companies is followed by those companies or people leaving, then perhaps
        completely outlawing people from following their religion is kinda the same
        thing, and will have similar consequences.’
        I would never joke around that someone is or can follow a religion by
        degrees. In my Bible belt home town
        slavery is openly supported (but not allowed, unless you count the abused
        adopted children as slaves). My
        grandmother was beat and left in the woods when she was caught committing
        adultery. Four people have been shot in
        the last year, all African Americans.
        Collecting interest is frowned upon but people claim the good Book only
        refers to not charging your neighbor or family interest if they come to you in
        need. Homosexuals are still beat and ran
        out if they are discovered. Women are
        seen as subservient to the male heads of house.
        People don’t work on Saturday, etc.
        Anyways I figured that “the Jews” religious people probably held onto
        their traditions as well and still circumcised their kids. But would that
        really matter when it comes to completely outlawing the practice? 7 out of 100 circumcised infants is an awful
        lot, and suggests to me that it is not completely outlawed in the UK. So I wondered how much money the religious
        Jews who follow circumcision contribute to the U.S. economy and what percentage
        of the overall population and economy they were. I searched but I realized I had absolutely no
        idea how to research any of that information.
        So I wrote down my reply and looked at it. It looked stupid. I’m not sure why it seemed stupid other than
        that “the Jews” were probably an extreme minority and I had no information of
        knowing if that was increasing or decreasing except this post seems to imply
        that circumcisions are decreasing.
        Something deep within me thought, “This is the only objection I can
        think of, it looks stupid, but yet deep down I know that it is true and
        right. I can’t explain it away. If something is supposedly necessary and a
        place doesn’t let them have it then they’ll get it where they can.” Usually I would have waited to post until I
        have something decent to post but I’m spending a week with my friend in a
        nearby city and if I can find a job, any job whatsoever in this one week’s
        time, then I have a chance to get out.
        So sorry I didn’t put more effort into my comment (like the couple days
        thinking about and five hours writing this comment, I’m still thinking about it
        and trying to figure out what you’re getting at and don’t feel ready to post it
        and should proof read it more but it’s been days so I don’t want to be rude or keep
        you waiting).

        Anyways I’m not
        sure exactly what you wanted to know about my thought process / reaction. Your figure at the end of the article
        mentioned Muslims and Jews. Because I
        don’t have much past experience with Muslims (or other information at the tip
        of my fingers then what was provided) I excluded them and focused on Jews. If Muslims (or any other people) deem it
        necessary to practice circumcision then that’d be just that many more people
        moving out, taking their economic resources with them, or opposing the ban. I do mentally associate the practice with
        Jews instead of Islam, mostly because I never heard of Islam doing it
        before. So I’m sure a lack of recallable
        data and previous experience caused me to latch onto “the Jews.”

        Well anyways I
        hope this didn’t take out any of your day trying to solve this, because I’m
        sure you have much higher priorities to be working on. In the end I’ve been around the site long
        enough to know that you are vastly and unfathomably more intelligent than
        me. So I’m not sure why you’d even want
        to know my reptilian process but…now I’m curious. How much do I just mentally exclude without
        realizing it? Is there a deeper reason
        other than past experience as to why I excluded ‘the Muslims?’ Dr. Rapaille would say that he doesn’t
        believe a word of what people tell him.
        He’d have them lay on the floor for an hour. To be honest with you I’m
        going to go do that. Maybe deep down I
        associate all Muslims with 9/11 and Jihad and because of that I don’t want
        anything to do with them. I want to
        survive. Having grown up in a non-diverse
        Bible belt town I know I can survive better if I do that. Yes that’s it. My first introduction to Muslims (or are they
        Islams I don’t remember, no offense) was definitely the seventh grade. The world trade center bombings were being
        shown. I didn’t understand what it all
        was at the time. Just an anger at them,
        I wanted to join the army and go beat up ‘the bad guys.’ That’s quite unlike me. (I would have been 12 or 13 at the time? So
        it is much older than Dr. Rapaille’s ‘cut off’ age of 7 for the emotional code
        however it was my first experience so maybe that is what counts?) So deep down am I carrying around this hidden
        and automatic prejudice towards them?
        Maybe. They did just shoot up a
        comic drawing contest in Texas (why do I classify those two extremists as ‘they?’ I don’t know but I do). Looking into the future I would rather just
        let them have their circumcisions if that’s what they do then risk any more
        terrorist attacks by putting into law a ban on a supposedly barbaric practice that
        93 out of 100 people don’t do anyways.

        Going back even further at a very young age I can remember
        my mother told me that I am circumcised because it means that I am one of God’s
        people. She wanted to give me an
        identity that she believed would help solve my problems and elevate me out of
        poverty and out of that small town (regardless of if that was her choice to
        make). She may have thought it to be
        cleaner (based upon the data presented her at that time) and more hygienic but
        that’s not what I remember her saying. I’m
        sure this path is going to lead to other unrelated codes and isn’t the reason
        why I mentally went with “the Jews” instead of “the Muslims.” So I’ll stop here. Thanks for questioning me. I’ve tried my best to understand, respond and
        not ramble on.

        P.S. You call it a reptilian response and I could be wrong
        but isn’t it the second brain, the emotional response? I thought reptilian responses were embedded
        responses that every reptile shared, such as fight, flight, freeze, survive,
        mate, etc. Unless being a ‘first
        thought’ makes this somehow a survival response, I’m fairly sure that not every
        reptile would latch onto ‘the Jews.’

        P.P.S. I’m curious
        now…so gee thanks a lot Joshua. “ I wanted to sleep tonight” I say in a joking manner with a wink and
        humble sarcasm. But I gotta figure these
        code things out. I simply refuse that
        you are vastly smarter and more successful than me because your parents gave
        you better reptilian and emotional codes and ‘the reptilian will always win.’
        The fault lies within me, somewhere within these codes, and it is my
        responsibility to find a way to overcome them.

      • carikku

        Would love to see you do a post on Iran, although I daresay it will cost you a few of your American readers, as it might be hard for them to learn how appallingly the government and CIA behaved.

        I think you’ll be proven correct about circumcision: in Australia (my country), males in their 30’s/40’s are mostly circumcised, but nowadays it is very rarely done (except for medical reasons).

        My big prediction would be about how residents in the developed world turn to creepy crawlies as food (sounds ugh! but there are many compelling motivations to get us there….).

      • Mr.owenr

        So, I don’t know, Seinfeld maybe? I suppose I just associate the practice with religiously Orthodox Jews. Orthodox being a term you just introduced me to.

        Islam is associated with 9/11, not circumcision.

        I suppose I could say the (Religious) Jews (who still find it necessary to practice circumcision) will be affected by the up and coming ban on all (non medically necessary) circumcision.

        Somehow I think you understood what I was trying to say. Which means what exactly? That I can’t generalize the individual? That I need to be more specific in my thinking and use data to base my decisions? Is that the point? What process should I use after I instinctively think “Oh no, the Jews will leave!” to get me to “Hmm the numbers say so and so.”

  • dave (nestle)

    If you want to see something really messed-up(?), watch the episode of “Bizarre Foods-Madagascar”. (actually the last 15 minutes) Zimmern and his wife ‘knowingly’ buy a village, I forget the animal, for a celebration ceremony of a three year old boy’s circumcision. Then the two grandfathers of the boy eat the flesh.One of them puts it on top of a banana.

    Since I didn’t even know that this was a front and center issue, I would love to hear the most important points of the essay that Joshua could write about the subject.

  • Jason Spacek

    Uncircumcised penii are gross, and you all know it. No way in hell is it being outlawed. Where Joshua Kennon was once a pillar of truth and lightbringing, June 9 shall be marked as the day that he made a truly outlandish and absurd prediction.

    May God have mercy on all of our souls. And you’d all probably be well advised to sell your Nestle stock.

    • And you’d all probably be well advised to sell your Nestle stock.

      I like where this is going. I’ll go get my checkbook. (I actually have a can of Milo on my desk as I write this because I was thinking about Nestle earlier, trying to decide whether to have my parents pick up a bit more of it or a freight company for their own personal retirement accounts.)

      On a serious note, though, wouldn’t the most appropriate response be to try to figure out the reason I, who have a fairly well-established reputation for not having strong opinions on things unless I think the evidence or probabilities are high, am so convinced it is inevitable?

      That’s what would be on my mind were the roles reversed. “What, specifically, could have convinced him that this can’t be avoided?”

      Start there. You’ll likely uncover the answer as you dig deeper.

      Frankly, I don’t think anyone who is paying attention to what is going on in the world should be surprised by this. What happened in Germany 36 months ago, and the subsequent cultural, political, and legislative struggle it set off, was only a foreshadowing. My guess is Sweden and Denmark will be the first to implement a full, across-the-board ban on operations for non-consenting minors based on some of the things happening in those countries, but you can never predict the timing or specifics.

      Mark my words. In the coming years, you are going to see increased coverage of the topic in the press. It is going to become a divisive social issue with parents taking sides like they do in the breast feeding debate. Certain institutions, with a lot of money and power, are going got get involved. It will be recast as a civil rights issue. Those who support it will be seen as fundamentally bad people. (I’m not saying any of this is a good or bad thing, I’m just telling you it’s what is going to happen whether you like it or not. I’m certain of it.)

      When it all starts playing out, you can buy me a cup of coffee and we’ll laugh about this. To borrow a phrase from Charlie Munger: Go research it for yourself. Look at the evidence. Think about it for awhile. You’ll come around because you’re smart and I’m right.

      P.S. I can’t help but laugh (not in a bad way, just disbelief) as I write this because your response was definitely not of the Dale Carnegie “How to Win Friends and Influence People” variety. As I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, my brain thinks in terms of numbers; it’s always numbers running, analyzing, re-framing for context.

      From my perspective what has me giggling (literally) … you just directly, without any hesitation or awareness, insulted the most intimate body part of 80 to 90 out of every 100 men in Armenia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, The Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the Ukraine, the United Kingdom, Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Laos, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, New Zealand, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela, Botswana, Burundi, the Canary Islands, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

      Simultaneously, you managed to insult a massive percentage of new parents, male and female, of 78 out of 100 boys born in the state of California, 66 out of 100 boys born in the state of Florida, 80 out of 100 boys born in the state of Arizona, 89 out of 100 boys born in the state of Nevada, 80 out of 100 of the boys born in the state of Oregon, 61 out of 100 of the boys born in the state of Utah, 86 out of 100 of the boys born in the state of Washington, and so on now that moms and dads have begun abandoning the practice everywhere except the Midwest here in this country.

      If you are younger than 45 years old, going to be in a career that in any way is sensitive to public opinion, or is going to take place outside of Nebraska, you do not want that comment tied to you or else you’re going to have a bad time with everyone except older males in a handful of Great Plains states who will make up a shrinking portion of the influence pool with each passing year. It’s one of those things you say and have no way of knowing who you are insulting on a deeply personal level; people who can open or close doors, award or take away business, or help or hurt you. You just can’t go around telling a super-majority of the world’s men their penises are ugly and expect to have them like you. Lucrative business relationships are about feelings and emotions, not rationality. I’d be extraordinarily careful with that opinion if I were you. It offers no upside but a lot of hidden downside you might not even realize you’ve incurred.

      • lauren

        “You just can’t go around telling a super-majority of the world’s men their penises are ugly and expect to have them like you. ” …this statement is making me laugh uncontrollably!

      • Jason Spacek

        Oh, I was half-joking(especially about the Nestle reference).. but for such a detailed response I feel like I should keep the shtick going:

        Until doctors are able to make uncircumcised penii not look like a sausage stuffed into awkward skin-like casing, you’re going to have men like me who stand triumphantly in the face of popular European and Asian practice.

        While men like you are contemplating circumcised penii banishment and telling young mothers not to vaccinate their children, I eat red meat and gaze wistfully at my normal-looking penis. I can swing it around like so and not worry about some poor, unvaccinated child mistaking it for an elongated turtle and hitting it with a stick.

        I RUE THE DAY, SIR!!1