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Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Information on @Circinfo

I am posting this here as it was originally posted on Pastebin, and therefore can be doctored and fully expect this to happen by a certain individual.  So this is the original text in its entirety. Original author is @actualcircinfo on Twitter.

There's a chance that if you've ever raised his topic of (obsessional) interest you've received an unsolicited tweet from a user referring to himself as "Circinfo". As the odds are you have no idea it is I thought it might be valuable, as someone who's debated with him, to assemble what I know and think.

 
*Methods*
 
Circinfo operates by continuously running Twitter searches for words such as "circumcision", "circumcised", "foreskin" & so on. He then sends the person who used it a link to a website which purports to be balanced, but is in fact a circumcision advocacy outlet. The epitome of this shares his name ("Circinfo", although he claims no connection) has in its masthead a partially peeled banana being poked with a finger and wiggling. Not exactly the sort of place you can trust for reliable information regarding the health of your newborn. 
 
This is the link which he distributed most regularly.
 
This would be a slightly unusual hobby, but it is what characterizes his behaviour in debate that makes him truly strange. Despite claiming to trust in science CI clearly has a very poor grasp of how it works: he simply ignores studies with findings contrary to his beliefs, brandishing those that support them as if you can cherry pick reality. This is quite an abuse of the scientific method, which demands repeatability. If there is mixed research (as there most certainly IS over this issue) a sound scientist would tend towards scepticism & not make bold claims, but CI is clearly more interested in reinforcing his view than reaching a dispassionate understanding. 
 
Additional to this he is unaware of the rudiments of debating, apparently believing that snarkily reversing an argument into something which he agrees constitutes a rebuttal. Additionally he frequently using logical fallacies, such as the appeal to authority. Consequently it is impossible to engage in discussion with him without him introducing some degree of rancour. At his nadir he heavily mocked a clearly deeply traumatized child abuse victim, then refused to apologise.
 
*Motivation*
 
What is most interesting though is his favourite logical fallacy: the ad hominem. Despite knowing next to nothing about his targets CI proved persistently willing to make wild claims about them. Alleging that the aforementioned child abuse victim was in some conspiratorial way connected to me (in reality I didn't know the man, knew next to nothing about him & still do not). He has claimed that people who have never suggested state tactics against circumcision are somehow determined to curtail parental rights & generally imagined strawman positions easier to rebut.
 
Now perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised about this. It's quite possible that my expectations of internet debates is far too high minded. However, I like to expect the best from people, & although he's about average for a YouTube commenter CI is significantly less civil and rational than the standard Twitter user. CI left me deeply disappointed, not least when he presumed to know the sexual tastes of a set of complete strangers. The most presumptuous claim made was that his opponents were "foreskin fetishists". He seemed to truly believe that the only reason for disagreeing with him over the health status of foreskins was them being the sole source of sexual arousal for those who did so.
 
This is also perhaps the most revealing attack made by him, although as with most insults made towards strangers it tells more about the accuser than the accused. It seems likely to me that CI is suffering from what psychologists term "Projection". He himself is a man sexually fixated with circumcision, thus can only perceive those who disagree with his position as sufferers of the same condition, inverted. This explains his continual focus upon the issue & his evidence devoid claims to know others erotic predilections, something which would otherwise be inexplicable save if he was simply trying to smear his opponents. This is a non-falsifiable, of course, it is entirely possible that his purported motivation is correct (although as aforementioned, he knows far too little about the rudiments of science for his analyses to be trustworthy or the links he admires reliable). 
 
But if I were a gambling man I would call my speculation a safe bet.
 
*Conclusion*
 
I would treat any links provided by this man with a good deal of caution. Remember that he is making a claim ("foreskin is unhealthy") & that as such the onus of evidence lies with him. Websites which exclude studies showing no correlation are easy to construct, as well as highly misleading. These are the ONLY kind of website to which CI reliably links to.

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