More questionable penis research

17 Feb

A few months ago I wrote about a frankly ridiculous penis size study that somehow made it’s way into a respectable peer-reviewed journal. I shall now be expanding by ‘penis’ lecture, having come across another  questionable piece of penis research. In the last week a paper called ‘ Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort’ published in BJU International has produced media interest around the world. The briefest of Google searches produces stories about this paper from as far afield as Singapore, India, UK and Canada.

At first sight this paper is less obviously ridiculous than Richard Lynn’s recent penis size paper, but as soon as you start to delve a whole range on flaws become apparent. Sadly,  the Male circumcision paper is behind a paywall (and my own institution doesn’t subscribe to the journal), so I’m only working from the abstract but even with that the difficulties are fairly apparent.

The study recruited participants via ‘leaflets and advertising’ and collected data via self-report on-line. The first question I shall be asking my (predominantly female) psychology class is what might drive a man presented with a leaflet about penis sensitivity to log on to a web site and answer a series of personal and intimate questions ? Hopefully my students will recognise that the very characteristics of the population likely to respond to ‘leaflets and advertising’ on this topic might well skew the final results. Secondly, and somewhat more subtly, it would be fascinating to know if the study looked at demographic differences between the circumcised and non-circumcised groups. In a European sample (the researchers seem to be based in Belgium) it seems reasonable to assume that the circumcised group are likely to have come from particular ethic groups. You’d like to think that the non-circumcised control group would be ethnically matched (but somehow I doubt it !).

All in all these ‘penis’ studies look like a really good way to engage students with a couple of components of my rational thinking curriculum / syllabus

P.S. If anyone does have access to a copy of ‘ Male circumcision decreases penile sensitivity as measured in a large cohort’ I’d be delighted to get it

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2 Responses to “More questionable penis research”

  1. Glenn Shean February 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm #

    Here is a copy of the penis study, fascinating! Best ward the Rabbi off. With compliments, On Mon, Feb 18, 2013 at 7:41 AM, Teaching Rational Thinking wrote:

    > ** > Teaching Rational Thinking posted: “A few months ago I wrote about a > frankly ridiculous penis size study that somehow made it’s way into a > respectable peer-reviewed journal. I shall now be expanding by ‘penis’ > lecture, having come across another questionable piece of penis > research. In the”

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