Letters from the January 27, 2007, issue of Science News

Circumcision circumspection

Concerning “More Evidence of Protection: Circumcision reduces STD risk in men” (SN: 11/18/06, p. 325), I have yet to read a single study regarding the alleged benefits of circumcision that acknowledges that the foreskin is erogenous tissue. Removal of erogenous tissue from a female would be considered barbaric, even if it did offer some protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

Jerry Malone
Pueblo, Colo.

This is surgery, which should always be taken seriously. Removing all our appendixes would prevent appendicitis as well, but no one is suggesting such an extreme measure. I would not consider circumcision for my children because it offers some help in preventing diseases they can prevent by their own behavior. Certainly, that cost-benefit analysis may be different in a country with a much higher rate of HIV infection, but I think the article’s portrayal of circumcision as a no-brainer is far too simplistic.

Jessica Thompson
Madison, Wis.

Around the world in achy daze

A better simulation of jet lag than that described in “Jet lag might hasten death in elderly” (SN: 11/25/06, p. 349) would have been to shift daytime forward 1 week, then back the next, and continue alternating for the 8 weeks of the experiment. This would mimic actual travel, rather than simulating endless trips around Earth in one direction.

Dian Duchin Reed
Soquel, Calif.

Nano no-no

Since when are “nanoscale” and “nanotech” interchangeable (“Ancients made nanotech hair dye,” SN: 11/25/06, p. 350)? Just because somebody uses something that is small doesn’t make it “nanotech.” Talcum powder is ultra fine too. Should we call it nanotech? I don’t think so.

Adam Hunt
Huntington, W. Va.

Slick trick

“Bug be gone” (SN: 11/25/06, p. 350) explained how research was being done to find a way to get rid of head lice without the use of harsh chemicals. While the method mentioned might work, I found a much lower-tech approach. I tried a multitude of things to get rid of these vermin when my daughter was infested, and the solution was to use cooking oil overnight to suffocate them.

Larry Eaton
Buford, Ga.

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