Is the Written Word Obsolete in Science?

All done after almost 250 years! (Courtesy:
All done after almost 250 years! (Courtesy:

Hard to believe, but I used to use Encyclopedia Britannica in grade school to research book reports. Imagine that, a 10 year old encyclopedia was the “latest and greatest” source of knowledge that you could get in a library. Back then, history was history, it’s in the past for Heaven’s sake, and science was evolving at a snail’s pace, right? Who needed any more than that? Well, after 244 years, this encyclopedia is no longer the written source of knowledge it once was.

Really Fast Forward

Wow. It has been a real slice of life to be for the Internet. The amount and speed of knowledge transfer is unimaginably and unthinkably fast compared to the past. My 7 year old can find out things in a minute that took me a day or more a generation ago.

Lately, I have also realized that the latest and greatest social media channels are also powerful teaching and learning tools that easily leave library encyclopedias in the dust. Although I am by no means a social media addict, I certainly had fun with them during National Infertility Awareness Week. Check this out:

  • #StartAsking about Male Infertility #TTC_Chat When it comes to infertility, men matter. In fact, men are people too. In the era of modern medicine in the US, the bias has always been that couple infertility is the woman’s problem. The shakeup is that, hello, it’s actually half men.
  • Episona Epigenetics Webinar  I had fun with Episona CEO Dr. Alan Horsager on this one. We pondered the inadequacy of the half-century-old semen analysis in giving us accurate information about fertility. Ordering stars in the universe may provide us with some sense of calm and order in the world, but much more is needed to truly understand the ways things work. Based on audience response, it is clear that the world is ready for a better test of sperm fertility and epigenetics will fill that void.
  • Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) on Epigenetics Again, Dr Alan Horsager and I furiously wrote answers to compelling questions about what Episona’s sperm epigenetic test does and what it looks like. We discussed the indications for ordering it too:
    • Couples who are unable to conceive despite having normal infertility evaluations (unexplained infertility)
    • Couples who are failing IUI without a clear reason
    • Couples who are having problems with“dissolving embryos” during IVF.
    • Basically, it appears like a sperm epigenetic test should be considered when couples find their doctors shrugging their shoulders when asked about why they are not conceiving either naturally or with assisted reproduction.
  • Integrative Fertility Symposium Why limit the burgeoning field of infertility epigenetics to sperm? Eggs are people too, but also equally or even more precious than sperm in most cases. And what about the plasticity of epigenetics? Can it be improved? It is clear that obesity and age can alter epigenetic profiles, but what about diet and lifestyle? The feeling from this meeting of complementary and alternative medicine specialists from around the world: its GOT to matter. Time will tell.

Boy, Have I pivoted a bit from a youth spent in libraries! It seems that best knowledge resource in the world at this point is the “library of minds” on the Internet.

The post Is the Written Word Obsolete in Science?appeared first on The Turek Clinic.

Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor

View posts by Dr. Paul Turek, Medical Contributor
Dr. Paul Turek is an internationally known thought leader in men’s reproductive and sexual health care and research. A fellowship trained, board-certified physician by the American Board of Urology (ABU), he has received numerous honors and awards for his work and is an active member in professional associations worldwide. His recent lectures, publications and book titles can be found in his curriculum vitae.
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