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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

9780199895632 - God Is Watching You: How the Fear of God Makes Us Human

Is there an evolutionary advantage to religion?

Few can deny the sheer significance of religious belief to human society, a topic of study that has provided much insight into how we lived previously, how we live today, and how we will live in the future. However, for what purpose, exactly, did religion originate?

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Suicide in Nazi Germany in 1945

When the US Army took the Saxon city of Leipzig in April 1945, a gruelling scene was revealed inside the town hall. The Nazi treasurer of the city, his wife, and his daughter had all committed suicide. But these suicides were not isolated cases. In the spring of 1945, Nazi Germany went to its end in an unprecedented wave of suicides.

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Should social work be evidence-based?

Health care reform in the United States has promoted policies and practices that are evidence-based. Prevention, diagnoses, and treatment decisions are to be guided by the best available empirical evidence. Decisions about what treatments are to be provided are to be informed by findings of randomized, controlled, research studies when such evidence is available.

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What history can tell us about food allergy

What can the history of medicine tell us about food allergy and other medical conditions? An awful lot. History is essentially about why things change over time. None of our ideas about health or medicine simply spring out of the ground. They evolve over time, adapting to various social, political, economic, technological, and cultural factors. If we want to know anything about the health issues that face us today and will face us in future, the very first thing we should do is turn to the history of such issues.

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Correcting the conversation about race

On 6 November 2015, the New York Times featured a poignant five-minute documentary called “A Conversation About Growing Up Black,” produced by Joe Brewster and Perri Peltz. Brewster and Peltz present Rakesh, Miles, Malek, Marvin, Shaquille, Bisa, Jumoke, Maddox, and Myles. The youngest are 10 and the eldest is 25 years old.

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Einstein’s mysterious genius

Albert Einstein’s greatest achievement, the general theory of relativity, was announced by him exactly a century ago, in a series of four papers read to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin in November 1915, during the turmoil of the First World War. For many years, hardly any physicist—let alone any other type of scientist—could understand it.

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The antimicrobial resistance crisis: is there a global solution?

The serendipitous discovery of Penicillin by Alexander Fleming in 1929 positively transformed modern medicine. Fleming’s decision to spend his summer holiday in East Anglia and his casual approach to laboratory housekeeping was an auspicious combination. After his return to the laboratory he observed that an uncovered culture plate of Staphyloccocus bacteria had been contaminated.

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How and why are scientific theories accepted?

November 2015 marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. This theory is one of many pivotal scientific discoveries that would drastically influence our understanding of the world around us.

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What to do about whooping cough?

A century ago, pertussis, or whooping cough as it is also known, was one of those infectious diseases that most children went down with at some stage. There was a lot of suffering from the severe and prolonged bouts of coughing and many deaths occurred, especially in very young children.

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Booker T. Washington’s undervalued legacy

When Booker T. Washington died on this day in 1915, he was widely regarded not just as “the most famous black man in the world” but also “the most admired American of his time.” In the one hundred years since his death, he and his legacy have lost much of their luster in the eyes of the public, even though he, no less than Frederick Douglas, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Martin Luther King, Jr., is one of the foremost figures in the history of the American civil rights movement.

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Junior doctor contracts: should they be challenged?

On Saturday 17th October, 16,000 people marched to protest against the new junior doctor contracts in London for the second time. The feeling at the protest was one of overwhelming solidarity, as people marched with placards of varying degrees of humour. Purposely misspelled placards reading “junior doctors make mistaks” were a popular choice, while many groups gathered under large banners identifying their hospital, offering 30% off.

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Seven ways to start and keep your writing going

Beginnings are tough. But if we’d only get started, our marks and words on the page can bootstrap our next moves. Marks and words out there, on the page, feed what in neuroscience is called our brain’s “perception-action” cycle. Through this built-in and biologically fundamental mechanism, we repeatedly act on the world, and then look to see what our actions have wrought in the world.

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The case for chemistry

What is all around us, terrifies a lot of people, but adds enormously to the quality of life? Answer: chemistry. Almost everything that happens in the world, in transport, throughout agriculture and industry, to the flexing of a muscle and the framing of a thought involves chemical reactions in which one substance changes into another.

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Tracheal Intubation Guidelines

We are used to lines that guide – from those that keep our words straight on the page to those that direct planes down runways or trains along tracks. Moving from lines that guide our direction to guidelines that direct our behaviour, particularly in clinical medicine, is a very exciting time.

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The impact of On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin was widely known as a travel writer and natural historian in the twenty years before On the Origin of Species appeared in 1859. The Voyage of the Beagle was a great popular success in the 1830s. But the radical theories developed in the Origin had been developed more or less in secret during those intervening twenty years.

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Max Planck: Einstein’s supportive skeptic in 1915

This November marks the 100th anniversary of Albert Einstein completing his masterpiece of general relativity, an idea that would lead, one world war later, to his unprecedented worldwide celebrity. In the run-up to what he called “the most valuable discovery of my life,” he worked within a new sort of academic comfort.

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