Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

9780199744541

Why are some residency programs better than others?

Considerable variation in quality exists among residency programs in the United States, even among those in the same specialty, such as surgery, pediatrics, or internal medicine. Some are nationally and internationally renowned, others are known regionally, and still others are known only locally.

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9780198718659 Warner - Once Upon a Time

Fairy tales explained badly

What are the strange undercurrents to fairy tales like ‘Hansel and Gretel’ or ‘Little Red Riding Hood’? In November 2014, we launched a #fairytalesexplainedbadly hashtag campaign that tied in to the release of Marina Warner’s Once Upon a Time: A Short History of the Fairy Tale. Hundreds of people engaged with the #fairytalesexplainedbadly hashtag on Twitter, sparking a fun conversation on the different ways in which fairy tale stories could be perceived.

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Word Origins And How We Know Them

Crossing the threshold: Why “thresh ~ thrash”?

The previous post dealt with the uneasy history of the word threshold, and throughout the text I wrote thresh~ thrash, as though those were two variants of the same word. Yet today they are two different words, and their relation poses a few questions. Old English had the strong verb þerscan (þ = th in Engl. thresh), with cognates everywhere in Germanic.

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9780195169928

Is consumer credit growth worth worrying about?

A news release on 6 February 2015 from the Federal Reserve Board, together with a selection of dense numerical tables, showed once again that consumer credit in use has increased over the course of a year. This is the fourth year in a row and the 67th yearly increase in the 69 years since 1945. But does this mean that credit growth is a meaningful worry? Total consumer sector income and total assets have also increased in 67 of the 69 years since World War II.

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9780195395471

Strife over strategy: shaping American foreign policy

Last month on Capitol Hill, a tedious slur on Henry Kissinger (“war criminal”) provoked an irate reaction (“low-life scum”). The clash between Senator McCain and the protesters of Code Pink garnered media coverage and YouTube clicks. The Senate’s hearings on national strategy not so much. This is unfortunate.

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9780198727521_450

The Grand Budapest Hotel and the mental capacity to make a will

Picture this. A legendary hotel concierge and serial womaniser seduces a rich, elderly, widow who regularly stays in the hotel where he works. Just before her death, she has a new will prepared and leaves her vast fortune to him rather than her family. Wills have always provided the public with endless fascination, and are often the subject of great books and dramas.

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9780199841851

How disease names can stigmatize

On 10 February 2015, the long awaited report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) was released regarding a new name — Systemic Exertion Intolerance Disease — and case definition for chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Because I was quoted regarding this report in a New York Times article, in part due to having worked on these issues for many years, hundreds of patients contacted me over the next few days.

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9780199679393

Education, metaphorically speaking

What do we think education means? What do we believe are teaching’s purpose, status, and function in society? A useful way to reflect on our pre-conceptions and assumptions about anything is to step back and consider the metaphors we automatically apply when thinking or speaking of it. This is a particularly useful exercise for the trainee teacher, who, for obvious reasons, is likely to frame teaching primarily in terms of a performance – one that is observed, analysed, graded and, if all goes well, given the pedagogic equivalent of a five star review.

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Tetralogue

Trains of thought: Roxana

Four people with radically different outlooks on the world meet on a train and start talking about what they believe. Their conversation varies from cool logical reasoning to heated personal confrontation. Each starts off convinced that he or she is right, but then doubts creep in. During February, we will be posting a series of extracts that cover the viewpoints of all four characters in Tetralogue. What follows is an extract exploring Roxana’s perspective.

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9780199993413 (1)

The 10 best shows for music directors, in no particular order, for several reasons

Listing the ten best shows for a music director to work on is as subjective as choosing the ten greatest composers, or painters, or novelists, so it’s worthwhile to stipulate some qualities the winners must have, subjectively speaking. Yet these qualities can only reveal themselves by working through the reasoning of what makes a show a music director’s favorite.

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9780199457526_450

Why green growth?

There is universal acknowledgment of the fact that India needs to come back on the path of high economic growth quickly. Although GDP grew at an unprecedented annual average rate of growth of almost 7.7% during the past decade (the highest for any democracy in the world), the last two years have been disappointing.

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9780199376179

Love stories of America’s founding friends

On Valentine’s Day, we usually think of romance and great love stories. But there is another type of love we often overlook: love between friends, particularly between men and women in a platonic friendship. This is not a new phenomenon: loving friendships were possible and even fairly common among elite men and women in America’s founding era.

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Cassam - Self-knowledge for Humans

Self-knowledge: what is it good for?

Marvin is a delusional dater. He somehow talked the gorgeous Maria into going on a date with him, and today is the day. Maria is way out of Marvin’s league but he lacks self-knowledge. He thinks he is better looking, better dressed, and more interesting than he really is. Yet his illusions about himself serve a purpose. They give him self-belief and as a result the date goes better than it would have done otherwise. Maria is still out of Marvin’s league, but is at least impressed by his nerve and self-confidence, if not by his conversation.

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Aha!

A toast to your unconscious mind

We like to think that we can control the contents of our mind, but if we watch ourselves think, we will quickly realize that this isn’t so.If you don’t believe me, try this experiment. Sit in a quiet room for five minutes, during which time you stare at a blank wall and try to empty your mind of thoughts.

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