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1545-1542

Groundhogs are more than just prognosticators

February 2nd marks Groundhog Day, an annual tradition in which we rouse a sleepy, burrowing rodent to give us winter-weary humans the forecast for spring. Many know little about the true life of a wild groundhog beyond its penchant for vegetable gardens and large burrow entrances.

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State responsibility and the downing of MH17

Two hundred and ninety-eight passengers aboard Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 were killed when Ukrainian rebels shot down the commercial airliner in July 2014. Because of the rebels’ close ties with the Russian Republic, the international community immediately condemned the Putin regime for this tragedy. Yet, while Russia is certainly deserving of moral and political blame, what is less clear is Russian responsibility under international law.

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The influence of economists on public policy

There’s a puzzle around economics. On the one hand, economists have the most policy influence of any group of social scientists. In the United States, for example, economics is the only social science that controls a major branch of government policy (through the Federal Reserve), or has an office in the White House (the Council of Economic Advisers). And though they don’t rank up there with lawyers, economists make a fairly strong showing among prime ministers and presidents, as well.

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nutritionreviews

Which health messages work?

Is it better to be positive or negative? Many of the most vivid public health appeals have been negative – “Smoking Kills” or “Drive, Drive, and Die” – but do these negative messages work when it comes to changing eating behavior?

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Building community and ecoliteracy through oral history

For our second blog post of 2015, we’re looking back at a great article from Katie Kuszmar in OHR 41.2, “From Boat to Throat: How Oral Histories Immerse Students in Ecoliteracy and Community Building.” In the article, Katie discussed a research trip she and her students used to record the oral histories of local fishing practices and to learn about sustainable fishing and consumption. We followed up with her over email to see what we could learn from high school oral historians, and what she has been up to since the article came out.

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The Vegetarian Plant

Meet Utricularia. It’s a bladderwort, an aquatic carnivorous plant, and one of the fastest things on the planet. It can catch its prey in a millisecond, accelerating it up to 600g.

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Insecticide, the fall armyworm, and maize in Mexico

From the comfort of a desk, looking at a computer screen or the printed page of a newspaper, it is very easy to ignore the fact that thousands of tons of insecticide are sprayed annually. Consider the problem of the fall armyworm in Mexico. As scientists and crop advisors, we’ve worked for the past two decades trying to curb its impact on corn yield.

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Celebrating Women in STEM

It is becoming widely accepted that women have, historically, been underrepresented and often completely written out of work in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. Explanations for the gender gap in STEM fields range from genetically-determined interests, structural and territorial segregation, discrimination, and historic stereotypes. With free Oxford University Press content, we tell the stories and share the research of both famous and forgotten women.

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The economics behind detecting terror plots

How many good guys are needed to catch the bad guys? This is the staffing question faced by counterterrorism agencies the world over. While government officials are quick to proclaim “zero tolerance” for terrorism, unlimited resources are not made available to prevent terror attacks, nor should that be the case. Indeed, as with most public policy decisions, the appropriate staffing level depends upon both the benefits and costs of fielding counterterrorism agents.

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14764989 political analysis

Replication redux and Facebook data

Introduction, from Michael Alvarez, co-editor of Political Analysis Recently I asked Nathaniel Beck to write about his experiences with research replication. His essay, published on 24 August 2014 on the OUPblog, concluded with a brief discussion of a recent experience of his when he tried to obtain replication data from the authors of a recent […]

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Are wolves endangered with extinction in Alaska?

Wolves in the panhandle of southeast Alaska are currently being considered as an endangered species by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in response to a petition by environmental groups. These groups are proposing that the Alexander Archipelago wolf (Canis lupus ligoni) subspecies that inhabits the entire region and a distinct population segment of wolves on Prince of Wales Island are threatened or endangered with extinction.

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Gait disturbances can help to predict dementia in older adults

About 500,000 Canadians are living with Alzheimer’s disease or a related dementia. This number is expected to soar to 1.1 million within 25 years. To date, there is no definitive way for health care professionals to forecast the onset of dementia in a patient with memory complaints.

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social forces 15347605

Tensions in French Muslim identities

The recent tragedies in France have reminded us of the tensions that are often associated with the relations between religious groups and the larger society. A recent article in Social Forces, explores whether Islam fundamentally conflicts with mainstream French society, and whether Muslims are more attached to their religion than they are to their French identity.

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Policing

Transforming the police through science

Amidst the images of burning vehicles and riots in Ferguson, Missouri, the US President, Barack Obama, has responded to growing concerns about policing by pledging to spend $75 million to equip his nation’s police with 50,000 Body Worn Videos. His initiative will give added impetus to an international movement to make street policing more transparent and accountable. But is this just another example of a political and technical quick fix or a sign of a different relationship between the police and science?

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17524520 policing

Credulity and credibility in police work

‘Never waste a good crisis’, or so Rahm Emanuel (President Obama’s former Chief of Staff and now Mayor of Chicago) is reputed to have said. Well, whether Prince Andrew allegedly had sex with an underage girl at some time in the distant past looks like a crisis for the Royal Household. May be it’s an opportunity not to be wasted.

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