Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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9780198717058

Reflections on ‘chatbot’

A chatbot, or chatterbot, is computer program designed to engage in conversation through written or spoken text. It was one of the words on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 shortlist. The idea of a chatbot originates with Alan Turing’s mid twentieth century aspiration to build a thinking computer. Turing proposed a test to determine what might count as success in this venture.

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Black Friday: the dark side of scarcity promotions

Does simply encountering a scarcity promotion, such as a newspaper or television advertisement or online pop-up ad, cultivate seeds of aggressive behavior in consumers and predispose them to act in a violent manner? Is marketplace aggression not merely the outcome of crowds during shopping holidays, but activated beforehand at ad exposure?

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Computational Theories and their Implementation in the Brain

How does the brain work?

The media are full of stories about how this or that area of the brain has been shown to be active when people are scanned while doing some task. The images are alluring and it is tempting to use them to support this or that just-so story. However, they are limited in that the majority of the studies simply tell us where in the brain things are happening. But the aim of neuroscience is to discover how the brain works.

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

Donate smarter this Thanksgiving and holiday season

You probably know about how important it is to donate food to your local soup kitchen during the holiday season (and the rest of the year, as well!), but do you ever give much thought to what you’re donating? Do you ever give food you wouldn’t necessarily want to feed to your kids in large quantities?

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9780195387070

(All) my eye and Betty Martin!

The strange exclamation in the title means “Fiddlesticks! Humbug! Nonsense!” Many people will recognize the phrase (for, among others, Dickens and Agatha Christie used it), but today hardly anyone requires Betty Martin’s help for giving vent to indignant amazement. However, the Internet is abuzz with questions about the origin of the idiom, guarded explanations, and readers’ comments.

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The life and times of Samuel Pepys

Samuel Pepys penned his famous diaries between January 1660, and May of 1669. During the course of this nine year period, England witnessed some of the most important events in its political and social history. The diaries are over a million words long and recount in minute and often incredibly personal detail, events such as the restoration of the monarchy, the Second Anglo-Dutch War, the Great Fire, and Great Plague of London.

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American History

The impact of the press on the American Revolution

Issues of the press seem increasingly relevant in light of the recent U.S. presidential election. At its best, the press can play a critical role in informing, educating, and shaping the public’s thoughts—just as it did at the time of the nation’s founding. In fact, the press was so crucial in those early days that David Ramsay, one of the first historians of the American Revolution, wrote that: “In establishing American independence, the pen and press had merit equal to that of the sword.”

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British Medical Bulletin

The future of the NHS – let’s not lose sight of what is important

There is general agreement that the NHS is currently facing unprecedented challenges. Many of these challenges face all health services: increasing demand for healthcare arising from technological developments, demographic changes, rising expectations, and the increase in chronic diseases that require long-term coordinated care. In terms of public spending, the United Kingdom has entered a period of austerity.

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9780190215866

Fostering friendly relations between Hitler’s Germany and Franco’s Spain through music

As the Wehrmacht launched its offensive on the USSR in summer 1941, a contingent of Spanish musicians and critics travelled to Bad Elster, on the border between Bavaria and Bohemia. In the spa town, they took part in the first of three Hispanic-German music festivals held during the Second World War aimed at fostering cultural and political understanding between both countries.

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Oxford Classical Dictionary

Brexit, Marmite, and brand loyalty in the Roman World

One of the early and somewhat unexpected effects of Brexit in the UK was the threatened ‘Marmageddon’, the shortage and subsequent price rise of the much-loved – and much-hated – Marmite. Brands were, however, also a part of much earlier economies. In ancient Rome, for instance, consumers placed their trust in a number of brand markers, which signified reputation and quality, and very often carried a certain prestige. This was particularly the case with food and drink, especially wine.

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9780729409209

Voltaire’s love letters

Voltaire had numerous passionate affairs, and engaged in an enormous amount of private correspondence with his lovers, much of which has been kept for posterity. Providing a fascinating insight into Voltaire’s inner-most emotions, his letters give a glimpse of his friendships, sorrows, joys, and passionate desires…

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9780195382020

Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and new research: Q & A with Diana Walsh Pasulka and Jacques Vallee

Unidentified aerial phenomena, commonly referred to as UFOs, has been the focus of research by sociologists, scholars of religion, anthropologists, philosophers, and astronomers. The information age now offers new and innovative ways to study the phenomena, and author Diana Walsh Pasulka sat down with astronomer and computer scientist Jacques Vallee to discuss how “big data” and information processing will influence the field of study.

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9780199300914

Adulting comes of age

The child in me was excited to see ‘adulting’ as one of the shortlisted words for the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016. Adulting is on the minds–and tongues–of many of my millennial-generation college students. They explain that it is about assuming adult responsibilities like managing money, showing up at a job, buying food and paying rent, getting health care, and more.

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9780199364541

The politics of caring: what this election can teach us

We awoke ‪the morning after the presidential election to a festering wound made raw by the long campaign and, for some, split open by the results of the election. It is a wound of fear — not just any fear, but fear of people on the other side of the political divide. Some supporters of Mrs. Clinton, for example, fear Republicans putting in a conservative Supreme Court justice.

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Publius_Blog

An alternative to the Electoral College

Over the last few days, as anyone interested in the American presidential election can tell you – and it seems everyone is –, the 2016 election is one of the few in history with two different winners: one candidate appears to have won the popular vote and the other has won the Electoral College vote. As of this writing, according to the latest tally the popular vote leader is Hillary Clinton by over 337,000 votes.

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9780190621803-1

War stories of WWII

Historian Daniel Todman coalesces various aspects of military history and the personal narratives from those who were in battle. Linking the strategic, political, and cultural sides of war, Todman aims to capture the true consequences of WWII. The excerpt below, from Britain’s War: Into Battle, 1937-1941, illustrates the fluidity of history by telling the stories of the author’s two grandfathers, both veterans with their own respective views on the war.

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