Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Inspirational TV shows to watch during this pandemic

There are many ways people are passing time with staying home during the pandemic. Some are taking up new hobbies. Some are exploring virtual museums. Some may even be preparing for a neighborhood sing-along out their windows. But many people are turning to television to provide entertainment, comfort, and/or escape. Since the late 1990s, as […]

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Why gun owners could be the decisive vote in 2020

Recently, Joe Biden visited a construction plant in Michigan. A worker confronted Biden and accused the former vice president of “actively trying to diminish our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.” Biden, in turn, responded, “You’re full of shit.” The exchange continued, cameras rolling, Biden clearly sensed an opportunity, recognized the political value of the […]

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Maths can help you thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic

When Isaac Newton practiced social distancing during the Great Plague that hit London in 1665, he was not expected to transition from face-to-face work with scientist colleagues to a patchwork of conference calls and email. With no children underfoot who needed care at home, he concentrated on developing early calculus ideas. With no exposure to a […]

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How religious sects can be a force for good

On Sunday, 29 March, Russell M. Nelson, president of the 16-million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, released a video from Salt Lake City calling on church members everywhere to join in a fast “to pray for relief from the physical, emotional, and economic effects of this global pandemic.” Some 71 years before, on […]

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Why vaccines should be compulsory

Imagine we develop a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19). Suppose the vaccine has some very small chance of some serious side effects, for instance seizures. However, this vaccine can save millions of lives globally, in the same way as other vaccines do. You are the prime minister and you have to decide whether to make […]

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The surprising scientific value of national bias

Emotions seem by their very nature to defy scientific analysis. Private and evanescent, and yet powerful and determining, feelings resist systematic observation and measurement. We are lucky to catch a glimpse in a facial expression or inflection of speech. The emotions of animals are all the more difficult. Without words to communicate what might be […]

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How downward social mobility happens

The common story about downward mobility is one of bad luck: recent generations have the misfortune of coming of age during an economic downturn, a student debt crisis, declining job security, and, now, a pandemic. Of course, these factors relate to downward mobility, but they are not all that matters. The truth is that many […]

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Re-reading Camus’s The Plague in pandemic times

Sometime in the 1940s in the sleepy colonial city of Oran, in French occupied Algeria, there was an outbreak of plague. First rats died, then people. Within days, the entire city was quarantined: it was impossible to get out, and no one could get in. This is the fictional setting for Albert Camus’s second most famous novel, The Plague (1947). And yes, there are some similarities to our current situation with the coronavirus.  First, […]

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Donald Trump’s insult politics

Political commentators and satirists love to mock Donald Trump’s verbal gaffs, his simplified vocabulary and vague, boastful speech. But if you judge his oratory by its effect on the audience, Donald Trump’s rhetoric, particularly with large crowds of enthusiastic supporters, is undeniably effective. People have studied the art of rhetoric for millennia – so how […]

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Etymology gleanings for March 2020

Should it be business as usual with the Oxford Etymologist? Closing the blog until better days will probably not benefit anybody. The terrain is like a minefield, but I’ll continue gleaning.

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How G. E. M. Anscombe revolutionised 20th-century western philosophy

Gertrude Elizabeth Margaret Anscombe (b. 1919-d. 2001) was an important figure and gave significant contributions to the field of analytic philosophy, philosophy of mind, and moral and religious philosophy. Born in Limerick in March 1919 to Allen Anscombe and Gertrude Anscombe (nee Thomas), the family returned to England when her father returned from the British Army […]

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How to rate and rank potential doctoral students

Graduate education, particularly the training of doctoral students, plays crucial role in the progress of society. Around 1,500 of the country’s 4,500 or so universities award doctoral degrees. In 2018 according to the Survey of Earned Doctorates 55,185 students were doctorate recipients in the United States. To match potential graduate students and graduate programs needs the […]

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How to be an ally for transgender rights

The last day of March is the International Transgender Day of Visibility, celebrated each year to honor transgender people around the world and the courage it takes to live authentically and openly. It is also an opportunity to raise awareness about the severe, ongoing discrimination and violence that transgender people often face every day. Estimates […]

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Why self-help won’t cure impostor syndrome

Do you feel as if your professional success is due to some kind of mistake? That you don’t deserve your grades, promotions, or accolades? That you’re somehow getting away with a fraud which could be uncovered at any moment?  We have a name for that cluster of anxieties: you’re suffering from impostor syndrome. At the heart […]

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A guide to parent self-care during the COVID-19 pandemic

As school closures and quarantines take place across the globe, the overwhelming anxiety is palpable in the newfound realities of a pandemic. Trips to the grocery store are now strategized, as shoppers face empty shelves and shortages of household staples. This will undoubtably continue as anxiety thrives on uncertainty increasing stress and driving us to […]

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