Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Is privacy the price of precision medicine?

New initiatives aim to harness technology and genomics to create bespoke medicine, customizing your healthcare like your Facebook profile. Instead of relying on generic practice guidelines, your doctors may one day use these new analytic tools to find the ideal treatment for you. Big data will make this precision possible: patterns that emerge from the DNA and medical records of millions can predict which treatments work best for which patients.

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Falling in love with the national security state

On a recent trip to Hong Kong, however, I decided to take a risk by departing from my standard viewing practice to watch Oliver Stone’s Snowden, a political thriller about the whistleblower who pulled back the curtain of the surveillance state by exposing how the NSA threatens the privacy of just about everyone. Would this movie set me on edge, making me fearful and paranoid for the remainder of the flight?

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J. L. Austin, “Other Minds,” and the goldfinch

J. L. Austin was born on 26 March 1911. He was twenty-eight when the Second World War began, and served in the British Intelligence Corps. It has been said that, “he more than anybody was responsible for the life-saving accuracy of the D-Day intelligence” (Warnock 1963: 9). He was honoured for his intelligence work with an Order of the British Empire, the French Croix de Guerre, and the U.S. Officer of the Legion of Merit.

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For want of a comma

The Oxford Comma, so named because it first appeared in the 1905 Oxford University Press Style Guide, is the comma that comes before the word and in a series of three or more listed items. Also known as the serial comma, it’s the often ironic rallying cry of a certain type of language aficionado. And it’s in the news after a federal appeals court mentioned it in a court decision recently.

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Encyclopedia of Social Work

What is social justice?

Notions of social justice generally embrace values such as the equal worth of all citizens, their equal right to meet their basic needs, the need to spread opportunity and life chances as widely as possible, and finally, the requirement that we reduce and, where possible, eliminate unjustified inequalities. The following excerpt explores the meanings and principles of social justice from a political, philosophical, and social worker perspective.

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America’s relationship with alcohol [Timeline]

Alcohol has been present in the United States since before it became a country. In that time, the people’s relationship with the substance has been multifaceted. From local watering holes marking the stirring of resistance against the British Empire, to the rise of speakeasies during Prohibition, to the proliferation of American cocktails abroad, alcohol is as much a part of American history as the stars and stripes. And the relationship has not always been an easy one.

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Journal of Law and the Biosciences

Mitochondrial replacement techniques and Mexico

The birth of the the first child after a mitochondrial replacement technique has raised questions about the legality of such procedure. In this post we explore some of the legal issues surrounding this case. Mitochondria are cellular organelles that generate the energy cells need to work properly. Two interesting features of mitochondria are that they are solely inherited via the maternal line and that they possess their own DNA.

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To ‘Ave’ or to hold: why certain music is banned from the civil marriage ceremony

Why isn’t religious music allowed at a civil marriage ceremony, and what advice is there for couples wanting a choir at their Registry Office ceremony where only non-religious music is permitted? Before civil marriage was introduced on 17 August 1836, couples could only marry legally in a Church of England ceremony. The revolutionary new ‘Act for Marriages in England’ meant that a marriage could take place in any licensed venue (religious or not) with no restrictions on the choice of music.

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The historian and the longitude

If a social conversation turns to the history of navigation – a turn that is not so unusual as once it was – the most likely episode to be mentioned is the search for a longitude method in the 18th century and the story of John Harrison. The extraordinary success of the book by Dava Sobel has popularised a view of Harrison as a doughty and virtuous fighter, unfairly disadvantaged by the scientific establishment.

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Winnicott on creativity and living creatively

Donald Winnicott (1896–1971) is one the most original and creative thinkers in the history of psychoanalysis after Freud. His theories about the early interaction between the infant and its environment, transitional objects and phenomena, true and false self, the relation between the analysand and the analyst, and many other topics have been of great importance for psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, social workers, teachers, and others all over the world.

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How new is “fake news”?

President Donald Trump’s administration is accused of disseminating “fake news” to the shock of the media, tens of millions of Americans, and to many others around the world. So many people think this is a new, ugly turn of events in American politics. What does American history have to say about this? When George Washington announced that he did not want to serve as president for a third term, Thomas Jefferson let it be known that he was interested in the job.

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Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Communication

Hofstede’s cultural dimensions and differences across cultures

Geert Hofstede, in his pioneer study looking at differences in culture across modern nations, identified four dimensions of cultural values: individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity-femininity. Working with researcher Michael Bond, Hofstede later added a fifth dimension with called dynamic Confucianism, or long-term orientation. Utilizing these interpretative frameworks leads to a greater understanding of ourselves and others.

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Facts about sanitation and wastewater management

After oxygen, fresh, clean water is the most basic requirement for the majority of life on Earth in order to survive. However, this is a true luxury that isn’t accessible for many millions of people around the world. Today hundreds of thousands of people die every year from these types of waterborne diseases, and even though these numbers are declining there is still work to be done.

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