Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why anti-vaxxers are rising again

In the midst of a health crisis when our only hope is a new vaccine, many have begun to wonder how those with anti-vaccination sentiments might respond to the current COVID-19 crisis. Many have guessed that the only natural, rational response would be for anti-vaxxers to change their minds and wholeheartedly embrace the prospect of a new […]

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Why the Eurovision Song Contest still matters in 2020

What would be left of the Eurovision Song Contest once wrenched from the spectacle and ritual of its annual Grand Finale in May? Could it survive, stripped of glitz, pyrotechnics, and camp, its penchant for ever-expanding excess? Would the legions of fans worldwide, who love the contest, retain their passion and return in 2021? Such […]

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How violent images can hurt us

In January 2020, the world became aware of a novel coronavirus spreading beyond the borders of China. We saw bare supermarket shelves, hastily taped Xs on pavements outside shops, empty streets and parks juxtaposed against overrun emergency wards, the bruised and exhausted faces of healthcare workers and makeshift hospitals and burial grounds amidst what once […]

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How working from home is changing our economy forever

The virus lurks on car door handles, on doorknobs and the floor, on the breath of others or in a friend’s hug, on onions in the supermarket, and on the hands of the valet who parks your car. If you venture outside, everything and everyone is a threat. So, it is better to stay home, […]

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“The devil to pay” and more devilry

It is amazing how often the Devil is invoked in English idioms: he has certainly been given his due. Some phrases must go back to myths. The Devil and his dam reminds us of the ancient stories in which two monsters play havoc with human lives. A famous example is Grendel and his mother (Beowulf), but folklore is full of similar examples.

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Pandemic practicalities and how to help teenagers manage time at home

It’s May and many of us have fond memories of springtime when we were in high school. There was some stress from exams and final papers to be sure, but also more outdoor activities, sports, banquets or awards assemblies, proms, and most of all, looking forward to the summer. High school students today, however, have […]

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How a stork helped the UK get through the First World War

Harry Perry Robinson was elderly (age 54) and infirm at the outbreak of the First World War. But he was also a senior correspondent of The Times with a distinguished service record; a confidante of the proprietor, Lord Northcliffe; and a rabid patriot long convinced of the German threat to world peace. There was really no stopping […]

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The persistence of white supremacy 50 years after the Jackson State tragedy

In the early morning hours of 15 May 1970, the Mississippi Highway and Safety Patrol and the Jackson city police marched deep into the campus of the historically black Jackson State College in Jackson, Mississippi, leveled their weapons at students gathered outside a women’s dormitory, and let loose a 28-second barrage of bullets and buckshot […]

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How to prepare for death

The main challenge in reflecting on one’s own death is the way the various aspects of death and dying are intertwined which make it difficult to discern personal mortality. First there is the prospect of me dying; of me entering whatever is in store at the end of my life. How long will it last? […]

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Quantitative thinking during a pandemic

Today is not right. The weather is fine. My family and friends are healthy and waiting to hear from me, ready for ordinary things like coffee and conversation. Normally, I’d be taking my grandkids to daycare and checking up on grocery and laundry lists. Then, a bit of reading and some writing. But, instead of […]

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The words of the day

The readers of newspapers will have noticed the deadening repetition of the same words (I don’t mean pandemic, virus, distance, or opening—those are probably unavoidable). No, everybody nowadays hunkers down (the activity formerly reserved for the greatest leaders at their secret meetings), while many admire Sweden, where people trust their government.

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How children going viral is shaping our world

Last year my seven-year-old daughter came home from school and “flossed” in the middle of our lounge room. For the uninitiated (as I was) and for the oldies (as I am), flossing is not your average teeth-cleaning ritual, but “a dance in which you move your hips from side to side while simultaneously moving your hands […]

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The life and legacy of Florence Nightingale [timeline]

This year, to celebrate the role nurses and midwives play in providing health services across the world, the World Health Organisation has declared that 2020 is the International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife. In honour of this, we are taking this opportunity to recognise the work of Florence Nightingale, a British nurse, statistician, […]

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Envisioning a post-crisis world

Early in World War II, in August 1941, before the United States had entered the war and Britain stood alone against Adolph Hitler, President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill steamed in secret aboard their respective battleships and met off the coast of Newfoundland on HMS Prince of Wales. Their aim: Shape the Post […]

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Is collecting medical data really essential for health care?

The United States spends an inordinate amount of money on health care. Much of this spending goes to data acquisition, to medical monitoring, and to assessment of how our health systems function. But are there other areas where money devoted to gathering health data might be better spent? Our health is a product of the […]

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I’m the mother I am thanks to my daughter’s disability

On the first Mother’s Day that my daughter, Sesha, no longer lived at home with us, I received a lovely basket with various hand-crafted gifts from her. With help from her aide, she handed it over to me, and as I gushed she looked so very pleased. Mother’s Day is a time for children to […]

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