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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

Climate change: a call for government intervention [video]

“The world is facing a catastrophe.” It is too late for individuals to make a significant difference in the preservation of ice caps. At the current rate of global warming, government intervention is needed. In the following video and excerpt from A Farewell to Ice, Peter Wadhams, one of the world’s leading experts on polar ice, discusses the role that governments around the world need to play in order to combat global warming.

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Balancing compassion and self-care in a troubled world

Originating from the Latin “compatī,” (to suffer together), compassion can lead to a greater understanding of human suffering. However, the vulnerability that comes along with compassion can often lead to increased feelings of stress and anxiety. In the video below, psychologist Robert J. Wicks describes the consequences of inordinate compassion.

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Light pollution: absent information in risk communication

Lights, lights everywhere, but what about the risks of light pollution? The world has experienced an unprecedented environmental change during the past century as the electric light has permeated our nights. In the near future, this change may accelerate because of increasing use of new illumination technologies such as LED lights. In most parts of urbanized world the disappearance of natural darkness is easy to observe even with bare eyes.

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Invest in food security; end hunger

World Food Day is celebrated on 16th October each year, commemorating the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Various events take place around the world, promoting worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger, and the need to ensure food security and nutrition for everyone. Some of the statistics provided by the FAO are staggering:

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Disaster or disturbance: environmental science of natural extremes

Hurricane Harvey. Hurricane Maria. Natural disasters that will go down in the history of certain communities as ‘the big one’. Hurricanes and floods are disasters for human communities because of the loss of life and property and the damage to infrastructure. When I consider the recent hurricanes as an environmental scientist, however, I do not see them just as disasters.

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The point of depression

There has been a great deal of speculation about the evolutionary significance and origins of depression. What selective advantage does it confer? Does it allow the patient to concentrate on complex and important problems? Is it a type of pain that, like physical pain, causes us to pull back from danger? Is it a type of behavioral quarantine, causing us to hole up in a safe place while dangers stalk around outside?

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Lionfish: the perfect invader

The invasion of the Caribbean by Indo-Pacific lionfishes happened seemingly overnight. In the early 2000s, the first papers were published about lionfish sightings in places like Florida, half a world away from their native range—by 2010, they were almost everywhere in the Caribbean, and even now, they continue to expand the edges of their invasive Atlantic range.

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Understanding physician-assisted death [excerpt]

When it comes to end-of-life treatment, patients currently have a few different options available to them. One option, refusal of treatment, is when a decisionally capable patient is put in the driver’s seat with respect to medical treatment under the doctrine of informed consent. Another option is pain management, where palliative medicine is administered to entirely eliminate, or reduce pain to a level that the patient finds tolerable.

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When our tribes become bullies

Tribalism’s slide into bullying has become seemingly pervasive. We’ve all seen how it contaminates schools, sports, and work. In all of these collective institutions there is a drive to form tribes—often motivated by a desire for constructive kinship, but just as frequently for purposes of control, and exclusion. The change begins at home with parents who understand that hate causes violence.

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How does circadian rhythm affect our lives?

The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to American biologists Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young for their discoveries of the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm in organisms. Their work began in the 1980s with the study of fruit flies, from which they were able to identify the […]

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Animal of the month: 10 facts about bats

Bats are often portrayed in popular media as harbingers of doom and the embodiment of evil. They’re consistently associated with death, malevolent witches, and vampires. Batman, with his bat-like attributes, is easily the most sinister superhero in the league. Most people will have seen or heard about this creature, but what do we really know about them? So this month, ending on All Hallows’ Eve, we are celebrating this misunderstood mammal.

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Wielding wellness with music

The intersection between music and health occurs on a continuum of care ranging from the personal use of music to “feel better”, to professional music therapy work. While music therapists may work more often in the professional end of the continuum, our experiences and knowledge as clinicians and scholars provide us a unique perspective on […]

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A twenty-first century reinterpretation of dreams?

But, on this occasion, it is also thanks to a certain Donald Woods Winnicott—perhaps most of all—that this commemorative moment in history takes place. Winnicott, as President of the British Psychoanalytic Society, was instrumental in raising awareness and funds in the 1960s for getting this same statue by Nemon cast and put up in North London for the first time.

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Cognitive biases and the implications of Big Data

Big Data analytics have become pervasive in today’s economy. While they produce countless novelties for businesses and consumers, they have led to increasing concerns about privacy, behavioral manipulations, and even job losses. But the handling of vast quantities of data is anything but new.

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World Mental Health Day 2017: History of the treatment of mental illness

The tenth of October marks World Mental Health Day. Organized by the World Health Organization, the day works toward “raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health.” Mental health has been a concern for thousands of years, but different cultures have treated mental illnesses very differently throughout time.

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A short walk per day: a look at the importance of self-care

“What have you been doing that has been especially important over the past several years?” In the following video and shortened excerpt from Night Call, Robert J. Wicks explains how this question helped him realize the importance of striking a balance between compassion for others and self-care.

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