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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Science & Medicine

How conspiracy theories hurt vaccination numbers

Near the end of 2018, data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that a small, but growing, number of children in the United States were not getting recommended vaccinations. One in 77 infants born in 2017 did not receive any vaccination. That’s more than four times as many unvaccinated children as the country […]

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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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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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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 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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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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Understanding guilt in mother-child relationships

“You never write…you never call….” The guilt-tripping mother is common stereotype in movies and TV. But how many adult children harbor feelings of guilt toward their aging parents? Who experiences this guilt, and why? About one in five adult children experience feelings of guilt toward their ageing mothers, based on data from a nationally representative […]

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War, memory, and morale during a pandemic

In a seemingly natural way, reports of societal responses to the COVID-19 crisis in Britain invoked the very familiar images of the Blitz and the wartime Home Front more broadly. Such images and representations are now everywhere: references to the “Army of Volunteers” raised to aid vulnerable groups; notions of the spirit, character, resolve, or […]

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Confronting mortality in the COVID-19 pandemic

In the last four months, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has marched across the globe. It has stomped to every continent and, as of my writing, to 134 of the 195 countries in the world, sickening hundreds of thousands of people – and killing thousands of them – on its way to global […]

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Music schools respond to COVID-19 shutdown

Keeping Upbeat in Tough Times is the new motto for the San Francisco Community Music Center. The phrase sums up the school’s attitude toward the abrupt transition to online instruction that it had to make this spring, after local schools closed their doors because of a government-ordered mandate aimed at slowing the spread of the COVID-19 […]

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Why the COVID-19 pandemic feels like a movie

I read there is a spike in streaming of the 2011 film Contagion by Steven Soderbergh. The film uses a made-up virus loosely modeled after a Nipah virus outbreak. Contagion opens with a black screen, and we hear a woman coughing. The fictional virus MEV-1 hits the brain (and not the lungs as in corona virus pandemics), and we […]

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A pandemic of boredom

It was just the two of them: on a raft, lost, floating off the coast of Africa—the lone survivors of a shipwreck. Years before, struck with stupendous boredom, Hymie Basteshaw decided to become boredom’s master. He read what others wrote about boredom, studied its physiology, and discovered its secrets in the wavering folds of human […]

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