Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

How we experience pandemic time

COVID-19 refers not only to a virus, but to the temporality of crisis. We live “in times of COVID” or “corona time.” We yearn for the “Before Time” and prepare for the “After Time.” Where earlier assessments of pandemic time focused on rupture, we are now reckoning with an open-ended, uncertain future. This endeavour would […]

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Accept death to promote health

We all die and, despite some fanciful ideas to the contrary, we will, as a species, continue to do so. Our daily routines tend to distract us from this fact. However, because death is inevitable, we need to think about how we can live healthy lives, without ignoring how they end. Once we accept that […]

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Accepting uncertainty creates freedom

We all want to be in control. Our quest for control in the current atmosphere of fear has resulted in the hoarding of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. In the illusion of control, we close our minds and our hearts to the possibility of the meaning we may discover during a time of […]

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Income inequality drives health disparities

Pretax incomes for the poorest 50% of Americans have stayed mostly unchanged for the past 40  years, widening income gaps in the country. We leave the question of why inequality matters for the economy to others. What is of concern to us is whether income inequality matters to our health, and, to the extent that […]

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How an unlikely pair became legendary molecular biologists

In 1962 the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded jointly to John Kendrew (1917-1997) and Max Perutz (1914-2002). They were the first scientists to accurately describe the three-dimensional structure of proteins. Enzymes, hormones, and antibodies are only a few examples of the many kinds of proteins present in all living organisms and knowledge of their […]

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Eat your oats

Old Fashioned, quick, instant and steel cut are all examples of oat varieties. Is one type of oat more nutritious than the other? No. All varieties of oats provide similar amounts of nutrients, calories, and fiber; a nutrient that is chronically underconsumed in the United States. Oats are an example of a whole-grain and full […]

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The emotional toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on teenagers

A growing body of evidence supports my clinical experience that younger people, high schoolers especially, are having more psychological problems during the pandemic than adults. There are many reasons for this. Adolescents are in the developmental stage of forming a new social world away from their parents. Social needs tend to dominate their lives and yet currently […]

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Seven ways to talk to terminal patients

Before COVID-19 arrived in our lives, chronic illness was considered the next worldwide pandemic. But COVID-19 did arrive and life as we knew it has radically changed. Healthcare workers, particularly nurses and physicians, are now having frequent palliative care (the area of end-of-life care that focuses on patient comfort) conversations although most are not trained […]

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Six ways to reduce your environmental impact

Over the last 50 years, human population has doubled, and global trade has increased ten-fold, drawing more deeply on Earth’s natural resources, warming the climate, and polluting the global environment. If current climate trends continue, a third of the global population will live in places warmer than the heart of the Sahara Desert 50 years […]

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How anti-immigration policies hurt public health

Immigration is neither a new issue nor an exclusively American one. In 2017, there were more than 250  million immigrants living worldwide, and about 2.4 million people migrate across national borders each year. Migration also occurs within national borders—it is estimated that more than 750 million people live within their country of birth, but in a […]

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What history can tell us about infectious diseases

One of the remarkable achievements of the past hundred years has been the reduction of the global toll of death from infectious disease. The combination of applied biological science, improved living and working conditions, and standards of living, together with the benefits of planned parenthood, have transformed the health landscape for millions of people, not […]

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Should we fear death?

We are currently faced with a global crisis. A virus has spread to all parts of our planet, and thousands of people have died from the coronavirus. Many people now fear that they are going to be sick and die. Fear of sickness can certainly be rational. It is more questionable whether fear of death is […]

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How ancient Christians responded to pandemics

Ancient Christians knew epidemics all too well. They lived in a world with constant contagion, no vaccines, medieval medical practices, and no understanding of basic microbiology. Hygiene was horrendous, sanitation sickening. People shared “toilette paper”(a sponge-on-a-stick). Besides that, in the second and the third centuries CE, two pandemics rocked the Roman World. The first, the […]

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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 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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