Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Why are we all so frightened?

Knowing what you should fear, and quickly recognizing the biological changes in your body that indicate fear, can save your life. This critical task is processed by a small almond-shaped structure, the amygdala, which lies deep within the bottom of the brain, not far from your ears. The amygdala receives information from many brain regions, your internal organs, and external sensory systems, such as your eyes and ears.

Read More

What has happened to environmental protection?

Fast forward to 2017: with a few possible exceptions, Congress hasn’t addressed any significant environmental problems for over a quarter century and has blocked important environmental legislation; President Trump has promised to gut the EPA; and its new administrator, Scott Pruitt, as Attorney General of Oklahoma, sued the Agency over and over again to kill major environmental regulations.

Read More

What is artificial intelligence?

There are many proposed definitions of artificial intelligence (AI), each with its own slant, but most are roughly aligned around the concept of creating computer programs or machines capable of behavior we would regard as intelligent if exhibited by humans. John McCarthy, a founding father of the discipline, described the process in 1955 as “that of making a machine behave in ways that would be called intelligent if a human were so behaving.”

Read More

Super Bowl madness

Every year we worship at the altar of the Super Bowl. It’s the Big Game with the Big Halftime Show and the Big-Name Advertisers. That we do this, explains why Donald Trump is now president. I’ll get to that shortly. But for now, back to the show. From an advertising perspective, the Super Bowl is the most expensive commercial on television. This year, Fox charged upwards of $5 million per 30-second spot according to Sports Illustrated

Read More

What is the role of the Environmental Protection Agency?

During his first official week in office, United States President Donald Trump is moving quickly on his to-do list for his first 100 days in office, proving that he plans on sticking to the promises that he made as a candidate. Earlier this week, the Trump administration ordered a media blackout at the Environmental Protection Agency and has instructed staff to temporarily suspend all new contracts and grant awards.

Read More

Caring about the past in the embattled present

Growing up in Manhattan meant that I didn’t live among ancient ruins – just subway stations, high-rise apartments, and Central Park’s relatively recent architectural confections. It took living for a year in Europe as a six-year old and for another year as a ten-year old to develop awareness about our collective heritage stretching back millennia. Visiting the vacant site of Stonehenge on a blustery fall day in the early 1960s

Read More

The news media and the election

How does an avowedly nonpartisan news organization like the New York Times cover an outrageous but media-savvy and factuality-challenged candidate like Donald Trump? In a recent interview, Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet explained that the press was at first flustered by Trump, that “everybody went in a little bit shell-shocked in the beginning, about how you cover a guy who makes news constantly.

Read More

How university students infantilise themselves

Like their forebears in the 1960s, today’s students blasted university leaders as slick mouthpieces who cared more about their reputations than about the people in their charge. But unlike their predecessors, these protesters demand more administrative control over university affairs, not less. That’s a childlike position. It’s time for them to take control of their future, instead of waiting for administrators to shape it.

Read More

What a difference a decade makes in Brazil

Ten years ago Brazil was beginning to enjoy the financial boom from China’s growing appetite for commodities and raw materials. The two countries were a natural fit. Brazil had what Beijing needed – iron ore, beef, soybeans, etc. and China had what Brasilia desperately wanted – foreign exchange to address budget deficits and cost overruns on major infrastructure projects. It was a marriage made in heaven – for four or five years.

Read More

Let’s tank tanking

“Tanking,” or deliberately trying to lose an athletic contest to gain a future competitive advantage, such as earning higher draft pick of prospective players, became the talk of the town or at least of many fans, in many US cities saddled with losing teams in such sports as hockey, basketball, and baseball. If actually practiced, however, tanking would exploit spectator, players, and coaches alike.

Read More

The impeachment of Dilma Rousseff

On Sunday, 17 April 2016, the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies approved a motion to forward a petition to the Senate to impeach President Dilma Rousseff. What led Brazil to this moment? Looking back, the re-election of Dilma Rousseff to a second term as President of Brazil in October 2014 was viewed by her supporters in the Workers Party (PT) as confirmation of the rise of the working class to power in Brazil.

Read More

The ethics of war

People often do not associate war and ethics with one another, given the death, conflict, and senselessness that typically arises. However, in this sampling from Military Ethics: What Everyone Needs to Know®, author George Lucas argues that ethics are paramount in military service and typically more complex than “good versus evil.”

Read More

The Zika virus: a “virgin soil” epidemic

First isolated in Uganda in 1947, this normally mild, non-fatal mosquito-born flavivirus infection is characterized by transient fever, joint pain and malaise. The current explosive Zika virus epidemic in the Americas is, however, causing great concern because of what looks to be a sudden, dramatic increase in the incidence of microcephaly (small brain/head size) in newborns.

Read More

Legal hurdles to the Affordable Care Act

Lawrence Jacobs and Theda Skocpol, authors of the newly-published third edition of Health Care Reform and American Politics: What Everyone Needs to Know, provide insight into the legal challenges that the Affordable Care Act faced, including the Supreme Court ruling in 2015.

Read More