Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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Reality check: the dangers of confirmation bias

“Confirmation bias” is the most common—and easily the most irritating—obstacle to productive conversation, and not just between experts and laypeople. The term refers to the tendency to look for information that only confirms what we believe, to accept facts that only strengthen our preferred explanations, and to dismiss data that challenge what we already accept as truth.

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2017 Oscars represent a shift, but Hollywood is still disproportionately white

In 2017, the winners of two of the four Oscars given to actors were African Americans. This represents a remarkable turn in the history of the Oscars. It is not, however, a historical accident. Instead, it is due to social media campaigns and activism. In 2015, an activist named April Reign started the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite in response to the overwhelmingly white Oscar nominees that year.

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Do you need to “unplug” from social media? [quiz]

“Unplugging” from social media does not necessarily equate to quitting. As The Happiness Effect author Donna Freitas found out, the decision to temporarily quit social media is a common among university students. Some students quit because they feel “too obsessed” or “addicted,” while others cite online drama as their reason to take a break.

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Facebook Cleanup: appearing professional on social media

Most students feel that they are in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. They worry about whether future employers might find an offending photo or post attached to their names. But many of them also worry about what happens if they have no social media pres­ence at all for their future employers to scrutinize and dissect. If they are completely absent from social media, this might seem suspicious, too

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The poverty of American film

Some decades ago, British film scholar Laura Mulvey showed us that movies possessed a male gaze. That is, the viewer was assumed to be a man — a straight, white one — and films were created by men to entertain men like them.We’ve made some progress. Among this year’s Academy Award nominees are eighteen African Americans, five Asian Americans, and one native-born Hispanic American.

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Love and Tinder: hookup culture at universities [excerpt]

The same dread that college students feel about online dating–the sense that meeting someone with whom you have no prior real life connection is reckless—applies to Tinder as well. Students may indeed want to have sex and hook up, but they do not want to have sex and hook up with anonymous strangers. They want to have sex and hook up with that hot guy from American lit, or that hot girl from chemistry class.

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Tearing the heart out of Valentine’s Day?

Valentine’s Day each year brings with it accusations of shameless appropriatation of sacred rituals by retailers.But of course, there is nothing new in the commercialisation of rituals and traditions. Following enforcement of Confucianism in the Ming and Qing dynasties of China, the nuo exorcism ritual was re-created as an often expensive personal experience performed by nuo Masters for a group of households.

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Is God on Facebook? [excerpt]

From the moment Jennifer sits down for our interview, I know I’m in for a treat. She’s a bright, bubbly senior at a conservative, southern, Christian university. A pretty redhead with freckles, she talks enthusiastically about all the things she loves about her studies, her experience at college (she’s made two “lifelong friends,” she immediately tells me), and how, during her four years here, she’s been “pushed in the best of ways.”

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Mass incarceration and the perfect socio-economic storm

In nature, there are weather conditions, referred to as ‘perfect storms’, arising from a rare combination of adverse meteorological factors creating violent storms that significantly affect the socio-economic conditions of an area. Social scientists refer to similar adverse factors as cultural amplifier effects. Currently, there are approximately 2000 correctional and detention facilities in the US with over 450,000 employees.

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Do school food programs improve child dietary quality?

Over the past 70 years, school meal standards have become increasingly focused on raising the quality of school food rather than simply supplying food. But exactly how does the quality of a school meal compare to a brown-bag meal from home? Turns out, the answer isn’t as simple as comparing the average school lunch to the average sack lunch; we must dig deeper, far below and above the average child.

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The Millennials’ God

The Millennial Generation— consisting of those individuals born between 1980 and 2000—is an oddity when it comes to religion. On the one hand, its members are leaving organized religion in unprecedented numbers. On the other hand, they are not exactly unbelievers.

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Human Trafficking Prevention Month: There are no “teen prostitutes”

January is Human Trafficking Prevention Month, declared each year since 2010 by presidential decree. However, there is still confusion as to what exactly human trafficking is. Despite seven years of raising awareness , on 21st November, the Washington Post published a story with the headline “Two teen prostitutes escaped through a bathroom window, and a sex ring began to unravel.”

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Rethinking innovation and career in the new year

January is a time for resolutions and change. In the excerpt below, the authors of An Intelligent Career: Taking Ownership of Your Work and Your Life explore the role of change in how we start projects, finish projects, and do work. Thirty years ago, Jean-Luc Brès took an entry-level advertising position in Polydor records (now part […]

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Home: A Very Short Introduction

Why is home so important to us?

“Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home.” “Home is where the heart is.” These well-known expressions indicate that home is somewhere that is both desirable and that exists in the mind’s eye as much as in a particular physical location. Across cultures and over the centuries people of varied means have made homes for themselves and those they care about.

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Who could thrive in late career? Answers for both employees and employers

The alarming statistics about the fast rates of population aging in the last 30 years and the possible negative economic and societal consequences of this process, have prompted many employers to consider their aging workforce more seriously. Yet, workers aged 55 years and over are not always utilized or valued as much as they could be in the workplace.

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