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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Visual and Multimodal Communication: Applying the Relevance Principle

Rooting chimp communication in relevance theory

The key assumption of Dan Sperber and Deirdre Wilson’s relevance theory is that every act of communication comes with the promise (not the guarantee!) of being optimally relevant to its envisaged audience. Sperber and Wilson’s examples typically pertain to spoken face-to-face exchanges between two individuals: speaking Mary and listening Peter. A message gains in relevance for […]

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The Human Gene Editing Debate

The slippery slope of the human gene editing debate

The ethical debate about what is now called “human gene editing” (HGE) began sixty years ago. At the time, eugenicist scientists wanted to use new knowledge about the structure of DNA to modify humans—to perfect the human species by making us more healthy, musical, intelligent, and generally virtuous. A consensus later formed that gene editing […]

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The Tough Standard by Ronald Levant and Shana Pryor

The role of masculinity in reforming police departments

For decades there have been murders of unarmed black people by the police, which in recent years has been exposed and protested by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. This summer, unprecedented numbers of protesters have voiced their outrage in response to the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the very recent and utterly senseless shooting of […]

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The Puzzle of Prison Order by David Skarbek

Smaller prisons are smarter

There is a growing consensus across the political spectrum that the United States incarcerates far too many people and that this has tragic and unjust consequences that fall disproportionately on disadvantaged socioeconomic and minority communities. Yet, not only do we lock up too many people, but all too often they are incarcerated in prisons that […]

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Meaningful Inefficiencies

Rebuilding better: designing the future of cities and governance

In city and town meetings throughout the United States, “we need to rebuild better” has become a common refrain from progressive political leaders to communicate their response to COVID-19 and the subsequent demands for racial justice. It is shorthand for the urgency of economic recovery while acknowledging the reality of structural inequities. The pandemic’s indiscriminate […]

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How emerging adults can manage the uncertainty of the future [reading list]

Jeffrey Arnett describes emerging adulthood as a distinct stage of development from the late teens through the twenties; a life stage in which explorations and instability are the norm. As they focus on their self-development, emerging adults feel in-between, on the way to adulthood but not there yet. Nevertheless, they have a high level of optimism […]

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Cyntoia Brown and the legacy of racism for children in the legal system

In 2004, 16-year-old Cyntoia Brown shot and killed a man who paid her for sex – a position she was forced into by an older man who took advantage of her. Brown never denied shooting the man (in fact, she was the one who called the police the next day), but she claimed it was […]

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Five books related to power and inequality at work [reading list]

What is it like to work in the 21st century? Which factors influence our careers? Are there equal opportunities in society today? With a focus on technological advancements, both at home and at work, is reliance on technology beneficial for both employees and employers? Are workplaces using technology to exercise greater levels of control? Will the […]

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It’s cheaper to preserve the Amazon than we might think

“The cattle need ladders to graze here.” That is what my wife’s relatives used to tell her after they moved to the Amazon rainforest. She visited their farm when she was 13, and the planted grass was taller than she was. Grass grows tall there because of the substantial amount of nutrients left on the […]

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How COVID-19 could help social science researchers

The US passed 2.5 million Covid-19 cases, there are more than 10 million confirmed cases worldwide, and global deaths passed 500,000 at the end of June. We face unprecedented challenges during this global pandemic and we may see profound and permanent changes to how we do things. Surveys and digital trace data have been used […]

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Social needs are a human right

In April 2020, an ER physician in Toronto, Ari Greenwald, started an online petition to bring tablets and phones to his patients in hospital, because hospitals had imposed strict No Visitor rules to limit the spread of COVID-19. Greenwald said that, “As challenging as this COVID-era of healthcare is for us all, the hardest part […]

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How paternity leave can help couples stay together

The birth of a child is accompanied by many changes in a couple’s life. The first few weeks and months are a time of acquiring new skills and creating new habits which allow parents to carry on with their other responsibilities while also caring for the new family member. Many decisions need to be made: […]

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Twelve books that give context to current protests [reading list]

Cities across the United States have seen ongoing protests since the death of George Floyd while in police custody on 25 May. Conversations are taking place on social media as well as in the real world, and media coverage has been relentless. We at Oxford University Press would like to highlight some of our books across politics, history, and philosophy that we hope can contribute to the important conversations currently taking place and provide valuable context. Where possible, we’ve made some of these books available at no cost for a limited time.

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Moving beyond toxic masculinity: a Q&A with Ronald Levant

In 2018, the American Psychological Association released its first ever Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men. At the time of the release, these guidelines were met with criticism by some who viewed them as pathologizing masculinity, but since the guidelines were released the discussion of “toxic masculinity” has spread to all areas of […]

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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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