Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

A new generation wrestles with the gender structure

What’s happening with kids today? A few years ago, liberals were confidently– and conservatives dejectedly– predicting that Millennials were blurring traditional distinctions between the sexes both in the workplace and at home, operating on “the distinctive and historically unprecedented belief that there are no inherently male or female roles in society. So what are the Millennials’ gender politics?

Read More

Ten things you may not know about women and liberty

Imagine that you’re a married woman living in a bleak dystopian world in which you’re barred from higher education, you’re forbidden from owning your own property, you have no freedom of movement outside your own home, and your husband might sexually assault you at any time, with impunity.

Read More

The economic relationship between Mexico and the United States

Mexico and the United States share a highly integrated economic relationship. There seems to be an assumption among many Americans, including officials in the current administration, that the relationship is somehow one-sided, that is, that Mexico is the sole beneficiary of commerce between the two countries. Yet, economic benefits to both countries are extensive.

Read More

Has “feminism” beaten “complicity” or are feminists complicit too?

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionaries,“Feminism” is Word of the Year 2017,” as announced by a headline in The Guardian. “Complicit” was a strong runner-up in Merriam-Webster’s Competition though, and came in first place on the Dictionary.com list. Both “feminism” and “complicit” have been around for some time, so it is not as if 2017 gave birth […]

Read More

The neurology of the Winter Olympics

The human brain is a wonder and a marvel. At the same time, it is enigma and frustration. Given all it has accomplished, it continues to perplex. This is why I became a neurologist. For me, combining the apex of all organic structures with the vast unknown of cerebral neuroscience produces a daily wonder that is worth dedicating a life’s work to. To that end, I find myself somewhere over the North Pole hurling towards PyongChang, South Korea.

Read More

Cosplay is meaningless…and that can be a good thing

Cosplay is meaningless, and that can be a good thing. Cosplayers use only their appearance to evoke the imagined action of the character they play; they strike poses, but those poses do not make up a story. At some competitions, admittedly, cosplayers may perform brief skits or mimes in character. None of this amounts to a story, but it does resemble what a guest at a fancy dress party might get up to — and I compared that behaviour to the performance of a ham actor.

Read More

Questions and answers: January 2018 etymology gleanings

The most ancient roots: The question concerned the root rō- that is said to underlie the English words oar and row. Where did the root come from? This question is almost equal to the more basic one, namely: “How did human language come into being?” The concept of the root is ambiguous. When we deal with living languages, we compare words like work, works, worked, rework, worker, and the rest and call their common part their root.

Read More

The weight of love: ‘love locks’ as emotional objects

On the night of 8 June 2014, a section of the metal barrier on the Pont des Arts in Paris collapsed under the weight of thousands of padlocks which had been attached to it. Since the first decade of the twenty-first century, it has become increasingly common for famous (and sometimes less famous) bridges, and, increasingly, other monuments, to become encrusted with small padlocks in celebration of romantic love.

Read More

Simon of Montfort and the Statutes of Pamiers

“Kill them. The Lord will know those that are his.” This statement, attributed to a Cistercian abbot at the sack of Béziers in 1209, encapsulates for the modern mind the essence of the Albigensian Crusade (1208-1229). However, a view of the Albigensian Crusade that encompasses only its violence will miss a great deal of the movement’s significance.

Read More

The future of precision medicine

In April 2003, researchers from the Human Genome Project published the result of their painstaking work; a complete sequencing of the human genome. This ground-breaking feat has ushered in the current “post genomic” era of medicine, whereby medical treatment is becoming increasingly personalised towards an individual’s specific lifestyle and genetic makeup.

Read More

Happy, healthy, and empowered in love

If, as Tolstoy says, all happy families are alike, then why is it so challenging to identify what it is—psychologically and sociologically—that makes them so happy? We can easily identify the markers of unhealthy relationships; for example, domestic violence—commonly known as intimate partner violence in an academic setting—is controlling behavior rooted in the power and control by one person over another.

Read More

Saving Butch Cassidy’s charitable legacy

Paul Newman died in 2008, leaving behind a wonderful legacy of films and philanthropy. Of his many iconic movie roles, my favorite is Butch Cassidy. Unfortunately, Mr. Newman’s death in real life triggered a tax problem which now threatens his charitable bounty. Congress almost solved this problem in the new tax law passed in December 2017 but, at the last minute, failed to do so.

Read More

Who keeps the dog in a divorce?

In the 1937 film The Awful Truth, Irene Dunne and Cary Grant are getting divorced and arguing over Mr Smith, their terrier. ‘Custody of the dog will depend on his own desires’ says the judge. ‘Send for the dog!’ Put in the middle of the courtroom, the dog eventually runs to Dunne – who has snuck a dog toy up her sleeve.

Read More

Beware the thesaurus

Someone recently asked me if I knew another word for entertaining. “What’s the context?” I replied, wondering if the writer was looking for an adjective like enjoyable or interesting or a gerund like wining and dining or possibly even a verb like pondering. “Use it in a sentence.” “Never mind,” she said, “I’ll just use the thesaurus button.” The what?

Read More

How and why to study folk epistemology

Folk epistemology may be roughly characterized as the (mostly tacit) principles, presuppositions, and principles that involve epistemological notions such as knowledge, evidence, justification etc. Folk epistemological notions have not been as empirically well-studied as folk psychological notions such as belief, desire, and intention.

Read More

Etymology gleanings for January 2018: Part 2

Odds and ends: I am delighted to say that in January I received unusually many questions. When this blog came into existence, the idea was that I would be flooded by “notes and queries,” as happens to word columnists who work for newspapers. That is why the last week of every month was reserved for answers. But all these years the traffic has been modest, and sometimes my replies were limited to what I had read in the comments. January and the beginning of February 2018 have been an exception; hence the extended “gleanings.”

Read More