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Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Unite to abolish ‘might makes right’

After 20 January, 2017, Donald Trump will command America’s enormous power. His order will launch a devastating attack on any country. Sanctions will descend at his pen stroke. Alliances will be his to offer. Yet one kind of foreign power will defeat Trump—as it has defeated presidents for 40 years. This is the power that comes from the world’s consumers, who buy billions of dollars of oil a year from violent and repressive foreigners

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Quoting the New Year and lessons from the past

“Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us,” once said American author Hal Borland. New Year’s for him was a continuation, an extension of the previous year and what it had brought would be useful in the coming ones.

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Top ten developments in international law in 2016

This year seems to have packed in more news events and shocking developments than any other in recent memory. As 2016 draws to an end, many are fearful of how the political trends that surfaced this year will play out and what their long-term effect will be on the international legal order. At the same time, the year has seen a number of successes in international law, most notably in judicial decisions that championed the rule of law against the interests of powerful states and corporations. This post highlights and discusses ten international law victories and failures in 2016.

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Top ten OUPblog posts of 2016 by the numbers

The 2016 posts that attracted the most pageviews ranged in subject from philosophy to literature, and from mathematics to law. As you might expect, people were also interested in learning more about Shakespeare and politics in 2016. Please find the top ten performing blog posts on the OUPblog in 2016.

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The logic of unreliable narrators

In fiction, an unreliable narrator is a narrator whose credibility is in doubt – in other words, a proper reading of a narrative with an unreliable narrator requires that the audience question the accuracy of the narrator’s representation of the story, and take seriously the idea that what actually happens in the story – what is fictionally true in the narrative – is different from what is being said or shown to them.

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Reflections on ‘chatbot’

A chatbot, or chatterbot, is computer program designed to engage in conversation through written or spoken text. It was one of the words on the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 shortlist. The idea of a chatbot originates with Alan Turing’s mid twentieth century aspiration to build a thinking computer. Turing proposed a test to determine what might count as success in this venture.

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Word of the Year 2016: a ‘post-truth’, ‘alt-right’, ‘Brexiteer’ing’ explanation of political chaos

The lexicographers at Oxford Dictionaries have been at it again with their choice of Word of the Year 2016 – ‘post-truth’. Now call me a pedant but I’d have thought ‘post-truth’ is two words, or at the very least a phrase, (‘Pedant!’ I hear you all shout) but I’m assured that the insertion of a hyphen creates a compound word that is not to be sniffed at. How then do words such as ‘post-truth’, ‘alt-right’, and ‘Brexiteer’ combine to explain the current situation of global political chaos?

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2016 US presidential election reading list

Following the 2016 US Presidential election, we have curated a series of reading lists with resources that provide insight into electoral politics, key themes that stimulated some of the major debates from the election season, and important topics of discussion relating to the potential outcomes of the election. We have selected books and resources that detail American politics and investigate issues that influenced the recent presidential campaigns,

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Word of the Year 2016 is… post-truth

Word of the Year 2016 is… post-truth. After much discussion, debate, and research, the Oxford Dictionaries Word of the Year 2016 is post-truth – an adjective defined as ‘relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief’.

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Why is the Bible so much like a horror movie?

What does the Hebrew Bible have in common with horror movies? This question is not as strange as it might seem. It only takes a few minutes with the biblical texts to begin to realize that the Bible is filled with all kinds of horror. There are strange figures dripping blood (Isa. 63) and mysterious objects that kill upon touch (2 Sam. 6:7).

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10 myths about the vikings

The viking image has changed dramatically over the centuries, romanticized in the 18th and 19 century, they are now alternatively portrayed as savage and violent heathens or adventurous explorers. Stereotypes and clichés are rampant in popular culture and vikings and their influence appear to various extents, from Wagner’s Ring Cycle to the comic Hägar the Horrible, and J.R.R Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings to Marvel’s Thor. But what is actually true? Eleanor Barraclough lifts the lid on ten common viking myths.

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What do the classics do for you?

This week, Oxford University Press (OUP) and The Reader announced an exciting new partnership, working together to build a core classics library and to get great literature into the hands of people who need it most, with the Oxford World’s Classics series becoming The Reader’s “house brand” for use in their pioneering Shared Reading initiatives.

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Five crimes being committed by Pokémon Go players

Record-breaking mobile app Pokémon Go has been downloaded over 75 million times worldwide, a number set only to increase as the game is released in more territories. What five common crimes have police officers had to attend to as a result of this craze taking off?

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Designer nature: mosquitoes first and then what?

We’re told that we can insert a gene to confer sterility and this trait would race like wildfire through Aedes aegypti. Why this species? Because it’s the vector of the Zika virus—along with the dengue and yellow fever viruses. The problem is that A. aegypti isn’t the only culprit. It’s just one of a dozen or more bloodsuckers that will also have to be wiped out. After we’ve driven these species to extinction, we’ll presumably move on to the Anopheles species that transmit malaria.

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