Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

Don’t vote for the honeyfuggler

In 1912, William Howard Taft—not a man known for eloquence—sent journalists to the dictionary when he used the word honeyfuggle.  Honey-what, you may be thinking. It turns out that honeyfuggler is an old American term for someone who deceives others folks by flattering them.  It can be spelled with one g or two and sometimes with an o replacing the u.  To honeyfuggle is to […]

Read More

Why are there different welfare states in the Middle East and North Africa

Most political regimes in the Middle East and North Africa are non-democratic, but the lived reality of authoritarian rule differs widely across countries. This difference is particularly apparent when it comes to social policies. While resource-abundant, labour-scarce regimes in the Arab Gulf have all established generous welfare regimes, the picture among labour-abundant regimes in the […]

Read More

There’s no vaccine for the sea level rising

We will get by the current pandemic. There will be a vaccine eventually. There will be other pandemics. Hopefully, we will be better organized next time. Waiting in the wings are the emerging impacts of climate change, the next big challenge. There will be no vaccine to stem sea level rise.

Read More

Why victims can sometimes inherit from their abusers- even if they kill them

It is a basic rule of English law that a person who kills someone should not inherit from their victim. The justification behind the rule, known as the forfeiture rule, is that a person should not benefit from their crimes and therefore forfeits entitlement. Many other jurisdictions have the same basic rule for fundamental reasons of public […]

Read More

Why big protests aren’t a good measure of popular power

The recent wave of protests of the Black Lives Matters movement in the United States and around the world has opened up a space of political possibility for proposals, like disbanding abusive police departments, which seemed radical and utopian only weeks earlier. In the broad sweep of history, a similar process has been seen time […]

Read More

Public health and Georges Canguilhem’s philosophy of medicine

Born in Castelnaudary in France 4 June 1904, Georges Canguilhem was a highly influential 20th century French philosopher of medicine. He took particular interest in the evolution of medical philosophy, the philosophy of science, epistemology, and biological philosophy. After serving in the military for a short period he taught in secondary schools, before becoming editor for Libres […]

Read More

Cut and dried

A less common synonym of the idiom cut and dried is cut and dry, and it would have served my purpose better, because this essay is about the verb cut, and two weeks later the adjective dry will be the subject of a post. But let us stay with the better-known variant.

Read More

The history of Canada Day

Because they raise difficult questions about who we are and who we want to be, national holidays are contested. Can a single day ever contain the diversity and the contradictions inherent in a nation? Is there even a “we” and an “us”? Canada Day is no exception. Celebrated on 1 July, it marks the anniversary […]

Read More

Five questions about PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an often discussed, and often misunderstood, mental health condition, that affects up to 7% of adults during their lifetime. Here we answer five questions related to misconceptions that often prevent people from seeking care.  1. Is PTSD a veteran disease?  While a significant minority of veterans suffer from PTSD, this disorder can impact anyone who has experienced life-threatening trauma. Approximately 70% of people […]

Read More

Why transforming higher education can promote racial equality

I was very active politically in the 1960s, 70s, and the early 80s. Life became more difficult in the late 1980s with the arrival of a third child, and as I focused to publish enough to get tenure in a large Midwestern university. Today, as I look back on that time, I struggle with two […]

Read More

The criminal justice system’s big data problem

We are now witnessing enormous potential for criminal justice reform. State legislatures and mayoral offices are beginning to respond for calls for law enforcement transparency and broad shifts in police resources. At the same time, a broad range of private sector actors have publicly announced they will distance themselves from criminal justice institutions. Gannett, the […]

Read More

How understanding science can be made easy

When I was a teenager, I was awed by popular science writings. I was most affected by Roger Penrose’s The Emperor’s New Mind, with its detailed and fascinating account of quantum mechanics and relativity. However, it was not an easy read and it gave only one perspective of these amazing theories. Some 30 years later […]

Read More

How we can understand ourselves through games

Games are a distinctive art form — one very different from the traditional arts. Game designers don’t just create an environment, or characters, or a story. They tell you who to be in the game. They set your basic abilities: whether you will run and jump, or move around your pieces geometrically, or bid and […]

Read More

India Cooper and the art of copyediting

The editor behind many of Oxford University Press USA’s highest profile titles was not a staff member. But it is impossible to measure the significance of the impact she had on Oxford’s history, biography, and music lists. First hired as a freelance copy editor by OUP’s legendary managing editor, Leona Capeless, she became one of […]

Read More

Accepting uncertainty creates freedom

We all want to be in control. Our quest for control in the current atmosphere of fear has resulted in the hoarding of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, and face masks. In the illusion of control, we close our minds and our hearts to the possibility of the meaning we may discover during a time of […]

Read More

The blunt edge of “knife”

The word knife came up in one of the recent comments. I have spent so much time discussing sharp objects (adz, ax, and sword) that one more will fit in quite naturally. The word that interests us today turned up in late Old English (cnīf) and is usually believed to be a borrowing of Old Norse knífr (both ī and í designate a long vowel, as in Modern Engl. knee)

Read More