Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

  • Search Term: vsi

Book thumbnail image

Globalization: Q&A with Manfred Steger

How has globalization changed in the last ten years? We asked Manfred Steger, author of Globalization: A Very Short Introduction, how he felt it has been affected by world events in the decade since the first edition of his Very Short Introduction was published.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Let them eat theorems!

By Kenneth Falconer
“This is not maths – maths is about doing calculations, not proving theorems!” So wrote a disaffected student at the end of my recent pure maths lecture course. Theorems, along with their proofs, have gotten a bad name.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

A year in Very Short Introductions: 2013

By Chloe Foster
2013 has been a busy year for the Very Short Introductions (VSIs). Keeping our authors busy with weekly VSI blog posts is not the only thing we’ve been up to. Here’s a reminder of just some of the highlights from our VSI year.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Logic and Buddhist metaphysics

By Graham Priest
Buddhist metaphysics and modern symbolic logic might seem strange bedfellows. Indeed they are. The thinkers who developed the systems of Buddhist metaphysics knew nothing of modern logic; and the logicians who developed the panoply of techniques which are modern logic knew nothing–for the most part–of Buddhism.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Putting Syria in its place

By Klaus Dodds
Where exactly is Syria, and how is Syria represented as a place? The first part of the question might appear to be fairly straight forward. Syria is an independent state in Western Asia and borders Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan and Israel. It occupies an area of approximately 70, 000 square miles, which is similar in size to the state of North Dakota. Before the civil war (March 2011 onwards), the population was estimated to be around 23 million but millions of people have been displaced by the crisis.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Seven facts of Syria’s displacement crisis

By Khalid Koser
Conflicts and crises regularly force people to flee their homes; and the plight of the displaced is often overlooked. In the case of Syria, however, displacement is not simply an unfortunate side-effect. Its massive volume threatens to render the country unsustainable for generations.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Plato’s mistake

By Norman Solomon
It started innocently enough at a lunch-time event with some friends at the Randolph Hotel in the centre of Oxford. ‘The trouble with Islam …’ began some self-opinioned pundit, and I knew where he was going.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Promoting a sensible debate on migration

Khalid Koser
Migration has had a rough ride in recent years. During times of recession, anti-immigrant sentiments often increase. Minor political parties around the world have taken full advantage and gained political capital from xenophobic policies. In many countries the media has followed suit, systematically reporting on migrants in negative terms. And political leaders are finding it hard to swim against this rising tide.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Place of the year 2013: Spotlight on Syria

As we continue to tally the votes for Place of the Year 2013, Joshua Hagen, co-author of Borders: A Very Short Introduction, shares some background information on the history of Syria. After you’ve read the reasons surrounding why Syria made the shortlist, cast your vote for what you think the place of the year should be. We’ll announce the winner on Monday, 2 December 2013.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Correlation is not causation

Stephen Mumford and Rani Lill Anjum
A famous slogan in statistics is that correlation does not imply causation. We know that there is a statistical correlation between eating ice cream and drowning incidents, for instance, but ice cream consumption does not cause drowning. Where any two factors – A and B – are correlated, there are four possibilities: 1. A is a cause of B, 2. B is a cause of A, 3. the correlation is pure coincidence and 4., as in the ice cream case, A and B are connected by a common cause. Increased ice cream consumption and drowning rates both have a common cause in warm summer weather.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Measurement doesn’t equal objectivity

By Stephen Gaukroger
In 1983, the director of a grocery chain was appointed to report on the National Health Service, and he concluded that it was under-managed. He was then given the power to recruit 200 chief executives, who were instructed not just to succeed but to succeed measurably. They were told to log waiting lists, appointments, referrals, lengths of stay, operations, incidents, perinatal deaths, overall mortality rates… in fact anything to which a number could be attached.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Astrobiology: pouring cold asteroid water on Aristotle

By David C. Catling
Over 2,300 years ago, in his book De Caelo (On the Heavens), Aristotle asked if other Earth-like worlds exist and dismissed the idea. But now, remarkably, the question is on the verge of being answered scientifically. NASA’s Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009, has collected data on the statistical occurrence of small planets that orbit stars at a distance where it’s the right temperature for liquid water and conceivably life.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

What patients really want

By Aidan O’Donnell
Picture this scenario. In a brightly-lit room, young women in spotless white tunics apply high-tech treatments to a group of people lying on beds. At first glance, you might think this is a hospital or clinic, but in fact, it is a beauty salon.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Ivor Gurney and the poetry of the First World War

By Tim Kendall
One of the anthologist’s greatest pleasures comes from discovering previously unknown pieces to jostle with the familiar classics. Editing The Poetry of the First World War, I knew that I should need to accommodate ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, ‘The Soldier’, and ‘For the Fallen’. Whatever their qualities, these have become so inextricably part of our understanding that to omit them would be perverse.

Read More
Book thumbnail image

Management for humans

By John Hendry
The word ‘management’ derives from the sixteenth century Italian maneggiare, to handle or control a horse. The application has been extended over the centuries from horses to weapons, boats, sportspeople and nowadays to people and affairs quite generally, but the connotation of control remains.

Read More