Saturday, July 3, 2021

Communists @ the Fourth International: Hannah-Jones’ oeuvre consists of reports, essays and commentaries for the New York Times Magazine which would barely pass as personal journal entries, much less serious journalism

1619 Project creator Nikole Hannah-Jones granted tenure after weeks of media furor. Niles Niemuth. International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI), Jul 1 2021.

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) Board of Trustees voted 9-4 in a closed session Wednesday to grant tenure to Nikole Hannah-Jones, New York Times journalist and architect of the 1619 Project. Hannah-Jones, who has a master’s degree in journalism from UNC, will have a position as the Knight Chair in Race and Investigative Journalism in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media. [master's degree 2003... tenure at 2021 with no doctorate]

Hannah-Jones has been given a lifetime sinecure—a position with immense financial benefit requiring little actual work—amid a relentless campaign to promote her and the racialist falsifications of the 1619 Project. With the institutional backing of the New York Times, she has been elevated into superstar status, despite the vast disconnect between the accolades which have been piled on her and what she has accomplished.

This latest episode makes clear the heavy political investment of the Democratic Party and powerful sections of the ruling class in the effort to make race the central aspect of political discourse in the United States.

“Today’s outcome and the actions of the past month are about more than just me,” Hannah-Jones declared in a statement released through the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “This fight is about ensuring the journalistic and academic freedom of Black writers, researchers, teachers, and students. We must ensure that our work is protected and able to proceed free from the risk of repercussions, and we are not there yet.”

The vote comes after weeks of fulmination and accusations of racism in the media and among Hannah-Jones’ supporters after it came to light in May that the board had postponed a decision on her tenure application. In the face of the delay, Hannah-Jones had instead accepted a 5-year tenure track position which did not require board approval.

However, once the details of the delay in her tenure application came to light, Hannah-Jones, who has an African American father and a white mother, threatened to sue the university for discrimination and declared that she would accept nothing less than immediate tenure. Her attorneys claimed that the delay was the result of viewpoint discrimination in violation of her First Amendment free speech rights, race and sex discrimination and illegal political interference.

“The reasons for UNC’s denial of tenure to Ms. Hannah-Jones can only be understood as the product of political and racially discriminatory backlash against her life’s work investigating, documenting, reporting, and uplifting Black Americans’ fight against generational subjugation through racial oppression and structural injustice,” a letter sent by her attorneys to UNC claimed.

A public campaign was waged to secure tenure for Hannah-Jones. Over 200 professors, writers and other cultural figures signed a letter published by The Root which decried the failure to grant her tenure as part of a “growing wave of repression” which seeks to block the teaching of the history of slavery. The letter also declared that the UNC board had “failed to uphold the first order values of academic freedom and the free exchange of ideas.”

The provost and other leaders at UNC intervened on her behalf, appealing to the board to approve her tenure application. A back-channel intervention by the Biden administration cannot be ruled out.

The demands that Hannah-Jones be granted tenure come in the face of withering criticisms of the 1619 Project, the central work for which she has become known, and the exposure of the falsifications upon which its central thesis is based. The response of preeminent American historians Gordon Wood, James McPherson, James Oakes, Clayborne Carson, Victoria Bynum and others exposed the New York Times’ effort to reinterpret American history as one of eternal struggle between blacks and whites.

The World Socialist Web Site, in addition to interviewing these historians, has thoroughly refuted the falsifications of the 1619 Project’s lead essay written by Hannah-Jones, including her claims that the American Revolution was fought to defend slavery and that African Americans have been alone in fighting for civil rights.

Hannah-Jones’ historical falsifications would be enough to disqualify her for tenure. However, there is also the matter of her journalistic qualifications for the position of professor, which do not exist.

A review of the New York Times’ archive shows that Hannah-Jones has bylined just 23 articles for the newspaper since December 2014 and nothing since June of last year. It is not uncommon for professional journalists to produce one hundred or more articles in any given year. This is not limited to lower-level beat reporters, but includes well-known columnists and journalists who generally produce several columns per week.

Hannah-Jones’ oeuvre consists of reports, essays and commentaries for the New York Times Magazine which would barely pass as personal journal entries, much less serious journalism.

Through stories framed by her own personal experience, Hannah-Jones presents race and racial division as the fundamental problem of American society, informed by a racist outlook directed against whites. She replaces individuals and historical forces with her own personal feelings.

In one column from 2016, “The Grief That White Americans Can’t Share,” she declared that whites are incapable of understanding the pain of seeing a black person killed by the police. “For white people, who have been trained since birth to see themselves as individuals, the collective fear and collective grief that black Americans feel can be hard to grasp,” she wrote.

Hannah-Jones’ defenders point to the fact that she is highly laureled—a 2016 George Polk Award, a 2017 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship “genius grant” and a 2020 Pulitzer for Commentary—and therefore qualified to teach about journalism. In reality, this says more about the way such awards are used to bolster those who serve the interests of the ruling elite than it does about the quality of her work.

The racial identity politics which define Hannah-Jones’ work has nothing to do with challenging economic inequality or oppression, but serves to advance the economic interests of members of the upper-middle class. She has discovered that there is a lot of money to be made in promoting a divisive racial narrative, securing a lucrative book and television deal out of the 1619 Project.

A final note on the issue of tenure. The increasingly difficult conditions in academia are well known, with tens of thousands of graduate students and adjuncts toiling under immense pressure with little economic and job security. While tenure was once relatively common, reaching a peak of 57 percent of faculty in 1975, according to Tufts Magazine, the American Association of University Professors reports that only 21 percent of the academic workforce in the United States is currently tenured.

The overwhelming majority of academic staff today are non-tenure track, often working paycheck to paycheck and from one contract to the next. It is rare for someone to enter academia with a tenured professorship position, since most universities require a years-long probationary period.

This is all of little concern to Hannah-Jones, who has been offered a permanent position, not because of the quality of her journalistic output, but because of her celebrity and the political role of the racialist narrative that she promotes.


The New York Times’ 1619 Project and the Racialist Falsification of History.

A left-wing, socialist critique of the 1619 project with essays, lectures, and interviews with leading historians of American history.

The left is thought to be dominant for the processing of positively valenced stimuli (stimuli inducing approach behaviors), & negatively valenced stimuli (inducing withdrawal behaviors) would be processed in the right hemisphere; this is too rigid a belief

A short review on emotion processing: a lateralized network of neuronal networks. Nicola Palomero-Gallagher & Katrin Amunts. Brain Structure and Function, Jul 3 2021.

Abstract: Emotions are valenced mental responses and associated physiological reactions that occur spontaneously and automatically in response to internal or external stimuli, and can influence our behavior, and can themselves be modulated to a certain degree voluntarily or by external stimuli. They are subserved by large-scale integrated neuronal networks with epicenters in the amygdala and the hippocampus, and which overlap in the anterior cingulate cortex. Although emotion processing is accepted as being lateralized, the specific role of each hemisphere remains an issue of controversy, and two major hypotheses have been proposed. In the right-hemispheric dominance hypothesis, all emotions are thought to be processed in the right hemisphere, independent of their valence or of the emotional feeling being processed. In the valence lateralization hypothesis, the left is thought to be dominant for the processing of positively valenced stimuli, or of stimuli inducing approach behaviors, whereas negatively valenced stimuli, or stimuli inducing withdrawal behaviors, would be processed in the right hemisphere. More recent research points at the existence of multiple interrelated networks, each associated with the processing of a specific component of emotion generation, i.e., its generation, perception, and regulation. It has thus been proposed to move from hypotheses supporting an overall hemispheric specialization for emotion processing toward dynamic models incorporating multiple interrelated networks which do not necessarily share the same lateralization patterns.

Looking into the future: the need for hemispheric functional-equivalence hypotheses

Function-location meta-analyses have been applied in an attempt to quantitatively integrate results from multiple studies belonging to a specific cognitive or emotional domain. E.g., in a meta-analysis of over 100 functional magnetic resonance imaging studies addressing the mechanisms underlying processing of emotional faces (Fusar-Poli et al. 2009ab), the authors first tested regional activation differences for an effect of laterality independently from the valence of stimulus, and found the components of the emotion network to be bilaterally activated, thus providing no support for the right-hemispheric dominance hypothesis. The authors then searched for possible lateralization patterns based on both the motivational and the drive variants of the valence lateralization hypothesis. When testing for the emotional valence of the stimulus, a laterality was only to be induced by the processing of faces expressing negative emotions. However, contrary to what is predicted by the model, the activation was localized in the left hemisphere. Finally, when grouping stimuli according to their corresponding approach/withdrawal category, a left-lateralized activation was found in the inferior frontal gyrus during the processing of faces encoding approach emotions, and right-lateralized activations occurred in the medial frontal and middle frontal gyri during the processing of faces encoding withdrawal emotions. A meta-analysis addressing the neuroanatomical structures underpinning emotional experiences demonstrated that the basic emotions happiness, sadness, fear, anger and disgust are associated with distinct regional brain activation patterns (Vytal and Hamann 2010). A lateralization could only be associated with the processing of fear, since most prominent clusters are located in the right cerebellum and insula, as well as bilaterally in the amygdala. For each of the remaining basic emotions, largest activation clusters were found in both the left and right hemisphere (Vytal and Hamann 2010). Specifically, happiness is associated with activations in the right superior temporal gyrus and the left anterior cingulate cortex, sadness with clusters in the left caudate nucleus and medial frontal gyrus, as well as in the right inferior frontal gyrus. Anger is associated with activations of the left inferior frontal gyrus and right parahippocampal gyrus, and disgust with bilateral insular activations (Vytal and Hamann 2010). Finally, results of a multi-center study evaluating functional connectivity in resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging scans from over a thousand subjects also highlight the existence of both left- and right-dominant intrinsic connectivity hubs rather than that of a global hemispheric lateralization in the human brain (Nielsen et al. 2013). In this context, it has been postulated, that the right-hemispheric dominance and the valence lateralization models may reflect different aspects of emotion processing, thus highlighting the need to move away from the concept of an overall hemispheric specialization and to elaborate on the hypothesis that emotions are the result of activations in networks which are interrelated, but may have differential lateralization patterns (Fusar-Poli et al. 2009a; Killgore and Yurgelun-Todd 2007; Neumann et al. 2008).

Along such lines of argument, a hemispheric functional-equivalence hypothesis has recently been formulated to explain lateralization associated with the perception of emotional and neutral faces (Stankovic 2021). It is a dynamic model proposing the existence of an initial default setting in which the brain would be right-biased in emotional and neutral face perception, and this lateralization pattern would be maintained as long as environmental task demands remain low. However, since emotion perception should be viewed as a multi-layered phenomenon, increasing task demands would result in a redistribution of activity among the hemispheres as an adaptive mechanism to ensure continued accurate and prompt responses (Stankovic 2021). Since environmental requirements are known to modulate psychological modulators, this hypothesis would also explain how altered conditions such as acute stress could even result in a reversed lateralization. By proposing the functional-equivalence of both hemispheres, the model also accounts for intersubject variability in lateralization patterns, as it has been demonstrated that not all individuals display the asymmetry predispositions identified at the population level (Frasnelli and Vallortigara 2018).

Finally, a recent data-driven meta-analysis revealed that the perception, experience and expression of emotion are each subserved by a distinct large-scale network (Morawetz et al. 2020). Furthermore, three of these networks are composed of left-lateralized of bilaterally activated areas, whereas the fourth one contains left-lateralized, right-lateralized and bilateral activations. This is particularly interesting, given that the hemispheric functional-equivalence hypothesis of emotional face perception assumes an initial right-biased lateralization (Stankovic 2021), whereas the network that Morawetz et al. (2020) found to be associated with the perception of emotion (albeit not specifically in facial expressions) exhibits left-lateralized or bilateral activations. It thus appears necessary to not only abandon hypotheses supporting the concept of an overall hemispheric specialization, but to also move away from a global model of lateralization in emotion processing.

Humans are probably the only species in which parents try to influence who their children mate with

Parental Influence and Sexual Selection. Menelaos Apostolou. June 2021.

Abstract: This chapter addresses how the genetic relatedness between parents and their children results in the two parties having converging as well as diverging interests. In the domain of mating, these interests, along with other factors such as the trade-offs inherent in mating, give rise to an opportunity cost of free mate choice: Parents have much to lose if they allow their children to exercise choice freely. This opportunity cost provides a strong incentive to parents to influence their children's mate choices. In preindustrial societies, parents manage to exercise direct control, which is predominantly manifested in the institution of arranged marriage. In postindustrial societies, parents exercise influence indirectly through manipulation. Ultimately, parental influence over mating gives rise to a sexual selection force, namely parental choice, which may be unique to the human species.

Sexual Selection Under Parental Choice—Implications

Sexual selection under parental choice does not constitute a theoretical possibility, but an actual phenomenon: The ethnographic and historical records make a clear case that, in the preindustrial context, mating is typically regulated by parents who are driven by well-defined preferences and who choose spouses for their children accordingly. It follows that genes that code for traits which make individuals more likely to be selected as in-laws have a greater likelihood of being represented in future generations than alternative genes. Parental choice has only recently been proposed as a sexual selection force (Apostolou, 2007), and so far specific adaptation shaped by parental choice has not yet been identified. Even so, the effects of parental choice can be observed indirectly.
In particular, as discussed earlier, there are good reasons to believe that, until the onset of the Industrial Revolution and the transition to postindustrialism, parents exercised considerable influence over their children’s mating decisions. Accordingly, many adaptations involved in mating have been shaped by parental choice. The transition from preindustrial to a postindustrial context has severely weakened parental choice and strengthened individual mate choice, as people in the latter are generally free to choose their own partners. However, as the transition to postindustrialism has occurred very recently, there has not been sufficient time for selection forces to adjust adaptations to work effectively in the contemporary context. That is to say, people carry adaptations which may have enabled them to be selected as in-laws by parents, but which may not be equally effective in enabling them to be selected as partners by their children. In addition, they may lack adaptions which are required to be effective in a contemporary mating market.
For instance, in an arranged marriage context, people do not need to actively flirt with prospective partners, which means that selection pressures on developing good flirting capacity were weak in the ancestral context. In consequence, many people today may lack good flirting skills, which are important in contemporary postindustrial societies in which people have to find mates on their own. Recent studies have found that poor flirting skills are one of the most frequently reported reasons for being single (Apostolou, 2017b, 2019).
Accordingly, due to mismatch between ancestral conditions, where parents dominated mate choice, and modern ones, where they do not, it could be predicted that a considerable proportion of people living in postindustrial societies would experience difficulties in attracting mates. Consistent with this prediction, recent studies have found that about one in two people experience poor performance in the domain of mating (Apostolou et al., 2018). As a consequence of such poor performance, a considerable proportion of individuals are involuntary single: They want to be in a relationship, but they face difficulties in doing so. One recent study found that about one in four in the Greek cultural context are involuntarily single as are more than one in five in the Chinese context (Apostolou & Wang, 2019).
Overall, developing a more accurate understanding of how sexual selection works in our species could enable us to better understand phenomena such as poor mating performance and involuntary singlehood. Such an endeavor requires acknowledging parental choice as a sexual selection force and taking into consideration the ancestral human condition. It requires also a more thorough understanding of parental choice, which could be achieved by augmenting our understanding of in-law preferences as well as by identifying specific adaptations been shaped by parental choice.

The effect of testosterone on economic risk-taking: A multi-study, multi-method investigation shows no consistent relationship between T and economic decisions

The effect of testosterone on economic risk-taking: A multi-study, multi-method investigation. Steven J. Stanton et al. Hormones and Behavior, Volume 134, August 2021, 105014.


• In 3 studies, we tested if testosterone affected economic decision making.

• Multiple methodological approaches were used: correlational and T administration.

• Dependent measures included loss aversion, risk-taking, and temporal discounting.

• Results suggest no consistent relationship between T and economic decisions.

Abstract: Testosterone has been suggested to influence individuals' economic decision making, yet the effects of testosterone on economic behavior are not well-understood and existing research is equivocal. In response, in three studies, we examined the extent to which testosterone affected or was associated with several different facets of economic decision making. Study 1 was a double-blind, placebo-controlled, within-subjects study examining loss aversion and risk-taking (N = 26), whereas Study 2 was a larger double-blind, placebo-controlled, between-subjects study examining loss aversion and risk-taking behavior (N = 117). As a methodological compliment, Study 3 was a larger correlational design (N = 213) with a highly accurate measure of endogenous testosterone examining a wider range of economic behaviors and trait-like preferences. Broadly, the results of all three studies suggest no consistent relationship between testosterone and financial behavior or preferences. Although there were significant effects in specific cases, these findings did not replicate in other studies or would not remain significant when controlling for family-wise error rate. We consider potential contextual moderators that may determine under what circumstances testosterone affects economic decision making.

Keywords: TestosteroneHormoneDecision makingLoss aversionNeuroeconomicsDecision neuroscienceRisk-taking