Alfred North Whitehead warned many years ago about "the fallacy of misplaced concreteness" [HN1]
), by which he meant the tendency to assume that categories of thought coincide with the obdurate character of the empirical world. If we think of a shoe as "really a shoe," then we are not likely to use it as a hammer (when no hammer is around). Whitehead's insight about misplaced concreteness is also known as the fallacy of reification [HN2]
. Recent research in medicine and genetics makes it even more crucial to resist actively the temptation to deploy racial categories as if immutable in nature and society.
Hypertension and Heart Disease
In the last two decades, there has been extensive publication on the differences in hypertension and heart disease between Americans of European descent and Americans of African descent (2-4). Racial designations are frequently used in efforts to assess the respective influences of environmental and genetic factors.
In November, a study was published regarding a combination of isosorbide dinitrate and hydralazine (BiDil) [HN3] that was originally found...