An alumni magazine interviewed me about one of their professors, a population geneticist. Here's part of the interview:
Q. The only protest against BiDil is one that claims it reinforces the idea that race is a biological construct rather than a cultural one. What is your take on that protest?
A. Yes, we do hear frequently from certain "bioethicists" and other intellectuals who, apparently, would prefer that African-Americans die of heart attacks than have their lives saved by a drug that undermines their dogma that race does not exist in the biological sense.
Here's what actually exists biologically: partly inbred extended families. Whether you want to call them racial groups or not is just a terminological issue.
When you think about it, you'll notice that most of the logical criticisms made of the concept of racial groups -- such as, that nobody can count exactly how many there are, or name them all, or individuals can belong to more than one -- apply even more strongly to the concept of extended families. Yet, nobody goes around claiming that "extended families" don't exist biologically.
Indeed, racial groups tend to be somewhat more cohesive and longer-lasting than extended families. The reason is that a racial group is just a large extended family that tends to marry within itself. When you think about racial groups this way, it strips away much of the accumulated deitrus of racialist mythos and politically correct debunkings and you can think about race more objectively. It turns out that race is neither the most important thing in the world nor just some kind of cultural hallucination. It's simply inherent in the human condition that you will be more closely related to some people than to others, and that this will have, on a probabilistic level, implications that might be of some, but not overwhelming, importance for your life.
When you think about racial groups as extended families, it's easy to see why a drug like Bi-Dil could work better for blacks than others, just as a drug that works for your grandmother and first cousin is statistically more likely to work for you than one that doesn't work for your close relatives.
Q. How would a greater understanding of race affect programs like affirmative action and diversity initiatives?
A. I believe that the truth is better for the human race than ignorance, lies, and wishful thinking. At minimum, it's a heck of a lot more interesting!
The job of science is to help us understand how the real world works. The job of morality and politics is to decide what to do about it. The better informed we are, the more likely we are to be able to accomplish our moral and political goals, whatever they may be.