Paul R. Lehman, The use of race create flaws in sleep study

August 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm | Posted in American Racism, blacks, equality, Ethnicity in America, fairness, justice, minority, Prejudice, public education, Race in America, socioeconomics, U. S. Census, whites | Leave a comment
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The New York Times published an article by Douglas Quenqua, “How Well You Sleep May Hinge on Race,” (8/21/12) that does nothing more than make a mockery of science and research using race as it’s enticement. What the title of the article should have been was “Race can never be an influence in sleep habits of Human Beings.” So, what is wrong with the article? Well, let us see. If a person goes to his or her doctor and complains of a malady, the doctor does an examination and run some tests. Afterwards, during consultation, the doctor writes out a prescription and advises the patient to come back in three weeks. Chances are the patient will seek another doctor because this doctor did not do the job correctly. First, no malady was identified, no cause was found, no treatment was suggested, no questions were asked, and no expectations were given to the patient relative to a problem. Yet, a prescription was given and a return visit was advised. In essence, if the malady is not identified, anything that follows is suspect. The same sentiment can be made regarding the article about sleep and race.

The research identified in the article we can unequivocally say is bogus, unacceptable, flawed, and totally useless. Why? The answer is because a definition of terms was never given regarding race. To be clearer, let us examine the following statement: “Non-Hispanic whites get more and better-quality sleep than people of other races, studies repeatedly show. Blacks are the most likely to get shorter, more restless sleep.” If the research was conducted by scientists, they show a gross inefficiency in conducting a study by using out of date assumptions rather than current empirical data. How did they define “Non-Hispanic whites’? Since no definition was given, how can we accept any data that supposedly represent this group’s sleep behavior?

Additionally, we are told that Non-Hispanic whites get better sleep than “people of other races.” Are their other races of human beings besides Homo sapiens? Evidently, the scientists involved in this sleep study think so because no question was raised about the assumed races. Also, these scientists apparently accept the myth of a black and white race because both terms are used as if they were valid and accurate. One scientist, Dr. Michael Grandner, a research associate with the Center for Sleep and Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania, said that “We’re not at a point where we can say for certain is it nature versus nurture, is it race or is it socioeconomics.” He continued, “But when it comes to sleep, ‘there is a unique factor of race we’re still trying to understand.’”

If Grandner had done his homework, he would have known that the only possible area of research regarding sleep habits must be socioeconomic, because so-called race cannot be a factor. His statement relative to race being a “unique factor” in sleep is false, bogus, misinformation. The scientists involved in this study ignore the problems to focus on a non-relevant one—race: “Whatever the cause, doctors say that unlocking the secret to racial sleep disparities could yield insights into why people in some minority groups experience higher rates of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes.” Duh, common sense should suggest that sleep problems have more to do with health issues and socioeconomic status, not race.

The doctors involved in this study are actually short-changing themselves by their unscientific assumptions about race and their random and mythical racial definitions. They also confuse socioeconomic status with ethnicity which creates more problems than it resolves. Part of their problem regarding the use of race and the various designations like non-Hispanic whites, blacks, and whites and others, might come from the U. S. Census Bureau. Unfortunately, the Census Bureau is having the same problem. It uses race and ethnicity in ways that are never defined, so people completing survey forms can supply any answer they feel comfortable with selecting. In any event, the use of race is not acceptable for any scientific study today, and scientists should know better.

The problem with using race as a given is that it is unreliable and inaccurate unless clearly defined with respect to ethnicity and socioeconomic status. Does black refer to a person’s skin complexion or does the assumed definition encompass more? Does white refer to a person’s skin complexion or does it encompass more? What more is assumed by using those terms? We were introduced to the term “non-Hispanic whites” earlier; how does one identify a white Hispanic? Eighty per cent of the worlds population will contain individuals of so-called black and so-called white complexions, so how does this fact impact a scientific study that make reference to black and whites without clear definitions of each? How can empirical data be retrieved from information based on myths and assumptions? The answer is simply, junk in, junk out.

All the doctors involved in this article should receive some attention for their bogus efforts, not just Garndner. The article also included Dr. Mercedes R. Carnethon, associate professor, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine; Dr. Kristen Knutson, assistant professor, University of Chicago; Dr. Lauren Hale, associate professor, Stony Brook University. One wonders why these scientists did not accept the findings of the famous human-genome-project, mapping human DNA that concluded, for one thing, that

While DNA can prove direct ancestry or linage, it can’t prove race or ethnicity. The reason for this is that human beings are so much alike, and have had genetic mixtures for so long even the most defining racial or ethnic traits are found in almost every human family. Skin color, facial structure, hair and eye color, all things that are used to define race or ethnicity lose definition when traced as part of a DNA analyst. (The Human Genome Project)

The information from the genome project also tells us that “we are so much alike, that only our individuality separates us.” So, if this scientific information on DNA is accurate and acceptable to the scientific community, why would it be ignored by other scientists? The emphasis on race is evidently misplaced: “DNA tells us that we share so much in common that any two individuals on earth can trace some common ancestry in six generations or less.” Let us hope that new studies that purport to tell us something about us remember that race is a non-starter. The use of ethnicity and socioeconomic information would result in more accurate and usable information than would the use of race. The only thing that the use of race is good for is attracting attention while contributing to ethnic separation and confusion.


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