Lumpers, Splitters, Phenotypic Variance, And Life As A State Of Dynamic Tension

Hi folks!

It would appear that we are all slightly different creatures, humans, but we do fall into certain types, or phenotypes. Tall, short, phlegmatic, choleric, hirsute, less hairy, analytical, emotive, and so-forth! When I worked as a pathologist it was clear that there are two types of pathologists, lumpers and splitters. If you are a lumper and you try to work with a splitter, they’ll drive you crazy, and vice versa. Lumpers always want to simplify the lesion classification system, whilst splitters want to make it more and more complicated by adding subgroups of lesion types. The lumper says, let’s just call it ‘the lesion,’ which is great if you need a diagnosis in a hurry. I was an inveterate splitter, so I drifted towards research and away from diagnostic pathology. But I’ll never forget the tension I felt when attempting to discuss lesions with lumper pathologists. Neither is right or wrong, they each have their role to play.

I thought that this lumper-splitter thing was just a quirk of pathology, but since then I have noticed that it applies to people in general. We are surrounded by lumper and splitter types, with all gradations between these extremes. Some people want to analyze a political situation to death, others are happy to divide the world into good guys and bad guys, and let it go at that. Some read books and are content to skim along the surface of the plot line, and they are quite happy doing just that. Other people want to dig beneath surface and find the underlying complexity. If the second reader tries this analysis with the first reader get ready for fireworks, or at lease some severe irritation.

These differences in people-types set up states of tension, sometimes severe tension with arguments and lots of upset. I have seen such arguments over books, movies, recipes, and even the best place to buy a pizza! Heated arguments! As an example, watch the way so-called democrats and so-called republicans behave towards each other. Sometimes they are down-right rude! They seem to forget the fact that differences of opinion are critical for progress. It is important to understand that this tension is essential and that it is potentially a good thing if handled correctly. You just have to show some respect for the other side, not that I achieve that state of ‘debating Nirvana’ all the time.

A democratic system, such as ours, depends for it’s very survival on a state of tension. Furthermore, this tension is highly dynamic, favoring one side then the other, thus the name dynamic tension. Such tension is a sign of life! In fact, if you want to see great examples of dynamic tension just watch living things. In order to do this you must make sure that you step into the right time-domain or things like trees don’t seem to move at all, but in reality they are highly dynamic creatures. They don’t just sit there, they are constantly fighting for their very existence.  Just watch these vines finding a place to climb!

Alternatively, some things move so fast that you have to slow down the process to see what is happening, like a humming birds wings for instance. All life is in a state of dynamic tension, and when that tension disappears so does life. This is true of democracy, pathology, religion, and even your personal battle for survival on this planet.

But tension creates stress, and heart attacks, and indigestion, you might say. Or wars! How can it be good? That is true, but the opposite, no stress, is nothing but an empty void. The trick is to harness and respect the dynamic tension behind the stress and in there you might find a way to turn dys-stress into eu-stress. This is especially true for athletes, where tension between opposing muscle groups can really slow you down. Or the tension between over-confidence and self-doubt; the continual tension of the mind. The real trick is to go with the flow, but first you must sense the flow and that takes attention.

You have to be present in the moment to really see what is going on.



Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.