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No, this is not about fat shaming, although the fat acceptance movement will just be a death acceptance movement until they make sure they are vigorously promoting fitness. Without mad cardiovascular exercise and weight training, our fat friends will be sure to get their funerals at a younger age than our thin ones. That’s well-proven. Look it up.

The lumping I mean refers to methods of thinking.

In medical school doctors all fell into two different modes of practice. Some were lumpers, applying a general approach to a group of diagnoses, while being on the alert for details that change the picture.

Other doctors were splitters, who approached every problem with a deep dive into all the possible diagnoses and treatment options before committing to a plan. They loved knowing the twelve types of this or the six possible causes of that and loved demonstrating every list they knew. They got very excited about any new or exotic factoid that came their way. What the lumpers and splitters DID do was called the standard of care, and that was always the same no matter what thought process got them there.

I tended to be a very learned lumper, but I was always ready to dig deeper if needed.

In the body politic, meaning everyone who is aware we have this thing called a government, the behavior of lumpers and splitters is anything but standard. And that’s a problem.

Some citizen splitters are political junkies who routinely fact check the fact checkers. They put a lot of effort into voting. They read platforms. They watch the sort of news that doesn’t even have fires or shoot-outs to entertain them.

The lumpers do not spend this sort of time, or sometimes any time at all, on their participation in government. They see political ads to alert them it’s election time because no one can avoid them. Many still find some reason to eschew voting altogether, since that is by far the easiest way out.

Or they may pick a party and rabidly stick to it, logic be damned, and get their opinions from talking heads on TV that agree with them, and just assume any contrary sources of information are all lying. On the far left they think that anything less than completely improving everything they want to improve is an unacceptable sellout. On the far right they think that going along with one iota of the left’s agenda is the road to hell. Both are lumper approaches.

I’m as much of a political splitter as I was a medical lumper. I laboriously find information sources that are peer reviewed and adhere to standards of verification with multiple sources. I record news, so I can fast forward through talking head blah-blah to get to actual reporters at actual places where actual news is happening. If they report that what they say is “unconfirmed,” that reassures me. It means everything else in their report was confirmed, by two or three sources.

At election times, I spend several hours reading various sources and endorsements as I fill out my sample ballot. While I’m doing that I wonder how so many people can possibly vote without doing at least as much.

There are a couple of guys on TV who go around to MAGA rallies asking people what they like about former President Donald Trump. The commonest response is, “Everything!” A close second is, “His policies.” When these guys ask, “What exactly do you like? Which policies?” the wheels immediately come off the bandwagon, revealing the blank mind behind the fanatical mindset. Interviews at AOC rallies might reveal the same phenomenon, unless the lefties start showing off their damned elitist educations to answer such questions in detail.

When I started writing the S.P.E.A.R. books, I had two objectives. One was to show how to satisfy by other means the motives that lead to war. That meant keeping non-bellicose contracts as profitable as bellicose ones, and making constructive military missions as exciting as destructive ones.

The other was to sneak in detailed knowledge of other cultures that the average person needs to know to vote competently, yet rarely gets to hear. The “news” doesn’t include it. The schools don’t teach it. Documentaries about foreign cultures get seen by a tiny fraction of the audience that sees reality TV, which, it should be pointed out, never actually reflects reality.

So, the cat is now out of the bag: S.P.E.A.R. Solves the World, this entertaining fast read with endearing superheroes and dangerous bad guys, is a cleverly disguised masterclass in foreign cultures and how to get along with them.

But don’t spread that around. Book sales would plummet.


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