Archive for December 9th, 2014

December 9, 2014

Lumpers and Splitters

How I Killed Pluto

Lumpers and splitters are opposing factions in any discipline which has to place individual examples into rigorously defined categories. The lumper-splitter problem occurs when there is the need to create classifications and assign examples to them, for example schools of literature, biological taxa and so on. ‘Lumpers’ take a gestalt view (looking at the whole rather than the parts) and assign examples broadly, assuming that differences are not as important as signature similarities. ‘Splitters’ prefer precise definitions, and create new categories to classify things that don’t fit perfectly within an existing group.

The earliest use of these terms was by Charles Darwin, in a letter to botanist J. D. Hooker in 1857: ‘Those who make many species are the ‘splitters,’ and those who make few are the ‘lumpers.’ They were introduced more widely by paleontologist George G. Simpson in his 1945 work ‘The Principles of Classification and a Classification of Mammals.’ As he put it, ‘splitters make very small units – their critics say that if they can tell two animals apart, they place them in different genera … and if they cannot tell them apart, they place them in different species. … Lumpers make large units – their critics say that if a carnivore is neither a dog nor a bear, they call it a cat.’

read more »

December 9, 2014

Gypsy Brewery


evil twin

A gypsy brewery is a beer company that does not have its own equipment or premises; it operates on a temporary or itinerant basis out of the facilities of another brewery, generally making ‘one-off’ special occasion beers. The term may refer to the brewmaster, or to the brand of beer. The trend of gypsy brewing spread early in Scandinavia. Their beers, and collaborations later spread to America and Australia.

Gypsy brewers typically use facilities of larger makers with excess capacity. Often, their beers are made with herbs, spices, and fruits, use experimental styles, are high in alcohol, or are aged in old wine or liquor barrels. Prominent examples include Pretty Things, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Mikkeller and Evil Twin.