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Gut Feeling and Common Sense

Written By: - Date published: 10:30 pm, October 6th, 2021 - 42 comments
Categories: covid-19, vaccines - Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

The Government messaging around Covid-19 is becoming increasingly confusing, as this hilarious Twitter thread shows [HT to Newsroom]. Although I have a really strong aversion to authoritarian tendencies, I’m not a rule-breaker by nature. However, when understanding and following the rules around Covid-19 becomes as difficult and dense as fine print I switch off and rely on gut feeling and common sense to do the right and to avoid doing the wrong thing. Many people try to adhere to the fine print without even reading it and companies do know this and sometimes take advantage of it, or sometimes they take the piss.

The thing is that we usually get away with this level of wilful complacency and even justify it; we get on with life as we see fit. Consumer interest groups and advocates have argued for years to make things simpler in contracts, policies, and Terms of Service, for example. Indeed, make it as simple as possible, but no simpler [thanks Albert Einstein] AKA the KISS principle. Getting away with it means that the risk is perceived low and it is safe. It might be the other side of opportunism – “pretty legal” comes to mind and there’s no problem until or unless caught.

In the days when we faced imminent threats and death as soon as we stepped out of our cave, we relied on razor-sharp senses and lightning-fast reflexes for survival. These days, we rely on GPS and smart devices run by smart software algorithms and the greatest risks we face when we step out of our heat-pump-controlled houses are forgetting our device or a major outage of major social media platforms and go into instant withdrawal of fluffy kitten photos. These are some of the many ‘existential’ threats of our time.

I’ve just driven the car to the dairy to pick up a courier parcel with headsets as the wear & tear of my current equipment made them almost unusable – it is always those bloody wire connections, same with chargers. After more than 7 weeks, the car needed a run too to charge up the battery. It was no problem at all but it occurred to me that many younger Kiwis have never learned how to drive a manual car and wouldn’t be able to drive one. I lament the day that self-driving cars take over and we all lose the skill to drive ourselves.

Instead of living in caves we’re now living as hermits in bubbles. Even the most introverted among us needs to go out every so often to explore, discover, and experience the world, i.e. to live. And to take some risks. The more authorities are making decisions for us, tell us what to do, and treat us hapless citizens, the more hapless we’ll become; we’ll lose the skill to think on our feet, determine and even recognise risk, and make choices and decisions accordingly and appropriately – you’ll lose it if you don’t use it.

I’d hate NZ becoming a Nanny State populated by sheeple, but also respect the State has a duty to protect others from others or from themselves. In my ideal world, the State treats the people with respect and allows them enough freedom to make their own choices even if/when these are not necessarily optimal ones. But relying on the gut feeling and common sense of the prehistoric caveman inside us won’t suffice and serve us well in the complex modern world we live in and when facing a complex threat by an invisible enemy such as the Covid-19 pandemic. But neither does it mean that we should resort to social conditioning and engineering because we already have enough inequity in our society.

I believe that our Government is walking a very fine line between telling us what to do and making (all!) the decisions for us. In fact, I think they’re having it just right, for now. Patience (which is hard when there’s time pressure), respect, mutual trust, and clear & consistent information & education are the way to go. This Government will not let people die, but when people do die, from Covid-19, it is not the Government’s fault or failure. People make decisions that have consequences, for themselves and for others. However, we cannot influence and control everything in life, but we can better prepare ourselves and become more resilient.

They say that familiarity breeds contempt. They also say that convenience breeds laziness. It is convenient if Government tells us what to do but please let it be clear and make sense! Confusing toilet rules from the top don’t help to instil trust in Government. As always, people will rely on common sense to do what they think is right for them, even if this means using the indoor toilet when mixing outdoors with no more than 10 people and one other bubble, FFS! Sometimes, the gut feeling overrules common sense – when you have to go, you have to go.

Did we elect MPs to form a Government to tell us what to do or does Government do what we want it to do on our behalf, i.e. social contract versus social licence? There’s no easy answer to this and political ideology only leads to polarised unproductive tribal cultural wars and I am starting to have serious doubts that social media are conducive to constructive engagement and debate. I strongly lean towards making my own decisions to keep myself safe from Covid-19 because I believe that they will also keep others safe. Once that choice or decision is taken away from me, i.e. made for me by coercion or otherwise, I’ll rebel, disobey, and break rules, which gives me the much needed feeling of control and empowerment. That’s my gut feeling and common sense even though it might not serve me and/or others well.

42 comments on “Gut Feeling and Common Sense ”

  1. GreenBus 1

    Subtle differences. The opposite of "nanny state" could well be neo liberalism or "small state". Let the market decide, Gov't keep out of your lives. Hmmm, I think I'd like to try some more "nanny state". The last 4 decades of neo liberalism has been a disaster IMO.

  2. Tiger Mountain 2

    One of the unpleasant ironies is that the underclass and alienated and precarious–created by almost 40 years of monetarism–may be the group that assist COVID to rip through the country. The ones that would have benefited from a state house mega build and a capital gains tax with teeth. More nanny state please.

    Middle class with full pantrys, spare bedrooms, home office and maybe a Bach or a renter, can and largely do, obey the rules more easily than those overcrowded in shabby units. But those that have benefited from neo liberalism seem also to be the ones selfishly still expecting to travel the world at their convenience and take skiing hols!

    No easy answers for the Govt. all those top MPs and officials are under intense pressure, but all the PM needs to do is stick to her usual modus operandi–which I am not usually a fan of. Namely, be guided by focus groups and polls; and there is still a good two thirds majority, for now, that would support her if she called for the undermining campaign by NZ National, ACT, Business and media channels to stop forthwith and people to unite once again.

  3. Gezza 3

    Sometimes, the gut feeling overrules common sense – when you have to go, you have to go.

    Maybe only visit the homes of people who have lots of bushes? And bring your own composting toilet? 😳

    Seriously, the rules are getting very difficult to figure out & follow. Up on the wall of the hallway to my dining room I have the very first A3 poster we were all sent, entitled:

    Our Plan – the four Alert Levels

    I may as well take that down because – while it was an excellent resource & a bloody good idea at the start of elimination in the community – it's now too incomplete/inaccurate to be trustworthy.

  4. KJT 4

    In my profession safety doesn't depend on "gut feeling and common sense".

    It depends on getting it right, based on facts and science.

    The sea, like covid, doesn't care about your "feelings"!

    • Ad 4.1

      +100 and same

    • RedLogix 4.2

      Same here. On a daily basis I am working with SIL3 rated plant – I'm literally going to start some up within the next hour or so.

      Facts, science, procedures and methods all matter and take first precedence.

      But so does instinct – I've lost count of the times in my life when my subconcious has acted to prevent a serious incident of one sort or another.

      • Patricia Bremner 4.2.1

        Yes Red Logic. Perhaps we are processing at some other primitive level, and we are pulling all our sophisticated information together but still putting it through a survival mechanism developed through the ages?

      • KJT 4.2.2


        I've found that ignoring niggling instinct, is not a good idea.

        However it is nearly always something that I knew about, should have done, and overlooked or forgotten.

  5. Adrian 5

    To Tiger Mountain, the fact that the middle class have all those things may well be because they DO follow the rules. I only now have some of those things because my wife , who is considerably more sensible than I, insisted that I do follow some rules, otherwise as I joke I would still be euphemisticly speaking, living under a bridge.

  6. KJT 6

    Well, the media have obviously had their instructions.

    It is all to be "the gangs or those non compliant brown peoples fault"

    Not those who demanded the premature bubble with Oz, or white anted our response demanding "opening up, and let her rip".

    Or priviledged white people who use "essential worker” status to junket around Queenstown without masks, when their job is in Wellington, or headed off to their baches from Auckland. When they are not moaning about the interruption to their entitled lives.

    • Gezza 6.1

      “Well, the media have obviously had their instructions.

      It is all to be ‘the gangs or those non compliant brown peoples fault'”

      What’s your evidence for that rather outrageous claim? 🤔

      • KJT 6.1.1

        Looks like you haven't been reading the media on this outbreak.

        Or Simeon Browns childish reckons.

        Not that I blame you if you haven't.

        • Gezza

          "Not those who demanded the premature bubble with Oz, or white anted our response demanding 'opening up, and let her rip'"


          From what I've seen & heard there's been plenty of commentary on opening up to Oz being the source of our lockdown miseries. Ardern has to wear this. The govt caved in to pressure. – Gez

          "Or priviledged white people who use "essential worker” status to junket around Queenstown without masks, when their job is in Wellington, or headed off to their baches from Auckland. When they are not moaning about the interruption to their entitled lives."


          Again, from what I've seen & heard there's also been plenty of commentary & complaints about "entitled" privileged white people breaching lockdown rules, misusing exemption letters etc.

          In fact every significant breach whether by white, brown, black or rainbow people has got critical coverage in media because of the risk they'll spread Covid.

          Simeon Brown is a minor MP in a fading Opposition party currently led by a loon. Personally, I don't think you've made your case.

          • KJT

            We can do a count of articles over the time period if you like.

            To confirm one way or the other.

            But three articles from one outlet just this morning.

            • Tiger Mountain

              “Freedom of the press belongs to them that owns one” as a very old saying went.

              The run of play during this entire COVID scenario since early 2020 in the privately owned media channels online, on air and what remains of print has been blatantly obvious. The narrative is “open up”, “jingle tills”, “free in and outflow of capital”.

              The overwhelming coverage has been of corporates, SMEs, small business, and self employed–and aggrieved, stranded International travellers and MIQ critics.

              Working class experience has been substantially ignored apart from the odd spot of demonisation and blame shifting.

              • KJT

                Even small business has been the moaning fringe.
                Who refuse to acknowledge that Covid getting loose would have killed their business faster than lockdowns.

                Many I know are thankful that we had a long period of trading between lockdowns, their customers haven't been too scared to spend, unlike many other countries, that there has been some Government help, and are doing OK.

                Working peoples views, as you say, are rarely considered.

    • Cricklewood 6.2

      End of the day Labour are a majority govt all the descions around alert levels, travel bubbles etc sit with them.

      No one else can actually do a damn thing outside of produce hot air. Its not like mass protests forced their hand.

      • KJT 6.2.1

        I've posted before about Labours propensity to start with solutions, and then let them lapse and fail to carry them through and push them, as they cave in to a vocal minority, and I think, Parliamentary MP’s, Wellington bubble, and press gallery, groupthink.

        I'm still hoping that isn't going to happen with Covid.

        Hence the question mark in my post yesterday.

  7. Robert Guyton 7

    "In the days when we faced imminent threats and death as soon as we stepped out of our cave, we relied on razor-sharp senses and lightning-fast reflexes for survival. "

    This old chestnut needs to be roasted good and proper: it wasn't caves, it wasn't especially dangerous; we had effective measures in place to keep ourselves safe. Rather than "razor-sharp senses and lightening-fast reflexes", we had hands that could throw rocks and eyes that could focus on the skulls of whatever creature dared to mess with us.

    Nowadays, there are far more threats to our wellbeing: very few early hominids had to resist attacks by scammers. Our modern brains are a soupy swirl of unknowingness, compared to those of our outdoorsy ancestors 🙂

    • Gezza 7.1

      I’d agree with that. To some extent. Early man utilised his brain to find food & water, build shelter, get provisions in, socially interact, protect the whanau & hapu from predators – of both the animal & human ape – kind. The same kind of day to day stuff that still occupies the other apes today.

      Nowadays, we are bedevilled with abstractions & distractions. And it sometimes plays hell on our mental health.

      • Descendant Of Smith 7.1.1

        They generally weren't that successful. Average life expectancy was much lower and the skeletal record shows the further back you go the more likely you were to die a violent death.

        They were just much more used to dying than we are.

        • Gezza

          Eh? The ‘skeletal record’ would be pretty patchy, & pretty minimal, I would think.

          Human apes managed to survive in sufficient numbers to spread pretty well all around the globe while still mostly living in what we would today term primitive conditions.

          And I have the impression that several folk in different places lived relatively long lives, reaching some quite good ages. Wear & tear on bones & teeth, & infections, accidental poisonings, probably took their toll, but not all societies ran the same way.

          Some seem likely to have been better at taking care of the sick & elderly than others. Depending on the dominant ethos.

          Warrior societies eg might have had more of a “only the strongest survive” attitude.

          • Descendant Of Smith

            The levels of violence in prehistoric times (archeological evidence) and in non-state societies (ethnographic evidence) was much higher than in modern state societies and in the world today.


            • Gezza

              Thank you. 👍🏼

              Wondered if you had the data.

              While that looks an impressive array of sources from many different places around the planet, my other comments still stand and are not disputed by this research.

              • Descendant Of Smith

                Been loosely following the research around this for a long time now.

                Pinker picked up on it in his book which is a good read.

                There is a terrible tendency to see the past as better when for a large many it wasn't. Legal rape within marriage until the 70's is a really good example as was forced/pressured adoption.

                Even things like the Knights Code of Chivalry wasn't a beautiful thing – it was a last ditch effort to stop those violent thugs roaming the countryside looting, killing and raping with impunity. They were the Mongrel Mob of their era.

                • Gezza

                  Nature of the beast, unfortunately, DOS.

                  Looked at dispassionately, the human ape is a large, rapacious animal that monopolises resources, is always unpredictable, is frequently dangerous to its own kind, and to all other creatures, & which, when groups get large enuf, destroys the ecology it moves into in order to create the environmental conditions that suit IT alone.

                  Every other life form on this planet would probably be better off without it.

  8. You can only meet one other bubble ALWAYS OUTSIDE and no more than 10 people at a time.

    Is that really so complicated?

  9. garibaldi 9

    Well done incognito. Great post and great responses (so far – it’s only 9.15 am).

  10. Ad 10

    OK Inco we need to talk about my Far North relatives.

    They believe in colloidal silver. They believe in tinctures of acids curing most things. They believe in self-treatment for most things. They believe in Jesus. They believe in the next deal but not in taxes, so their money comes in lumps. They spend lots of time in yachts or doing them up, doing contracts around the Pacific. They do a lot of fishing and some hunting. They know how to score if they need it.

    And there ain't no fuckin' way they are submitting to this bullshit.

    They hang with a network of marginals across multiple Pacific ports that have run afoul of various kinds of US agencies.

    For these kinds of people, Customs and MAF and NZNavy are going to have to keep a close eye on Opua, Taipa, Houhora, Herekino, Ahipara, some of the more obscure Bay of Islands inlets, and Rawene. Somewhere to slip in and moore in the evening, or slip out.

    • garibaldi 10.1

      If it's any consolation Ad ,I have a relative "way up North" of similar disposition but he is no Jesus freak, more of a self imposed hermit. Must be many of them spread around NZ wherever there are suitable climes.

      • gsays 10.1.1

        If they are living a hermit lifestyle, they are of neglible threat.

      • Ad 10.1.2

        Still a few ex-Commune types with huge collections of Jefferson Airplane and Mama Cass records who are pretty off-grid, running as part of road contracting or pest control gangs. The shift to an 87% urbanised country is still leaving pockets of people who tend not to travel more than 20k's most months and just load up at the 4 Square for basics every 6 weeks or so.

        They may not like the attention but it's coming to them.

    • Patricia Bremner 10.2

      This may apply to the off the grid house bus and motorhomers as well. A great deal of self medicating plus alternative cures goes with the living free belief. An aunty and uncle were like that.

      We discovered this in our 5 years of motorhome travels. We were considered semi committed because we still owned the safety blanket of a small 2 bed unit in Rotorua so were seen to belong to two communities.

    • Tiger Mountain 10.3

      I understand Ad, am based at Tokerau Beach, been in Far North for years. Working remotely in pre press and publishing since ’97. My partner managed a Census area one year, and tracking people on boats, remote properties and totally off grid was interesting.

      The funny thing is you can be who you want to be up North, but you are often more accountable in small communities than in the city not knowing your neighbours. You are not totally anonymous even if reclusive. So people will be tracked down regarding vaccination.

  11. gsays 11

    FWIW. I have just had a conversation with the man that drives the recycling truck at my work.

    There is absolutely no way he is going to get the jab. He has a VERY strong faith, total faith in the Lord. He is horrified his pastor has been vaccinated and, worse, facilitated innoculations in the church.

    This is in the Manawatu.

    • Gezza 11.1

      WTF goes on in the heads of these people?

      God made the bloody people who make the vaccines, FFS. Obviously all part of his plan.

      Or does this loon think God specifically made the virus to kill off everybody but the true believers, like him?

      Is he always looking up to the bloody skies, waiting for Jesus to appear, to the incredibly loud sound of angelic trumpets, in all his glory?

      • gsays 11.1.1

        I think, at the core of his belief, he is not afraid to die.

        Not in any nihilistic sense, more a fatalistic, part of a divine plan kind of vibe.

        I foolishly opined that Ardern is a compassionate leader. He snorted and observed a lack of compassion in signing abortion into law.

        It s it too much of a stretch to consider the virus is an inevitable consequence of our behaviour?

  12. Ad 12

    Has anyone heard of Ardern starting to be called the Tooth Fairy?

    Picked it up from my Rotary mates.

  13. Tricledrown 13

    Read huffpost comment antivaxxer protesting with a megaphone bullhorn they are called in the US.the antvaxxer walking down the road pointed out the vaccines are not needed as covid is not real look at all these homeless people they would be dead if covid existed.

    One of the homeless people yelled out were not dead because were vaccinated you dumb fuck.

  14. AB 14

    Once rules become more complex the easier it is to dream up scenarios that confound them. There are people who like doing this – mostly because they don't like the underlying purpose of the rule and want to make the rule-maker look silly.

    It's a pretty effective sabotage technique – we can all laugh at the 'clowns' who made a rule that didn't effectively anticipate the person coming round for a picnic in the garden under L3 (stage 1), but who is on medication that gives them unpredictable bowel habits. But if the rule was modified to take this scenario into account, most likely it would spawn far more confounding scenarios than it removed.

    This is incidentally also why we never beat tax evasion by making rules more and more specific, rather than less specific and focused on broad intent. The government might have avoided being an easy target , if it had made it clear that the stages of wind-down for L3 are guidelines, not 'rules'. And that therefore inevitably, judgments must be made by everyone in terms of what decision is the best fit with the broad intent of L3 under any given circumstances.

    But I don't really care that the Government has made this staged wind-down of L3 a seem bit clunky. I'm far more exercised by my loathing of people who see a well-intentioned rule, but whose first thought is to consider how to get away with breaking it, or to mock the rule-maker for not having the omniscience to close off every conceivable loophole.

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