+64 21 2900 333 - kerry@thebloke.co.nz

Stay Home. Stay Safe.

On the surface, this all seems quite clear. But then we have to factor in, well, the human factor.

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It saddens me that I have to write articles like this. But, it also seems we still have some bull-headed individuals (and they are individuals at this point) still refuse to accept what is plainly obvious.

First – let’s get some things clear – go have a visit over here –

https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

That’s a map created by one of the more frontline, cutting edge universities in the world, showcasing the spread and status of this pandemic virus outbreak.

I don’t think some people have actually let that last phrase set in just yet. We have a pandemic virus outbreak going on in the world at the moment.

It’s not a government conspiracy (it’s worldwide) it’s not the latest in UN conspiracies (countries not involved in the UN have problems) it’s not the Labour Government trying to take your guns away again, it transcends all of this.

Zombies – just like zombies, but different.

I mean, we already know how a pandemic virus spreads – we have all watched enough zombie movies.

Sadly, ironically even, we might have actually got the required response if it indeed was a Zombie Outbreak – unfortunately, a virus outbreak is a lot more ‘unseen’ and most people are slow to react – right up until someone in their immediate social circle is diagnosed.

In this case, the ‘zombie’ is a virus is not a living organism, but a protein molecule (DNA) covered by a protective layer of lipid (fat), which, when absorbed by the cells of the ocular, nasal or buccal mucosa, changes their genetic code. (mutation) and convert them into aggressor and multiplier cells.

Paraphrased by a ‘viral’ post credited to Irene Ken, whose daughter is an Asst. Prof in infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins University

Soap. Around the twelfth rule of Fight Club – wash your hands.

That’s why washing hands with soap has been pushed so hard – the lye in the soap breaks down the fat (remember Fight Club?) and basically neutralises the protein molecule inside. Anti-bacterial products dont help – because it’s not a bacteria – but high percentage alcohols do (no, not taken internally, and they aren’t a high enough percentage anyhow).

Remember when you learn all about basic chemistry and making soap from a film?

For your reference – here is the official government page explaining alert levels – this is going to be the basis for all of our reference (or at least, should be).

https://covid19.govt.nz/government-actions/covid-19-alert-level/

Important to note – this is not a shared picture, nor a social media channel, nor a political party. It is a website specifically created to enable clear communications to the public. If you are complaining about unclear coms, and not referencing this website – we have our first problem.

Anyhow, right at the top of the official page – we have the crux of the requirements –

This means New Zealanders not working in essential services must stay at home and stop all interactions with others outside of your household.

This is the basis or intent of the isolation protocol – all other statements are trying to clarify or provide additional detail – but if in doubt – we refer back to this statement.

Of course – what a lot of people are instead focusing on – are statements like this –

You may go for a walk or exercise and enjoy nature, but keep a 2 metre distance from people at all times. You can take your children outside.

This is under the heading ‘staying at home – what it means’.

What it means, is that you need to stay at home, but if you have to get out to get some fresh air – then do so. Back yard, front yard are ideal – if you don’t have those – go for a walk around the block. If you have to.

I think the main thing we need to be asking ourselves before leaving the house is quite simple – do I need to be doing this? Do I have to be walking around the block? Or could I do the same thing at home in isolation in the back yard? Do I need to go to the shops, or, could I minimise exposure time by waiting a few days and doing one big shop, instead of heading down as soon as I need one item?

Further down – we also have –

Using private vehicles for transport is allowed. Where possible, practice physical distancing.

If you need to drive to get to essential services – you can take your car.

This isn’t saying that road trips are back on. It’s assuming you need to use your vehicle to get supplies or visit other essential services (like the doctors).

Confusion, justification

On the surface, this all seems quite clear. But then we have to factor in, well, the human factor.

You see, us humans (myself included) have a habit of interpreting incoming information as it suits them. At a very basic level, you could call is self-preservation – information that supports our survival is absorbed and utilised, information that isn’t, well – that gets flat out rejected, or, often in a more subtle manner – that information is filtered, modified and flat our distorted to suit our requirements.

That’s not to say these filters don’t have a beneficial purpose – it would be hard to navigate life without a few shortcuts, but when this gets totally twisted, sometimes even without us consciously knowing it – we can refer to us as having a cognitive bias towards it. When this then affects decisions we may make, we can run into problems.

Confirmation Bias

Confirmation Bias is basically only listening to the incoming information that supports your already held beliefs and desires. We see it as a major factor in ‘failure to identify’ incidents –

“I am really hoping that is a deer, that better be a deer, I really need that to be a deer, I think that is a deer, that probably is a deer, yup, that’s definitely a deer…”

We have seen something in the last couple of days with guys looking for confirming information supporting their previous plans to head out for the roar and hunt.

These plans are likely made months in advance, are looked forward to with considerable emotional weight, potentially have a sunk cost in them already (like the gun, ammo, time is previously taken off work etc) – so the person really, really wants to go hunting at this point.

#stayathome comes out as the directive, but the hunter still wants to go out – and then this pops up – a message from the MOH with a hunter seeking advice. I have actually seen the same response from the MOH multiple times through other people asking as well. Including myself.

So what does the same response, verbatim, indicate to us?

It’s a standard, cut and paste, response.

I would suggest it was the standardised answer given to the social media manager(s) to use as a general response.

However, because the person wanting to head out was looking for justification for a decision they had already made (confirmation bias) – then it was taken as approval for the all details of the activity they were looking to conduct.

This is what is important.

The question “hey – am I all good to drive several hours away from home, head into the bush for a couple of days, camp remotely, hopefully, shoot something, then head back out later” is the full question.

That’s different to “can I still shoot animals on the farm I own?”

See the difference? If not, there is a good chance you don’t want to. Sorry to break it to you.

NZ First, in their strange wisdom also jumped on the bandwagon at this point – and that one image was also shared as a third party justification for peoples decisions, despite people explaining the flaw in their thinking. This (as well as that generic response from the MOH) is known as an appeal to authority fallacy.

When writers or speakers use appeal to authority, they are claiming that something must be true because it is believed by someone who said to be an “authority” on the subject. Whether the person is actually an authority or not, the logic is unsound. Instead of presenting actual evidence, the argument just relies on the credibility of the “authority.”

https://www.softschools.com/examples/fallacies/appeal_to_authority_examples/430/

At this point – I am going to refer you back to this site – https://covid19.govt.nz/

As much as NZ First is known for credible information – and not populist flip-flops (I know you cant hear me, but my voice is meant to be dripping with sarcasm) – people took the image that supported their point of view and just started posting it instead of engaging in conversation. Basically – ‘I don’t need to justify my individual choices as Winnie said it was ok’.

It’s now been deleted from their page. But still being shared as justification. This is the continued influence effect. Even though new information has been presented – people are hanging onto old information that supported their position.

There are some other arguments being presented online at the moment – so let’s work through a few of them.

You are more likely to get infected at X compared to Y.

If we frame the argument around what of two options is more likely to increase exposure or spread of the virus, then use that to justify our decision to engage in the lesser risk, we commit a logical fallacy. Oddly enough – we can call that the ‘lesser of two evils’ fallacy.

Just because you provide a lower-risk activity, that doesn’t mean the activity should be engaged in at this time.

The intent of the isolation principles to reduce exposure as much as possible. As in, zero exposure is best. So if you don’t need to expose yourself or others, no matter the risk level, then you shouldn’t.

Anytime anyone heads out increases the potential for spreading the virus. Not just in the specific activity, but also in any related interaction on the way. So – petrol stations, food sources, carparks, and so on.

This is ANY exposure – hence the phrase – stay home, stay safe.

If you are heading out to the supermarket, I would hope people are planning their trips to minimise the number of times they go out – hell – maybe people could use some individual thought, contact the neighbours and do a run for a couple of households at the same time, again, reducing potential virus spread.

All movement needs to be minimised to reduce the R0 to less than one. That’s how we can stop the spread.

So, unless the activity is critical, we don’t do it for the meantime.

But this service/shop is open, so I should be allowed to go hunting.

The whole – ‘the shops are open and its the same thing as me going hunting’ is a red herring that distracts from the point of the isolation exercise. Isolation from virus spread and, risk mitigation. Just because a chain store has lobbied to stay open because they are likely going to lose millions, doesn’t mean you can justify a trip that doesn’t need to happen. It’s a separate issue, potentially one be might both agree is a bit on the nose, but it’s not really that relevant to the discussion at hand.

Hopefully, I covered the point that any exposure is a no-no at the moment if we can any way avoid it, but that is only half the picture. we also have risk mitigation.

Risk Mitigation

This means we need to try our best not to create any situation where we need to call on external support. Particularly anyone in the emergency services or the health sector. They are busy enough right now. Also, they too need to be trying to reduce viral transmission – so should also be in isolation wherever possible.

If you have an accident, regardless of the cause, you are putting a strain on the system right now.

So in regards to risk mitigation – I would also encourage people to reduce their risk profile in any way possible. That is why taking a walk around the block (though again, not ideal) is very different to going for a hunt backcountry or heading out onto the sea for a fish. Don’t head out because you can, head out because you need too.

Yes. All activities have risk inherent with them. Plenty of people slip over in the shower and injure themselves there as well. But the severity and required response is much less than something happening in the bush.

Yes. The likelihood of an injury in the bush is low, and survivorship bias means many will respond with ‘well it’s never happened to me, so never will’ – again, for the sake of not putting pressure on emergency services at this time, we can, and should simply remove the risk altogether.

People who are hunting on their farm, but don’t need to, should also stop, just for the meantime, again, reducing potential risk profile. These people also likely need to be working on the farm to manage the wellbeing of their stock – and that can’t necessarily be stopped. But there is a difference between those two activities.

If it is critical, then it needs to be done, if it isn’t, then don’t.

But I need to feed the family

Is hunting critical at this point in time? Depends. If you are subsistence living, and the pantry is bare – then maybe. Again, you need to weigh up the risk profile (i.e. none is best at the moment).

But that is a separate condition that wanting to fill up the freezer with some meat. Which is what most people heading out are actually doing.

So, it’s not just about you at this time. It’s about other people spread thin and having to work. It’s about that one person that you might come into contact with and might provide a vector for spread. It’s about that one incident that could be avoided to not put any more pressure on what is about to become an overloaded emergency and health system.

This post is me ‘going for a walk’ around the block and providing a way to get some thoughts out and clear my head.

Don’t refer to me for advice. Visit https://covid19.govt.nz/ for official advice and updates. Stay safe and stay human out there folks!

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