An Abundance of Caution

I originally posted these comments in my February 2022 Practical EQ newsletter.   Trish Messiter, founder and Owner, Clarinox Technologies Pty Ltd asked me to post the comments in a separate blog so here it is.

The zeitgeist is now totally Doublechecker.  Australia, if not the world, is ruled by an abundance of caution as brilliantly identified by this Dilbert cartoon.

Australia is slowly coming out of its summer stupor but this time there is now a citizen’s lock down because of Covid-Omicron   We are now completely ruled by Doublecheckers.  I have to share an excerpt of this article:

It’s business abnormal thanks to an abundance of caution David Penberthy published on 4/2/22 in The Australian.

The pandemic has served up a slew of clichés, many of which have a completely opposite meaning to what they intend to convey.

“We’re all in this together” is something Boris Johnson might say over a gin and tonic with chums in his back garden while his neighbours down the street farewell a dying loved one via Microsoft Teams.

“The new normal” is a pleading marketing line favoured by politicians and bureaucrats, urging us to adopt illogical conduct without question.

From this congested field of cant, line honours goes to the phrase “an abundance of caution”. An abundance of caution seeks to validate behaviour that makes absolutely zero sense but has been earmarked as the only sensible and possible course of action.

Here is a true example.

Out of an abundance of caution, the producer of my Adelaide radio show is in isolation. This is because she does not have the coronavirus.

She briefly thought she did because she did a work-mandated PCR test, as the few of us still in the building are, reflecting the paranoia of corporate Australia at having staff numbers gutted by infections.

Surprisingly, that test was positive, even though she had no symptoms, felt as fit as a fiddle and had barely left the house for the past month. For those reasons, in line with the medical maxim, she sought a second opinion. It was, she assumed, a superior opinion, the vaunted “gold standard” PCR tests overseen by SA Health.

As she suspected, the second test came back negative. Happy days. Or so she thought until she made the tactical error of double-checking with SA Health as to her subsequent course of action.

In what anecdotal evidence suggests has become a form of bureaucrat call centre lotto, the health wonk she jagged on the phone said that even though the second test was negative, it was prudent (out of an abundance of caution) to remain in isolation anyway.

And isolation in South Australia still means a full 10 days, even though national cabinet has decreed seven days as standard.

It gets funnier and weirder.

Our producer also inquired as to the status of our assistant producer, who shares a windowed production booth with her for three hours every morning. Surely he wasn’t a close contact?

Ummm, yeah, out of an abundance of caution, he probably is too, so he should isolate for seven days as a close contact.

So here’s the state of play. Out of an abundance of caution we now have our entire production team in isolation: the producer, who does not have the coronavirus, and the assistant producer who, terrifyingly enough, is a close contact of the producer without the coronavirus.

I suppose if you can catch Covid off pizza boxes and flying footballs, who’s to say that someone in a glass container who doesn’t have the coronavirus could give it to someone who doesn’t have it either?


Charles Lowe

19 Feb,2022
So, how do we get an 'objective' picture? Both doctors and academics are forced into being abundantly cautious: the former through peer pressure (including bullying) and insurance company protocols; the latter by peer pressure (including bullying) and academic culture (meaning that their opinions are indecipherable by ordinary people). Courageous journalists? Where are they? And would who they work for let them??

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