Gut Instincts

“Trust your gut” is something we’re all told from the start. The “gut” part of “gut feeling” probably came from the churning sensation of anticipation and/or excitement that seemed to emanate from the center of the body. It has an almost warm sensation, like a warm blanket of certainty is slowly seeking out all the nooks and crannies until it hits its target-your brain. I’ve gotten this feeling about several things. For one, when I lose something I’ll usually have a pang of instant feeling after searching for awhile, almost like I have a sensor that has never been more certain of anything in its entire electronic life. And then the sureness washes over me with an almost relief that my brain has caught up to its gut.

I’m not just typing out the word “gut” because it’s a funny word (which it is). I’m also explaining the whole gut scenario (I can’t help myself) because as a journalism student, we’re told to “go with our gut” even more so than the rest of the population. My J2100 lab instructor last semester told us that even if your editor advises you against doing something, a “gut instinct” was enough to disregard their warning and sniff out the story anyways. To place that much trust on one sensation must mean that it’s worth something, right?

I’ve wondered how much leeway an editor (your boss) would give on something like that. Because if an editor has a gut instinct about you not pursuing it, who’s instinct should you trust? How much responsibility should we place on something that sounds as silly as a gut? My stomach could be disabled, unknowing, misguided, or even self-destructive. Who’s to say my gut has good intentions for me? All silliness aside, is it odd that we place so much trust on what we treat as a premonition? That’s what it’s basically referenced as. If someone were to say, “I can see that in the future, this story is going to win me a Pulitzer,” we would all laugh at them. No one would ever take that journalist serious again. A “gut feeling” has the same connotation. You know, but you don’t know how. And the “how” is incredibly important in journalism. A journalist who makes a claim against someone better show how they got their information. A “I just know” excuse would never hold up in court when they’re being sued for libel.

So how far should we take the “gut” feeling? Is it really our bodies telling us to dig more? Or is it really caused by something much more self-serving, like ego perhaps? I’m not so sure. I don’t have a gut feeling about this one.


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