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If nothing else – this section of the newsletter can be educational. I have just learnt that there is an “effect” called the Dunning-Kruger effect. Before I explain what this Dunning-Kruger effect is – I need to set the scene where my wife accused me of showing the typical signs of that effect.

It was a lovely sunny day (like all the other days lately – sunny, hot and dry) and I was driving my red tractor around our property looking for things to do. Now our tractor has a bucket on the front for carrying soil and a digger on the back for digging (hence the name). People who “know” often call the machine a Backhoe.Red tractor

Anyway – I was driving it around when suddenly I had the idea that I would like to build a retaining wall, as part of our property is on a slope. “What a great idea” I thought. Inside my head a small voice said, “Maybe you should talk to your wife first”. No way! – it was only a few days ago that I was watching a YouTube video on retaining walls and now I had all the knowledge that I needed. I had asked my wife if she wanted to watch the video, but she mentioned something along the lines that if she were going to build a retaining wall then she would get in an experienced operator and get it done properly (and she wonders why she has trouble working with my power tools).

To build my wall the video has mentioned that it was necessary to make the foundations level and stable. This means digging a trench along the slope and then filling it with coarse sand before laying the bricks. There was no time like the present to start the wall – I had the tractor; I had the time, and I had the knowledge.

So, I set up the “digger” and started to build the trench. I was going “great guns” when suddenly the digger stopped moving. “Must be caught on a tree root” I thought. So, when dealing with an immovable object – “Just add more force” is my motto. I revved the engine, moved the digger back a little and “let her rip”.

There was a loud cracking noise and the ground erupted on both sides of the blockage and out of the ground came 4 meters of water pipe (now in pieces), and low and behold – we had our new water fountain!

There was a jet of water reaching at least 5 meters into the air as our water tank (we are not on town water) decided to activate the pump and empty our precious supply of drinking water into the trench that I had built. The problem got worse as the pipe that I had destroyed was the pipe that supplied water to our house and, unbeknown to me, my wife was taking a shower at the time.

So, there I sat – on the back of my red tractor, digger now 2 meters off the ground with a broken water pipe hanging over the edges, water squirting 5 meters up, my fuming wife with towel rapped around her standing at the door – all wet and bedraggled, and a dirty great hole in the ground slowly becoming a swimming pool for our wildlife.

It was then I was informed that I “was the pin-up boy for the Dunning-Kruger effect”. Now there were a few other words used by the “love of my life” but due to the sensitivity of my readers I will not mention them here, but I know that the words “idiot”, “dangerous”, “fool”, “stupid”, “should not be allowed near machinery”, “dangerous”, were included in some pretty expressive sentences.

What is the Dunning-Kruger effect? To quote the internet – this effect describes people who perform a certain task poorly while simultaneously overestimating their ability and knowledge in the relevant area. In other words – the effect occurs when someone has a small amount of knowledge about a subject but thinks that they have a lot of knowledge (thinks they are experts). For more information, please look up the effect on the internet.

Now I think her summation was a bit harsh – I mean I had watched the video and I was wearing my hardhat at the time – what more can a man do? (And the wildlife enjoyed there temporary swimming area).

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