Twaddle Tendency

Definition

An inclination to speak or write foolishly, espousing nonsense.

The difficulty with relating trivial information is that it can lead to performing meaningless actions and negatively impact those doing meaningful work.

So, if you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything at all.

Why Use It

Peeling back the onion reveals how bad poorly formed ideas can be. Sometimes you may absorb content that seems to have value, at least on the surface. Depending on how invested you become, you internalize those words and even translate them into actions — that’s a lot of waste.

For example, someone devours a fascinating leader’s ideology and subsequently writes and tells anyone who listens to them about their discovery. After the wool is pulled from their eyes, they might notice the error has caused misinformation and a focus on the wrong problems or solutions.

Identifying when someone is exhibiting twaddle behavior or catching yourself before you fall prey to it is useful in navigating a complex world requiring more signal and less noise.

When to Use It

Admitting you don’t know something, rather than disguising a lack of knowledge or an underdeveloped idea with loads of words, is power.

While it’s difficult to declare ignorance as it puts your ego at risk, the result avoids acting a fool.

How to Use It

Information sharing today has become about being a good shepherd to ideas worth spreading. When someone steps out of their circle of competence, they could be at risk of twaddling — the same applies to you.

Understanding how to deliver and support valuable information and perspectives allows for a better flow of thought between folks. So, the reverse is also true. Being mindful not to twaddle and helping others see when they might be doing so is useful.

How to Misuse It

Get a better understanding of what you know and what you don’t know. Recognize where your knowledge may be shallow, and your perspective is more superficial than experts.

Next Step

Have a deep understanding of your own beliefs and which ones are the most reliable. The way you wield that knowledge or lack thereof is equally valuable.

Where it Came From

Charlie Munger first coined the term in 1995’s The Psychology of Human Misjudgment.

What Are Mental Models?

Mental models are thinking tools that help guide and shape our perceptions of the world. They simplify complexity so we can understand life better, make decisions confidently, and solve problems.

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