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If you have nothing to say, say nothing – Twaddle Tendency
When asked who started the Olympic Games? ‘I think Adolf Hitler started it.‘ One of the promising actresses gave this answer in front of rolling cameras. The video went viral.
Catastrophic, you agree, but you don’t waste too much time listening to beautiful actress. OK, how about the following sentence?
‘Prithviraj Chauhan is the President of India’ said the young new comer in the Bollywood. Apparently now she is one of the most promising and leading actress in the country.
Ring any bells? Both of these are manifestations of the same phenomenon, the twaddle tendency. Here, reams of words are used to disguise intellectual laziness, stupidity, or underdeveloped ides. Sometime it works, sometimes not. For both the beauties, the smokescreen strategy failed spectacularly.
The twaddle tendency is especially rife in sport. Breathless interviewers push equally breathless cricket players to breakdown the components of the game. When all they want to say is: ‘We lost the game – it’s really that simple.’ But the presenter has to fill airtime somehow. And seemingly the best method is by jabbering away and by compelling the athletes and coaches to join in. Jabber disguises ignorance.
This phenomenon has also taken root in the academic sphere. The fewer results a branch of science publishes, the more babble is necessary. Particularly exposed are economists, which can be seen in their comments and economic forecasts. The same is true for commerce on a smaller scale: the worse of a company is, the greater the talk of the CEO. The extra chatter extends to not just a lot of talking, but to hyperactivity. It is also designed to mask the hardship.
A laudable exception is the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch. He once said in an interview: ‘You would not believe how difficult it is to be simple and clear. People are afraid that they may be seen as a simpleton. In reality just the opposite is true.’
In conclusion: verbal expression is the mirror of the mind. Clear thoughts become clear statements, where as ambiguous ideas transform into vacant ramblings. The trouble is that, in many cases, we lack very lucid thoughts. The world is complicated, and it takes a great deal of mental effort to understand even one facet of the whole. Until you experience such an epiphany, it’s better to heed Mark Twain: If you have nothing to say, say nothing. Simplicity is the zenith of a long, arduous journey, not the starting point.
Post is inspired by Rolf Dobelli