But All the Other Kids Are Calling It "The Great Stagnation"
By Bryan Caplan
The most common complaint about Tyler’s The Great Stagnation is simply that the title is deliberately misleading. Stagnation means “no growth,” not “slower growth” – but the latter is the most that Tyler claims to show.
The complaint is entirely fair. When you abuse the English language, you forfeit your right to protest that your critics aren’t reading you carefully enough. If he’d merely titled it The Slight Stagnation, much fruitless controversy would have been avoided.
At least in conversation, Tyler only has one response to complaints about his title: “Lots of other thinkers call it ‘the Great Stagnation’ too.” This merely compounds his original error. Is he really going to make us trot out classic rhetorical questions about jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge?
Long story short: If lots of other people say something you know to be wrong, it becomes especially important to explicitly disavow their position. Otherwise you’re likely to simultaneously confuse all sides – which is exactly what Tyler’s book has accomplished.