Later I will have more to say on that now-infamous — and, as it turns out, error-ridden, shoddy, and false — pro-austerity study by Reinhart and Rogoff. But for now I’ll just quote Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell on R&R’s latest attempt at self-defense.

Farrell argues that it’s time to invoke his co-blogger John Holbo’s Two-Step of Terrific Triviality:

To put it another way, Goldberg is making a standard rhetorical move which has no accepted name, but which really needs one. I call it ‘the two-step of terrific triviality’. Say something that is ambiguous between something so strong it is absurd and so weak that it would be absurd even to mention it. When attacked, hop from foot to foot as necessary, keeping a serious expression on your face. With luck, you will be able to generate the mistaken impression that you haven’t been knocked flat, by rights. As a result, the thing that you said which was absurdly strong will appear to have some obscure grain of truth in it. Even though you have provided no reason to think so.

Kathleen Geier

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee