Theres’s a golden rule of grammar on the internet, that whenever you correct someone else’s mistake, you will invariably make one of your own. I think the same must apply to reviewing data as I made a mistake in yesterday’s post, where I reviewed Ian’s data. He picked up on it pretty quickly and was really quite gracious about it.
The error was a simple (i.e. stupid) one: I used a USD price for the Capless where I should have converted it to pounds; it had the effect of inflating the price at US retailers and making it appear that prices of the pen were equivalent between the two markets. Looking at the raw figures, the cheapest UK price is 32% more than the US; after including a currency buffer, the difference is around 20%.
In the post, I commented with surprise that the VP was approximately the same price between the two markets and tried to deduce an explanation for this. Obviously, it should have pushed me to double-check the data; that I did not was a second mistake which allowed the first to go undetected.
Having now corrected the mistake, I think it makes me change my views somewhat about the drivers of the phenomenon. In the article, I talked about how there was evidence supporting two views and I was leaning towards the idea that the UK distributor is being pushed towards a high price/low volume strategy. This change has undermined some of that position and made me more inclined towards the opposite view: that the US distributor has moved towards a low price/high volume strategy.
Interestingly, I removed a section on epistemology at the end of the post right before publishing. That section talked about my methodological perspective in research (scientific realism) and how it offers a constant reminder that our theories and ideas of the world, even if they are informed by the best available evidence, are likely to prove wrong in the long run. Research is a process of constantly improving our ideas, of making marginal improvements to the stock of human knowledge, and it’s not something that will ever be ‘complete’. That shouldn’t lead us to reject theory or research but to maintain an open mind, to recognise the potential for our most cherished beliefs to be proved wrong and to bring a degree of uncertainty and humility to our claims. In retrospect, that section was a lot more important than it seemed at the time. Perhaps something deserving of its own post, eventually.
At any rate: I apologise for the error and thank Ian for picking up on it.