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vgeorge
+1
Posts: 273
iconBart:
iconvgeorge:
That said, we should be mindful that the studies do have a not-quite-intended exclusionary bend. The studies are carried out by people predetermined to have a bit fanaticism about 'da stone.' Once you know your child has the most beautiful face, then turn your attention to its vertebrae, guess what you are likely to find? :confused: Just something to be mindful about in research designs.


George, you are right of course. But where in the study do you read a conclusion about Coticules or BBWs being better than other hones? ...

Bart,

First, my comment was intended to be a bit more abstract and general than the way you seem to interpret.

It is nearly impossible to remove all biases from observations and studies, we can only constantly strive toward that ideal. Some people, especially you, seem to want to strive in that direction while others seem to scoff at the idea or seem to be unaware of it, witness some of the criticisms from elsewhere.

I want to avoid political or religious analogies. They would have been easier to illustrate this point. Let me try an organizational point. There is a phenomenon among technical workers known as "Not Invented Here Syndrome" (NIHS). We did not develop X here, so we are not going to use X - that is not how we do things. This is a common human trait, but it is bias. Not the kind of horrible racial, religious, etc. bias, nonetheless bias. Another case in point, comments in another forum putting down the study - I bet - without even reading it. Bias! It is inevitable that we, the coticule/bbw lovers, will have a bias in the opposite way. It is even possible that our (forum members') skin types are more suited to a specific edge structure, and therefore, we are preselected.

Second, more specific to the question you ask above, the reason no one would read "about Coticules or BBWs being better than other hones" is because of the simple reason of exclusion. Other stones were not in the study! That is kinda my point, but when I made it I did not have this specific example in mind. I can be reasonably confident that for a study to tease out BBW's effectiveness, if the research designers included people who are not hard core Coticulists ;) , the reflexive inclination would not have been to use just one other Coticule for comparison. At the least, there would have been some discussion about how to compare best, and that would have had different tone and, perhaps, result if most/all were not hard-core adherents.

None of these diminish the value of the study. My point is that we should be constantly watching our own reflexive responses that have an influence on the studies and results - especially when 'others' react negatively and mindlessly. The true value of the study will be known only after sometime, of course, depending on whether people take to the new technique.

I will take a closer look at the study, time permitting, and will report back at some point.

You also ask:
iconBart:

Why should giving it some well deserved attention be received as a call for exclusionism?


That is not correctly characterizing what I said or intended. An in-depth study on BBW if 'perfectly' executed need not be exclusionary. Characterizing it as 'well deserved attention,' however, is subjective. That is a slippery slope implying you are not neutral. I think what might be happening is you and the authors primarily wanted to 'design' something - good and useful for the community. You had to be an advocate (and highly biased favorably - not a bad thing, that is how progress happens) believing in that possibility of the design. And then you try to compare it yourselves to your own previous design. For sure, that is much better than anything else available and it is a genuine contribution. However, imagine if the pharmaceutical companies did their own testing and introduced the drugs by themselves.

No, I am not suggesting regulation.coticule.be, although in general, it is always better (ideally) to have some separation between designers and the 'certifyers' and the "comparors'. But this is what it is - an international forum of enthusiasts - with lot of enthusiasm and talent, and limited resources. We need to be ever more watchful because the claim we seem to make is that we are more scientific and unbiased.

We will keep talking.
George
------
Proud owner of Franz Kline Coticule from Ardennes via Bart
Hoping for Edge, Working on Bevel. © 2010
2011-02-04 17:00
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TM280
Insider
From: Norway
Posts: 270
Hi George,

You make valid points and, as you say, they are general ones. I would hazard that they are too general in this context to have much application.

You raise the possibility of self-selection in the study group. I would say that it is a given, on several counts. Many of us have turned to coticules precisely because of the fact that we have the type of skin that edges off of other hones irritate. There is also an inherent self-selection in that this trial was enacted by individuals already involved with coticule honing and this website (as you note). In neither case do these points affect the design of the study, they are an fundamental part of the design. Just as the most critical parts of drug studies are tested on those who have the affliction the drug is hoped to cure, these razors and hones were not sent to random men off the street.

You take issue with the subjectivity of Bart's use of the phrase "well deserved attention". Again, I do not see how this affects the validity of the study design. Normativity cannot be separated from objectivity, and while I believe your use of "neutral"is always appropriate, bemoaning subjectivity in general is tilting at windmills. A drug example again: random substances are not given to subjects in clinical trials, nor are they compared to other random substances. There are choices made every step of the way, and a necessary element of these choices are normative (for example,"I believe preparation x may have a beneficial effect on populations afflicted with A").

I agree with you that this study has value, but will go a step further and maintain it is also valid. Precisely due to the goals of the design. I interpret a couple of these goals to be standardization and repeatability, among others. The best possible honing method was not a part of the design, nor do conclusions reach outside the limited framework of establishing the suitability of BBW as a finisher. The feel of a shave is the only last word we have in all of this, not a bias. Speaking approvingly of the conclusions of one's study (or the reasons for undertaking it) is also not bias in a scientific meaning. Bias can only be a critique if the study was flawed as a method for testing the design's hypothesis or if the interpretation does not follow from the data. I don't see this to be the case here.

To add my own general point, I would remind you of the joke of the drunk looking for his keys after coming out of the bar late one night. As he is stumbling around under the streetlight searching the ground, a policeman comes up and inquires what he is doing. The man says he lost his keys, to which the policeman asks him where he lost them. The man points across the street, causing the astounded public servant to ask why in the world he is not looking there, then? Simply enough, the man answers "What's the point of that, there's no light over there...".

regards,
Torolf
2011-02-04 18:34
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dnullify
Posts: 63
Perhaps keep this study going for a longer period of time, but in a less formal capacity.

Run another fund raiser to purchase the stones for the cause, and send out a fourth razor.

Three for the included stones, and a fourth for however the tester wishes to hone-- anything from DMT to pastes.

Then maintain a simple publicly viewable spreadsheet (google docs), and let the data speak for itself. perhaps voluntary quarterly analysis just to discuss the results.

I figure that this will broaden the data available and create more basis for discussion, rather than speculation and variance. Not to mention, it will address those who doubt the legitimacy of this site and the report.

once they have all the stones in front of them and compare it to their method, (and assuming they have some humility), they will be able to make proper judgment on the subject of this study.

Just a thought.
2011-02-04 18:46
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
George,
that is a very intelligent analysis of our intent. I like your thoroughness of thought.
You are right of course. We are Coticule enthusiasts here. How BBW enthussiastic we are, I do not know, but it's fair to say that we all have a tangential interest in them. When I wrote that they deserve the attention, it meant nothing different than when I would write that a certain molecule that has shown a promise for cancer treatment deserves to be further researched. Even if we are symphatic to a stone, that still don't mean we can't exclude those feelings - perhaps even hopes - out of an experiment.

As far as the test being run with "coticulists" is concerned, I believe that is paramount. Because sharpening razors expects a certain skill.
Imagine, for example, that we would want to research the value of straight razors for shaving, and were to run an experiment, sending 2 razors and a Gilette Fusion to a number of test persons. The outcome would be completely different between test persons that already acquired the skill to use a straight razor and those that never had a particular interest in learning such an old fashioned skill. If you research a new drug all you need to to is administer the drug to a number of test persons and see if the drug does the job (simply put, I know that). But their is little to no personal involvement of the test person. That is completely different with a skill like honing. The one who undertakes the effort must be prepared to make it work. And his tool must be suitable for the job. Take the Norton 4K/8K. According to some not the most suitable hone for razor sharpening, but capable to do the job. It was once the prime hone to sharpen razors on the US based shaving forums, heavily supported and promoted by many. There was a honing method called "the pyramid method", that worked particularly well on the Norton, and it was widely spread and trusted. But still, for someone new to the skill of sharpening razors, it could take some time to master. But the fact that so many others testified of their success with it, convinced learners to stay at it, till they got it right. Hence the "pyramid" worked, not only because the Norton 4k/8k has the potential, but because it also had the reputation and the backing of a user group. Without that reputation and backing, the Norton would have worked not so well, because unlike that new drug, a razor does not become sharp when you put it in the same drawer with a hone.

What the BBW-study essentially proofs, is that people who put their mind to it, can use a BBW to make a razor shave well.
The same can be said for the Norton, and the same can be said for Coticules. Those 2 latter have already earned that reputation by their history. The BBW has not. That's why it deserved a study. I am convinced that someone with the inclination to say "nah, doesn't work" will be able to reach that conclusion on the Norton as well as on a BBW. It just takes the absence of goodwill. We could call "goodwill" bias, and then yes, the research team was "biased". But that doesn't mean they weren't as objective as possible in their test shaves.

At the end of the day, the BBW won't work for all, just like the straight razor doesn't work for all. I don't think we will ever set up experiments as rock solid as a medical double blinded study of a new drug, before it is allowed on the market.
After all this is very much amateur science. Yet that is not the same as pseudo-science. And at any rate, we did much better than a guy who finishes a 1000 razors on a Coticule with slurry and then concludes it is a mediocre hone. Which brings us back at the problem of skill and proper procedure.

I dare to conclude that a BBW, in capable hands can cure a dull razor. But yes, that means more here, in a community that has a positive bias for the Belgian whetstones, than in an environment where the Not Invented Here Syndrome rules.

Kind regards,
Bart
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-02-04 19:07
Avatar
TM280
Insider
From: Norway
Posts: 270
icondnullify:
Perhaps keep this study going for a longer period of time, but in a less formal capacity.

Run another fund raiser to purchase the stones for the cause, and send out a fourth razor.

Three for the included stones, and a fourth for however the tester wishes to hone-- anything from DMT to pastes.

Then maintain a simple publicly viewable spreadsheet (google docs), and let the data speak for itself. perhaps voluntary quarterly analysis just to discuss the results.

I figure that this will broaden the data available and create more basis for discussion, rather than speculation and variance. Not to mention, it will address those who doubt the legitimacy of this site and the report.

once they have all the stones in front of them and compare it to their method, (and assuming they have some humility), they will be able to make proper judgment on the subject of this study.

Just a thought.


I guess this might be useful for some. A point worth considering is that data never speaks for itself. That is a fundamental impossibility. (Bart's very apt mention of goodwill is, alone, enough said...)

For my part, I know BBW gives a great finish since I shave with such edges. I am always amazed that there are people who will deny me what I know from my own experience. But I in no way feel obligated to argue with such idiocy. A good discussion on the merits of a methodology is another issue:thumbup:

I like this study because I enjoy the systematic way in which people choose to know their world, not because there is something to be proved.

regards,
Torolf
2011-02-04 22:00
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Bart Torfs (Bart)
Associate
From: Belgium
Posts: 5001
iconTM280:

I like this study because I enjoy the systematic way in which people choose to know their world, not because there is something to be proved.


That captures in one sentence what this website and its research team is all about. :thumbup:
Then the light shone, trumpets sounded and I got to the other side, where men shave with smiles on their faces, razors pop hairs, and a continuous choir singing «~~Keen and Smooth~~» is heard everywhere. (Matt)
2011-02-04 22:10
Avatar
vgeorge
+1
Posts: 273
Let me simply add that I enjoyed the points by Bart, Torolf, and Dnullify. I want to keep this entry short to help the focus to remain on the new technique.

It is more important for people to try out the new technique than to have heart-rending side-bar discussions, which take distracting whole lives of their own. My original point was mainly an exhortation to keep our eyes wide open, and to remain self-critical and self analytical and not high strung and defensive against outside 'attack'.

There are no perfect studies. The best proof is when the idea shows legs (Denny, leave this alone) and gets widely adopted. Even that has complexities that cannot be easily explained. We can talk about that another time. So, for now, onward with BBW. Let us see where it leads.
[Last edited by vgeorge, 2011-02-04 23:00]
George
------
Proud owner of Franz Kline Coticule from Ardennes via Bart
Hoping for Edge, Working on Bevel. © 2010
2011-02-04 22:50
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chti_lolo
Posts: 376
iconBart:
Agreed, but if i may make a comparison out of the woodworking field, there are some wood species that you can sand up to the fineness of 300 grit sandpaper, and you won't get any further improvement to go any further (unless you'd started filling pores, etc, but let's neglect that for the sake of this comparison). Other wood species you can sand up to 600 grit, and still notice improvement in the smoothness of the surface.

That was excatly the point I was raising and further study with the Revisors will give even stronger basis to the conclusions.


Concerning the choice of the honer/shaver sample or of the coticule, I'm sure that this is not an issue because the aim of this study was just to compare the features of the BBW to another reference and well known hone. And the coticule as reference was certainly the best choice because :
- it was easier to find people with the minimum skillness required not to influence the result of this study with other factors
- the result of the test could be seen by others as unbiased because the comparison was made between our favourite hone and another one.

Regards

Laurent

BTW : I'm trying the finishing stage of the new technique on razors which gave me some trouble with dilucot
2011-02-04 23:20
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Matt
Associate
From: Poland
Posts: 1047
iconBart:
Without that reputation and backing, the Norton would have worked not so well, because unlike that new drug, a razor does not become sharp when you put it in the same drawer with a hone.

Oh, quit it, it's just a very small possibility and you know that if you give it enough time, it will eventually happen... :lol:

Matt
"Very interesting indeed :) I did something similar with cheese a while ago" - Dr Ralfson
2011-02-05 01:08
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Mike Shaw (kg4ghn)
From: United States
Posts: 57
I took the study to mean not that the BBW is better than other hones, or even to compare it to other hones, but that a BBW is adequate to hone a straight razor and provide a good enough edge to give a smooth close shave.

If all you are trying to do is show that a BBW is a good hone for a razor, then it is not necessary to compare it to every other hone out there.
~Mike
2011-02-05 05:30
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dnullify
Posts: 63
My "idea" was more for recreational purposes, as well as to counter those who make claims without experience.

Personally, i won't go saying "BBW's are useless on their own and are only intermediate hones". i haven't tried one.

not to mention, this widely accepted "fact" that BBWs are in the 4-5k range and can not be shaved off of.

unless i misinterpreted the whole thing, the purpose of this study was to show that BBWs are just as capable of a shaving edge as a coticule, the coticule being the accepted benchmark. The furthering of the study would be more of a recreational passaround, in which participants are somewhat experienced in honing, and therefore can post their personal thoughts, experiences, and comparisons.

then again, i suppose everyone should go out and buy their own coticules and BBWs :P
i will eventually
2011-02-05 08:46
Avatar
Robin
Posts:
Well, the title of the study is "BBW - a study about its aptness for razor sharpening". I fail to see where that leaves room for interpretation. Interpretation is a dangerous thing in any event, especially if you do not understand the statistical methods employed in the study. Robert put a lot of time and effort into these, and it took me even more time and effort to understand them. Skimming the article will not put you in a position to interpret it, end of story. Yet some guys did exactly that. The fact that they sport vendorator badges does not make this any more appealing.

As for the recreational aspect: Sure, go ahead and do it. Buy some razors and hones, and ship them around the globe at your own leisure and expense. Anything else is just voodoo. The idea was to create a test environment with as little variables as possible. A rather homogeneous group of people (as far as honing and shaving experience is concerned), hones, and razors. Adding more variables (as in skill levels, hones, and razors) would only have diluted the results, if you pardon the pun.

Where some guys failed miserably with their interpretation (if you care to call it that - personally, I would prefer the American English idiomatic term "bullshitting" to put their writings into a fitting sociolinguistic context) is that the study was not named "BBW - a study about its being better than any other hone for everybody on this planet irrespective of their personal preferences, skill levels, or, well, like, you know, everything????" for a reason. Its point was to prove - as well as humanly possible - that the BBW is a hone that will put a shaving edge on a razor. Is it the perfect hone for setting a bevel on one of the eBay finds the vendorators so love for the profit margins they yield? No, and no-one ever claimed it was. Is it better than any other hone on this planet? Who knows - it might or might not be for you. Personal preference is a strange thing, and clearly outside the scope of this article. Is the the one hone that is easiest to use, will deliver consistent results, and will let you mass hone thousands of razors? Again, no-one ever said it was, and I seriously doubt that it is. What I can tell you is that someone with very little experience (yours truly, that is) can use the BBWed Unicot method get a razor whose edge has been dulled on glass back to shave readiness in under 15 minutes. I am not getting the level of sharpness I would like, but I am already quite close. The smoothness is just what I was hoping to achieve. Well, I happen to own a a natural combination stone, so I will not need to buy any more hones. But I think it was an excellent idea to prepare the report, if only to let me know that in a squeeze, I could get a full honing setup for less than €50.
2011-02-05 10:34
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chti_lolo
Posts: 376
iconBeBerlin:
But I think it was an excellent idea to prepare the report, if only to let me know that in a squeeze, I could get a full honing setup for less than €50.


Yes, this honing setup is even cheaper than a paddle strop + some pastes. So a beginner could go for a set up a bit more demanding in term of minimum skillness but much more rewarding as he will have a setup able to maintain his razor forever for a minimum amount of money.
2011-02-05 11:18
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cyclelu
From: United States
Posts: 72
Gentlemen,

Sorry I am coming late to this thread, But thank you very much to the research team for their efforts.

I have used my BBW side on 2 Sheffield razors (Frederick Reynolds, Wade & Butcher), the BBW produced a very nice edge that felt very nice.

Thank you again for your efforts.

Best Regards,
Lu
2011-02-05 14:41
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Jeltz
From: United Kingdom
Posts: 44
Refering back to the OP and PDF; great work everyone and fascinating reading (not just the study but some of the posts on the SPR :confused: )

Anyway, looks like I'll be buying yet another hone to play about with :rolleyes:

Thanks, I think :-/
[Last edited by Jeltz, 2011-02-05 21:47]
Regards
Nic
2011-02-05 18:29