More Crackpot Theories

The death of Charles Roberts, coincidental with my own explorations of the usefulness of clay, placed him very much in my thoughts as I grew this new, harder face covering. Heavily protective, water-suspending shaving media could have caused the same changes in his skin. If strange new bumps appeared, as they did on me, it could have been mistaken as an apparent change in the direction of growth. I think the "forms" are better interpreted as, "don't worry so much about stroke direction," and ultimately, "don't shave too close." But that theoretical underpinning of his, that the grain can actually change, has never made much sense to anyone. So, there's a hypothesis, anyway.

Jeffrey Tucker seemed to take the wet out of wet shaving, when he suggested using oil to transition to no shaving medium at all, but he still splashed warm water on his unprotected skin. I've previously discussed how oil could, theoretically, better protect skin from fixed-angle face planers than canned cream, and posited that as the basis of his experience. Now, however, I have to think that his skin was actually strengthened, too. I suggested he try a DE with Stirling (which is, to my mind, an encapsulated form of Roberts' media), and reap the benefits of mechanical advantage. But it's not at all clear that glycerin wouldn't have done the same number on him as on me.

Agenticity is the social form of a naturally selected perceptive ability, "patternicity," that allows us to avoid danger before conclusive evidence is discovered (too late), by recognizing patterns. Most of us recognized immediately that Roberts was just trying to make a buck, coming up with new words for "soap," "cream," and "oil"; Tucker used a theory of agency to dismiss classic shaving, apparently, without even trying it. The degree to which people rely on such heuristics has been studied and found to increase when they feel less control. In his TED talk, Shermer gives the example of baseball superstitions: batters (the best of whom average around a 30% success rate) are extremely ritualistic, but fielders are not.

It's pretty obvious where today's shavers stand on that scale, and I pity all of them. But there are plenty of patterns yet to be found, in the creation of our own routines. The answer is to take more responsibility. There's no need, either now or in the forseeable future, to herd up under various banners of stupidity.

After yesterday's shave, which clocked in at about 11 hours of smoothness, there was hardly a visible beard to shave this morning. And I noticed a reduced thickness in my new skin. The finish was less conclusive, based more on the sense of reaching the skin, than complete blade silence. It still has a different feel under the blade, though, more like plastic. Noxzema, oil, and Williams gave me another great shave.

To remind you, I'm moisturizing when I notice the skin texture coming back, presumably due to dehydration, some hours after shaving. Before bed, I wash in whatever way seems best (hand soap, cetaphil, water alone) and apply pumpkin juice as an exfoliator.

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