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Confirmation Bias?

(57 posts)
  1. bassbug

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    I wonder how much of our opinions and comments on different tobaccos are influenced by reading reviews and others' opinions?

    You want to try a new blend. You read a bunch of reviews and order a tin or a bag. You have a few bowls and say "oh yeah, I can definitely taste the (insert flavour here) Tom, Dick and Harry were absolutely right"

    This is quite often followed by a number of replies that confirm this.

    I can't help but think of the many wine scams over the years where people fell for an "expert's" reviews. Not suggesting for a moment that anyone here is trying to scam anyone.

    I don't care who you are, you're not walking on the water while I'm fishing
    Posted 2 months ago #
  2. ashdigger

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    Confirmation bias affects everything WE DO. It can be insidious or innocuous, but it's there.

    The trick to defeating it, is to acknowledge it and move forward.

    Ubi Ignis Est?
    Posted 2 months ago #
  3. tbradsim1

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    Yea, like movie critics, best movies in my book are panned by critics, found out in my 75 years on this planet is to go your own way.

    The Old Cajun
    Posted 2 months ago #
  4. ray47

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    Yes, I'm influenced by reviews, by those who have similar tastes and those who I trust.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  5. cosmicfolklore

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    From a marketing perspective... human beings like being told what to like, think, and do. But, we don't like being told that we like being told...

    Michael
    Posted 2 months ago #
  6. trouttimes

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    Yes and no. I do always look and see what Jim thinks even though I don't always agree. I find his taste follow mine many times. Ash on the other hand is a bad ass to say the least.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  7. carolinachurchwarden

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    When I started back up with the pipe again, I wanted to try everything, but of course my wallet can't afford that large of an order. So I did what likely a lot of guys do and read reviews, but first, I went to try and figure out what the best selling tobaccos out there were, since logic would dictate they're the best selling blends for a reason. When I picked out a bunch i wanted to try, I would then check the reviews, more often just to see what others experience with it was, and not really their rating. I found that stuff I ended up ordering and trying was much better to me than what others had reviewed. I can't remember the number of blends that I disagreed with JimInks about on flavor and rating, but there again is just a reminder of how much everyone's palate differs. I have since started using the SP's tobacco tool to sort out tobacco based on what I know I want from my smoke and go from there. I read the reviews once and again, but when someone says it came moist, mine came dry, when someone said the tin note was horrible, I thought it was gorgeous. So just like movies, I go with what interests me, not what others think, although if it's someone I know and trust and has like tobacco interests throws me a tip, I just might take them up on it.

    "If you can't send money, send tobacco." - George Washington

    Posted 2 months ago #
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    Also, I think that reading reviews and discussing tobaccos with other people gives new smokers a vocabulary to discern flavors in the smoke—grassy, hay-like, dark fruit, leather, campfire, woodsy. Sometimes they are helpful, but I don’t know the difference between woodsy and campfire. While it definitely can be confirmation bias, it is also just part of the current education/introduction into the hobby. We learn new descriptors and the we use the same descriptors to describe what we are smoking.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  9. seldom

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    Yeah, I think you're right about this. I make it a point to sometimes try blends that I haven't read reviews for or else ones that don't seem to have any reviews. In fact just today I enjoyed some Rattray's Blossom Temptation which doesn't appear on "TobaccoReviews.com". I rather enjoy it even though it is a bit pricey. Lots of time I weigh price as an important factor. Motzek Herbst 84 is an English that I like a lot and which is among the cheapest pipe tobacco blends here in Germany.

    Seldom Seen
    Posted 2 months ago #
  10. cosmicfolklore

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    Don't forget pipes also... If someone spends $500 or more on a pipe, and if the pipe ended up not being as good as a cheaper pipe, there is no way in Hell that person would ever admit that to themself or anyone else.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  11. anantaandroscoggin

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    I never seem to remember much of what I read in any of the reviews I run across, though after a few of them, some of the vocabulary terms tend to remain somewhere in my memory.

    Remembering that new-mown grass and new-mown hay do indeed smell different, I still find myself wondering if that is what the reviewers who use either term is referring to, or if it's an allegorical usage instead.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  12. haparnold

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    I think there's confirmation bias to be sure, but reviews also guide you to "must-try" tobaccos. I think it's an important part of the hobby to understand why a blend is great, even if it doesn't suit your particular preferences.

    For example, I've seen every one of the American Film Institute's top 100 films. Some of them I didn't enjoy, and don't ever plan to watch again (Raging Bull), but it's important and valuable to watch them and try to understand what makes them so well-regarded.

    Take Penzance. There are plenty of people on here who don't care for it. I don't hate it, but it's not a blend I seek out. However, smoking several ounces of Penzance helped me to understand what makes it different from other blends, and what makes people value it so highly.

    De Gustibus Non Est Disputandum
    Posted 2 months ago #
  13. timt

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    If someone spends $500 or more on a pipe, and if the pipe ended up not being as good as a cheaper pipe, there is no way in Hell that person would ever admit that to themself or anyone else.

    Really? Ever?

    Tim
    Posted 2 months ago #
  14. workman

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    I have no doubt that I am influenced by reviews and I don't care. I'm not an illustrious tobacco critic with an audience to answer to. If I like it, I'm good, confirmation bias or not.

    Smoking is one of the leading causes of all statistics.
    Posted 2 months ago #
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    Anonymous

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    ^^^^^^^^
    This.
    I think it is impossible to extricate yourself from pipe culture and/or the bias. I enjoy what I smoke and don’t mind participating in reifying flavor tropes in reviews if that is how I experience it.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  16. sablebrush52

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    I don't often read reviews on tobaccos. I read others discussions about tobaccos, but given that I began piping 47-48 years ago, my education began with several tobacconists who suggested blends that I might try and my own explorations. That's still pretty much how I've gone about cellaring.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 2 months ago #
  17. wolflarsen

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    I've read at least a few reviews from other smokers on TobaccoReviews for every blend I have ever bought and many more that I haven't. I think these reviews have more influence over what new tobaccos I buy to try than over what I end up liking or not. I've certainly tried a quite a few well reviewed blends that that I didn't like and will never buy again.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  18. mso489

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    I'm something of an introvert and in some ways do my own thing, but maybe for this reason, I'm aware that people are highly social animals and other people and their opinions are also part of our chemistry, and to deny that makes you more rather than less vulnerable to the opinions of others. My take on confirmation bias is to watch for comment from somewhat disparate sources, granting that they may be listening to or reading each other. The trend can be correct or comically mistaken.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  19. admin

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    I think PipesMagazine.com is the best pipe forum there is!

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    Posted 2 months ago #
  20. olkofri

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    human beings like being told what to like, think, and do. But, we don't like being told that we like being told...

    Quotable quote. Send that to Readers' Digest!

    (Totally agree, btw. I've seen it in action.)

    Not the sweet, new grass with flowers is this harvesting of mine;
    Not the upland clover bloom...
    Posted 2 months ago #
  21. woodsroad

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    I'm finding myself greatly enjoying PipesMagazine.com. But I'm not sure exactly why........

    Posted 2 months ago #
  22. recluse

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    I take notice if a large number of consumers rate a tobacco highly and might try a tobacco based off of volume of interest.

    Beyond the tin description, I find reading detailed reviews of flavor profiles an annoying waste of time. If anything, some tool's self-important thesis of a review will make me avoid it instead of try it.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  23. cosmicfolklore

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    I'm no marketing sheep. No one is going to tell me what to like or hate. I'm too smart for that. I only smoke tobaccos that everyone hates.

    Posted 2 months ago #
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    newdave61

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    I recently tried pipesmagazine.com and came away pleasantly surprised. The tin note was of woodsy, fresh-cut grass with a hay component. I would say the campfire overtones were a bit offputting if they weren't counterbalanced by the dark fruit and leather.

    Al in all, a must-try.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  25. woodsroad

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    Dark fruit and leather.
    I got that, too.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  26. 3rdguy

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    If anything, some tool's self-important thesis of a review will make me avoid it instead of try it.

    I would agree with this. If the review sounds like a medical test I have to laugh.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  27. hoosierpipeguy

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    Confirmation bias may affect the perception of the first few bowls. For some, it could even last for most of a tin. That's why it is important to smoke a tin or two, in most cases, before deciding on a certain blend. I enjoy reading the reviews but I trust my own taste buds more for what I like. Most of the times, I use the reviews to rule a blend out, not rule it in. If the vast majority of the reviewers are essentially saying it sucks and give it 2 stars or less, seems highly unlikely I will find it to be a 4 star blend. Having them rate it 3.5 stars in no way guarantees it is something I will like. Pipe tobacco is so stinking cheap, if you see something you think has a reasonable chance of being something you'd like, buy a tin and give it a whirl. If you hate it, save a few tins up and then give it to someone else. One man's trash is another man's treasure.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  28. anthonyrosenthal74

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    I think that reading reviews and discussing tobaccos with other people gives new smokers a vocabulary to discern flavors in the smoke—grassy, hay-like, dark fruit, leather, campfire, woodsy.
    I believe this to be very true, and it helps you find the flavors yourself. If you don't have a very trained palette yet, find a tobacco, go to Tobaccoreviews.com and find the very first review... this usually happens to be Jiminks because he has reviewed every single blend ever created (someone tell me I'm wrong) ....and then while you are smoking that blend, try to find those flavors yourself. You may get it, you may not. You might get something else entirely, as palettes vary from one person to the next. Jim may taste coffee in a blend where I might detect cocoa... or Kentucky Fried Chicken (damn that sounds good right now!) To this day I swear I taste cocoa in McClelland Blue Mountain, but I don't believe I've ever seen anyone else ever mention it.

    Arrrrr, shiver me timbers! International Talk Like a Pirate Day is September the 19th!!!
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    Posted 2 months ago #
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    dare66

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    I'd like to think even after reading a flavor profile on beer, bourbon, tobacco or anything else that I'm still going to go into it with an open mind but keeping the info the I found in the back of my mind.

    Posted 2 months ago #
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    bullet08

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    not knowing much at all about pipe tobacco, i do read reviews and forum to decide on what to buy. but as to what i find after the smoke, i don't remember who said what on the review. but i do remember what kind of tobacco should have what sort of taste/smell and try to see if i can detect them.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  31. chasingembers

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    Most of my preferences developed pre internet. Didn't even know about pipe forums or tobacco reviews until a few years ago. My buys are based on blend components, and often buy newly released blends just because they have what I like.

    Damnation seize my soul if I give you quarters, or take any from you.
    -Edward Teach
    Posted 2 months ago #
  32. npod

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    This is a good topic. I am certain there is some bias in our relationship with tobacco.

    Interestingly, the human brain has it's own bias and the heart wants what the heart wants. As an example, I tried very hard to love Lakeland tobaccos (confirmation bias). I kept at it and knew I would enjoy them eventually based on what I had read and thought I wanted. But eventually my heart told me to knock it off. The bias eventually wore off and I moved on (I hate full Lakelands and I freely admit it now).

    Neal
    Posted 2 months ago #
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    redone

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    This is a good discussion. I’ve read tons of reviews and, like many, trust JimInks reviews. His tastes seem to be fairly close to mine, so that is good. But, I have found there are a few well liked blends that are not my favorites, so personal taste, for me, does take over at some point.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  34. hoosierpipeguy

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    As an example, I tried very hard to love Lakeland tobaccos (confirmation bias). I kept at it and knew I would enjoy them eventually based on what I had read and thought I wanted. But eventually my heart told me to knock it off. The bias eventually wore off and I moved on (I hate full Lakelands and I freely admit it now).

    I've probably smoked four or five bowls of Lakeland tobacco. I wouldn't call it bias, disgusting is more appropriate. I decided if I felt the need to taste Lakeland again, I'd shove a cheap cigar up my dogs butt, wipe it down with dish soap and smoke it. Same taste result, cheaper.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  35. cosmicfolklore

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    I'd shove a cheap cigar up my dogs butt, wipe it down with dish soap and smoke it.

    That poor dog... do you have to leave it there for any length of time, or is like swiping a debit card? umm... Asking for a friend.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  36. ashdigger

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    Hoosier, so, you've just described how rope tobacco looks when it arrives.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  37. hoosierpipeguy

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    Cosmic, the important consideration is to choose a small ring gage cigar. It's not an all day thing but you do need to leave it long enough to absorb an adequate amount of "essence".

    Ashdigger ... Exactly. So you also achieve visual bias.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  38. jpmcwjr

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    Damn. I can't "unsee" the above description.

    When I first started reading and posting here, I was greatly influenced by discussions of what was superb in the posts of a given thread, and bought those tobaccos to try.

    I read tobaccoreviews to find out the constituents of a blend, as well as posts by JimInks, Steelcowboy and a couple of other. I just can't taste half the stuff Jim talks about, which is fine, as I enjoy smoking whichever blend without those tastes.

    Now I'm likely to try a tin without reading or hearing much about it, and then read up, to see if the other guy confirms my bias.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 2 months ago #
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    foursidedtriangle

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    What is in the tobacco, who made it, the cut take precedence over everything else. The reviews are there more as a way to narrow down from range I know I will like to a specific tobacco or two.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  40. bassbug

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    shove a cheap cigar up my dogs butt,

    I can just imagine the conversation now...

    hoosier: the dog seems to be having issues in doing his business lately. Started right after the cigar incident

    Veterinarian: Lets have a look...Hmmm...rectum

    hoosier: Rectum????? Damn near killed him doc.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  41. tabakpfeife

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    I was ruminating on this while writing a review on Blackpoint in TR. I think reviews, in general, are skewed upwards. My theory is that, given the expense involved, we tend to buy tobacco we think we would like. We open a tin, smoke it, and, shore 'nuff, we give it a good review. I, for example, would not buy Borkum Riff Cherry. Nothing against this blend (it was the first one I ever tried, burned the bejeezus out of my tongue. I feel the same way about Rum and Coke, albeit for different reasons). So, I will never buy this evil weed and give it a poor review. Consequently, most of my reviews are pretty high, because I preselect what I think would give me the most bang for the buck. Ergo, my reviews are skewed.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  42. rdavid

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    As a newbie, I spend many hours reading reviews so bias has definitely been a factor. In fact, a large percentage of my purchases to date are based on reviews here and at TR.

    I think the key here is to read between the lines and try to filter through the bullshit. It’s obvious there are some very well known reviewers: jiminks, pipestud etc. and they have had a large influence on my choices. To date, my technique is to read through 10 or 20 reviews and get the “big picture”. So far so good as I’ve only regretted very few purchases.

    Lakelands are a perfect example. Based on the wide range of love/hate reviews, I simply had to try them. Started with Conniston Cut Plug and was horrified with the first bowl. Following the hard/fast rule of never giving up, I’ve smoked several bowls to date and am actually starting to like the stuff.

    Anyway, without the internet and the reviews, I certainly believe that I wouldn’t have gotten this far in so short a period of time.

    Flavors? Yeah... no. Not yet. Don’t even know WTF stewed dark fruit is anyway...

    "May my last breath be drawn through a pipe, and exhaled in a jest." Charles Lamb
    Posted 2 months ago #
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    While I think the majority of this thread is helpful, I do not think it is beneficial to the pipe smokers to label reviewers as "tools" or their reviews as "bullshit." If you want people to stop spending their free time reviewing tobacco, keep going with these diatribes.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  44. ophiuchus

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    You know ... if an illuminating review coaxes me into enjoying something more than I would have otherwise, I'm fine with that.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  45. ophiuchus

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    I think PipesMagazine.com is the best pipe forum there is!

    I think PipesMagazine.com is the best pipe forum there is!

    Posted 2 months ago #
  46. lawdawg

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    I don't believe I am very susceptible to confirmation bias. If I don't like it, I don't like it, and if I hope or expect to taste something, but my experience differs from my expectation, then that's how it is. This can lead to unpopular opinions like not caring for Black Frigate and preferring a $28.00 bottle of Elijah Craig to the rare Pappy Van Winkle 15 year.

    However, I have found that once I became comfortable judging things for myself, despite preconceived expectations, life got a lot easier

    Posted 2 months ago #
  47. yaddy306

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    If you want some good examples of confirmation bias, then read the reviews of McClelland Honeydew on tobaccoreviews.com. Lots of people apparently can faintly detect a "melon" flavor because of the name.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  48. cosmicfolklore

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    ...Or Erinmore, with all of the people detecting pineapple in the blend.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  49. ashdigger

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    That settles it, I'm sticking with Captain Black Grape.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  50. yaddy306

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    ...Or Erinmore, with all of the people detecting pineapple in the blend.

    Or lemon virginias, which are named for their color, tasting like lemons.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  51. lawdawg

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    Or lemon virginias, which are named for their color, tasting like lemons.

    I don't believe I've heard of a "lemon Virginia" but I will say I certainly taste a note of citrus in many of the brighter Virginias I've smoked. Grassy hay, a bit of earthiness, some general sweetness, and a hint of citrus seems to be the overall flavor profile.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  52. lawdawg

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    One non-tobacco-related confirmation bias I've noticed, which has irked me to no end lately, is that people have now decided that men's suits should fit a man like yoga pants, and view this as a good and flattering fit!

    (Mostly younger) men are wearing suits, sport coats, and trousers so short and tight that they literally look like Peewee Herman. Notably, Peewee Herman's suit was intended to be comically ill-fitting and small, like a child growing out of a too-small suit, yet Peewee's suit is actually baggier than some of the more daring on-trend cuts today. The reason this irritates me is because so many manufacturers are catering to this trend that it is getting increasingly difficult to find suits / business attire that fits in a manner appropriate for the professional world, without being super baggy and shapeless. Even finding a good pair of khakis these days that are 100% cotton, with no spandex, is getting harder. If you don't like the cut from the handful of manufacturers that still make them in 100% cotton, then you're out of luck.

    EDIT: I realize the above suit cut preferance might not necessarily be a confirmation bias. My thought is that people are getting this idea that because a few skinny models look good in these slim cuts, and that the skinny suit look is all over the place in advertising, then they themselves should also wear, and will look good in, a skinny suit, when in fact, a slightly more traditional cut, I believe, is objectively more flattering to the average male physique.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  53. olkofri

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    That's gross, Lawdawg.

    Posted 2 months ago #
  54. cosmicfolklore

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    Actually, I have flu cured some that has a lemony citrus taste, but... neither here nor there.

    Lawdog, what's with all this toxic masculinity here? Ha ha!!

    Posted 2 months ago #
  55. lawdawg

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    Somewhat like the parable of the Emperor's New Clothes, the emperor is in this case actually wearing new clothes... they are just far too tight!

    Compare the above goofiness to a classic, middle-of-the-road fit depicted in this 1960's advertisement:

    Gotta really build up a person's expectations to make them think that the current short-and-tight suit cuts are going to look good, and look more flattering on the body than an "outdated" classic cut!

    Posted 2 months ago #
  56. mikefu

    mikefu

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    That first suit picture reminds me of some advice my friend's grandpa gave him while in high school. He was a skater kid, and his grandpa was a tough-as-nails old rancher. upon seeing my friend's baggy jeans, he discreetly pulled him aside from a family gathering and told him "Son, if you want to be a hit with the ladies, you need to go get yourself a pair of nice, tight fitting Wranglers. The ones what show your bulge."

    Posted 2 months ago #
  57. cosmicfolklore

    Cosmic

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    Ha ha!!!

    Wait, what if good is really bad, and bad is really pretty good?

    Posted 2 months ago #

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