I will toss my 2 cents into the ring.
As a semi-professional (and past professional) furniture maker, I have seen this topic go around the wood working forums for as long as forums have existed. Folks tend to get all invested in one method or another, and I have seen some pretty ugly threads when people argue on this topic. I currently work in a laboratory and one of the tools I use on a frequent basis is a microtome for cutting tissue into 8 nano-meter sections used for immunohistochemistry. Microtome blades make scalpels look dull, but I honestly put a finer edge on my straight razor.
Sharpness depends on both the tool and the use. The paper test is IMHO a waste of time and about as meaningless as it gets. My hand ground cobalt tool bits that I use in my hobby machine shop will pass the paper test. Metal cutting tools have about a 75 degree edge on them. I free hand grind, take a few passes on a diamond stone to remove the burr then put it to use. I could care less if it can cut paper, but it had better be able to cut steel. Same goes for a kitchen knife - who cares if it can cut paper or hair, it only matters if it can cut food. Furthermore, it only matters than it can cut the food you cook, if you only eat veggies, who cares if it can fillet a fish and make sushi.
Learn to test the edge with your thumb and do not waste your time on cutting paper, hair, etc. There is no such thing as an edge that is too sharp for this. Just gently touch the edge and move your thumb sideways, you will be able to feel how sharp it is, and whether it is scary sharp or not. Remember, a straight razor is far sharper than just about anything you will ever handle in your life, and you can safely press if against your throat.
I am not sure what sharpening technique people here seem to advocate, but I worry about the discussion about de-burring and stropping. I sharpen on Japanese water stones. This is not the only "best" method of sharpening, it is just the one I prefer. When I sharpen, I "cut" the stone, and flip the edge after each pass. Using this method, a burr is never raised. The only time I ever raise a bur is when I drag the blade backwards across the stone. This is just old school sharpening technique, just draw the edge over the stone, flip, repeat. It makes a very distinctive and pleasant sound, and you can both hear and feel the edge take place. It does take a lot of practice though, it is important to form a muscle memory so that you always cut at the same exact angle each time. I highly recommend learning this by simple practice, you will find you can get a scary sharp edge in a very short period of time.
Never draw a knife backward across a water stone - I do not care what guru thinks this is a good idea. It ruins both the edge, and damages the stone. When a burr gets turned, the metal fractures and fatigues terribly along the edge, turning the burr back down just makes the problem worse. To make matters worse, water stones are very soft. When you draw the blade backwards, it forces the slurry down into the stone imbedding metal into it. Each pass over the stone should cut a bit of the stone off until you have a slurry, once the slurry is raised, the slurry does the cutting just as if you where sharpening using a glass plate and abrasive powder. I am pretty sure the whole idea of drawing a blade backward over a stone comes from safety nannies who worry about cutting your fingers off while sharpening.
If you want to see perfect wet stone technique, watch this video, skip to 54:00 to see him use the stones
Notice how he is not putting his fingers on the blade, he only cuts the stone, he appears to be using almost no pressure and his cut is always perpendicular to the edge. This video is a lot different from all the chef sharpening videos I have seen where the guy puts the blade on the stone then uses both hands to apply pressure and moves the blade back and forth or in a figure 8. You can support a longer blade with your off hand, but never use finger pressure on the blade - it will cut very shallow scallops on the edge that are impossible to replicate as you move up in stone grades.
On the subject of stropping. Stropping is a swaging method, not an abrasive method. In recent years many people have taken to charging a strop with some kind of compound, then call it stropping. When using a compound, you are not stropping, you are polishing. Sharpening on even the finest stone will leave microscopic teeth on the edge, stropping both aligns the teeth perpendicular to the edge and flattens the tooth by swaging it down. Stropping is best done very rapidly with minimal pressure. Too much pressure with bend the fine edge. Swaging is a method of cold working metal similar to forging, the metal is force by pressure into a different shape - no material is removed in the process.
There are sharpening systems that use ceramic stones and knife holders. I have used a number of them and they all seem to do a decent job for minimal fuss. Since you tend to run the stone back and forth over the edge, they do turn a burr. This can be minimized by switching sides more frequently and doing the finer sharpening by only cutting the stone. Ceramic stones are extremely hard, so they will always tend to push the edge back and forth a bit.
Now after all that, what about kitchen knives? My straight razor only needs to cut a few square inches of my face and is made from extremely brittle high carbon steel. My plane irons are made from high speed steel and have a very blunt edge compared to a kitchen knife. These are the only two blades I use that are sharp enough to split (not cut) a hair. Most kitchen knives (especially stainless) can not take an edge keen enough to shave with and still be soft enough for use.
I suggest you experiment with sharpening on food. Try stopping at 800 or 1200 grit and see what you get, you will surprised how well your knife performs on many foods when you stop sharpening a bit early and leave a bit of "tooth" on the edge. Tooth is not so great for meat, but does wonders for skinned vegies like tomatoes. If you really insist on getting your knife sharp enough to shave with, then get a knife good enough to take that edge and get rid of the plastic cutting board. I honestly see no reason to go to shave sharp unless I am cutting a lot of soft meat like fish. I go very sharp for onions and herbs, and pretty sharp for everything else.