The Outsider’s Test for Everything

August 12, 2014 • 5:19 am

From John Kovalic’s “Dork Tower” strip via reader Ant. Nice to see something so pervasive and obvious, but so wilfully ignored, given popular attention:


This, of course, implicitly incorporates John Loftus’s clever notion of “The Outsider Test for Faith,” which starts off from the fact that most people adopt the religion of their land and culture. John’s written a book about it, but if you just want a quick read about it (and you really should know this), read this short post. The OTF, as it’s called, is one of the best ways to see that the vast bulk of people adopt their religion not after due deliberation, but simply as a default, or out of convenience.

There is one exception though. The Outsider Test for Music shows that there was indeed just one time and place (i.e. US and UK) to be born to experience the best rock music in the world, and Professor Ceiling Cat was lucky enough to have beaten those odds.

19 thoughts on “The Outsider’s Test for Everything

    1. But we’re living now in an age when “all” music is available to us at the touch of a button.

      It surprises me how many of my friends listen only to music from about the time we were at school or university. I’m continually discovering “new” artists from the 1960s to the present, and my “best of the best” list spans all those decades.


      1. “just one time and place (US and UK)”
        Strictly speaking that’s two places 😉

        But yes, Youtube has vastly expanded my musical horizons, both with 60’s – 80’s songs heard once or twice and now accessible, to singers I’d barely heard of and can now sample on Youtube. The radio was never useful for that, Sturgeon’s Law applied (and that was just the music, the inane blather in between songs was just too much to tolerate).

  1. Is there an Outsider’s Test for Kittehs? Because I’m pretty sure that I was not only born into a household with the best possible cats, but that the internet came about in my lifetime delivering me a constant stream of cat photos.

  2. This (and today’s sad news) reminds me of Billy Crystal and Robin Williams in Fathers Day;

    BC. You’re a tragic hero. You’re Lou Gehrig.
    RW. Who?
    BC. Lou Gehrig. Everybody knows Lou Gehrig. The baseball player. He died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease.
    RW. Wow. What are the odds of that?

  3. Whenever some American religious whacko claims that “The U.S. is God’s chosen country.” (apparently, the Jews have lost their place in God’s heart), the arrogance triggers the gag reflex of many non-Americans.
    Anyway, didn’t the death & resurrection of Jesus get God out of the “chosen people/chosen nation business” and into the “personal salvation” business? Or did I miss some fine theological rationalization?

  4. I’m guessing that PCC is in the same age demographic as me +/- half a decade so it seems a bit weird that “there was indeed just one time and place (i.e. US and UK) to be born to experience the best rock music in the world,” when it was heard down in little ole New Zealand and even across the ditch in Australia [and at the risk of a deluge, ABBA made it big down here albeit a bit later when ignored up north].

  5. “Outsider Test for Music”

    LOL, but there’s always hope that in several more decades there will be a rock renaissance once again achieving the heights of the ’60s, also my favorite era (though I am also fond of Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, the Police, and Blondie all mostly of 70s and early 80s fame).

    1. Huh? Pink Floyd 70s? I have many happy teenage memories of the Marquee and UFO clubs where the nascent Floyd performed in the late 60s. Their definitive albums: Piper at the Gates of Dawn (67), Saucerful of Secrets (68), Umma Gumma (69), and Atom Heart Mother (70) were all made in the 60s. The 70s ushered in the growing hegemony of Waters as he gradually alienated the rest of the band (and fans) used the band as a vehicle for his own ego. His “concept albums” contributed to Floyd’s downward spiral, starting with Meddle and continuing with the commercial clap trap of Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and Animals. It was a shame that the Madcap’s (Barret) growing schizophrenia force him out of the band.

      1. When David Gilmour says that “Wish You Were Here” is probably their most complete album, anybody who says the early work is better is clearly wrong. End Of.

        Umma Gumma is a (IMO very good) live album with some self indulgent nonsense stuck on the end (apart from Grantchester Meadows). Atom Heart Mother represents the band’s first attempt at something concepty and so belongs on the wrong side (from your perspective) of your dividing line.

  6. Re: “Outsider’s Test for Music”- as a Boomer myself, from Canada, I always used to disagree with this, putting the whole “the 60s were the greatest, man” thing down to nostalgia for our own youth and continued demographic dominance enabling us to impose our viewpoint on everybody else.

    After Jerry Coyne’s postings on this, though, I started to reconsider. While there are many exceptions, don’t we usually agree that there were certain times and places when some particular art form reached a peak generally agreed upon?

    Greek drama- Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Aristophanes

    French Classical theatre: Corneille, Racine, Moliere

    Renaissance art: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Raphael, Botticelli

    Elizabethan literature: Shakespeare, Marlowe, Spenser

    Russian 19th Century novels- Tolstoy, Dosteovsky, Turgenev

    British Romantic poetry- Wordsworth, Coleridge, Byron, Shelley, Keats

    Modern painting,(late 19th-early 20th Century based in France)Cezanne, Gaugin, van Gogh, Matisse, Picasso

    (other periods: Dutch Golden Age, German Romantics)

    All these are generally agreed to have surpassed their predecessors and been superior to their followers (Roman New Comedy? Arnold/Tennyson?)

    Why not the Beatles, Stones, Who, Beach Boys, Clapton, Hendrix?

  7. I used to think my father was amusingly parochial when he said that Australia was the best country in the world, but having had a look around many of them I am forced to admit that he was right. I am endlessly grateful to live here; it has nothing to do with anything but luck, but I am thankful nonetheless.

    The golden era of Australian tennis is past however; after the War for about thirty years we dominated the sport but no more. Nothing is perfect.

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