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154211.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:43 am Reply with quote

Yes - though I’m assuming that academic studies of ‘centrics have some scientific method by which they can define and divine the real ones from the show-offs and mad people.

Might be some mileage in finding out how an eccentric is defined - to see if any of our panellists need apply? Apart from anything, this would give us a simple “in” question: “Are you an eccentric?”

I’ll look into it.

154214.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:47 am Reply with quote

“By using the methodology of clinical psychology to produce his census of eccentric individuals, Weeks forces us to question our own normality, and to ask whether or not conventional behavior is, ontologically, the right existential choice for everyone.”

Or, there’s another question: “Alan: is conventional behaviour, ontologically, the right existential choice for everyone? Hmm? I can offer it to the others .. ”

154215.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:47 am Reply with quote

Might be a link from eccentrics to eccentric orbits to ellipses (why are orbits elliptical?).

154217.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 9:50 am Reply with quote

Since you're measuring eccentricity:

In astrodynamics or celestial mechanics an elliptic orbit is an orbit with the eccentricity greater than 0 and less than 1.

A circular orbit (and such things do exist) is one with an eccentricity of 0, ie I suppose eccentricity is defined as the extent to which an orbit diverges from a circle.

154230.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:01 am Reply with quote

We're going round in circles here. I'm switching this train of thought to its own Ellipse thread.

154234.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:07 am Reply with quote

“Defining eccentricity clinically is difficult. Eccentric people rarely come in for treatment, because, as Dr. Louis J. West, professor of psychiatry at UCLA, notes, "generally speaking, they're not unhappy, and they're not out of touch with reality."
Although eccentrics are content marching to the beat of their own drummer, neurotics--which our culture produces in far greater numbers--suffer from not conforming to what is expected of them, or what they perhaps unrealistically demand of themselves. The neurotic person, says Dr. West, "is one whose emotions are painful to him."
Eccentrics, on the other hand, explains Weeks, tend to be at the opposite extreme from people suffering from chronic personality disorders--those who are anxious, hostile and depressed. He finds that eccentrics frequently enjoy good health, and even live longer than the rest of us.”

154240.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:18 am Reply with quote

“On a very rough-and-ready basis we might define an eccentric as a man who is a law unto himself, and a crank as one who, having determined what the law is, insists on laying it down to others. An eccentric puts ice cream on steak simply because he likes it; should a crank do so, he would endow the act with moral grandeur and straightaway denounce as sinners (or reactionaries) all who failed to follow suit.”
- Louis Kronenberger (1904-1980)

154245.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:32 am Reply with quote

Henry Adams in 1863 wrote a lot about the eccentricity he found in England:

“Americans needed and used their whole energy, and applied it with close economy; but English society was eccentric by law and for sake of the eccentricity itself. The commonest phrase overheard at an English club or dinner-table was that So-and-So "is quite mad." It was no offence to So-and-So; it hardly distinguished him from his fellows; and when applied to a public man, like Gladstone, it was qualified by epithets much more forcible. Eccentricity was so general as to become hereditary distinction. It made the chief charm of English society as well as its chief terror.”

154246.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:32 am Reply with quote

Why is eccentricity something that people want to claim? If not for themselves, then for their relatives, or where they live. The puff for a travel guide book called “Eccentric California” ( includes this: “Where else but California will you find a freeway tunnel built just for toads?” The answer, of course, is almost anywhere.

154250.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 10:43 am Reply with quote

“David Weeks [the same researchers mentioned earlier] came up with this list of fifteen characteristics of eccentrics. The first five are present in almost all eccentrics, while below that they are less able to be generalized to the eccentric population. Having ten or more of these characteristics may signify eccentricity.

· Nonconforming
· Creative
· Strongly curious
· Idealistic
· Happily obsessed with a hobby (often more than one)
· Aware from early childhood of being different from others
· Intelligent
· Opinionated and outspoken
· Noncompetitive
· quirky eating habits
· Not interested in the opinions or company of others
· Mischievous sense of humor
· Single
· Eldest or only child
· bad spellers


154258.  Tue Mar 06, 2007 11:22 am Reply with quote

Which of those could apply to Alan?

"Mischievous sense of humor" sounds pretty close to the mark, and definitely "Noncompetitive" if his QI performances are anything to go by :)

I'd imagine quite a few others too. Could we get up to the magic number 10 and classify him as officially eccentric?

154516.  Wed Mar 07, 2007 7:21 am Reply with quote

Several years ago, I saw a CD called "The Sound of Wine" on sale in Fortnum & Mason. It contained recordings of fermenting noises (1) made by fourteen different wines! An exciting listening it must have been...
A nice case of "eccentricity", to my mind

154983.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:13 am Reply with quote

This is a pretty bogus intrusion into this thread, but it does seem eccentric. Often these "PC-gone-mad" stories don't stack up at all, but this one seems to have been confirmed by the Council in question:

An author has been told his book honouring First World War soldiers cannot be stocked by his local council unless he takes out insurance worth £5million.

Officials said Mark Sutton needed the accident cover in case the public injured themselves on his book - for example, if it fell on their foot or they got paper cuts.

The book has now been withdrawn from the Tourist Information Centre in Swindon until Mr Sutton stumps up the £150 insurance premium. ...

Officials claim regulations require all providers of any council services to have valid insurance, or the authority could be found liable and sued if an accident occurs.

Council spokesman Richard Freeman said the insurance was to protect against potential legal claims caused by defective products.

He acknowledged that the risk of injury was small in Mr Sutton's case, but said it was standard insurance industry practice, and all council suppliers must have cover from April 1.


155003.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 10:46 am Reply with quote

Yes, I’m quite prepared to believe that, but it’s emphatically not “PC gone mad” - it’s “all insurance companies are crooked thieves.” Which is subtly different. I’m insured for millions (literally, and not by choice) against injuries, because I work at home, in a converted garage, writing crap. If someone visits my “workplace” and trips over, I’m covered. Without this, all other forms of insurance (against the house being burgled, for instance) were unobtainable. Of course, as of July 1st it’s illegal for me to have “business visitors” in my house or garage, anyway, but that’s another story.

155078.  Thu Mar 08, 2007 1:35 pm Reply with quote

I think the key words in Flash's entry (above) are "1 April" (sorry, still haven't sorted out how to "do" yellow "quotes"). To me it sounds like a classic April Fool story. I may be wrong, of course...


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