I like little tests you can do in a pinch to gauge the quality of a thing.
One that my dad is fond of saying is that you can gauge the quality of a neighborhood by the number of pickup trucks you see parked alongside the road. The fewer pickup trucks you see, the better the neighborhood.
A pretty good indicator of what the quality of a music album will be is the average length of the song titles. The shorter the song titles, the worse the album. I think this pretty much proves me right.
For books (fiction) you can simply judge them by their cover. The more the cover art resembles a scene that could actually take place, the less you can expect from that book. (You can also safely put back on the shelf any book whose jacket features art of a man running and be reasonably confident that you won’t be missing much)
There are tests for politics too. You can gauge the quality of a politician by the amount of time he spends during a speech or debate thanking people. The more time he spends, the less you can expect out of that politician. Another one is to count the number of times he uses the word “nonpartisan”. The fewer times the better. Don’t ever vote for somebody who is on record having publicly used the word “nonpartisan” more than at most two times during his entire life.
Got any others?