You get a recursion error because your attempt to access the self.__dict__ attribute inside __getattribute__ invokes your __getattribute__ again. If you use object's __getattribute__ instead, it works:

class D(object):
    def __init__(self):
    def __getattribute__(self,name):
        if name=='test':
            return 0.
            return object.__getattribute__(self, name)

This works because object (in this example) is the base class. By calling the base version of __getattribute__ you avoid the recursive hell you were in before.

Ipython output with code in

In [1]: from foo import *

In [2]: d = D()

In [3]: d.test
Out[3]: 0.0

In [4]: d.test2
Out[4]: 21


There's something in the section titled More attribute access for new-style classes in the current documentation, where they recommend doing exactly this to avoid the infinite recursion.