Wednesday, December 8, 2010
The Triple-Filter Test
In ancient Greece, Socrates was reputed to hold knowledge
in high esteem. One day an acquaintance met the great
philosopher and said, "Do you know what I just heard about
"Hold on a minute," Socrates replied. "Before you talk to
me about my friend, it might be good idea to take a moment
and filter what you’re going to say. That’s why I call it
the triple filter test. The first filter is Truth. Have
you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me
"Well, no," the man said, "actually I just heard about it
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don’t really know if
it’s true or not. Now, let’s try the second filter, the
filter of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about
my friend something good?"
"Umm, no, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something
bad about my friend, but you’re not certain it’s true. You
may still pass the test though, because there’s one filter
left—the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me
about my friend going to be useful to me?"
"No, not really."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is
neither true, nor good, nor even useful, why tell it to me