Socrates’ Triple Filter Test

This anecdote teaches us not to be aware of rumors and untrue, vicious and useless messages. It can be used for ordinary gossip. However, it can also be used for the information we find on social media.
Socrates' triple filter test

The triple filter test refers to an anecdote about the great Greek philosopher, Socrates. Many consider this anecdote a good life lesson that can help you deal with gossip and rumors.

This story tells of a day when one of Socrates’ disciples was very agitated. He told Socrates that he had met one of Socrates’ friends and that he had spoken ill of him.

Socrates asked the man to relax. After thinking about it, he asked the man to wait a moment. Before listening to what he had to say, the message had to go through a triple filter test. If the message did not pass the test, it was not worth hearing.

Socrates and some of his disciples

Socrates’ triple filter test

As he always did, the Greek philosopher asked his anxious disciple a question: “Are you absolutely sure that what you want to tell me is true?” The disciple thought for a moment. In fact, he could not be sure whether what his friend had told him was actually true.

It was a matter of perspective. “So you do not know whether everything he said about me is true or not,” said the philosopher. The disciple had to admit that he did not.

Then Socrates asked him another question: “Is what you want to tell me good or bad? “The disciple replied that of course it was not good. In fact, it was the exact opposite. He thought that what he wanted to share with the philosopher would make him sad for fashion.

Socrates thus said to him: “You will tell me something bad, but you are not quite sure that it is true” . The disciple admitted that this was the case.

Then Socrates asked the third and final question: “Is what you want to say about my friend something that will help me?” The disciple hesitated. He really did not know if this information was useful or not.

Maybe it would make Socrates want to distance himself from his friend, but given that he was not sure if it was true or not, it might not be helpful at all.

wood clipped as head where leaves fly off

Truth, goodness and usefulness

In the end, the philosopher refused to listen to what his disciple wanted to tell him. “If what you want to tell me is not true, not good, and not even useful, then why should I want to hear it?” He finally said to his disciple.

Truth, goodness, and usefulness are the basis of Socrates’ triple filter test. Socrates believed that a person must ask himself the following questions before saying anything: “Am I sure that what I want to say is true?”, “Is what I want to say a good thing?” And “Do I really need to say it, and is it helpful? ”

This triple filter test is an excellent guide, both when it comes to what to say and what to listen to. It is a set of parameters that represent healthy and constructive communication.

Mouth-to-mouth red thread symbolizes rumors where we have to apply the triple filter test

How to use the triple filter test

In everyday life it is not easy to define the true, the good and the necessary. These are abstract concepts that can sometimes be difficult to apply. Therefore, there are also some additional questions that can help you in applying the triple filter test:

  • Regarding truth:  Do I know for sure that this information is true? Can I bet on it? Can I prove it to anyone? Am I willing to compromise on my reputation over this?
  • As for the good: Is it for the benefit of me or the other person? Will it make them or me a better person, and evoke positive emotions? Will the situation for those involved improve?
  • Regarding the necessary or useful:   Will the person’s life or my life get better by knowing this message? Can this person take any concrete action regarding this information or message? In what ways can not knowing this information harm or affect the other person?

As we pointed out at the beginning, Socrates’ triple filter test is particularly aimed at rumors or gossip. The application allows us to put an end to annoying rumors that sometimes haunt us. However, this also applies to other types of messages, such as those we see on social media.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button