The Triple Filter Test
In ancient Greece, Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day a
friend ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just
heard about Diogenes?"
"Wait a moment," Socrates replied, "Before you tell me I'd like you to pass
the Triple Filter Test."
"Triple filter?" asked the acquaintance.
"That's right," Socrates continued, "Before you talk to me about Diogenes
let's filter what you're going to say. The first filter is Truth. Have
you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
"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 Diogenes something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "You want to tell me something about Diogenes
that may be bad, even though you're not certain it's true?"
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed. Socrates continued, "You may still
pass the test though, because there is a third filter, the filter of
Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about Diogenes going to be useful
"No, not exactly."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "If what you want to tell me is neither True
nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me or anyone at all?"
The man was bewildered and ashamed, and walked away. This is an example of
why Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.
Of course, it also explains why Socrates never found out that Diogenes was
shagging his wife.