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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 your
"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 is true?"
"Well, no," the man said, "actually I
just heard about it and…"
"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
at all?"

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