Socrates’ test against rumors

Every time you are tempted to hear or share “juicy information” about someone, I invite you to think of Socrates’ triple filter test:

One day, while the great ancient Greek philosopher Socrates was taking a walk on the Acropolis, he bumped into an acquaintance of his who immediately informed him that he had something very important to tell him about one of his students.

Socrates calmly told him that he had to pass the “triple filter” test first.

“What is the three filter test?” asked his friend.

“Before you tell me what you heard about my student I would like to ask you three questions which will act as filters letting through only what should be shared. The first filter is that of the truth. So, are you absolutely sure that what you are going to tell me is true?”

“Oh … not really, I just heard it and …”

Socrates cut his acquaintance short and said “In fact, you have no idea if what you want to tell me is true or not and you still want to share it… Let us now try the second filter, that of goodness. Is what you are going to tell me about my student something good?”

 “Good? No! Quite the opposite!”

So”, Socrates went on,” you want to tell me something bad to my student, although you’re not sure it’s true.”  His acquaintance blushed with embarrassment.

Socrates continued, “You can still pass the test because there is one last filter, that of utility. Is what you want to tell me about my student something that can prove useful to me?”

“No, I do not think so…”

“So, since what you will tell me is neither true, nor good nor useful, why should I hear it?”

His acquaintance left him feeling ashamed having learned a good lesson…

1 Comment

  1. […] now, you will have figured out that I love stories. After Socrates’ story on gossip, I am back with another story, this time around about insults or malicious […]

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