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The Three Sieves Test

This story is attributed to the famous philosopher Socrate but the source is not that sure. It is also known as the Triple Filter Test. This anecdote teaches us not to pay attention to rumours and untrue, hurtful, and useless messages. It can be referred to regular gossip. However, it can also be applied to the information we find on social media. I think what this message puts forward is very important, especially nowadays in the age of fake news. I would like to share it with you.

One day in ancient Greece, Socrates was visited by one of his acquaintance. Eager to share some juicy gossip, the man asked if Socrates would like to know the story he’d just heard about one common friend. Socrates replied that before the man spoke, he needed to pass the Triple Filter Test.

The first filter, he explained, is Truth

Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to say is true?”

The man shook his head.“No, I actually just heard about it, and …

Socrates cut him off.

“You don’t know for certain that it is true, then. Is what you want to say something good or kind?”

Again, the man shook his head.“No! Actually, just the opposite. You see …”

Socrates lifted his hand to stop the man.

“So you are not certain that what you want to say is true, and it isn’t good or kind. One filter still remains, though, so you may yet still tell me. That is usefulness or necessity. Is this information useful or necessary to me?” 

A little defeated, the man replied,“No, not really.”

“Well, then,”Socrates said, turning on his heel.“If what you want to say is neither true, nor good or kind, nor useful or necessary, please don’t say anything at all.”

What do you think about it? Do you think it would be good doing this test before speaking about anything or anyone?

engraved greek letters on a sandstone
Ancient Greece – Photo by ROMAN ODINTSOV on

9 thoughts on “The Three Sieves Test

  1. Those tests are still tremendously important today in this age of disposable info-porn that masquerades as news

  2. This post passes the triple-filter test! What a wonderful reminder that we need to think before we talk – and giving us the specific questions to ask. Thank you, Cristiana!

  3. Ha! I love it. I do believe that gossip is kind of fun sometimes, and potentially even healthy as an exercise of humor. I guess I don’t think these questions should apply all the time. I would apply them with certain people: those who I consider toxic and whose gossip is intended to be harmful and that I do not consider amusing.

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