socrates and elvis walk into a bar

ELVIS AND SOCRATES walk into a bar. No, wait — should it be “Socrates and Elvis”? Ei­ther way, here’s what this post is all about: I came across a 3-minute video of In­dian guru Gaur Gopal Das talk­ing about gos­sip. Nor­mally, I avoid the ad­vice of “wise” men — es­pe­cially those I have not heard of — but this was on my daughter’s Face­book page and she’s pretty good at pick­ing these things out of all the crap on so­cial me­dia.

So Gopal Das tells the story of the three tests or fil­ters that Socrates sug­gested when be­ing of­fered gos­sip. At least, this test is at­trib­uted to Socrates; his­to­ri­ans can’t pin down the ori­gin of the story. As with most good ad­vice, the ori­gin is ir­rl­evant — the mes­sage is what mat­ters:

A stu­dent ap­proached the great philoso­pher, Socrates. He told his teacher, “I have just heard some news about one of your friends.”

Be­fore you tell me this news,” re­sponded Socrates, “it needs to pass the triple fil­ter test.”

The stu­dent was con­fused: “The triple fil­ter test?”

The first test is truth,” re­sponded Socrates. “Do you know that what you want to tell me is ab­solutely true?”

The stu­dent said, “I heard this news from some­one else, so I’m not 100% cer­tain it is true.”

The sec­ond test is good­ness,” re­sponded Socrates. “Is what you want to tell me some­thing good?”

No,” said the stu­dent. “Ac­tu­ally, it’s rather bad.”

The fi­nal test which is use­ful­ness,” re­sponded Socrates. “Is what you want to tell me go­ing to be use­ful?”

Prob­a­bly not,” said the stu­dent.

So you want to tell me some­thing that is not true, that is not good, and that is not use­ful?” re­sponded Socrates, “Why tell it to me at all?”


Elvis ElvisForEveryone LPM 3450 600

The 1961 record­ing of Sound Ad­vice was even­tu­ally is­sued on the 1965 al­bum ELVIS FOR EVERYONE (RCA Vic­tor LPM/LSP-3450). The bland cover art re­flects the na­ture and qual­ity many of the twelve tracks on the al­bum.

Sound advice they’re giving

On July 2, 1961, Elvis Pres­ley recorded six songs for the sound­track to his lat­est movie, Fol­low That Dream. Four of the tracks were sub­se­quently is­sued as an EP al­bum of the same ti­tle (EPA-4368) in 1962. One of the songs that was not se­lected was Sound Ad­vice, a pleas­antly in­nocu­ous song writ­ten by the team of Bernie Baum, Bill Gi­ant, and Flo­rence Kaye.

The lyrics ac­tu­ally com­ple­ment the Socrates story on the three fil­ters of truth. Here they are (punc­tu­a­tion pro­vided by me):

Some folks tell you what to do.
They think they know more than you.
They in­sist that they’re giv­ing sound ad­vice,
but as sure as you’re liv­ing—
it ain’t sound!
It ain’t nice!
It just doesn’t sound like sound ad­vice.

Some folks like to be the boss.
They get up on their high horse.
They say that you’re get­ting sound ad­vice,
there’s one thing I’m bet­ting—
It ain’t wise!
It ain’t nice!
You won’t like the sound of their ad­vice.

Sound ad­vice we’re given, sound ad­vice.
Just as sure as your as you’re liv­ing—
if you’re smart, you’ll think twice,
when they start to sound off with ad­vice.
Don’t lis­ten to their sound ad­vice!

So, a wise man might heed the sug­ges­tions of Socrates and Elvis and give heed to nei­ther other’s gos­sip nor to other’s ad­vice.

You want to tell me some­thing that is not true, that is not good, and that is not use­ful? Click To Tweet

Socrates statue 1500

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page os of the statue of Socrates lo­cated in front of the Acad­emy of Athens. The Acad­emy is Greece’s na­tional acad­emy and the high­est re­search es­tab­lish­ment in the coun­try. Es­tab­lished in 1926, it op­er­ates un­der the su­per­vi­sion of the Min­istry of Ed­u­ca­tion. The Academy’s main build­ing with its mod­ern stat­u­ary in the clas­si­cal Greek mode is one of the ma­jor land­marks of Athens.

Fi­nally, there is no “socrates and elvis walk into a bar” joke: it’s just a way to catch your at­ten­tion and get you to read this ar­ti­cle and hope­fully take some sound ad­vice . . .




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