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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