One day not so long ago, a disciple of Socrates ran with excitement to converse with his teacher. The student exclaimed,
"Socrates!!! Do you know what I just heard about one of your students?"
"Wait," Socrates paused. "Before you share this information,
I'd like you to pass a simple test. I call it the Test of Three."
"The Test of Three?" questioned the student.
"Yes," Socrates continued. "Before you speak to me about a student, let us take a moment to evaluate what you would like to say."
The student agreed.
"The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is the truth?"
"No," replied the student, "I have only just heard it."
"Very well," Socrates said. "You are not certain what you are about to share is true or not. Let us continue to the second test, a test of Goodness. Is what you are about to share something Good?"
"No, no, quite the opposite, Teacher!!"
"So," Socrates continued, "You wish to share something portraying a peer negatively - despite not knowing it's validity?"
The student shrugged, becoming slightly embarrassed.
Socrates continued, "Ah, regardless, not all is lost just yet. Let us continue to the third test - a filter for Usefulness. Is what you want to share about my student going to be useful to me?"
"Well, I'm not so sure about that..."
"If what you want to tell me is neither true, nor good, nor useful, why share it to me at all?" concluded Socrates.
The humbled student forever evaluated how he spoke of others.
Plato and Aristotle discussing Socrate's Test of Three (painting by Raphael)