Find The Truth With The 'Six Filters' Method

Find the Truth With the

Truth can be a tricky thing to find. Author Scott Adams suggests using six filters to put your information through to help determine actual truth.

Photo by Jason Eppink

Generally, no one source can ever produce absolute truth. Adams lists the six filters of truth, and why each cannot stand alone:

1. Personal experience (Human perceptions are iffy.)

2. Experience of people you know (Even more unreliable.)

3. Experts (They work for money, not truth.)

4. Scientific studies (Correlation is not causation.)

5. Common sense (A good way to be mistaken with complete confidence.)

6. Pattern recognition (Patterns, coincidence, and personal bias look alike.)

Information from any one of those single filters is not enough for you to accept something as truth, but Adams recommends a test that can help you get as close as possible.

When seeking truth, your best bet is to look for confirmation on at least two of the dimensions I listed. For example, if a study indicates that eating nothing but chocolate cake is an excellent way to lose weight, but your friend who tries the diet just keeps getting fatter, you have two dimensions out of agreement. (Three if you count common sense. ) That's a lack of consistency.

The more filters your information can pass through and remain consistent, the more likely it's true. Consistency is key.

The Six Filters for Truth [Sources of Insight]


    consistency is key to a lump free chocolate cake (last para).
    That's 1,2 and 5 and maybe 6

    This is spectacularly bad advice. Simply adding up different bias-prone methods won't help at all and is almost certainly a recipe for getting the answer you want. (I imagine the average creationist and anti-vaccine kook will love this method.) It's particularly poor when you understand that many scientific study designs *can* demonstrate causation. Saying "correlation is not causation" is a reason to be distrustful of scientific studies is simply ignorant. If people want to arrive at truths, they have to learn how to recognise biases and account for them -- including in scientific studies -- which is hard work but worth it. Pretending that the personal experiences of you and one friend outweigh all of the scientific literature is just asking for trouble.

    As for the last para -- if someone was to publish a study showing that a chocolate cake diet was the way to lose weight, the way to critique it properly is to find its flaws and see if it is consistent with the weight of evidence.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now