Scott Adams and the Six Filters For Truth

In Scott AdamsHow to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big he explains a helpful hierarchy of reliable knowledge, or as he calls them “The Six Filters for Truth.”[1]

The Six Filters for Truth

  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.)

As far as practical schemas go, it is pretty darn good.

It is, at its core, a shorter version of the common topics.

Its brevity is what makes the filter is useful.

The items in parenthesis are Adams’ counter points to the usefulness of each layer in the filter.

Observe Adams’ skepticism regarding the ability of any of these items to give you an absolute insight into reality.

I only partially agree with him. I think that our cognitive faculties are limited, but that we can know truths.

I think the missing piece here is logic. Adams says in his live streams and other books that as far as persuasion is concerned, logic and reason are practically worthless.

But we know that logic, properly applied can yield truth. We know this from Geometry, mathematics generally, the invention of technologies, and advancements in medical treatment with observable results. The formulation of testable hypotheses as inferences from what is known is mankind’s most powerful faculty other than planning for the future.

But regardless of his skepticism of reason, a reasoned application of these filters might help you avoid being fooled in life. Try them out. Let me know how it goes.


[1] Adams, Scott (2013-10-22). How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big: Kind of the Story of My Life (p. 4). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.


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