Scott Adams and the Six Filters For Truth

Scott Adams wrote an excellent book called How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big. It’s an atypical book in the personal development/self-help genre because it covers such a tremendous range of topics.

I really appreciated a little list of truth filters that are meant to help readers discern between fact and fiction:

“The Six Filters for Truth[1]

  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.)”

This is shorter than the common topics list for research, writing, and arguing.

Nevertheless, the filter is useful.

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 observes that from a rhetorical standpoint, logic/reason is practically worthless.

But it can yield truth. We know this from Geometry, mathematics, and the invention of technologies, and advancements in medical treatment with observable results.

Anyway, a reasoned application of these filters might help you avoid being fooled in life.

[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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