I am giving you all a piece of paper with a copy of the written out part of this 
speech, and another which I would like you to write what you thought of 
these ideas, do you have any questions, or are there any flaws apparent to 
Thanks, Colin


This is about beliefs. I will be describing a belief system which I believe is the basis of all of are belief systems, and explaining how my own beliefs are true to these universal beliefs.

A belief is a way of interacting with our environment based on past experience.

A belief is a way of interacting with our environment based on past experience.

Our every action is an expression of belief. "Every action" includes thought. Even the most unconscious of activities, e.g., the beating of your heart, is a belief based on the past experience of the organisms that have lived before you. Even the most rational of actions, adding one and three to get four, is an expression of belief.

IF I persuade you effectively, I am acting in a way such that you change your beliefs in the way I want you to change them.
We interact differently with our environment, that is, we have different beliefs, because we have had different experiences. We interact similarly with our environment because we have had many of the same experiences.

If you could have only the experience I have had, in my body, you would see things as I do and act as I do. You would be me.

If I had only the experience you have had, in your body, I would act as you do.

To persuade effectively, I must share the circumstances of my experience which I perceive to have influenced me most—in the way that I wish to influence you.

—as I persuade you, I am also persuading myself. In attempting to share the reasons I think and act the way I do, I must first identify these reasons for myself.


Persuasion requires a motivation on my part to encourage you to change, or to encourage you to experience more powerfully some motivation you already have.

If I find this desire to influence you,
I must believe that I can be effective in persuading you.

I thought I was not motivated to persuade you. I am more interested in understanding the reasons you act differently than I do, and understanding the ways we act the same. I would rather interview, analyze, question, and experience you than change you.

There are many ways I think our lives would improve if more people believed as I believe. To persuade you to act as I do, I could attempt to recount with significant details the experiences which made me, and hope they make you the same. Instead I will attempt to describe in as universal terms as possible what I perceive happens to cause me to act as I do. I am describing a feeling, a feeling that is me. What I say here is an attempt at representation.

I will work on the basis of one premise:

every human has a tendency to act in ways she perceives will give her true happiness.

If I see a person I perceive to be happy, I will attempt to determine if she is actually happy, as near as I can tell, and then try to understand why, and learn what I can from her life. Gravitating toward true happiness is very often an unconscious activity.

By "true" I mean something that is consistent over time and differences in frame of reference. If there is something that we can experience all our lives as good, and different frames of reference, that is, the other people we know of, experience the same thing as good, there is a good chance it is something truly good.

True happiness is a state caused by the right combination of truly good activities. True happiness is a state attainable by all people for all time. A simple test of an activity to determine whether it is conducive to true happiness is to ask if every single person, whether a member of a prehistoric tribe, a person who lives in an entirely different country with no awareness of your culture at all can experience the same activity as conducive to happiness, and is it an activity you can enjoy all your life?

True happiness involves experience which can be shared by all people. True happiness, then, is attained through activity which does not conflict with anyone else's happiness, unless their happiness is centered on an activity which not all people can enjoy. If another person's happiness is an untrue happiness, your need to experience true happiness may conflict with their perceived need to have an experience which is not truly good.

I define hateful activity as that which is in direct conflict with a person's opportunity to experience true happiness. For example, murder is always a hateful activity. Smoking, while it is not an activity conducive to true happiness, it is not hateful unless it is done where it offends another person. In the same way it is hateful to keep someone from doing an activity which they perceive to be conducive to happiness, if it does not adversely affect anyone else. Hateful activity is least consistent of all with the trend of human behavior. Not only does it involve an activity not conducive to happiness for the person engaging in the activity, but it directly conflicts with another person's opportunity to experience happiness. Hateful activity is not a natural tendency and is a result of environmental problems.

Now I will mention more specific descriptions of the feeling I am trying to encourage in you, and all these are extensions of the premise that we all have a tendency toward true happiness.

1. I cannot be happy doing to others what I would not want done to myself. If I cannot appreciate the activity it is not universally appreciated, and therefore a sidetrack from my motivation toward happiness.

I don't know how this became a part of my general feeling. I do not always act this way, but when I make a mistake, I feel it, and am not happy until I let the person know how I feel about what I have done to them, however ridiculous it might seem.

Example: Becky and psych

2. Simple is better— we don't need much to be happy; the universal pleasures are those which every person can share, they cannot be terribly complicated in nature. The foundation of my theory had better be simple, or I am doing something wrong.

This became a part of my feeling in Junior year of high school when I read Thoreau's Walden, which is much about simplifying physical existence. This was at a time when I was wondering what to do, and I was participating in a lot of activities. From then on I have done my best to keep my needs simple and my activities few enough that I can focus on them.

3. Openness is better— there is never any reason to have a secret, there is nothing I have done that should be hidden from another person. Incomplete information is never better for either the one who knows or the one who does not.

This is because achieving true happiness involves understanding what it is and how another person has achieved it. Achieving true happiness involves understanding the mistakes as well as the successes, because one is not possible without the other. Achieving true happiness involves being able to determine whether a person really is happy or if she merely gives the impression of being happy.

This is important because a lack of openness is often the cause of unhappiness. People are mislead into believing an activity is conducive to happiness when in fact it is not. People are mislead into believing an activity is harmful or embarrassing or weird when in fact it is a worthwhile activity or at least a benign one. I am thinking of masturbation or homosexuality, or a lot of stuff about sexuality. I am thinking of propaganda, advertising and government and bureaucratic secrecy. Just as scientists need the complete information available on the topic they research to be most effective so do we.

4. Happiness at it most basic involves this: flow—when non-topical thought goes to zero. It's simple and everyone can experience it, and does experience it.

5. Use the rational to express the feeling, that is always the case, and not the other way around. Feelings came first, not language-based thought. It is ridiculous and harmful to expect feelings to conform to language-based conceptions. Moreover, the language-based thought cannot comprehend its own creation. The nihilists exemplify the results of using language-based thought to ask questions of the creation of language-based thought. Language-based thought cannot comprehend itself any more than a computer could comprehend its own creation. There is no "figuring it out," there is only a right way of experiencing. All beliefs are suspect, some more than others. A belief based in not-clearly-logical language, like this statement, "democracy is good," is more suspect than a belief clearly understood within a well-defined system, like the statement: 1+3 = 4. Even this mathematical statement, however is more suspect than a biologically-emotionally rooted belief such as the proper rate for the beating of the heart in a given situation.

I don't expect you all to immediately go out and publish your diaries, apologize for all your insensitive activities, stop smoking in public, stop driving your cars around, ditch your TV, stereo system, become vegetarians, and entirely orient your lives to concentrate on true happiness and on freeing yourself and others from obstructions to the experience of true happiness, but I expect over time you will think about the feeling I have attempted to describe here and evolve ideas of your own of the right way of life, and live it.

Thank you very much.